Thursday, November 29, 2007

Laptop Mania and Vacation

These last week I have been on a “me” vacation where I chose to stay home to complete household chores and the first draft of my novel. So far, I have painted doors and trim, repaired a place where I was hanging a curtain rod and pulled a little piece of the drywall off, cleaned, and played with the boys (my cats, Buddy and Oliver). I have taken my laptop in for repair, gotten it back unfixed, bought a monitor, keyboard and mouse to use on my laptop, and then returned all three. Today I take the boys to the vet for their shots, my car in for service tomorrow morning, and tomorrow night I have a grand gala cookie party to attend! One busy week!

Despite all the activity, as well as the problems with my laptop, I completed the first draft of my novel. I wrote the last two chapters in longhand and then transcribed them to my word processor. It was a great experience writing in longhand, but it was horrendous trying to read my own writing. However, when push came to shove, I was able to decipher well enough.

About two weeks ago, my laptop started doing some strange stuff. At times, the monitor looked like someone put a dark veil over it, and then began to flicker, until it finally went blank. I took it to one popular computer establishment, and they diagnosed a faulty sensor button. Apparently fiddling with the button brought my monitor alive again. They could not repair it, though.

I took it to another popular computer store and they sent my lovely baby out for repair. When I got the call from the repair serviceman, he said, “It’s your backlight. It will cost you over $800 for repair.” After I picked myself up off the floor, I asked the important questions: “Is the repair worth it?” “Do I have other options?”

The technician’s advice was to forgo fixing my computer. “Get a new laptop,” he said. “Or, if you cannot afford one, get a monitor, keyboard and mouse. All you do is hook everything up, close your laptop, and then your desktop appears on your external screen. Simple as that.”

It was not as simple as that, as I soon found out. In the midst of trying to make the monitor pick up my laptop signal, I called the computer store for advice. After several calls of nobody answering during business hours, I finally got through to a person who gave me a phone number to contact the service repair department. “We can’t give any technical advise here at the store,” he said. I called the number, which had two too many numbers. I called the store back, finally got a hold of the same person again after numerous tries, and he gave me another number- to a pleasure talk line!!

Finally, I unhooked everything and returned it to the store. My call to another computer store that does not send their laptops out for service, and who exhibits good service by answering the phone on the second ring, quoted me $500 total for the backlight repair!

Now, my backlight flickers every now and then. A gentle pushing of the sensor button brings my screen back up. I will try to squeeze another year out of this computer and back up all my writing. Once the backlight dies, I will decide whether to get it repaired or get a new computer. Personally, I love this one and I don’t want to part with it. It has given me almost three wonderful years of continuous use.

Oh, and Thanksgiving was wonderful! Don and I went to my Aunt and Uncle’s house in Sacramento. Besides many relatives, my Grandpa was there. He is such a joy to be around, and so full of great humor! He will be 92 on his next birthday in March. I hope all who read this had a wonderful Thanksgiving as well!

Until next time…..

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Stuff

In my last entry, I wrote about my green-eyed tabbies, Buddy and Oliver, and the relationship they have been building since Oliver came to live with us on October 14, 2007. Now, two weeks later, they are the best of friends, eating and playing together, keeping each other warm during the night, taking time in the mornings to bathe each other’s ears and face after breakfast. It is so wondrous for me to witness to their cat culture. They are truly an inspiration to me.

On the home front, Don and I are doing well. We have attended many musical events over the last few months, including the Bluegrass Festival in Clearlake (of which he is one of the head honchos) and a musical presentation in San Rafael titled Music from the Crooked Road. When I was growing up, Mom listened to bluegrass, folk and country music nonstop, but I was always into Peter Frampton, Elton John and Olivia Newton-John. Now, as an adult, I have come to appreciate the bluegrass culture. I am thankful to share my love of muic with Don.

In the literary realm, I have been writing my novel at least 5-6 days a week, an hour or more each time. After 18 chapters and almost 40,000 words, I feel like I am finally moving forward with congruency of the smaller themes within my character’s larger journey. I am to the point where I want to be done with draft one so that I can tear it apart and start draft two. On the other hand, I know the value of just taking my time and turning the story over to a two-week hiatus before starting to work on the second draft.

This afternoon, I attended the monthly Redwood Writer’s Group, which is always intellectually informative and spiritually uplifting. There is nothing like being a part of a larger writing community, of feeling revitalized from the energy of those who enjoy putting words onto paper. Today, our introduction question was, “Why do you write?” My answer: “Because I like putting words onto paper to create a picture.” For me, that is what writing is all about!

I am excited because after the first of the year, Redwood Writer’s Group is having a four part workshop on editing, revising, polishing and proofreading your manuscript, in that order exactly! One of the workshop leaders, Jordan Rosenfeld, lived in Sonoma County and has a regular column in Writer’s Digest Magazine. I cannot wait to attend her workshop.

Holidays are coming up with Thanksgiving in a few weeks. We will spend it with my Uncle Clay and Aunt Marta in Sacramento. Grandpa will be there, as well as aunts and cousins and their families. I am looking forward to some good Turkey and great family interaction!!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

To Go Oxford....or Not

Do you use the Oxford comma or do you omit it? Some grammar sages say to either keep it or omit it, unless omitting the Oxford comma will...