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Oct. 31st, 2011

I did all the things today. Well, except actual work, but my schedule is flexible enough that I can do it over the rest of the week. I can deal with that, especially since my brain will need a break from massive amounts of writing after day one. Moderate amounts of writing will have to do.

There were things I would have liked to finish before the first, like journalling and writing other pep talks, but they're things I can do later. I don't have to have my pep talk for the ninth ready right now, though it would certainly be nice. And I don't have to have my Night of Writing Dangerously donor pep talks ready yet. But the laundry's done and I have clean clothes and I have food ready beyond the frozen dinners that I'll probably be eating tomorrow and I have my Adopt a Day pep talk for the day after tomorrow and I've paired all the newbies and mentors and I've sent a friend something she needed that I had and I've done my first @NaNoWordSprints session and I haven't died. Yet.

And I'm hosting a midnight kickoff party at my place, and ten people have already said they were coming. This includes David and me. Holy wow.

All things considered, I think I'm in pretty good shape. As the sign Tia got me yesterday says, "Keep calm and carry on."

I think I can handle that.

Oct. 31st, 2011

NaNo starts in twenty-four hours.

The madness is nigh.

Now to finish things before I sleep.

That is all.

My pre-NaNoWriMo to-do list

I love to-do lists. They keep me organized, and I can cross things off when they're done. Bonus points if I put every item on a Post-it note and hang them on my wall so I can take the Post-it down when that item is finished, rip the note up, and toss it.

So here's this year's Pre-NaNo to-do list.

* write pep talks
-three NOWD donor pep talks (contact donors to see when they'd like the pep talks)
-one Adopt a Day pep talk (by 2 Nov)
-two regional pep talks (by the end of Week One for one, the other is more flexible)

* catch up on journaling to this point
-I have two major events left, but these are major events. We're talking weekend-long events here. This may take most of my spare time over the week.

* Cook food so I don't have to cook as much during the first week or two of Nano
-I have four frozen dinners and five packs of ramen for November first and those nights when I really don't feel like cooking, but I don't want to eat these the entire month. Even though I'll be away from my kitchen for about a third of the month (the Overachiever Invasion, Night of Writing Dangerously weekend, and Thanksgiving weekend), I still want to eat reasonably healthily, and cooking in advance and freezing meals is a good way to make sure I do so.

* Acquire the last few needed groceries before starting all this cooking.

* Various ML stuff.

* Three kickoff parties the upcoming weekend. For those in the Atlanta region, there's one on Saturday evening followed by two on Sunday. See this thread for details and how to RSVP. (It's so close!)

And then the noveling begins...

Thoughts from the Nano food front

A couple of things:

If NaNo is messing with my productivity and sleep schedule now, imagine what it'll do in November. No, life, I need to get work done. I can't spend all day on the NaNo forums. I would like to have money to fund my Night of Writing Dangerously shenanigans and write-in food and drink fund.

I also need to figure out what to cook for the first week of NaNo. A couple of years ago I was smart enough to cook enough food for a week and heat up individual portions as needed. Yes, this meant that I ate a lot of the same thing for nearly a week, but that was worth being able to sit down and write without worrying about food to me. Maybe I'll get lucky and I can stock up on cheap non-crappy frozen dinners again before the first for those really desperate times. (I already got two of them in anticipation of November first, along with a few packs of ramen. Don't worry, I eat real food most of the time. The ramen I ate the evening of NaNo site launch is an exception, not the rule.)

So I need some quick meals that I can cook before the first, preferably things I can cook all at once, freeze, and then pop in the oven or microwave before eating. Quick and inexpensive to fix are always better. I'm cooking for just myself, so almost any recipe will give me enough for leftovers. Ideas?
Soon after the new NaNoWriMo site launched last night, I found myself on there, refreshing intermittently while doing other things.

There's one very big thing from the relaunch.

Wikiwrimo is the very first site featured in the Procrastination Station... meaning it's on the front page of NaNoWriMo right now.

Oh. My. Baty. Threads I've started have been featured there, but never a website I built. Then again, Wikiwrimo is the first NaNo-related site I've built. Still, seeing it on the front page of NaNo is ridiculously awesome. I BUILT that site, after all. My Wikiwrimo is all grown up.

Oh well.

It went something like this on our way to my place after the weekend trip (which included an extra day that's now sending me scrambling, but that's another story)

Me: You probably figured this out by now, but I like you.

David: Is that a proposal.

Me: Depends. Do you want it to be?

David: Well, I hate to break your heart, but I don't want anything more.

And that was that. No additional awkwardness when we got to my place and he got his Tupperware dish and balanced it on his head and I called him possessing of a level head and we talked for a bit before he left and he said he may see me in a few months because it sounded like I was going to be so busy due to NaNo.

But I'm still writing his Renaissance assassins for NaNo. We had a great time planning that one out over the trip, mostly last night.

Also, now people are creeping my Twitter @ mentions to figure out who he is after I tweeted somewhat cryptically about it. Is this what being famous is like?

An idea for next year's NaNo? Already?

You know those sayings about ideas coming in droves or when you have too many? That appears to be happening to me right now, at least about the last part. I blame the #nanolanta chat room for helping me come up with this idea, even if I did hint at the idea myself.

I can't write the idea this year. Well, I could, but most the research is experience-based, and that experience can't happen until next year. All I can say is that you have a year to read or reread Adventures in Wrimonia if you haven't already. I'm just saying.

NaNoWriMo vs. my family

The new NaNoWriMo website launches in a week. I'm running around like a headless chicken thanks to MLing, having a social life, trying to get other work done, and oh, being away last weekend and this upcoming weekend. This thing called a social life is really getting to me, but at least I'm getting it out of my system before Nano season officially begins for the masses.

What many people don't realize is that Nano season begins much sooner for me. My brother contacted me about the family coming down to visit me this weekend for my dad's birthday. The fact that my dad and I aren't very close at all (the least close of all my family members) aside, I have an airtight excuse in being away this weekend. But it also happens to be Nano season, and as we all know, Nano eats my soul even more than usual during October and November. Not that it doesn't during the rest of the year, of course, with many of my social interactions being with Wrimos, but the soul-eating definitely goes into overdrive and obsession during Nano season. You would think my family is aware of this since I did Nano as a high school student while living with them, but no, every single year they still ask what Nano is. At least my brother, who is like me in that he is Internet-savvy and geeky, has figured out what Nano is after all these years and even commented on it last year when Nano trended on Twitter. He still thinks I'm nuts for doing it, which is expected. My parents primarily care about my writing to get published and therefore rich. It doesn't work like that, but that's a separate subject altogether.

So how do I explain to my family just how important Nano is to me? They sort of know what Nano is but don't really value writing unless it's going to make me rich. You know, because all writers are rich, right?
My Nano ML application got accepted. YAY!

The new Delicious: not as good as I hoped

Delicious, the bookmarking site I have grown to love, relaunched today. I noticed it this morning when people on my Twitter feed were complaining about it and when my unofficial Delicious Android app failed to bookmark a link after several attempts, but as I was at a friend's house and using my phone to access the Internet, exploring Delicious and its new features would have to wait until having access to a real computer.

I got home, plunked myself in front of my computer, and started exploring. Unfortunately the people on my Twitter feed who were complaining had lots of good reasons to do so. There are some good things about the new Delicious, but many of the things I loved about the site, including the little things, are now gone. They're probably not gone for good, but they're small enough to make me realize how much they affected my use of (the old) Delicious. Since Delicious is a site that I've used daily for over four years, changes to the site don't sneak by this power user easily.

I understand Delicious is thinking of itself as back in beta, but this is not a good approach to take when a site already has a loyal userbase. A change that take away the features that drove your users to the site in the first place is a great way to drive users away. The fine AVOS folks are seeking feedback on the new site, and I'm definitely sending them some feedback (maybe even this post). There's something to be said about preserving the best in a site you've come to love.

That aside, let's take a look at the new Delicious.

The Good (or at least the interesting):

1. Stacks: Stacks are collections of links designed for sharing. You can create a stack for anything you want, from foreign language resources to cookie recipes to NaNo resources. I don't see myself creating too many stacks, but I can see them being fun to browse.

One thing that went through my mind: If the folks behind Delicious now think people aren't bookmarking and tagging links because it takes effort, what makes them think people will curate stacks? Doesn't that take even more effort?

The silly part of this is the name. Why on earth are they called stacks? Wouldn't "collections" be better? When I think stack I think of a pile of stuff or of programming. Maybe the name is a tribute to StackOverflow, but that's stretching it.

2. Profile pictures. They definitely adds a less asocial component to the site. The problem is that my default is so cute that I don't want to change it.

3. You can still add bookmarks, so the core of Delicious hasn't really changed. I'll address the specifics of this in a minute.

The Okay:

1. Bookmarks are called links now. Does the name bookmark really turn people off? I'm indifferent to this change as I'm going to call them bookmarks forevermore, but I'm curious.

2. Spaces no longer separate tags. Commas do. This is so Delicious can support multiword tags, and while it's not a bad change, the comma thing is something I need to get used to.

3. The new design of the site. It's much looser than the old Delicious, and most of it is something I can get used to. Still, it feels less mature than the old version, like someone going through their wild youth before settling down.

The Not-So-Good:

1. I have no idea how the tags in my sidebar are chosen, but I can tell one thing: They're not my top n tags. They appear to be tags I've used recently based on a few clicks. I'm not sure how I feel about this. I much prefer a combination of the top tag system and a recent tag system so folks can get a better glimpse of what I bookmark. Another thing that is painfully missing (or at least not in an obvious place) is my overall tags page. I have over two thousand tags. A proper tags page is essential, and while tag bundles weren't essential for me since I let my bundles die with disuse, they are essential for many people.

2. While we're on the subject of tags, there is no sign of tags when I bookmark a page with the Delicious addon. Yes, I can add tags, but I see nothing about recommended tags out of my own tags or popular tags for a link. That feature was essential for me. I needed (and still do) to remember what tags I had already created so I could tag appropriately. There's also no more autocomplete for tags. This is absolutely killer for me. I could keep typing and have no idea if I misspell a tag. I have to spend several more seconds a day typing in tag names. Seriously, Delicious. If nothing else, bring back these tagging features. I look at the bookmark me page many times a day, and making this page pleasant is essential to my Delicious experience, as well as the experience of many others.

3. No more bulk edit. This saved me so much work in organizing my tags.

4. If you try to change the privacy of a private bookmark, the "Save as private" checkbox isn't checked, making you think the bookmark was temporarily public. This can cause a lot of unneeded panic. Fix this.

5. I can't see how many total pages are in a given tag or in all my bookmarks. All I see are pages 1, 2, 3, 4, and an arrow to go to the next page. This helps me absolutely none. If I want to go to the nth page, where n is a very large number, I have a lot of hopping to do. I have to go the fourth page and the last page after the fourth page I can access, and then the last one after that.

6. Somewhat related, Delicious no longer tells you how many bookmarks are saved under a given tag, making this game much more frustrating. I know I have many more than ten bookmarks tagged "privacy", for example, but I can't find out how many more. I can't even browse past my ten most recen bookmarks under a given tag. This alone makes me want to quit Delicious for another site. I don't use Delicious just for bookmarking things. I use it to tag things I want to read or watch or do, and those lists get quite long after awhile. Every now and then I go through those lists and take a few off or take care of them so I can remove the tag. Now that task is practically impossible.

7. The redirects. All the pages saved in Delicious are wrapped in a Delicious wrapper, which redirects you to the site in question when you click. No. Just... no. I want to know exactly where I'm going before clicking. Yes, I can copy and paste the link in my browser or in an IM window, but that's not quite the same. Dear webmasters, please don't wrap your links around redirects.

8. In new Delicious you save the URL, then add tags and comments and mark as private. Just no. I don't private bookmark often, but when I do, I want it to stay private. Not being able to edit the URL also means I don't get to cut out the RSS junk that some RSS readers like to add. Being able to edit the URL is something that must come back.

The question I'm asking is... what now? I'm not a fan of Diigo, mainly because there's not an easy keyboard shortcut to bookmark links. Yes, this is extremely important to me. The Delicious addon broke me in that way. Toolbars are terrible, and I refuse to add any. Pinboard.in isn't free to join, but I could be convinced. Freelish.us appears to have been down for days for status.net maintenance, so I can't judge it yet. What other options are out there for someone who maintains an 18,000-bookmark collection (and growing) and enjoys browsing the links of others? Right now it doesn't look like Delicious is the answer. I really wish it were.
While I have my journals out, I'm doing a detailed word count of my 2002 Nano according to my paper journal.

1 Nov, 4:04pm: 1015
2 Nov, 12:21pm: 1701
3 Nov, morning: 2662
3 Nov, evening: 5218
4 Nov, afternoon: 5218
5 Nov, morning: 7084
5 Nov, afternoon: 7084
6 Nov, morning: 7774
7 Nov, morning: 7774
10 Nov, morning: 10541
10 Nov, evening: 12372
12 Nov, morning: 12372
15 Nov, morning: 12372
17 Nov, morning: 12372
18 Nov, afternoon: 14000+ (notes: "I don't remember the exact amount, but it's over 14,000." Also, "10,000 words behind! Ack!" Actually, more than that.)
19 Nov, 1:15pm: 15531 (Note: This was when the thought to quit passed my mind. It is a very good thing I didn't.)
20 Nov, morning: 16344
22 Nov, morning: 16344
24 Nov, evening: 17307
1 Dec: 50037

And I didn't write in Dr. Nbook during the last week because I was writing. If I could find the post with my old blog's word counts (specifically during the last week), I'd update that, but I can't, so this will have to stay as is.

A look back at my Dr. Nbooks

Today I finished another paper journal. I've kept a paper journal since I was eleven, and the journals have accumulated with time. At this point the boxes of journals (two at this point) have gotten disorganized and needed a huge overhaul. So I told myself that I would take all of them out of the boxes, arrange them on my bedroom floor, snap a photo, and organize them properly in their boxes--this time with feeling.

Here are the two boxes in question. The box that isn't quite full contains the earlier journals, which is the main reason I wanted to give the boxes an overhaul.

The cover of my very first journal. The first twenty-five or so journals are all titled with the Keep Out general scheme.

The very first entry. Appropriate to write about notebooks? Maybe not, but that's what happened. I still write in cursive now, but it's a little less bubbly these days.

All my notebooks, including the new one.

Another fun fact: I spotted Sushi for the first time on the cover of number fourteen. I didn't see Sushi mentioned inside a journal before then, but to be fair I only skimmed a few pages. The nickname Sushi showed up much more often after that.

This kind of massive rearranging probably won't happen too often. I predict that it won't happen until at least 100 journals, which should take at least two more years. So unless I move again I won't have to drag all these journals anywhere after packing them up again. Huzzah.


More on this later. No progress yet, much to some folks' dismay. But David and I are lying in bed at 230 am on our phones doing our things.

We are such nerds. Holy crap.

My next few months are filling up quickly. I already RSVP'd to the Night of Writing Dangerously (and am still fundraising to dress like my Twitter icon!), but a couple of nights ago I took the next big step and bought the plane ticket to San Francisco.

I didn't mean to. I was talking to a couple of folks about the event and found myself checking flight costs again, as I had been doing casually over the past few weeks, when I spotted a flight that fit my wants and needs (Fri-Mon, arriving in San Francisco early, not a red-eye return to Atlanta or leaving San Francisco at the crack of dawn, nonstop--oh, and wifi on both flights) perfectly for a much better price than what I had been spotting over the past few weeks. Low enough that I wouldn't kick myself too hard if the price went down any further.

So I did some quick math, consulted Bing Travel's prediction to see what it said about buying, and caved and bought. And now it's officially official: I am going to the Night of Writing Dangerously in San Francisco.

My other weekends between now and the end of Nano are also filling up quickly. I count two completely free weekends between now and the beginning of Nano, but those weekends will fill up as Nano approaches or non-Nano friends want to see me in a non-noveling context. Even my Nano weekends are slowly filling up. Between Nanolanta shenanigans, the Night of Writing Dangerously, and 50k weekend, only the first weekend remains fully available, and I'm sure it'll fill up with write-ins as November approaches. Meatspace non-Wrimos, if you want to see me before December, you better see me soon or take advantage of my flexible schedule to see me during the week because soon it's going to be really hard to do so unless you're also doing Nano.

This means December will be a breath of fresh air. Won't that be exciting?

Night of Writing Dangerously: It's on

Today something great happened. As you may recall, I've been fundraising to attend NaNoWriMo's Night of Writing Dangerously over the past few weeks. Attendees have to raise $250 to get in the door, and all the money raised through the page supports the Office of Letters and Light, NaNoWriMo's parent nonprofit organization.

Well, thanks to the wonderful donors to my fundraising page, I reached the magical $250. Okay, the full amount was really $250 when rounded up to the nearest dollar, but not all my donors knew that since my fundraising page rounds the amount raised up to the nearest dollar. I threw a few bucks toward my own page to make absolutely sure I was above the minimum before filling out my RSVP form.

So thank you, donors. Thank you so much for supporting creative writing and for indulging in my desire to make this year's NaNo the best one yet. I'm not finished yet, though. For every $100 above the minimum $250 raised I'll add an element of my Twitter icon (see icon) into my outfit.

This means I need to get to work on the order of the outfit elements. When that's decided I'll edit my fundraising page to reflect that.

Thank you so much for your support, whether you donated or shook your head at my word count. Here's to the best November yet!