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[personal] Blog content for a while…

For obvious reasons, blog content for a while will be almost all cancer, all the time, other than daily Link Salad and Moment of Zen posts. There may be some irregular or omitted days, depending on where I am in the treatment cycle.

I have some political and cultural posts I’d like to make, but as I’m under a lot of medical stress, I don’t trust myself to be as nuanced and focused as I need to be in those cases. If I’m going to be inflammatory, I’d strongly prefer to do so on purpose. Even more to the point, I don’t want to accidentally stir shit because I’m too goofy to really know what I’m doing.

So unless there’s a stretch of unusually clear-mindedness ahead, pretty much going to be focused on the NIH trial experience here for some time to come.

[personal] Paying for online content

I have a small conflict of interest which crops up from time to time. It did a while back with The Christian Science Monitor, and again just lately with Andrew Sullivan’s site, The Dish. Both are excellent news sources, and both put up a paywall after you’ve read a very limited number of articles.

There are workarounds for some paywalls. Google News gets around The New York Times paywall, for example. If I find or get a tip to a Times story, I can call it up in Google News and click through. That doesn’t seem to work for me for The Christian Science Monitor and The Dish.

I’m not sure it should work for me, frankly. Andrew Sullivan has every right to be able to make a living, and The Christian Science Monitor can’t possibly be cheap to run. They deserve to be paid.

The problem for me is that I read dozens of Web sites every day. I can read hundreds in a given week, following links from other articles or tips people email me for Link Salad.

I simply cannot afford to subscribe to all the sites that want my money. If I made my living as a journalist, Web-based or otherwise, and could count those subscriptions as research expense, maybe I could justify them. Even then, we’re talking many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of dollars per year.

So I just don’t read The Christian Science Monitor, despite their excellent reporting. And I’m giving up on Andrew Sullivan, even though my initial reading of The Dish engaged me considerably. Instead I must rely o commentators and link aggregators elsewhere on the Web for any exposure at all to either of those markets. And so many others.

In effect, this is my personal version of the Paradox of Choice. Too many good choices, and I cannot afford them all. Instead I’m driven away from excellent sources. I can’t afford to pay everyone, so I pay hardly anyone.

That doesn’t seem right. But I don’t perceive a better solution.

[personal] Slight change in blog editorial policy

It has come to my attention that if I don’t post to my blog relatively early in the morning, people sometimes grow concerned about my health. I really appreciate that.

I used to always post early because I started my workday at 6 am Pacific time, and I never blogged during working hours. As I grow more ill, I continue to sleep a bit later and get moving a lot slower. Being on disability also means I don’t have a set wakeup time like I used to. Plus sometimes I have things to do first thing, like a breakfast with someone, or a medical appointment.

So here’s me formally stating that while I will continue to blog daily so long as my health allows, I am no longer committed to blogging early in the day. As a practical matter, I’m likely to do that some of the time anyway, but please do not grow concerned.

If something both unexpected and abrupt does occur with my health, Lisa Costello also has the keys to my blog, and will make an announcement as needed.

[tech] RSS feed

If you read my blog via RSS feed, and you’re experiencing any problems such as delayed updates, please let me know. Trying to track down a possible issue/bug.


[personal] Luffing the sails a little bit

I’ve been talking a lot about politics on the blog lately, and I find I have a lot more to say. However, it’s not actually my intention for this to be an exclusively, or even largely, political blog, so I’m luffing the sails a little bit on those topics, until at least next week. Don’t worry, my ranty self will be back. I’m keeping track of the topics I want to cover. Never fear.

Which leads to a larger musing about the editorial voice of my blog. (Or really, anyone’s blog.) Basically, this is a blog of Stuff Jay Likes to Talk About. I don’t sell ads, I don’t have sponsors, no one pays me for this. So you see here a largely untrammeled partial view into my interests, including but not limited to:

  • Parenting and [info]the_child
  • Writing
  • Cancer
  • Photography
  • Politics
  • Science
  • Travel
  • Weird stuff
  • Food (including, specifically, cheese)
  • Movies

Not to mention a ton of other things.

Mostly I blog to entertain myself. I figure if I’m not entertaining myself, I sure as heck aren’t entertaining you. This is what I tell writers who ask me if they should blog: “Only if you want to, and only if it’s fun.” Otherwise, why the heck are you doing it? Nobody wants to read someone else painfully putting themselves through their paces. That’s just as true of blogging as it is of fiction.

Obviously, not all of my blogging is fun. My cancer journey surely has not been. But if not fun or entertaining, it’s still something important for me to talk about.

I generally don’t talk about my emotional frustrations, or the times when [info]the_child is being a total pill, or the irritating aspects of my publishing career. If I do mention those things, it’s usually to make a specific point, and I very much keep business confidentiality and personal privacy in mind. That’s part of being a professional. Likewise, I self-censor on topics of race and social justice because the cost of speaking up has grown too high. Which I hate, but I only have so much time and energy.

I blog because I like to talk about stuff. Enough of you read this blog to make the discussion interesting for me, but I’d probably still be blogging even if I were only talking to myself. This helps me organize my thoughts and make sense of my world.

Why do you blog? Or conversely, why don’t you blog? Do you have an editorial voice?

[travel|photos] In which I go to Texas, eat cheese, and encounter cat puke

I flew to Austin yesterday in order to embark on my weekend at Paradise Lost. Set out quite early in the morning, slept a couple of hours on the plane, then wrapped the Kalimpura copy edits. (Regarding which I also exchanged several very interesting emails with my copy editor, who has given me permission to edit them into a blog post to follow up on my recent comments about copy editing and manuals of style. Watch this space.) I also spent some time talking to a young man on his way to Fort Sill for Army basic, followed by AIT as an artillery radar control operator. He also has a slot at airborne school, and ambitions for ranger school. I thanked him for his willingness to serve and wished him well on what is to come.

@dratz picked me up at the airport. We cruised back to his house, then wandered over to Antonelli’s to score some cheese for some of the other Paradise Lost attendees. Mmm, cheese.

Lots of photos of cheese, plus more about the day, including bonus cat puke (more…)

[personal|child] Hitting the Oregonian News Network Meetup

Yesterday afternoon, amid a frenzy of drafting Their Currents Turn Awry and packing for Norwescon, [info]the_child and I hied on down to the Lucky Lab on SE Hawthorne for an @ORNewsNetwork meetup.

@ORNewsNetwork is the Oregonian News Network, a blog syndication portal sponsored by Oregon’s major daily newspaper. (Disclaimer: To state the obvious, this blog is part of that syndication portal. Hence me being at the meetup.) I’d worked with editors @georgerede and @corneliusrex online, but never in person. It was fun to meet them. Also met some cool bloggers, including @TheBugChicks, a pair of young, hip, funny entomologists, along with folks covering topics as diverse as urban foraging, consumerist issues and documentary filmmaking.

[info]the_child is a veteran of many conventions, conferences and other large-scale social venues, but this was her first meetup style event. She had a few nerves going in, but that was quickly dispelled. She did a lot of talking and listening, and I hope learned a few things. Amusingly, we also ran into a family from [info]the_child‘s school while at the Lucky Lab.

As I said to the kiddo in the car on the way there, I’m doing my best to bring her as much experience of the world as possible while I still can, just in case I’m not here for too much longer. The meetup was fun for me, educational for her, and a good way to spend an hour or two on a Portland Wednesday afternoon.

[personal] Housekeeping post

So, I might not have done one of these, well, ever. Consider this an open question thread as well.

Whose blog is this?

I’m Jay Lake. Dad. Author of ten science fiction and fantasy novels and several hundred short stories. Multiple cancer survivor. Leftie political junkie. World traveler. Technophile. I blog about all these things and more.

What don’t you blog about?

I don’t blog about money details, things that would embarrass my daughter, things that would compromise other people’s privacy, or details about my Day Jobbe. Literally everything else is fair game.

I see Link Salad every day. What’s up with that?

That’s just me making a link dump of the interesting things I see on the Web. I primarily entertaining myself with that, in truth. My first rule of blogging is that if I don’t find it interesting, you’re not likely to either. My second rule of blogging is be consistent.

You have that little squib of personal data at the bottom of each Link Salad. What about that?

That little set of details has evolved over time, but honestly, it’s mostly about public accountability for personal behaviors which I think are important. Also, “WRPA” in reference to my writing time is short for “Writing Related Program Activities”, meaning, things I did in my writing life which didn’t involve producing first draft fiction or revisions. That covers everything from marketing to handling contract issues to writing emails to my agent to preparing for class teaching.

Do you teach? Or come to conventions?

I do both, especially when invited. Lately I’ve been guest teaching about creative writing and commercial careers for my daughter’s eighth grade class. I am making various pro and instructor appearances at conventions and conferences this year, including at least one GoH gig. Feel free to contact me if you want me at your school or event. We’ll see what we can work out.

Where can I buy your books?

I write and publish under my own name, Jay Lake. I can be found at your local independent bookstore, your local chain bookstore, or via or (Other major online outlets as well.)

I have another question…?

Ask away in comments. Or send me an email if it doesn’t feel like a comments-oriented question.

[cancer] Chemo 11 of 12 today

I’m off for the infusion center in an hour or so. Chemo 11 of 12 happens today. In a little over two weeks, I’ll be done with these damned infusions. It will take me months to recover, but the trend will be up. Hooray!

Between chemo and being on the wrong computer, there may be a blogging hiatus this weekend.

[tech] Blogging from an undisclosed computer

I’m working on a Windows machine today. Where I have none of my bookmark lists, backfiles, blogging templates, etc. So grr.

Took the MacBook Pro into the Apple store at Pioneer Place yesterday afternoon. That was hard, on chemo I don’t do well in the afternoons. I waited half an hour before I could talk to anyone, well past my appointed time. And frankly, the guy was baffled. He didn’t listen very well to my descriptions of the virtual memory problems, and I don’t think he understood everything I told him. The problems, of course, would not replicate on the bench, despite appearing like clockwork here at home. They did find a battery problem (almost certainly unrelated to the VM issues), and I had an old problem with the case, so they kept the machine for hardware repairs, and supposedly some additional attention from a more experienced Genius Bar genius.

All in all, it was by far the least satisfactory Genius Bar experience I’ve ever had. Essentially, I have a problem which can both render the computer unusable, and lock up the boot cycle so there’s no way to get into it without specialized hardware and software. And the Genius Bar can neither understand the problem nor fix it. So what the heck do I do?

In a sense, I’ll be rescued by the arrival of my MacBook Air early next week. But this computer won’t be useful to me or anyone else (I was going to pass it on to [info]the_child and sell her old one, my MacBook from four years ago, but I can’t give her a computer that goes into VM hell every couple of days). Meanwhile, this chemo weekend I’ll be largely offline, except for maybe a blog post or two from the PC.

[personal|tech] Having issues

My apologies for the relatively light link salad today, as well as the lack of any more substantial post. Chemo brain seems to have infected my MacBook Pro, and I’ve spent most of my blogging time this morning dealing with rebooting to clear a virtual memory issue that seems to be able to persist even through a shut down cycle.

I’ve actually been wrestling with this for a while. It’s a subtle error, and only appears on occasion, so my trip to the Genius Bar a while back was pretty much a waste. But when the error does appear, TextPad stops being able to save, which screws up my blog post build. Restarting TextPad doesn’t help at that point. If I don’t reboot then, eventually I get a system error that the startup disk is out of space for virtual memory. Mind you, this is a disk with 100GB available. At that point, there’s nothing for it but to Force Quit any open applications and reboot. And the Mac’s attempt to save my working state means that sometimes I come back from the reboot with the error still in play. Which requires yet another reboot.

So far, attempted fixes include replacing the hard drive in case of a bad sector, upgrading to Lion in case of an oddball system incompatibility in the previous OS release, and swapping Web browsers, twice. The problem still comes back, on an apparently random basis. This morning’s outbreak was by far the worst yet.

Of course, here’s me in late stage chemo, when I am not at my troubleshooting best. It’s entirely possible this is some obscure form of user error. But I can’t replicate it, and because I can’t replicate it, I can’t even do the requisite troubleshooting to pin down the offending application(s) or Web sites. Meanwhile, I’ve been considering buying a MacBook Air, and I’m now wondering if going to all new hardware will allow me to simply walk away from the issue.

All of which is a very long-winded way of apologizing for the dearth of new content today. I lose enough quality blogging days to chemo brain. It’s frustrating to lose one to tech wonkery.