When are you leaving Langkawi? What’s taking so long? Are you losing momentum? Are you giving up on the circumnavigation? If I had a penny for all the times I’ve been asked these questions in the last few months, I’d be able to sail around for an extra year. But, how does a marathon runner mak
Looking at that pic, I can see how camera technology has advanced in sixteen years. It’s fuzzy! But, I digress.
When I say cover your productive tush, I mean have a plan for when your hard drive crashes, your computer gets dropped into an outhouse, somebody steals your laptop, you know, all that stuff that you read about ruining writers’ projects. Because, you know, there are things you can do. And to prove it, I shall tell you what some of those things are.
First, Back Up Everything!
There are a couple of ways to do backups. I use both of them. The first, older way is simply to buy an external hard disk and plug it into your computer. Then, no matter what OS you use, you will find a handy-dandy backup routine already built in! Wowzers! I use Windows, and I’ve had excellent luck simply letting Windows decide what to back up. But, it’s up to you, you can decide what you do or don’t want backed up. If you do these backups regularly (Windows lets you do it on a continuous basis in the background) you will always have a copy of the latest saved version of every one of your files. So, after the dog eats your work, you buy a new laptop, plug in the external drive, and recover it all.
What is a backup, you say?
A backup is just a copy of a computer file (or a lot of them.) That’s it. It’s usually possible to use the backup copy directly, without even “recovering” it, but if you do that, you’re defeating the purpose of having an extra copy. So, first thing to do to recover from a disaster is to always make backups as you go along.
The second way to make a backup is to use “Cloud Storage.” You probably don’t know that “the cloud” is just a term techies made up to indicate that the exact location of the data isn’t necessarily known, but it’s out there. (Technically, it may not even all be in one place, but it looks like it is.) Quite a few places will give you a certain amount of “cloud storage” for free. A big novel, I’m talking a humongous work, something to make War and Peace look like a pamphlet, is still an amazingly small computer file. Many, if not all, of these free cloud storage services will automatically back up your stuff to the cloud, and, again, you can tell the service what to back up. If you subscribe to Office 365, you get a terabyte of storage included. A terabyte is enough to store most of the Library of Congress’s contents on. No kidding. You only get at the most something like 50 gigabytes (probably a lot less) for free, but it will still be more than you’ll ever need to keep your projects on. If you use Windows with OneDrive (that’s what they call their cloud storage) you just keep everything in a folder by that name on your local drive, and whatever is in there is automatically backed up when you connect to the Internet. Since I do subscribe to Office 365, I don’t have much experience with other cloud backup schemes, but I’m told that they are similar. Use whatever service you like (Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, etc.) but use one of them and use it all the time!
Save Your Work All the Time!
Yes, I said All the Time! I use Word. (In the old days, I was a WordPerfect user, but once everything went GUI (look it up) I switched because it is simple and easy. And, Word works on Mac and PC, and is free on handheld devices, so what the heck, huh?) Word includes the ability, if you use OneDrive at least, to continuously backup your document (book, silly) as you type. By using Word and OneDrive (and I’m sure there are other ways to accomplish the same thing) I always have a backup copy of my project, no matter what happens. Worst case scenario is that I lose a few lines of text. Seriously, that’s the worst that could happen. Barring that, Word can be set up save the document you are in at intervals as short as one minute. Could you afford to lose a minute’s work? Probably. Keep your project on a cloud drive, save as often as you can, and boy, howdy, you can’t lose your precious files if you want to.
(Okay, you could delete them.)
There you go: back-up your work, either to an external hard drive or to the cloud, and save your work as often as possible. You can take a few minutes just once to set all of that up, then you’ll never have to think about it again. Until disaster strikes, when you’ll be congratulating yourself for being smart enough to have done that.
Good writing, fellow scribes!
Sonrisa misses me, I know it. I promised her I would get her up and running, and back in the water as soon as I possibly could. But, the fact of the matter is, visa runs are non-negotiable. So, when our visa ran out, I promised Sonrisa we wouldn’t have any fun without h
“I am just so happy that I’m feeling so much better!” I say as I march confidently one foot before the other, my right foot behaving just as it should. I’ve been marveling about this and loudly proclaiming my gratitude to the powers that be. “Good!” Andrew says, he is feeling cheery, too.
I’m glad it’s okay to talk about racism again. Of course, the problem of racism in America boils down to one simple fact: Whiteness. Oddly, perhaps, before my forebears started enslaving Africans, there were no white people. Didn’t need ’em. My forbears started calling those poor Africans “black,” or as they said at the time, “Negro,” Spanish for black, or even “Niger,” Latin for black. That last word got distorted a bit and today I won’t use what it’s become, outside of talking about Huckleberry Finn, but originally it just was a way to indicate that somebody was “black.” Of course, there’s a pile of guilt involved with enslaving somebody who was probably just minding their own business when somebody nabbed them. And, sure, other Africans did the grabbing, but only because Europeans provided a ready market. The Portuguese, in particular, made a tidy profit buying people in Ghana and shipping them to the West Indies, or North or South America. That guilt is why you hear excuses about how “it was blacks that enslaved the blacks. They’re the culprits.” Nope. Sorry. And that guilt is why it was necessary to make those poor Africans seem inferior in every way. And if they’re blacks, then my forbears, the enslavers, must be as far from black as one can get. In fact, they invented the White Race.
Slavery has engendered a lot of guilt amongst “white people.” I used to wonder why Texans seemed to have a chip on their collective shoulders over their state. Heck, it seems like a nice enough place, lots of resources, modern enterprises, Ewing Oil, what the heck? Then I found out why they fought the war of independence from Mexico. It seems Mexico outlawed slavery, and the Texans wanted the freedom to keep on buying and selling people. Crimony! Later, of course, they joined the United States, but then joined the Confederacy in yet another effort to keep slavery alive. They failed in that one, but good gravy, how about we say “fuck the Alamo,” raze the place, and put up a Juneteenth Museum where it now stands? That seems more reasonable to me than idolizing a bunch of yahoos out to keep the freedom to be complete dicks.
And that guilt is why it is so damned important to some “white people” to defend against any sort of effort to eliminate racism. Maybe not the one-on-one sort of ugly actions that even those “white people,” with a few notable exceptions, will say is wrong, but the built-in, long-term assumptions of white superiority and white privilege. Yes, I grew up white, and I’ve lived a privileged life. The only difference between me and most whites is that I know it. Many of my fellow Anglos have no idea. “I’m not at all privileged,” they’ll tell you, and they’re right, if you compare them to other “white folks.” As to what people of color go through, they have no idea. If you try to counter that institutionalized and internalized racism, you’re “playing the race card.” Shit. Obviously, “black” folks are a lot more forgiving than I am. If it was me, I’d want to kill those mofos. They only mess with me, of course, if I do something to remind them just how phony their whiteness truly is. You know, something like writing a blog post about racism from the point of view of an Anglo.
Why Anglo? Well, for one thing, that’s the polite term used by Native Americans and others to refer to those of us who might call ourselves “white.” It’s just an ethnic reference, and it’s basically correct. And unlike “white,” it doesn’t carry boatloads of uncomfortable baggage. And, maybe too, it lets me distance myself, just a teensy crack, from that whole iceberg of racism. Maybe. As for writing this post, it’s the only sort of thing I can do to counter the centuries-old behemoth that is whiteness.
How does this relate to writing? Well, everything else does, why not this?
Though we found ourselves in the midst of several ongoing projects: Sonrisa repair, back repair, a children’s book, and maybe the start of even bigger writing projects, my next experiment in accepting a more relaxed state of being is right around the corner. Our first ninety day block of time in
Source: A Visa Run to Bali
So, a few people are asking what is it exactly that I’ve been doing while Andrew slaves away on Sonrisa at the boat yard? Answer: My continuing experiment in the art of appreciating freedom. The challenge facing me as we neared this time on land was a complete lack of objectives calling me t
In one of his autobiographies (there are at least two) Isaac Asimov said that when asked what he strove for in his writing, his answer was “clarity.” I remember that often as I read news stories and other ambiguous items. On July 23, 2019, The Washington Post ran a story about a person’s childhood. It quoted their grandparents’ opinion of the person, then told how their father was structurally unavailable, and their mother worked constantly. Then the paragraph said, “They raised him as their own child.” The word they being close to his dysfunctional parents, although it obviously refers back to the grandparents. Or does it? Could you make an argument that the author of the piece was actually referring to the parents, perhaps trying to make some subtle point about their parenting skills? Well, yes, you could. And that is why that paragraph is not clear. All it needs is for “They” to be replaced with “The grandparents” and all would be well, and clear.
That was in a newspaper that is, unusually, not interfered with by its owner (Jeff Bezos of Amazon fame.) A paper that can, most people think, be trusted most of the time. And they let unclear writing go right on out into the world. Come on, Post, get it together, okay? But consider what you see on social media. Any social media. Is it clear? Can you spot any ambiguity in the text? And, sure, I tend to lean more toward humanism than authoritarianism, but I’m talkin’ ’bout you, Liberals and Progressives. Because, thanks to the magic of filtering, I generally only see Conservative screeds second-hand, that is, when somebody reposts them. (I do follow POTUS on Twitter.) The folks I follow make a great many assumptions, about themselves, their audience, and their opposition. Any time you’re assuming something in a text it is perforce ambiguous. And ambiguity is the perfect opposite (apposite, even) of clarity.
So, here’s an exercise you can do. Go through your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. feeds and check for the ambiguous postings. There will be a lot. Look closely at the techniques the posters use to drive home their point to the unwary. Then, as you write your stories, never, ever do those things. The way things are, that alone might guarantee you the clarity good writing always deserves and needs.
“I’m not ready to submit to a surgery,” I tell Andrew. “My pain level isn’t bad enough, yet.” “What are you talking about? You can’t stand up straight.” “Yes I can.” “No, you can’t. Even right now, you are hunched over with your butt sticking out.”&nbs
A few days later, we board our flight to the close by Medical Island of Malaysia: Penang. It’s time for our annual checkups, and it won’t hurt to get to the bottom of exactly which type of ghost is inhabiting my back this time around. Besides, it’s been far too long since we’ve been on any