Midweek Computer Follies

This week I made the decision to upgrade the Mac to El Capitan.

Until now, I’d been holding out because of reports of programs coming out broken on the other side of the process. Considering that Scrivener and Office were two of the culprits, I thought it best to be safe rather than sorry.

To be sure, I keep a robust set of backups, so I didn’t stand to lose any data if I ended up having to reinstall, but who wants to waste a day on such things?

In any case, this week I checked again to see if fixes for the errant programs were available, and as far as I could tell, they were. Satisfied that I would not nuke my productivity from orbit in upgrading, I set about doing the deed this morning.

Kane, as you can see, chose to “help.”

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The installation itself seems to have gone smoothly enough, and once all was said and done, I found that Office works about as well as it ever has.

Scrivener, though? Nope. Broken. Crashed on startup.

I headed over to the fix documentation and worked my way through the steps. Here there was a slight improvement. I was able to start Scrivener once, but as soon as I quit the program, it would crash on the next start.

So I installed a fresh copy. Same problem.

Fresh copy plus fixes. Same problem.

After that, it was mostly down to guessing and bellowing, as usual.

I think I may have finally located the issue, but only by sheer luck. A very old third-party program I occasionally use, and which is not compatible with El Capitan, threw a fit when I tried to launch it. Wondering if that program’s upgrade-incompatible settings could have potentially been interfering with Scrivener, I uninstalled it.

After that, a fresh install of Scrivener (again), the fixes (again), and a reboot (again).

Now, suddenly, Scrivener works.

I have no idea how the old program affected system settings, or how it was affecting the magical unicorn blood which is surely the data storage medium used by all Apple products, but for now, things seem to work.

If Scrivener starts acting up again, I guess I’m going to have to sacrifice a goat to the Apple gods or something.

Anyone else have issues with Scrivener when moving to El Capitan? If you did, what was your eventual solution?

Lurching Toward Self-Care (Plus Cats!)

I hope you are having a most pleasant Sunday, my magnificent horde. (Or, if it’s not Sunday when and where you are, a most pleasant whatever-day-it-happens-to-be.)

As I go about the work of realigning my schedule and my priorities to better accommodate the business of writing, one thing stands out to me in a way I didn’t expect. So today I’d like to spend a few words talking about my experiments in creative self-care. Plus also—an obligatory cat anecdote, since my stats tell me you guys love cat posts, and especially cat posts on Sundays.

And because I am kind and merciful, I’ll tell you the cat thing first.

Cat Stuff

Lately the cats have been on a diet. The vet pointed out that Agnes, who is a very small kitty, has put on a little weight is basically attempting to transform herself into Tetsuo from Akira or maybe Jabba the Hutt. She accomplishes this by stealing Kane’s food whenever possible and then pretending she is famished so we will feed her again. I do my best to watch them at mealtimes, but Agnes’s SNEAK is up to like 99 or 100, and she can slip in, wolf down Kane’s breakfast, and be away before I notice.

So per the doctor’s orders, both cats have been condemned to eat low-calorie, extra-filling crunchyfood (we allow them to free-feed because they stress out if they can’t), and Agnes’s squishyfood portions have been radically reduced. We’ve also wrestled them into a much more conservative feeding schedule so they will eat what squishyfood they’re given right that minute and not leave any lying around in their bowls.

Thus far, it’s working, and Agnes has begun to de-puff just a bit (I wonder why). But she’s still phenomenally displeased with the arrangement and does everything in her power to subvert it.

Today around lunchtime, they got their midday squishyfood, which was promptly consumed. Agnes, of course, was displeased, and she was doubly displeased when she discovered that I had already collected Kane’s bowl and washed it.

So she licked the floor a couple of times—mournfully—and proceeded to give a few affectionate rubs to the fridge, where she knows the leftovers are kept.

Her overtures went unanswered, however, much to her displeasure.

Meanwhile, in the process of washing the lunch dishes, I noticed that the crunchyfood hopper needed replenishing, so I added some kibble.

Miraculously, this cured Agnes’s melancholy in an instant, since obviously the food I just added, which looks exactly like the food that was already there, will somehow be different. She headed straight to the hopper and began to partake, behaving as though I’d just dispensed the most precious thing in the world.

Kane (who had just been squirted with the water bottle for attempting to run off with a bugbear miniature sitting on the bookshelf) decided to see what was so novel and magnificent about the food hopper. Agnes, however, was not having it, and hunched over the kibble, refusing to give him any space.

This led to a ridiculous spectacle during which Kane put a forepaw on Agnes’s head to push her out of the way as he used the other paw to gently rake just one kibble out of the bowl and onto the floor to eat. They repeated this whole process about half a dozen times before Agnes decided it wasn’t worth the trouble, gave Kane a resounding slap across the face, and sauntered off to sulk on her throne (an old chair she defends from all other possible claimants).

And Kane? As usual, he was oblivious. He shook off the slap and settled in for a snack.

One of these days I’ll catch them on video and share, if I can. They are endlessly entertaining, and—who am I kidding here?—cat videos are internet gold.

Writer Stuff

Since the new year, I’ve set myself a pretty structured schedule. I’m getting up around 6:30am (I’ve moved back from 7:00—huzzah?) and sitting down to start my day no later than 8:00. Typically, I spend at least three to four hours on the manuscript, then break for lunch for an hour, and come back to do whatever freelance work I need to get done.

This means I’m checking out of Workland around 2:00 to 3:00, depending on the day and the particulars of the workload.

Which, admittedly, sounds pretty sweet.

But I’ve discovered there’s a catch (there’s always a catch), because even though work ends in the mid-afternoon, my standing obligations do not. Outside of just being a human with a spouse, I have Things That Must Be Done most evenings of the week, and these start around dinnertime and often run until 8:00 or 9:00pm. On Fridays, things run later.

Sometimes it’s errands or chores around the house, others it’s, say, running my Friday D&D game or putting in my time at the local game store to help teach the hobby to new players (both of which require prep time). On Wednesdays, it’s that I actually get to play a game instead of being the DM, so while that’s not properly an obligation, it’s a necessary steam valve in my life.

The end result is that by the time I hit the bed on Friday, I’m pretty damned tired. And pushing through the weekends these last several weeks has made me even more tired. It’s also put a crimp in the schedule around the house, since Saturdays are when we run most of our big errands and do most of our grocery shopping, and Sundays are when we do things like wrangle the laundry and cook a bunch of food to make meals easier during the week. Plus, if we want to do anything that remotely resembles spending time together, Saturday and Sunday are our best bets for that.

The rest of the week we’re both too buried.

So I’m going to have to admit to myself that I need my weekends—not so I can cram two more weekdays into my life, but so I can come down from the week, make sure everything is taken care of for the five days ahead, and generally remember that I live with another person, and that we both exist outside of our jobs.

The perfectionist, workaholic part of my brain hates that. Hates it with a passion.

You are awake and breathing, it tells me. You need to be in front of that screen.

And most of the week, you know, it’s right. Most of the week, if I’m up and away from the keyboard during the day, it’s probably because I’m farting around, avoiding work. But what the workaholic parts of my brain (or anyone’s brain) tend to forget is that we are not robots, and that recharging is somewhat more complex for the average human meat-puppet than just plugging into the wall till the batteries are at 100%.

There will be occasions when life will require me to push into the weekend. That just happens from time to time. But the rest of the time, I need to be willing to give myself space and time to recharge in preparation for the wild charge that begins on Monday morning (promptly, at 6:30, with cats in my face because oh god where is the squishyfood there is no squishyfood nevermind the hopper full of crunchyfood we are going to STARVE).

So that’s my self-care concession, after just over three weeks of reflection on my process and my new schedule. What about you, horde? Do you have a particular ritual, method, or stretch of time that you keep sacred in order to keep your batteries charged?

Kane’s Gastric Shenanigans: Update

I thought I’d provide a quick update to Kane’s situation this morning before I get down to the business of continuing to kick this novelette into shape.

As you may recall from Sunday’s post, about a week ago, Idiot Cat Child #2, more commonly known as Kane, took it upon himself to ingest a variety of non-food objects. This in turn led to a bout of sickness, a severe case of dehydration, and a not-cheap visit to the vet to pump him full of medicine and fluids.

On Monday night, he at last had a substantial bowel movement, and he passed an impressive assortment of Things That Are Not Food, to include the following:

  • The remains of a brown shoelace, including bits of the aglet;
  • An astounding collection of string and people-hair;
  • And a hearty mouthful of shredded paper from the office paper shredder bin.

As you might imagine, we were not amused (and we were at a loss as to where he collected so much hair). We were, however, glad that he had passed the objects, as this meant he would likely be all right.

We’ve watched him carefully the past few days for further signs of trouble. He seems to be in the clear now, and is currently in residence on my lap, kneading and making the grunting piglet sounds he makes when he is pleased (he does not purr).

Whatever anyone may say about life with cats (especially this one), it’s certainly never boring.

Hissing at Bananas and Other Misadventures

This past week has been a rollercoaster ride. The chaos started last Sunday night, when the power went out as a cold front howled through town, leaving the house particularly chilly until Monday morning, when power was at last restored.

Tuesday brought the semiannual Ritual of Dragging Unwilling Cats to the Vet—which, although neither Kane nor Agnes were ill, inevitably did not go over well. In the end, the result of the expedition was baths for all (feline car sickness: the struggle is real), bandages for some (cats can be…persuasive when they don’t want to go somewhere), and generally a couple of cats who were not pleased with us in the least.

Thursday, Kane began to show some signs of malaise, and he also vented his frustration at my locking him out of the office by dismembering a shoelace. Truth be told, I didn’t think anything of this until Friday morning, when he greeted me at 7:00 am by puking all over the bedroom floor. Another round followed at 8:00, accompanied shortly thereafter by another at 9:00 or 10:00.

The puking went on at odd intervals until evening, at which point Mr. Warlord and I came to the conclusion that Kane needed to go back to the vet on Saturday morning. In inspecting the shoelace he’d destroyed, we accounted for most of it, but not for the plastic aglet on the end, so we’d begun to worry that he had eaten it. We also noticed that he had neither eaten nor visited the litterbox all Friday—further causes for concern.

So bright and early Saturday morning, Kane, lord of stupid cat tricks, went to see the vet again. He turned out to be dehydrated, and when we mentioned his other behaviors, the vet wanted to x-ray him. Unfortunately, the x-rays were inconclusive. Something unwelcome was definitely there, hanging out in his small intestine, but it wasn’t possible to conclusively identify it or to tell whether he was blocked.

Kane was given a stout dose of fluids and some anti-nausea medication and sent back home with us (we deferred an ultrasound or exploratory surgery for the moment). At the moment he seems all right, and has eaten a little and visited the box. He’s still under the weather, though, and will bear watching. If he worsens, it’s off to the vet with us again.

Agnes, meanwhile, has shown only a minimum of concern for her big dumb brother. Instead, she has determined to save the household from the dire threat of the…bunch of bananas we brought home from the grocery store. It’s a strange thing to see a cat hissing at bananas, but—well, I’ve long since given up on understanding Agnes.

Clearly I cannot comprehend her genius.

In the midst of all this, I’ve not made as much progress on “Beasts” as I would like, but daily progress has nevertheless been made, and the exposition is coming together. My goal, provided no more cat-related chaos, is to put the first section to bed no later than Saturday.

Today, I’m catching up on work I intended to do yesterday, for cats care not for freelance deadlines, but writers, perforce, must do so. Whatever your goals and plans, I hope you meet with success today as well!