To Do Lists

To Do Lists?

I love them. I have a very deep love for to do lists. But I want to not just write to do lists, I want them to help me write better. For me Chuck Wendig style flailing and shouting isn’t actually useful. Yes, but what will I write? Which project? How much? By when? Me? I need structure. All brains love structure, but I know mine does and I want to feed it structure so it can barf out success.

Try and try and try again

I’ve been trying different varieties for a while and narrowing down what really helps. I just don’t like digital to do lists. I have no doubt that this will come as a shock to people who know me and know how much I love tech stuff, all the tech stuff. But for me there is something wonderfully visceral about having a to do list and crossing things off and then throwing it away when it is done. Crumpling up my phone and tossing it away and sighing with success is not really a thing.

Physical lists

So with a physical list and mostly focusing on weekends, I tried a bunch of things. I tried just making a straight up list of everything that needed to be done. Overwhelming.  I tried making a list broken out with each chunk of the day and what I was going to do. Better, but unsatisfying.

These were sort of my two main points after some very unsuccessful attempts earlier that included digital lists, lists of only the next 2 and 3 things that needed to happen, lists that only showed the task I was supposed be working on at that moment. Just didn’t work.

What works for me

A multipart list has worked best for me. It basically comes in two parts, the primary list and bonus.

A list chunked out Friday PM/Sat AM/Sat PM/Sun AM/Sun PM. Broken out like this I can have a general idea of what I’m supposed to be doing, if I have brunch plans they can be listed, but they won’t take up the whole chunk of that space. So it stops me from feeling like I’ve just overwhelmed a part of my day with a social obligation (yes, I’m an introvert, why do you ask?). It also gives me a way to check and see how I’m doing without checking too frequently.

The bonus tasks list is a list of things that I can do and cross off at any point during the weekend. It isn’t a huge problem if they don’t get done at all, but they also help me to not feel like I am only treading water. Adding the bonus tasks really helped me to feel like whoohoo! I’m ahead of the game. Which is really where I want to be. Simply adding all those additional tasks to the primary task list made me feel like I wasn’t getting ahead and I was falling behind if I wanted to do something like put off taking the trash out until the next time I was leaving the house. All the stress was not productive and I got less done.

What are bonus tasks? For me they are mostly household things. They are easy and fast to do and I get to cross them off. I know chances are very good I will do them. They are easy to do when I need to take a break from whatever it is I’m working on. They are also sometimes things for writing or the podcast that could be done now but aren’t really needed for a while.

So partial day chunks with a bonus task list. Generally created Friday morning before work, sometimes Thursday evening. I have found a tasking plan that works for me!

Any problems?

A weird and specific to me problem is audio recording. I need to be mindful of running the washing machine, turning on the heat, or my robot cleaner when I want to do audio. The sound is usually one I can clean out, but it is easier and faster if I just don’t have it there to start with. It is mostly something to be aware of. I also know I tend to do those things in the morning so I put audio recording duties as afternoon tasks.

What is your motivating, planning, get to creating style?

Soup

Another Friday, another challenge from Chuck Wendig at Terrible Minds. Last week people posted the first sentence for something, only the first sentence. He got over 500 comments, eep!, and selected 10. I picked one of those and this is my take on that sentence.

Soup

“Of all the things I expected to find in my tomato soup, this wasn’t one of them.” (Stella Wood)

I grinned and slurped down the chunk of real, fresh tomato. I pushed my spoon through the soup and saw a sliver of green, I dug hungrily for it. Inhaling deeply I could almost smell the real black dirt that must have been used to grow the basil.

The shredded cheese on the top was standard for the cans of soup everyone used, but the rest, was magic. I wasn’t even sure what else was in it but I knew I wanted more. I ate the rest of it with abandon, slurping, licking the bowl clean.

The waitress finally came back over to my table as I leaned back and tore the bread. I hadn’t even dunked it in the soup. It was great too, but great bread was easy to find. Actual tomato chunks? Not so easy.

“That was amazing, how do you even get fresh tomatoes?” I stared up at her in awe.

“We grow them in the hot house. We’ve got lots of herbs and in the fall, fresh squash.” Her warm smile sharpened and she shifted uncomfortably. “It’s perfectly legal and most of our customers like it, you don’t have to eat here. Some people just prefer the whole thing.”

I waved my hand to stop her. “I think it is delicious.” She was worried I was going to lecture her. “The last time I had a real tomato, it was a caprese salad at a very fancy place. They advertised as shipping in all their produce whole grown. It wasn’t anything like this. The waitstaff lectured us about how they did only the bare minimum to enhance the flavor.” She snorted.

“No, you have to salt the tomatoes or they just taste like tangy water.” I laughed and she glanced around the empty cafe. She pulled up the seat across from me. “We use the prettiest ones in the BLTs. You should try one, they are my favorite this time of year. The lettuce is still crisp and the first tomatoes are ripening. They explode with flavor.”

“How can you do it? I know people can grow stuff for themselves, but…” I trailed off not quite sure. Was I asking too much? Prying? Exposing something illegal? I knew the really high end places had to have lots of certifications and the food would be flown in from specialized growers. I couldn’t imagine this tiny little alley way cafe could do that and serve three dollar soup.

“If you don’t buy the vegetables you are ok. We have a garden upstairs in our sun plot. There is always a chance, I suppose, that someone is going to push back against that. Although people who think that spending the time and energy on a potential crop failure should be banned aren’t the kinds of people who usually come in here anyway. They prefer to know exactly what they are going to get every time.” I felt my face turning red as she spoke.

I was one of those people. I went to the same places for all my meals, they were always the same, it was always good. I fumbled for something to say but she reached out and put her hand on my arm.

“We know all of the benefits of that. We understand, there is nothing wrong with it.” She smiled and patted my arm. “We just can’t afford those things. And I personally like making the soups.”

I frowned. “How can you spend all that energy on something that might fail?” I carefully guarded my energy, usually. Today had ended up being a disaster and I had to find new work, I didn’t really have the energy to be here spending time and thought on soup.

“I love it. Sure some days are failures, but those days end. I go to bed and get back up and try again the next day.” She leaned back in her chair and looked at me. “Not everyone thinks a bad day is the end of the world. Not every job fires someone for one bad day.”

I tore another chunk of bread and chewed it, giving myself time to think. Maybe you could be a waitress and have a bad day, though the places I frequented had an immaculate service standard, they wouldn’t sit down with a customer. They wouldn’t have a slow afternoon. I didn’t understand how this place hadn’t gone out of business. “Do your parents own this place?” If they were a wealthy family, maybe that would explain it. Children of owners were the only people who failed with impunity.

“No.” She grinned. The door chimed and someone came in. She raised a hand and waved. “Go ahead and sit anywhere, I’ll be right with you.” She gave me a sad sigh. “They say we are a creative world, but they punish actual creativity. I’ll bet you were released from your current contract today. If you need something we are looking for someone to wait tables in the morning.” She scribbled a number on the paper and walked over to greet the other patron.

I wanted to complain that I was better than that. I was an artist. I was part of the creative class. I was in charge of my own career, I could leave any job when I wanted, find something better.

I looked down at the soup bowl again. I paid the tab and left a good tip. I thought about the soup, the moment when that chunk of real tomato surprised me, discovering the basil. I always heard that art involved discovery. I wanted that feeling again. That rush of something new and unexpected.

I shoved the slip of paper in my pocket.

Color and Climate Roundup

This isn’t actually about just color and climate, but I they both start with a C? I’m not entirely sure. I just read the whole climate change article and feel overwhelmed.

Colors and words!

Color Thesaurus More words for colors is always a good thing. Plus this is just beautiful.

Nameless colors And taking color in the exact opposite direction is paint that is unnamed.

Writing and AI

Robots Learn Values from Books

Would you want the future of AI to learn from your novels?

The Future of Medicine

Tech and the Future of Medicine

Oh those Canadians! (I love Quirks and Quarks and highly recommend.) Most of these were technologies I’d heard before but it was sort of nice to really have a lot of them in once place and hear some speculation about how it could be used. The future is an amazing place. I look forward to it.

Cli-Fi without the Fi

Millennia of Sea-Level Change

This is not the short version of this. It includes a ton of links and references and charts and all the things.  Which reminds me of the interactive map from NOAA. There are a bunch of other maps out there (I didn’t see any with the brand new data, but it is brand new, if someone did please let me know).

Businessey Roundup

  1. I hate the hiccups.
  2. While 600 Second Saga officially launches its preseason tomorrow it is out in iTunes or you can add it to the podcast tool of your choice or search 600 Second Saga. If it doesn’t show up let me know.
  3. I’m not sure how so many of these links ended up vaguely business-ey but I’m going with it because they are interesting. (Also maybe because I binged on Cortex over the last week.)

Writing and Business intersect

Why new personal productivity efforts don’t stick

Don’t say you don’t have a plan. You just didn’t design it intentionally, it still exists. I keep trying to make plans, I find I do best with small changes.

“Most productivity habits develop out of necessity, without specific intention. This can leave achievement to chance, which is why there is so much interest in productivity improvement. But changing systems is what’s really tricky.”

Find your biological prime time

When writing time is limited it is important to think about when to do those things. And what you can do in the other times? For me recording is super different from writing. I should write early in the morning (especially Saturday morning) and record in the evenings. I also realized recently I was giving up my best writing time to a Not Writing activity and need to fix that.

“Bailey noted that, even if you’re generally low on energy right after you wake up, it’s probably best to do creative work in the morning. He cites research suggesting that the part of your brain associated with creative thinking is most active then.”

North Korea

Because I know how to do transitions!

Photos from North Korea

I spent way too much time today looking at these photos and quite a few others along with the descriptions of what is and isn’t allowed to be photographed.

Photos are strange things. A lifetime ago I had my purse searched in Russia, not for weapons, but for a camera. They were much more afraid of the camera.

Apple

Again with the transitions!

You may or may not have heard about this case, and the ongoing struggles that the FBI and Apple have had. The FBI wants to be able to unlock phones, they want an easy backdoor to get access to data. Apple has been pretty firm in their No. No. Super No.

A couple days ago Apple published a letter about the case. Ars posted a good write up about how Apple will be fighting it and some more information about the case.

I think this is very much a window into potential futures. Do things become more private or less? Does government get access to everything we do and say? Do private companies become guardians and keepers of our data? Are we safe if we are with one company but not others?  (Looking at you Blackberry.)

Finally? I STILL hate the hiccups.

The Future – Roundup

Here is a roundup of some interesting links and resources I’ve come across recently:

In their natural environment

Wild Jaguar in the US (video)

A wild jaguar video from trail cams. Trail cams are amazing things, you can find a lot of them and snippets from them online. Interesting to see animals on their own in the wild. I also love things like the cams that have been put in nests and such. Pennsylvania Bald Eagles cam has 2 cameras and sound, which is amazing. Highly recommend.

Science and politics meet

Would you vote for a supercomputer for president?

Thanks Stefan for this link.

The future….oooOOooo

100,000,000 Years from now

What the world might look like to someone else (an entirely different someone else’s in the long distant future).

BACKUPS!

Free 2 GB of storage at google – BACK YO SHIT UP!

Back up your work! Do the security check up and get a bonus 2 GB of space, that’s enough space to back up a few novels and a bunch of shorts or flash fiction.

Get your 2 free bonus GB of space and back your stuff up!

Get your 2 free bonus GB of space and back your stuff up!

Word shaped things

Words to use

There are so many cool sites, I’m always a little surprised when I find one. So here’s another cool one I found this week. It gives words that are kind of related to things. I highly recommend going to take a look. This could be great for needing to find an alternate way to say something, especially an overused phrase.

Google terms

I find my google terms are a weird combination of perfectly sensible things…and maybe things that say I need a break.

My recent history includes “airplane cop” I couldn’t think of the term sky marshall! It is something I love, I know that a word exists and I know I want it but I can’t quite make my brain get to it fast enough. Google to the rescue!

Also looking through my Google terms list I can clearly see as I get tired during the day my Google fu suffers and I have to try 2-3 times to get the right search result.

Security Checkup

Google Security checkup (bonus 2 GB storage!)

Also, bonus thing? Today is the Google Security check up day, follow the link and once you complete the security checkup you get 2GB free in your account, permanently! The questions are basically is this still your phone number/other email, are these the programs you want to use it, is this where you are signed in?

Super ultra bonus thing? You can tell Google to not track your search terms (or just about anything, if you go through your security stuff you’ll be able to export your data or tell it to not track stuff.

False Gods

False Gods is my answer to a new challenge from the terrible minds of Chuck Wendig. The challenge was roll a random number generator and get two sub genres and mash them up into something shiny and new.

I got technothriller and mythology. I’m not entirely sure I hit either of those genres exactly…But hopefully it’s still enjoyable.

False Gods

We will remove all false gods from the world.
One by one.

I surveyed the murder scene. The woman was in her late fifties, an antique aegis and what I had to assume were owl feathers covered her body.

Someone shoved the latest manifesto into my hands, I couldn’t even get a polite thanks out. I had read the previous five over and over. I skimmed the first few lines, I’d already read them thanks to the killer’s twitter feed.

She was supposed to be Athena. She had been in the army, risen through the ranks, gone into diplomacy. She was brilliant. She was a warrior. She was this serial killer’s sixth victim.

I flipped through the hundreds of pages of supposed evidence. The digital team would be downloading it and adding it to their database now. We were working under the premise that the killer was running some kind of software to determine his next victim. He tweeted as if he were many but our profile came down to one man, working by himself, with the help of some very sophisticated software.

I stopped at the two-thirds point and started skimming. This would be where he would outline the evils and where we had caught glimpses, too late, into who the next victim would be.

The same bullshit talk about how all the creatures of mythology walked among us, and they all needed to be killed. I shuddered and closed the manifesto. It would go in my stack of reading.

***

Jennifer and Nasim sat across from me with serious looks. Nasim turned his laptop around to face me slowly.

“Just, tell me what it is, while you are wasting time, he is out there getting ready to murder someone else.” I shouted at them.

We all flinched when our phones chimed at the same time. It wasn’t him. Someone sighed with relief.

“Right now, the data we’ve gathered, it seems to show that there is a possibility…” Nasim was shifting his screen as he talked.

“It’s going to be a cop.” Jennifer jumped in before I could tell them to get to the point.

“Or a sky marshall, or a judge…it might not be a cop.” Nasim hedged again.

“I think it is going to be you.” Jennifer looked me in the eyes.

I sucked in a deep breath. “Which god is he targeting?”

“Kratos.” Nasim said confidently. I ran through the gods I knew of, I’d spent the last months researching mythology. I had never heard of Kratos. “He’s the son of Pallas and Styx and is authority. He is the state enforcer. But they all have wings so it might be a sky marshall.”

“It’s not a sky marshall.” Jennifer grabbed the laptop and scrolled through, highlighting the text. I didn’t see it.

I wasn’t a god, but I was the target of a serial killer.

***

I put my head in my hands and bumped the stack of books at my elbow. My phone went off. I grabbed for it.

A tweet to the department, he had a new account. He was on the move. Each time he created a new account. We would get it shut down within minutes. In those minutes he would send out a storm of information, manifestos, and photographs.

I skimmed through the messages. It was a review of the previous murder. It had been three months between the first two murders, then a month to the third, the fourth was three weeks later, the fifth was another three weeks, the sixth was another three weeks. We hoped that was how long his manifesto took to complete. Each one was nearly 500,000 words of accusations and demands.

I should still have two weeks. I rested my head again. I just needed a short break.

***

A sharp noise woke me. I knocked over a pile of books and turned around in the chair. My phone. I grabbed it. A message from Nasim. “We have timeline concerns. You should come down to the station.”

If Nasim was worried things had to be bad. I touched each of the manifestos and case files. Looking at each of the victims, wondering – for just a moment – if I’d be the next stack of paper.

I’d just take a quick shower and head in. I responded to Nasim and stood, restacking the books next to me.

“Oh just turn around already!”

I spun toward the unknown, cheerful voice. My gun. It was on the desk behind me.

The murder stood in front of me. Dressed in an absurd Loki costume. My mind raced.

“You can’t be Loki. You murdered him. His name was Jackson.” The murder’s face kept the disgusting grin as I talked. My gun was on top of Jackson’s file behind me. “Jackson was a homeless man, he had two brothers, he had schizophrenia, he made sure all the stray dogs were fed before he was. Did you know one of his brothers calls me every day to see if he can help? Let me show you a photo.”

I turned and grabbed the gun and the papers and hid the gun under the thousands of sheets of paper.

“You have found me out! I am not Loki. But you are Kratos. And you are a false god. You will be dispatched with the rest of them. I wasn’t sure if you were truly Kratos. Now I know.”

I edged a step closer to him. “Look at this photo.” The photo showed three teenage boys, cleaned up in suits, with giant grins.

The murderer raised up what I had thought was a staff, it was a sword. He was laughing. I heard sirens outside.

“Drop the sword.” I dropped the paper and gripped my gun. I shouted the command again.

He shrieked with laughter and raised the sword up. I fired and he fell. I stood over him with the gun pointed at him until reinforcements arrived.

 

We live in the future now

Some links I’ve rounded up for you. I make no promises that they are all recent, but they did all interest me and I wanted to share. Some of substance, some less so. (Mostly they have substance.)

Adorable puppy gif

Because adorable puppy gif.

Who Owns the Word Ghost?

Copyright and words and gaming oh my! The word “ghost”. Other words that have had copyright attempts put out there “candy”, “scrolls”, and “let’s play.”

Sciencey things

Potatoes on Mars

I’m sure others have and will link to this article because:

  1. it is awesome
  2. The Martian
  3. it is martian potatoes

I could stop there and this would be complete, but I’ve heard some speculate whether we are doing studies based on potatoes because of The Martian or did The Martian include potatoes because they would work well on Mars? I think that it all indicates a great and powerful feedback loop of science fiction and science. Which is pretty awesome, if you ask me.

Prenatal Multivitamins and Iron and Evidence

To me one of the coolest things about science is that testing things your gut assumes to be right. Turns out your gut is not all that great. I mean it’s amazing if you want to digest things. But for making decisions about your medical care or the size of the universe? Less great. (Sorry gut!)

For all the studies that people point to and say I could have told you that, or we didn’t need a study to tell us that, or they are wasting our money on that! There are studies that are WHOAH. That’s…not at all what I thought. And those moments are amazing.

Finally a challenge!

How to talk about what you are doing

I have an eyebrow to raise at the bread story but mostly because he uses the word beat, rather than knead. But then I went, oh I know a thing about bread. Maybe I can know things about other things too…

Talk about what you are doing, I need to talk about what I’m doing. Try it here, I promise I will be worse at it than you because wow I am new and stink at it!

What is one awesome thing you are doing?