Getting things in order

It’s been quite some time since I have edited and uploaded photos. Today I moved over four months of photos off my phone. These joined a mass of other photos dating all the way back to November 2014, plus a few from August and March 2014…all waiting to be processed. (I don’t even want to know how many photos this is total.)

To make the task seem less overwhelming, I created some main category folders for each month—1403, 1408, 1411, 1412, etc.—and put all the daily folders inside them. This makes my My Pictures folder a lot more manageable, and it also gives me a way to organize the task of going through these. I can pick a month folder to do one day, or a day folder to do another day, depending on how much time I have.

I’ve felt a little disjointed lately. I spend a lot of time doing “fandom stuff”—looking at, sharing, and creating fan content. And this is fun, and I’ve enjoyed it, but I sort of feel like I haven’t been doing anything else, besides work and chores. So I think I will make an effort to diversify. Get back to photography a little. Read stuff that isn’t fan fiction. Get out of the apartment more.

I’ve also been thinking about getting back into running. I need to do some sort of exercise; just taking the stairs in the parking garage at work is not enough to keep my cardiovascular health where it needs to be. I haven’t really tried running since I lost all the weight. It might be fun. I’m thinking about checking out Zombies, Run, which apparently has a plot and stuff! That sounds neat; maybe it will encourage me to keep running. We’ll see.

It’s almost February

In anticipation of Month Two of Daily Writing, I have created a main filler page for 2015 Daily Writing, under which I have placed 2015 Daily Writing: January and another new page, 2015 Daily Writing: February. Right now the filler page is just there to act as a container in the drop-down menu, but I think I might end up using it for summaries of each month (total word count, completed works, types of work, whatever).

Yesterday was pretty great, writing-wise. The night before, I was feeling restless and ended up staying awake way past my bedtime. As I was trying to force myself to go to bed, an idea for a new piece of fanfiction came to me all at once. I immediately went back to the office and turned my laptop back on and wrote 241 words. The next morning I woke up and wrote a couple hundred more, and again at lunch, and then after work I wrote until 1am, ending up with a completed chapter of 4511 words. I edited it and posted it at 1:17am in a happy haze and was finally able to go to sleep.

Fortunately, I have today off, so staying up late two days in a row didn’t hurt anything. I slept in until a little after 8. The day has been spent doing laundry, emptying the dishwasher, and closing a bunch of browser tabs–though thanks to Twitter and Facebook, I’ve opened a few new tabs as well. There is just so much out there to read.

I haven’t done today’s writing yet, but I’m looking forward to it. I’m not sure if I’ll continue the project from yesterday or jump to something else, but whatever I do will certainly be fun. I have the following to choose from:

  • Opening a Door: yesterday’s fanfic
  • Whispers: a fanfic I’ve been working on since January 1, which currently has 8 chapters and 7758 words
  • the untitled childhood memoir I started writing on Wednesday
  • the franchise reboot I’ve been working on since January 13
  • Impostor: an original science fiction story
  • the vignette I promised Heidi
  • something else! who knows!

It sort of seems like now that I’ve started writing every day, I can’t stop…it’s a good problem to have, but I do hope I actually complete these projects!

A little blog refresh

I’ve refreshed my blog’s look again! I’m pretty happy with the Twenty Eleven theme and how easily I can change colors and images and such.

Here’s how my blog looked this morning, with its pink background, Gibbs Gardens header, and profile pic from last May:

pixelscribbles screenshotAnd here’s how it looks now, with header and profile pic from Sunday’s trip to Little River Falls:

pixelscribbles screenshotI’m not sure how long my blog was pink, because I don’t seem to have screencapped it when I updated it. The last screenshot I have is from 2013, when I put a Sweetwater Creek photo from 2012 in the header. I do know that Gibbs Gardens photo was taken in August of 2014, so that sort of dates it, I suppose.

Anyway, it’s nice to have a new look every now and then.

Sidebar update

I don’t blog much anymore, so when I do think about posting something, I always wonder if it’s important enough to warrant sitting at the top of my site for days, weeks, possibly months.

This is just notice that I have removed two webcomics from my sidebar links. One, Red String, because the story is over. It was a good story and I really enjoyed it!

The other is Penny Arcade, which I have removed because of this issue. My internal debate over mentioning it wasn’t so much about whether or not it was important, but over whether or not I wanted to open myself up to abuse. I mean, I really don’t. For the most part, people don’t know me online. Mostly that’s because I’m not particularly important in any way, but it’s also because I’ve never made a strong stand on anything controversial enough to warrant attention. I don’t go picking fights. I also simply don’t tend to write about things when I know there is a large organized group that might disagree and make me a target to prove a point.

So why am I saying anything now, even this little peep of something that probably won’t get noticed anyway, despite the fact that I’m utterly terrified? Because silence is complicity, and I really don’t want anyone to think I support the kind of behavior we’ve seen here. I get disagreeing, I even think the original comic is funny, but I do not get being so callous to other people’s feelings and situations. Not everyone has had the same experience in life, and we should all be sensitive to that.

Tropes vs. Women in Video Games: Damsel in Distress Part 3 includes an excellent discussion of “ironic sexism” and how people claim they’re being subversive when they are really simply continuing the status quo from their position of power. And here’s a comic illustrating the difference between “dark humor” and exploitative humor.

Keyword hell

mass of unnecessary keywordsI have spent a lot of time these past few months organizing my personal photo site at SmugMug. I made sure all the photos I wanted uploaded were uploaded; I created new Categories and Subcategories and moved galleries around; I did a bunch of captioning and keywording that I’d put off (with still more left to go).

Then I thought I’d organize my keywords to make my photos easier to browse. I knew I had some photos with the keyword “southcarolina” while others used “south carolina”, for example; I was able to go through and bulk change all of these to match each other.

keywords-130415In the process of doing this, though, I discovered something horrible.

You see, for as long as I’ve been taking photos, I’ve been renaming all my files to use a variation on the filename template of my first digital camera, the Olympus C3030 Zoom. This means photos taken today will have filenames like P04150001.jpg. I did this so I could easily view my photos locally and sort them on SmugMug in the order of my choosing–simply sorting by date taken doesn’t always work, especially with multiple photos from the same day but different cameras, or photos copied from someone else, or scanned files.

Some time back, SmugMug implemented a change that now causes keywords to be automatically generated from filenames. And ever since then, each of my photos has been tagged with an unnecessary keyword. This has resulted in a ludicrous list of keywords; I’ve made a screen capture of about one-fourth of it.

I’m not holding this against SmugMug; it seems like automated keywords would be useful for many people, and I am able to turn the feature off (and I did as soon as I realized what was happening). Unfortunately, though, this unique set of conditions has left me with a metric ass-ton of work.

You see, there is no way to manage many keywords globally at once–deleting, renaming and the like. You can manage single keywords at once, which is how I changed “southcarolina” to “south carolina” across my entire photo site. And you can of course manage keywords by gallery, which is how I assign them and edit them in the first place. But you can’t, say, select a group of keywords and hit a delete button.

What I can do is click on the keyword, which takes me to the photo, then click on the “See photo in original gallery” link. From there I can use the Caption / Keyword tool to edit all the keywords in that gallery.

However, even from that screen there is no way to delete keywords in bulk. I can’t use wildcards to find and replace or find and remove keywords. And though SmugMug has a “Remove Numeric” keyword option, it only works with keywords that are made up of all numbers, not alphanumeric keywords. So I must scroll through the entire gallery and manually delete the unnecessary keyword from each photo.

Take a look at the keyword screenshot again and try to imagine how much work this is going to be.

Actually, I can help you with the scope. I highlighted all the keywords and pasted them into Word to get a count.

There are 9,638 keywords, each of which applies to either a single or a small handful of photos.

Nine thousand, six hundred thirty-eight.

That’s nearly ten thousand keywords, with even more photos, scattered across hundreds of galleries.

Yeah, this is going to be fun.

New blog header

I got tired of looking at Roche Abbey (no offense, lovely site of my birthday picnic of 2009!), so I put up a photo from last year’s jaunt to Sweetwater Creek State Park. Here’s how my blog looks at time of writing (click to embiggen):

pixelscribbles screenshot

A new look, again

I’ve removed the Christmas customizations I had made to WordPress’ Twenty Eleven theme and replaced them with a look based on a photo I took at Roche Abbey in England. Here’s what the Christmas theme looked like:

121209-blog-thumbI actually forgot to screencap the design before I changed it, so I had to guess on the background color and link color, but this is essentially what it looked like. I created the header in Photoshop using this photo of our Christmas decorations. This look went live on December 9, 2012.

Here’s the new design:

blog screenshotThe background color is #3a3d3f, the link color is #1c67b2, and the color scheme is Light. I made the header in Photoshop featuring this photo from my birthday in 2009, which was spent with my friends Brooke and David and the Kenmore family at Roche Abbey in South Yorkshire, England. It was a wonderful day of picnicking and exploring and kicking a soccer ball around. :)

Since I’m not sure if I ever actually archived the other looks my blog has had this year, here they are. First up is my fall theme, which went up on October 16, 2012:

blog screencapThe background color is #47240E, the link color is something like #CA3026, and I made the header in Photoshop based on this photo I took on a walk to Kroger in North Augusta in November of 2008. My profile picture is a crop of this photo of me from AJ’s birthday.

Before that, this is what my blog looked like, starting July 15, 2012:

blog screencapUnfortunately I don’t have a full page version of this one, so you can’t see all my sidebar stuff. The tiled background and large graphic element in the header came from a site that I really want to credit, but I can’t find the link now. Just know that I did not create them. My profile pic is a crop of this photo from the 4th of July.

Before this design, I had left Twenty Eleven pretty much alone other than swapping out the header. Here’s a picture I used for quite some time; it’s the view from the front yard of the family farm.

farm blog headerThe Internet Archive hasn’t grabbed a snapshot of my blog since July of 2011; I don’t know if I have messed up a setting or if something else is going on, but I’ll try to fix that, because I really like being able to step back into my design history. I’ll also keep trying to archive my designs myself.

A little link management

Occasionally I like to go through my links and remove outdated ones, ones to pages I don’t read anymore, etc. Did that today and thought I’d document it, so my biographers can know what I was reading at this time of my life.

First up, I removed a link to a friend’s private blog which has now been deleted. The blog had been gone for a long time, but I only now got around to removing the link. I really enjoyed the blog while it lasted; she wrote about the exercise program she was doing and the outfits she wore and occasionally about her travel experiences. I don’t know what compels people to delete their blogs (obviously; have you seen my archives?) but I’m always sad when it happens.

Next, I removed some webcomic links. Quiltbag is, all of a sudden, over. I was sort of surprised by T’s reasoning, especially his citation of Girls with Slingshots and Dumbing of Age as suitable replacement reads. I already read and enjoy those, and Quiltbag does different things for me.

T’s writing has something I don’t get from any other webcomic author. I’m not quite sure how to describe it. Other comics are, generally, easy to read. I may have to refresh my memory about plot details, but in terms of following character motivations, I tend not to have trouble. Not so with T’s comics, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think he presents characters with personalities completely different from mine and from what I am accustomed to in storytelling, and I enjoy trying to figure them out. I’m really going to miss that. Quiltbag, like Penny & Aggie, was an ideal setting for this sort of storytelling, as there are no conceits or epic storylines to distract from the character interactions.

So I’m disappointed that I won’t have a T Campbell comic in my read list anymore. I don’t really know anything about Guilded Age; fantasy stories aren’t usually my thing, and what little I read about it didn’t sound all that exciting to me. Meanwhile, I haven’t read the sci-fi epic Fans! since Rikk and his new beard rode off into the sunset with Rumy and Alisin. I loved the series, but I pretty much figured it was done. (Maybe I’ll jump back in again someday.)

To be honest, not continuing with Quiltbag strikes me as playing it safe. So Quiltbag ended up being more challenging than it seemed it would be at first. So what? It’s good. It’s got the potential to be great. It’s uniquely positioned to tell stories only T can tell, in a way only T can tell them. And the kinds of stories T was telling there were important. I don’t think deciding not to tell a story because you don’t think you’re good enough to do it justice is a good reason. It’s a decision based on fear.

I know from fear. It’s why I haven’t written a damn thing. Don’t be like me, T :>

But I digress. Back to my link organization.

I finally removed the link to No Need for Bushido. It’s been on hiatus for three months. There was a Kickstarter, but it was unsuccessful. The artist is trying to step back, gain some perspective, and return fresh to the comic, and he estimates that will take about a year. If NNFB is ever reborn, I’ll definitely check it out again.

Shadowbinders is now gone from my link list as well. It’s not over, but I’m just not enjoying it as much as I thought I would. The story feels kind of tired. I’ll stick to The Dreamer for my “girl gets pulled into another world” itch.

And so here are the comics I am currently reading:

Abominable Charles Christopher: I love the art and the stories that are almost imparted rather than told.

Bad Machinery: I’ve been a fan of this universe since Scary Go Round.

Darths and Droids: We’re finally into the Holy Trilogy and I’m loving it.

diesel sweeties: I don’t read this one for the storylines. I can’t keep track of which robot is dating which human, or who hates who, or whatever. I just like the jokes.

Dreamer: Beautiful art and intriguing story, plus US history! What more could you want?

Dumbing of Age: David Willis does it again. (Is this the only DW comic whose title does not end with an exclamation point?)

Erstwhile: I’m really enjoying these retellings of lesser-known fairy tales, so much so that I funded the Kickstarter and will be receiving a print copy of the first several stories soon.

Girl Genius: The story can seem to move slowly (each day’s update is written like a page in a comic book) but the humor is quirky and hilarious and the overarching tale is epic. Also, a bunch of smart people and a bunch of insane people (and a bunch who are both) all fighting to rule the world mwahahaha!

Girls with Slingshots: I actually somewhat dislike the main character, because she doesn’t really do anything but get drunk and complain, but the other characters are really interesting, and the series tackles social issues in a funny way.

Kevin & Kell: The only furry comic I imagine I will ever read. It gives me a Sunday comics feeling, but with interesting stories and good jokes.

Minion Comics: I link here for Wizard School, which just wrapped up its first storyline. I’m actually not sure if I’ll keep reading, because I’m getting a bit bored of the conceit (Voldemort-inspired bad guy chooses Archer-inspired grown man as his Harry Potter).

Misfile: At this point I just want to know what’s going to happen. Kind of the same reason I will read the rest of A Song of Ice and Fire.

Multiplex: The current zombie movie storyline is driving me a little crazy. I am not a fan of monster movies generally, and while I can develop strong attachments to certain titles in the genre–Night of the Living Dead, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series–I ultimately find the whole vampire/werewolf/zombie/whatever hysteria to be pretty boring. Kind of like pirate/ninja obsessions. It sometimes seems like people like things because they have these elements. For me, if I like something that has one or more of these elements, it’s usually in spite of them. Don’t give me gimmicks. Give me good stories. That all said, Multiplex has a great story and great characters, which is why I’m still reading.

Nimona: This series is pretty new, but I’m enjoying it a lot so far. The art is really cute, and the story offers a fun twist on good vs. evil.

Nukees: I may just be reading this out of habit. I’ve been reading it for so long. Could I tell you how the story has progressed throughout the years? No. But I can tell you about Gav, Danny, and King Luca’s personalities. And I still vaguely remember Suzy Gee…

Penny Arcade: Another habit read, though it can still make me laugh. I used to love reading Tycho’s news posts, but I don’t have time to wade through them anymore :( Not being a gamer, I’d often have to follow a bunch of links just to understand what he was talking about, and I can’t commit that much time to a webcomic these days.

PvP: Don’t really know what to say about PvP. Story-wise, I’ve been a bit bamboozled since the setting change to Seattle. I don’t really feel the same connection to the characters as I once did. I love watching the changes in art style though.

Questionable Content: Love love love love love this comic. Love it so much. The characters are so interesting, the art is so wonderful, there are people with different body types omg, and the discussions of anthroPC rights are really intriguing.

Red String: Lovely art and compelling stories.

Roomies!: Yeah, I’m reading it again from the beginning as Willis posts them, because why not? It’s fun to compare his storytelling abilities from years and years ago to his storytelling abilities now. Just goes to show that practice does indeed make perfect.

Shortpacked!: Love the one-offs, love the storylines. Love David Willis (though not in that way).

Sluggy Freelance: The first webcomic I ever read. I still love it and I’ll read it until it ends. Which may be soon. It sort of feels like all the stories from the entire history of the comic are being pulled together somehow in the current story. Gives it a sense of finality…

Wandering Ones: I think I read this comic out of a sense of vague curiosity. I’m interested in the author’s interest in naturalism, and how he renders his post-apocalyptic (or whatever) world. But I don’t find myself really remembering much about the characters or plotlines.

With Fetus: Another new addition to my reading list, this comic is extremely well-written and I appreciate and enjoy the accompanying notes. I wish the creator had partnered with an artist instead of taking on drawing the comic herself. She does a passable job, but better art would give the comic a broader appeal.

Wondermark: I adore this comic.

xkcd: There are times I don’t get the jokes. When I do get them, I feel like a boss.

Zap!: I may give up on this comic soon. I’m not exactly sure why I still read it. Probably because I like the art.

So that’s an update on all my links. As far as other sidebar changes, you may have noticed that the widget that showed my latest tweet is gone; I’m not real happy with Twitter these days and have been spending more time on App.net Alpha. I tried pulling in the RSS feed from my ADN account, but it looked pretty dumb, so I took it right back off. I’ve also removed the RSS feed of my latest SmugMug photos. To replace all these things, I’ve simply created a link category called “Heather Meadows”, under which I’ve linked to my various profiles. (I’d call it “Me”, but then WordPress alphabetizing would put it below “Japan”, and I want it to be at the top.)

On the “if I have the time and inclination” quasi-to do list in my head are a proper About Me page and a new graphic design for the blog. I don’t want to change the theme really, but a new header and background and some nice matching text and link colors would be spiff. I would eventually like to create my own WordPress theme, but I seriously don’t have the time to commit to that sort of project right now.

Too many photos

The biggest drawback of how many photos I take is how easy it is to amass a ginormous backlog. Right now I’m sitting on nearly three months of pics, including two trips home to Kentucky, my two weeks in Augusta finishing out my old job, and my recent trip to New York state…not to mention various local shops and eateries and adventures.

I’ve been taking pictures with my PowerShot these days rather than busting out the Nikon, because I don’t normally need to edit the PowerShot snaps before uploading, and that saves a lot of time. But I still need to go through, delete the pictures that didn’t turn out right, and batch rename them all (I prefer a date-based filename rather than IMG_0001.jpg). Then there’s creating galleries on SmugMug and uploading. And let’s not even get into tagging and captioning; I haven’t been doing that for months. Maybe years.

It’s kind of disheartening to think about all the photos I have left to upload, and all the uploaded photos that aren’t properly captioned and tagged. Sometimes when I take a photo I think of the caption right then, and I wish there was some way I could append it to the EXIF immediately. Maybe someday there will be a camera that has that sort of feature, via voice recognition or a slide-out keypad. Maybe one exists now, but if so, I don’t own it.

In any case, part of the reason I’ve been so lax on uploading photos is simply that I’ve been busy working and traveling. I’m finally to a point where I have plenty of free time, and I’m trying not to just fill it with watching Netflix, but it’s harder when I don’t have a set daily structure. I also have other goals, including finally getting my wall art hung up around the apartment and unpacking my various dishes and curios and finding places for them.

The pictures will get done, and hopefully soon…but I’m not sure exactly when.

Terror!

Last night when I opened the dishwasher to set my dinner plate inside, I saw movement at the place where the door meets the washer.

My eyes were there in a flash, in time to see a cockroach skitter out in a mad, looping retreat.

I screamed my I’ve-just-seen-a-cockroach scream and slammed the washer closed.

I’ve dealt with cockroaches before. I’m not really sure why I scream when I see them, or why I recoil from them the way I do. I can handle them dead–well, not handle them, but I can deal with throwing them out, but when they’re darting at inhuman speeds across my floors to potentially hide among my belongings, scurrying into little cracks where they can’t be killed and just waiting for the opportunity to terrorize me, then, well, yeah.

The cockroaches here in Marietta are different from the ones back in Augusta. They’re black rather than slightly reddish, and while I have seen one on the ceiling I’m not sure they do much flying. (Wishful thinking?) They also look like they would crunch a lot more when stepped on, but as I haven’t actually caught one yet, I don’t know for sure.

Regardless, one of these abominations had been in my dishwasher, probably because I’d left it open a crack rather than fully closed, and now I had no idea where it was.

I armed myself with shoes, just in case, then pulled the dishwasher door back down. No sign of the thing on the bottom or among the dishes. I slid my eyes upward…

…and there it was, on the back wall of the dishwasher, nestled right near the corner with the left wall and ceiling.

I had, of course, been giving Sean the running commentary, and as I went for the broom I informed him, “You know, guys are supposed to handle this stuff.” He made some sort of noncommittal noise and I sighed and opened the dishwasher a third time.

Sliding the broom in above the top rack of dishes, I jabbed it forward as hard as I could at that awkward angle, hoping to catch the roach in the bristles of the broom. But maybe Marietta roaches are harder and slicker, or maybe I didn’t jab hard enough. Whatever the reason, the thing simply fell down the wall into the bottom of the dishwasher, and then, as I leapt back, preparing to guide him out with the broom and stomp on him, he crawled with impossible speed into a two-inch wide hole on the back of the dishwasher door I hadn’t noticed before, a place that had apparently been broken out accidentally.

Furious, I closed the dishwasher again.

And that’s the situation as it stands now. I apparently have a cockroach in the door of my dishwasher. Not only that, but there’s a hole in the door of the dishwasher where just anything can crawl in and hang out. Ew.

Today, irritated, I opened the dishwasher, loaded it, put in a detergent sac and ran the thing. There was no sign of the cockroach. No water spilled out of the dishwasher, so I have to assume the closure is airtight…so where’s the roach, then? Still in the door? Did the heat from the drying cycle kill him, or can roaches withstand that much heat? If I open the dishwasher now, will the roach scurry out and get all over my clean dishes?

Or is there a dead cockroach in my dishwasher door…and if so, will he at least serve as a warning to the others?

Sidebar fun

I’ve added a few things to my sidebar! Webcomics came first, after obvious things like archives and search. Today I  made a cute Welcome box that explains what I write about and includes a picture of me.

I also added a random assortment of my latest photos from SmugMug and a list of the most recently updated SmugMug galleries. This way, I can avoid blog posts that are nothing but one or two pictures. I always felt that picture posts detracted from my writing, but I was never sure how to solve the problem. With WordPress plugins it was quite simple to place my pictures in the sidebar.

Similarly, there was no easy way to incorporate an RSS feed into my FTP-published Blogger blog. Now all I have to do is drag a box to the right and add a link…so I’ve put a list of my latest blog posts on SparkPeople on the sidebar.

Back in the day I would post whatever came to mind here on pixelscribbles, because I wanted this blog to be wholly representative of who I am. I feel a little like I’m compartmentalizing my thoughts about health and fitness by putting them over on SparkPeople. But I don’t want pixelscribbles to turn into a weight loss blog. I don’t feel that health, fitness, and weight loss are “who I am” in any respect. Yes, I want those things, but I don’t want to become some sort of guru. I don’t want people to know me for those things. I just want to lose weight and feel better so I have the energy to concentrate on the things I truly enjoy–“writing, photography, travel, language, Japan, and the web”, as it says in the Welcome box ;>

Writing about my weight loss “journey” (as they say) has been helping me, though, and I want to keep it up. Plus, I adore feedback. So I’ve decided to actively blog about the process on SparkPeople. Hopefully the sidebar listing here will earn my thoughts some eyeballs and comments.

I may add more items to the sidebar–I haven’t addressed the issue of my blogroll yet, for example. But for now I think it’s shaped up pretty well.