Weekly status update [0043/????]

This week was even more low-key than last week, with one major exception.  And that’s fine by me.

  • I’m still reading Ash: A Secret History.  It’s very, very good, and also very, very long; I’m on page 716 as I write this, which is almost precisely two-thirds of the way through the book.  Most days I manage somewhere between fifty and a hundred and fifty pages.  It’ll be done soon, and it’s likely the last (physical) book I read this year; I’ll jump to my Kindle, because…
  • …the power went out at my house Saturday morning at 3am and was off until around 2pm.  It was cold.  I ended up bundling under two blankets on my recliner and starting the second Wheel of Time book on my Kindle, which was half-charged.  (Thanks, battery pack I still have from my job!  You kept my phone and my Kindle going.)  Fortunately the power did come back on before I had to find somewhere else to crash for the evening.
  • Most evenings have been spent watching Twitch, and specifically NickCapricorn, a small streamer who has been playing various classic games.  I do mean small; it’s not uncommon for there to only be one or two of us active in his chat.  But he’s a nice guy and he keeps up conversation… and he’s currently playing StarTropics, one of my favorite old NES games, for the first time.  It’s been a delight watching him do so very badly at it.
  • I continued working with Krazydad on the Ripple Effect implementation, by which I mean I wrote a bit of code and did quite a lot more test solving of puzzles while he messed with a bunch of parameters.  I suspect the new puzzle type will be going up on his website relatively soon, which is pretty exciting.  They’re not quite as good as human-made ones… but I now have code to generate an infinite number of them for the rest of my life, so that seems like a reasonable trade-off.
  • I’ve also continued to solve paper puzzles during the day, mostly as a break from reading Ash.  I’m only eight puzzles away from finishing this dang Sudoku book I’ve been working on for years.  (Of course, those eight puzzles are the hardest ones, and they generally take me half an hour or so to solve, so there’s still plenty of time left in there…)
  • And on the videogame side, I was turned on to Tametsi by folks in a puzzle-related Discord.  It’s basically “extremely hard Minesweeper,” and is very very good.  Also very cheap ($3).  I’m excited to work my way through it.  (It says that it’s Windows-only, but tametsi.exe is actually a Java JAR file, so if you know the proper incantations it’s perfectly playable on both Mac and Linux “natively.”)
  • I also put a lot of time into Let It Die this week, and particularly today.  No, I still haven’t beaten it, because I know when I do I’ll stop playing, and I still really enjoy the game hundreds (and hundreds) of hours in.  But I think I’m really, truly going to push to beat the game before I head home for the holidays.
  • After being a good boy for Thanksgiving, I utterly exploded the diet on Monday with some delicious pizza.  Well, lots of delicious pizza.  I ended up fasting for the rest of the week, breaking it this morning, which will hopefully help me get back on track.  I’ve already written off the holidays–in fact, I spent time yesterday figuring out which snacks I’m going to have shipped to my Mom’s house before I get there–so the better I do before then the less catastrophic my time home will be.  And then it’ll be back to the grind come January… but isn’t that what Januaries are for?

(As a side note, I managed to finagle the right bits to go to my old job’s holiday party one last time, mostly thanks to the efforts of a friend who still works there.  I’m looking forward to it; the party itself is always pleasant, but I started a tradition of playing card games and other fun easy group games in the lobby of the hotel until the wee hours of the morning after the party, and getting to do that one last time will be nice.  That’s not for a couple of weeks, though.)

…for a week where not a lot happened, I sure wrote a lot.  Huh.  I’ll try to be more brief next week.  Maybe my fingers just wanted to type a bunch again, now that NaNo’s over?

Phil’s Puzzle Primer: Sudoku

Sudoku gets a bad rap.

On the face of it, that might seem like an absurd thing to say.  Crosswords are the only type of pencil puzzle with more widespread appeal than sudoku, and they’ve been around a hell of a lot longer.  (Word searches are certainly a thing, but most serious puzzle people don’t take them very, well, seriously, for reasons we may explore some day.)  But in the same way that I was once told by someone I otherwise respected that they had “moved on” from things like ’80s pop music to more serious auditory pursuits, it’s easy to find people who–while they may have, once, seen the appeal–find no interest in the 9×9 grid of numbers that comprise this most common of logic puzzles.

Like Mr. Too-Good-For-Depeche-Mode, they are wrong.

Anyone surprised that the first image-heavy post on my blog (and the second to ever have images at all) happens to be about puzzles doesn’t know me very well.

Sudoku looks like it’s about numbers, but it really isn’t.  I had a discussion with my mail carrier a week or so ago; I had ordered some sudoku magazines that shipped in clear plastic wrap, so you could see the cover, and she admitted to me that she had never done a sudoku, had never even tried, because “it has something to do with math?”  You know exactly the face that she was making while she said that, too.  So much of our population is genuinely intimidated by math, which is a damn shame, but that’s yet another subject.  Anyhow, I explained to her how it actually works, and she lit up.  “I understand how it works now!”  She said that with the sort of shocked pleasure usually reserved for finding a forgotten fifty-dollar bill in a jacket pocket.

So, just in case, here: To solve a sudoku, you must put the digits 1-9 in the empty cells of the grid, such that each row, each column, and each 3×3 box marked out with the thick black lines has each digit exactly once.

That’s it.  That’s all there is to sudoku.

Of course, that’s not even remotely true.  Sudoku can be trivially simple, an exercise of writing in numbers as quick as you see the missing values, or it can be extremely difficult, requiring convoluted logic (and, in the worst cases, just flat-out brute force “let’s try everything” methods) to make even the slightest bit of progress.  And that’s not counting the roughly 1.21 giga-variations of the puzzle.  Those range from the most basic (a 6×6 grid, say, or a 16×16 ones) to bewildering mashups of multiple complicated rulesets.  Interestingly, while vanilla sudoku make no use of the fact that the symbols are the digits 1 through 9, many variations actually rely on that fact… bringing math back into the whole thing.

This is far from the most complicated multi-variant sudoku I’ve ever seen, but it’s pleasantly indicative of the format.  It was also made before some terms came to dominate the language around the puzzle.  That top-right one would now be called a “jigsaw,” for example.

If there are tragedies behind the worldwide explosion in popularity of the puzzle type, they have nothing to do with the form of the puzzle itself, which can be infinitely fascinating even in its most-basic form.  The first and ultimate tragedy is that the creator of the puzzle type, a Mr. Howard Garns, passed away in 1989 before the craze became multi-national.  He would no doubt have been delighted at the proliferation of the puzzle on bookshelves and in magazines around the world.

The second tragedy is more insidious, and is part and parcel of many modern puzzle types: most of the sudoku produced in the world are computer-generated, and it shows.  They have boring solving paths, or ones that are too tightly constrained, requiring one specific deduction to make any progress at all.  And there is an enormous glut of these boring puzzles, crowding out the good ones from easy availability.  It’s always cheaper for a computer to churn out a thousand puzzles than to pay a human to make twenty, after all.

The very first sudoku (well, Number Place) puzzles, dating from 1979.  These are laughably easy if you’ve ever solved more than a couple of modern ones, but of course the format was brand new then.  Also note that even the first puzzle was actually a mild variant!

 Here’s a confession: I used to look down on sudoku.  Although I strive to be an anti-hipster in all of my tastes, I was–I say this with shame–a puzzle hipster.  Sudoku was the super-popular one; my personal favorites, like Slitherlink and Fillomino, went basically ignored.  So clearly they were superior; clearly sudoku was for weak-minded fools who couldn’t bother to learn how to do interesting puzzles.

Don’t worry.  I got better.

That said, it’s very common for people to like it and, well, no other puzzle types, really.  I personally think that that’s something of a shame–there are so many good puzzle types out there in the world–but if you’re going to pick a puzzle type to focus on, you could do much worse than sudoku.

Getting started with sudoku

If you’re totally intimidated by the format and you want a physical book, start with Djape’s Sudoku for Kids (Amazon).  They’re computer-generated, but they start out at 4×4 and get bigger from there.  There are also several variations in the book (even-odd and X, primarily), which is a good primer on some of the more common alternate sudoku types you’ll see in the wild.

Alternately, install Simon Tatham’s Portable Puzzle Collection (Google Play Store | Apple App Store | Desktop) and you can dial the puzzle difficulty however you like it, from trivial 4x4s to diabolical 16x16s.  They’re computer-generated, so will never be great, but they have the distinct benefit of being free.

Getting good sudoku

…is actually quite easy despite the enormous numbers of cookie-cutter computer generated puzzles out there in the market.

Nikoli’s Original Sudoku series is easily available in the US (Amazon) at any major book-seller.  They are the company that originally popularized the puzzle, first in their native Japan and then elsewhere, and all of their puzzles are hand-made.

If you’ve done a ton of vanilla sudoku and want to stretch out a bit, Djape’s Loco Sudoku (Amazon) and its sibling Cuckoo Sudoku are full of variety, including 5-puzzle “Samurai” grids like the one above.  I’m also particularly partial to Thomas Snyder and Wei-Hua Huang’s Tight Fit Sudoku (Amazon), which has the distinct advantage of being cheap and small enough to fit in a purse.

If you feel like you’ve tapped out the vein of regular sudoku for being too easy, well, have I got the puzzle magazine for you: 超難問ナンプレ&頭脳全開数理パズル (Amazon.co.jp), which roughly translates to “Super Difficult Sudoku & Math Puzzles.”  The first puzzle in a typical issue starts at 4-star difficulty (out of five), and they go all the way to 6.  No, don’t ask me how that works.

The best overall sudoku-focused magazine that I know of is also Japanese; it’s ナンプレファン (Amazon.co.jp), or Nanpure Fan; or reasons I don’t want to get into, sudoku is called “Nanpure” in Japan by everyone but Nikoli.  Each issue has a good mix of classic sudoku and a bunch of different variants, along with a dash of random other logic puzzles.

Weekly status update [0042/????]

Ahh, the sweet return to normalcy after the pressure that is NaNo.

  • I don’t allow myself to read while I’m writing in November; it has a habit of over-influencing what I put on the page.  So, with the novel knocked out, it’s time to dig back in, right?  Well, yes and no.  I still had an enormous stack of books from the library that I had been renewing as I wrote, and when I was in the middle of reading the second post-NaNo one I realized that I kept glancing at that stack with trepidation, and (worse) I wasn’t even enjoying the book I was reading.  Not that it was a bad book!  It just felt like an obligation rather than, you know, the pleasure that reading should be.  Ugh.  So I bit the bullet and brought almost everything back to the library, knowing that I can check them out again in the new year at a more leisurely pace.  The only one I kept is Ash: A Secret History, which is famous for being the longest single-volume fantasy novel ever written.  It’s so long that the US printing is actually four books, but one of the libraries in Cardinal has the single-volume edition.  It weighs three or four pounds, easy.  So, yeah, I’m reading, and this is still a lot of book to finish in the next three weeks, but it’s just the one.
  • I’ve also jumped back into the puzzle books full-force, which has been nice.  I’m so very close to being done with a book of sudoku that I’ve been poking at off and on for something like four years, and my goal is to knock it out before I go back home for the holidays so I can swap it out for a new one.  Hopefully it won’t take as long.
  • As mentioned earlier this week, I’ve even been doing some programming, which has been nice.  I still want to jump into the rewrite of DXV’s Dudes of Stuff and Things, but I’m going to hold off on that until the new year, since I know I’m not going to work on it when I’m back home for the holidays.
  • Oh yeah, it was Thanksgiving this week, wasn’t it?  I went to a coworker’s house for the evening and made the (very hard, given my predilections) decision to not meaningfully stray from my diet, even though there were so many delicious carbs there.  So many.  But I felt better afterwards for staying strong, and I still got to hang out with friends for a while, so it all worked out.  (We also played CrossTalk, which is a fantastic family/party game.)
  • On a meta note, it seems like most of the problems with the new Gutenberg editor in WordPress have been fixed.  That’s nice!

The time when I travel back home for the holidays rapidly approaches.  I’m looking forward to it, to be sure.  If anything, Thanksgiving made me kinda excited to go back and see family and some of my old friends.  Soon!

The preservation of collaboration

For the last two days, I’ve been working with someone on a program.

This came about because they run a rather famous puzzle website, full of puzzles of tons of different types that they generate via computer.  That site has a puzzle type that is close, but not quite, like one of my favorite Nikoli types, Ripple Effect.  And their site has a bit that says “Don’t see your favorite puzzle type?  Let me know!”

So I did.  I even sent them photos from a puzzle book I just got this past Saturday, that I’m in the middle of solving, which happens to have some Ripple Effects in it.  They said that they’d take a look at it, and honestly I thought that that would be the end of the whole deal.

Then they contacted me, asking: are you willing to transcribe some puzzles, so that they can be used as test cases for the solver?

Here’s a (puzzle) thing: I like to transcribe puzzles.  I’ve done so for the tiniest fraction of the number that I’ve solved over the years, although if I had infinite time and energy I would put every single puzzle I’ve ever solved in a computer-readable format.  That probably sounds really stupid, but I feel that puzzles are a fascinating form of entertainment, and one we treat entirely too ephemerally, tossing the magazines once we’re done with them.  I fully realize that I have a biased view here, but is it so crazy to think that in 100 years someone wouldn’t want to try and solve a full issue of, say, Nanpure Fan in the same way that I sometimes enjoy leafing through old advertisements?  It’s not like the type of puzzles I do (i.e. non-crossword-y ones) have an expiration date.  That sudoku will solve just as well in 2118 as it does here in 2018.

Anyhow, of course I said yes, and set about immediately to transcription.  Well, no.  It turned out that the format that was being suggested was actually a bit of a pain to write by hand, and I thought of a way to make it easier, so the website’s author sent me the code he was using and I ended up banging on it to suit my will.

As of today we’re sharing our work in a Github repository; I’ve mostly done transcription (of course) and some code cleanup, and he’s been working on the actual solver and friends, since this is all based on code he’s been the master of for years.

If the generated Ripple Effect puzzles actually get published, I’ll link them here, but even if not it’s been nice to work on some code for the first time since I retired.  And it’s been nice to collaborate, to bounce ideas back and forth on how to do a thing.  That’s definitely something I miss from the job.

And, if nothing else, it got me to preserve at least a few more puzzles from a couple of books I have.  Probably no one else cares, but perhaps one day they can be used to reconstruct a puzzle book, to be solved by our ancestors who may have never touched a physical magazine at all, to be experienced all over again.

Weekly status update [0041/????]

This one’s a day late, but there’s a reason for that.

  • I did it!  My sixteenth(ish) NaNovel, Ex Urbes, is done, as of about three minutes ago.  I wrote 50,214 words according to wc, and a few more than that according to the official NaNo word counter.  (They actually used to use wc as well, so it kinda bugs me that they don’t any more.)  It was an interesting experience, writing while retired, quite different from the way I’ve written NaNo before; I didn’t feel a lot of time pressure, so found it hard to do much more than 2-3K a day.  Yesterday put me at 38K, though, and I decided that I was gonna finish this weekend come Hell or high water… and when I woke up this morning I went, no, I’m finishing today, dammit.  And so I did. 12,369 words in one day is less than half of my peak, but it’s a pretty sizable chunk, roughly fifty pages or so of a typical book.  Not bad.
  • What is bad?  The novel.  It’s terribad.  But I’m glad it’s done.
  • Ways I’ve wasted time this week while not doing NaNo:
    • I continued to watch an episode of both Last Man on Earth and Brooklyn Nine-Nine each day.  I’m almost at the end of the first series and the end of the last released season of the second, so that’ll be over soon.  I… should probably watch more Sabrina, but as an hour-long show it felt like too much of an indulgence this week.
    • I also did a bunch of puzzles.  I got another order in from Japan on Monday, and it included the latest Nikoli “Penpa” magazine, a superb variety mag they put out once a year that’s always my first recommendation to anyone who says they want to branch out and try things that aren’t sudoku.  I’m doing the book in round-robin format, doing the first puzzle of each type, then circling back to the start of the book to do the second, and so forth.  It’s been a nice variety.  (I skip Numberlink, though.  I hate those puzzles.)
    • Lastly, I’ve been watching Twitch sporadically.  I no longer really watch Landail, due to some creepy sexist stuff that goes on there that I decided I couldn’t really be part of any more, but catsonurhead is still awesome, and I’ve started watching some native Spanish-speaking streamers who also manage English better than I ever will their language.  The number of watchers on their channels are low, so it’s got a nice community vibe.
  • We also had an extended game night this week at Fercott Fermentables.  We played Antike II, and I won, although for most of the game I was strictly mid-pack.  That game is absolutely fantastic, and it sang with five players.  I look forward to bringing it home for the holidays and playing it (along with Spirit Island) with my next-door neighbors.

I still have a stack of books to read, many of which are close to being unrenewable, so I’m going to get cracking on those tomorrow.  But for the rest of tonight I plan on vegging out and watching Twitch.  I think I’ve earned it.

Rolling down that hill

As of last night, I’ve written a bit over 25,000 words on Ex Urbes.  That’s the halfway point in terms of NaNoWriMo, although I don’t feel that I’ve reached the halfway point of the story itself at all.  Given how… not very good the story is, though, I’ll probably be pulling it to a stop at the 50K mark, wherever that ends up landing story-wise.

I’m not much of a plotter or outliner, and so my stories tend to be written very much “in the moment”: this happens, then this, and oh, this other thing as a consequence.  This style of writing has its upsides and downsides.   First, a few of the negatives.

  • Complicated plots are hard.  If there are a bunch of stories interacting, with characters moving between them, you’re going to want to have at least an outline to work with, tracking where everyone and everything is so that you don’t have massive continuity issues.
  • It’s easy to get lost in the weeds.  My stories have a bad habit of turning hard into tangents, as some idea takes me away from the actual thing that is happening for a while, until I fumble around and go, “oh yeah, I’m supposed to be writing about that.”
  • Length ends up being pretty random.  Sometimes what feels like an epic story gets told rapidly, because I haven’t thought up enough detail to make it the length it should be; other times, what should be a short bit of detail ends up a rambling diatribe.  (See above.)

There are quite a few positives, though:

  • My stories surprise even me.  For example, I thought this particular one was going in a very specific direction; I even “stacked the deck,” so to speak, in an attempt to make that happen.  But as of this most recent chapter, the main characters involved basically told me: No, that’s not what’s going to happen here.  Instead, this.  Which is fascinating.  There are several stories I’ve written where I put something in early, for whatever reason, and then it ended up vital to a later part of the tale through no conscious planning on my part.  That feels like magic when it happens.
  • The plot tends to feel organic.  Oftentimes the parts I have planned beforehand have to be tinkered with because, once you get to them, it turns out that they don’t fit; characters have revealed their motivations to be different, the world is turning out slightly differently than that particular beat needs, and so on.  Because I do as little of that as possible, though, the path through the story ends up feeling very natural on rereading.  Which makes a lot of sense, because it matches what I was doing in the moment when I was writing: following the most natural path for the story itself.
  • It is very well suited for NaNoWriMo.  I expect that I can write a well-plotted lengthy story, but that sort of thing takes care and effort that I don’t really have to give during a month-long sprint to the finish.  Making it up as I go along?  That I can do.  I’ve only ever managed to write one heavily plotted NaNovel in the 14 years I’ve been doing this, and it was terrible.  The plot also ran out less than a third of the way through, so I ended up having to wing a huge chunk of the story anyway.

Every writer is different and every story is different.  I mostly write for myself during NaNo; I know that the quality of my output is hampered by the constraints, and so don’t concern myself overmuch with how consumable the end product is.  I think that’s a smart decision, but I can also see how it’s holding me back.  I really need to work on a story without those constraints, one that holds together from the start, and NaNo just isn’t the place for me to do that.

Maybe next year.

Weekly status update [0040/????]

Writing, huh?  This is writing, right?  This is gonna be a short one, given what’s going on.

  • It’s NaNoWriMo.  As of just a few moments ago, I cracked 16,000 words on Ex Urbes, the cyberpunk thriller I’m writing instead of Sharp because I had a lot of trouble with that story, as I wrote about.  Ex Urbes isn’t any good, but it is easy to write, so that’s been working pretty well.  I haven’t yet had one of my typical “amazing days” that help me knock out the novel sooner rather than later, but I’m ahead of the standard month-long pace, and am likely to continue pulling ahead even if I never have a burst-writing day.
  • One of the problems with NaNo, though, is that I feel like I can’t do the other things that I like to do, because I should be writing.  I still have a big stack of books that I need to read, but I can’t read, because I should be writing.  I’ve barely touched my puzzle books, because I should be writing.  What that actually means is that I end up watching Twitch and browsing too much stupid stuff on the Internet, because those are lower commitment, but wasting more time than I would if I allowed myself the other things.  Ugh.
  • have been watching a bit of TV, though.  I finished up Orange is the New Black, and intentionally haven’t added another drama to the list.  I also haven’t watched Sabrina past the fourth episode.  Mostly I watch a single episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Last Man on Earth each day, plus The Good Place on Hulu the day after it airs on TV.  That feels like little enough to be messing with NaNo.

I need to finish up this novel so I can put books back on the agenda.  I’m going to aim to do that over the next week, but we’ll see if that happens.

Dull the blade, busy the city

I’m afraid I won’t be sharing Sharp,

I started it on the first, as I almost always do.  The writing was in a heightened literary style, which made it extremely slow going, and after a few paragraphs I realized that it just wasn’t going to work.  I re-read them, and they came off as juvenile, a kid trying on their parents’ clothes rather than something worth reading.

(Side note: I should have known better.  My attempted Banksian novel several years back had the same problem, although I found that tone a lot easier to imitate than the one I was attempting with Sharp.

On the second I rewrote the few paragraphs I had written in my own style, and it seemed a whole lot smoother.  I finished off the first chapter, happy to have found a bit of a groove.

That died on the third.  I’m not sure what it is; maybe Sharp

On the fourth, I decided to start all over with a different story, one that had been tickling the back of my brain for a while.  And I wrote over 3000 words with almost no effort, and another two thousand and change yesterday.

Ex Urbes is not good; it’s full of infodumps and sidelines that go nowhere.  But it’s easy to write.  I won’t be sharing it either–because it’s terrible–but I’m also no longer worried about NaNo.  Disappointed, sure, because I still really like the core idea behind Sharp and was looking forward to sharing it… but c’est la vie.

Anyhow, sorry to those of you who were wanting to read along.  Next year, perhaps.

Weekly status update [0039/????]

Oh, hey, it’s November.  Gulp.

  • I kept reading aggressively through November 1st.  I wrote about The Orphan Master’s Son here; it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read.  I also knocked out another Christopher Priest novel, The Separation.  I still like him, but I feel that he really basically writes the same novel over and over again.  Each one has begun to feel a little too same-y compared to the rest.  Timothy Zahn’s Spinneret was the last book I read; I finished it on the morning of the 1st.  Some of you may recognize his name from the Thrawn trilogy of Star Wars novels that really kicked off the Extended Universe back in the ’90s.  Spinneret was fine, if slight.  I’m taking at least a brief hiatus, even though I still have way too many books sitting on my sofa to read.
  • November started, which means NaNoWriMo started as well.  I began writing Sharp on the evening of November 1st, and after getting ~300 words into it I stopped.  The literary style I was affecting simply wasn’t working.  I should have known better, honestly; the last time I copped a style that wasn’t my own, it was for a Banksian pastiche, and I had similar troubles putting words to page at any reasonable rate.  This time, though, the words weren’t just slow.  They were awful, as I discovered when I reread it.  So: I tossed it and started over today.  I’m a little over 1500 words in now, and those words came at roughly 6-10x the rate of the original 300, so that’s good at least.  I’m not sure yet if the story is any good, though.  I’ll keep you posted.
  • The first of November was also the first day of open enrollment for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (AKA “Obamacare”).  I had to finish on the phone, because COBRA is complicated, but the end result is that I should have insurance next year… and it should be free.  That was a surprising discovery, but it’s because I make a lot less money now that I’m retired.  On the one hand, it feels kinda weird and wrong that there isn’t means testing to go along with raw income.  On the other hand, government stuff like this never, ever breaks in my favor… so I’ll take it.  I’ve still got to contact my COBRA coverage company and get it to terminate on December 31st, but that can wait until I get at least the beginning paperwork for the ACA stuff.
  • Let’s just say the diet didn’t hold and leave it at that.  I’ll try harder this coming week.
  • I’ve been trying to actually stay on top of TV for once.  Last Man on Earth and Brooklyn Nine-Nine continue; I’m in the last season of LMoE.  I just finished season 2 of Luke Cage tonight (it was fine but not great) and am close to finishing season 6 of Orange is the New Black.  I started watching The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina on Hallowe’en, for obvious reasons, and that’ll take the place of Luke Cage for the time being.  It’s cheesy but fun.
  • Boy, this was a down month for the stock market.  And there’s likely more on the way.  Those numbers used to be a lot more hypothetical in terms of affecting my continued financial health than they are now.  Gulp.

I’m gonna keep cracking on this novel for the next few days, at least, to see if it’s got legs.  If so, I’ll try to assess whether the writing is worth sharing or not.  If it is, well, I’ll be linking it here, which should provide something a bit different to read, horse story notwithstanding.