izmeina: tree and serpent lurking, permaculture logo (egg)



Nathan Lozeron is the King of Productivity Porn. Nothing like teaching a concept to others to make sure that you understand it deeply yourself.
If there is any justice in the world, he should become President or at least rich beyond the dreams of avarice. Or maybe he will continue on his present path of sharing the golden nuggets of wisdom for free rather than hogging them all for himself.

But back to Word of the Day


The concept is suspiciously close to those dreaded and woeful vision and mission statements but not quite. More like North on a compass than some cheesy happy claptrap to be hung in a foyer to impress the gullible idiots.

It would be fun for folks to suggest suitable one word mantras for each other and see if there is any overlap.
So far GAMES and MAGIC come to mind for certain serpent associates


Had been meaning to do a proper post about this and a whole bunch of other things not to mention replying to an assortment of thought provoking posts (Catness is the culprit behind most of those) but those days seem to be well and truly over lately.

At present this peeved python's word would run along the lines of PISSED OFF but such pity parties are no path for a bright shiny future.


When the choice is between pecking the letters on a tiny but properly functioning smart phone or using a real keyboard attached to a temperamental and veritably senile Big Mac, then the good intentions do not last long at all.
After the first 15 minutes of jumping through hoops, spinning beach balls and freeze frames, all desire to squiggle rapidly evaporates only to be replaced by murderous frustration and rage. And the problem with anger or fear is that it makes you irrational and stupid. Brain dead. Totally and completely brain dead.

It is a miracle I ever managed to keep the new monthly resolution beginning in March of writing ten minutes or 300 words per day for 21 days this month.
Most of it turned out to be snarling hissing rants about what a worthless POS the Big Mac is turning into. Did also squiggle a bit more cheerfully in the gorgeous green Slytherin diary but that doesn't count because there is no word count.
But the content is completely irrelevant. The point is the ritual and the habit.
Did manage to clock up between 400 to 500 words in the 10 minutes (nearly always timed it) so it should not be too much of a stretch to add another 10 minutes per day to reach a quota capable of reaching April's Camp Nano target of 25,000 words.

Next month's habit is infinitely more ambitious. Getting up around 7am 6 mornings a week and going to bed by 11pm.

While pottering around some of the productivity porn pages on habits, came across some one who is learning French for just 5 minutes a day on Duolingo. Figured on the spur of the moment that would be an interesting experiment - to start a language from scratch with just 5 mins a day and no particular effort outside of the app and see what sorts of progress I make. Clever buggers have gamified the site. Most geeks would see straight through it but simple serpents are easily pleased.

So far I have a 7 day run. You get bonus points for that sort of thing. Sneaky buggers.
Even more amusing was consulting the Oracle of Google to learn about the business model because there just did not seem to be any obvious means to make money from a free language learning course. Especially one that displays no adverts of any kind unless they are all on the app which I do not have because the Google store keeps saying that there's insufficient space in spite of having a nearly empty 16gb SD card in the thing.

It is so much easier to take teenie weenie baby steps and make progress that way than to go for grandiose projects which only serves to awake the inner beast who never misses a chance to sabotage any grand serpent plans.
izmeina: (Default)
Was supposed to have posted this serpent snippet ages ago but sort of got distracted by Nanowrimo and an assortments of tweets from #Trumplethinskin

One of the more useful and unusual books about writing that I have recently encountered is Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande

If you can get past the antiquated and annoying ‘he man’ language, it is actually full of useful ideas and information.
It is very different than most other books on this subject in that it does not deal at all with plots, three act structures, character arcs, dialogue and all the usual things one would expect to be covered in a book about writing. It is more concerned with the mindset that is required to write, how to develop it and the delicate juggling act required to balance the conflicting aspects of the mind.

It would be more accurately described as a book less about writing and more about Summoning the Muse.

The 3 most important ideas in this book I found are

1 Sneak past the snarky carping inner editor


By writing first thing in the morning after waking up - before turning on the radio, talking to anyone (or especially these days - checking the smart phone) it is possible to bypass the pesky inner editor and let the subconscious run riot on the page. It is also a good idea not to reread these pages lest you unleash the inner editor or give up in despair at the awfulness of your rambling purple prose.

2 Tame the Beast

The subconscious is a creative creature but childish and wilful and prone to fits of procrastination. It has to be tamed and disciplined if it is to serve you well.
She recommends this be done by writing first thing in the morning to develop the habit and then later to choose a time to write and to keep to it. No negotiations and no excuses. At the appointed hour you turn up at your desk and write. It is best to pick different times on different days to train your subconscious to be able to produce the words on demand.
If you stick to this schedule the subconscious will soon learn that its temper tantrums and trickery are of no avail and will then conform to your will.

3 Feed Your Head

The creative self needs lots of new experiences to keep it inspired and amused. Go to museums and art galleries. Be a tourist in your own town. Or else be condemned to constantly replaying significant emotional episodes from childhood when everything was truly new and magical and almost every day an adventure.

If this advice sounds suspiciously similar to that offered in Julia Cameron’s “The Way of the Artist” that is because it is. Only some 50 years older.
izmeina: (Default)
Was supposed to have posted this serpent snippet ages ago but sort of got distracted by Nanowrimo and an assortments of tweets from #Trumplethinskin

One of the more useful and unusual books about writing that I have recently encountered is Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande

If you can get past the antiquated and annoying ‘he man’ language, it is actually full of useful ideas and information.
It is very different than most other books on this subject in that it does not deal at all with plots, three act structures, character arcs, dialogue and all the usual things one would expect to be covered in a book about writing. It is more concerned with the mindset that is required to write, how to develop it and the delicate juggling act required to balance the conflicting aspects of the mind.

It would be more accurately described as a book less about writing and more about Summoning the Muse.

The 3 most important ideas in this book I found are

1 Sneak past the snarky carping inner editor


By writing first thing in the morning after waking up - before turning on the radio, talking to anyone (or especially these days - checking the smart phone) it is possible to bypass the pesky inner editor and let the subconscious run riot on the page. It is also a good idea not to reread these pages lest you unleash the inner editor or give up in despair at the awfulness of your rambling purple prose.

2 Tame the Beast

The subconscious is a creative creature but childish and wilful and prone to fits of procrastination. It has to be tamed and disciplined if it is to serve you well.
She recommends this be done by writing first thing in the morning to develop the habit and then later to choose a time to write and to keep to it. No negotiations and no excuses. At the appointed hour you turn up at your desk and write. It is best to pick different times on different days to train your subconscious to be able to produce the words on demand.
If you stick to this schedule the subconscious will soon learn that its temper tantrums and trickery are of no avail and will then conform to your will.

3 Feed Your Head

The creative self needs lots of new experiences to keep it inspired and amused. Go to museums and art galleries. Be a tourist in your own town. Or else be condemned to constantly replaying significant emotional episodes from childhood when everything was truly new and magical and almost every day an adventure.

If this advice sounds suspiciously similar to that offered in Julia Cameron’s “The Way of the Artist” that is because it is. Only some 50 years older.
izmeina: (Default)
So another November in Nanoland is over and it's time for the ritual post mortem

There are two things I have learned and one that I have confirmed

A Plodding Python )
izmeina: creepy spooky old house infested with crawling critters (spooky)
So another November in Nanoland is over and it's time for the ritual post mortem

There are two things I have learned and one that I have confirmed

A Plodding Python )
izmeina: (Default)
The serpent is lurking a lot less lately due to the distraction of the annual ritual that is National - these days more like International Novel Writing Month.

It’s not like I am ever actually going to DO anything with the 50,000 plus words. Didn’t last year or the year before or the one before that etc etc so it seems most unlikely that things will be different this time. But in the end it doesn’t really matter.

A big fat stash of words )
izmeina: creepy spooky old house infested with crawling critters (spooky)
The serpent is lurking a lot less lately due to the distraction of the annual ritual that is National - these days more like International Novel Writing Month.

It’s not like I am ever actually going to DO anything with the 50,000 plus words. Didn’t last year or the year before or the one before that etc etc so it seems most unlikely that things will be different this time. But in the end it doesn’t really matter.

A big fat stash of words )
izmeina: (Default)
In an alternative universe I would have been at “The Very Potter Quiz” on this evening where four tables of pot heads dressed up as their favourite characters and assigned to the appropriate houses would be vying for the House Cup and raising funds for assorted charities. Due to not possessing a broomstick or even a muggle motor vehicle, would be unable to get back to the Lair using the bus. It seems silly to have a student event finishing at 11.30 when so many of them do not have transport. So made do with slinking about a pretty park reading and then going on a coffee crawl before returning to the Lair to do lots of catching up online.

After being unable to find it in any local library, resorted to Amazon to get Stephen King’s book about writing. Saved it especially as a reward for finishing April’s word marathon. Had been reading another book for about fifteen minutes while sitting on a park bench under a tree before switching to the King. Within less than a minute a big black greenish blob splattered onto one page. Some squawking creature in the tree was obviously not impressed. This must be some sort of omen or a sign to write a story about some very snooty birds and their arty farty book club. The Izzie had indulged in the deluxe hardback edition so was particularly peeved. Found bits of newspaper to wipe it off but a dark green stain still remains. There must be some way to turn this blemish from a bug into a feature. Maybe I should stab the book with a basilisk fang to see what happens.

The weather has been crisp and crunch of late with a dark sky at night and a pretty sliver of a moon. It’s two days since departing Camp Nano. Suddenly there’s an extra 90 minutes to play with per evening that does not need to be devoted to the all important 50,000 word count. All sorts of temptations conspire to fill that time mainly in the form of online courses. Two of them will be finishing within the next week or so.

It’s also gorgeous weather for gardening. But the big event this time of year is not one but two government budgets. There’s a chainsaw massacre a coming and the fallout will be scary indeed. That is another story entirely. I’ve not been talking much about the two day jobs but their central feature is that they are unpaid. Which in today’s goblin dominated culture means that they don’t count as real work at all.

But they’ve been essential in preserving the serpent’s tiniest sliver of sanity and relegating the significance of a certain toxic toad to a dimly distant memory of dark days to be dragged out of hibernation only when the word count needs turbo charging.

It’s funny how often we are so focused on the money that it is easy to forget the other important and necessary things that a job can provide. It’s nice to be useful instead of being still stuck on the scrap heap where that old toad tossed me and hoped I’d stay forever.
izmeina: a wicked witch on her broomstick by moonlight (Halloween)
In an alternative universe I would have been at “The Very Potter Quiz” on this evening where four tables of pot heads dressed up as their favourite characters and assigned to the appropriate houses would be vying for the House Cup and raising funds for assorted charities. Due to not possessing a broomstick or even a muggle motor vehicle, would be unable to get back to the Lair using the bus. It seems silly to have a student event finishing at 11.30 when so many of them do not have transport. So made do with slinking about a pretty park reading and then going on a coffee crawl before returning to the Lair to do lots of catching up online.

After being unable to find it in any local library, resorted to Amazon to get Stephen King’s book about writing. Saved it especially as a reward for finishing April’s word marathon. Had been reading another book for about fifteen minutes while sitting on a park bench under a tree before switching to the King. Within less than a minute a big black greenish blob splattered onto one page. Some squawking creature in the tree was obviously not impressed. This must be some sort of omen or a sign to write a story about some very snooty birds and their arty farty book club. The Izzie had indulged in the deluxe hardback edition so was particularly peeved. Found bits of newspaper to wipe it off but a dark green stain still remains. There must be some way to turn this blemish from a bug into a feature. Maybe I should stab the book with a basilisk fang to see what happens.

The weather has been crisp and crunch of late with a dark sky at night and a pretty sliver of a moon. It’s two days since departing Camp Nano. Suddenly there’s an extra 90 minutes to play with per evening that does not need to be devoted to the all important 50,000 word count. All sorts of temptations conspire to fill that time mainly in the form of online courses. Two of them will be finishing within the next week or so.

It’s also gorgeous weather for gardening. But the big event this time of year is not one but two government budgets. There’s a chainsaw massacre a coming and the fallout will be scary indeed. That is another story entirely. I’ve not been talking much about the two day jobs but their central feature is that they are unpaid. Which in today’s goblin dominated culture means that they don’t count as real work at all.

But they’ve been essential in preserving the serpent’s tiniest sliver of sanity and relegating the significance of a certain toxic toad to a dimly distant memory of dark days to be dragged out of hibernation only when the word count needs turbo charging.

It’s funny how often we are so focused on the money that it is easy to forget the other important and necessary things that a job can provide. It’s nice to be useful instead of being still stuck on the scrap heap where that old toad tossed me and hoped I’d stay forever.
izmeina: (Default)
It’s a week since a certain online scif fi and fantasy literature course has ended. It was a strange beast of a course. There was the creepy sex obsessed professor conspicuous by his absence, a crazy peer review marking system for assignments and a gang of grammar Nazis relishing the chance for some serious power trips. It required a ridiculous amount of work for a very small return. But that is assuming of course that grading is the only thing that counts because it is the only thing that is measured and in a sloppy unrefined manner at that.
But there were some upsides to this manic masochistic adventure. There is nothing like the allure of an external deadline for getting stuff done. The Izzie ‘100 books to read before you die” list is just another one of those things gathering dust and being saved for a rainy day. But thanks to the course “Dracula”, “Frankenstein” and a whole bunch of Edgar Allan Poe stories have been ticked off that list.
The simple fact of having to write an interesting and insightful 320 word essay on the readings for each week meant that a good bit of thinking was involved. First thought was that 320 words is a piece of cake. Will have that done and dusted in 20 minutes since a good Camp nano day can clock up a word count of 1,200 per hour. But they are as different as chalk and cheese. In Nanoland you just make stuff up and the more words the better. No one sees your efforts unless you are crazy enough to post them.
Trying to say something useful with just 320 words to do it and backing it up with cold hard facts is a very different kettle of fish. A first draft might take twenty minutes but slicing, dicing and rearranging to get rid of every single excess word and then choosing quotations and examples from the readings as evidence often took several hours. But you would be mad to do it for the score because there was just no nuance at all in the grading system and unless your work was truly appalling or exceptionally good the best you could hope to score would be the default 4 out of a possible 6 marks. Every other online course where I have put in even half that amount of effort has got a final mark around 90%. But then they don’t have the same value. The readings have provided plenty of inspiration for the daily 1,666 Camp Nano words.
The Izzie motto had always been “Editing is for December” and December never ever came. But this time it got done in March and most of April too.

Then there was the addiction of the forums where folks would be discussing the books on the list, posting their essays and bitching about the ridiculous grading rubric or snarking about the lectures. “Sometimes a snake is just a snake” was a very common comment. Was lurking there lots and it was very addictive so was ever so surprised to have slinked to the fifth place on the Forums ‘Leader Board” where position is based not just on number of posts but the number of up and down votes received so that those who posted things that others found useful would be ranked higher than those just making inane Facebook like sorts of comments.

So as soon as the time gobbling monster had been slain, there was a sudden surge in the serpent’s daily word count over in Nanoland. There’s still other courses to catch up on. In Cyberia the best things in life really are free. Learning stuff online is a pretty harmless addiction.
I’m finally learning not to be too ambitious or greedy. It’s best to do one thing at a time and do it well than to juggle a whole bunch of courses all at the same time and then view them as a chore with scores to be gamed rather than a source of fun, enjoyment and education.
So resisted the temptation to sign up for the Rice Python programming course running right now and signed up for September instead.

Already looking forward to Futurelearn's "Start writing fiction" starting on Monday.
izmeina: A cute cartoon critter with a bag and a teapot on his head (teapot)
It’s a week since a certain online scif fi and fantasy literature course has ended. It was a strange beast of a course. There was the creepy sex obsessed professor conspicuous by his absence, a crazy peer review marking system for assignments and a gang of grammar Nazis relishing the chance for some serious power trips. It required a ridiculous amount of work for a very small return. But that is assuming of course that grading is the only thing that counts because it is the only thing that is measured and in a sloppy unrefined manner at that.
But there were some upsides to this manic masochistic adventure. There is nothing like the allure of an external deadline for getting stuff done. The Izzie ‘100 books to read before you die” list is just another one of those things gathering dust and being saved for a rainy day. But thanks to the course “Dracula”, “Frankenstein” and a whole bunch of Edgar Allan Poe stories have been ticked off that list.
The simple fact of having to write an interesting and insightful 320 word essay on the readings for each week meant that a good bit of thinking was involved. First thought was that 320 words is a piece of cake. Will have that done and dusted in 20 minutes since a good Camp nano day can clock up a word count of 1,200 per hour. But they are as different as chalk and cheese. In Nanoland you just make stuff up and the more words the better. No one sees your efforts unless you are crazy enough to post them.
Trying to say something useful with just 320 words to do it and backing it up with cold hard facts is a very different kettle of fish. A first draft might take twenty minutes but slicing, dicing and rearranging to get rid of every single excess word and then choosing quotations and examples from the readings as evidence often took several hours. But you would be mad to do it for the score because there was just no nuance at all in the grading system and unless your work was truly appalling or exceptionally good the best you could hope to score would be the default 4 out of a possible 6 marks. Every other online course where I have put in even half that amount of effort has got a final mark around 90%. But then they don’t have the same value. The readings have provided plenty of inspiration for the daily 1,666 Camp Nano words.
The Izzie motto had always been “Editing is for December” and December never ever came. But this time it got done in March and most of April too.

Then there was the addiction of the forums where folks would be discussing the books on the list, posting their essays and bitching about the ridiculous grading rubric or snarking about the lectures. “Sometimes a snake is just a snake” was a very common comment. Was lurking there lots and it was very addictive so was ever so surprised to have slinked to the fifth place on the Forums ‘Leader Board” where position is based not just on number of posts but the number of up and down votes received so that those who posted things that others found useful would be ranked higher than those just making inane Facebook like sorts of comments.

So as soon as the time gobbling monster had been slain, there was a sudden surge in the serpent’s daily word count over in Nanoland. There’s still other courses to catch up on. In Cyberia the best things in life really are free. Learning stuff online is a pretty harmless addiction.
I’m finally learning not to be too ambitious or greedy. It’s best to do one thing at a time and do it well than to juggle a whole bunch of courses all at the same time and then view them as a chore with scores to be gamed rather than a source of fun, enjoyment and education.
So resisted the temptation to sign up for the Rice Python programming course running right now and signed up for September instead.

Already looking forward to Futurelearn's "Start writing fiction" starting on Monday.
izmeina: (bigsmilie)
A certain anniversary looms on the horizon and Izzie cannot help but think how very much different things are now but also strangely similar

The memory of an event always seems somewhat stronger around the time of year it occurred and even more so when the days and dates coincide

This makes the Christmas of 2007 and even 2001 much more vivid than last year’s. That was a Sunday and the other two were on Tuesdays and the last two of those three Tuesdays were hotter than hell

After a particularly miserable year in 2001 decided to try wipe the slate clean for 2002. In aid of this noble aim adopted a mantra inspired by the spirals in a rather geekish book entitled “e - the story of a number” and a favourite quote from the recently read first four Potter books. While “There is no good or evil - only power and those too weak to seek it” was by far the most favourite quote, it was not exactly the sort of thing suitable for an idealistic beginning to a brand new untainted year

That honour went to a sentence from “The Chamber of Secrets” “It is our choices that show who we truly are, far more than our abilities”
In only two days this combination had yielded fruit and the present serpent incarnation suddenly and most unexpectedly came into being. It was a most wondrous and magical time. Things that had seemed impossible had become effortless and a grumpy lump of misery became a bright and bubbly effervescent and very mischievous creature. This was not a one day wonder but lasted a good two years before the magic slowly yielded to mundane reality. Even the Dursleys noticed and suspected the involvement of illicit mind altering substances

While the magic shield retained its power, Izzie felt much happier, had more energy and strangely attracted all sorts of wonderful people and things in both the mundane and virtual worlds. All of this took place with no effort or will at all unlike all those previous exhausting and futile attempts to change

Spent a good while since then trying to understand this strange and mysterious process and lamented how the magic slowly faded into oblivion. But the memory remained and the hope that once again its transformative power could be resurrected.

In search of the Word )

When good intentions and will power don’t work then it’s time to get sneaky and use imagination instead. Visions of a winged feather light serpent flying above and beyond all that heavy soul destroying stuff and leaving it all behind just might work where all those schedules, timetables and nagging inner critics didn’t.

The Mayan feathered serpent didn’t bring the trail of destruction that the doom sayers predicted so an Izzie incarnation shouldn’t do too much harm either. Fluffy angel white wings or a pale shade of silver should go well with those emerald scales.
Only a couple of more days now before it’s finally time to unleash the bright shiny new inner beast

2013 will once again be The Year of the Serpent
izmeina: (Default)
A certain anniversary looms on the horizon and Izzie cannot help but think how very much different things are now but also strangely similar

The memory of an event always seems somewhat stronger around the time of year it occurred and even more so when the days and dates coincide

This makes the Christmas of 2007 and even 2001 much more vivid than last year’s. That was a Sunday and the other two were on Tuesdays and the last two of those three Tuesdays were hotter than hell

After a particularly miserable year in 2001 decided to try wipe the slate clean for 2002. In aid of this noble aim adopted a mantra inspired by the spirals in a rather geekish book entitled “e - the story of a number” and a favourite quote from the recently read first four Potter books. While “There is no good or evil - only power and those too weak to seek it” was by far the most favourite quote, it was not exactly the sort of thing suitable for an idealistic beginning to a brand new untainted year

That honour went to a sentence from “The Chamber of Secrets” “It is our choices that show who we truly are, far more than our abilities”
In only two days this combination had yielded fruit and the present serpent incarnation suddenly and most unexpectedly came into being. It was a most wondrous and magical time. Things that had seemed impossible had become effortless and a grumpy lump of misery became a bright and bubbly effervescent and very mischievous creature. This was not a one day wonder but lasted a good two years before the magic slowly yielded to mundane reality. Even the Dursleys noticed and suspected the involvement of illicit mind altering substances

While the magic shield retained its power, Izzie felt much happier, had more energy and strangely attracted all sorts of wonderful people and things in both the mundane and virtual worlds. All of this took place with no effort or will at all unlike all those previous exhausting and futile attempts to change

Spent a good while since then trying to understand this strange and mysterious process and lamented how the magic slowly faded into oblivion. But the memory remained and the hope that once again its transformative power could be resurrected.

In search of the Word )

When good intentions and will power don’t work then it’s time to get sneaky and use imagination instead. Visions of a winged feather light serpent flying above and beyond all that heavy soul destroying stuff and leaving it all behind just might work where all those schedules, timetables and nagging inner critics didn’t.

The Mayan feathered serpent didn’t bring the trail of destruction that the doom sayers predicted so an Izzie incarnation shouldn’t do too much harm either. Fluffy angel white wings or a pale shade of silver should go well with those emerald scales.
Only a couple of more days now before it’s finally time to unleash the bright shiny new inner beast

2013 will once again be The Year of the Serpent

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