Jet Writes

Little posts by Jetgirl.

Alright, I finally got the new site up and running this afternoon. Consolidated some things, got the old posts imported, still need to go through each one to re-add the images but that's not vital. I am debranding all the “JetGirl” stuff that I've been using for... over a decade now. Time for a more professional look.

What does that mean for this blog? Welp, I'm going to start blogging over there. You'll recognize Kev's simple.css layout however it is being used on a Wordpress install. I've tried doing the whole GitHub Pages static site setup and every time it failed or I couldn't get permissions right on something. WP I can spool up on a droplet in minutes without problems so that's what I did.

New Website

RSS feed

This account will remain in use for my MOSFET short fiction page. I really enjoy write.as and it is great for simple things without images or comments, etc and plan to keep using it for this purpose.

So we finally have full pressure running water, and as of yesterday I flipped the breaker on the hot water heater so we could wash clothes and shower. We still can't drink it yet. Like most of the greater Austin area water systems ours is under a boil notice for the next several days. This is, of course, causing folks to go out and buy bottled water or fill up from places in Round Rock or Georgetown who didn't lose power to the water pumps. Several breweries (because they can boil giant vats of water) are offering free container fill-ups if you can get out to them.

To answer TMO's question about road prep, no we have maybe one? spreader truck per county. Usually they don't use salt but sand (which when it melts and dries up results in slippery dry dust.) on the roads to ensure emergency services can get around on main roads. A few tractors were out after a few days to try and scrape up ice from the streets in some areas but that's really really bad for our roads. But yeah, any winter weather will shut down overpasses, toll roads, bridges, etc due to ice buildup. When we were out trying to cut the water off at the curb we saw folks trying to drive (escape) out of the hood, wheels spinning faster than the car was going. There had to be 2-3 inches of solid ice from curb to curb. Like, we had to use a shovel to break up the 1 inch that formed on top of the snow to walk across the yard and still nearly slipped.

The biggest issue now that the temps are in the 60-70's isn't keeping warm so much as it is getting water running again. With power out for several days everywhere the pumps froze up since the water couldn't move. There are photos somewhere of giant basketball sized industrial pipe joints just cracked open like an egg. These things had to be replaced, power turned back on, and then wait for the ice to thaw enough to start pumping without further damage. Running water through frozen pipes at full blast busts the hell right out of the pipes in the walls which many folks in our neighborhood discovered. Mostly the two story houses and places in town with exposed plumbing in the ceilings/walls. Not every place uses insulation around them because it rarely freezes that bad (running water is enough). Several neighbors have busted hot water heaters, busted interior wall pipes, and such. There was one community that didn't turn on the sewer pumps before the water came back and blew sewage up through the homes toilets/faucets/etc. Let's just say insurance companies, plumbers, contractors, and lawyers will be busy for the next several months around here.

All but a handful of streets in town have power back, and our water system is at full pressure. The one in town is still filling up but should be up to code soon. Austin proper is still having trouble getting their water levels back to normal because of extensive damage as well as psycho's deciding to wash cars, fill pools, and water their yards.

The grocery stores are restocking every day but no milk to be found anywhere. Some places have eggs, and if you go early enough you can get bottled water. We're still good on food and drinking water for the next day or two so we might venture to HEB soon to get bread and such. In fact a handful of restaurants have opened back up so today we were able to get some burgers and fries which was nice after a week of reheated canned food and such. We're just lucky the only thing that broke here was the A/C condensation exhaust pipe next to the house. That we can fix ourselves.

So quite a bit has happened since I rage quit all my sites last week. Basically I tried to set up some self hosted stuff and I just can't get dns and ssl certs to play nice so those are now all gone. I had planned to move the blog back to the main site but nobody goes there anyway. Easier to just do stuff here.

NOW. FOR THE NEWS.

For those who don't know I am in central Texas

So, last week I was checking the feed on my kids' weather station/meteorologist twitter account and noticed that a lot of folks were getting really worried about the incoming polar vortex storms heading our way that weekend. I decided to grab some extra food and such on Wednesday, as well as some pipe insulation and covers because they claimed we would hit zero to negative temps. We've already had a snow day this year but it wasn't nearly that cold. Also, the weather models being generated at this time were all reading way different than what the news and weather channel were showing. Like, a ten degree difference. That Thursday was a scheduled 40F and rain day. It was 30 and glazed everything in ice.

After that I realized the projected models were going to be closer to what happened than the national forecast and stuff on my phone. By Friday the roads had cleared enough for me and one of the kids to go grab some extra firewood, water, and snacks because I had a feeling we might lose power for a chunk of the day given the temps I saw projected plus the ice already on the ground.

Saturday began even colder, and freezing rain covered the streets again by the evening when the main show started. We could hear the wind and snow and sleet hitting the windows all night. When we woke up Sunday morning I noticed it was cooler in the room and my bedside clock radio was off. Power was gone. I mean, when you have a mini blizzard in Texas you expect the power to go off for a little while, right?

LOL

By evening we realized the power wasn't coming back on and all the reports from the power company were that they were doing rolling blackouts. Well we weren't on that system so we just dead ass never got power back until 11am today (Friday). For the first three days things were alright, we had the firewood and still had running water. We cooked using sterno's on the oven since we don't have gas. All the food went outside in coolers. At night we each used a space blanket between the sheets which actually were almost too hot to be under after a while even when the room is 40F.

By Tuesday things were getting iffy. We were out of the firewood I bought and all the easy to heat up foods. (I had only planned for a day or so of power loss.) Then we noticed the water start to slow down and by that evening it was off entirely. We kept the taps open in all the sinks and tubs to keep the air flow going through them. Luckily we had some spare lumber from a project I started and failed last year that we sawed up and burned. That and a few extra fence posts we kept in the garage became the heat source for Tuesday and Wednesday. Sunday night I made a stew which lasted two days, and Tuesday was heated canned chili. Other meals were the rest of the bread/lunchmeat/cheese we had as well as any fruit or snacks. Being cold makes you hungry and being 6-19 degrees for four straight days in a place that gets that cold every 30 years is a mess.

This morning we got up ready to start sawing up some thick 4x4's we found in the wood stash (most of my other stuff had paint on it and was an absolute last resort) when while getting dressed around 11am the lights came on, and stayed on. The house temp went up to 60 and we were able to take off coats and cook food on the stove properly. We then went outside to turn off the water at the street, being able to check the websites for the water company we saw they finally got power back the night before and were planning to turn the pumps on today. If it wasn't going to freeze again tonight I would have let it run but at this point I'm exhausted and gross and would rather have proper working water when its had a chance to get up to pressure and my pipes thaw out. We also shut off the breaker on the hot water heater since folks said that if that's on while empty it can burn up the elements.

Had we known the power would have been out for four days straight I would have bought more firewood and instant meals. We normally have ramen and canned soup in the house but for some reason we were out this time (Trying to eat more fresh stuff that requires more prep and cooking). Also, after this is over we need to go buy a little propane camp stove. Even if we HAD any charcoal (I normally buy it in the spring when I start smoking meats and such) I couldn't get to the grill in the back yard due to an inch and a half of the worlds slipperiest ice coating the entire slab. Even the dog had trouble on it.

So at this point we've had power back for 12 hours now. Hoping it stays on overnight but you never know. Lots of folks had it way worse than us. We're only low on drinkable water at this point but some people ran out of food after two days and several left the neighborhood (ones who didn't have a fireplace or camping equipment) to go to other towns which had power. The roads are hardly passable, while turning off the water we watched a few try to go down our frozen street, wheels spinning faster than the car was going. I know folks are against Facebook and social media but honestly if it weren't for those local fb groups and neighborhood groups several people would have been way way worse off. Local shops offered heat and water if they had it, if you could get to them, and several of the gas stations and grocery stores finally opened up today with limits on things. We will wait till maybe Sunday or Monday to venture out for supplies, let those who had it way worse than us get some stuff first.

Keeping the mosfet mag here for now but blog has to go.

I'm not just talking about CD's and tapes, I'm talking about the stuff that went with those things. Back when physical media was the only media you needed special furniture for them. Remember having a cabinet or shelf that you only used for VHS tapes? Or those ones with the little slots for cassettes and cd jewel cases? Ikea currently sells a nice little wooden shelf in the kitchen dept that fits cassette tapes like you wouldn't believe. But those things aren't the end of the world. You expect full hifi systems with incorporated vinyl record storage and liquor cabinet to get phased out after a while. But what about like, really specific things...

Back in 2006 I worked at a commercial audio shop. Their bread and butter was those in-ceiling speakers for schools and offices but we also had high end stuff for custom home audio jobs. Now remember that this is the era of the iPod and the big deal then were those Bose iPod docking stations. Every MP3 player needed a docking station to charge and play from at the same time or you just weren't cool. Anyway, we sold these docking stations that would be installed in the walls of your house that would connect to a receiver/mixer combo somewhere in a closet or in the living room with the massive plasma TV.

These days I sit and wonder about the folks who had this shit put in their house. Do they still have a big square cut into the wall with an old school iPod port in it? Do they still have that old click wheel iPod they paid $400 for? Did they just go and put their new iPhone in the wall the next year? I kind of feel bad for the early adopters of expensive things that get phased out so quickly.

I love a good documentary. Something about watching a show about real people and real events is just so nice these days. No stilted language, no overacting, no canned responses. Anyway, you can find a handful of them on Netflix or Hulu but I find the real gems are on Prime Video. For some reason Prime has some off the wall and very indie stuff. You've got a 50/50 chance of it being totally amazing or unwatchable. Most of the good ones are the PBS documentaries that recently got paywalled (But it's not too bad). Anyway, these are the ones I've watched recently that are very good:

The Booksellers This is a doc covers the antiquarian bookshop scene in New York. It covers the various things book collectors look for and what makes an old book valuable.

Gamemaster This one follows a handful of independent tabletop game developers. (Not to be confused with TTRPG's or D&D stuff.) They have the guy who invented Settlers of Catan, the Exploding Kittens guys, all kinds of cool stuff and insights into how these games get made.

The Last Blockbuster Ok so this one isn't included in prime but can be rented for $5. It's worth the rental if you are one of us folks who used to rent tapes on the weekends. Yes there is one Blockbuster left, holding on for dear life.

I ran a newsletter back when I first started writing in 2016 or so. It used tinyletter and had about thirty subscribers. Most of these people were family members. I based it off a model used by Abi Jones because I liked her layout and the content was both personal and industry related. That worked well for a few years while I was writing Redbriar and pretty much put the newsletter on pause a few months after publishing the book. It was still the same 30-40 people. The same folks I could just share the info with on Facebook or Twitter or legit email. (So why bother with the newsletter at all?)

After a while I thought it would be a good time to start it back up using substack because it was new and had more features than tinyletter. Half the folks who had signed up for the first one didn't sign up for the new one, and those that stuck around clicked on zero links. My content was the issue. I couldn't come up with anything to hold someones attention the way it's required to have a successful newsletter. So I went back to the blog.

I tried doing a little post here and there on my main site, using the wp install as it was intended. The content again became an issue because I'm not an industry leader nor do I have the one-hobby content-creator lifestyle. (If you are either of these things then the newsletter format will work out great for you.) It just clogged up what was basically a portfolio site with personal junk posts like this one. I needed a space to vent nothing to nobody without messing up my main site. (That's why this blog is here and not there.) Real work, projects, art, etc go there. Junk goes here.

Frequency was the other issue. The newsletter was once a week. I couldn't just post whatever thought I had that day on that day, I had to wait and fit it into the email somehow and usually by then anything I wanted to mention was old news. I kept trying to theme the things, keep them relevant to what was going on, or what wasn't. Creating the newsletter became more time consuming than everything else.

So, about your newsletter. I will totally sign up for it, link it to me, I don't mind. They are important tools these days, and I understand. There is a dedicated email address I use for such things to keep my main inbox under control. However, I check it once a month like I do my PO Box. That being said every morning and evening I do check my RSS feeds. If your newsletter has that option I'll add it to my reader and for sure will read it that way. I know substack and tinyletter have feeds and it's a good idea to link to them in some way in your email.

We've been pandemic house-cleaning every weekend for months. This past weekend was our daughters closet's turn which was mostly just our junk. While digging out things I found the two long boxes we had stored all our comics in. Now, I hadn't gone through both of them in a while so I sat down for about two hours and went through and checked eBay for the going prices on a few I knew were worth something.

Today I bubble wrapped and boxed up a dozen comics that were worth the 20-35 dollars it costs to have graded by the CGC. For those who don't know what that is it's a company that takes collectible items like baseball cards, magic cards, comics, etc and gives them an official “grade” which increases their value when you go to sell them later. You basically send off the books and they come back to you in large clear plastic cases with the grade up at the top. Think of it as having a precious stone appraised.

Clearly not all comics are worth much. The most expensive ones are from the Golden Age of comics where wartime paper recycling caused good copies of these books to become extremely rare. That and the fact that these comics were produced in the 100's of thousands on garbage paper. Silver age comics can be worth money depending on who is in them and how rare it is. These are going to be the first editions Marvel put out in the 60's. The Bronze age comics are the 70's and 80's comics that were produced on a much wider scale and by this point weren't going to be rare anymore. By the 80's and 90's people were buying multiple copies of every issue ( one to read, one to keep ) and saw them as future investments the way the older comics were becoming. Modern comics are basically mass produced on high quality paper and reprinted as soon as an issue sells out. Once it's run is done the whole arc gets printed in a trade paperback as well. Honestly if you are getting into comics for the first time and don't want to go digital I highly recommend buying trade paperbacks so you can read the story without ads or having to hunt down all those little issues.

From 2002-2003 I worked in a comic book shop while in art school. While there part of my job was to get acquainted with all the titles and such so when someone walked in asking for a copy I knew what they were talking about. The major comic book movies at the time were things like Daredevil and the X-Men movies so the audience was still older dudes. While there I discovered this thing called indie comics and latched onto those. Luckily I would occasionally buy the odd 1st issue of something if Previews or the managers made a big deal about it.

Fun story, one day a woman came into our shop (we also would buy comics at pawn stars prices) with a ratted dirty copy of Amazing Fantasy #15 (The first appearance of Spider Man). We're talking pages falling out, rusted staples, holes in the paper, it was dark brown and just a hot disaster. We gave her $750 dollars for it and you'd thought she had won the lottery. Since it was so bad we graded it in store (unofficially) as “Poor” and that was generous. Given its condition our manager let us handle it and read through it as we would probably never touch a copy of this comic in our entire lives ever again. Another time we had someone come in with EVERY single issue of the first run of the X-Men from the 60's. The issue? The guy's dad had hole punched every one to go in a binder. We couldn't even make him an offer.

So what did I get graded? Batman 608-610 (Jim Lee's) that I got while working at the shop. All 7 issues of NYX, including #3 which is the first appearance of X-23. THOR #1 (Jane Foster), and Paper Girls #1. There were some others I sort of wanted to get graded but wouldn't return enough value afterwards. If a comic is $40-$50 after grading then it's worth probably $5 ungraded. The most valuable ones I dug up being the THOR #1, Batman 609, and NYX #3. It takes a while for the comics to get processed but I'll keep yall updated on what scores they get. I'm worried about NYX because I've personally read through the issues several times back when I got them. The Batmans, THOR, and PG are untouched since purchase. :D

I was going to put a bunch of quotes in here by highly successful writers who will also agree that one has to read to write well, but let's face it, yall can google that on your own time. This is in response to the handful of posts about the subject I saw today.

So hear me out, when I first started I didn't want to read much other work because the other work that I knew of (or was suggested) didn't appeal to me. I didn't care for the style and formulas used in commercial genre fiction or the overwritten marketeese of commercial blog posts and articles. Plus, I barely had time to write my own work much less sit around reading a bunch of bricks I wasn't interested in.

This is the hard part, finding examples of writing you enjoy reading. I found out that I enjoy reading short stories and more literary/modernist novels. Luckily, literary fiction often overlaps with genre giving you get a mix of themes in regards to what's out there. (And helps you not come across as a complete and total snob.)

I don't read daily or weekly, same goes for my writing. Not too many people I know have the time to sit and read for hours uninterrupted every day so what you do read needs to count, so to speak. Plus, there is so much out there now that it would be nearly impossible to keep up with everything. How does the joke go? “Oh you like writing? Then name every book ever written.” – something like that.

These are the writers who I learned the most from: – Anton Chekhov – Charlotte Perkins Stetson – Yukio Mishima – Virginia Woolf – Banana Yoshimoto – Hakrui Murakami – Patricia Highsmith – Don DeLillo

Your mileage will vary on those writers. It's all about personal taste, but I do believe that if you read someone else's work that you enjoy you can learn something from it that will help you with your own writing. Pay attention to the sentence structure, how they handle dialog, everything. This goes for articles, blogs, essays, etc. The concept of “read more” will have better results if you are reading work you connect with in some way. If you're enjoying it, try to figure out why.

Today I found out about two new writing programs. One was for writing poetry, the other was a markdown-based novel writing program. I clicked on the novel one to see what it offered, and of course it has all the “organizational” features that help with things like outlining chapters and such. But what didn't it have? The ability to export as .DOCX. Have you ever hired an editor? Submitted a piece to a magazine? Do you know what format they need the work submitted in? Something that opens in Word.

My process went like this: Write the book in Word and email the file to your editor. She marks it up and puts feedback in comments which are highlighted/noted in the margins. When you employ a fix from a comment it resolves itself and disappears from the list. (Think of these as assigned tickets in a repository.) Then you can go back and forth with the same document employing changes and getting the text ready for the hard part... physical publication. That requires specific settings that have to match whatever PDF formatting your POD service uses. For that you can use whatever typesetting software you wish (LaTeX, InDesign, Acrobat, Scrivener...).

Anyway, lately I've seen an uptick in writing software designed for authors that are more of an organizational tool than anything else. I see these as marketed to the crowd that is more interested in goal tracking, daily wordcounts, two dozen character arcs, and a massive open world setting for one book. For that style of writing you need that level of organization but at the end of the day you still have to sit down and tell a story.

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