31 March 2007

Tiger Daze published

Today I published the lastest in Lyn McConchie's series of farming and animal tales, a volume titled Tiger Daze. It's published through Lulu and is available in paperback or PDF. Here's a direct link. The author lives in New Zealand. In 1989 she purchased a small farm and settled down to farm and write books. In both activities her cats have joyfully assisted her—not always when wanted. This is the story of Tiger and his feline friends—a tale of roistering cats and their frequently bemused human. Lyn has sold short work and novels to publishers in America, Canada, the UK, Russia, Poland, Australia and New Zealand. She is three times winner of New Zealand's Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best SF/Fantasy Book of the Year. I published two earlier books in the series through Lightning Source; they are available on Amazon.com: Farming Daze and Daze on the Land. Lyn's website is here. I need to update it.

25 March 2007

Science fiction and fantasy reading

I just finished Kim Stanley Robinson's Fifty Degress Below, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It's a sequel to Forty Signs of Rain, at the end of which he almost destroys Washington D.C. in a major flood. Both books spend a lot of time discussing the politics of science in general and the National Science Foundation in particular, as well as the author's concerns about climate change, global warming etc. Very timely! Before that it was C.J. Cherryh's Destroyer and Pretender (the latest 2 volumes of a continuing series that I very much enjoy) and John Varley's Mammoth, which is partly a time travel story. I loved the scene where a herd of mammoths suddenly appears (from the past) near the La Brea tar pits in the LA of today and starts stampeding through Hollywood. Others have included Margaret Ball's Disappearing Act (I always enjoy her stuff too), Juliet McKenna's The Warrior's Bond and The Assassin's Edge (4th & 5th books in a fantasy series I started reading several years ago), and probably some other books I've forgotten.

21 March 2007

Another geek point for Jean

Usually when I run into something I don't understand about Linux or computers or other gadgets, I yelp for help, but today I had the time and energy to try to solve a problem on my own—and succeeded! It was, of course, easy to solve, once I figured out a few of the non-obvious (to me) steps along the way. Warning to Windows users: unfamiliar terminology ahead. Eric gave me an old 30GB USB hard drive to use for storing my digital photos. The problem: the drive was formatted for some Mac drive format. Ubuntu could see the drive, and the directory names, but it couldn't do anything with it (even read the contents). Eric said "you'll have to reformat it". "Ummm", said I, "how? I can't see any commands for formatting disks." "Use fdisk", said Eric, who then ducked and ran for cover. Well, I am totally enthusiastic about command-line stuff, so I did some searching on the Ubuntu forums to see if there was another way. Found it: Gparted (Gnome partition editor). Cool! So I installed Gparted, which let me see the partitions on the USB drive but not do anything with it ("Format" was greyed out). Then I looked up Gparted's website and found a note that I had to unmount the partition first. Okay, that makes sense (it never occurred to me, because I haven't done enough mount-unmount type stuff to remember it). I found the menu command for that, after which reformatting was straightforward and easy. Unplugged the drive, plugged it in again; it remounted automatically, and away we go. I copied my whole shared partition onto it, and checked on the other laptop that it could be read (yes).

19 March 2007

Medical news: good and bad

The good news is that all my blood tests (glucose, cholesterol, etc), blood pressure, and the other usual indicators are in the healthy range. The only things wrong with me are 25 lb too much weight and my hip joints are wearing out. I've been having increasing problems with my hips and knees while walking, and my usual combination of chiropractic and glucosamine hasn't been working well enough, so I saw my GP, got x-rays & other tests, and now have an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon for an opinion on whether or when to have a hip replacement (or both, or one or both knees as well). I think it's more "when" than "whether" on at least the right hip, which even I can tell from x-rays isn't doing too well. Unfortunately, the first available appointment (for a non-urgent case) is in late July. The closest specialist is in Mackay (1.5-2 hours' drive from here). I could have tried to see someone further away, but I suspect that waiting times are similar or worse all over. I just hope I like this surgeon; otherwise I'll have to try to see someone else (again after a long delay). In other news, I need some dental work done. Again, nothing urgent (lots of broken teeth, none of them giving me any pain), but I've been putting it off because my local dentist (while thoroughly competent) seems to favor treatment that I don't want or won't consider. My former chiropractor (who has since left town) was telling me about his dentist's philosophy which sounds much closer to mine. I finally got around to contacting the dentist's office (he's near Brisbane, a plane flight—or two days' drive—away from here) and got the first available appointment—in October! (With treatment later in Oct and in November.) I suspect Murphy's Law will ensure the hip replacement will end up being scheduled at the same time as my dental appointments, so I'll have to postpone one or the other. Good thing I don't have any overseas travel (or other expensive trips that would be a problem to cancel) planned or required for this year!