Extreme Cold in Maine

Over the weekend, it got pretty darn chilly here in Maine. How chilly? On Friday night, the temperature dropped to 21 below 0F, with a windchill of 50 below. The high never got above 0 during the day, and the wind was vicious the whole time. I love me some winter, but I can pass on the temps that cold.

This was the first bout of really cold weather we’ve dealt with since the kitchen renovation. Back before we renovated, we knew where there were potential trouble spots, and we would take measures to avoid frozen pipes there. (“Measures” really boils down to a couple of approaches: open the cabinet doors so the pipes get more heat and/or leave the sinks dripping. Moving water doesn’t freeze.) But I didn’t really know where we might have trouble with the newly remodeled kitchen. Theoretically, we shouldn’t have had any. The pipes were all well away from exterior walls, so all should be fine. And throughout the day, it was.

Then at 11:30pm, Denisa went to check the kitchen sink, and the hot and cold were both frozen. No water at all. The problem with this is that I wasn’t sure where the pipes might have frozen. Back when we first moved into the house and our pipes froze, we paid to have a plumber come fix it. He used a hairdryer for fifteen minutes, and we paid $100+ for the privilege. Ever since then, I’ve done it myself. (I had no idea professional hair drying was so lucrative!) But if you don’t know where to point the hair dryer, it makes things more complicated.

For the first while, I pointed it at the pipes underneath the sink cabinet. My best theory was there was a draft where the kitchen wall meets the floor down there, but after a half hour, nothing was moving, and I was beginning to wonder what we might do. That spot is completely boxed in, so it’s not like I could rip it open to get to it. So instead, I took a loooong extension cord and headed into the crawl space.

The clearance there is less than two feet, so I army crawled my way down and got everything set up, then started hair drying bends in the pipe. (Bends freeze before straight spots, or at least that’s what I’ve been led to believe.) It took a while, but slow and steady wins the race. By 12:40 or so, we had water moving again. Enough to discover the pipes to the dishwasher (off that sink) had also frozen.

Once again, it was trial and error to see where I needed to warm the thing up, but by 1:30, everything was thawed, I was showered (that crawlspace is tres nasty) and back in bed. Not the funnest way to spend an evening, but I’m grateful we found the freeze before anything could get really damaged. The sink shouldn’t be a problem now that I know it might freeze. We’ll just let it drip as well. The dishwasher’s a bit more problematic, but we’ve had temps down to -9F and it’s been fine. It seems it was just the extreme cold and the wind that did the damage.

Other people in the area were not as lucky. Burst pipes and power outages. Also house fires, because any time you’re trying to take extreme measures to keep your house warm, things might go awry. It was very cold.

And now today it’s going to be 41F. Go figure.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this DON’T GO TO SLEEP Amazon link. It will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Revisiting Mistborn

To start the year off, I decided to reread the Mistborn series, but as I headed into the first trilogy, I realized that I’ve never actually read the final version of them. I read them chapter by chapter as we workshopped them in writing group over several years. And in my head since then, they never changed, so there are things that Brandon edited before publication that I never realized got edited.

This has led to a very interesting experience. I think it’s the first set of books that I’ve read in print where I can point to different sections and know what sort of an impact writing group had on them. I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by mentioning these things (If I am, Brandon, I can take this post down), but here are a few examples of what I’m talking about:

  • I remember having a long debate in writing group about Vin killing the wolfhound. In the first draft, she just went up to the dog and pewter-punched it in the head, killing it instantly. I can’t remember if anyone other than me had an issue with it, but I was very less than pleased with the killing of a dog in-scene, by our heroine. We talked about what animals you could and couldn’t hurt. There were some who were squarely in the “anything but a cat is fair game” crowd, but I stuck to my guns. No killing dogs, if I’m supposed to like the character later on. This is ironic, of course, because I now kill people regularly in my novels. But note: I haven’t killed any dogs! In my head, Vin’s been a dog killer all this time, and now I realize she’s been falsely maligned. (Although I will also admit now that having OreSeur kill the dog instead also feels strange. I mean, Vin must have really held back to avoid killing the dog, and it feels out of character for her to hold back from doing it. So maybe Brandon was right, after all? Actually, what the scene really needed was a long flashback explaining how much Vin always loved dogs, and how a dog once saved her life on the streets, and so she’d made a solemn vow never to kill a pooch. That would have fixed it . . . )
  • Kelsier will always been pronounced with a French accent for me. It was a long running joke that he was outrageously French. I’m disappointed that it was never canonized, but I suppose it’s something I’ll have to learn to live with.
  • There’s a big twist in book 2. Brandon’s very keen on setting one thing up and then doing something unexpected, and that goes all the way back to his early books. In Well of Ascension, a big part of the book is devoted to “who is the spy?” Vin bounces back and forth between suspecting just about everyone. I remember when we read the first draft, as soon as it came to light that there was a spy, that I said in writing group who I thought it was and how it went down. It turns out I was 100% correct. I’m not sure if Brandon tweaked anything in the later drafts, because I still remembered who the spy was, and so couldn’t really tell if it was harder to guess.

It’s been a lot of fun to revisit the book, since there are many memories tied up in it. Back then, we were workshopping Cavern of Babel at the same time, and there was another long-running joke about what a Mistborn llama would be like. Some of the time we were at Brandon’s house, down in his basement. He had a huge bean bag that was a very popular spot to sit, and a parakeet who would make a guest appearance now and then. (No parrots). Then for a bit we met in my apartment, and we finished workshopping things over at Sally Taylor’s house.

I miss writing group. It wasn’t just about the writing. We had a lot of fun times, and I became close friends with everyone. Many times we’d head out to eat after a session. Mama Chu’s. Spaghetti Factory. Good times. Moving to Maine was wonderful in many ways, but that’s definitely one area it was much less than great.

Anyway, just thought I’d share. (Oh–and Happy Groundhog Day!)

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this DON’T GO TO SLEEP Amazon link. It will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Tomas Update: Week 9 in Žilina

Ahojte všetci! Another week here in Žilina and we are still at it. This week has been pretty crazy since transfers were still happening. We had like 5 different elders come through as a result. Here are some of the highlights:

Monday we had elder Millett with us again which was pretty fun, good to see him as always. Then Tuesday we swapped him for elder Sedgwick as he waited for his new missionary to come in, who we got to meet and see on his first day here basically. They took off Wednesday morning, and then Friday we had an exchange with the Trenčín elders. Tons of people but it was fun.

The exchange with Trenčín was actually really good, and we ended up finding (sort of) a guy outside of Tesco. Before we left to go out that evening, we felt kinda like we needed to be in front of a building somewhere. He was literally like the only person that actually wanted to listen but he did take a Kniha Mormonova and we got his number so hopefully he goes somewhere. Cool guy, he had a sweet jacket on. Anyways sometimes you out in the work and you end up only having 1 person listen in 2 hours but it’s worth it.

Besides that, I also got my film developed this week. I have the pictures in both the regular album and this one: https://photos.app.goo.gl/QSYdWR569pLcFjubA Unfortunately there’s a hole in the shutter but the camera is 40 years old so like I get it. Apparently this is common and the fix is just some fabric paint so I’ll be back at it in no time. In the meantime, the effect is kinda cool so like I guess I’m happy with it, and most of my shots came out decent. Excited to see what I can do with a fixed camera though.

It’s also finally snowing more here! The days are staying consistently below 0 so we are actually getting some on the ground. The námestie (main square) is really pretty with all the snow.

I’m also doing some voice overs for a series we’re making on baptisms here, so once those are out I’ll throw you all a link so you can hear me if you want.

Ok, besides that I can’t think of a ton else to say this week. It’s been crazy but also good and I’m excited to keep working here. Obligatory photos album link: https://photos.app.goo.gl/qYoYaKPmkqFZHoVM7

Love you all, 

Starší Cundick

Physical is Cool Again

I was talking to Tomas this morning, and he was telling me all about the “new” camera he got in Slovavkia. It’s actually an old Russian one from communism, completely manual (no batteries, etc.), and he’s a big fan. (Well, he will be once he gets the camera fixed. He just had his first roll of film developed, and it looks like there’s a hole somewhere inside it that’s letting light in on the pictures. All of his shots have this huge christmas tree-shaped splotch of white in the middle of them. He’s pretty sure he can fix it.)

But what he was really excited about was having actual honest to goodness pictures that he could hold and feel. Or at least, that’s how I’d understood it at first. As we talked more, I realized he took the film in to get developed, and they gave him back the negatives and then digital scans of the negative, so he still doesn’t actually have pictures he can hold in his hand. But he does have something that feels much more real to him.

Of course, when I was on my mission, all I had was a physical camera that took physical pictures, and since then, the trend has always been toward more technology, not less. When digital cameras arrived, it was so exciting that they didn’t need film. That I could take as many pictures as I wanted without having to worry about getting one wrong. I could see the results right away. Phone cameras have only made that more extreme, with people taking multiple shots of just about everything, simply because it’s so easy to delete the ones you don’t want. (Or don’t delete them at all, since digital storage is so cheap.)

Likewise, Daniela got an instant camera for Christmas. (Like a polaroid.) She was also thrilled with the idea of having tangible things instead of just purely digital. That’s right in line with other trends: LPs in music, fancy leather bound books, etc. More and more, it seems like people are acknowledging that yes, they could have something digital, but what they’d really like is something tangible, at least of the things they’re big fans of.

Brandon Sanderson has made a lot of money with this principle, issuing deluxe leather editions of his books 10 years after they’re published. And fans gobble them up. I’m surprised more authors aren’t doing it. Scratch that. I just googled it, and they are. I just hadn’t paid any attention to it. If people really love something, they want to show that love in a way that lasts.

In a way, this is nothing new. How many people would buy t-shirts at concerts or musicals or events, to prove they were there? To have something physical they could wear and show to others as a way of declaring what sort of a person they are. What music they like. Sure, you can like a page on Facebook, but who actually looks at those?

It’s interesting that for years, the assumption seemed to be people would keep moving toward digital, until all physical things were gone. Now, in a time when AI can begin to approximate many of the same things that humans could make, it makes sense that there will be a continued focus on the artists behind the art. On going to concerts. On interacting with them online. Taking actual pictures. Buying prints.

I do wonder if the disposable nature of many things will continue to decrease. Will we get to a point where most paperbacks just aren’t published, because people either want the deluxe leather versions of the books they love, or just the digital version so they can read it? Actually, I doubt it, simply because not everyone can afford deluxe leather versions. People will want a way to show what they’ve read. To connect with it in a way digital ones and zeroes can’t.

Food for thought . . .

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this DON’T GO TO SLEEP Amazon link. It will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Facebook and Me

I’ll be honest: I’m getting very close to just giving up on Facebook. Cory Doctorow had a great essay the other day about how websites go from being useful to abusive to dead (a process he termed “enshittification,” which is pretty accurate, if crude). It’s worth reading the whole thing, but in a nutshell, he describes how first websites focus on providing as useful of a service for as cheap as possible. The site needs to set itself apart from everything else out there, and so it focuses on attracting users.

Once it has those users, it monetizes them in order to attract investors, because sites ultimately want to make money. Once it has enough investors, market share, and advertisers, then it shifts to getting as much money out of them that it can. Raises advertising rates and sales fees. This continues to the point that everything falls apart, because there comes a time when people aren’t willing to keep doing business with them.

That’s where Facebook is with me right now. I’ve held on for much longer than many of my friends, mainly because I used FB as a vehicle for posting my blog, and because I enjoyed seeing updates from my remaining FB friends. It’s also still useful as a place to organize groups and events. But even that is becoming less and less helpful.

Facebook just doing what it used to do. I have no real control over what I see in my feed, and it’s getting dominated more and more by ads and promoted posts. Likewise, FB is showing my posts to my friends less and less. I don’t get updates about events or group postings unless people are paying for those to appear in my feed. It doesn’t help that so many people left because they were sick of what FB was doing to their relationships, and how toxic much of it was becoming.

The only thing keeping me around right now is that I’m not sure where else I’d go. It’s a real shame, because the thought behind the original Facebook was a good one, and honestly, it’s one I would consider paying for out of pocket, so that I could stop being the product and instead just be the customer. Then again, I don’t know how many other people would be willing to pay $5/month to get just the updates from their friends that they want. A social network only works if there are enough people on it to make it social.

Really, I’m not looking to meet friends online. I’ve got friends in life. I want to keep in contact with them, and FB was a good tool to do that. It’s becoming increasingly clear that it won’t always be.

Ironically, I’d love to have other people’s input on this, but most of the people who read this read it on FB, so it turns into an echo chamber. How can I find out what other people do to keep in touch with folks if I can’t get their attention to ask? But it’s still worth a stab.

Why are you still using Facebook? What else are you using instead of it? Is it a place that does more than videos and/or pictures? I’m a big fan of the written word . . .

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this DON’T GO TO SLEEP Amazon link. It will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

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