Saturday Sundries 3

confusion (Microsoft clip art)

image credit: Microsoft clip art

Yesterday morning rolled around, and I still hadn’t come up with an idea for today’s post. The day job kept me busier than I have been recently, and, to be honest, my creativity is still wandering the universe and isn’t checking in with me very often. So this post is my version of “free writing,” in the sense of “free association.”

In The Archaeological World

The big news this week in North American archaeology is the discovery of evidence for cannibalism at Jamestown, the early English settlement in Virginia. Researchers don’t know who the 14-year-old girl was, whether she was the daughter of colonists or a maid servant. But her bones show cut marks consistent with defleshing and breaks with removal of the marrow. Historic accounts had hinted at the possibility, but this girl’s remains provide the first physical evidence of cannibalism during the “starving time” of 1609–1610.

No, this isn’t Jamestown. But it is an archaeologist working on an excavation in the Mid-Atlantic

On (My) Writing

Last weekend, Meghan and I sat down and discussed more story ideas. From what I see in my notes, there are three stories we could write. We’ve chosen one to start with, and I’m trying something different. I’m setting down some of the plot lines, learning who the main characters will be, and the reasons for what happens. Some of you may recognize this as “outlining.” Now before you think I’ve been converted from my pantsing ways, that’s really not the case. This won’t be thousands of words written out, chapter by chapter. It’s just some “good” notes being taken prior to a dive into the writing.

Meghan apparently enjoyed the thrill of writing one section per week and putting it out on the blog with minimal editing—or planning. But it was stressful for me, and I’ve told her we can’t do it again. She told me I’d never have made it as a writer for radio programs in the ’40s and ’50s. I told her I wasn’t even alive back then, and I wouldn’t have wanted to do that, anyway.

I never had a radio like this. I never even saw one like this in my grandparents’ homes. (image credit: Microsoft clip art)

Blog Buddy News

Congratulations go to Kourtney Heintz on the release of her debut novel, The Six Train to Wisconsin. The e-book is available now, and the paperback will be out later this month. The Six Train to Wisconsin was a semifinalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition. Do check out Kourtney’s web site and blog for more information. And be sure to stop by here on June 1st, when she joins me for a Saturday Sit Down post.

That’s All She Wrote

It’s a beautiful spring weekend here, so long-time readers can probably guess where my husband and I are heading later this morning. Hopefully that takes our minds off setting up his new computer, which runs Windows 8. I’m hoping all the terrible reviews I’ve seen are really the result of unfamiliarity with the new operating system and not because it’s really that bad. But time will tell, right?

Elephant at the National Zoo in DC. No, we’re not going to the zoo today, but I just felt like including a photo of an elephant.

Do you have anything fun planned for the weekend?

55 thoughts on “Saturday Sundries 3

  1. I’m a little like you. Ideas for blog posts can hit me between the eyes during the week or I can be scrabbling for ideas the morning I’m due to post. Some people only post when they have things to say but I like the consistency that forces me to keep to a deadline and seek out ideas. You’ve done a great job!

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    • Being forced to meet a deadline can help. Maybe that’s what kept me writing Meghan’s last story even while I’ve been stuck on the WIP. But I really needed a break from that!

      Much of the advice I see for bloggers says to keep a consistent schedule. That way people know when to expect our posts. Some argue with this, saying everyone relies on notifications, not memorizing someone’s schedule. But I’ve seen a number of comments on various blogs where readers say things like, “I always look forward to seeing your posts on Wednesday.” That tells me readers do pay at least some attention to a schedule.

      So I’d rather err on the side of caution and stick to my posting days. And, after all, it’s good to prod my brain to come up with something when it’s feeling lazy!

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  2. Have a great weekend. We are still in cold wet season for some reason. Ground snow has melted, but it snowed enough overnight to leave evidence on the cars. And good luck with Window 8. My husband just got his laptop with 8 on it and he if very frustrated. Working through it though. 🙂

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    • This is such a weird spring. Winter seems to be hanging on far longer than normal. Want to bet the summer will be miserably hot when it gets here? So far, I think we’ll hate Windows 8….

      Enjoy your weekend, too!

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  3. Nice updates JM – it’s fascinating what can be discovered by studying the bones of the young girl!

    By the way, I’ve been using Windows 8 (on an all in one desktop) for a few months and I’m pretty tech savvy. I was also hoping “the terrible reviews I’ve seen are really the result of unfamiliarity with the new operating system,” but unfortunately they are pretty accurate. I find W8 to be very inefficient. The whole Tiles & Desktop is like turning over a piece of paper with work on one side and notes on the other. You constantly have to flip back and forth and I don’t understand the point of that. I avoid using the Tiles if I can and just stick to the Desktop. You’ll get used to it. Good luck and enjoy the beautiful day! Ah, Spring 🙂

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    • Yeah, I’m really doubtful about this new version of Windows. The flipping between the tiles and the desktop is ridiculous. I dread trying to load Office 2013 next week from our company’s portal.

      If they’re going to have the desktop, and they should, give me something like the old start key to bring up my programs!

      Hopefully by the time I need to replace my laptop, something better, like Windows 7 was, will have come out.

      Have a great weekend!

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  4. Always good to soak up that sunshine while you can! I love the archaeological update. It’s sad to think the colonists would have had to resort to that for sure but it definitely gives us a better idea of what it was really like at that time. I’ll look forward to more Meagan stories!

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    • It really does show how extreme their situation was. Cannibalism was completely contrary to English culture and against all religious scriptures. But we also have a strong survival instinct that will drive us to do things we can’t believe possible.

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  5. I read about the Jamestown discovery as well. Very interesting.

    You’ll have to let us know what your husband thinks of Windows 8. My husband needs a new laptop, but he doesn’t want to deal with the new version. I’ll be curious to know how it goes.

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    • It’s getting harder for me. 😉 I may need to scale back this summer…. A lot of readers take time off then, so maybe dropping to one post per week wouldn’t be a bad idea. We’ll have to see. 😉

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  6. JM, Thank you so much for featuring my book today! 🙂 I can’t believe it’s all really happening. And thank you thank you thank you for finding the time to help spread the word! Wow, that Jamestown discovery is really interesting.

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    • Hey, that’s what blog buddies do, right? 🙂 And now the paper version is available ahead of schedule! That is so fantastic!

      This is the kind of archaeological discovery that makes the news. What most of us find will never generate that kind of interest by the public. 😉

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      • Aw I’m so glad you’re my blog buddy! Way ahead of schedule. LOL. Still waiting on the Kirkus Indie review, hopefully will have that in early June.

        So true. And so unfair. Your work is so interesting. 🙂

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  7. I like the consistency in posting, JM. Since I’m not particularly a writer, or a photographer, I have a great deal of leeway in what/how I post. Even so, I’ve learned to give myself a day off if NOTHING comes! Thanks for the conversation on W8. I’d like it more if Microsoft came up with their own stuff instead of trying to one-up Apple… there are many reasons I’ve never been a fan of Apple. And it’s good you’re having the heart-to-hearts with Meghan: a meeting of the minds and hearts can only be a good thing! Have fun today. We, too, are enjoying a sunny weekend. My darling daughter and I started our weekend early with a tramp through Central Park yesterday afternoon! xoxoM

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    • Reading these comments, it sounds like Windows 8 is worse than I’ve heard. 😦 That’s not promising. I’ve never been an Apple fan, but if another crappy Windows project is going to make PCs crappy Apple wannabes, then more people might decide to switch to Apple. If I knew more about computers, I would switch to Linux.

      It was a beautiful day in DC today, and we even did a touristy thing and took a sightseeing trip on the Potomac. It gives a different perspective on some of the monuments. 🙂 Then it was walking and people watching in Georgetown. Hopefully it sparked some ideas for Meghan. 😉

      Enjoy the beautiful weekend!

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  8. Cannibalism (shiver) I can’t imagine what that must of been like especially for the child. You’re right though! it really does open doors to imagination and wondering what stories would come from it 🙂

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    • One reason for thinking she was a servant was that if she had a family with her, they would have protected her grave. But there’s also the possibility she was the last survivor of her family and so had no protection for that reason. I don’t think I could handle such an event, but we don’t know how we’ll handle a disaster until we go through one. Personally, I’d rather never know!

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      • Scary, reminds me of the survivors of that airliner that crashed in the mountains and their struggles. They resorted to cannibalism, I suppose survival instincts take over logic. X(

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  9. I’m seeing a lot of solutions out there that make Win8 look and work like Win7, at least as far as it can. Google “make win8 look like win7” and see what you get. I was fortunate to have bought my netbook before Microsoft decreed that any and all new computers shall have Win8, or I’d have returned the computer or at least replaced the operating system with Linux. From what I hear, Win8 is worse than you’ve been hearing…

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    • Well, that doesn’t sound encouraging! If I knew more about computers, I’d try Linux. Win7 on my laptop works just fine. Didn’t they learn anything from Vista? I’ll be getting Office 2013 from work next week, and we’ll see how installing that goes. But I’m not looking forward to doing it. We’ll see if this leads to some negative blog posts down the line….

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  10. Can’t wait to read Kourtney’s interview. I liked the elephant picture. They are so cute that I think it is acceptable to randomly post them on your blog any time you want. And nothing too fun this weekend. 2 soccer tournament games and 2 track meets within the last 2 days. I’m exhausted from running kids all over the place and sitting for hours to watch them do their thing. The good thing is…the season for both is done now. Next weekend I will do no sports watching (and plan to enjoy whatever else I do instead)

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    • Whew, it sounds like you had a busy weekend! Yesterday in DC was fun, and there will probably be a post with more photos coming up. Today, not so fun. It was a housecleaning day. That is not something I enjoy doing. 😉 But it must be done. And I’m lucky that my husband helps out, too. Tomorrow is back to work on finalizing a report we did for a project in DC. The review comments came back on the draft, and it’s a 400+ page report. Things got busy for the week!

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  11. I did watch a fun/horror show not long ago entitled “The Washingtonians”. It was about a myth that George Washington and his descendants (and followers) were cannibals. It was…interesting.
    I don’t even want to think about Windows 8.
    Scott

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    • So far, my husband says, “It’s not too bad.” However, I’m the one who’s installing software, transferring files from our back up hard drive, and basically doing the hard stuff. And I don’t like it at all. It’s cumbersome, slow, not user-friendly…. Basically, Vista all over again. Why didn’t they learn from that fiasco?!

      George Washington a cannibal? Oh, boy. But if the writers were saying he had descendants, they already stepped out of the “real” world! And we also have Abraham Lincoln as a vampire hunter. I can’t even imagine what’s next. Bill Gates, zombie master?

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  12. I’ve gone through phases of blogging to a schedule but then it just slips, so I prefer the more random approach for me because I don’t want it to ever feel like a chore!

    It’s a gorgeous spring day here too. Yesterday we went to London, it’s a 20 minute drive to the train station, then 1hr on the train from where we are (if you’re interested!). Imperial College were running a science festival with loads of hands-on demonstrations and talks and things – we heard an interesting talk from a geologist who is part of the Mars Rover team. There were things for all ages there, but the day was somewhat spoilt by the weather which started out sunny and then decided to get cold, windy, on and off rainy, and even hail at one point, and because some of the things were outdoors, and you had to keep going outdoors to walk between things, we gave up in the end and walked down to the Science Museum for the rest of the day. So it was a very science day anyway!

    It’s 9am here, not sure what to do today but I hope the sun stays today.

    I seem to be writing my own blog post in your comments section!

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    • You can write a post in my comments any time, Vanessa! Weather notwithstanding, it sounds like you had a good day yesterday, too. Today for me was housecleaning, which is not high on my list of fun things to do. 😛 It’s at least been sunny and not too cool, which helps.

      I want to keep with my schedule at least until I reach my 200th post, which should be next month. But then I might ease up for the summer. A lot of bloggers disappear then, and views go way down for me, anyway. Maybe my inspiration will be back then and it will be a good time to work on my fiction again.

      Here’s to a work week that doesn’t hold any nasty surprises or headaches. 🙂

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      • I still haven’t reached my 100th post yet and this August I will have been blogging for 2 years! At first I was sporadic though, and then after that I’ve rarely done more than one a week. I don’t usually notice much what schedule others are on, but I do look out for your Saturday one because I don’t seem to get many come through on a Saturday, and yours seems to arrive when I’m watching my son at his trampolining class, so I read it on my phone then (even if I don’t always get around to commenting on it for a while!).

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        • I partly chose Saturday because it is a slower posting day compared to most. Monday seems to be the most popular day, so the contrarian in me chooses not to post then. 😉 As to when people actually read posts, well, that’s probably a dissertation in itself. Sometimes I get lots of views on the days I post, sometimes not. I’ve yet to find a rhyme or reason!

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  13. I try and post regularly, but we all have the ‘Oh no I’ve got nothing to say’ moments. Often I find a piece of music which inspires me and wait till the mood takes me over.

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    • When those “nothing to say” moments hit me, I’m usually paralyzed for a bit, thinking I’ll never be able to keep going with the blog. Somehow, I do. 😉 But sometimes, it is difficult. Life, of course, is never all simple and easy. And I shouldn’t expect writing and blogging to be any different. That doesn’t mean I can’t wish….

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      • I find the more honest we are the more we have to say, but honesty takes courage, of course, and that’s not easy in Blogging, or anywhere else for that matter. Best of luck with everything

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  14. I did something fantastically fun last night. I want to share it on my blog but don’t know if I’ll have time. I’m sure you’re enjoying that nice weather. Good luck with the new ideas Meghan has for you. Keep plugging.

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    • I am plugging. Well, it feels like slogging right now, but I’m still moving forward. Although, I’m a bit tired from a day of housework. That’s never fun! Meghan thinks I’ve “wimped out,” not writing her next story live on the blog. But I think she’s slowing coming to realize that I can’t keep working that way. 😉

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  15. I’m such a random blogger, JM, that I only blog when 1. I get the time, and 2. I’ve got a picture or something to put up. Sometimes I go for a week or so and think, ‘good grief, aren’t I supposed to be blogging?’ LOL 😉

    I love reading anything about the past and the cannibal story was one that caught my eye straight away when I read it in the news. What a life! I know I sound old, but kids don’t know how good they’ve got it these days (at least we’re not having them for dinner!) I read another one about some gold balls found in a Mayan temple that also sounded interesting and I can’t wait to hear more about that one 😀

    I hope you had a lovely weekend 😀

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    • If I was having a house moved to a new location and then trying to restore it, I wouldn’t find time to work on any WIPs, let alone blog!!! How you manage to do all of that is beyond me! 🙂 My life is a cake walk compared to yours, and I struggle to keep a schedule and stay sane!

      Hmm, I haven’t read about the gold balls…. That sounds like it could be interesting and worked into one of your stories. 😉 The weekend’s almost over, alas. But another will be here in a few days, and I’m looking forward to that one, too. 🙂

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  16. I’m sorry about your husband’s computer woes. That would stress me out to no end, as I’m not tech savvy in the least.

    I’m excited for more stories coming from you, and I know what you mean regarding the outlining which isn’t outlining but to a pantser it might as well be outlining. 😉 I have made some changes along the same lines in regard to approaching a new story, and it’s been an interesting switch in habits/behavior.

    This week’s weather has been lovely, too. Although we desperately need rain, the sun has been shining and the skies have been blue. Amazing what a sunny day will do for us. 🙂

    Hope you enjoyed your weekend.

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    • I’m not impressed by Windows 8 so far. If they want to drive people to Apple products, they found a good way to do it! 😛

      The bad thing for writing is that this month is turning into a really busy one for me with both work and family responsibilities. So I hope Meghan doesn’t decide to wander off as a result. We’ve made some slow progress, but not much. I think she’s the patient sort, but we all have limits, right? I just don’t want her taking off to some tropical island with my Muse and checking out the waiters while they sip their mojitos….

      We’re now back in a cool and cloudy stretch, which isn’t terribly normal for May around here. We’re supposed to get rain tomorrow, and we could use it. But I’m ready for 70s and sunshine!

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  17. OK – so I’m reading late…and brain dead. But enjoyed the post.
    Cannibalism was suspected but this is the first proof? Jamestown had it pretty hard – not exactly an ideal location, some weren’t at all prepared for the”new world” experience – and it was just being abandoned in the wilderness. (Shiver). Could she have been indentured servant? Last survivor of family sounds logical.
    Microsoft – drove me crazy. 3 years ago I bought and Apple and haven’t looked back ( although there is that Excel addiction still lingering…) My husband still has PC for his office due to engineering programs and compatibility issue world wide in business….but he quickly bought a new computer before Win 8. Quirky Microsoft needs to be itself and clean up its’ act.
    Radio shows are cool – a different type of writing for different type of audience, but an exciting time?
    Glad you had a good weekend!

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    • Accounts from some of the survivors suggested there had been cannibalism. But this is the first clear physical evidence they’ve found. The cut marks are exactly like you’d expect to find on bones as a result of defleshing them for meat. Nearly everything that went into the establishment of Jamestown was a bad decision—most of the original inhabitants were from the upper classes who didn’t know how to do physical labor or “work” with others, and the location was swampy with brackish water that was usually undrinkable and had poor soils for growing crops. And you couldn’t just catch the next boat back to England. The fact that anyone survived is probably a miracle.

      Your husband was smart to get a new computer with Windows 7 while he could! But to be fair, I didn’t have any trouble downloading and installing Office 2013 this afternoon. Still, switching between the “apps page” and the “desktop” will get old, very quickly. I’m also not a huge fan of most apps—including those for Apple products. Most of them are glitchy, and I’d rather use the web page for them. If an app won’t work well, what’s the point?

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  18. I hear you about work & family responsibilities! 2013 is my busiest year, yet. In regards to Windows 8—I’ve been using it since Christmas & love it. I recommend pinning favorite programs to desktop. 😉

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    • Thank you for that excellent tip. 🙂 It helped immensely when I downloaded Office 2013 this afternoon. I fear you’re in the minority on this post when it comes to opinions on Windows 8, but to be fair, I didn’t have any problems with the Office download, and the transfer of files from the backup hard drive is going smoothly. But the switching from the apps page to the desktop strikes me as inefficient! Maybe Windows 9 will be like 7 when it’s time to replace my laptop…. 😉

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  19. Silly archaeologist, it’s not Saturday–today is Tuesday! And I know I can’t be in the wrong.

    That’s quite a revelation about Jamestown. I heard that “CROATOAN” means “bake at 350 degrees or until golden-brown.”

    I hope Windows 8 gets easier for you. I am such a child about learning new things. I’ve been using a Mac for work for the last six months or so, and I’ve been trying to “learn it” in my free time, and that hasn’t been going especially well. I’ll bet you’re a quicker study than I am, though.

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  20. Roanoke is another fascinating bit of history. Where did those settlers go? There are some interesting genetic markers that suggest they might have joined up with Native Americans in the area, but we can’t say for sure yet.

    A quicker study? Hmm, I’m not so sure. I tend to learn just enough about some technology and programs to get by. But I still don’t have a smart phone, and I don’t know if I could figure it out if I did!

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  21. I’ve been away from a computer on an out-of-town trip and so I’m late this time. After my A-Z challenge, my creativity has dried up and I’m still thinking about what I’ll post tomorrow. I might try your approach and write about several short things. I just got Windows 8 and am still learning it. So far (only a week in) no complaints. But knowing MS, that can change.
    I look forward to whatever you and Meghan dream up together.

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    • I enjoy “tidbits” posts from other bloggers, so at one point I finally thought why not do the same thing now and again? Especially as we (in the northern hemisphere) move into summer and are busier with family and friends and outdoor time.

      To be fair, I haven’t run into any real problems with 8. But I do find it clunky at times and not especially user-friendly. My fingers are crossed that when it’s time to replace my notebook, a better version, like 7, will be available. 😉

      Meghan has to compete with work and family this month, but maybe we’ll have more time to work on the new story in June. I really hope so.

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  22. Good luck with Windows 8, JM! We are holding off on it, mostly because it’s designed for touchscreen interface…and it’s not particularly intuitive. No offense intended, but younger users have had much less issue with making the switch from a traditional desktop navigation layout to this iOS-based one, than older users (like you and me). 😉 If you hate it, though, there will be a new OS next year, don’tchaknow.

    I like the sound of this newer approach you’re taking with Meghan’s next story. So glad she’s coming back for more, too! I did something similar for my 2012 NaNoWriMo project. I have to say, that outline made it much easier for me to stay on-track with scenes, characters, and wordcount, while still allowing me to keep some wriggle room for new ideas and conflicts. But, I generally do most of my writing that way, so I’m biased.

    Scary bit about the Jamestown cannibalism. I suppose one could make the argument that, when you’re starving, you’re starving…but, the desperation leading to such a decision…! I wouldn’t ever want to be put in that situation. Still, it’s quite cool to read about developments outside the technology world, where I’m entrenched. 🙂

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    • Not very intuitive—that sums up my opinion of Win8. To be fair, I haven’t had any trouble downloading and installing programs, and my husband isn’t swearing at the computer. But the switching back and forth between the desktop and whatever you call the “touch-oriented” screen is a pain. We didn’t get a touch screen, so it’s still clicking the mouse for us. My 2.5-year-old computer runs Win7, and I’m hoping it lasts until something friendlier is available. 😉

      Meghan and I haven’t done much since I wrote this post, but I have been really busy with the day job. And now family obligations kick in for a bit. So I’m hoping we’ll get to her new story in June. If I can pull it together, and clean up the first two, maybe I can publish that compilation volume. But after shelving Crossroads, I’m also reminding myself that it’s okay to write for me, just for the fun of it. Maybe I’ll do better if I take some of the pressure to publish off myself.

      Cannibalism. I don’t think we know what we would do in such an extreme situation unless we find ourselves in one. I would prefer that no one ever does. But that’s not the way the world always works…. But I’m not sure I could kill an animal to eat it. How would I handle anything more extreme?

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