Archive for October 16th, 2006

10/15/06: Unplanned obsolescence

Word count: 4401 | Since last entry: 1459

1500 words of notes on the novel, mostly about the stardrive. This is fun, and of only marginal utility for developing the characters, but it’s a great generator of possible plot ideas. I’ve come up with a novel stardrive (combining aspects of Babylon 5 and The Space Eater) that has plenty of things that could go disasterously wrong, i.e. potential drama. Kate doubts that anyone would actually use something that dangerous, but, hey, an airplane could run out of fuel or hit a mountain or be blown off course, and we take those every day.

Also worked extensively on editing the firewall story — 360 new words, not counted above, plus many changed words (many of which I did not eventually put back the way they’d been in the first place). I’m not sure it’s really getting better, but I am at least trying to address the issues identified by my critique group. There’s certainly more angst. I think I need one more scene, in which my main character consults with his boss before throwing the switch, but the biggest issue is that it’s not plausible that he’d take the action he does at the climax. Well, maybe he doesn’t. (But if he doesn’t, he doesn’t change.) Need to find a way to plant a seed of his final action earlier in the story, but the action’s moving so fast I find it very difficult to cram in even a small character moment. Ponder ponder ponder.

In other news… our VCR died earlier this week, and since it’s early in the new TV season and many of the good shows we like haven’t been canceled yet, this crisis required immediate attention. So we spent far too much of yesterday looking for a new VCR. Surprise! VCRs are obsolete. Even the largest video equipment store we visited had a total of two VCRs… and one of them turned out to be out of stock. So we bought a DVD/VCR combo — the only machine we saw anywhere that supported the VCR+ codes that make programming the timer so much easier. (None of them allow you to program channel numbers or times using the numeric pad on the remote, or to seek by time.) This brings the household up to seven DVD players. But the new machine has some very cool features, such as “replay the last ten seconds” and displaying the title of the current program. The astonishing thing is that it can display the program titles from tapes recorded on the previous VCR.

TiVo or something like it is in our future, to be sure, but we didn’t want to make that decision right now because it’s so tightly coupled to questions of which cable/satellite/etc. system we’re going to subscribe to in the long run. I need to do research on that. And we’ll need a new TV eventually, too.

Also this weekend: had a very nice dinner at a new Balkan restaurant called Two Brothers (the former cheap Chinese at 39th and Belmont), and met up with recent returnees-to-Portland Robin Catesby and Dave Molner for coffee, which then turned into dinner at Malay Satay Hut.

The coming week will be a busy one.