Thursday, August 23, 2018

A history of the Internet

A history of the Internet - as seen by me:

First there was the Arpanet .  But that was before home computers, so I didn't know about it.

Then, in the late 1980s, we were talking about buying one of the first Apple home computers.  However, my husband's brother gave us a Commodore 64 for Christmas.  So we used that.

We still used our typewriter for hardcopy papers for homework assignments for the kids and newspaper articles (me) and magazine articles (my husband who was Tech Editor for the New England MG 'T' Register, LTD).
But soon my husband discovered computer bulletin boards and began downloading packets and having conversations with people all over the world.  On it he discovered a group of writers and set the machine up so I could download and talk to that group.
It was called - FidoNet:
FidoNet was a bulletin board system where certain people promised to keep their computers on constantly to assist in the transfer of packets of information that literally went around the world. I was talking to people in Australia!
Once a day we subs
cribers would contact our local computer and download the packet we wanted. I downloaded the Writing packet. My husband downloaded an MG packet, plus a computer packet, and other subject packets.
After I had read my packet, I'd respond to a variety of messages in one message and upload it to the waiting computer. (located in a friend's house not far from us) and it would join all the other packets when they were sent on.

Also - I wrote my first books on this Commodore 64.  (and the newsletters for my Girl Scout troop)
Remember Dot-Matrix printers?  How thrilling it was to be able to compose on the computer, make revisions and correction and then print them off?  Print them onto continuous sheets of paper that had holes on each side so that the printer could grip the paper and move it along line by line? With perforations every 11 inches so we could then tear them apart into normal sized typing paper.  Oh those holes along the side - they were in thin strips of paper that also could be torn off.  At first it was really rough, but then paper companies developed very fine perforations that resulted in very nice looking sheets of paper.

FidoNet disbanded when the Internet began to have public access in the early 1990s.
So, I was talked into joining GEnie by a science fiction writer/ editor friend of mine. (Since I was active in the local Baltimore SF community and hung out with her at CONs) At this point, the huge business computers were only used during the daytime. They rented out computer time to ordinary people at night. Thus - GE rented computer time to GEnie groups. I joined the Children's Book Writer's group, the SF Writer's group and the Moody Blues group, and I think the Buffy the Vampire Killer group, and also mostly silently read several personal group areas such as Bruce Coville's and Jane Yolen's and other writers I admired.

When our Commodore 64 died we bought an Apple IIe.  So much easier to use than the Commodore. So much more memory.  However, I could no longer access GEnie

Friends on GEnie pointed out that AOL had a writer's group, so I moved over there.
I began to be published in the mid 1990s.
Some years later, various internet groups formed for published writers, some of which I still belong to and still interact and get messages from.

And then came laser printers.  WOW!  Instead of taking three minutes to print a page - it could print three a minute!

By this time I was a published writer and giving talks to local writing groups.  At one Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators meeting, several new writers complained about the expense of laser printers.  Why couldn't they stick with the Dot-Matrix?  Well, I replied, the quality of what is produced is so much better, so much easier for editors to read.  So, you just have to write it up as a business expense - the cost of doing your business of writing.

There was a lot of discussion among writers about the differences between Apple products and PC products - Apples being much easier to use while producing the same end product.  Nowadays, most writers and illustrators are using Apple computers and the publishers, who had begun with PCs, have had to adjust.

And now we're mostly on FaceBook.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Electronic Adventure

I didn't get much sleep last night probably because it's difficult to sleep with noise reducing headphones on. and because of loud noise in the house.

This is what I wrote on Facebook last night:

What’s on my mind? Sitting here in my bedroom at midnight, waiting for a smoke detector to screech, so we can figure out which one is doing the screeching. So far we’ve changed the battery on one. But a half hour later more screech from somewhere. So we attacked the wired in smoke detector — because this latest screech was accompanied by a voice saying, “low battery”. Which is strange because I was assured that it had no battery and was wired in. Hmmmm. Teen gave it a twist and punched the silencer button. 
We can’t reach the third fire detector which is in my bedroom, and its little light isn’t working, so
I’m sitting here on my bed after midnight waiting to see/ hear if it wishes to screech. 

Or, maybe I’ll jusy go to sleep. 💤

And --- it beeped. So off I went to the garage to get the tall ladder so I can rip that thing off the wall.
Score— no spiders on the ladder. Managed to get it into the house, set it up, climb it. And change battery. Didn’t have to call a son in law to do it. (Teen was asleep)
Maybe next time I’ll remember to change batteries when the time changes.
I thought it was fixed.
But, no.
Whatever was beeping continued to beep the whole night long.

Come daylight, I'll be calling son-in-law to come fix it.  The smoke detector we think is the one still screaming is totally wired and we have to turn off all electricity to the house before opening it.  Need daylight to do that.  I'm tempted to go out and try to sleep in my car.  (I didn't do that because my car was parked half a block away and I didn't want to have to walk back home in the morning in my nightgown.)

Posted in the morning after a night of only occasional short bouts of sleep:
I just called the electrician. (8:30 am. Didn't want to 'bother' him during the nighttime and both my sons-in-law have jobs.) He was most gracious. Told me it sounded like one of those ones you toss when it goes bad. (good) And that he has another job today, but will be sure to stop by whenever that job is done - probably after 7 pm tonight. 
Since It's only early morning here on the west coast, that's all day of beeping/ screeching. I will make sure I have excuses to be out of the house today.
On the other hand, since it's the one that goes off all the time when we cook, GOOD RIDDANCE

About 4:00 in the afternoon:
Electrician came and gone. Checked all smoke detectors. The one in the teen room was fine.  
The one in the hall (that I wanted removed) turned out to be legally required. He can't do anything about the fact that it is 3 times louder than necessary. He took it off the ceiling and discovered a little pocket INSIDE the beast with a perfectly normal 9 volt battery. Which we replaced and it stopped complaining. O-Kay.
Then he checked the one in my room. He took it apart, said it was WIRED Wrong and had been since installed. He rewired it, tested the new battery I had inserted, said it tested fine, and put it back together again.
Everything fixed.
I can take off the noise muffling ear muffs.
Maybe even sleep tonight.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Newbery predictions - two favorites

Every so often I read a book that makes me smile, makes me cry, makes me want to shout -- Possible Newbery Award!

Today it's The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty.
Wonderful characters.
Good view of Middle School.
and PI
and Fibonacci
Plus -- if you can finish this book without crying, you have a harder heart than I do.
And yet,
it does end on a positive note.
I've been wrong before, but I do expect to see this on many award lists.

Another book that is also racking up awards is Varian Johnson's The Parker Inheritance.
This one should get the Coretta Scott King author Book Award for sure, plus possible Newbery.
It's a great mystery story jumping back and forth from 1900s life for African Americans - to kids today.

Any who - these are my current predictions.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Not fond memories of worklife

Friday the 13th.
Teen is on the road.  (not to worry, she arrived safely)
I'm about to get on the road, but since my car is a grandma car (according to my children), I'm not too worried.
But a post on Facebook reminded me of a workplace supervisor whom I would gladly forget.

Every 5 years the place where I worked gives a pin and a gift to that person. Usually they give the person choices.  
I was totally surprised (and embarrassed and appalled) when my boss gave me, in the staff meeting in front of everyone, an alarm clock (suitably engraved with the number of years worked) with a little speech emphasizing that with this I'd have no excuse for not being on time.

(news note - most of my lateness was in her imagination, often caused by her terrible scheduling - schedules she admitted that she created while drinking several six-packs of beer. Or her not observing that I had already arrived, but had run across the street to the deli to get something a half hour before we opened and then lecturing me about lateness when I returned. Plus, her hugely over-scheduling our workplace hours so that we had tons of plus time and then getting angry when we - mostly me -  insisted on using up that plus time While The Library WAs Closed. What was her problem? That is when we are supposed to use it.  She eventually was fired, but not until some staff members had quit and the rest of us were out looking for other jobs.)

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Jay Shoemaker Celebration of Life (long post)

Well,  June got very busy what with the teen's prom and graduation and then our flight eastward.
The teen, bookended by her two moms.  I'm the one on the right.

Why did we fly back East?
Well, the teen wanted to visit friends in Florida and I was headed to the celebration of the life of James R. Shoemaker near Philadelphia, PA. (Jay died last summer of a sudden heart attack with no warning.) He was named after my father, Jame Ross Corbin, and like my father James Shoemaker was called Jay.  His mother, Cordelia Mawson, organized the event.
Which meant - four flights for me to get to Philly.
We got up around 4 in the morning on Wednesday, June 20 - my birthday.  My oldest daughter, Jennifer, drove us to the airport around 5:00 to catch a 7:00 flight.
Flight one -- to Nashville, KY.   The plane was small and our knees were touching the backs of the seats in front of us.  Ouch.  (We slept for part of that trip, since we couldn't move, anyway.)
Flight two -- to Jacksonville, FL.  Much larger plane with more comfortable seats and room between us and the seat in front.  I had planned to walk the teen to the security area and see her meet with her friends, but there was only a few minutes between emptying the plane and the re-load, so I didn't have time to do that and get back to my plane which was flying on to Fort Lauderdale. So I stayed put and teen texted me when she was met at Baggage by her friends.  
Flight Three -- by this time it was getting dark on the east coast, but it was an uneventful trip.  However I didn't have a long layover here, either, so one of the flight attendants ran out into the airport to discover where my next flight was.  Hey!  What luck!  It was right next door.
Flight Four -- For some reason, flight four was delayed and I didn't get into Philadelphia until after 11  pm.  (it was due to land at 10:30)  And it was a long walk to the exit where I caught a bus to the rental car place.  In the pouring rain.
Rental car place.  Very nice person.  Usual mix-up trying to figure out how to apply my AAA discount, but that finally got worked out.  Now, I was accustomed to them finding a car for me and driving it up to the rental building so I could just pop right into it.
But no.
Pouring rain, remember?
My choice of cars was located in lot 3.  Ho-Kay.  Out into the rain, pulling my suitcase, through lot 1 and then lot 2.  left my suitcases at the beginning of lot 3 and wandered up and down the rows, choosing a car.  suitcase getting very wet.  Me with a lightweight umbrella trying to stay dry.  By the time I chose a car (Chevy Cruise, which I loved), it was after midnight and I was dead tired.  I decided that I didn't want to drive in the pouring rain to Horsham, PA that night.  I knew those roads and some were not good in a rainstorm.  So I slept at the Airport Hotel.  (took me a half hour to find it and another half hour to get checked in, park the car, settle into the room, etc.)
The next day was sunny and warm.  I had no problem finding the Quality Inn where all the relatives and friends were gathering.  But -- the rather nasty lady at reception (blond, white woman) put me in a smelly, dirty, rug-stained room.  I was ready to change motels until my brother convinced me to request another room.  Nasty lady had left for the day and a very nice POC man placed me in a different room.
The next day I woke up with hives.  Found a nearby drug store and got Benedril.  The day after I woke up with bug bites and the day I left I woke up with nothing.  I still think there were bedbugs in that room.  So my luggage is now in my garage, having been sprayed with Home Defense and will stay there until my next trip.
One of my sisters, Sandy, who never travels, managed to fly up for this event, with the help of a wheelchair and a cane.  My baby sister, who is a professional artist, stayed in downtown Philly for several days visiting art museums.  Also went to the Redding market, which is an old train station now full of small businesses, mostly food.  She sent me pictures of Pennsylvania Deutch sticky buns and offered to buy some for me.  YES!!!
     (His mother, Cordie and Jay - He had long hair down his back)

Saturday was the Celebration of James Shoemaker's life.  I arrived in a car driven by my brother, Don (also known by his middle name, Rex, in the Air Force).  One of the other passengers was Hawaiian and a good friend of Jay's, now a lawyer in New York City.  Other Hawaiians also attended.  Various people stood up and told us tales about Jay and their interactions with him. (ask me about the camping trip story.)  One of the Hawaiians sang the "Hawaiian Over the Rainbow." Also his partner in life, Pate, talked about their life in Hawaii.
Pate (Renee Fontaine) and Jay Shoemaker

As you can tell from above, this was also a gathering of the Corbin children, Sandy, Marion, Donald,  and me.  (I'm the one peeking from behind.  The couch pillow under me kept sinking and sinking as pictures were taken.)  I"m really not the shortest one of the family. (am I?)
Sunday I took Sandy to the airport, dropped her off at the departures area for her plane and made sure she was connected with a wheelchair and a person to push her to her plane.  Turned in the car and made it to security for my own flight.
Suspicious item in my bag.  As the TSA person looked at the screen (a brown square circled) and opened my carry on bag, I tried to think what could be different from when it passed security in San Diego.  Oh yes.  THE STICKY BUNS.   Right. That brown mass was my bag of sticky buns.  The TSA person agreed that yes, they did smell good, then wrapped them back up and I was finally on my way home.  We landed in Denver for a layover and I got a steak sub for lunch.
Flight two was supposed to take off from Denver early in the afternoon.  However, a strong thunderstorm stayed over the airport for hours, forcing approaching flights to detour to Albuquerque, NM to refuel.  We sat and sat and sat, waiting for a plane to land.  Finally about 6-ish it was our plane's turn to land and we were allowed to board the plane.  (meanwhile I had eaten the other half of the steak sub for Dinner!)
My darling oldest daughter kept track of the flight delays and was there to drive me home.
Yes, the Sticky Buns were delicious.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Writer's Quotes - David Lubar

From the guy who writes seriously funny books.
And is a master of puns.  (click on over to his website to see what I mean)
David Lubar

In six words, tell a complete -- no, wait. Better idea. Much better. In six words, or fewer, or more, write an interesting sentence. Write another, related to the first. And another. Keep going until you have a story, an essay, or a novel. Repeat, as needed.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Writer's Quotes - Jane Yolen

Inspiration from Jane Yolen:

Three writing rules I live by. 
- Write something every day. (BIC). 
- Revision is your best friend. 
- A manuscript in the drawer or on the laptop that isn't sent out cannot be bought. 

And two rules that even well known writers stumble over: 
- the editor is your colleague, not your enemy. 
- And a rejection is not the end of a dream. 
- Rowling had over 30 rejections and when finally published it was in a very small edition by Bloomsbury in the UK. 
L'engle's A WRINKLE IN TIME had 29 rejections. 
Suess's first book book well over 30 rejections. As I understand it, he was ready to self-publish it. (enter editor, Bennett Cerf.)