Holy Cow, it’s September Already!

Why is my computer smoking?

September 2022, and I haven’t posted for nearly a full month. I mean, it’s not as though I have anything to say, but I still feel like I ought to say it. And, as always these days, it’s probably not very interesting, because it’s all about writing.

First, the novel. I had hoped to finish this draft of And the Devil Will Drag You Under by the end of August, but even though I’ve been averaging 500-800 words per day, I haven’t reached the end. I think I have another 5,000 words at least to go. This puts my plan to have the story ready for submission to my writers’ group in October in jeopardy. Ah well. Maybe in the new year. I’ve been working on this revision for over a year, and I’m looking forward to working on something else. I’ve still got pirates on the brain.

Second, the short stories. I’ve finished “Meep” and a flash fiction piece about a failed redemption arc in a fantasy setting, and am awaiting feedback on them. I’ve gotten plenty on the flash fiction piece, and may start revising and sending it out. I’ve also started a new science fiction piece, “Just a Little Bit Human”, which presented itself to me a few days ago as a full-fledged idea. It’s part Se7en, part Silence of the Lambs, and part Bladerunner. So I will need to do some research into police procedure (or, at least, crime scene investigation), and so on. One of the major characters in the story is trans, so I’ll need to hire a sensitivity reader as well. This is definitely a fun story to write, and addresses some deeper themes that I’ve been thinking about for some time.

Third, this blog. Well… you know. I haven’t been updating it as much as I’d like to.

In other news, it’s hot. Crazy hot. We’re in the midst of a heat wave in the valley, with temps hitting 107 at least, breaking a record set in 1988. The whole country has been, except for those parts of the country which are suffering from massive floods. I feel like we’re living in an episode of The Twilight Zone, “The Midnight Sun”, where the characters are dealing with the fact that the Earth has drifted out of its orbit and is headed directly at the sun. It’s a good episode — check it out if you can — and the twist is magnificent.

So anyway. Thank you climate change. And to all the politicians who ignored it and all the corporations who profited off of it and to everyone who dismisses the dangers of it, a hearty fuck you. Sort of like the covid-19 pandemic, I feel like we could have gotten a handle on it if people had just made some minor sacrifices and listened to the scientists. It’s a little late to address the covid-19 pandemic and turn it around, but we’ve still got time to address and possibly prevent the very worst of climate change. Katherine Hayhoe’s book Saving Us is a great one. I highly recommend it to everyone who is concerned but doesn’t quite know what to do about it.

Anyway, that’s what’s on my mind lately. How about you?

Writing Update Number… uh…

Writer with dragon
Me, writing, under close supervision from a dragon

I have no idea how many of these writing updates I’ve done on my blog, and I’m too lazy to count, and besides, I’ve probably embedded writing updates in other topics too, so… Well. You know.

But here’s a writing update!

Work on And the Devil Will Drag You Under continues apace. I hope to have this draft finished by September so I can do a quick polish for my writers group in October. We’ll see. I’ve been very optimistic about this draft — which is a complete, bottom-up rework of my previous draft — for some time.

I also wrote a couple of stories recently, one of which I’ve sent to a few different people for feedback, and one of which I’m letting simmer for a bit before revision. But I’m pretty happy with both of them. If you’re interested in reading them to provide feedback, please let me know!

So far, this year’s submission stats:

Stories submitted: 64

Rejections: 56

Acceptances: 2

One of the accepted stories, “Blank”, has already been published. The other one is still awaiting a contract, but once that’s signed and everything’s ready to go, I will definitely share here.


In other news, if you pay close attention to every page of my site, which I’m sure you do, always, you may have noticed that the link to my science blog, The Penguin Scientific, is gone. That’s because I’ve decided to discontinue it. I posted one last entry, a line from a Sublime song, and that’s it. I realized that my real interest in writing is in writing fiction, so I decided to focus on that instead. Maybe someday I’ll write more nonfiction pieces, but today is not today. I feel fine about this decision, and don’t regret it at all.


Also, my self-imposed exile from Twitter and Facebook continues. I’m noticing that Elon Musk and the Twitter investors are sort of playing Hot Potato with Twitter itself, indicating that no one really wants it, probably because no one’s figured out how to make money off it. If it dies, what will replace it? Personally, I pine for the days of LiveJournal, before it was bought by a Russian company; maybe an LJ clone will replace Twitter and bring back the glory days of the Internet, before it consisted of about four sites, each carrying little but screenshots of the other three (thank Cory Doctorow for that summation).

That’s what’s up for now. As always… How are you?

…And just for fun, here’s a video for “Closing Time”, that song by Sublime that I mentioned. If you lived through the 90s, you probably recognize it.

Time for Some Pop Culture Opinions!

These days, it’s very easy to have Opinions, and to express them online for all the world to see. But is it really wise to do so? And is it really possible and morally justifiable to NOT have an opinion on something that doesn’t impact you?

Why yes, it is. In fact, I think it makes more sense to NOT have opinions on things that don’t impact you, even when the world around you — well, Twitter and Facebook anyway — are telling you that you MUST have opinions on EVERYTHING! And you MUST EXPRESS your opinions LOUDLY!

There are lots of opinions I don’t have. Here are some of them.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU):

I’ve heard it said that the last couple of Marvel movies — in particular, Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness and Thor: Love and Thunder — have not been up to snuff, or up to the other earlier films in the franchise. Me, I don’t know. I haven’t seen them, nor have I seen any MCU films beyond The Avengers and the first Iron Man. I saw the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but wasn’t invested enough to go on with it. I certainly haven’t seen any of the television shows, but that might be because I haven’t invested in Disney+.

The main reason is lack of interest. I have enjoyed a few superhero movies; I really liked the first two Sam Raimi Spiderman films with Tobey Maguire, for example, and I thought Iron Man was fun. But in general I don’t care all that much about superheroes. I didn’t even collect many superhero comics when I was a kid; the comics I collected were mostly Richie Rich and some horror comics. I also like the Sandman graphic novels by Neil Gaiman, as well as the over-the-top weirdness that was Garth Ennis’s Preacher. Beyond that, though, I just don’t have much interest.

I’m not trying to out myself as some sort of superior pop culture snob here. I have no problem with superhero movies. I’m glad they exist and that so many people take pleasure in them. They’re just not for me.

Twilight

Sure, the Twilight craze is over. The books are still in print and the movies are still streaming, but Stephanie Meyer’s heyday seems to have faded.

Still back in the day I was asked a few times what I thought of Twilight, and, especially, of the vampires in the series, probably because they showed up shortly after I’d finished running a long Vampire LARP with a lot of players. I had to reply honestly that I had no opinion, because I had not read the books, nor seen the movies.

“But the vampires sparkle!”

Vampires in lore throughout human history do all kinds of things, and as far as I know, there are no real vampires we can check to see what actual vampire behavior is. So… I didn’t care.

I also don’t like vampire fiction that much. I don’t know why, but whenever a vampire shows up on the page or the screen, my reaction is a yawn and a “Oh, another vampire. Yawn,” thought.

Again, I’m not putting it down or denigrating it. I will observe, though, that too often in our culture movies, books, television shows, and so on that are enjoyed by women (and particularly by young women or girls) are joked about, denigrated, and not taken seriously by the culture at large. This is the tragic and stupid thing.

Star Wars

I saw Star Wars before it was called A New Hope, when it opened in 1977 and I was 10 years old and easily impressed. I haven’t seen any of the movies, though, after Attack of the Clones, because I really did not like that movie and didn’t want to continue my experience. I hear tell that the subsequent movies are better, and all the TV series are good, but I am just not into Star Wars. It’s not my thing. Star Trek is more up my alley, though I wish Paramount were nicer to their fans.

That’s all the opinions I have.

For now. I also have Political Opinions, which I put out there in December. Not much has changed there, and I don’t need to repeat them here.

In other news…

I’m on a social media hiatus. I’ve deleted bookmarks to Twitter and Facebook, and removed the apps from my phone. It was getting me down with a constant barrage of bad news, of opinions masquerading as news, and so on. I’ve been looking at Google News for my news each morning, and that’s all I need. I’m still open to email, phone, Facebook Messenger, Twitter direct messages, and so on. Just not Facebook and Twitter themselves. I’m not sure when I’ll be back.

And that’s all. I’ll be breaking my social media hiatus to post a link to this blog post, but that’s it.

Have a fine day, all!

 

Various Dribs and Drabs

Not much to report right now.


WRITING

However, I need to let you all know that my creepy short story “Blank” is now up online at Dark Recesses, and you can read it on their webzine here. This represents my second acceptance of the year! I still haven’t signed a contract for the first, so I can’t yet reveal the market that accepted the story, which I also can’t reveal at this time.

In other news, I have been continuing to work on my novel And the Devil Will Drag You Under, adding approximately 500 words per day to this particular revision. This was one of those “tear down and rebuild from the ground up” revisions. I’m hoping future revisions won’t be so drastic, but I’ll have to wait until November when my critique group gets done with it to find out.

I’ve also been working on a new short story, “Meep”. It represents a couple of themes that I’ve been obsessed with for quite awhile. Someday you’ll get to read that one, but first I have to finish it.

And I continue to submit two manuscripts per week to various markets. I admit it’s sort of a buckshot approach, which I think lots of writers employ. Lots of misses, but a few hits.


CATS

Goodness, we’ve got a veritable sickhouse of kitties right now. Our poor resident cat Ruby has an autoimmune disorder which is attacking her red blood cells. Fortunately, this can be controlled with regular cortisone doses. Right now she’s getting a pill a day, but hopefully she’ll be able to get injections every few days soon. She’s a shy little thing, so catching her to pill her can be difficult.

We have a couple of sickly foster kittens right now as well, but they’re hanging in there.


THAT’S ALL

I’ll be at WesterCon in Tonopah, NV, in a couple of weeks. Will any of you be there as well?

 

Of Dice and Me

Polyhedral Dice
Many-sided dice for funsies

I’ve been playing Dungeons and Dragons since before it was cool.

No, seriously. Back in the 80s, I was a member of my high school’s unofficial D&D club — just me and a few friends rolling dice, checking the results against numbers on character sheets, trying to figure out what we were doing, all in the back room of the library. Given that this was a Catholic high school, it’s kind of surprising that we were allowed to do this. This was the mid-80s, as I mentioned, at the height of the Satanic Panic, when any sign of deviation from cultural norms was seen as part of a vast Satanic conspiracy to… something. D&D, as a thing that was done with nerds and which involved people telling each other stories that involved magic, was targeted in that moral panic, and plenty of kids around the country saw their dice and books go up in flames.1

I didn’t get seriously into D&D, though, until I hit college. There, I met a guy whom I shall refer to only as M—, who had been playing serious D&D for years. I decided I wanted to be Dungeon Master, and M— taught me how to create compelling stories and create immersive worlds. I enjoyed playing in his games, and he enjoyed playing in mine, even if we did have differences of opinions in how kobolds should be portrayed. We fantasized about being professional Dungeon Masters, but at the time, there was no such thing. You couldn’t make a living at such a hobby, unless you were named Dave Arneson or Gary Gygax or Steve Jackson.

During college, I spent a lot of time playing Dungeons and Dragons. M— and I would dedicate hours to plotting out the games we ran, and we would run campaigns for our friends that lasted months, some even years. Why, when I learned I could take a quarter off from school without a gap in financial aid, I did so, and spent a majority of that time playing D&D games and running them.

Man, I had a blast those days.

Cover of AD&D Second Edition Dungeon Master Guide
You know I went right out and bought this

When the Second Edition of D&D came out, I was thrilled. I bought all the books (including the Dungeon Master Guide, aka, the DMG). I played more games. I ran more games. I had a core group of friends that I played with regularly. Even with M- left Davis, I stuck with that core group.

Over the years, friends came and went, my core group of players and DMs changed, but the games went on. I had girlfriends who were heavily into the game as well, and that certainly fed my passion, and girlfriends who weren’t very much into it.

D&D Second Edition Council of Wyrms Box Sex
Council of Wyrms. I so wanted to play this, but never got around to it.

That’s not to say I was averse to other role-playing games. For awhile, I ran a game of Vampire: The Masquerade and the interlinked games published by White Wolf Press (I honestly don’t know if they’re still around, and at the moment I’m too lazy to look them up). For three years, possibly more, I ran a Vampire Live Action Role Playing game (LARP), which consumed all my emotional, social, and creative energy.

When the 3rd edition of Dungeons and Dragons came out, I switched to that from second edition, then from 3rd to 3.5. But I never could get into 4th edition; to me, that edition minimized the role-playing aspect of the game, which was what had always thrilled me about it, and focused on the battle aspects. I’ve since heard that 4th edition really was good, but by then I had moved on to Pathfinder, a new RPG system that was, at first, essentially D&D version 3.75. Now, the 2nd edition of Pathfinder is out.

It’s been years since I’ve run a role-playing game2. The pandemic has put a pause on that aspect of my creative life.

Roll20 logo
Roll20. The future of gaming?

But now… Now I feel the old urge kicking in. A few months ago I started plotting out a new Pathfinder game, with (of course!) pirates. And since we’re still in a pandemic3 my six players and I are meeting virtually, through a Virtual Table Top (VTT) called Roll20. I’ve heard good things about this site, and while I’ve never GMed using it, I’ve played in a game that uses Fantasy Grounds, another VTT. So this will be an interesting experience, to say the least.

In all the years that I’ve run D&D campaigns, I’ve never once used a pre-created campaign setting; they’ve all been homebrew games with settings and mythologies and stories that I’ve created myself. I’m kind of proud of that. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with running a pre-created campaign, it’s just not my style.

Anyway. That’s a brief history of me and gaming. I’ve had so many creative joys, made so many great friendships through D&D and other role-playing games that it’s hard to imagine life without them. There was a time when I considered those days and months and years wasted, times when I thought I could have been writing instead, but fortunately saner heads prevailed and convinced me that none of that time was wasted.

So. How are you?

Just Some Random Ramblings of an Earthling

Cover of Carl Sagan's "Demon-Haunted World"
Should be an all-time bestseller, but isn’t.

Just for kicks, I’m re-reading Carl Sagan’s wonderful book, The Demon-Haunted World. I’m loving it, as I always have every time I’ve read it, which has been every couple of years or so.

One thing that struck me this time around is how much time and space he spends debunking alien abduction stories by putting them into a larger cultural/mythological context. I side with him on the issue: while hundreds of thousands people have reported being abducted by aliens, there is no physical, undeniable proof that it has actually happened. No mysterious “implants” have been analyzed by MIT or other reputable university and found to be made of alien metal, memory is fallible, and so on. But the alien abduction/UFO culture were tied up with conspiracy theories in the 90s involving the government; such conspiracy theories have fallen to the wayside in favor of modern antisemitism, racism, and the bonkers “Q” conspiracy theory, which encompasses them all. If Carl Sagan were around today, he’d be sickened, I’m sure, by what passes for the modern conservative movement.

Ahem.

So this year, for Earth Day, I committed myself to spending a year learning everything I can about this amazing, beautiful, endangered planet that we live on. I haven’t really started that yet because I’m still taking my MLIS degree seriously and thus taking classes for that, and it’s eating my time. But I am reading Sagan’s book, so I’m counting that as a step in the right direction. I’ll keep you all updated on what I learn, and I plan on updating my blog, The Penguin Scientific, with various facts and things.


In other news, my depression and anxiety have been kicking my butt recently, and have convinced me that I’m never going to get anywhere with my writing. I’ve talked back to it but it refuses to listen. Stupid brain. My brain and I are supposed to be on the same side, I don’t know why it won’t cooperate.

But I continue to persist with the writing and submitting anyway. I’m on track to submit 100 manuscripts for the second year in a row. Stats so far:

Submissions: 32

Rejections: 29

Waiting on: 8

I haven’t quite worked out how those numbers work out, but I’m not worrying about that.


That’s all for now. What are you learning?

More Piratical Talk

Blackbeard
Edward Teach, a.k.a., Blackbeard the Pirate. Looks friendly, doesn’t he?

A couple of years ago, I posted about the myth that pirates always said “Arr”. Today, I address another myth: that of walking the plank.

Many pirate adventures show us pirates forcing their prisoners to walk a plank out off the boat and into dangerous waters, presumably to drown or be eaten by sea anemones. We are always meant to understand that the plank came from the ship itself, leftover lumber that had gone into the building of the boat.

This cannot be true, though, since pirate ships were built from LOGS, not planks. It’s true! Examine any pirate ship from the Wydah to the Queen Anne’s Revenge to the Beauty (the one in my upcoming Pathfinder game), and you will see that the ship looks more like a log cabin than any naval or merchant vessel. I don’t know the specifics of how they kept these boats together in the oceans or prevented leaks, but the most important question is, Would I lie to you about this sort of thing? The answer is no.

Moving on.

After losing so much work on my writing last month, I decided to take a break from And the Devil Will Drag You Under, then decided not to take a break after consulting with Facebook and Twitter. Friends in both places pointed out to me that, given my frequent bouts of guilt surrounding my writing, I would regret not finishing that novel. And, so, I’m back at it. I’ve rewritten about half of what went missing, and am well on my way to recovering all of what I’d lost. I don’t know if I’ll finish the novel by my self-imposed May 12 deadline, but if I don’t, it won’t be for lack of trying.

I also started revising “Anamet”, a giant monster story, and I started pondering a new short story which does not yet have a title. Usually the title comes early on in the process of writing a story, but so far that hasn’t happened for this one.

Submissions Report:

As of today (April 4), I’ve submitted twenty-six stories in 2022, received twenty-two form rejections, and four personal rejections. Some of these rejections were for stories I’d submitted in 2021 that hadn’t gotten back to me before the new year, so I actually still have five pending submissions. In addition, I actually withdrew two submissions from markets that had held on to them for over three hundred days with no communication from them in spite of requests for updates.

Zero acceptances.

Ah well. Maybe someday.

 

Novels in Recovery

Mind = blown
Mind = Blown

No break-taking for me.

I put it out there on Facebook and Twitter, running a wee little poll asking whether I should get back into working on And the Devil Will Drag You Under, the novel I’d lost two months’ worth of work on (see previous post), or work on something new entirely, coming back to Devil at some point in the future. I’d had a couple of ideas for other things to work on, so I would certainly be busy.

Overwhelmingly, people advised that I should keep up with And the Devil Will Drag You Under, even if it means going back and re-revising the whole thing all over again to get back at the two months’ worth of work that I’d lost. A couple of people pointed out that if I didn’t go back to it, I’d regret it, and that’s probably true. I’ve been working on this novel for a couple of years now. Heck, more than a couple; I’d written part of the first draft for NaNoWriMo in 2017 (the last year that I really participated in NaNoWriMo), but I gave up on that until just before the pandemic hit, and started in on it from scratch. If I don’t finish it, I will be angry with myself for having yet another unfinished project. So… I’m committed. I’ll finish this novel of devils and demons and hapless humans in love, send it to my critique group, and continue revising it, all while working on other projects on the side.

My yet-to-be-named pirate trilogy will just have to wait.

My biggest problem in life in that I tend to regret those things that I don’t finish, and I wind up not finishing a lot of things. So I’m going to finish this novel.

My friends are wise.

 

The Heartbreak of Writing

The Jolly Roger from Peter Pan
Captain Hook’s ship, the Jolly Roger

Writing has plenty of heartbreak, and plenty of hazards. You may be speed-reading a text for research, then slam into a bookmark and go flying across the room. You may find that you’ve written yourself into a corner with your characters planning to do one thing, and you planning on them doing something else. You may end up in love with your main character, Pygmalion-style, and not know what to do with yourself.

Or, if you’re like me, you might suddenly lose two months’ worth of work on your novel.

For years now, I’ve been using a type of version control software called Subversion (usually meant to track software source code) to save backups of all of my desktop files, from stories to novels to homework, on my main Linux desktop as well as on my Windows laptop and my Dropbox account (I used to store a repository on my hosting company’s server too, but for some reason I stopped). This setup has served me very well for most of that time.

Until now.

Last night, I launched Scrivener and put in a few words on And the Devil Will Drag You Under for the first time in a couple of weeks (I’ve been busy with work and school), and then went to save my work. Then I used TortoiseSVN (a Windows version of the Subversion software) to add my new files and check them in to my “everything Richard has written” repository on my laptop. I got an error telling me that it couldn’t do the update because the files needed to be cleaned up or something. I ran the cleanup script, mindlessly checking all the options — which included deleting all “unversioned files”. And since I hadn’t actually committed any of my work to the repository for a couple of months (I know, that’s bad practice on my part), TortoiseSVN merrily deleted two months’ worth of work on that novel, representing approximately 10,000 words, two critical scenes, character sketches, and plot point outlines. I also lost some homework (fortunately I’d already turned it in), the latest version of my resume, and three short stories that I’d drafted earlier this year.

If I’d been saving my files properly, adding and committing them to the repository, or even just saving them on Dropbox regularly, this wouldn’t have happened, so really I have no one to blame but myself and my bad file management practices. I was able to recover some of the work because I upgraded my Dropbox account and now I have access to their “Rewind” feature, but I’m still out a lot of work.

The resume, homework, and short stories… Meh. They can all be found elsewhere or rewritten (honestly, the stories were begging for rewrites anyway), but the novel… Yeah, I’m bummed. I’m honestly not sure I have the energy right now to rewrite those critical scenes as well as the revisions to earlier chapters I’d done in order to make room for the scenes.

So, I’m going to take a break.

Not from writing. Heavens no. The last time I took a long break from writing I ended up a quivering mess on the floor, begging for a word processor or a Scrivener license. No, I’m just taking a break from Devil, and moving on to another project. I think I shall draft The X of Doom, the first novel in my vaguely-outlined pirate trilogy. I have characters, I know the name of the ship, I have plenty of notes and plenty of research material. I’m also planning on running a Pathfinder game which will act as a sort of prequel to the trilogy (though the Pathfinder game will likely feature more elves and whatnot than there actually were during the Golden Age of Piracy).

I’m happy I’m not on a deadline for And the Devil Will Drag You Under. That’s one of the joys of being a terminally unpublished writer: You can write whatever you want, whenever you want. There’s no contract stipulating that you must have the manuscript in by a certain date, and no language saying that you have to return your advance if you don’t finish the work at all. If I did have a publishing contract, I’d have to suck it up and get to work anyway. I’d ask the agent/editor/publisher for an extension to the deadline, and all that, and that could get messy.

I’m not happy that I’ve lost the work.

So off I go. I’ll read various books about piracy and the high seas, and go from there.

So how’s your day?

The State of the Richard

The palm of a hand painted in the colors of the Ukrainian flag
I stand with Ukraine

Boy, ain’t the world something these days? Between the pandemic and the war in Europe, the world’s pretty messed up right now. The Russia/Ukraine conflict has the potential to spread further, and despite wishful thinking among politicians (especially on the Republican side of the aisle), the pandemic really isn’t over. In both arenas, there’s a long way to go to achieve a peaceful and appropriate outcome.

In my own little world, I’m stressing about school and work and writing. While I’m learning about Information Literacy Instruction in school and producing videos and critiques of other students’ videos, in addition to reading and writing discussion posts, I’m also trying to complete 508-compliance training for work. 508-compliance, in case you don’t know, is making sure that all documents prepared for public consumption are fully accessible to people with visual, hearing, and learning disabilities, as well as to people with limited fine mobility. There is actually some overlap here, because the videos we make for school need to have captions and need to be accessible to people with visual impairments.

Writing-wise, I haven’t been able to get much done. I set a goal of 500 words per day on The Devil will Drag You Under, but over the past week, I’ve written less than 500 words total. This doesn’t bode well for completing that revision by May 12 as I’d hoped.

I have, however, been able to keep up on my target of submitting two manuscripts to various markets per week, which is a relief. Here are the stats for the year so far:

  • Submissions: 18
  • Rejections, form: 15
  • Rejections, personal: 2
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Pending submissions: 8

Some of those rejections were for stories that I’d submitted last year. One of those rejections was for a story that I thought was a sure thing, but alas, was not meant to be. I have hopes that this will be the year I make my first professional sale, but I’m not optimistic about ever achieving that goal.

I’m also far behind on my reading. While for fun I’m reading The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan (as well as a couple of others), I also am reading two novels for my writers’ group, which is meeting this coming Thursday. I’m looking forward to the meeting — I always do, because my fellow writers are a jolly bunch — but going in without having read the works under consideration is not a good look.

On the other hand, though, my blood pressure is averaging lower than it has in years, and my resting heart rate is lowering as well. This is probably, in part, due to the fact that Jennifer and I are both participating in the Outbreak challenge, a silly virtual game where you walk a given number of steps per week to outrun a zombie horde. The game syncs with our FitBits, so we don’t even have to track our steps manually. This week, we’re aiming for 10,500 steps per day. That’s a lot, and trying to squeeze those steps in while working on everything else is a big challenge.

All in all, I’m doing pretty well, given everything. I hope you’re doing well too.