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Garbage Day

Illustration of a woman, distraught, sitting among full garbage bags. The title of the story, Garbage Day, is written above the garbage bags.

The idea for the suspense short story below came to me when I was out for a walk with my four-legged friend Harold. He has a tendency to try and pee on the netting and old bed sheets people put over their trash bags. While diverting him from peeing on one such sheet, the shape of the bags underneath gave me the seed of this story. So, thanks for the inspiration Harry!

It’s running for eight now. I have to be at work by 8:30. And there’s still that thing that needs doing. But the bed is warm and that thing is something I don’t want to do. I have to. I know it. I only want to deny it for a little while longer.

I roll over and swing my arm out to encircle a warm body that is no longer there. My arm flops against the sheet and mattress beneath, as if surrendering to the fact of his absence. The sheets are warm, inviting. The day ahead is cold and awkward.

It’s been a week since I’ve been at the office. People will ask questions. They’ll say, “Oh Rebbecca, how are you doing? Really?” in that tone that makes you want to punch them. Or they’ll pretend nothing has happened. Or they’ll look away. I don’t know which I’d rather.

Another glance at the clock tells me I have no choice if I’m going to be on time. I untangle myself from the sheets. So warm. Goodbye. My clothes are on in a minute, my hair pinned up. I throw on a little make-up — no one’s going to question my appearance today and I can’t be bothered to give a shit.

I try not to think about the next task as I descend the stairs. I push it out of my mind, thinking instead of the soothing aroma of brewing coffee. It will fill my nostrils when I enter the office in about twenty-five minutes. Then I can hide at my desk and carry on with my life.

Then I’m in the porch facing my nightmare. My weekly nightmare. I managed to avoid it until now, since that day so long ago. My parents had done it, or David had done it. But he won’t be doing it anymore.

Black garbage bags, ten of them, fill the space. My knees go a little weak, thinking of entwining my fingers into the thin, tacky plastic. And I have to swallow back vomit that is threatening to creep up my throat. A sour taste lingers in my mouth.

This is not hard. I know it’s not hard. People do this every damn week. Why can’t I?

But I know why. And I can’t think of that day without thinking of long-dead Snuffles. Beautiful, loving Snuffles. God, how I miss that dog.

I walk around the bags and sit, fall almost, to the bench next to the door. It’s hard to breathe so I open the door a crack, letting the light Fall breeze caress my face. That was a mistake. That’s when I see it.

The sheet sits next to the stairs, on a little patch of grass in front of the house. That’s all it takes. I start to urge.

I shove the door closed with a bang and dash for the bathroom. Barely making it I puke into the sink. Hot, sticky tendrils of it flow over my chin. The smell almost makes me vomit again. I hold it down. I raise my head, knowing it’s a mistake, and look into the mirror.

But I don’t see myself, not as I am, no, I see a little girl, innocent and carefree. A little girl that didn’t know her life was about to change forever.

I walked Snuffles every day before school, around seven-thirty. It had been one of the conditions of getting her. My mother made me promise to walk her and so I did. But it wasn’t a chore, Snuffles was the best friend an eight-year-old girl could have. She loved to cuddle and would lick my face with her hot little tongue.

On this particular morning, it was cool, a little later in the year than it is now and I could see my breath as I walked. I had mittens on too, with Snuffles leash wrapped around one. We strutted along like we owned the world.

It was garbage day. Piled beside each driveway, on a little strip of grass, were black or green bags. Often one or two and, rarely, three or more. Over most of them, as required, was a sheet, to keep birds away. Some late-risers, putting out their own bags or getting into their cars, smiled at me as we passed. I smiled back. We lived in a small town outside a big town; it was safe and most people knew each other.

Snuffles would stop every now and then, squatting as she peed. In my pocket I had two poop bags, just in case, though she hardly pooped on her walks. For which I was very thankful.

In front of one house there was a paisley sheet covering some very lumpy trash. Snuffles squat on the grass next to it. I stopped to let her do her business and looked around, waiting. It was a quiet part of the neighbourhood, sleepy even. Most of the cars were still in the driveways. The overnight condensation glistened on metal and glass in the rising sunlight. I remember thinking how calm and dreamlike it was.

I had no idea that dream would soon turn into a nightmare.

There wasn’t the usual tug on the leash and so I looked to see what Snuffles was doing. She was chewing on something sticking out from underneath the sheet. I remember thinking that people should do a better job of bagging their trash.

It was a little sausage, pale and tubular. Snuffles gnawed on it with her sharp little teeth, leaving impressions in the meat. Little bits of it came away and revealed red beneath. Tiny trickles of that red ran from the opened seams. That was strange, I had never seen a sausage that looked like that inside.

And did sausages have little wrinkles like that? No, not usually. And what was that at the end? It looked like, almost could have been, a fingernail. I leaned in closer to look.

It wasn’t a sausage. Snuffles was chewing on a human finger, now gnawed and raw with blood.

Adrenaline flooded my body. I didn’t know what to do, which way to go. I froze, not old enough, experienced enough, to handle the situation. I let my eyes trace the shape of the sheet. It was a particular kind of lumpy, a shape that was, now, very clear. I backed up a step, tugging on Snuffles’s leash.

She protested, still trying to get at the finger she had mangled. I pulled harder. The dog protested but finally relented. However, she was on one side of the sheet, I was on the other. The strap of the leash snagged against the material and started to drag it.

“No,” I whispered, knowing I did not want to see what was beneath that sheet. I wanted to keep walking, to pretend this hadn’t happened, to have my innocence left intact. It was too late for that.

The sheet drew back in slow motion. Behind the chewed, pale and, yes, lifeless, finger was a palm. Connected to it were three other, dead fingers and one stubby thumb. Against the red blood of the mangled finger, those digits looked almost white.

Snuffles came closer and the sheet continued its slow reveal. Soon an arm, clothed in a suit, blue and pin-striped, slid into view. From the crumpled outline of the sheet, I knew what was coming. And I knew I was not prepared for it.

Little brown tufts of hair popped free as the sheet travelled on. Next the start of an eyebrow, darker than the other hair. And along an almost white jawbone were hints of stubble. Finally, the first of two horrors presented themselves to me.

The eye was open, begging, pleading but soulless, locked in the agony of death. Its brother soon joined it and the pair locked on my own. I couldn’t look away. I could only stare at the little blood vessels, gape at the blue pupils that still haunt my nightmares.

It was too much. I tugged again and Snuffles, yelping a little, came to my side. As she did the head was revealed completely. What was left of it.

The left side of his skull was only partly there. Above his eye socket, along a jagged piece of exposed white bone, were flecks of red and grey. Beneath and behind it was a mass of misery that I hope never to see again in my life. I suppose brain surgeons see it all the time. But not like that, not penetrated, destroyed. I found out later that it had been done with a golf club. I didn’t need to know that. It didn’t help.

The middle-aged man’s stiff corpse lay there, exposed, unmoving and unseeing in the morning cold. But I still didn’t, couldn’t move.

My knees gave way and I slumped to the ground. Something, some reflex, some survival mechanism clicked on in my brain then. And I screamed. I howled, like a wounded animal.

I don’t know how long it was before someone, one of the people from one of the nearby houses, came out and found me there. My throat was raw as she wrapped her arms around me and turned me away from the body.

Later I found out that it was a town councillor, the body. The man had been involved in some shady dealings and got his comeuppance. It shook our little town to the core, not that I was aware of it at the time. They sheltered me from it. I only wish they could have protected me from that scene.

To me, who he was didn’t matter. He was only the body. And I would never forget it, no matter how hard I tried. I would look into his eyes every garbage day.

After rinsing the sink I make my way from the bathroom back to the porch. I summon courage that doesn’t exist. Damn you David, you son-of-a-bitch. This is your job. Instead, you made time with Cindy at your office. Well, you’re gone now and I’m left with this. The remnants of your life, collected in ten bags, that you couldn’t be bothered to take when you moved out.

And it’s fucking garbage day.

I walk out the front door, ignoring the bags, and lock it behind me.

The bags will still be there later. That’s okay. I’ll deal with them then.

Funny Signs (and Odd Ones Too) from Around the World

When I travel, whether at home or abroad, I tend to take photos of funny signs, odd signs, graffiti, stickers and anything else I find interesting. For this “whatever Wednesday” I thought I’d share a few of them.

To start let’s look at a few odd signs from here in Newfoundland.

I took this first one on Fogo Island, which you may have heard of. An inn is located there that attracts well-earning clientele from all over. This particular sign was outside someone’s house and, as you can see, pointed the way to the iceberg ice on offer.

 

Photo of a sign bearing the message "Iceberg Ice" with an arrow.

 

I see this next one whenever we visit my mother-in-law’s hometown and it has always struck me as funny. When can you go two directions and end up south? Whenever you’re in Old Perlican.

 

Photo of a highway sign with two indications for south (in different directions) and one for north

 

Anyone who has bought fries (or chips if you prefer) from the chip truck in Rocky Harbour has seen this one. Not all that original but it sticks out to you as soon as you see it.

 

Sticker on a food truck window of Johnny Cash with the text "Cash only please!"

 

Moving on from my homeland we go to our neighbour, Nova Scotia, Halifax in particular. We were walking down the street and passed this bus shelter. A vandalized, anti-vandalism sign has a certain irony to it. And it’s creative too.

 

An anti-vandalism sticker on a bus shelter that has been vandalized

 

This next one is also in Halifax. I don’t know who or what Eric is but he’s coming. Is Eric the giraffe thing? And there’s some odd Spanish thing going on with that punctuation. I don’t try to figure ’em out, I only take the pictures.

 

Photo of a temporary wooden wall with graffiti of a giraffe (?) and the text "Eric Is Coming!"

 

A big jump here to Bangkok, Thailand. This was underneath a pedestrian overpass. The concrete the message is written on is one of the supports for the walkway. In the bottom of the photo, you can see a vendor selling orange juice, though if I recall it was more like Tang than juice.

 

Photo of a support for a pedestrian walkway in Bangkok with graffiti that states "Chis H. is a bad mofo. Big Respect!"

 

The rest of the images are from New Zealand and I can’t recall the situation with all of them — it was five years ago now. But I’ll give context as much as I can.

This first one was stuck to the wall of a building in Auckland. I especially liked the little cartoon guy and the fact that someone annotated the sticker in ballpoint pen. Both sides of the debate are alive and well in that city.

 

Photo of a sticker on a wall in Auckland, NZ. The sticker has a little cartoon monster holding a sign that says "Religion Divides!" and beneath that text someone has written in "Faith Unites"

 

There’s nothing funny about a falling rocks sign but there was something about this one that made me want to snap it. Maybe it was the awful luck of that guy, that he’d be walking underneath when that huge anvil of a rock happened to crack off like that.

 

Photo of a diamond shaped falling rocks sign on a beach in New Zealand.

 

If I recall this next one was in Raglan, a surfing town in the North Island. I was mystified by the fish skeleton. I mean, sure, the surfer and board are clear enough — surfing that way. But, dead fish the other way? Maybe a Kiwi can fill me in.

 

Photo of a sign on a surf beach in NZ. One panel has the skeleton of a fish. The other has a surfer holding a board.

 

Again, nothing too hilarious or odd about this next one. But, for some reason, someone has scratched out “hands” from the sign. I’m not sure what word was scratched out from the Maori translation at the bottom. This was in a washroom in Picton, where the ferry from the North to the South Island docks.

 

Photo of a sign to remind people to wash their hands, from a bathroom in Picton, NZ. Someone has obliterated the word "hands" from the sign.

 

While I didn’t go bungy jumping I was on a bus tour that stopped at A. J. Hackett Bungy near’s Queen’s Town. This image was on the door to the women’s washroom there. A nice change up from the usual icon.

 

Photo of the sign from the door of a women's washroom at a bungy business in Queen's Town, NZ. It shows the usual female icon bungee jumping.

 

We spent quite a bit of a time in Napier, where I took this next photo. While on a walk up Bluff Hill we passed a house that had this unique mailbox. It’s an old iMac case, or two repurposed quite well.

 

Photo of a mailbox in Napier, NZ made from an old iMac case

 

Back to Auckland, Mission Bay if I recall. Outside a gelato place was this sign trying the direct approach to selling.

 

Photo of a sign outside a gelato store that states "Be nice to your kids... buy them ice cream"

 

I really like this next one. This rather quick and rough sketch of an ad was posted on a wall in a hostel we were staying at. The person must have been in a hurry to make the sign and figured it would get the job done. With all those extras perhaps they didn’t need to put in much effort to sell it.

 

Photo of a piece of paper from a hostel in New Zealand. It is advertising a car that is for sale. The drawing is very rudimentary and the text very haphazard.

 

And the best for last. It’s a good example of the Kiwi humour. They don’t take themselves too seriously; I don’t know about you but I could always do a bit better in that regard. Anyway, it made me laugh out loud when I first saw it.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little around the world signage tour.

 

Photo of a chalk board sign inside a pub in New Zealand. Written on it is "Children left unsupervised with be taught how to swear..."

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Windows App Woes… Trying an Android Emulator

There are lots of great apps for tablets out there. They can help you be effective, efficient and entertained. The problem: I own a Windows tablet (a Surface Pro 3) and it’s an iOS and Android world. The eventual workaround I arrived at: an Android emulator. But first, let’s explore how I got there.

Why not get a tablet running iOS or Android? Well, first, I want to own less devices, not more. Second, I need a desktop — running Windows or Mac OS — to use software like Clip Studio Paint EX and Photoshop.

And there are many great apps built for Windows tablets of course, but my issue is with reading apps: Comixology and Kindle.

A screenshot from my Comixology account showing the Backups screen which lists comics and links to download them in CBR or PDF format

Comixology’s “Backups” screen on their site. You can see that certain publishers (Image for one) allow downloads of comics in both CBZ and PDF format. Other publishers, like Marvel and Dark Horse, do not allow such backups.

With Comixology, reading offline is not possible in the web reader, the only option available on Windows. I am aware you can download backups of comics to read offline but only from certain publishers. Contacting customer support, suggesting they release a Windows app, was not helpful (as expected).

The Kindle app for Windows has several issues for image-heavy books. There are a lot of UI elements that keep you from viewing a book in true full screen. And you can’t zoom in on images in a book. Amazon also discontinued the Kindle app for Windows 8/10, not that it was much better.

It might appear that I’m picking on Amazon (both Comixology and Kindle are Amazon services). But, of course, I want to use these services. I want to be able to use them as any iPad or Kindle Fire user can.

The solution: use an Android emulator

I can have the functionality I want and can also choose the device I want to use. The emulator I chose was DuOS.

A screenshot of my Windows desktop showing DuOS (Android emulator) running in a window

DuOs running on my Windows desktop with the DuOs Configuration Tool open as well. The Configuration Tool lets you set fullscreen, RAM and other options.

So why did I pick it?

DuOS is not free; it costs $15 USD. That’s quite a deal. There are many free options out there but none that were quite as easy. I could figure out one of the other offerings but I didn’t want to take that time. I wanted something that worked, right out of the box.

How’s it working out?

Great. You can switch back and forth between Android and Windows with ease. I had one issue with screen rotation not kicking in, but that was because screen rotation wasn’t working in Windows either. A quick restart and it was fine. As always…

via GIPHY

Are there more persistent issues?

It’s slow to load and it tends to slow down Windows a bit too. Though that was expected; it is an emulator after all.

For the Comixology and Kindle apps, it’s great. When I’m reading a comic or a book I don’t want to be interrupted. I don’t want to be checking email or Facebook. For my purposes, those “issues” are more features. You may have different needs. I should also note that a more powerful machine, one with more RAM, would probably alleviate those concerns quite a bit.

Why I’m happy with this Android emulator

I’m always trying to own less, to simplify my day-to-day activities. I like to have options but I also don’t want to have to maintain many devices.

With this solution, I’m able to have that simplicity. I can have one device to do my work and leisure activities. However, I still like reading prose on e-ink readers. But that’s for another post.

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Rufus Snarblax

Rufus Snarblax - Flash Fiction Story

Below is a short tale entitled Rufus Snarblax, the first entry in Flash Fiction Fridays. Each Friday I’ll publish a new story that will be around 1000 words. But I reserve the right to call whatever length I want flash fiction in this context (it is my site after all).

Most of these pieces will be science fiction but some, certainly, will not. I write in various genres, letting out whatever wants out from the strange, banana-fuelled recesses of my brain.

So, without further ado, I’ll let Rufus take it from here…

Frank looked at the typewriter again, for the fifth time. He looked at the words written on the blisteringly white paper wedged against the cylinder of the machine. Or, rather, he looked only at the white paper for there were no words upon it yet.

Frank didn’t like to write.

So why was he a writer? He couldn’t have told you that. Maybe he loved to write or could love to write if he could write what he wanted. He had loved to write, once. But now he wrote garbage. He thought it was garbage at any rate — alien romances. Who wanted alien romances?

A lot of creatures apparently. And it wasn’t like he had a choice.

He let out a huge sigh. Resigned to his task he started typing.

The keys made satisfying chunk sounds as he pressed them. The typewriter was old, manual. The corresponding typebars swung into position and stamped against the ribbon. They left the imprint of each letter on the paper. Frank’s fingers ached, thinking of all he had left to do. He missed his word-processor.

He typed Wormhole Rendezvous: An Alien Romance. His finger jabbed return. And he typed By: Rufus Snarblax. His pen name.

Another sigh escaped his lips. So it began again. It was all too real. The clock on the wall read 5:45 AM. He had a couple hours, a little more.

Then his editor would arrive.

He pressed return a few more times and then began in earnest. It was all he could do.

The words flowed, from his mind and through his fingers. Plastic and metal translated them into little drops of ink on pulped trees. Well, what looked like ink and paper anyway. The ludicrousness of it all made him laugh out loud. He stopped typing.

The clock read 6:23 AM. Was it 6:23 AM? Was it even a functioning clock?

Frank glanced around the spartan room. It contained only his writing desk and the clock. The old replica typewriter sat on the desk and to its left lay a stack of hundreds of sheets of 20-pound typing paper. One lone sheet sat to the right of the typewriter. The room itself was a perfect cube, as far as he could tell. The walls were all white, they looked like regular painted drywall. And in the ceiling was a single incandescent light bulb. Behind him, behind his battered and squeaky wooden — was it? — chair was a door.

His editor would come through that door at 8 AM sharp. Again he sighed, louder than the other times. He started the chunking and clacking once more.

After years it was only a matter of letting his mind go to work, hoping his tired hands could keep up. Today it was wormholes, yesterday a starship, the day before the surface of a cold, barren asteroid. The setting didn’t matter. All that mattered was that two, or more — depending on the target audience — beings found each other. His editor provided the specs.

He stopped typing again and his eyes went to the lone sheet of paper to the right of the typewriter. On it was almost a full page of type — today’s specs. The target audience was the civilian population of Erdilon VIII. There was a thriving economy there based around tunnellers, worm-hole jockeys. They would dive through in their ships, hoping to find something of value. Then they would hope to return with said something. It was gold rush days there now. The public wanted, craved was the word in the spec, stories about their gallant brethren. And about the aliens they met and seduced. Of course. Whether those stories were true, or not. On the spec, below the overview he had read, were a few choice snippets from some of these tunnellers.

Singleblad the Everlasting, a likely name, had written a couple of lines. It concerned his quest for the Serdedian Snudas, an ancient weapon of some kind. Barry Tysver — yes, Barry is a common name on Erdilon VIII, one of those cosmic coincidences — found love through one wormhole. Then the space harpy, his words, left him and took all the valuables he had squirrelled away. There were another couple tales in the spec but those two would do.

Frank had his through-line: Barry the Somewhatlasting was successful in his quest for the ancient Talmeredian Snarflas. It being the only thing that could save his people. But, would he choose his mission or the stunning Talmeredian maiden who guarded the Snarflas? With her pulsating, iridescent tentacles she was quite a catch.

Frank started typing, forcing the words onto the paper. He changed out the sheet of paper, then another, and another.

He finished and looked at the clock. It read 7:50 AM.

Once upon a time, he would read back over what he had written. Those times were long gone, years gone. So many years. What did he care anyway? If the story wasn’t good perhaps his editor would return him to Earth. Or, better yet, kill him. Either way, he’d be free.

7:55 AM. Five minutes to dream, to remember. To ponder what ifs.

What if he had stayed home that night, instead of chasing those lights he had seen in the sky? But he had been a new New York Times bestselling author. He had made his name with a book, of fiction, based on a personal experience. In the forest, he had found something odd and used it as the basis for his book. What if those lights had been the start of his next great work?

Instead, here he was, years later — how many? — writing pithy romance for aliens, trapped in a replica of an Earth room. Outside these four walls was an architecture he couldn’t fathom and an atmosphere he couldn’t breathe. The door behind him — through which his editor would soon emerge, dressed in a pressure suit — was one end of an airlock. The pressure suit hid most of the editor’s grotesqueness. But it couldn’t hide the six arms and the three rows of seven eyes.

Frank shuddered.

He glanced at the stack of blank white paper once more. It was so white, like a beacon.

What was it they said, death by a thousand paper-cuts? He picked up the topmost sheet.

The clock read 7:58 AM.

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Jay’s Pizza Sauce

So, it’s Wednesday and I’m trying something different with my posting schedule. On Wednesdays, I’m going to post “whatever”. That could be a recipe (like this week), something interesting I’ve seen while travelling or anything else. With any luck they’ll be informative and entertaining.
 
On to this week… Marvel at my lack of recipe writing experience! Be astonished by my mix of imperial and metric measurements!
 
I developed this pizza sauce recipe after trying several others. All of those didn’t quite capture the taste and texture I was going for. If you like fennel seed (ie. licorice flavour) you’ll love the taste. If you don’t like that flavour then leave out the fennel seed! I’m pretty sure it’ll still be great.
 
Also, I prefer oregano for pizza sauce and basil for pasta sauce. If you’re the other way around swap ‘em, I won’t tell anyone.
 
You’ve also gotta have something to put the sauce on. I’ve tried several pizza dough recipes over the years but this one has been my go-to recipe for the last couple years.
Print Recipe
Jay's Pizza Sauce
A rich pizza sauce with onion, garlic, and fennel.
Course Sauce
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
Pizzas
Ingredients
Course Sauce
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
Pizzas
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Cut up your onions and start frying them in a little water (see notes below).
  2. Mince your garlic and add to the onions. Add a little more water, if necessary, to keep it from sticking.
  3. Add fennel seeds to onion and garlic.
  4. When the onions start to turn translucent and most of your water has been absorbed/evaporated, add the balsamic vinegar.
  5. Continue cooking until slightly carmelized.
  6. Add onion mixture to the can of tomatoes in a blender. Blend.
  7. Transfer the mixture to a medium-sized pot and heat on low to medium.
  8. Add the oregano, tomato paste, salt, pepper and maple syrup. Stir.
  9. Continue to stir occasionally. Once it starts to bubble/steam a little reduce the heat.
  10. It’s ready to go -- top your pizza(s), bake and enjoy!
Recipe Notes

1. I use a ceramic, non-stick frying pan and so avoid using oil to fry the onions and garlic. I use a little water to keep them from sticking.
2. This recipe makes a lot of sauce, maybe enough for 8 pizzas. The dough recipe I reference makes 2 pies so you'll get about 4 uses out of the sauce (depending on how much you like). Freeze the leftover sauce in small amounts to thaw when needed.

Going Paperless Progress

I’m always trying to lighten my environmental footprint. I’m not doing perfect, but I always strive to do better. One of the ways I aim to do that is by going paperless.

I also want to own fewer things and to be more mobile. So my daily processes should need little else other than my Microsoft Surface Pro 3. That device has gone a long way to making my day paper-free.

I work from various locations that are not my home office — coffee shops, my parents’, my wife’s parents’, etc. I don’t always have access to a printer.

For editing fiction, I like to go through the completed manuscript with a pen to mark it up. I could print it off and do it that way but, as noted above, that goes against what I’m trying to do.

In this post, I’ll be looking at two apps for Windows tablets that streamline day-to-day tasks — taking notes and annotating documents.

Drawboard PDF

Available on the Microsoft Store.
Cost: ~$12 CAD (I got it during a promotion for around $5)
Vendor Link: Drawboard

I had been looking for an app to annotate PDFs for ages. I happened across Drawboard PDF one day while researching something completely unrelated.

Advantages of using Drawboard PDF:

  • Opens where you left off
  • Keeps the last tool selected
  • Keeps the same view that you left off in

In this image, I’m editing a sci-fi book that is coming to Amazon and other vendors soon. The title has changed since.

You can start working again, straight-away. No fuss, no configuring anything. Even with more expensive software like Adobe Acrobat DC I had to take a minute or so to get back to where I was. But, then, Acrobat is not designed exclusively for marking PDFs up.

I’ll have a more exhaustive review of this app, about using it to edit fiction, coming up soon.

Bamboo Paper

Available on the Microsoft Store.
Cost: $8.00 CAD for the Pro Pack
Vendor Link: Wacom

One thing I’ll note first: I could not find out how much this thing would cost me. The Microsoft Store told me it had in-app purchases and the range of those prices but I couldn’t tell if I’d have to buy a few at that price. The price noted above is what you’ll pay, as of publishing date, for all the extra tools and such — the Pro Pack.

Wacom makes great products. I’ve owned a couple Cintiqs and an Intuous tablet over the years and have had no complaints (other than the price). So it was no surprise that this app is also great.

The app allows you to create as many notebooks as you need and there are different paper and cover options for various tasks — note-taking, sketching, more technical drawing, and so forth.

I have used it to take meeting notes during a phone call and it worked great, no issues whatsoever. I’ve also done a few sketches with the various drawing tools.

You can export entire notebooks as PDF or export single pages as PDF or PNG.

It doesn’t have layers, which seems to be a complaint from some people, but I actually don’t mind. I want it to be like paper. I just want to get my ideas down, not to do a finished drawing.

One issue I’ve noticed is that it tends to close when left idle for an extended period. But it has never crashed while I’ve been using it.

My only other caveat with it was that there was no option to save notebooks to a cloud service, like Dropbox or OneDrive. I have found a somewhat advanced solution for that. Look for a post about that soon.

Taming the Menagerie

I had an epiphany recently.

I had too many websites, too many social media accounts and I wasn’t updating any of them.

Why so many places to keep updated?

I have many interests. Chief among them are, at least now, and in no particular order, minimalism, productivity, travel, technology, cooking/veganism and illustration. Whew, quite a list right?

The focus of my paying consulting work is technology (and its intersection with productivity) and illustration. But those other topics I noted are also areas where I often feel like I have something to add, or at least are things I feel a need to comment on.

And for some reason it seemed to make sense to put everything in its own silo. I had a site that focused on minimalism and productivity, one where I posted illustration and comic art related tidbits and another where I was planning on tackling technology related topics.

Why was I adding friction to a process that, really, should be simple and straight-forward?

There was too much overhead, not to mention overlap — where to put a post about an app that has a minimalist slant? Of course I could post it in two places. Well that gets ridiculous pretty fast. The net result was that I didn’t post nearly as often as I would like.

This hatchet job on my thoughts also wasn’t honest. It was an artificial separation of ideas into narrow and arbitrary slots. It’s advantageous to mix topics and give them a big stir — that’s where a lot of new ideas come from. And I was stepping on that seedling before it could take root and grow.

I think I’ve found the, very obvious, solution.

This site, where you are reading this now is the site. The only site. There will be posts about all the topics I mention above, and probably some that cover other odds and ends. And many will probably touch on various areas. I’m aiming to tag and categorize as much as possible so that filtering shouldn’t be too much of any issue. But, hopefully, all of them will contain something that will be of value.

As always thanks for reading and I hope you’ll tag along for the ride. If you like what you’ve read and would like to see more check out the sidebar for how you can have new content delivered directly to your inbox or how you can follow along on social media.

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Spent some time sitting in the shade #sketching #piazzaduomosiracusa #urbansketch #ink #watercolor #watercolour #italy #italia #sicily #sicilia #syracuse #siracusa

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