January 18, 2019, 11:57:44 AM

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Messages - The Gem Cutter

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1
General Discussion / Re: Politics and other ailments of the real world
« on: January 16, 2019, 07:02:00 PM »
Apparently Britain is brexiting brexit?  ;D

2
Just under a month until my next book goes to the editor, and a lovely cloud of winter depression has settled upon my mind. I find editing to be mentally exhausting (fun, but tiring) and, of course, depression compounds that. Worse when the people who should be supportive aren't even around.

What does everyone else do when they find themselves in these situations - especially with deadlines!? I was extremely lucky over the past three days to review/edit 10k words, but I was alone the entire time and could break up the work with housework. Not exactly sustainable!

At least I have a few years until the doctor recommends a colonoscopy!!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful and productive New Year!

My suggestions: exercise; long walks or short fast ones; set up some pleasant moments for yourself - whether it's a coffee at a specific place or a trip to the book store, or whatever you enjoy, get it on the schedule and think about it and look forward to it. Hope your mood lightens.

3
This past week for the first time I was treated to the adventure that is a colonoscopy. Good fricking times, that.

4
I want to share some observations that relate to your low flexibility score, Ms. Scarlet. My point is that this phenomenon is not a character flaw or indicative of a problem, strictly speaking.

When I got into special operations, I saw that there were generally two types of people: meticulous planners and highly adaptive improvisors. The first excelled at meticulous plans that took all kinds of things into account and set the team up for success. Their problem is that when things change and their plans become moot, they have to operate without one - and that is not their strong suit. Likewise, the improvisors would often fail to plan effectively and encounter situations that no amount of adaptability can overcome.

The key is to combine the two types of people - the number of people who excel at both is such a small percentage that it's not worth considering. So when you encounter your limits, I advise you forgive yourself for being what you are: organized, meticulous, etc., etc. These traits literally come at the cost of the flexibility you wish you had - but simply cannot.

It's the cost of doing business and you see it everywhere, even physics: hard things are always brittle; the sharper something is the more fragile it is; things that can be used to pull (rope, cables) cannot be used to push, etc., etc. Be happy you have strengths (even with the weaknesses they come with) and that you know what they are :)

5
I hope everyone had a merry Christmas and all that. I got a pipe, a tobacco jar, and all the accessories so I can get my 'old man with a pipe' on :)

The final day of a long and particularly difficult year is upon us. Perhaps it's just me, but if 2018 is unusual, it is not simply because of difficulties, but the multimodal, multidisciplinary aspect to them: politics, relationships, work, medical issues, family, you name it. Let's hope 2019 is a little less turbulent. For my part, I am hoping Robert Mueller brings me some more indictments to start off my year :)

Best wishes to you all for a wonderful year - I hope everything you need comes to you when it will do the most good

6
Lady Ty, there's an app for that - several voice-to-text applications are out there so you can avoid the keyboard altogether. Hope you're feeling better soon.

7
General Discussion / Re: Sword Fighting
« on: December 14, 2018, 04:49:06 AM »
Echoing Rostum, check this out:
http://www.stickman-escrima.com/Products/Hits.htm

These plastic-looking tubes (they're a carbon fiber miracle) are remarkably light but very tough. They are a dangerous weapon but only in the hands of someone who can make it really sing, so much safer than edged things, dull or not. Tons of videos on youtube illustrating the lethality of a non-sharp sword. (spoiler - they'll cleave your head right off just as well)
The HITS sticks are cheap and non-threatening and weigh mere ounces, reducing the chance of pulling something in your wrist. And although hard enough to repel a small bullet, you have to really swing them hard and directly to hurt anyone (including oneself).

8
Quote
We're both Anglophiles, but Mrs. Gem has a huge interest in English monarchs and their intrigues, while my fandom is mostly cultural. She wants to visit a specific place near London, the name of which escapes me.

Hampton Court palace by any chance and if not it should definitely be on her list.

That's it Rostum! Good call. So we're going there first. Is that area too far out from London for an impromptu gathering? I told her I was hoping to get some of you together and she thought was a great idea.

9
We're both Anglophiles, but Mrs. Gem has a huge interest in English monarchs and their intrigues, while my fandom is mostly cultural. She wants to visit a specific place near London, the name of which escapes me.

I had thought of sponsoring an evening out for all my F-F friends in London while we are there at the beginning of our long tour. I am very excited about the prospects of meeting some of you and would happily spring for dinner in London or the surrounding area. I'll share the itinerary and schedule, and if anyone is near any of the spots, that would be amazing as well.

We are to visit Edinburgh in Scotland, four places in Ireland, and two spots in Wales, Liverpool, and a couple other locations in England in a two-week whirlwind. This is to be the first of several trips, so we are spreading ourselves thin across the UK, which I don't normally prefer. I tend to want to dig into a few spots rather than run the bases, so to speak.

Anyway, thanks for your encouragement, and I look forward to the possibility of meeting some of you with a big dumb smile on my face  ;D

10
This summer I will (hopefully) be traveling all around GB and Ireland. Mrs Gem and I are moving to reconcile and thought it would be nice to have something fun on the long term calendar to look forward to. The trip begins in London and heads to a variety of locations for about 2 weeks, with stops in Wales, Ireland, and Scotland.

11
General Discussion / Re: Sword Fighting
« on: December 06, 2018, 05:10:55 AM »
Remember, for training longer is safer (harder to cut or stab oneself). Some videos of what I was trained in:
Pekiti Tersia:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvrvoBIq__k&t=132s

Good overview of the angles common to almost all weapons martial arts (unsure about European styles):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxk1Gtj5b1w

The most fundamental block and important "move" when facing the untrained:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8iOnGhyLmpg

12
General Discussion / Re: Sword Fighting
« on: December 06, 2018, 04:57:21 AM »
When it actually came to the time to ask I'm not fully sure what to inquire too, hahah. Is it fun and do you enjoy using certain types of weapons more than others? Also, since european longswords aren't really available in my area, do you think I could replace it with, say a katana, and do the same drills as for a longsword?

Thanks Cameron!  :D
I am inexperienced with European styles. For non-European styles for fun and defense, I suggest you look at the broad family of Philippino stick/knife/sword martial arts: Kali, escrima, and their various subsects, like pekiti tersia. Their moves are interchangeable and there are practitioners who can teach. Unlike many other arts, these are less-pretty more-effective arts with simple, stackable moves that are effective open-handed, with a car key, a screwdriver, or a stick, in addition to edged weapons. They are practical and evolved, so there's more subtlety than there appears.

YouTube them and find a practitioner. Lessons are not expensive and they are all good exercise and hand-eye coordination builders. I am renowned among my friends for little tricks of the hand (swatting bees from the air or catching dropped objects) - and it's from my training and practice. See my poem on the Peaceful Path for my summary on the subject.

That sounds amazing Gem.  ;D Totally agreed on the kali, eskrima, and other Filipino martial arts on being more practical in everyday situations. I probably won't have a sword on me when I'm outside anyway, hahah. I stumbled across a lottt of Filipino martial arts video on youtube, are there any specific teachers/ styles that you'd like to recommend, Gem?

For example, what do you think of this? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TaoqLJY0-jc&t=115s

The numbered strikes he's referring to a near-universal, although I admit I do not use the reverse grip (blade pointing down in the hand, opposite the thumb) with strikes below the chest (mine) - notice the proximity between the point and his own groin. I have a 3 1/2 inch long scar in my thigh from a minor mistake I made at speed...  Anyway, all those sinwali and kali moves are very good. The follow-ons and openings created by them are in fact very sophisticated - striking vertically compels the foe to block horizontally; following with a thrust is very difficult, so you notice the alternation between slash & thrust, horizontal and vertical, combined with the footwork make it very hard to withstand your attacks. Just beware... you will learn the vulnerability you have over your whole body in new ways and come to feel your true nakedness to the average kitchen knife. Anyway, just be fucking careful. Buy rubber practice weapons and get some nunchuku - they teach the flow and give painful lessons on control that are valuable. Never go faster with a live blade than you can handle. That said, cutting yourself, as I did, teaches one the way a hot stove teaches about caution. One should fully expect to cut oneself in a true struggle. The cost of doing business.

13
General Discussion / Re: Sword Fighting
« on: December 04, 2018, 10:50:10 PM »
When it actually came to the time to ask I'm not fully sure what to inquire too, hahah. Is it fun and do you enjoy using certain types of weapons more than others? Also, since european longswords aren't really available in my area, do you think I could replace it with, say a katana, and do the same drills as for a longsword?

Thanks Cameron!  :D
I am inexperienced with European styles. For non-European styles for fun and defense, I suggest you look at the broad family of Philippino stick/knife/sword martial arts: Kali, escrima, and their various subsects, like pekiti tersia. Their moves are interchangeable and there are practitioners who can teach. Unlike many other arts, these are less-pretty more-effective arts with simple, stackable moves that are effective open-handed, with a car key, a screwdriver, or a stick, in addition to edged weapons. They are practical and evolved, so there's more subtlety than there appears.

YouTube them and find a practitioner. Lessons are not expensive and they are all good exercise and hand-eye coordination builders. I am renowned among my friends for little tricks of the hand (swatting bees from the air or catching dropped objects) - and it's from my training and practice. See my poem on the Peaceful Path for my summary on the subject.

14
Writers' Corner / Re: What do you call a group of dragons?
« on: November 29, 2018, 02:13:34 PM »
I don't think anything's going to be better than Cameron's doom of dragons, but you might consider a clutch, a flight, a storm, or even a gasp - it's what you do when you see a group of dragons, particularly when you don't expect them hahahaha

15
Writers' Corner / Re: Sublime words in writing
« on: November 27, 2018, 02:36:43 AM »
I'm sure many would disagree, and they're welcome to. But when you write, I do not think you should use "your" voice; you use your writing voice, which should vary (perhaps a great deal) from your speaking voice. That variance should, even when writing narration, be centered in your Narrator's voice, which should match the genre, mood, audience, and like a zillion other things. That voice is not just vocab but usage, and you should build it deliberately. This is exponentially more important, or rather, more visible and complex, in your characters' voices.

So whether the sun shines, pokes, smiles, giggles, or guffaws its way through the trees, you should make that choice not so much on the first word that occurs to you, but the first word that would occur to your narrator.
 Consider the voices and word choices here - hear the characters (who are also the narrators) not only have distinct voices, but their word choices vary as they get to the critical parts.
Jump to the 1:00 mark:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNaXQQbcgw0
Then compare to this clip:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMuam1MObtI
Notice where the narrator gets to the lofty ideas and ironies at 3:29 and the big words come out "magnanimous" - and hear how it's juxtaposed against the others' "gave up drinkin'".  Art.

My point in all this is that the question should not be "should I use big words?" - the questions (plural) are "Why am I using them?", "when should I and shouldn't I use them?", and most importantly - "Which ones, where / when, and by whom?"

The words themselves are never better or worse than others - only more or less appropriate for the task. The inability to speak in simple terms when one needs to is just as much of a limitation as the inability to make one's language loftier, airier, and effervescent when one needs to. My two cents.

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