Penmanship and cursive

September 12th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Back To School | Writing - (0 Comments)

In which there are styles of handwriting to look at.

For no real reason, I’m trying to figure out which style of cursive I learned.

I’m beginning to suspect that changing schools so often actually exposed me to multiple systems, because no single script style encompasses how I form my letters — D’Nealian, modified Spencerian, Zaner-Bloser, and New American Cursive all seem to show up in how I think letters should be written and the strokes I use to form them.

New American Cursive

New American Cursive is pretty close, and I feel sure I was exposed to it at some point, but it uses hard angles where I think I learned loops. That’s nearly my capital G, for example, but I’d do loops rather than the hard angles at the NE and SW points of the figure.

My mother was a Boeing draftsman at some point so my print style was definitely influenced by hers, which was a form of block printing I can’t seem to google; possibly what was once known as Architectural Lettering but perfectly slanted, something like this:

Having no pressing need to master block printing, I’d like to learn something super pretty and fancy, like this lovely Ladies’ Spencerian, for example, but probably won’t master it.

Although that capital Z is much closer to the one I use than the New American Cursive one; I think my Z is either Zaner-Bloser, D’Nealian, or the Palmer Method?

Maybe? I really have no idea; it’s been so long and I’ve let my handwriting atrophy so much it would take an expert to figure it out! However, I have a new, cheap, extra fine fountain pen and a tiny ruled booklet, so perhaps I’ll add “practice my letters and listen to classical music” to my list of hobbies-intended-to-get-me-offline.

My traveler’s notebook

June 4th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Writing - (2 Comments)

In which I’m just saying stuff I’ve already said because it’s Sunday afternoon and I have nothing better to do but repeat myself. I mean, this is literally just a re-do of a post I’ve already written, only with newer pictures!

Step one: Don’t have heard of Midori traveler’s notebooks or bullet journaling. Live in ignorant bliss.

Step two: Hear about Midori traveler’s notebooks and bullet journaling. Fall down a rabbit hole of Instagram, blogs, reviews, walk-throughs, YouTube videos, and stationery stores specializing in Japanese imports.

Step three: Judge the shit out of the entire thing. Be offended by the waste. People with stacks of journals, massive collections of pens, inks, adults with sticker sets, washi tapes! Tons of unnecessary crap! All you need is a single writing utensil and a $2 notebook!

Sticker set

Step four: End up a few months later with three notebooks, gel pens, pen cases, a large set of colored pencils, watercolor paints, binder clips, a set of highlighters, a cheap fountain pen, book darts, washi tapes, a washi tape dispenser, numerous inserts from several suppliers, kraft folders, sticker sets, writing boards, lead pencils, and repair kits, and feel like an asshole.

Especially about the off-brand stuff you no longer want you bought because it was cheaper than the name brand. Because honestly, the Midori stuff is superior. It really is so simple and well-designed and a pleasure to use.


Step five: Realize over and over that you adore your traveler’s notebook, and that it makes you happy every time you handle it or even see it. It’s taken months and a lot of switching things around, but you’ve finally got it just right. Admit that this particular rabbit hole has, yes, separated you from some of your disposable income, but it’s also provided you with hours of enjoyable writing, sketching, drawing, and painting.

It gets you offline.

You end up doing an Instagram doodle challenge, even though you have no artistic training or talent! It only takes a few minutes a day, and it’s fun!


I now have four inserts in my MTN. The first one is a kraft paper folder for loose items and pad of Midori sticky notes. Then there’s a custom dot grid insert for my journal, a Midori monthly calendar insert for my work schedule and travel plans, and a ruled insert I use for my spiritual diary. I also have sticker pockets inside the front and back covers, a pen holder, an OM pendant off an old necklace, and a binder clip. The thing is finally exactly how I want it, and works for my needs.


I also have the knock-off September Leather cover I bought first, basically set up the same way (sticky notes and all) except it’s totally empty. I don’t need it and I don’t use it, and I’d happily give it away if I knew anybody who wanted it. The calendar insert is weekly, rather than monthly, but it’s basically a duplicate.

spring flowers in the rain

I do currently use a Midori insert for sketches and painting, but it’s not in a notebook because it’s easier when it’s flat. When I’ve filled it, I’ll get a block of regular watercolor paper unless my life is radically different than it is now and I’m on a massive travel schedule or something!

Chapter 5

June 16th, 2010 | Posted by administratrix in Sci-fi | Writing - (9 Comments)

In which there’s a finale. (See chapter 4.)


“Oh dude,” I said. “That would be awesome. I don’t know how to test the water, or if the soil will support earth seeds–”

“I can teach you,” the baby said. “I have knowledge that was supposed to be accessible to you.”

Someone on my comm yelled, “All that shit’s in the wiki, Jenny! Ask him what he is!”

I turned down my comm speakers. “So, giant alien baby. What are you? And why do you look like a giant human baby?”

“I didn’t know that these were many dead individuals. I thought it was one dead individual and asked it how to be an infant. This is what they showed me. I’ve never seen many dead individuals.”

“Whenever you encounter dead individual, you ask it how to be a baby?”

“Yes, and then we’re a baby, and we grow up, and we die. Until someone else asks us how to be a baby!” Giant baby was overwhelmed with happiness by this and clapped his hands.

We talked for an hour, and then I took pity on everyone else and set up a board and read their questions from it, and the giant baby answered them, and the visit spawned about seventeen Martianbaby wikis as he talked. He was really good at telling us the human knowledge he had absorbed, but was maddeningly vague about himself.

Before I left the dome, he let me take a sample of him. I approached with a sample collection pack he had located for me, and touched his fat knee with a swab I then sealed into a tube. I also made a couple of slides. He wasn’t smooth; he was dusty and pink. His skin looked more like something you’d find in your shop-vac than anything else, and I had the impression that he’d blow away in a strong wind.

“Would you blow away in a strong wind?” I asked him.

“Um, yeah. No? We’re not sure. We’re very big!” He clapped again, but he didn’t disintegrate, so maybe not.

“Well, when the dust storm comes, you’ll have to wait it out in here,” I said.


Chapter 4

June 14th, 2010 | Posted by administratrix in Sci-fi | Writing - (5 Comments)

In which there’s a fourth chapter. (Go to chapter 3.)


“My dome? What?” I replied, grabbing my helmet so I could actually talk to the guy. “What do you mean?”

“There’s something wrong with the cameras, Fred,” someone said calmly.

“It’s a fucking Martian! Ye gods, even worse: some bastard child of human DNA and Mars!” someone else shouted.

“Can you see the video feed?” asked the man from Higher, who was apparently called Fred.

“Nope, I’m in the restaurant,” I said. I can just walk over there–”

“She can fix the cameras,” voice #2 said.

“No! Don’t go into the dome until we establish communication with it!” said voice #3.

“Restaurant?” said yet another voice.

“Listen, listen!” Fred said, and I could literally hear him flapping his arm for silence. “It looks like there’s a life form in the dome. We want audio. Can you manage that?”

“A life form,” I said.

“Yeah,” he said.

“In the dome.”


“The dome is filled with dead people, Fred,” I said. “All my friends’ bodies are in there, Fred.”

“Get somewhere you can see the video feed and call back, okay, kid?”

“Okay,” I said.

“And then we’re totally gonna need audio,” Fred said.

“Whatever,” I said.


Chapter 3

June 14th, 2010 | Posted by administratrix in Writing - (2 Comments)

In which there’s a third installment. (Back to chapter 2.)


Every single day I cursed my wretched, useless public school education.

Why didn’t I know basic chemistry? Why didn’t I know how to test melted Martian ice for drinkability? Why didn’t I know what was poisonous and what wasn’t?

Why did I need a fucking calculator to find out how many years worth of water I had left?

Why didn’t I have better reference materials? I had my wiki copy, of course, but it was too broad to be an in-depth learning tool.

Why, if I was so damned smart, hadn’t I known to bring proper reference materials to a hostile goddamned planet? I had ten years worth of movies, but no basic chemistry classes. Typical idiot American, I thought, and gunned my little forklift as I made my daily commute to the dome.


Not that it really mattered.

I had a lifetime’s worth of food and power and no way to have children. The settlement, such as it was, had already failed. I might see another human being eventually, but it wouldn’t be for years. Landing sites were spread out all over the planet, and only one had been equipped with vehicles capable of going long distances.

I turned away from my sustainability issues and focused on communications. Hours of research revealed instructions for blowing the comm right off the ship; when I armed the sequence and retreated the regulation ninety meters, there was a synchronized series of tiny explosions and a whole chunk of the ship fell off and landed on airbags on the regolith.

Pretty trick.

A day and a half of removing panels and airbags and I had the comm – a big rack filled with computer components. I built it a shelter between the ship and the dome, stocked with everything a data center would need: screens, boards and pointers, speakers, chairs with wheels, and a hot beverage dispenser.


Chapter 2

June 13th, 2010 | Posted by administratrix in Writing - (4 Comments)

In which there is a second installment. (Back to chapter 1.)


It took my stupid-tired self about fifty minutes to shut down the dome. I didn’t want the bodies exposed to air and heat; they’d just rot. Somebody would want this site preserved for forensics or something.


Plus it was a waste of resources, running an entire dome for a bunch of dead people. Life-long near-poverty had made me nothing if not frugal.

I’d walked around, still inside my suit, and looked at them – the people on my team, the people I’d applied with, trained with, and traveled through space with – for a morbidly long time. Some just looked like they were asleep, but many of them had done the sorts of things you’d expect during a real death. They were in weird positions, eyes open or half open, and I was glad I couldn’t smell the air in the dome. Once I realized that they were all actually, literally, and unequivocally deceased, it became important that I shut off the dome. I knew they were all filled with bacteria that wanted to turn them into puddles, but they were humans – from earth – and precious to me. I wanted them intact.

When the power whined down I realized I should have vented the air first. Now I’d have to operate the airlock manually. I sighed, and waddled over to the lock.


A Spore Called Moral

June 11th, 2010 | Posted by administratrix in Writing - (4 Comments)

In which there’s a short story, apropos of nothing.


His name was Randy and he was a total pud, but he was so big and lurking and earnest that putting up with him had the advantage of keeping all the other jobless, vid-playing puds out of my personal orbit.

“I’m going because it’ll be like being a cowboy,” he enthused. “Like the wild West. Real men, real women. No fuckin’ rules!”

“I’m going because I can’t find a job,” I said for the hundredth time. “Just like you.” I studied his flat, bland face again. He looked like he lived in his mother’s basement and delivered pizzas for beer money, but he’d passed the tests which meant he had to be at least as competent as I was. “I’m telling you, it’s not a video game. It’s a planet where you can’t go outside without a space suit. It’s gonna be rough up there, man. And we’re never coming back. Do you know anything about Mars?”

“Yeah, I watch FoxComm,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity. We’re colonizing a whole new planet!” The guy was utterly sincere.

“Whatever, kiddo,” I said, and turned back around to face the front of the line. If it was such a great opportunity, I thought for the thousandth time, the rich would be going instead of us lower middle-class meat baffles.

I’d originally presented for emigration in Omaha, where I’d passed the primary entry with flying colors. It had consisted of three days of basic testing – reading comprehension, basic math, grade school science – with number two pencils, a lot like sitting through competencies in high school, and an afternoon of pushups and jogging that had neatly cut the obese who had made up well over half the applicants. Then I’d received about three pounds of paperwork on actual paper that I was admonished not to lose and spent three sticky, smelly days on a bus in a convoy of obviously retired Greyhound busses on the way to the south.

In Texas we’d been issued pup tents and MREs and directed to set up in orderly rows in an abandoned football stadium. I’d been taking PTA baths in a bathroom sink for 72 hours and was seriously thinking of renting a motel room with the last of my money just for a real shower. At night, they showed educational videos on the stadium’s screens so we’d know how to operate airlocks and what death by Martian exposure was really like.

Most of the males continued to look at the whole thing like a glorified video game. I don’t think they really understood that Mars was a real place, and that dying there didn’t include respawning back at the base for another run. Most of the women were like me: single, childless, squeezed out of various obsolete corners of the tech industry. We chatted amiably enough in the bathrooms, but it seemed none of us were really prone to networking. The men outnumbered us ten-to-one.

“Man, this line is long,” Randy said again. (more…)