Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

More Postcards!

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett

I have a massive update to the Postcards area, starting with this one:

Lots of work went into this. And yes, there probably are typos. You can report 'em to me via the webmaster link.

Filed under: Nostalgia            
1/22/2023 5:57:07 PM


Pictures For A Cloudy Day

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett

It's a bit of a nasty day here: cloudy and windy with rain off and on. Of course, that makes it a challenging opportunity to find some color in the gray. I got lucky when the sun poked through the clouds and the wind died down a bit. I managed a couple of halfway decent pictures.

green leaves among the brow

A found some green poking through the carpet of leaves. Not bad considering what the weather was like here a week and a half ago.

Macro berries

I shot this with the macro attachment on my Olympus. Not terribly sharp, but I'll take it as a win because the wind never died down. The really sharp pictures I managed used a flash, and I like the natural colors of the berries much better than the washed-out ones from the flash.

So, kind of productive, given that I'm attempting to enjoy a day off. I still need to run to the store for some things, then I'll chill for the rest of the day.

Filed under: Pictures            
1/2/2023 3:14:02 PM


It's the Big Year-End Wrap-Up!

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett

Should there be a Kermit flail here?

Well. This year was much like last year, but maybe a tad better.

My business barely managed to stay out of the red this year.

I have a shiny new laser engraver/cutter, and am looking forward to doing a lot of cool things with it next year.

I did three cons this year. I was a guest at SoonerCon, attended ArmadilloCon and put some stuff in the Art Show, and helped run FenCon, along with putting stuff in the art show. We did radio plays at SoonerCon and FenCon. As always, they were fun.

We've kept up with our boosters and flu shots and have been relatively healthy. 

We both signed up for Medicare Part A. Yes, we are now officially seniors, so you can just get off our lawn.

There were still plenty of frustrations, and I'm working hard on overcoming those. More on this later. Paul has made the margarita noise. That means it's time to shut down and drink my profits. I mean, toast a better year!

Here's to a good 2023!

Filed under: Life            
12/30/2022 5:33:20 PM


Facebook, It Hurts When I Do This!

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett

You know the old joke:

Patient: Doctor, it hurts when I do this.

Doctor: Then don't DO that!

Only I don't know what I did. Facebook restricted my account for six hours because my "account activity didn't follow community standards." What did I do? I posted my Wordle score. That was my sole post since yesterday's Wordle post. No, I posted a couple of birthday wishes. Since when is "Happy Birthday!" against community standards. Oh, I forgot to capitalize the "B" in one post. Perhaps that was my sin?

Last week I had a comment taken down for promoting violence. Do you know what I said? I said that I prefer LED candles because I am a klutz. Otherwise, I would burn the house down. 

I appealed that. The appeal was turned down, but I was given the opportunity to take it to their Oversight board. Which I did - in no uncertain terms. I don't expect to hear back on that one.

Facebook is becoming a bot-driven bureaucratic nightmare. Twitter is more of a hellhole than usual. Where do I go? I've relied - too much, perhaps - on Facebook for self-promotion. Which I totally suck at anyway. 

I was hoping to take the last two business days of the year to finish my books and attempt to clean my desk. Instead, I'll be working on new ways to escape the living hell of social media and make it on my own.

I don't know what else to do. 

Oh, you say, it's just a short time-out. Next time, it will be longer. And the kicker is that I don't know what I did to get my account restricted. 

Doctor: I bet it hurts when you do that.

Patient: Do what?

Doctor: You get to find out for yourself.

Not so funny, is it? 

Guess I'll also be working to restore comments here.

See you when I get out of jail.

Filed under: Life   Facebook         
12/29/2022 11:29:47 AM



Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett

Well, that was fun. The link to the website css file just kind of fell off into the Gorge of Eternal Peril.

I think we're fixed now.

Sorry about the disruption. Carry on.

Filed under: Housekeeping            
12/16/2022 11:27:34 AM


Meowy Catmas and Happy Mew Year!

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett

Yes, cats and kittens, it's time once again for our Catmas card!

This is a tradition at the Manor, and we like to share them out with all of our friends.


Filed under: Catmas   Cats         
12/14/2022 3:41:36 PM


A Bit Of Housekeeping

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett

Well. It seems that when I went in and tried to restore the commenting code that I completely borked a few things. I was working on them on a local copy of the journal, but I guess I moved the pages out by mistake. Sorry about that.

In penance, here's a cat picture from the archive. I think I deserve the Cone of Shame!


Filed under: Housekeeping            
11/22/2022 11:41:15 AM


Plodding and Plotting

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett

Yes, I am plodding on a plot!

I have a couple of very stalled novels. I get an epiphany on one, work on it, then the well goes dry. Or more to the point, something happens that needs my attention. Now. 

We're not talking ADHD. We're talking about my life of jumping from one crisis to the next. I have responsibilities, and there are people who abdicate theirs and drop them in my lap. And when there are things like contractual obligations involved, I have to drop everything and deal. 

It makes for a hell of a creative life, I tell ya.

Nope, I don't need people telling me how to deal. If you can be Sam Beckett or Ben Song and leap into my life for a few days, you might understand. Otherwise, don't.

I did have a major plotting spurt last night, and I sat up in bed and wrote a bunch of notes. I need to transfer them to OneNote before I totally forget what was going on in my brain last night. My handwriting is bad enough as it is, and if I go too long without transcribing the notes, much will be lost.

That's my job before lunch. I hope. But I just had another possibly last-minute thing hit the fan this morning. Nothing I can talk about (too early in the process), but it would mean dropping a lot of stuff and taking on possibly more than I can handle. So I'm leaning towards saying no. It's highly contingent on other people stepping up to help, and I'm not sure that's going to happen. Or at least it will be the initial flood of people stepping up with too many backing out at the last minute. I mentioned contractual obligations above? Yep.

Once I get my notes written out I plan to look at getting comments back here. Or not. I have mixed feelings. I'm all for a robust discourse, but given the level of discourse these days, I'm not so sure I want to deal with it right now. Please know at this point there are technical reasons for the lack of a comment feature. In the meantime, my Facebook page is linked, and you can leave comments there. If you're on Facebook, that is.

The whole Twitter thing has made me realize once again that I need to be in charge of my own data, and that means blogging here on a regular basis. 

And with that, I have about an hour to get my notes transcribed before I need to go get things ready for lunch. We don't do fancy lunches here, but it's nice to have the dishwasher emptied out so we'll  have a spot for the next round.

Filed under: Writing   Life         
11/4/2022 9:41:58 AM



Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett

I have been having a lot of fun playing around with CheerLights.

What are CheerLights? It's a project with devices connected all around the world. When someone tweets a color to the @cheerlights account, the lights on every connected device change to that color.

Last year I rebuilt a fiber optic Christmas tree with cheerlights and stuck a webcam on it. Well, that was fun, but what if someone isn't on Twitter? What if we just want to sit down and play with changing colors? I built a web interface to allow anyone to change a color. You can play with it here. It's kind of glitchy, but it generally works.*

Currently we have a cast resin Edison bulb in place. I'd love to do seasonal objects if I have the time.

(Caution: GeekSpeak ahead!)

This dovetailed into a long-term costume lighting project involving remote control of lights on a costume. What if (for example) I were to wave a magic wand and all of the lights on my dress were to change color? Everything I've worked with involved wi-fi, and if you're at a convention in a hotel, Wi-Fi is not the best idea. I have this issue finally resolved by using a pair of Adafruit Feather boards with radios. 

Since then I've discovered the ESP 32 series of boards. Most of these support both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. There are some cool projects out there to get these boards to talk to each other and avoid using a separate Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection.

Behold! The Electric Flapper Hat!

This requires me to use an Adafruit Bluefruit app on my phone, but once it's connected the hat will go get the CheerLights color and display it. I can wear this in the halls at a convention - or at any place for that matter - and not have to worry about setting up a wi-fi connection and re-programming the board. 

I'll have the Christmas tree back in place soon. In the meantime, I'm working on a few minor code changes.

*Please note the issue with the HTML color picker. That showed up in today's Chrome update. You can still pick a color, at least after a fashion.

Filed under: Technology   Lights         
11/3/2022 10:33:51 AM



Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett

Guess I'm back for more today!

The craptastic thing on my radar has a date attached to it now, which is sort of a relief. Now I can make other plans and work on things.

November is an odd month. I kind of wrote about that yesterday. Typically, November and December are my slow months, and I'm kind of fine with that. This is usually when Paul uses up the last of his vacation days, plugging them in here and there to fill out spots in the rest of the year. Since I don't currently have a retail client, I don't need to be available on days like the day after Thanksgiving or much of Christmas week. Yes, I miss the money. But I don't miss being the only one in the house working while everyone else is taking time off. I'm getting older, and I think I deserve this time.

That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it!

Since the thing on my radar has a date attached, I was able to set up my hearing aids appointment for next week. Boy, isn't that exciting! I get free cleanings and maintenance, and I'm not taking advantage of that. Eww. Okay, yes: I do clean my hearing aids every night. But there's other maintenance that the audiologist (or their staff) will do for free, and ever since Covid happened I've been a bit lax on that. My bad. However, the warranty on this pair will be up around Thanksgiving, and it's time to get a new hearing test and do a technical check on the units. I'm hoping I don't have to buy a new pair. They keep coming out with newer, better, stronger, faster hearing aids every year, but that way lies madness, not to mention money most of us don't need to spend. This pair was $3,000, which was a bargain. Trust me.

So, I should take advantage of the warranty before it runs out, yes?

I've spent part of the last couple of days piddling around with plotting on a novel. I strongly suspect a case of "kitchen sink syndrome" here, and I have a strong suspicion the patient will be in better shape if I split it into two books. This will require surgery to take the plotlines apart and then graft new plotlines onto the stubs left behind. 

We shall see. At least there is progress, and I'll take it! See the previous entry for why I don't do NaNoWriMo. 

Tonight was position night in bowling, and we were down a couple of people on our five member team. It was tough, but we took one game and total pins. Go, us! Understand that I'm not in this for the winning (though winning is fun!), but more for the exercise and the camaraderie. And the beer. Sure, I do get mad at myself when I know I could be doing better, but I'm generally just philosophical about it all. Or at least I try to be. I bowl better with that attitude.

Also, we were up against a fun team. They're in it for the same things we are, and that's always good. 

So it as good night all in all. 

And with that I'll hit the sack.

Filed under: Life            
11/2/2022 8:54:26 PM



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