Complete MAME cabinet

Ta-da!

While I was away in New York, my husband had to keep himself busy somehow.  So, he did exactly what I would have done and put together an overly ambitious list of project and things to do 😀  Upon hearing all of his plans, I really hoped that he would just focus on the little finishing touches with the arcade cabinet and I am quite happy to say that this is exactly what he did (well, there were a few other things that he did, because he’s awesome, but this was the main one.)

Among the finishing touches, you can see that there is now a marquee across the top.  Our good friend “the Nighthawk” came over to help him out with the wiring for it, so that it lights up.  There’s a little switch so we can turn the lights on and off.

He has plans to redo the marquee as one solid sheet of paper from a printing company down the road.  For now, it’s several overlapping images that shows when the light shines behind it, but it still looks cool!

He also had the chance to spray paint the logo on the sides.

He set up a spray booth and cut out the stencil by hand.  It was a lot of work, but totally worth it!  Have I mentioned yet that L designed all the graphics himself?  I think it looks really cool!

Of course, now he has plans for more touches being sprayed on, upgrades, and future cabinets.  I can never be certain if he’s serious or not, but so far he’s mentioned a series of networked racing games (the ones where you sit right in them and play a car race game) and skee ball (especially after our recent trip to Castle Fun Park).

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NYC – visual goal sheet

I decided that this year I would set up some visual reminders of my major goals.  Something portable that I could take with me so that I can pull it out if I want a moment to focus or to remind myself of what’s important.  The trip to New York is coming up really fast so I figured I’d better get cracking. 

NYC goal sheet

Each one is pretty small.  It folds up into a small(ish) square that I should be able to put in my wallet.  (That way, when I open it to grab my visa for something, I might think twice and realize what’s REALLY important to me this year.)  Once I’m done, the visual goal sheets will also be a nice reminder of what I’ve accomplished in 2009. 

I’m always at a bit of a loss when it comes to collage images since we aren’t in the habit of buying magazines at all.  The above images were from two magazines that were purchased a year apart.  Aside from work magazines we don’t get much else.  I’m wondering how I might find some more images for free (or very cheap).  Any ideas are welcome in the comments!

How do you keep focused on your goals?  Do you use visual inspiration/motivation for achieving the things you want?

Project in Waiting = Home Decor

Old New Media Centre.JPG

Last summer, when we were still doing the lion’s share of the arcade cabinet work, my husband found a diamond in the rough.  The estate auction by his workplace had the radio you see above arrive.  He’d already thought that it would be fun to do a project with an old style radio.  He wanted to put in a sound system/juke box configuration, etc. (I listen, I don’t memorize the details).  His main hesitation was that an antique radio can be expensive, and all he really wanted was the shell.  So, when he saw this radio shell, he couldn’t resist and we picked it up for very cheap.

It sat in our front hall for weeks.  Then moved to the garage for a while.  Then we decided to wipe it down and put it in its eventual spot.  It still looks pretty good even if it has a bunch of nicks and scratches (which you can’t see in the picture, but they are there).  I think this one might be a project for next summer, when it’s warm enough for outdoor work again.

As a side update on the arcade cabinet, I haven’t neglected to upload finished project pictures yet.  It isn’t actually officially finished.  Still haven’t done side artwork or the lit marquee across the top.  It’s playable and tones of fun, but L doesn’t want to post ‘finished’ pictures until he gets around to these little details. 

2009 Big Rock Goal #4 – NaNoWriMo 2009

This is the fourth in a series of 5 posts describing my Big Rock Goals (major milestones) for 2009.  Every year I try to set up some reasonable specific goals that I can devote my time and energy to.  Every year when I finish them, I feel proud and happy that I’ve really managed to accomplish something special.  Here is what I’m going to be working towards this year . . .

Read about my Big Rock Goal #1 – Boxing Cardio Challenge
Read about my Big Rock Goal #2 – New York City
Read about my Big Rock Goal #3 – German Lessons

I first did NaNoWriMo in 2007.  It was a moderate success.  I finished 50,000 words of a story that had been kicking around in my head for almost 7 years.  I made one new friend.  I realized that I had only thought out 1/10th of my story idea.  And, I ended up wanting to rewrite the whole story (it still sits untouched as a draft).

nano_08_winner_viking_120x238NaNoWriMo 2008 was a bigger success.  I finished 50,000 of a completely different story.  One that I had only been planning out and working on for a few months.  I made a lot of new friends.  I was asked to help organize NaNoWriMo for 2009.  I cemented the idea that I was a plotter.  I realized that I had only thought out about 3/10th’s of my story idea.  And, I’m working on completing it.

I’m hoping for even more for NaNoWriMo 2009!

Here’s what has lead to my increasing success over the 2 years that I’ve participated . . .

Get Involved!

There are forums at the NaNoWriMo site.  This year I also had the awesome community of writers on the Wiffer forums.  There are local events too.  I’ll definitely be participating even more in 2009 since I’ll be responsible for organizing in addition to just attending (I’ve already got a long list of ideas that’ll keep me working on it all year).  Also, get involved in telling everyone else in your life!  Making it clear that this is important and it’s going to eat an entire month (if not more) of your life.  That way they are prepared for you to get involved in something else for a while, and will hopefully help any way that they can.

Learn From your Mistakes

My first year, I knew I would get to my word total.  I’m just too stubborn to let myself fall on my face if I’ve publicly announced something like that.  But, I really had no idea where my story was going or any idea about the craft of writing (it hadn’t really occurred to me to read about the process of writing).  I made the assumption that because I’d had that story idea for a long time, it must be fully fleshed out and ready to go.  Wow, was I an idiot.  I think after day 2 I realized I was out of plot and I had to wing it from there.

My second year, I decided to try plotting the story out.  I knew I’d finish the 50,000 words because I had the year before and this year I was going in with a plan.  My mistake was underestimating the amount of time it takes to plan and basically running out of time before NaNo began.  But, the writing just flowed when I knew the key elements of each scene.  I also tend to forget some of the things that I struggle.  I end up spending a lot of time thinking when I could be writing, had I planned a bit in advance.  Character and place names in particular.  I also forget how many minor character and place names you actually need, especially when you are constructing your world from scratch.

At this stage in the game, I’m still just aiming to develop my writing skills and get closer to actually finishing a manuscript.  Then there will be the editing and revision skills.  Eventually, I’m sure you’ll see a goal pop up about submitting and getting published 😉

A lot of my goals tend to have slightly recurring themes: fitness, language, travel, writing . . .  Do you find you stick to certain themes when you plan out your goals?

My last post in the series will be about the goal that is relatively small and yet huge at the same time.

Office Project

The other day my husband had an extra day off.  It’s very unusual for him to get extra time off when I’m not home and I was a bit surprised by what he chose to do.  I started to get messages from him at work that he was organizing some of our office clutter.  He did a fantastic job!  Wish I’d taken pictures of the before so you could see the transformation, but you’ll just have to take my word for it.

The organizing bug continued after I got home and we decided to tackle a project we’d had in mind for a long time.  I’d originally gotten the idea from a  Lifehacker article and here’s what we managed to do with it . . .

Office pegboardPegboard closeup

 

It frees up a lot of space since we used to have a little brown bookshelf sitting there.  We’re probably going to put a little table next to the filing cabinet and set up our electric kettle and keep some tea accessories there.  Then we’ll slide our garbage can under the table instead of having it sit in the middle of the floor (almost literally).

NaNoWriMo2008 Winner!

I’m exhausted and it’s almost midnight, but I’m just going to post the winner goodies for writing 50,000 words. 

nano_08_winner_large  nano_08_winner_viking_120x238

I can’t decide if I like the shiny gold trophy or the mighty Viking ship better.

So, that was challenge number one – 50,000. 

Challenge number two – get the story finished.  We just met my bad guy, so this could take me a while.  Especially since my productivity will likely slow down.

Lessons Learned from NaNoWriMo

I should be working on my actual story right now, but thought I’d take a brief break to update on my NaNoWriMo progress.

Things are going ok.  I’d like to get it finished tonight, which will mean writing 8,000 words.  But, this afternoon work seems quiet and I’m shoving everything that isn’t urgent or important into tomorrow.  Then after work I’m going downtown to a 2.5 hour dedicated writing session.  I think I’m going to give everyone a magazine to whack me with if I start talking too much – :D  If I don’t finish tonight, I’ve got a few hours before work tomorrow morning.  They usually disappear on me, but maybe tomorrow will be different.

This year, I’ve learned a few very important things about me as a writer . . .

  • I think I’ve mentioned this once or twice before, but I love writing!  At least, I like the creative writing process.  There’s a lot more to it once the first draft is done.  I’m hoping I’ll learn to like those parts too (because yes, I would like to finish and edit a manuscript and then pursue publication somewhere.)
  • Planning and plotting are good things.  I need them.  They make me a better writer.  When I don’t have my course plotted out, my writing becomes loose and wishy-washy and get into a writing funk.  Some specific planning things that I like/need are:
    • Scene plans that include the conflict!  Stroke of absolute genius that one!  That way I don’t get half-way through a scene and realize it sucks because there isn’t any conflict.
    • I can’t hold maps in my head, I need to draw them out.  Maps of everything!  The Kingdom, the climactic battle, the Full Moon Inn, the little rebel town.  I need them!  They may look like a bunch of indecipherable squiggly lines, x’s, upside down v’s, and dots, but I can make sense of them and that’s what’s important.
    • I suck at names.  And I always pick fewer than I’m going to end up needing.  I need to start making long long lists.
    • I need to start all this planning wa-a-a-a-a-y earlier than one month ahead of time.  I’m starting the plan for my next book as soon as this one is finished it’s draft!
    • This TiddlyWikiWrite works really well to help organize all my scenes and thoughts and characters and link them together.
  • It pays to be nice to people.  Being social is a good thing.  It helps you network and makes it a generally more pleasant experience for all involved.

Ok, back to writing now.

NaNoWriMo Day 20

I’ll start with the bad news . . . I’m behind.  Not too badly by the official NaNoWriMo schedule.  By my schedule I’m about 10,000 words behind.  But it gets worse.  I know I won’t get much done tomorrow since we’re having company over to our place in the evening. 

Also, some personal stuff has come up that has me slightly upset and stressed out.  Has made it more difficult to focus on the writing lately.  I tried to avoid it coming up in November, but it seems certain things happen at certain times despite my best efforts.  Trying to find time to think about it and decide what to do and how to deal with it. 

Now for some more cheery news.  I still like my story.  I like what’s happened so far and I’ve got a pretty good idea about what’s going to happen next (though in addition to writing I’ve also got to get some more planning done).  I’m also really enjoying the process of writing.  A lot.  I’m feeling quite positively enthralled by it actually.  I’m even going to try to get the entire story written so that I might be able to take part in a revisions workshop that will start in early 2009.

Week 2 of NaNoWriMo is over – Huzzah!

Ok, so week two of NaNoWriMo is officially over and I’ve reached just over 28,000 words.  You’re probably thinking that isn’t too bad, but I know that it could have been much better.  I started off the week with a lot of steam, but it cooled off rather quickly.  A combination of feeling generally tired and run down, along with a few personal matters getting in the way, making me feel rather emotionally battered at the end.  I’m hoping that week three is much better in terms of productivity and the flow of things.

Week 2 of NaNoWriMo Begins

For the uninitiated, week 2 of National Novel Writing Month is the first major hurdle for most participants.  Week 1 is filled with adrenaline and excitement.  In week 2, this has worn off and you have to muster up enough motivation to keep on going.  It can also be a bit of a shock point.  You might suddenly run out of plot.  Or, you stop liking your story and are conflicted about continuing through it, or starting something new, or you aren’t really sure what else to do.  This is the point where many participants start to lose steam and lose hope.

Last year, I remember hitting this point.  It was a week where I just tried to write the very minimum word count possible, and then would shut the computer off.  I wasn’t sure where exactly my story had to go, to get where I wanted it to be.  I had also realized by that point, that my story was going to be much longer than 50,000 words.

This year, things are looking slightly better.  First of all, and most importantly for me, I still like my story and know where I have to go, to get to the end (still not quite sure what the ending looks like, but I’ve got a ways to go before I need to decide).  Like last year, there’s no way I’m going to finish the entire story in just 50,000, but that’s ok with me.  I’m hoping that November will end with me still being really excited about this story and having the drive to finish it off in a timely matter.  Also, I’m pretty pleased that I’m about 4000 words ahead of schedule for finishing on time.

I am blogging today just to do a quick reality check.  I signed up for a regional word war with another city.  Little did I know that they have writers who have competed before and usually get much higher than 50,000 words each (one is on track to top 200,000 as I type this).  The competition is fun and motivating me to do more, but I’m also finding that I’m getting anxious about ‘losing.’ 

When I sit back and think about it, the concept of me ‘losing’ is ridiculous.  Despite what anyone else achieves and whether or not my city writes more words than the other city, there’s no way that NaNoWriMo can be a losing experience for me.  I mean, I’m excited about writing and pushing myself creatively.  That can only be a winning situation for me!

But, that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop pushing myself a little bit further just to get as many extra words as I can.  Also, I have developed another NaNoWriMo goal this year.  I don’t think I’ll blog about it much right now, but perhaps at the end of the month when I can see more clearly where that one stands.

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