Or at least a reasonable facsimile thereof. Three weeks ago we were complaining about the cold, and now we’re back to complaining about the heat. Well, it is what it is.
And technically, summer is still a month away. Today is May 21, and summer doesn’t start until June 21. Today I learned that something I’ve believed all my life isn’t true: I was always taught that in the summer, the days get longer and the nights get shorter. Well, friends, it just ain’t true: June 21 is the first day of summer, and on that date, the days are as long as they’re gonna get. After that, they start getting shorter until September 21, Autumnal Equinox. Know what equinox means? Equal nights. At that point, the days start getting even shorter, until we arrive at the shortest day of the year—December 21—at which point they start to get longer.
So everything I learned in school was wrong. Of course, the situation is the exact opposite in the Southern Hemisphere, where June 21 is the first day of winter.
So in the Northern Hemisphere, at least, the days start getting longer in the spring, not the summer.
All of which has nothing to do with the fact that I can finally go back to writing outside once more. And that’s something I’ve been waiting for months to do. It’s also something I’ve been preparing for months to do as well: I’ve added a new tool to my Writer’s Toolbox.
During the winter, I spend my days in my Lonely Writer’s Garret™, aka my bedroom. It’s the warmest room in the house, and as such is perfect for writing. But in the summer, not so much. If I want to move downstairs in the summer (where it’s cooler), I have to crawl under my writing desk to unplug my laptop’s power adapter, then carry the laptop, power adapter, and mouse downstairs.
Last year, I discovered an interesting new device, an AlphaSmart Neo. It’s a writing device similar to a computer, but all it does is write. It was developed for classrooms as a cheap alternative to computers. How cheap? I bought mine for under $40, including postage from Hong Kong.
As I said, it’s basically a stripped-down word processing unit, with all its software built-in. It doesn’t even connect to the Internet. What it does do is connect to my laptop via a USB cable, so I can do all my writing on the Neo, then transfer it to the laptop for further editing. It puts out plain vanilla text files. So far, I’ve gotten better than a year’s use out of it on a single set of 4 AA batteries.
But eventually I grew unhappy with it. A lot of my writing requires research, and that means an Internet connection (Google, doncha know.) For a while, I was satisfied with looking up things on my iPhone or iPad, but that got old quickly. So when I came into a bit of money, I bought a new laptop. Actually it was a bit of a laptop, junior: a Hewlett-Packard Chromebook. It’s got enough battery power to get me through a full day before I have to put it on the charger, and it came with the whole slew of Google apps: Documents, Sheets, etc. And believe me, doing a copy-and-paste from say, Wikipedia, directly into Google Doc sis a lot easier than copying the same information onto my iPhone and then hand-copying it onto my laptop!
So that’s the latest from Rochester (New York, not Minnesota).