Archive for July, 2008

Shaking and moving

Posted in MadCap, Personal, technical writing with tags , , on July 31, 2008 by Mike

Well, as you may know, So Cal got an earthquake this week. When I talked about the 4 seasons we have in So Cal – Green, Brown, Fire, Flood – I didn’t mention earthquakes. They’re not seasonal, they just happen. It’s part of the fun.

I was here in San Diego and outside so I didn’t feel it. The earthquake center was about 10 miles from my house in Riverside, about 100 miles north-northeast of here.

But in Riverside…

My husband was in a dental chair in Riverside, getting x-rays when everything started shaking badly and all the employees ran out of the building. He sat there saying “Hello? Hello?” and waiting for the earthquake to get really bad or stop. And hoping they turned off the x-ray machine. He walked out when it was over, asking the employees “Is my face glowing? Tell me the truth…”

I’ve not been home yet, except for a few hours last night, so I’ve not looked to see if we have any damage, but Husband doesn’t see any. Nothing got knocked over or fell, he said. We should be fine.

By the way, if you like to get a sense of earthquakes in So Cal, go to It’s also a great way to show the earthquakes, so it completely relates to Tech Comm. Graphical representation of technical information.

Back to work with me. Busy day in a busy week!


A quiet Saturday morning

Posted in Blaze, Flare, MadCap, MadCap software, Personal with tags , , , , on July 26, 2008 by Mike

Husband is still snoring, I have dogs sleeping on my office floor, and it’s quiet on the street. This is why I’m a morning person. About 6:30, the sun was streaming thru the wall of windows on the eastern side of the house. I wanted to twirl slowly in the golden light.

It’s a dogs’ life

It’s been pretty animal crazy in my life lately. Our 14 month old Aussie came down with very bad kennel cough and was really sick for about 10 days. Gus (and our other 2) was immunized against the bad common strains, but the vet explained this is like a cold for humans – the virus keeps mutating. As it turns out, the virus that causes kennel cough is related to the bug that causes viral bronchitis in humans.

Gus spent 10 days laying around coughing. He couldn’t walk across the room without a 15 minute coughing fit that wore him out. He had no sparkle because he was just too sick. Finally, Thursday morning of this week, he started recovering. Now he wants to play and run and only coughs a little. A totally healthy dog is not too far away.

In the mean time, the Cattle Dog, Sara, is getting very old and crippled by her arthritis. I know this is her last summer but I’m hoping to give her a last summer (her favorite time of year because she can swim in the pool). Husband and I met with the vet who said “Soon and not long, but not yet” and gave us pain pills to help her. These seem to working OK with her for now. And she continues to wag her tail when I come home.

And, because this is how it goes, the very old Border Collie mix, Lady, is less and less tethered to this life. She’s blind and deaf and losing weight. I expect when we put Sara down this fall, Lady will go to sleep and not wake up soon after. They’ve been together since they were about 8 months old. I’ve never thought one of them would survive much beyond the other.

Surprisingly, the old dogs did not pick up this round of kennel cough. Which is good because at their advanced ages, I think this one would have killed them. Gus is young and resilient; Sara and Lady simply are not anymore.

I’m not excited about this part of having dogs. I like the young part of their lives. I’m not delighted with the old and crippled part of this at all. But this fall, decisions will have to be made, regardless of how much I like these guys sleeping on the floor in my office.

In other news

The week was crazy busy at work—the Importing FrameMaker files into Flare  webinar is insanely popular. And I usually have people with many questions afterwards about their specific situation.

After each webinar, I spend probably 3 hours helping people with their stuff. I love it, because it all teaches me more about what you all are doing with our products and what challenges you face. This will only help me get you better products in the end. I know better what you need and can advocate for it.

We also have MadCamp this coming week, so we were busy getting ready for that, making sure all we need is in place to have that be a success. And I think it is! Whew.

All in all, a week that left my brain vibrating in my head every evening.

This weekend’s plan

So this weekend, I grade student papers because I’m 2 weeks behind and they’re starting to murmur. We have a party at my best (female) friend’s house, a friend is in town on business starting Sunday and I’ll try to have lunch with him tomorrow, I need to do laundry and generally pick up, I have 2 – count them 2! – new fabulous crochet pattern books to start working from (both sweaters and shrugs and the like – yum!), and a husband to talk to. And dogs to pet.

And if I have time, I want to practice my knitting. I took a lesson last weekend and it was hard but fun. I’m such an experienced crocheter that I’ve forgotten how it feels to be new at these handicrafts. Knitting humbled me. I want to get OK at it. I may never prefer it, but I think I should know how to do it competently.

Why? Because I enjoy having a picture in my head that translates to a thing through my hands. I find it calming to work my hands to make something. I like working on a craft (art) that’s been practiced for perhaps a thousand years. I like feeling as though I’m dipping into a sea of tradition that’s been practiced by far more talent than I’ll ever have.


And as a last note, today is Michael Stern’s birthday. If you never got to know him, you missed out on knowing an amazing and wonderful man. Michael was my best male friend who died suddenly one night about 3 years ago. Losing a best friend is every bit as bad as it sounds. As I spoke in his eulogy, some things you never get over, you just adjust to. Eventually, I suppose.

Happy Birthday Michael.

Best Practices: Moving from Frame to Flare or Blaze redux

Posted in Blaze, Flare, MadCap with tags , , , on July 15, 2008 by Mike

I’ve updated the best practices again. If you are interested in knowing the best practices because you’re struggling or if you’re considering dumping Frame, this is for you.

Click here to get it for yourself. Best Practices: FrameMaker to Flare 4 or Blaze


Well, shoot me because I’m the worst blogger ever

Posted in Flare, MadCap, MadCap software, Personal, Tech Comm, technical writing with tags , , on July 14, 2008 by Mike

I haven’t blogged since before I left for Tulsa. I’m bad. Now that we know I’m wrong and we’ve all shot me, we can move on. If only it worked that easily in my second marriage..

Yes, seeing the family was wonderful and I had a great time. My grand son fell asleep in my arms, my grand daughter kissed me. My niece and I went yarn shopping and I taught her the basics of crochet (she’s very good and I hope she keeps it up), my son showed me some wonderful photos he took recently and my sister is great. It was all wonderful and a great way to spend my birthday.

Importing FrameMaker to Flare webinars

Wow, are these filling up fast. About as fast as I can schedule them. I’ve got them scheduled to the end of August now. If you are working with a FrameMaker to Flare workflow or are considering moving from Frame to Flare, then sign up. You can ask questions at the end that are specific to what you’re doing, if you want.

A note: I’m not yet a Flare expert, at least not for version 3.1. So if I don’t know the answer, I’ll find out for you. but I’m not tech support and if your question seems big, perhaps you should contact Tech Support first and see what they can do with you.

As to when Flare 4 comes out? Attend the webinar and ask me!

OK – I have 100 things to get done before the next webinar. Hope to see you there!