OK, I've got to start this one off with a shameless plug:
Will the pic EVER be related??
This program is AWESOME. The fact that it's free actually makes it awesome cubed. Big thanks go out to Kevin for originally introducing me to the concept of mind-mapping, and to Mark T. for suggesting that there were programs out there that would help with it (probably obvious information if I'd thought of it, but I didn't).
For those that have never done any mind-mapping (I'd never actually heard the term before Kevin introduced it for gaming once), it's really just a more visual form of outlining ideas. This is really cool for me because I despise writing outlines in the usual academic format. It bores me to tears, seriously.
This is an incredibly organic process though, at least as I'm looking at it. I can jump around, easily see things in relation to each other, break concepts down more easily than I feel able to in outlining.
Downsides: If there's a way to link separate branches of ideas, I haven't found it yet. This currently leaves me stuck with only the options of adding multiple child nodes to a parent node. While this is entirely acceptable, that would be cool to have, especially when I start getting into the task of doing some kind of timeline for everything going on.
The above picture (intentionally shrunk to obscurity) is the result of about a half hour of work, a lot of which was figuring out features of the program. It's pretty hard to tell here, but there's a lot there...it would probably be 3-4 full pages of outlining. The work is currently heavily skewed towards the Factions branch of things, although I've got a few things in Themes as well.
In other news: through the wonders of meetup.com, I've gotten in contact with an Austin Writer's Group. They're doing a writing session tomorrow (light socializing, but mostly just a group of people going heads down and hopefully peer pressuring each other into being productive for a while) at a local coffee shop. I will be in attendance.
Also, I finally got my own laptop!!! No more feeling guilty about taking the company laptop out and using it for web-surfing/writing on my off hours. OK, I didn't actually feel the slightest bit guilty about that, but whatever. I was slightly concerned about what the consequences of a spilled drink on it would be if it happened while I wasn't working. Doesn't matter now, though!
I ended up getting a Dell Studio...17 inch monitor, really nice display, pretty good processor, and crazy RAM for what I thought a laptop would have (4GB is apparently becoming near standard)...even the work laptop only has 3GB. It does suffer the unfortunate malady of having Windows Vista installed, but it came with a free upgrade to Windows 7. I'll probably hold off until SP1 is out, but I've been hearing a lot of good stuff about it. I know it's still early, but people were doomsaying all over Vista a year before it came out and they were right. I also sprung for an awesome laptop backpack, and an awesome mouse, and an awesome new set of headphones. I'm quite happy with the whole setup so far, and it seems to be leading to increased productivity. It is therefore worth every penny.
Oh yeah, I also started on Chantix today to quit smoking. It apparently has a wicked good success rate (it had better, considering what it costs). Wish me luck, I should be off the smokes in a week or two.