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And no one sings me lullabyes
And no one makes me close my eyes
So I throw the windows wide
And call to you across the sky.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Teachable Moment

Okay, I'm getting caught up with some bloggery reading I've put off (not because I have the time, but because I get distracted by... Oh, shiny). You never know when the Black Hole of Calcutta will sneak up and devour you. But here is a teachable moment, and the lesson is, "ideas aren't yours alone." And, "just because things are similar doesn't mean they're the same." Also, "because another author writes something like your story doesn't mean you need to get a better tin-foil hat or stop writing your own take on it." Got all that? Okay, onward.

(my best Lewis Black interpretation including stabbing of arms skyward) Son of a bitch!

Here's a Genreville review about Harry Connolly's debut novel Children of Fire "melding of the sensibilities of Dashiel Hammet and fantasy novels." A starred review in Publisher's Weekly (you rat bastard). The review then goes on to talk about how this novel is refreshing because, "It's the dark side of noir fiction, where characters are grim anti-heroes, and the job they're doing is not always heroic," and, "The book is a straightforward hunt for an evil magician." Hmm, sounds awfully familiar.

(sobby voice) I was robbed!

Here's a Scalzi's Big Idea post about it. In there he says he didn't want to write a story with "dusters or trench coats... centuries-old katanas... or all the other trappings that so much of modern urban fantasy uses to signify that characters are seriously kickass-cool people." Okay, well, I guess there's some divergence there because my main character does have a centuries-old katana (although he doesn't use it, preferring a jain sword instead) and he does wear a duster, better to hide the sword with.

Actually, in all seriousness, I do wish Harry Connolly the best with the novel. It sounds seriously kick ass (yet another one on the guilt stack/Xmas list). Once I get through my own novel I'll need to read it. And I wish him the best, well, because I think every author should have a great career. Especially those that write stuff I like. This stuff is hard enough to finally get to launch only to be heralded by crickets. But I also want his novel to sell like fargin' wildfire because it'll help pave the way for mine (bwahahaha!).

And now you'll excuse me, I have to stalk another writer.

(said with my best John Cleese voice) You Bastard!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Rejection Writerly Linkee-poo

Electric Velocipede sends word they're passing on "Prince Wanted." John Klima says it's not quite what he's looking for right now. Fair cop. So we start the week off right by knocking the ego back down to human proportions. Also a part of the letter he states that they aren't providing detailed feedback on the rejections now. Again, fair cop. Finding another suitable market will have to wait for a bit. Probably until I get back form VP.

Jim Hines is running a caption contest with a great photo (and he mentions me).

Here's an interesting historical account of the modern publishing world. It's only four paragraphs and concerns the rise of the Publishing Agent.

Steven Brust's words of wisdom continue over at Words Words Words.
“Never gamble for more money than the guy with the gun can afford to lose.”
– Billy-Bob Gautama

True that.

OT Links

Hey, look, real actual (possible) vote fraud. Well, I guess if you beat enough bushes eventually a bird will drop out somewhere. Although, and you'll have to read the whole article because the end of it is interesting, it also helps if you prime the bushes with not just bird seed, but the birds themselves.

More evidence that a significant minority (one hopes it's only a minority) of the right have gone the route of the whackaloon. This is about a speaker at the "Take Back America Conference" which wasn't exactly a fringe event, having Mike Huckabee, who won a recent straw poll for president in 2012 (Value Voters Conference), Michele Bachmann (okay, well, I see your point but the party hasn't actually disavowed her) and Steve King of Iowa, again making the comparison between today's America and Nazi Germany. I think Doonesbury put it best. Also, here's a bit of family history. In my extended family tree I have a great uncle (by marriage) whose brothers were SS (he had left Germany before the war). I have two great uncles (now passed, RIP) who were prisoners of war in Germany and because of their last name (Grosenbaugh) were deemed "of questionable heritage." The family of my maternal grandfather remaining in the old world fled the Nazi's advance into the Alsace region literally ripping the photos of their silver-works from the walls of the shop as they fled (I now possess those photos, my uncle has the signet ring). We're pretty sure the majority of their work was melted down by the Nazis. I personally knew two men who were involved in the German assault on Stalingrad (one became a US Army Major after being a German then Russian officer, the other was conscripted by the Nazis as they marched through Hungary). I've known people who escaped the Nazis through Switzerland (also those who escaped Soviet dominion the same way). And I know several families whose members are listed on "In Rememberence" bulletins for Yom Kippur. So, yes, I know real life Nazis (or those that worked for the Reich) and people who dealt with them and suffered under their rule (and then the retribution of the Soviet Union). I personally think it's a part of the jealousy of the Greatest Generation. Certain individuals feel they missed out and want to grab some of that glory for themselves. What I personally think is just hilarious is that there are actual, real, American Nazis. If you're interested in knowing more about them google "stormfront" (no, I'm not providing you a link - we're all full up on crazy here this week, I don't need to add to it). I think it's safe to say that Obama isn't their champion.

Here's an interesting Gallup poll on Town Hall Meetings. The breakdown by party affiliation is interesting, especially the breakout of Question 6 ("Americans are more likely to say angry attacks against a healthcare bill are "democracy in action" rather than an "abuse of democracy." Booing members of Congress and shouting down opponents are more likely to be seen as abuses of democracy.")

Monday, September 28, 2009

"Did it take long to find me?" I ask the faithful light.

Last night I fell asleep washed in the light of the waxing Harvest Moon. It'll be full at the beginning of Viable Paradise. The song of the spheres sings strongly again. The time of winter approaches. Soon it will be story-telling season, the spice of smoke in the communal fire. Northern-blue clouds have been pilling up on their trip south, harrowing the geese in their flights of v's. Small birds gather to reforge their flocking contract and grow as one individual in flight. The land remembers, in titan's dream, that snows will soon wash over him in tidal bloom and the echoes of our ancestors will ring through the hearth fires. If you're a believer in such things, power grows as Selene rounds, wanes as she does. That week will be full power.

October is shaping up again to be Write-tober. This is the third year in a row for this event. The first week (and two weekends) is Viable Paradise. The next weekend is Hamster weekend. The weekend after that is Feral Writers Retreat. The only weekend that doesn't have a specific writing theme is Halloween.

Halloween is now referred to in polite decorations as "Harvest" and it is that. Our decorations show pumpkins, corn, apples and all the late fall has to offer. But those are symbols of Oktoberfest which celebrates the harvest of the fields. Oktoberfest, however, isn't in our present October, but late August and early September. Halloween's Harvest is a different culling. It is the animal harvest. The veil grows thin as the cross-quarter passes, further assailed by the passing of the animals until it is thinner than tissue. Now is the time the dead of the past year travel over and the world is made new.

And this wrestles in my head as a coyote chuckles outside my window. Selene's pool grows deep as the ocean whose merest tip I'll cross in five days. Words like steelhead fish swim in the dappled waters flashing their intent. Deeper shadows move down there, driving the world with powerful flukes. Their perturbations stir my thoughts.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Lit up with anticipation

Viable Paradise starts in less than a week and my confidence has fled me. The gremlins laugh in their hollow caves. I'm not near finished, I have a friends novel I need to critique and haven't started, the vagaries of modern air travel (and what if I just get fed up with the TSA security theater, a distinct possibility), keeping it all on schedule. Not to mention the over scheduled nature of the day thing for the past two weeks (and promises of it continuing this week). I've started packing things so I won't forget them. And OMG, what have I done. I'll suck, I'll be an ass, something will go wrong or I'll sabotage myself. I guess Viable Paradise will be my Rubicon, once crossed there's no going back. I didn't figure to go back, but now it's a committed thing.

This is normal for me. It's a mixture of fear of the new, fear of spending so much mullah, fear of success, fear of failure. Right before a significant event I get all wiggy, need to make sure I've got all my t's dotted and i's crossed. Once we get jump light my brain will shift into gear and I'll do what I normally do and get the job done as best I can.

Deep breaths.

On the plus side, checking the hotel's information (the Island Inn) I see that WiFi is free now. Yippie. Back when I scheduled it would be $50 for the week. The money gods smile fortune upon me. That may cover the lobster rolls I'll eat next week. Also it may mean I might be able to blog during the week. I don't know what the rules are about blogging the workshop, but at least I can do being on the Island.

Man, I've missed food on the east coast; restaurants you can find by the scent, real kosher-deli-garlic pickles... hogies? Do they have hogies on the Vineyard? Gods I hope so, it's been so long since I've had a real one (Subway and Jersey Subs just don't have it).

Am I going to be able to get everything done that week? I'm a slow writer and slow reader. We don't have our critique material and won't until we get to the island. I've already put a red pen in my bag. I'm backing up the laptop as we type (iPods are so versatile). Until then I have two committee meetings this week, I'll need to mow the lawn (it rained this weekend, which is good cause we needed it, but left the yard too wet to mow or do much work), finish packing, write reports, work early so I can leave early on Friday, help Bette get the house ready (I hope it doesn't dip into freezing while we're gone). I didn't get much reading of the instructors done (and I doubt anymore will happen this week). Also wanted to review The Tempest as I've heard that's what we read on Tuesday night. I don't think I've read it more than once back in college, and I've never seen it acted. And I never got to meet the Ferret (a fellow Hamster, jokes all around) before going there. So, I'll meet the other guy from my writing group, partner in arms, on the island.

So we spent the weekend cleaning and preparing. Didn't get much writing done since last night (and I only got about 500 words out all weekend). Prepared a cheat sheet for the trip (times, numbers, etc). Getting the camera batteries in shape (have a brand new one as a spare), so drain them out, charge them up, drain them out, etc. Should also condition the laptop battery and reset the power manager.

So, expect light blogging for the next two weeks (now watch, I'll post three times a day, that's the way these things go).

Deep breaths.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

I'm not you're stepping stone

Chapter 25 is in the bag. It came out a little long at 2308 words. Three things happen, so it's sort of a big one. In the rewrite we might break it up, but I don't think so. Our protag has come to the decision he needs to protag a little more.

He pulled a tub of ointment from out of his bag. "Disrobe," he ordered.

"Shouldn't you at least get one drink in me first?"

"Be a smart-ass in pain tomorrow morning, or be a good student, do what your instructor tells you tonight, and feel better tomorrow."


Here's a question that's been bothering me for a few chapters. If I have a character named "Doraku", how many of you know whom I'm talking about without googling it? (I'm pretty sure one of you does know) It's a historical reference. Don't worry if you don't know, it's not all important to the story, just one of those gifts for people who do know (or who are reading closely).

So the widget is updated. We progress. Things are about to get bloody and come to an end. I think I've shown the bad guys to be sufficiently bad, so it's time for the Good Guys(tm) to start winning. Maybe a set back or two is still in store, but the tide should turn in the third act. They'll take small steps, but it'll lead to bigger things.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Story Bone

Misoverheard at work, "Make the effin' fairy lowercase."

And here I thought fairies we all small caps.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Random thoughts after a hard day at work.

At work I no longer log into a website to track my time. However, as the job description evolves I'm not required to track my time and send it to the receptionist for her to put into the database. The remaining daytime desktop operator is out for surgery, so I know get to cover for my old job. I have a goodly stack of vinyls (job jackets) behind my desk, some of which require "immediate" attention (these are for the "new job"). Normally I send my time twice a week. Because of the amount, I'm sending her daily reports. Today's was two pages long. Busy day.

I wonder if they make a Thomas Kinkade Magic 8-Ball? (would be perfect for an Xmas gift we need to get)

So, why aren't there Tea Party Protests at the G20? I mean, here they are, the actual government financial people working on things that will direct our fiscal policy. They're right there. Making decisions on how much intervention countries, including the USA, should do in their markets. Which industries should be supported and which ignored. All right there. Actual decision makers. Hello, tap tap, is this thing on? I see a bunch of "educational meetings" but no boots on the street.

Sam's Club already has Xmas decorations for sale. Not a lot, but the big tubes of "shatter proof" bulbs are on the floor (along with the card selection).

And thinking of Tea Party Patriots, here's something. Michael Moore agrees with you. There's too much government involvement in saving companies, or spending tax money to prop up failing businesses. And he thinks it's dangerous for the country. He said so on the Colbert Report. (sorry could only find the full episode) Of course he differs on other points, but when I saw this on TV I felt a disturbance in the Force, as if thousands of heads exploded all at once.

What I'm watching? The PBS Special Report on Healthcare Reform. Lots of good discussion and points being brought up (from the individual side, the business side, well-care programs, obesity, etc). I don't see that it's being repeated (which is a shame). I don't like all the points they bring up (there was a slight promotion of HSAs and a push of "wellness" programs at the workplace), but a pretty decent look at the issues. While you're watching, pay attention to the money sections (who is paying, how are they paying, and where are they paying).

Today's Department of Redundancy Redundant Department? "...please prepay in advance..." - actually seen today at work, I live in a Dilbert world.

While I'm thinking of healthcare reform there's been this red herring about "cost to employers", and while the economics of it I wholeheartedly agree with (again, the cost of healthcare has been leaning on the windpipe of the economy for too long), there's a side argument of "if we relieve employers of the responsibility to provide insurance, and put the costs on the employees, business could pay people more." Everybody who believes that will actually happen, stand up. See, what I see is that the cost will shift to the individual after the trade-off was made for lower salaries/pay to keep health insurance with no benefit to the individual.

US looking to deploy long-endurance hybrid airship over Afghanistan. It's a steam-punk world. Not exactly as sexy as Global Hawk or Predator, but three weeks loiter time. Man that's a long time between bathroom breaks. (tip of the tam o'shanter to Dan)

Also with healthcare, the other red herring stinking up the room, "Tort-reform." Okay, well, we have real life experiments on it. How much has tort-reform reduced the cost of health care in those states who passed it (Ohio, California, Wisconsin, Texas, etc)? Yeah, not much. When this was discussed at work the other day people were shocked to learn that Ohio has had two rounds of tort-reform in the early 2000's. Doesn't do much because it's not that much of a problem. Oh, and before we do it, instead of the doctors and politicians blathering on about it, I want to hear the insurance people say how much tort-reform will affect the cost of your health insurance. Understand in Ohio their response was, "We never said it would affect anything."

And finally, also thinking of bathroom breaks, this beats writing your name in the snow by a country mile.

I took the path mostly trodden, there were good restaurants and hotels

Worked on getting all the floating pieces of Chapter 26 in order last night. I'm not happy with the chapter, although it does some cool things, I'm not so hot on it being so late in the book. But I expect things will get hot for Gary in the near future. Like with the next cell call that will happen just around dinner time. He's bruised and battered and about to be thrown in the deep end. Santana will help, but in the end give him his lead. I wonder if people will still root for Gary when I show he's not above killing in cold blood (well, the other side is asking for it, and it's not like I haven't left a wake of at least a baker's dozen bodies so far).

Although now it comes to me that the Bad Guys(tm) aren't full characters (well, the Magician is a little). However, noir is necessarily told first person which makes it difficult to get into the heads of others, especially when they're not on stage (and the main bad guys, as in real life, like to stay in the shadows).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

We've got a wave in the air

I've been a little scarce here of late, it wasn't intentional. I've been very busy getting ready for Viable Paradise and doing lots of stuff around the house. Last night was the only day I really spent too much time on the Wii (oh Wii Boxing, how I love you, actually the tennis, boxing and golf are my favs so far, I might have to get an actual Golf game so I get a variety of play).

I've been writing, but not much has come out. I have about three pages of handwritten copy and notes (sometimes instead of writing down the words I just get down the thought process). There's a big fear out there lurking. I'm in the downhill run and you'd think it would be easier as I made it past the duldrums of the middle. Well, as someone once told me, there's two ways down the mountain; the easy way and the way that lets you live at the bottom.

Fall is here. The Equanox is upon us. I love Fall. The nights cool and the blood quickens. The scent of burning leaves fills the spaces between trees and gropes out into the yard to lure in the unsuspecting. It's a time where the veil draws thin and the trickster grows restless (such as for some reason my Macs' universal spellchecker doesn't want to work at the moment).

Fall is also a time of internal self-recrimination. I go over (and over and over again) past stupidities and slights against people, revisit roads not taken, and attempt to both improve and change. However, it mostly is a function of the big D. It's a way to beat myself down. So far, however, even knowing that I haven't been able to either stop myself or forgive myself for some of my stupidities and revisit the worst ones like a classic rock station plays "Turn the Page." And so, I strive not to be as stupid as I have been. I look for opportunities to attone for past grievences. And I hide my thoughts in shame. The gremlins gibber in their dark caves of memory and I die in front of the synaptic firing-squad only to pop back up like a cartoon coyote, ready for the next depredation.

But the leaves turn from their green camoflague to brilliant fire. The scent of humus pours like ground fog. Children wear masks to hide their true souls from those who've come to take them away. Some fail. Twighlight is the new noon, and the Moon draws her curtain of stars over the world. People light candles and stoke their heart's fire. It's a time of being alive. This time it becomes a conscious choice instead of the easy life of Spring and Summer. It's the time of raging against the night.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Danse Macabre

Happy birthday Stephen King. I was thinking lately that I should relisten to On Writing as sort of a pep talk. I'll also relisten to "Building Bridges" his acceptance speech in 2003 for the National Book Award.

(and here is my yearly plea, Dear Universe, if Mr. King is a hack, please make me just as much a hack as he is; popular, successful, generous, scribbler of stories talked about long after their publication date - there surely are worse things to be in life).

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bang bang Maxwell's Silver Hammer

Chapter 25 is in the bag at 1912 words. Some of them quite good words. I'm pretty happy with this Chapter. It's the first one where Gary gets himself out of trouble (mostly, still needs a ride), but he again ends up pretty bruised.

Clarke shuffled me out into the waiting car and drove me to the mansion to have the doctor look me over. I had enough contusions for a high school football team in a championship game and at least two cracked ribs and what would probably be a nice shiner in the morning, but other than broken I wasn't busted. Santana then grilled me for a half hour before sending me home.


Yeah, I'm liking this chapter. The action is pretty good. The words are fun. Good way to start into Act III.

I continued to haul back on the sword hilt like a mad rower attempting to leap his scull up a waterfall salmon style. I forced both of our cars over the median which jostled Maxwell enough he stopped firing wildly. An oncoming tractor-trailer took out the gun car in a flurry of jakebreaking and airhorn.


More linkages

Last night the solution of how Gary gets out of the problem I threw at him came to me. He he. Driving a taxi from the back seat using a sword. Brilliant! Of course he doesn't drive it well. And there's the various fall out of the solution (which may be worse) that needs to be worked through (at this point there's at least three car crashes, including the car Gary got into by mistake). I know how he gets out of the car, but what comes next should be interesting. I know he makes it back to his apartment by the end of the day, but not how he makes it (and who knows, maybe he might not make it back for a few days - that outline can and will change).

Google's Schmidt on the Book Settlement where he addresses the critics. Let me say up front, I'm with the crowd that says this project violates Google's Business Model of "Do no evil." Mr. Schmidt asks of his critics, after making the unbelievable statement of "they sued us, we didn't sue them" (um, yeah, that's normally how it works, but your settlement affects EVERYBODY, not just those who sued you), "I would like to hear from the critics a better solution to the problem as opposed to criticisms of the solution that we arrived at after four years of negotiation." Okay, Mr. Schmidt, here it is. Don't fucking do it. Is that succinct enough for you? Really, didn't you do any research into what you were doing. You're making a wholesale grab of copyright (no, don't try to deny it, it makes you look foolish) and you didn't think that people would be upset, including people who have a big fondness for free electronic copies? Dude, really, brain death doesn't suit you at all. Or maybe you should actually learn the publishing business before stomping on people's toes (fully investigate what happens when a book goes "out of print" - hint, it doesn't go into the public domain). Oh, and I'm not a party to that suit, I don't have anything that's covered yet, but when I do, count on me protecting my copyright to the fullest extent of the law (while I also argue to have at least part of the work available for free). But you don't get to make that decision for me. If you want to publish my stuff this way, negotiate the rights with me, I'm open. (article grokked from Jay Lake)

I've listened to Neil Gaiman's Graveyard Book a few times now (also read the hard copy). Can I just say I love Bella Fleck's Danse Macabre (which is one of my favorite pieces of music to begin with, and frankly fits a banjo to a "t").

Jeremiah Tolbert with his 5 Lies Writers Believe. Yeah. Yeah, sure, but you know he's an editor who is denying it. Just saying. :) (grokked from Anna Zanoni)

OT Links

Well, that explains some of the frieze-dried whackaloonery going around lately.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Wii of Health - and TMI

Okay, well, you know how I said "regular blogging will resume"? I lied. The Wii arrived today a few days early. We're boned.

Over Labor Day the sister-in-law had me help set up her Wii so I got first hand experience with it. Yes, you can work up a good sweat playing some of the games. As you know, Bob, I've been trying to lose weight. So I set my goal of getting one. I've never been keen on owning a gaming console, or even getting games for the Mac (although I have a few, but nothing more than card games on the laptop). See, I know I can get addicted to them (it's happened before). And I am pretty good at them (the nephews all try and "beat" Uncle Steve as they grew up - it was at their games that I had never played before).

For the past nine months I haven't lost much weight. Well, that's not true. For my doctor's appointments I've been at 306 for the past three appointments. In between I've hit below 300 and have been as high at 318. So 300 is my wall. My last appointment was just yesterday. So I knew I needed something to get through that wall. So we ordered the Wii with a Wii Fit.

So after setting it up tonight, after mowing the lawn and smoothing out the last lump of dirt and seeding it (about the size of just over half a tennis court), I played an hour of tennis and golf. I'll set up the Wii Fit tomorrow. And yes, my Doctor approves of using the Wii as an exercise program.

And now to the TMI.

There's various things that go wrong with being overweight. One is that my insulin doesn't want to work well. To that end I take metformin. That has various side effects, including sudden onset diarrhea and lately upset stomach. Also I've had muscle weakness and pain. A lot of it lately. It's a real pain when you go to do something normal, not even close to your limit, and pain shuts you down. So I have a few blood tests going on to make sure nothing bad is happening, and I'm discontinuing the metformin for a week to see if the stomach problems clear up.

Another symptom of the weight is ED. Now, this is the real motivator to lose weight. My ED is not the inability to obtain an erection, but to keep it (also, just to be clear, ED is not a dysfunction of the desire, just the plumbing). Normally I have about a 30/70 shot of a "full session." However, as you can guess, it's really frustrating. So I use viagra to help (and yes, it does help). The problem is the cost. See, viagra isn't cheep (my prescription is for 100mg, which we cut in half), which is now running at about $23 a dose. No, my insurance doesn't cover it (well, it does, but the hurdles to get it approved are basically having to be diagnosed with complete failure, which, you know, viagra wouldn't help with anyway). Viagra has been out now since, what 1993. And just checking, they have a patent extension till March of 2012. Right now I'm price shopping for a better cost. As an FYI, last year the same dose cost $12. I'm hoping once we get below 290-280lbs, things will start working normally. Until then let me just say how pissed I am at the pricing model. So now you know why those mail-order viagra spam ads work (no, I don't use them).

Links, story bones material, randomness

We'll be back to normal blogging soon, once the day thing craziness ends.

Oh, before I forget, JoNoWriMo kicked off today. It's sort of like NaNoWriMo, but you get longer, and it's more about the community and your own goals then getting wordcount out. (tip o' the hat to Catherine Shaff-Stump)

Some new writers wonder where you can get ideas. My response has always been, "keep your eyes open." Well, sometimes you have to keep your ears open as well. Last week NPR ran a series on Mongolia in Transition. While most of the articles talk about a country with deep problems and growing pains exacerbated by the world wide recession, there was also this report on the Naadam Festival (story version with more info). There are several wonderful points in that story (including in the extras on the web) that include a child singing inspiration to his horse, the scene around the ovoo, how the boys race, and that it's 15 miles (hint, the Belmont Stakes is the longest of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing here in the US, and it's only a mile and a half, much of the stakes making questions if the horses can make it). Yeah, lots of story bones in there.

Speaking of potential story bones, the Ghost Fleet of Singapore. Well, that ain't good. And I guess it's as good a time as any to say when the economists (and Fed) say the recession is ending it means the esoteric numbers and positions of businesses have stopped falling and begun improving. And this is also a way of saying, if you really want to get something for the holidays, get it now (before the shortages hit - and the stories of shortages). Still waiting for the Wii. (grokked from Jeff Beeler).

Off topic links
The Recession Inspired iPhone 3G case. (thanks to Dan B.)

A Times article on the "Government Takeover" of the student loan programs. Strangely enough, this is an actual take-over of an industry (grated, it's the Federal Government actually reasserting it's powers, after outsourcing the program in the 90's and 00's), but you don't hear much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments over it.

A CNN article on wellness programs at work. We have such a program at the day thing. It's also "voluntary" (except the several emails about how we have to have so much participation to actually get the discount, and we have enough people on COBRA and extended family coverage that every single one of us working must participate for it to work, but yeah, it's only voluntary, just make sure you sign up on this very public and visible form of when you'll "voluntarily" participate). Yeah, sign me up for the "skeptical" side of the argument (including the forthcoming argument of "you all need to lose weight and get you're stress/hyper-tention under control). Oh, and did I forget to mention they asked the question of, "Do you take a medicine that effects your mood?" To which I said yes (I take Wellbutrin, hopefully will stop soon). It came back on the "aggregated survey" as "These many employees use drugs to alter their moods." Um, no, that's not what you asked. The first is a medical intrusion, the response is an accusation.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Random Linkages

Huhn, well it seems that according to a poll most doctors favor a "public option" (27% private insurance only, 63% private and public, 10% public-only) (full transcript). The basic gist is, yes Medicare is a pain, but it's a better pain than the private insurance companies (even with their "less paperwork"), and it would be better to have everybody covered, even if that meant lower payouts, than to continue the "charity" functions. Also, interestingly the AMA only represents a third of American doctors (and that's inflated because they count all students, interns and residents automatically).

And since we're talking about polls, here's the Gallup breakdown of the President's approval ratings by demographics. Some interesting things in there. I've been looking at the Gallup site a lot lately. They have many interesting data to check out. Including consumer spending and most important problems by ranking.

Amish Romances Which is really funny, because the Amish have a thing for Westerns and Louis L'Amour. So, you know, my Amish fringed ex-urban fantasies ought to be selling damn well by now. Oh well. The money shot; "'I live the Amish life -- I don't need to read about it,' said Mrs. Smoker." And again, the canard "Old Order Amish shun modern technologies such as electricity and TV, forbid members to own cars and computers." Okay, well Old Order are more conservative, and the major community of them in Ohio live around Salt Creek. Which is also where the largest installed base of solar electricity is. What the article author really meant to say is that Old Order shun technologies that distract the members from the community. Electricity from a wire from Perry Nuclear Power Plant, with a monthly bill to First Energy is unacceptable because your focus is not on the community. Electricity from a wire that goes to your roof (or field) is acceptable. Cell phone service that is local (bills and service is local) is acceptable. Verizon is not. Long distance calls are questionable (although acceptable for business).

Monday, September 14, 2009

I'm writing, I'm writing, I'm... ooo, sparkly.

I'm trying to write Chapter 25, things are getting tense, and out pops poetry. So we must write it out.

Season Dance

Humidity rises with
the waxing Harvest Moon
late in the season
for swimming-pool weather.
Pumpkin-fairy dreams
dance wakeful thoughts.
Longful frost on the verges
fringe winter's desire.
A change of sun
in the deepening sky
braids ribbons on the pole
of nightblue.
Come shining dark
for the candles to relight
the world.
Down the ages singing
our voices echo our
ancestor's. The
raucous universe
demands the wheel
we spin upon.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sing it high, sing it low

Chapter 24 is in the boot. It came out at 1825, a little long but necessary. I also had to pull a stupid trick at the end, but I hope my readers will forgive me if I hold a little back from them. So that's Act II in the bag. On to Act III, in which Doris gets her oats.

Well, no, Act III is where all hell breaks out, we have a few respite chapters, but mostly it'll be killing people. Or finding them, or rescuing them. Gary needs some more training (which was part of what I wrote last night). And I have one or three more surprises for him waiting (he he he). However he shouldn't need any more hospitalization, and he'll be directing most of it. New Frisco will be different. I'm not sure how many bladesmen will be left at the end of it. But the bad guys can't win. Funny thing though, the good guys are also bad guys. Go figure.

Now the voices of the gremlins are chanting that I've been boring my audience and really Act I and Act II are the same. I hope not. Gary's about to change, he's going to need to. Sure, he's a stone cold killer to start, but he's going to have to be better at it, and maybe he shouldn't kill everybody he runs into. Just saying.

So there it is. On to Chapter 25, which I think I know what happens to start us off. I'm not sure where it's going to end. That's the fun part.

Sleepy time when I lie with my love by my side

Not a lot got done this weekend, but did a lot. Finished my end of the hole in the wall project. It came out very nice. Smooth as a baby's bottom and not noticeable if I added that much depth to the wall. Next is just to paint it and then we rehang the pictures that were down there.

Yesterday we saw two friends married. The small service included them and us and their dog. Bette married them in a beautiful ceremony in the woods behind their place (a county park), I played the role of photographer and witness. Nobody bothered us for the ceremony and it went well. Everybody said "I will" in the right places. The rings went on without too much to do. The dog figured out something was up and calmed down. Racheal and Sean we wish you the best.

Spent a lazy Sunday morning sleeping in. Probably one of the last times I can do that before Viable Paradise so I enjoyed it to its full extent. Got little things accomplished, a letter in the mail, the newspaper read, things like that. Now I'm working on the chapters. Last night a bit of one in the future (I don't know exactly which one it'll be) came out and I wrote it out long hand.

So all in all a good weekend. How was yours?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Numbers Update

Well, working last night's extra piece in added another 331 words. So I'll add that to the wordcount in just a sec. Also got about 900 words into Chapter 24. Hopefully I can finish up 24 and get into 25 this weekend.

This afternoon we received the Wii Fit, but not the Wii itself. And there's something I ordered three days before which has also not arrived. Gotta love the wonderful shipping.

Tomorrow will be various runnings around. Hopefully Sunday will be nice and calm.

edit just went through and redid the math and found I shorted myself a few thousand words. I went through and triple checked. I'm now at 40056 words. Yippie for me!

Friday Links

Josh Olson tells just why he won't read your fucking script. You know, even at this point in my writing career I've had to adopt this philosophy as well. I have enough writing friends, and I include among those the critique group I belong to, that taking on more from people I don't know personally (edit here I meant that there are people who just meet me, find out I write, and want me to read something of theirs - I need to know you for a while before I may say yes - and many of my friends be disappointed when I tell them, "I'm just too busy at the moment, but it's the truth, I don't want to agree to something and then not be able to read it for half a year) is just too much. (Grokked from John Scalzi)

Jay Lake talks about his time allotments and schedules. Here's another writer who says, "I get a lot done, and I’m a very busy boy." How? Well TV is out. For Jay it's way out, for me it's mostly out. I don't have a gaming system (although that's changing, more on that later), I don't do lots of social activities. Even with that I have less than two hours to write in a day (normally). It can be frustrating, especially when I realize that I need to clean the bathroom (and if it's bad for me, I can only have sympathy for my long suffering wife) and the home projects that lag in time (still need a final sand on the hole in the wall project). It's a matter of what your priorities are. Above all are friends and family, after that the things that bring in the cash (day and night jobs), then writing, then cleaning, watching TV, seeing a movie, etc.

Jim Hines talks about self publishing myths. My own position on self-publish has softened in the previous years, mostly due to friends like Ken McConnell and Matt Mitchell who have gone down that road. However you can read the hard work they've gone through on their blogs. Many of the myths Jim talks about are those used in publishing schemes (which, just like POD books, we need to delineate are different from self-publishing). The self-publishing model isn't for me. I'll probably use it the way Scalzi does (to get limited edition books as a way to share), but I don't think I have it in me to go the whole way.

Closely related is Kelly McCullough's self-promoting authors anonymous. Or, letting go and letting marketing professionals help. One of the reasons I go to conventions and read successful writers' blogs is to learn this kind of stuff (to see what works and what doesn't). Really, people have been down this road before. What works for them may not for you (really, who else is John Scalzi?), but it's all grist for the mill.

Last night the missing part of chapter 22 came to me. I wrote it out long hand before going to bed and will key it in today. Maybe and extra 300 words. It might seem like I'm obsessed with wordcount, but I'm not really. It's a hand metric to say, "I'm progressing." If I would get my real milestones I'd be getting all spoilery with my own novel, and I might tempt the fates to make it all go wrong. And if I said, "Hey, last night as I was writing Chapter 22, I realized just why (this thing) happened in Chapter 21, which makes the world of New Frisco that much richer and enhances the depth of the characters. Also, and interesting side plot which reveals some history of the Disaster and can lead to some good situations, humor, tension, and motivation down the road." That probably wouldn't be helpful to you at all.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Another one bites the dust

Chapter 23 is done. I didn't think it was (finished Monday), but there were only a few more words that needed to be added to get to a natural break. So, another 1106 words, which is okay because not much happens (comparatively). A (hopefully final) subplot got started. One action in Chapter 22 didn't make so much sense, but now it all starts to make sense. This one, however, is a biggun. As in, if there is more than one book, this subplot will continue through. It also solves another problem I figured would be handled in the rewrite, but this is a little more elegant and natural. Adds to the world building and makes our hero's life a little more complex.

Also got a bunch of 24 done today as well (maybe 650 words). There's also a bunch that I thought would be in 22, but now looks like chapter 26 or so. While doing 24 I realized why I focused on a certain event in the earlier chapters, I didn't think it would be a thing, but now I know it will be. Not sure how it'll play out, but I know what starts it.

So with chapters "done" I'm up to 38,115 words. Go me.

Middle of the Speech

Wait, somebody just heckled the President in the Well of the Congress? And some idiot is sitting with a sign in his lap?

Dudes, really, for a party that yells about the decorum and respect for the office you aren't doing yourself any favors. Yes, the President is smacking you pretty hard, but, quite frankly, he's speaking the truth about what you've been doing. He's also accepting some of your ideas. That's part of compromise and the tradition of American Politics. Truth to power, accepting the opposition might have worthwhile ideas.

Compromise, however, doesn't mean, "Okay, we'll do it your way."

Writerly Linkee-poo

Dean Wesley Smith is dinning on the bar-b-qued remains of publishing myths. This one is about rewrite. There's a lot in here I agree with, and a lot I disagree with. I think the point would be, "don't be so critical of yourself." As to his rant on critique groups, I agree. You shouldn't write your work to appease your group, instead you should find a group that will point out things like, "So why don't they have radar in this far future story, so they could see the rockets coming" (that's one made on one of my stories, and the truth is I didn't tell part of the story correctly so they misunderstood what was happening). Don't go to the groups that say things like, "Maybe if you had this person do this instead" or "You'll want to use this word here." Those are death. At worst (or best) the group can say, "This would have worked better for me if..." and then you take that with a grain of salt the size of Utah. (grokked from Jay Lake)

Debbie Ridpath Ohi's notes on Wendy Loggia's speech “I Wanted to Love This: Seven Reasons Why Your Manuscript Gets Declined.” Good reading. This goes back to the, "Once you've gotten the mechanics down it still doesn't mean you're writing a story." And as Stephen Kings says, "It's all about the story." (can't remember how I got there, sorry who ever pointed this out)

Jim Hines spills the beans about Neil Gaiman. Which includes the excellent, "#9 Neil Gaiman is the reason nobody teaches “I before E except after C” anymore."

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The More You know

Okay, so between doing all the extra stuff at home, I found Ghost Rider was on FX. I'd never seen it, although I thought it might be good. Good characters, good CGI potentiality, Nicolas Cage, motorcycles, all could make a good movie. I always wondered why it didn't last long in theaters.

Now I know.

Really, seriously. This could have been a good movie, you know except for the glaring pot holes that could swallow Kansas whole and not even burp. Hell, even the special effects could have made this a good movie. But they fail to do so. Okay, I admit I'm not paying that close of attention (doing, you know, the other things), but really. I mean, Nicolas Cage. WTF?

Sure, there's some good eye candy. But with the lines they delivered the acting had to be way over the top, and it wasn't. Lots of "actor stand still so we can do the cool CGI over you." Stupid plot, stupid plot solutions, deux ex machina dropping all over the place, stupid, stupid, stupid. Why go there and do that, oh, so we can do the cool CGI. Right.

To my nephew, if this could get green lighted, seriously dude, you don't have any problem.

The John Scalzi Project

Oh sure, this may get me even more work at Viable Paradise, but what the hell, it's for a free book!

Monday, September 7, 2009

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Or at least one day of it.


We went to the Great Geauga County Fair, which is the oldest continuously running county fair in Ohio. The fair is an annual tradition for us. We've gone to other county fairs around us, but the Geauga Fair is the best.

Because there are crafts.


Things you can't get elsewhere like

elderberry pie made by real elders (in this case the Hambden Grange).

Of course the political parties have their booths.


And, of course, those with an agenda like the young earth creationists.


Sleeping cat is also unamused by my humor


There are also the genuine real petunias.


I should explain that this is a five foot tall petunia.

And because it's the Geauga County Fair we also have our genuine Amish Girls


They're waiting for the Amish Races to begin (no, I'm serious). Much squealing was to be heard as the Amish ponies went thundering by. And because we're talking about the Amish, a lot of people really don't believe me when I tell them things about the Amish. Like their use of cell phones. All the girls had at least one. No, really. Embiggen that photo and look at the girl on the far right. Still don't believe me? Okay.


Yeah, that's a digital camera she has. And she was using, not as a still camera, but to make a video of the race.

Okay, yes, sleeping cat is still not impressed.


Then yesterday was Mom's for grilling and conversation. It also included my first hands on experience with a Wii. The sister-in-law had just bought one with a Fit balance board and wanted to see how it goes all together. I fell in love. After doing the boxing game, the tennis game, and a few of the balance games I was feeling the sweat. So, I'm thinking of it as a way to get some weekly exercise. Lot of fun.

Today? Well today was a lazy day. Sleep in, didn't do much. Just getting back into the swing.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Weekend

As we head into the long weekend, I'd like to take a second and remind everybody to remember what this weekend means. We celebrate holidays like Xmas, New Years, Easter, and the like because of our shared inheritance of culture. We celebrate holidays like Fourth of July, Columbus Day, Thanksgiving, Martin Luther King Jr Day, Presidents Day, etc as our share inheritance of history of our nation. We celebrate holidays like Memorial Day, Veterans Day and the like to honor those who live among us and have served and died to preserve what we hold dear.

This weekend we celebrate Labor Day. Because honoring Labor and the Laborers in this country is just as important as all of the above. At one time this country valued Labor and those who do it so well as to make a National Holiday, one celebrated in all states, to honor it. Most forget the domestic wars fought to gain rights for labor (including the right to organize). Take a moment this weekend to raise a glass in respect for Labor and those who worked hard so you could enjoy many of the things you take for granted that weren't always that way (40 work week, 8 hour days, vacation, sick leave, dignity, pay, and a life not dependent on the benevolence of your employer including ownership of private property and supermarkets).

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Chipping is the new "Death Panels"

A good friend sent me a link to a page to let me know of the new concern for "Obamacare" (everybody remember "Hillarycare", can't we get a new argument?). It seems some are spreading the news that the Public Option will require people to be "chipped." Now the text they refer to in there post does exist in the current bill being floated.

It's in Title V - Other Provisions, Subtitle C -- National Medical Device Registry, Sec. 2521 - National Medical Device Registry.

"National Medical Device Registry
(g)(1) The Secretary shall establish a national medical device registry (in this subsection referred to as the `registry') to facilitate analysis of postmarket safety and outcomes data on each device that--
(A) is or has been used in or on a patient; and
(B) is--
(i) a class III device; or
(ii) a class II device that is implantable, life-supporting, or life-sustaining."

Okay, well that's the full text of what they selectively pulled from.

As to the "data" quote, that's there too.
"B) In this paragraph, the term `data' refers to information respecting a device described in paragraph (1), including claims data, patient survey data, standardized analytic files that allow for the pooling and analysis of data from disparate data environments, electronic health records, and any other data deemed appropriate by the Secretary."


Now, some people are saying "ZOMG! Obama is going to chip us all!"

To which I say, bull. All this section concerns is directing the Health Secretary to create a database to both catalog the different kinds of devices classified under Class III (things like defibrillators, stents, shunts, insulin pumps, etc) and Class II (the radio chips). There nothing anywhere in the bill about forced chipping of people to get insurance.

No, these people are playing into the fears that Obama is the Anti-Christ. See, one of the things about the Anti-Christ is that he'll mark his people. The present day myth is that this will mean chipping. So, it's a horrible thing, see we're all gonna be registered because he's a Nazi Communist, and then he'll give us his mark to fulfill prophecy. And yes, that is exactly what this lie is meant to say. It's the buttons it pushes in the culture. I'm deadly serious here.

And it is an intentional lie. Even a cursory reading of the section will dispel this fiction. So, since they're playing the Religion Card, let me turn the other cheek. Or at least flip the card over. These are people who are Bible Literalists. they believe in a real Hell with Hellfire and a rampant Enemy. So, to those who propagate this in the name of Christianity, let me say the following.

This is a lie, and who is the Father of Lies? Yes, for being Christian and wanting to warn us of the Devil, they are listening to the Devil and doing his work.

Don't believe me, ask your minister/priest if lying to defame someone is bearing false witness. That's one of the biggies.

Randomness for the internet's b-day (waves at Michelle).

A Wired article on how placebos are gaining in efficacy. Some interesting history, research, and some of those things They(tm) don't want you to think about or know. (grokked from Jay Lake with acknowledgement to Matt Jarpe who works in the industry whom I'm sure knows this stuff better than I or the author of the article)

FAIL blog is one of my private indulgences. Normally I just chuckle at the boneheadedness that leads to some of their photos, or the "lost in translation" moments. Some, though, are near genius in their social commentary. Take the doll fail from today. WTF were they thinking? Okay, people use dance polls as exercise like men buy Playboy for the articles (sure, it happens, but I'm willing to bet 90% of the magazines go unread or are "flip through pages" just as Ohio is "fly over country").

What's a finger between friends? The craziness continues with reports of the biting off of fingers. A classic "he said/she said/the finger said" issue here. So who do I believe? Well I believe that walking in the middle of a hostile crowd (or at least hostile to your views) and that randomly punching someone while in the middle of that crowd is not necessarily a Good Idea(tm). My guess is that if the pro-reformer swung first, the rest of the anti-reformers would have ganged up (the throwing of a punch being unexpected, but within most people's realm of experience - they've seen others throw punches, have been punched themselves, or have punched others so there's no "freeze reaction"). However that the bitting off of a finger is so outside the norm that there would be a "freeze reaction" (basically the brain says, "I can't believe I just saw that, shutting down to process") and be a large escalation that would give pause to any assistance allowing escape. Final judgement will need to wait for the sheriff's report.

Werewolves are the new vampires (which were the new black)

Forgot to mention that my friend S. Andrew Swann had a book day recently with the launch of Wolfbreed. We read this with our critique group and it was pretty damn good in the near final form, so I'm sure the final is even more kicking. The publisher decided that this was a Romance, but that's an marketing decision and it shouldn't put you off if you "Don't Read Romances." No bodices are ripped nor are there much of heaving anythings to be found (except for the heaving of bodies off the ramparts). It's so good the local Cleveland newspaper put one of his signings as one of their events you should attend this week. Teutonic crusading nights and werewolves, that makes for crunchy goodness.

What reminded me is that Steve has new cover art for another book of his which is especially good looking. This is also a rocking good book. Yeah, so look at both and keep in your head that the same guy wrote both books. If that doesn't impress you with Steve's writing ability, well then not much will. All powerful AIs, galactic political intrigue, people thrown in the deep end, blowing up wormholes and universal conquest.. what's not to like?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Margle

Well, proofed some books I laid out for client and I can't believe how much I missed. To be fair to me, the majority of them were either numbers or small words or even single letters in words that were bolded (yeah, I don't know why, they just were). But the amount of them is disconcerting. And I missed a bulleted list that was small letters organized that switched to numbers on the import (have I said how much I just love Word).

So tomorrow I'll be making the changes.

Also, explaining to sales person just what "lay out" means was interesting.

Spent time over lunch checking things (unpaid, I hate that, but it was my own initiative, damn my professionalism). So no words today.

Tonight I mowed the lawn, trimmed, and cleaned windows on the cars (all of which were a week over due). Very tired now. So no words tonight.

Sigh. Hopefully this is an aberration and not a sign of things to come.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Long day

Busy day. Things are a bit whacky at the day thing. Tomorrow we'll see how some issues of today have resolved. Client is not happy (my guess is they don't understand the process and are experiencing some disjuncts because of that). You can't always knock it out of the park.

Took about twenty minutes at lunch and banged out 500 words or so.

And tomorrow will be (big voice) One Month to Viable Paradise. (ominous music)

Racing home to make a meeting when I get called on the road about how it had been cancelled. Took the Honda out of afterburners and drove the rest of the way home sanely. Wrote emails and reports tonight (so the Clerk doesn't have to chastise me again).

Tonight I can't focus well. Maybe got another 50 words out.

Forgot to mention yesterday I was sanding down the second mud coat on the Holes in the Wall(tm) and was thinking, "Hey, this is going well. Nice sanded edges. I may not have to do another coat. OMG!" That, you honor, was when the orbital sander's edge caught in still wet mud (waited over 24 hours, WTF) and made a nice big divot. SoB! So, did some corrective work and almost got it back to okay. So, third coat of mud went on and I'm going to give it 48 hours to dry (at least).