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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Antici... pation

Well, not to leave you all in suspense, last night's test went well. We use scan-tron forms, which frankly I hate with a burning passion. See, I'm normally one of the first ones done. So I go back over the test, making sure I read the questions correctly, that my writing is legible, didn't make simple mistakes, etc. However, with scan-tron (fill in the circle kind of forms) it's a real pain in the tush to do that. So, while I wasn't the first one done, I was second or third. Then again, I also intentionally went slow.

There were only four questions I didn't have a quick answer for. One was an answer of "yes, well, the process you mention doesn't specifically need Oxygen, however the process before this, of which this process uses the function/by-product, does require O2. So for this answer, it really should be "no", but if O2 isn't present, this process won't be engaged because the previous process couldn't work, so it's "yes." (So that's how I ended up answering the questions, and for those of you in the need to know, the question was about Chemiosmosis, which itself doesn't require O2 to function, however the Electron Transport Chain - and by extenuation the whole cellular respiration - does require O2 as a final receptor to keep the 2e- flowing down the receptors and pumping H+ into the intermembrane space in the Mitochondria, of which then Chemiosmosis uses ATP Synthase to allow the H+ back into the innermembrane space and makes a tremendous amount of ATP - your cell's major energy carrier - in the process).

We should have our grades today (or that was the plan). As soon as I see them posted I'll update this post with the final. As of now, with a total possible points in the class at 770 (I thought it was 760), I have earned 669.5, which gives me 86.9%. The two grades missing are the second article/paper (20 possible points) and the final (100 possible points - with 110 questions or 10 bonus points).

edit Christ on a pogo-stick, it's now past 1pm local. We took the test on scan-tron so it could automatically be graded. Technology. You know, faster? (yes, I know, I have my own thoughts about how tech has actually slowed us down). So, still no news on the grade front.

edit 07-01-2010 3pm Finally posted our final exam. I scored 107 out of 100 (those bonus points). So without the paper being scored (but included in the overall GPA calculation), I have a 100.84%. I blame my over intensive studying early on in the class to help get all the info through my thick skull. If we cut the crap of "bonus points" (ie. divide the total points acquired by the total possible points), I have a 97.3% before we include the second paper.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Huzzpah Chutzpah (for Nathan)

So, Karl Rove on Hannity just admonished the Obama Administration on being too arrogant, and how that's a horrible thing.

So, uh, how's "The Math" working out for you Karl? Good thing there's enough sycophantic love out there, and a welcome crutch, to keep you in kibble.

Or, "Hello, Kettle? Yeah, Pot calling here..."

The Dangers of Too Much Math

First some major head desking going on.

So. Uhm, the Triumphant Decline of the Wasp. Yeah. Really. Hmm. Okay. Well, see, I was actually here for the later end of this, I don't seem to remember it that way at all. Here is the all too easy response. This is very rich, especially after the 41st anniversary of Stonewall. Next up, Custer intentionally lost at Little Big Horn, and while Avatar has nothing to do with white-man's guilt, it's good we didn't have too many "singing songs of slavery" scenes in there. Privilege, it's a difficult set of goggles to remove.

And then this to get us back on topic.

Next, well, it happened. Someone in class last night mentioned just how many points we were to have overall in the class and my brain could no longer ignore the siren song to check my progress against the over all total. The good news is, even if I trashed the second paper (we don't have back yet) and get the gout and can't make it to the final tonight, I'll get a B in the class. And not a low B, a solid middle B. Of course, since you know of my love for math, I had to figure out just how many more points I needed to make an A (this school doesn't do plus or minuses). Yeah. Depressingly low. I only need 26 or so more points. The paper we don't' have back yet is worth 20 points right there (and that's what I got on the first one). So let us not count our chickens not yet delivered back. Yeah. I only need to make 26 points out of a hundred tonight (well, 110 with bonus).

This is why I didn't want to know. Before this I was all, "I have to get a 100%." But now I'm "Pffffth. Screw it." It's an old habit, and one I'm sorry I still have. Last night instead of moving mountains to get time to study, I just read through my notes and past tests. I should be pouring through notes right now. But instead I'm writing this. This is why I didn't do these calculations in the first place.

But now I should review for a little. Must. Review. Ooo, shiny.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Future is so bright, I gotta wear shades

Because, as a writer (or even a human) you should look ahead and be prepared as possible (okay, maybe it's the latent boy scout in me or something that I do this), some posts about a part of the writer career I haven't made it to, yet.

An article on book bloggers and their gaining influence in marketing books. This is the one step beyond, "OMG, bloggers are destroying the newspaper book review," mantra of several years ago. So, if they are, doesn't it make sense for the publishers to pay them attention? Hell, many of my successful friends hold out ARCs to get bloggers to review them. And here I'll give a shout out to my friend the Lycan Librarian who posts reviews (although she's been kinda quiet for a few weeks). Oh, and she actually is a librarian (which is now excuse to give my semi-annual Librarians Rock! shootout). And you also have John Scalzi's Big Idea on his Whatever. And there are, quite literally, hundred of others. My guess is the next big push by "self-publishers" (the scam kind) will be to get the name of your self-published book on many "blogs" for a fee (and my guess is they'll set up most of those blogs and nobody will read them).

Cat Rambo talks about selling reprint rights. Which is where the money is really at, BTW. This much I've learned so far, if all you're doing is selling First NA Rights, you're only making half (at most) of your potential. Other countries have wonderful reading audiences. And they pay. No, seriously, as the next semi-successful author about secondary right and foreign right sales. As a poet I met once told me, making the first sale is just the toe in the door (well, for poets resale and grant gathering, which the first sale is just like a calling card, is were you make the money). As someone else once said, I have two hobbies; writing (which I do because it's fun and for me) and submitting (which I do for the money).

A Station Break for WTF

Here's a link to a Newsweek article on how many of those Climate-gate stories are being retracted for lack of actual, you know, facts. You're liberal media at work. Fire first, then go out and actually get the real story. And yes, in case you can't tell, I'm being sarcastic about the "liberal media." Unless you want to talk about the well known liberal bias of reality.

Because it's easier to shout "j'accuse!" than it is to do actual reporting (which takes time, even more so now that people have a hard time thinking beyond "1 fish, 2 fish, red fish, blue fish"). Yeah, for those of us who said, "tempest in a teapot and a bunch of misunderstandings of how science is done," who were shouted down about how "No! This proves it's all a scam," we're ready to accept the apologies. Anyone. Bueller. Bueller. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Spending the weekend foolishly

By resting, healing, and oh, putting in about 8 hours of freelance work. Sigh. So me going to be scarce on these here interwebbies today. Hope you're having a great weekend.

Things to do today:
Register and book hotels for conventions
More freelance
Rewrite on novel or write out more on "Grace"
Scrub everything

That should be enough, my guess is something else will come along and soak up my time.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Well, that wasn't fun

For the past two weeks I've been dealing with some ear pain. It started as just a bunch of extra wax production, and then early this week moved on to having pain and drainage. The pain went up and down. If I could keep my ear clear, the pain was less.

Then last night on the way home, the twinges started. Plus it had been a little difficult to close my jaw and to chew. So went into the urgent care and got diagnosed with swimmers ear. Job forever. So now on antibiotics and with ear drops.

In other news, last night was our last exam before the final (on Tuesday). Subjects covered RNA transcription and protein translation, Mendelian Genetics, Punnett Squares, and human genetic problems. Was worried about the exam going in, but I think I aced it. So far in the class, I have a 100% average, and am carrying an extra 16 or so bonus points. If I did ace the exam last night, that'll put me at 21 bonus points. All that's left is the second report and the final. The final is comprehensive, so in addition to working freelance and trying to rest to get better, I'm also going to be studying my ass off. Why should I with a 100% average going into the final? Because that's how I roll. See, it's not so much needed to "get a grade" in the class, or keeping your semester GPA up. No, my task is not only the whole degree program, but my competition in the job market. That includes those who graduated 20 years ago, and those who will graduate for the next 15 years. That's who I need to score better than.

Also, this class should be easy for me. It's a basic 100 survey course in the subject matter my wife has a masters and PhD in. And has taught for 20 years. I should be getting an A in it. Now starting next Thursday I'm in "Medical Terminology." I don't have as much a head start here, so I'm going to be on more even ground with my other students. I've been thinking of getting a voice recorder for the class. About ready to pull the trigger for it. I'm thinking for this class and Anatomy & Physiology in the fall, being able to review lectures will be a good thing. A&P will be my litmus test. If I can pass there, I'll be good for the coursework.

The other good news is that we're now done with the highly ridiculous schedule of getting up at 6am, getting ready and commute, work 8-5, drive like a madman to class, in class from 6 to 10, then home before 11pm (hopefully). And then do that Monday through Thursday. Yeah, I know I'm old now because I'm pretty sure this ear thing is because of this. Next week we begin the "merely mad" schedule of class Tuesday and Thursday from 6-9. However, I think there will be more homework.

So, how's your summer shaping up?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Do you think you can tell?

"So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell?"
Slushpile Hell A humorous tumbler of agent queries and how the agents really wish they could respond. More than likely these chaps got the form letter instead. Pity them. (Grokked from Cat Rambo)

"Blue skies from pain?"
In the vein of "you're entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts," here's an interesting little blog post. It shows some of the economic changes brought about by the Reagan Revolution. While I think there's a little post hoc ergo prompter hoc going on there, it would be a stronger criticism if the same decline didn't show over several sections of the economy. One chart he doesn't show (and the one I keep kicking myself for not linking to when I found it) can be summed up by the reversal of economic discussion vis a vis the growth of GDP. Before Reaganomics 6% growth was expected. During the 80s that was restyled as 3% (or less) was better economically, as it was "more sustainable" (ie. we wouldn't have recessions every six or so years - say, how's that been working out for us anyway?).

"Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?"
Janiece and a satellite picture of the oil spill. I haven't said much about this disaster. What more is there to say? Have you noticed how larger corporations have farmed our responsibility? No less than eight contractors may be on the hook for this (besides BP, and at the end of that chain is Halliburton, go figure). And don't get all emotional here, but this isn't the only oil spill going on. It isn't the only large oil disaster of its type in North America (Mexico had their own spill about a decade ago that is very comparable). The conservatives seem to be self-imploding over it (let's not forget before Joe Barton's apology, there was John Boener's "BP shouldn't pay for this" comment that he had to roll back). So, Sarah Palin, how's that "Drill, baby, drill"-ee thing working out for ya? Also don't fail to miss this NPR story on how tight LA is with the oil industry, even to the physical and mental detriment of their own citizens. The price of carbon is currently hidden away, but we're still paying it through our taxes. This is why I support cap and trade, it shifts the cost into the open.

A smile from a veil?
Jim Wright's take on the Gen McChrystal (US Army, Ret.) thing. Um. What he said. As I said in Jim's comments, McChrystal demonstrated "an appalling lack of situational awareness."

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Being Dangerous

As a writer (I feel confident now I am beyond, if just barely, the "wannabe" stage), I struggle with priorities and how to allocate those precious moments I do get to write. And here we give a shout out that if you're one of those lucky people who can write on a schedule, by all means do so. I've found when I can I am more productive. However, I often find I can't keep to such a schedule because of other commitments. And as a further digression, some I can't change, those I can I'm working on (1.5 more years on council, although They are trying to sabotage that plan).

There are number of short story ideas I've had, some even started, that I've dropped. Only later I wonder if I should have finished them. Were those the stories that would have been noticed? The ones that break out of the norm and get an editor excited?

I don't know. And then there are the others, the dangerous ideas. Those ideas that you think, "If this gets published, the hate mail will flow." And I have to admit, I've let a few of those go too. I shouldn't. As someone who has publicly stated I want to write the novel that sticks a finger in the eye of the pre-Millennial dispensationalists, all while saying, yes, you're correct about some things, being on the outs shouldn't bother me. But sometimes it does.

The latest short story (that I linked to the story bone yesterday) is a dangerous story. And it's fun as all get out (well, for me the writer, the reader maybe not so much). I get to use the word "folderol." And you just can't pass up that opportunity. And it's another run at my favorite bogey man, modern organized religion (sans spirituality). This time on what it means to be religious.

And I'm writing it, damn it. It's a dangerous idea (especially in these times). Some people will be hurt by it and I may never find a market to take it (even if my writing is spectacular). But this is the first time in a long while I like writing it. Ask Dan. I've been plaguing him with snippets since we discussed it. I'm giggling like a little girl as the most excellent lines come out.
"Haven't you ever heard of a metaphor," (redacted) asked as they trudged, the itinerate priest and his madness, into the gathering night. And behind them both, Grace (a donkey) slowly went lame.

That just wrote itself in the proper place yesterday. And I frigin' love it (especially if you knew what they were talking about, the nature of faith as it happens).

There's also been some writing I've wanted to try for over a year now, and I've not had the guts to. I'm not sure I can share it here. But I'm going to research it instead of saying, "No, I shouldn't do that." I'll probably need a pseudonym for it, but I have a few of those handy.

So I rededicate myself to tilt at those windmills. To gore the sacred oxen. To wear the jester's hat and dance as fast as I can. I give myself license to do this. And invested in that authority, I give you that license as well.

Listen, do you smell that?

The maddening of the crowds.

No, I really can't explain. Just go and watch the embedded video.

Okay, I can explain a little. It seems the vuvuzela has become that thing in our culture that everybody hates. Except those that have them.

It's the adult version of the noisy Xmas Toy. Starts out charming, but then add a few hundred of them together, and a child's intensity to do the same thing over, and over (and over…)… well, you get the picture.

And as I said when Apple released Quicktime 5 which also became the standard for MP4. The revolution has begun, and it will be streamed live.

Add in the somewhat envious contempt some quarters hold for the Lord of the RIng movies (even though they all own both the theatrical box set and the extended versions) and this is the result.

If you're not giggling inside by the time of the Moria footage (or at least suffering from internal eye-rolling of epic proportions), I'm not sure we can be friends. Surely, you laughed at the Rivendale footage.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Story Bone

And this one I'm using myself. Don't worry, I'm sure my story is different than yours.

Here's the springboard. (Grokked from Jay Lake).

It's an article talking about how there is an iPad app which is your Catholic Missal (order of service, over the liturgical calendar). Seems the same priest had already made an iPhone app that was a book of daily prayers. It's pretty interesting. The glow of candles, the dressings of the altar, and the glow from the iPad screen. Heck, it would be perfect for a resurgence of illumination on manuscripts (which, frankly, I love). And the article points out that the current Pope loves his iPod.

Seriously, this gets my creative juices flowing. My story ties into the next novel I want to (re)start (the post-rapture-romantic-comedy), but only through themes, not by actual content (although this kind of app may make an appearance in the novel, it already had an iPhone like device).

And here I'd like to make a shout out to Dan (::waves::) who provided the spring in the diving board I jumped off of. It's good to have smart friends you can joke around with. After about 6 exchanges I went from a vague "That's kinda cool, I'll need to use it sometime" to "Holy Frack, that's such a cool idea for a story." And yes, the donkey will be in it, Dan.

The hint to my story? Here's one of my comments to Dan. "Feeling very 'Canticle for Liebowitz'y about it."

So have at. There's no longer any excuse to not include the Church in your SF.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Four Things Make a Post

First of all, let's give some link love to Todd Wheeler and his 4th (or is it 5th) Summer Reading Program. Todd's prize packages are always excellent. And I know most of you are avid readers. Plus, money to The Children's Literacy Foundation (CLiF). What more could you want? Heck, on a 10 minute walk over lunch I discovered a nice picnic bench where I might be able to get some reading done during lunch times.

Only a few more days to get your applications in for Viable Paradise. VP XIII feels so long ago, it's difficult to reconcile that feeling with the knowledge that it's been less than a year. I wish I could remember more. Yeah, I was that tired (see earlier comment about how work conspires against me) that it all seems a dream

There are things you can stand for, and things you can't. A blog post on typography and e-readers (specifically Apple's). Yeah, what he said. I'd really hate to pay so much for such a device only to heave it against a wall for such effrontery against good typography practices.

Hmm, here's a little article on the tea party. An interesting take on whose being duped and by whom. I think this goes back to an early comment I made about the tea party when they had their organizations first Washington protest. They had brought a truck full of tea bags that supporters we're going to dip into the reflecting pool on the Mall. Seems nobody had actually gotten a permit for either the protest and the truck. There was hemming and hawing and eventually it all broke up into chaos. Silly. If this is an actual protest, screw the permits. Can't get people to move the tea bags to the reflecting pool? Back the damn truck up to the pool (turfing the lawn) and shovel the bags out the back. Instead we hear about how "polite" they are. Lookie, 1/10th of the crowd as the inauguration and they didn't make a mess. If you're going to protest what you feel is an injustice, then protest. Yes, you'll go to jail more than likely. Isn't what you believe in worth it? Instead, it's like the title of that article goes, "tea parties are for little girls." I think it gives voice to something I've harbored inside and part of why I have contempt for the movement (yes, the individuals are different, I know many of them honestly believe in what they're doing and feel very strongly about it, and everybody has their own "pain level", not everybody can be a martyr for the cause, but at least some can be). Also, this is different than committing violence against people, and different than the "racial slurs" controversy during the voting on HCR. This is more like, if you felt it was so terrible, block the damn entrances to congress and have the Capital Police haul you away. Don't need to shout, don't need to hit anybody, just a human chain across the entrances. Easy peasy. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

What He Said

Just to show the people on the other side of the political fence, I totally agree (and have said it here before) with this (article with embeded link to the Daily Show with John Stewart and his taken down of President Obama and his not laying down the powers grabbed by the previous president). What he said.

No Rest for the Wicked

Fell asleep on the couch on Friday. Don't think I quit made it 9:30pm. Then yesterday was spent working on freelance until 10. Today will be spent finishing up the second freelance job and starting on the third (our of four). It never rains but it pours. I think this is related to the function when I want to go someplace or do something for me, work conspires to fill up my schedule (and not in the "you're going to be gone for a week, try and get ahead of the work that you're leaving behind" but in the "so you think you can take time off, here's three times the normal work load because of your hubris").

So boring Steve has reasserted himself. Sorry about that. I have a feeling this will be the norm for at least another two weeks. Such is my life.

So today I also need to work in some study time. This week is the final one of the first summer session. That means chapter test on Monday and Thursday (instead of just one on Monday). Then the week after has review on Monday and comprehensive final on Tuesday. Woopdido!

Friday, June 18, 2010

New Office Games

Okay, when waiting in the hallway at someone's office, take out any quarters you might have in your pocket (okay, so this maybe more geared towards the men in the audience). Pick two state quarters at random. Find the connection, or make one up. The more obscure or fantastical the better.

For me, just fifteen minutes ago: Arkansas and Nevada. The connection is both have major advertising campaigns on TV (Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail and Camp Vegas). Edited per anonymous comment RTJ Golf Trail is in Alabama. Checked my quarters and that was the one (instead of Arkansas). Well, it's been a long week.

There you go. Your brain doesn't have to go to sleep.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

One of Us

Got my crackberry today. I feel so 2003.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

First Day of Job and Class

I survived. More later.

Tomorrow, hopefully the same.

Also, first time I missed a question on a quiz (got 10.5 out of 10 - there's extra credit).

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sunday unfocused

Sorry, went boring there for a moment.

In writing news, racked up two rejections this week (Clarkesworld and Andromeda Spaceways). Both were form rejection letters (or the same "custom" letters I've received in the past). Haven't pulled my paper file use to keep track of where I've submitted before to so new submissions. Will need to do that today. Also, will all the late night schooling and doing chores in the day, the rewrite is at a standstill as it barely got off the ground. Looking forward to having a lunch hour again and making real progress. Maybe I need a deadline.

I haven't been able to make meeting for the VIllage this month (except my own, which we rescheduled). So I'm feeling oddly out of touch, and strangely I'm okay with this. It'll be another month before I can regularly make meetings. I'll have missed a total of 6 meetings (including committee meetings), which will be more than all the meetings I've missed in the previous 7.5 years.

This is my last few days before starting work. You'd think I'd be going places and doing things, but I can't think of anything I want to go do or see. So I'm probably wasting this opportunity. I've wasted so many opportunities like this, it feels normal instead of panicky. I do feel a little guilty for not getting more done outside. There's wood to chop, and deck and cement pad to fix (and replace). But those last two are larger and more expensive works (that will also require renting tools).

I have one more chapter to read for the current class. We're back into larger functionings, which for me is easier. The previous chapter was on sexual reproduction with which I have some previous experience. So that was fairly easy.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fundamental Education Fail

Okay, was going to punt with a post, but I'm sitting here watching Gov. Tim Pawlenty talking about privatizing education (specifically at the collegiate level) and how wonderful that will be. See, why make people schlep books across a campus to fall asleep in an uncomfortable classroom while some old person droned on when you can have them maybe watch an iPhone video when they wanted to and how they want to.

What a load of crap.

No, really. It's populism that lowers expectations (instead of the kind that lifts us all). There's a reason why most online universities aren't getting accredited.

In my own class I've heard the comment about how a student, smart as they are, downloaded the teacher's PowerPoint presentation (which, BTW, she was unable to make them for the class on energy transport and cellular respiration because the instructor could figure out how to translate it to PP) and printed it out so she didn't have to take notes in class.

Uh, yeah.

See, this is a misunderstand of how people actually learn. Now, do I need to read the textbook, take the notes, after listening to the lecture? You know, not really so much. I don't brag much about it, but yes, my IQ tests out at genius level (just barely, but let's say getting Mensa membership, if I wanted it, wouldn't be a problem). For my BFA, I think I read a total of 5 textbooks during class (and most of those were for my first degree in computer programming). Hell, I literally sleep through Psych 101 and still got an A (I was working 1st shift at the Post Office, and 1st shift was 10pm-6am).

And did I mention this is a 100 level course, and in a field my wife teaches in?

But I'm reading the book. And I'm taking the notes (the old fashion way including what is on the board and what the instructor is saying). And I'm attending the lecture. Why? Because I'm reinforcing the material twice (primary lecture, supplemented by the textbook and writing out the notes). Education is hard. There's a reason why it is. I could get more info using Blackboard (an online tool the college is using). However, it doesn't work for me, because I don't have broadband.

So, how am I doing? Since you asked (because, again, I hate the bragging), with 8 quizes and two tests down I have an average of 100% with 10.5 bonus points. We don't have our first report back, and I don't know how I did on it (the second report isn't due until next week, but it's been finished for over a week). Given the level of groaning in the class when tests and quizzes are passed back, I think I'm at the top (although I haven't confirmed that).

There's also three students in the class that I overheard complaining that they have either an online degree, or one from the "business schools," and now they're back to get a "real" degree (well, the employers think it's real). Yeah.

However, I'm sure "it's the future." I'll believe it when I get my jetpack.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Market Hype and e-Books

One of the posts I was working on back in January when I lost my job was about the nonsense about how "e-books are the future!" Well, here's another person's take on it, Tom Dupree e-Books Rock But Will They Rule?

And the answer is, not really. Don't get me wrong, e-books will grow fast in the next decade. They really have no place else to go. I see several applications where e-books are preferable to print. See Tom's article for some. No, really, go see his article for how people are using their e-readers. While all printed material is classified as "ephemera", some are more ephemeral than others. And it's my prediction, that the most ephemeral aspects will be taken over by the e-readers (newspapers, magazines, things you read once and then toss). Temporary printed needs like the manuscript and movie scripts will also be converted quickly. Why? Because e-readers are better at this (and once someone crosses and e-reader with pen markings on the page, it'll be killer).

At the latest novel critiquing weekend, one of the critiquers used their e-reader to do their critiquing. Several of us did our critiques on the electronic files themselves (not bothering to print out hardcopy). I did this myself. I don't like it, but the economics make it preferable (that is, given my druthers, I would rather mark-up hardcopy).

Textbooks and reference books (as someone taking classes now can tell you, hauling text books is a royal pain) will be up next. Right now there are secondary markets that are keeping textbooks still on the printed side (and market forces in that e-book readers are expensive and e-books aren't all that less expensive). Being able to add content (video, blackboard tie-ins, highlighting, note taking, personal adjustment to texts, etc) will all make the difference here. Also, economically, the ability to sell old books and cut your overall costs will mitigate the acceptance of e-books, which you really can't return (although a change of market from buying to renting maybe in order here, which an option to purchase for those books you want to keep).

Now, here's some of the interesting things to keep in mind. First up, I've stated before that music and reading materials are different (especially for anti-piracy schemes). But here's some numbers (I wish I had all my links for this, sorry).

Napster took the music world by storm in 1997. The Apple iTune's Store revamped how music was sold in 2003. As of last year, even with the "explosive" growth of online music sales, they only accounted for less than 33% of unit sales (all the music sites, not just the iTunes Store). Unit sales. That means every single sold online counted as one. I don't think any brick and mortar store or Amazon sells singles on media. That means (expensive) physical CDs are outselling mostly singles (cheap) 2 to 1 over a decade after the revolution. Most people are still getting most of their music off of physical media (which they may then rip to their MP3 players).

So, do I think e-books will overtake printed media anytime soon? I see the easy stuff going quickly (newspapers, magazines). Newspapers will be quickly replaced (market demographics). Developing a new advertising paradigm (probably based on internet ads) will be most critical. Industries that use a lot of very temporary, but high quantity of printed materials will convert next (manuscript reading and the like). Magazines not so fast (kids still read them a lot, cost of e-readers are a little out of their range). Reference and text books will be after that. My guess is e-readers will take about 30% of novel sales in the next decade. The cost of e-books isn't low enough to alter the market for books. It'll be an "ease of use, I can carry my whole library, and download a new book in a minute" argument. That's not normally enough of a benefit for most people.

Just keep in mind, not everybody has a cell phone (let alone a smart phone), a computer (or internet access), or is in love with technology. And many of those people buy books.

Manifestos and Misunderstandings

As linked to everywhere, Maureen Johnson writes a manifesto.

First, I come to praise Maureen. Yes. What she said. No, I'm not going to repost it here, go read it and give Maureen the page view love she deserves for this. What she writes in her manifesto statement is true, true, true.

Except for her last statement. And here I come to bury Maureen Johnson. Well, no, not really. But I do mean to correct her.

See, "branding" which creates "brands" is not what she thinks it is (or what the people she's encountered think it is). Product is not brand. Let me say that again, your product is not your brand. And brand is very important. Especially if you do have something to sell. And it's worth saying again, your product is not your brand.

The confusion here comes from outdated terminology. Most people know "brand names" and then equate that with "brand." These days they aren't referred to "brand names." They are called "trade names." Names that you trade your brand on. Names you can trademark.

So, since she used the example in her post, what is Coke's brand? Coke's brand is not brown, fizzy, sugar water. It's "refreshing." If it was just BFSW, you would have New Coke and that's it. Coke sells a multitude of products, including clear fizzy sugar water and just plain water. Plus, Pepsi sells BFSW. If that was their brand it would get awfully confusing in the market place. Also, Pepsi's brand is "Youthfulness."

If Toyota's brand was "Corrolla", this past half year would be nothing. Change "Corrolla" to "Sirus" and be done. However, Toyota's brand actually is "reliability and safety." That is why this past year's recalls are such a big thing.

What is Axe's brand? It isn't personal care products. It's "You'll get the girl." And this is why their latest advertising for their new product (underarm antiperspirant) isn't working (the agency got confused from their hair care products campaign). In the new commercial, the guy doesn't get the girl. AdFAIL.

So, as writers, what is our brand? Our brand is our industry, entertainment. If being entertaining isn't part of your brand as a writer, you're possibly doomed. However, many writers have expanded brands.

Stephen King is "entertaining gothic horror set in the modern world."

John Scalzi is "entertaining, accessibly written space opera" (which is why The God Engines is working for him, while I haven't read the full book, the abstract he posted reads like space opera with the SF part supplied by magic (fantasy)).

Steven Brust is "entertaining word play." This is how he can get away with such different works under his same name (including the Dumas riffs). It's also why I didn't toss his books aside when Vlad left Cawti. Also, the tone of the Vlad books has changed, drastically, but I still keep buying them.

Jim Hines just modified his brand and did it successfully. And if you read his blog you could see him struggle with it as he wrote Stepsister Scheme.

What Maureen is railing against are hucksters. And I agree, you shouldn't act that way. As Wil Weaton says, "Don't be a dick." Be entertaining, be accessible, be genuine, and be yourself. If people like you, they'll hopefully like what you produce. Battering them about the head and shoulders with it isn't the way to make sales or build your brand.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Going up to meet that spirit in the sky

Part of the new day job includes having a Blackberry. So now I'll be cool like all the other kids, of six years ago. Yeah. My cell phone is a basic phone. And it's a pay as you go kind (Tracfone if you must know).

One of the benefits of Census work is that I got very good at texting. But now I'll have a whole damn keyboard. Yippie!

But the question is, oh great internet brain, should I transfer my personal number to the work Blackberry?

I'm of two minds. First, I like my number, have it memorized, and I don't want to lose it if anything happens to the day job. Plus, my phone gets double minutes for the lifetime of the phone. I have my writing and freelance business first contacts as my cell phone. Tracfone will supposedly allow me to forward calls (although there is mixed reviews on this over teh interwebbies, and I can't find how to over their website).

But, it would be easier to just have one phone. Just one thingie to keep track of, one thingie to keep charged. The company will pay my cell bill as long as I'm there and their comment on personal use was, "yes, everybody does it, we're not worried about it."

So, what say you oh great internet brain? Transfer number, or keep my own phone separate?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Submission Saturday

Okay, checking up on some old submissions and I find I've killed another market. Doorways seems to be down for the count. Sigh. Okay, well, then, we're going to look at things I haven't heard anything back on for a year or more and submit.

So, "Rag-a-Bag" is off to Andromeda Spaceways.

"What the Sea Sends" is off to Strange Horizons.

And finally Daddy's Little Girl is off to Clarkesworld. Why, because I like my rejection like I like my alcohol addition. Quick and painful. Or, something like that.

edit Damn, just checked and I'm already #62 at Clarkesworld. And yes, I am just that neurotic. Thank you internet for being an enabler.

Saturday and hopeful for getting it back together, but not today

Another day, and some more crawl out of the woodwork. That's an article on the latest in racism and the S. Carolina senate race. Guess which side the racial comments are coming from. While there's enough idiocy to go around in the world, and on both sides of the political aisle, it just seems the conservative side has decided to fall off its rocker and then roll over the deep end.

And I agree, this is one damn scary chart. Yeah, that's how totally sucky it is out there. And how damn lucky I feel for finding this job. Now, if you combine the 1980 and 1981 recessions (which I oh, so certainly remember), you're looking at a similar length, however, not as deep. What sucks is that I've been in the job market for 5 of those. But I'll just point out that the job losses for this current recession started in 2007.

Spent the day glooming through the paperwork. Cleaned out the shredder, and filled a bag for recycling. It's amazing how much you can get rid of when you don't have a certain job anymore.

I should have been reading my textbook. I should have been rewriting. Instead I punted. Not good for getting anything done, and I feel lousy about it.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Submission Friday

Damn it, missed picking up an Honorable Mention in the Geauga Parks District Nature Writers Poetry Contest. That is, I won the position, but completely forgot that tonight was the ceremony. Bad writer, no cookie.

To do penance, I did a quick rewrite (adding weirdness up front) to "A History of Lightning" and then sent it off to Apex Magazine.

And sent "Prince Wanted" off to Bard and Sages Quarterly.

And updated the bragging rights.

And now I'm wondering if I should just count the submissions I haven't heard from in over a year as dead, and resubmit elsewhere.

Three Things Make a Post

The Falcon 9 made it. Lots of people breathing easier today because of that. Of course, this is just the start.

Boy, I'm sure glad this is only about fixing the shading and not about racism. Still not looking good in Arizona. I'm sure we'll be asked "where is the video proving the slurs were shouted," red-herring soon. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

Glad we all have the right to do this to ourselves. Just pointed out for the "but nothing ever bad happens from concealed carry" people. Yeah, I'm sure this guy passed his training class. And then had the gun "stuck in the waistband of his pants." Not exactly properly stowed.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Ask me no secrets, and I'll tell you no lies

Please, tell me again the story about how Arizona's new law isn't racist? Because, with their "cracking down" on teachers with accents, it doesn't look good.

Now, if it was just this crack down, I would say Arizona officials are trying to circumvent seniority (or tenure) rules in the state to fire older and more expensive teachers (there's a growing trend in the US about this issue, and I'll probably address this in a later post). However, in light of the other laws recently passed, it has a different flavor. And notice how quickly even that Fox News story linked above keys in on Spanish speakers. Not, say, the sub-continent Indian instructor with a heavy accent (the bug-a-boo of University of Akron students, although, really, I never had a problem with any of the instructors people complained about), or those from Europe or Australia. Or say the odd Chinese or Japanese teacher (did you know there is heavy recruiting of grade school teachers from the Philippines?).

And, as other commentary, here's a language log entry on it. (Grokked from Jay Lake).

No, seriously, time to call it what it is. Gee, Arizonians, if being so close to icky Hispanics are driving you crazy, frickin' move to Wyoming. You're on the border. You were once part of Mexico (yeah, I know, I'm sure the new Texas Schoolbook Standards whitewashed that whole war out of the histories). I understand that the drug violence has got you scared. But the laws you are passing, and these kind of administrative hijinks won't protect you. In fact, it'll make the matter worse.

Hell, I can do an Appalachan accent that will leave you all scratching your head wondering what language I'm speaking. There are people around me who talk that way. I can also do a NJ/PA/NY accent, which is different from my Boston/Maine accent, two types of Southern Accent, and at one time I used to be able to do Valley. Seriously, no accents? As someone who lives in the part of the country news announcers imitate to neutralize their own accents, there is no such thing.

And those Arizona Department of Education evaluators, I want to see their test scores on how they do. You say "saw" with an "r" or "Warshington"? You're out. Say, "um"? Gone. Restart sentences midway? Adios. And they want people to "speak English grammatically"? WTF? As a writer myself, nobody does that. Nobody. Seriously. Let me sit down with these people and I'll have them crying in minutes by nitpicking (and you can ask my critiquers just how badly I comma splice).

edits. from the Fox News story linked above:
"It's my jobs to make sure they're taught English in the most rigorous, possible way so they can learn English quickly, can compete with their peers, and succeed academically," Home told Fox News.

Tom Home is state superintendent of public instruction. Dear Mr. Home, that should be, "It's my job" or "My jobs are", not "It's my jobs." You're fired. Get the hell out. No, I'm serious here. This is the state superintendent who is enforcing this rule of speaking with grammatically correct English. It's call "noun verb agreement."

Also:
"As you expect science teachers to know science, math teachers to know math, you expect a teacher who is teaching the kids English to know English," said Tom Home...

No, Mr. Home. You have superfluous words and some missing ones. You're missing about two "would"s and there's confusion on "who and whom." The end of your sentence would read much smoother as, "... you would expect a teacher (delete "who is") teaching (delete "the") kids English to know English." You don't speak grammatically, Mr. Home. You deserve to be reassigned according to your own standard.

This is an impossible standard, one that is not required or justified by the laws they're citing. And it only goes to illuminate the real problem. This is racism, plain and simple.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Cons

Okay, so who is going to Confluence? I think the Hamsters will be there in force.

Also debating Context. Tobias is GoH, and I've been debating playing the fanboy roll (just because it'll be fun). I'm surprised the writing workshops aren't all closed out by now. They usually are.

And I think I'll be seeing plenty of you at World Fantasy.

Then there's ConClave coming up. There's a lot going on already in Write-tober (Feral Writers Retreat and WF and I'm sure a Hamsters meeting) that I don't know about adding one more (plus Fall means Anatomy and Physiology class).

Then for next year we have Confusion and Penguicon. Confusion I love. It's a great convention and Cherie Priest will be GoH this year. Sweet! And I keep meaning to get to Penguicon. Penguicon is certainly more doable than Wiscon (another con I keep wanting to get to).

Of course it'll also depend on when and how much travel is required for the new job. Which hopefully I will know once I start.

And since we're on writing:
Elizabeth has a few great links. And Mer talks about a lot of things including writing with being under contract.

Those Wily Cons

Go read the magnificent Cat Rambo on panel moderation. Of intense interest to me as the first panel I was ever on I got to be the moderator. Yes, that story will stick with me, "wounds we carry" and all. Actually it wasn't that bad. Fortunately I was prepared and I had the benefit of watching some excellent panelists (of whom Paul Melko stands out in a fabulous crowd; he's quiet, he lets other speak, and he comes prepared with notes and when he does speak, he is entertaining). But go and read Cat's list before you are doomed to sudden moderator unpreparedness. I can be a deadly disease.

And while I'm thinking on it, when at a con, and have become somewhat known, always be prepared to be hijacked. Just ask Dave Kletcha about sudden panelitis.

And there are various pieces of advice for panels. Like, "If you find yourself on a panel with David Hartwell, introduce yourself politely, make a general statement, and then sit back and watch the master work, don't worry about participating too much." I've never really liked that advice (although I like David Hartwell very much, he's a cool guy and if you get the chance to talk with him, about anything, you should take it). See, that's what a GoH's job is, and that's why they panels all to their lonesomes. If you're on a panel, speak up. I had the opportunity to be on a panel with Cory Doctorow called "Big Brother." Yes. Cory is all about the civil liberties and the man knows a lot about the subject. But if you want just his take on it, you can read Boing Boing and get that. I doubt anybody paid the admission fee to the con to hear me hold forth on the subject, but just conceding the panel to one guest, to me, is a bit like shirking ones responsibility.

And some more on attending cons by Faith Hunter over at Magical Words. Although I'll say for point one on what aspiring writers can get out of cons, avoid making the pitch unless asked to do so, but yes, try and sit at the same table as an editor your respect and admire (and as an aspiring author you should start to know editors names). And meet other writers. Seriously. It's the best part of the convention (well, at least for me).

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Okay, it's still "technically" Tuesday.

And, as usual, Jim Wright puts what I was trying to say on Memorial Day in better focus.

In other Jim News, Jim Hines got himself a starred review in Publishers Weekly for his latest book, Red Hood's Revenge. 'Bout damn time the rest of the world realized just how damn good a writer he is. During the crit weekend some comments were made about having a career as good as Jim Hines, to me that was a mighty fine compliment (as it was meant to be).

Jay Lake pulls together some posts on rejections. I take great solace in the fact that I've been reading Jay Lake's blog for only a short time, and I remember him talking about being rejected for stories he just submitted.

As noticed elsewhere (in many places), John Joseph Adams new mag Lightspeed is up and running. Go and be impressed. Very impressed.

And finally, Wiscon is over and I haven't attended, yet again. Debating Confluence (am edging toward yes). Just got email for Confusion (at which the Amazing Cherie Priest will be GoH).

Had first test tonight. Think I did well except for the practical, which I didn't not study. Margle. And I knew I should have answered one question one way, but since we hadn't covered it in the material, put the answer a different way (also correct, but so was the other option, and item "E" was both). And now it's nearly midnight, so off to bed with me.