Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Nostalgia

This be ye olde house in Vermont. Miss the house, but all that snow... man, I don't really miss shoveling that driveway, gotta say.
My coworkers are missing. Again.

That is all.

Monday, December 29, 2003

Geek license renewal

KC threatened to take away my geek license when I told him that I didn't have a) a DVD player or b) a digital camera. Well, I now have a DVD player, courtesy of my brother. It's sooo cute. It's long, flat, silver and very Star Trekkish looking. So far, I've gotten it out of the box and put the batteries in the remote control. Go me.

I'm not quite sure where my DVD player is going to go -- currently, it's on the floor and that's probably where it'll stay. My old TV cart that I got rid of had room in the cart for both the VHS and DVD and a dozen tapes because the back of the cart was missing. This cart has a slot for the VCR and that's it. I thought about putting it into the cabinet below, but that won't work because there's no way to connect the wires through the back (unless I suddenly become very handy, purchase a drill, make some holes -- you get the idea. Mostly though, the cabinet of my cart is home to JAG tapes, Babylon 5 and Sports Night; but I digress).

So I got all excited about hooking up the DVD player yesterday. Then I read the instructions which say specifically not to hook up through the VCR. Instead, since my television is an older model with only a coaxial antenna thingy on the back, I have to buy a gadget called the RF Modulator to attach to the back of the television so I can get the DVD player to work. Bjorn suggested purchasing a new television. However, since a new television is not in the budget, I've gone shopping for the elusive RF modulator, which apparently can cost anywhere from $15 to $150, depending on what you need it for. For $150, I can get another 19" television set, so I'm inclined to go cheap and hope for the best. However, the sheer quantity of RF modulators available is making my head spin. So I've sent an SoS to the person responsible for my current quandry; he knows what's what when it comes to television-type stuff so perhaps he'll have a good recommendation for me. One would hope.

I'll keep you posted as I geek my way through strange new (digital) worlds.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

I think this holiday doodle is sooooooooooooo cute!
It's amazing...

How everything comes down to the very last minute. I thought, "Wow! Five days off! Whatever will I do with all of that time?" Quite a bit, as it turned out. A few lunch dates, a few parties here and there, a couple of trips to the store and my vacation is nearly over. I have one last lunch date with Sarah today and then it'll be heading back to the Big City to the East, hopefully before 3 pm. The skies look vaguely threatening and I absolutely abhor driving in the torrential downpours this state is famous for. When I came back from the beach in September, that was probably the most miserable 6 hour drive of my life -- zero visibility, unfamiliar roads. So hopefully that will not be the case today.

I'm sure Virtual Life will pick up again tomorrow as people return to work. In fact, I'm amazed it's been as active as it has been in certain areas. Email, though, has been dead, but apparently spammers don't observe any kind of holiday. My spam has been more over the last five days. I'm inclined to do a study of just how much spam a person gets in relation to 'real' mail. This morning, I got one real mail and 30 spam. There's only one conclusion -- spammers love unprofitable me more than real people do.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

The Da Vinci Code

Link of the day: The Da Vinci Code Game

It's been a long time since I've read a book that's grabbed me by the neck and refused, absolutely refused, to let me go. "The Da Vinci Code" by Dan Brown is hands down one of the best books I've read this year, if not the best (I'm debating between this and "Life of Pi"). "The Da Vinci Code" is the "it" book this year, and there was even a special on ABC (hosted by Elizabeth Vargas) about some of the ideas in the book. After my recent experience with Mary Magdalene fanfiction, I was apprehensive on taking up another book on the subject.

But...

From the first page to the last, "The Da Vinci Code" refuses to let go. If you're a fan of mystery thrillers, this is a good one. The sum of all the action takes place in less than 24 hours and this novel has some of the best pacing I've seen in fiction. Nothing drags and the action moves along very, very quickly. Just when you think you've gotten to the absolute climax of a moment, bam! Here comes something else to mess things up yet again.

"The Da Vinci Code" stars Robert Langdon, a Harvard symbologist, who is studying the sacred feminine. He interprets literature, art and architecture to derive clues about the truth about the Bible. His (literal) partner-in-crime is Sophie Neveu, a French cryptologist. Drawn together by the murder of the curator of the Louvre, Sophie and Robert embark on their own journey to discover the truth behind one of the most fascinating quests in history. They are joined along the way by Leigh Teabing, a Royal British historian, and Remy, Teabing's manservant. Bezu Fache, an ambitious and powerful officer in the French Judicial Police, is hot on their heels. Throw in a secret Catholic society, an albino monk, and a top-secret French brotherhood whose members include Leonardo Da Vinci and Isaac Newton, and you've got the makings of the next mall-movie blockbuster.

What saves this book from being the next John Grisham though is its intelligence. Along with a well-paced mystery thriller, the book does a superb job of interweaving architecture, literature, religion and suspense. The author has done an amazing research job, pulling out obscure facts from various artistic disciplines, and no doubt, there are many who will disagree with his interpretation of those facts -- especially the religious angles (there's no doubt that Brown's view on Jesus Christ is revisionist). The religious emphasis is on the sacred feminine in the Bible and lest you think Brown is making this stuff up, he backs up all of his theories with historical/Biblical fact.

Every detail -- from architectural descriptions to those of the famous "Last Supper" -- is artfully written and history well-explained. Despite the mass quantity of information (Brown doesn't shirk his responsbility as an author and make the reader do the work), Brown always manages to shake things up so it doesn't feel like an info dump. On a slightly negative note, the book spends so much time on explanation that you don't really get a feel for the characters. Teabing is the most colorful and most developed, while Sophie and Robert are mostly there to provide information and brainstorm the clues provided along the way by the murdered man. Both Sophie and Robert are competent people, but you never really get to know them.

All in all, a compelling read all the way through. If you've always been wondering what exactly it is Mona Lisa has been smiling about all of these years, this book holds a potential answer to that question.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Happy Holidays to all! Just a quick note to wish you all safe and happy travels, if indeed you are heading out. And if not, even so, have a safe holiday at home.
There's a blog called snarkfest which basically laughs at television. My kinda blog.
Tis the season

potentially offensive entry to follow

The airwaves are alive with the sound of Christmas carols. I admit, I like Christmas carols as much as the next person. O Holy Night is probably one of my favorites -- mostly because when I was learning how to play it on the piano, I really enjoyed the part that begins with "Fall on your knees." There was a cool fingering technique going on there so it was fun. But in sum, I generally enjoy Christmas carols (in small doses -- those stations that go 24-7 right after Thanksgiving? No thank you).

But. It's the inexplicable popularity of The Christmas Shoes that gets me. This maudlin, depressing, "no shirt, no shoes, no service policy" of a song has inspired not only a book, but also a television movie starring Rob Lowe and Kimberly Williams.

For me, songs like "O Holy Night" or "Come All Ye Faithful" or "Joy to the World" are more about the Christmas spirit than this tear-jerker of a song. I know I'm supposed to be moved by the image of a dirty little boy counting out pennies to buy his dying mother a new pair of shoes "just in case she meets Jesus tonight" but the logician in me wonders why not a bowl of soup? How about some medicine? Maybe a doctor? Why new shoes of all things?

Then you've got the guy who helps the boy out. I don't know what his story is, but obviously he hasn't got the Christmas spirit until he finds himself guilted into giving the little boy the rest of the money to buy a pair of shoes for his Momma. Frankly, I'd take this guy a lot more seriously if he offered more assistance than just buying a pair of shoes, which according to the boy's sob story, are basically useless to this poor family (other than the joy of making Momma look beautiful for Jesus, I guess).

My other question is, how did this boy get to the store? Did he walk? Did someone drive him? And why didn't the nice man who gave him money to buy the shoes give the child a ride home? And I don't buy that the guy now knows what Christmas is all about. He assuaged his guilt a little by handing over a few bucks, but really, what did he learn? That in order to meet Jesus, you have to have new shoes? That's not Christmas spirit; that's just materialism rearing its ugly head once again.

Monday, December 22, 2003

KC has jumped on the blog bandwagon and started his own journal here.
X-Files rambling

Because of my headache yesterday, most of the day (when not baking) was spent in bed or playing Literati. I tried to do some editing, but couldn't think quite enough to get through it. I've finally succombed and taken medication because I hardly slept last night because of the headache. I really don't like this medication -- it makes my hands shake and basically, I feel like I'm crawling out of my skin. But I digress.

Part of yesterday's activities involved watching The X-Files. I taped Saturday night's episode, "Eve", a season one ep which I watched while baking, and then watched last night's, a season eight ep called "The Gift." I haven't seen most of season one and I queried RJ about "Eve" on Saturday so I admit to going into the viewing a bit biased based on what RJ said about it. In retrospect, I would have never been an XF fan if I'd tuned in during season one; season 4 and 5 is where it's at, baby, and let's throw season 6 in there for good measure.

I had seen a season 5 episode earlier in the week when I still had SCIFI network and it was interesting to contrast it with "Eve" (I don't have time to look up the ep title, but it was the one with the black oil, Cassandra Spender, the alien abductions and burning bodies. Alex Krycek and Marita K were both in this episode and Mulder didn't believe, but Scully did. It was a two-parter).

In "Eve", Scully was actively trying to debunk Mulder's theories about ET abductions. She was very business-like and while not quite humoring Mulder, she was pretty darn close to it. Scully in this ep was also kickass, taking charge when it came to protocol. Maybe my vision of Scully is forever tainted by the travesty that was season 9 characterization, but this was a Scully-view I'd never seen before. She was fiesty, not quite tempered by Mulder yet, and you get the feeling that she's really just biding her time until she could get off the XF. There was no real interaction with Mulder other than case discussion. They verbally sparred, but absolutely no chemistry, mho. Possibly the one thing that I've seen all along (and think is so cute) is the way Mulder steps aside to let Scully go out the door first and he always has his hand on her back.

The writing in "Eve" wasn't as clever or as tight or even as suspenseful as later episodes. In fact, I was so incredibly disappointed by the cop-out in the middle of the ep, when it turns out that there is indeed human intervention, rather than ET. For me, the XF was all about not explaining anything and letting the viewer decide what happened. So "Eve" in general was a disappointment. The acting was so-so -- you get the feeling David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson were both still trying to figure out who Mulder and Scully are -- and put that with a not-so-good script and it was a non-remarkable 43 minutes of television.

But things can only get better from there, and honestly, once the XF writers hit their stride, it became one of the most clever and intelligent shows on television. Scary and spooky and memorable, yes, but still very intelligent, and mostly because whatever lack of chemistry GA and DD demonstrated in "Eve", by later seasons, they had so developed it. I remember one Chris Carter saying that 1013 writers like to write for Mulder, but they were secretly in love with Scully. It always amuses me to watch just how Scully develops over nine seasons, how she goes from steadfast and straightforward to wavering and finally, a true believer. We won't even talk about how her hair goes from red-brown to very, very red by the end (g) and oh yes, on an equally shallow note, her wardrobe gets better and better by the season.

As I said, I really like season 4 episodes onward and the black oil ep is a prime example because it really highlighted their friendship, I think. Scully is more mild-tempered, and gotta say, Gillian Anderson's acting really hits a high point during those middle seasons (no, non-stop crying in season 9 doesn't count as good acting, mho!). Even David Duchovny, who is a strong actor in his own right and probably started out much more skilled than GA, is more nuanced. What I've always liked about mytharc eps is that it's about Mulder and Scully. I have NO idea what actually happens in mytharc episodes or what they mean, but I watch because the Mulder and Scully dynamic is always the most passionate part of the episode. It's when they are most honest with each other and especially during the cancer arc, most open about their feelings.

"The Gift" featured Doggett. I'm one of the few people who actually really likes Doggett. He's got an intensity that rivals Mulder and Scully and I like his dedication to finding Mulder. So you put Doggett on a case like "The Gift" and he has no choice in the end but to believe, like Scully ended up doing in the black oil ep mentioned above. I thought in general "The Gift" wasn't the most wonderful episode ever, but Robert Patrick proved he could carry an episode all on his own (with some assistance from Mitch Pileggi). IIRC, DD carried a couple of cases on his own when GA was out on pregnancy leave and GA did a fabulous job on "Never Again" and "All Things". But even so, it was quite the risk given that RP was a new character to the show, some of us were still mourning DD's non-appearance in season 8 (well, he was featured in this ep) and there was hardly any Scully at all if you don't count the brief flashbacks Doggett has in the beginning of the episode.

I'll probably skip next Saturday's ep because it's another first season ep "Fire," but Sunday is season eight again and it features a monster in the Boston subway system. There you go, jemima -- yet another danger you must be aware of when riding the T. A monster trolling the tunnels. But you obviously knew that already.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

jemima isn't taking my flouncing seriously.

I'm hurt.

But on the other hand, I had samosas tonight. Good ones, with just the right amount of spice and lots of potatoes and peas. And the lady fried them on the spot just for me, so they hadn't been sitting out, getting soft under the heating lights. It doesn't get much better than that.

I'm still flouncing. Seriously.

Watch me go... I'm going, I'm going, I'm gone...
jemima has already backed out of our joint resolution to retire on January 1. She says I'll back out first, but I have every intention of keeping this particular retirement. I've been delaying the inevitable for long enough. This will be my last year as ASC Awards coordinator, last year participating in the Awards, and generally. I really don't intend to keep writing fic. If I hadn't already committed to Awards this year, I probably wouldn't participate at all, except maybe to cast a vote or two here and there.

The retirement decision was fairly easy to make. I realized it when I was staring at my WiPs and had absolutely NO desire to work on any of them, but it wasn't that I didn't want to write, I just didn't want to write these characters any more; the plot bunnies and enthusiasm have been alive for other projects and other ideas. It's been fun, but time to move on.

Friday, December 19, 2003

DWS has left the building

Ah, for those keeping vigil with me or for themselves, it all came to an ego-crushing blow late last night when the SNW 7 winners were announced. As a friend said, it was unnecessarily cruel of Marco Palmieri to have posted that note so early and to deprive those of us with delusions of grandeur of the joy and anticipation and hope of getting in. Fie on you, Marco, fie, I say!

But I got validation from Siu-Ling, whom I've finally caught on Y!M last night, and even though she doesn't like Trek at all (is downright resentful of Trek, btw, from our college days) and has never read my writing, she says I was robbed and my greatness unappreciated. Another friend suggested that when the rejection letters do finally arrive (and I'll have 3 -- 5, if you count the 2 from last year), that they ought to be used as wallpaper of some kind. After all, if that woman on "Trading Spaces" can wallpaper with moss and newspaper, rejection letter wallpaper can only be the next big thing.

Though, in all seriousness, congratulations to the winners. I see some familiar names on the list, including Jeff Jacques whose fic I've enjoyed for many years now when he still actively posted to ASC. I see an ASC name or two, but since I'm not sure if the authors wish to remain anonymous or not, I'll just congratulate them from afar. If they read this blog, then yes, I'm talkin' to you -- good on you for making it in (g).

As I told a friend last night, I was more disappointed in not making it than I thought I would be. Last year, I didn't expect anything and I got my hopes up a little with the reaction to "Blink" this year. But in general, I never put a whole lot of stock into my chances. Which could be a confidence problem, I suppose, but I also was realistic about the quality of my submissions this year. I've said it before that my stories for last year were of much higher quality than the ones I submitted this year. I wrote this year's story in about 10 days, coming on the heels of a move and a new job, and also late at night. It had its moments, and then it had many more non-moments.

But I'll be honest. I was looking for validation. I wanted something to say, "Hey, this fanfiction thing isn't stupid and you aren't crazy for writing about characters created by other people." I wanted something to say that seven years of doing this thing was meaningful and not a waste of time. I judge my time in fandom by the way my writing has improved and by the friendships I've made. Those are intangible assets, ones that non-fannish people can never -- and won't -- understand. Getting in SNW was my form of validation, a way I could say, "Look, I worked at this and this is what I got for my efforts."

So I didn't get in this year. There's always next year. I don't anticipate writing any more Trek in 2004 (no, I'm not making any promises, I'm just sayin' (g)). Once I get my plate cleared of WiPs, I really have no plot bunnies or motivation to continue on in this particular fandom; if you've lost the enthusiasm for the source material and the characters, it shows in the writing and I think that was the basic and fundamental problem with Riley -- I forced the whole story out and it never did quite have heart or oomph in it. But if the muse does strike, there is always next year. After all, you miss 100 percent of the opportunities you never take and this is an awesome opportunity.

As it is, my goal for this coming year is try to enter at least one contest every quarter. I've got some good material coming out of my writing class and with motivation of the writing group, I think I can buckle down and have the discipline to keep submitting. I've got a list of literary fiction contests for original fic and I'm just going to go down the list and try to send something in, using my friend Jodi in DC as inspiration; she got a poem in a literary magazine a year ago after relentlessly submitting. She had dedication and perserverance and I'm definitely motivated by her example.

Yeah, rejection letters suck. It reminds me of when I was looking for a job in '97 and '98 and the pile of rejection letters kept building. I had a shoe box full. My favorite rejection letter though was from Very Big Insurance Company -- sent two weeks before they made an offer.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

In which I whinge... a lot

Link of the day: snopes.com -- go here before passing on that 'warning' letter you get in your inbox. Chances are, it's a hoax.

I'm feeling vaguely belligerent and I think I'm going to have to write letters. Or rather, I wrote one, and I am trying to figure out what to say on the other. On the first letter, I wrote to my radio station. This morning, they read a version of this letter on the air. So of course, as a one-woman crusade to stop the proliferation of bad information, I had to send them an email. Or rather, my alter-ego sent them an email :-).

I'm also thinking about writing to my cable company but I don't know what to say. See, my miffedness with them is sparked with the end of my free preview yesterday. Granted, I knew it would end eventually, but the X-Files ep "Leonard Betts" was on yesterday and "Memento Mori" today. I guess the logical, non-immature response would be to call the cable company and sign up for the package so I could see X-Files to my little heart's content. But I never said I was going to be mature about this.

My true unhappiness comes from the fact that I signed up for a package that included the local stations and a few other stations like ABC Family and TBS. My cable company has taken that package away and has replaced it with "More Television Stations You Can Ever Watch" at over triple the cost. In other words, if I want more than just 3 local stations, then I've got to pay through the nose. Which makes me wonder why I didn't just get an antenna in the first place.

I'm not a huge television watcher and rarely does my VCR come into play to help cope with the viewing schedules as the only time it really gets used is if I'm not going to be home for some reason. "JAG" is usually what gets taped since for some reason, it's Fridays I'm usually out on.

But I digress.

I haven't figured out what I want from the cable company yet. Oh wait, yes I do -- the original package I ordered 4 months ago at the cost I ordered it at. The problem is calling them is a pain in the butt. It once took me over a week to get someone on the phone to talk about a billing issue. A few times, I've called in, I'm told to call back and the phone hangs up. Every time it rains, the reception cuts out (it's actually satellite television, not cable). One night, we didn't have reception for an entire night and on one Thursday, it froze all of the local stations but not the other 3 gazillion stations. Another time, I got a wide message splashed across the bottom of my screen, effectively blocking off most of the picture; when I called for help, there was no one available to assist because it was the weekend.

So this is my irrational grievance and basically what I want to write: Dear DirectTV Company, Your customer service sucks, your packages are not customized for your customers, and you deliver a product that's not much better than over-the-air service or cable. In addition, you charge an installation fee which cable companies do not. The only advantage I could see with staying with your company is getting the five extra channels along with local service. I am contemplating cancelling my service. I would like you to reconsider -- some of us do not watch enough television to justify 100 channels or spending over $30 a month -- taking away the smaller Entertainment Plus package. Sincerely yours, Seema.

Hmmm, what do you think? At any rate, thanks to Yahoo, I've discovered the X-Files comes on the CBS affiliate here late on Saturday and Sunday nights. So I am not completely berefit.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Let it snow

Just to prove there's no easy way out of anything, I've been talking about redesigning my site for some time now. The little button Liz Barr made (go see Liz's site and check the buttons at the bottom of the page) for my site has Gargemel (sp?) on it so it made me think, "Oooh, smurf theme!" Which might lead people to think this was a page about smurfs, and it's not. There will be an occasional comments about smurfs, but I'm not necessarily referring to little blue people.

But. I digress.

So I thought I'd dress up the site for winter by making it snow, a la the Canadian Gas Association. Bah. To quote Sarah (the one from Big City to the Northwest), everything got dorked up. Pretty snowflakes, bad for tables. It took me nearly 45 minutes to get my index back to normal.

So my site is still bland. Still boring. And I'm open for suggestions. CSS implementation, after struggling with tables this evening, cannot come too quickly.

DWS still hasn't called; according to thread, the happy news won't be delivered until after the new year. In the meantime, my delusions and I are doing just fine, thank you for asking.
Non Perciptation Statement.

Public service message brought to you by KC. So now you know and you can take cover.
I am keeping vigil for a phone call from DWS. As of today, I (as well as various other ASCers) have not received an email/phone call/snail mail. I'm pretty sure DWS has already programmed my phone numbers into his speed dial -- he just hasn't been able to reach me because I'm always at work. He doesn't want to leave messages, you see, simply because he wants to hear my voice.

I never said I wasn't delusional.

I'm already convinced that I'm not getting in this year. My fics have too much walking in them. According to this thread, DWS abhors walking. I say it's a natural part of every day life, even in the 24th century, but to each his own.

For those curious, I wrote one new story this year for the contest. The story is about everyone's favorite Texan (and Chakotay abuser), Riley Frazier, and the battle of Wolf 359 (see Unity). Riley walks a lot and vaccilliates between being a super hero and a wet blanket. She annoyed even me. No wonder she gave Chakotay a headache.

The other two stories I sent in are old stories from 2001. One is a slimmer, less mean version of A Season in Between. Picard is less evil -- or rather, clueless -- in this version and it's also lost about 6,000 words from the original. And oh yes, less of the ensign (Christy Barrows), whom Christine found freaky in the original.

The second story was merely cleaned up for typos etc and edited for sentence structure etc, but it's basically the original of The Absinthe Heart (I'm still amazed no one has noticed the pun in the title). This is my second person Quark fic, set seventh season, where he muses on Jadzia and Ezri.

If I had to pick, I'd go with the Quark story. There's no walking, though there's some gratuitious Hemingway bashing. It's second person, focuses on a character most don't write about, and it tackles the issue of having to deal with two different women who, well, are different reincarnations of each other (or rather Dax, but I don't have time to go into it). But there's no violence or real action in the Quark story.

All of the action goes in the Riley story, which has a battle and Borg! How can you not love a story with Borg in it? The Crusher story has very little action and is more cerebral/subtle, mho -- the punch comes at the end, so that could be the downfall for that story. But then again, last year's submission Blink made the second read pile and I'd consider that in the same vein as "A Season in Between"; a conflict between two characters, one canon and one OC, with verbal sparring and the ultimate resolution decided in the last two paragraphs. My one saving grace is that none of the stories I submitted this year are quite as boring as last year's Sand and Water (which received a "didn't hold my attention" from DWS).

So it's been 20 minutes. DWS still hasn't called. I will keep you posted on this nail-biting, seat-squirming process. Surely the genius of various ASCers will be recognized this year.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Whee!

I love FedEx tracking. On Saturday, I ordered a Christmas gift for a friend of mine in Longmeadow online. It was from Casual Corner (and yes, Liz, I got them in red, because that's such a nice, festive color) and the site said that if I hadn't ordered it by noon on Friday, there was no guarantee it'd get to Longmeadow by Christmas Eve. So of course I worried. See, every year, I'm notoriously late with Sarah's gift (this Sarah is not to be confused with Sarah in the Big City to the Northwest). Sarah, on the other hand, is not only early, but really thoughtful.

One year, she sent me a French day-by-day calendar because I was, y'know, going to France, another time it was crossword puzzles because the two of us used to do puzzles together at UMASS, and once a t-shirt from our favorite eatery, Bueno y Sano. Anyway, Sarah is thoughtful and I'm the heel that y'all always thought I am.

Anyway, why I'm feeling the FedEx love. Casual Corner is headquartered near Longmeadow (Enfield, CT, for those of you really curious) so I was like, "I could fly to Hartford, pick it up and drive it to Sarah's house quicker than the FedEx will ship it." I mean, they're telling me eight days! To get from Enfield to Longmeadow! That's less than an hour distance, iirc.

But today, my faith in FedEx is restored. Casual Corner delivered the package to FedEx in Hartford at midnight on Sunday and then the gift hung out until that evening, waiting to be scanned. Twenty-four hours after it arrived, the gift departed for beautiful Springfield (I'm being sarcastic, jemima and Bjorn!). The FedEx truck left to deliver the package to Sarah's house at 5:28 am this morning. So she will have it when she gets home from work (I really, really hope FedEx didn't wake her up at 6 am).

So whew! For once, I came in under the wire and I have FedEx to thank for it. I would have, however, been very disappointed if it had taken eight days to get from Enfield to Longmeadow, because, yo, that's just wrong.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Hmmm...

Word on the internet news media is that we've got Saddam. It'd be nice, y'know, if you could nab someone who is, y'know, actually the person behind 9/11. But then again, 75 percent of Americans think Iraq is behind 9/11, never mind that 15 of the highjackers were actually Saudi Arabian. Never doubt the value of American propaganda; we do it just as well as other countries, despite the claims of unbias and free speech.

I still don't understand how people miss the whole Saudi connection. In my mind, Saudi Arabia is a bigger terrorist threat than Iraq ever was. Yeah, Saddam is not a nice guy. I'm glad he's out of power so he can no longer torture his citizens relentlessly as he has in the last two decades. But even so, the act of preemptively attacking without provocation is so incredibly disturbing to me. Why doesn't it bother anyone else? Why doesn't it bother people that many of the alliances with long-time allies have been strained due to the Iraq issue? Is what we've gained in Iraq really worth the lives of the 500+ soldiers, American and coalition (who, other than Britain, is actually a full-force in the coalition?) both, really worth it? And that's not even counting the tremendous cost to the Iraqi civillians.

Gotta say, as a smoke tactic, Mr. Bush stumbled on a great one. He beat up on two Middle Eastern countries, one with reason, one without, and in the meantime, ignored problems here at home and pissed off everyone overseas. But even with Saddam captured, there's still the Al-Qaeda problem, because Saddam does not control Al-Qaeda, never has. So that leaves the million-dollar question -- where is Osama?

Friday, December 12, 2003

The more you know

"I think what we're seeing is a natural response to concerns about a serious flu season," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Julie Gerberding said Friday on NBC-TV's "Today" show. "But we also need to remember that for almost everyone, flu is not such a serious disease.

It's that last part of the sentence that's important; the flu is the flu. It comes around every year; it's like taxes -- a debilitating fact o' life. It's 5 days of misery at the minimum, but unless you're a small child or elderly, it's probably nothing more than severe, painful, awful discomfort. Sending/persuading your coworkers to go home when sick, washing hands regularly, using Kleenex, etc, these are all things you can do to avoid the flu. So as usual, I'll be avoiding the long lines for flu vaccinations and rely on a handy bar of Dove soap to keep me healthy.

Complete article here.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Wanted: A new job

That is all.

And oh yes. I'm back from Florida.

Now how much did you miss me? Show me the love!

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Gone to Florida. I don't anticipate emailing or AIMing. See you on Wednesday when I get back.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Crabby, crabby, crabby.

That is all.
Happy Birthday, Lori!

May your day be blessed with poolboys picking up quarters and handing you margaritas... and oh yes, you're not allowed to do homework on your birthday either. And no writing papers either! Or reading! Or anything school-related!
The rush to wrap things up before vacation is always crazy. I haven't gotten to either editing project yet and it's after midnight. Instead, I spent the evening cleaning the apartment because I have this "thing" about coming home to a dirty place. And then I wrote holiday cards, which are mostly all done. I just need to track down two people's addresses and I'll be done, done, done.

I don't even want to think about my writing projects -- all of which have various deadlines of December 21, December 31 and January 31.

It's hard work being a writer. It's pretty much a full-time, all-consuming passion. If I'm not writing, I'm editing. I do it at home, I do it at work. Don't get me wrong -- I do enjoy it and occasionally, I can even say I love it. But it's still a job, and it's still a chore. It requires discipline and motivation and with very little reward coming back at you.

At any rate, I didn't mean to get all morose, mostly just contemplative. My goal is to finish the two edits currently in my inbox before I leave on Saturday.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Deeper and deeper goes the fan girl

I'm seriously contemplating splurging and keeping my current channel line-up just because of the "X-Files." The maternal unit suggested buying episodes of "The X-Files" but they cost $80/season on DVD. Which is two problems: a) $80 and b) I don't own a DVD player.

Dang Sci Fi for showing "X-Files."

I'm such a pathetic little fan girl.

Also, DS9 season 7 is apparently available on DVD now. Also lots and lots of money. Season 7 isn't my favorite though, but I think I fell in love with Kira during season 7. Now season 5, now that was kick-ass Trek. Poor Gene Roddenberry. If only he'd seen what had happened to his beloved franchise, just how good it could be with friction, continuity, war and angst. Yes, we all hunger for world peace, but every now and then, you gotta stir it up. Without conflict, there is no story. DS9 had lots of conflict, lots of stories and terrific characters. And it's underappreciated.

So for that reason, December is International DS9 Month. Do something to celebrate. Watch the show, read the fic, talk about your favorite episodes, write fic, make icons, send FB for your favorite DS9 fic, just do something to celebrate the darkest chapter of Trek.
Nostalgia

I've been watching "The X-Files" on Tuesday nights on Sci-Fi and I realize just how much I loved that show. It's a pure case of not knowing how much you miss something until it's gone. Admittedly, I didn't see most of season 9 -- season 9 doesn't really exist for me except for the season finale, which I just now finally understand thanks to an XF ep I saw last night dealing with the shooting death of Scully's sister, Melissa.

The acting, the intelligence, the wit, the imagination, the creativity -- this is what made XF so good and on occasion, soooo scary. There are a few episodes that have completely scarred me for life, including one that took place in Mumbai, with a amputee pushing himself on a little cart; I've never quite gotten over the creaking noise since then. And then there was an ep with a freaky dog and I remember my mom pointing out a dog to me and saying, "Isn't that the XF dog?" And yes, I practically hyperventilate now at the sight of a dog I don't know, so having the XF on top of that, well, not entirely good for the psyche.

Yesterday was mytharc -- Krycek and the black oil. I've never quite understood the mytharc, but I don't think the viewer is supposed to. For me, the mytharcs tend to be more 'shippy than the regular Weirdness of the Week episode, and so I just watch for Mulder and Scully. I have a serious straight girl crush on Scully and Mulder, well, don't even get me started on just how very cool he is. Very few television shows have characters whom I'm fallen for so completely.

Yes, I like individual characters on various shows -- Kira on DS9, Lindsey on The Practice, Tom Paris on Voyager, Mac on JAG -- but very rarely do I like all of the leading characters. With Scully and Mulder, I needed them both. This is why season 9 didn't work for me. There was no Mulder. Yes, I like Scully a lot, but I like Scully with Mulder. It's like "JAG" -- I prefer Mac and Harm together, if not romantically, then at least socially and professionally. It's the dynamic between the characters that I enjoy as much as the writing etc.

I did like Monica Reyes to an extent, and John Doggett more, but it wasn't the same. To me, the XF were about Mulder and Scully and without Mulder, it wasn't the XF (not to mention, Weepy!Scully in Season 9 was really, really annoying). Watching these old eps have made me realize this much -- it is possible to write intelligent, likeable characters with a sizzling chemistry and sometimes, have them carry the show even when the show itself makes absolutely no sense.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Math A Go Go

I passed the math test. With flying colors. And apparently, was the first person to pass the darn thing in weeks. Types of questions included finding surface area of a cube (easy!), figuring out how much money Joe spent on a watch and camera if he had $50 left over (more Algebra and fractions than I've done in years), and a few other "huh?" type questions that involved drawing three-dimensional pictures and using lots of Xs and Ys. Also included was a question on what years did the Civil War take place, how many traffic lights are there in this city and what are the five most populous states in the Union, listed in order.

There were 17 questions all together -- I got 14 correct. I'm amazed that I only got 3 wrong -- my former teammate had taken the test last week and he was the financial brains on my highly dysfunctional second semester first year team (well, none of us were number people really, compared to other classmates, but he and I took the lead there and he was better than I was) and he didn't pass the test. So of course I freaked out. If an engineer can't do it, what hope is there for a marketing person?

Due to the public nature of the blog, I'm just putting the test results here -- those of you who know why I took it understand what came next :-)

Sunday, November 30, 2003

RSS

This blog is now officially RSSified and can be syndicated onto friends' lists for livejournal users. The myRSS feed is still available as well, though it's only titles for this blog's entries; the new feed will include not only the titles, but the entire post for your consumption. Y'know, because you can never get enough of me!
Your name in lights

The odd thing about submitting stories to various publications is that you do and then you forget about them. It's best to let it go, not think too hard about it -- the most you do before sending your babies off into the void is to mark it down on the spreadsheet that this story went to this publication on this date and then maybe a brief note if there is a follow-up. But then, after that, it's best to forget that you even sent it out; if you have memory like mine, this is very easy to do.

I came back this weekend to find a story of mine in print. Since I'm big on following my own advice, I'd forgotten even sending it in. It's always nice to find the magazine and your name right there below the story title. And it was even artistically decorated. With fish. And no surprise to some of you, but I couldn't remember the story either. So I was reading along quite nicely until I tripped right over a typo.

You know me. I'm the typo queen of the western world. In fact, I'd like to say it's an expression of just how my brain moves compared to my fingers. Or I could say it's some kind of experimental kind of writing -- how many words can I leave out and still have the reader 'get it'? So you see, really, there's an art and intelligence behind my typos.

This is what I tell myself.

Anyway, so there's this typo and I stared at it and then put the magazine down. I haven't read to the end of my own story so I really don't know how it ends, it's been so long. But it was nice, very nice, during this long pin-prick wait for SNW results to come back, to see my name in print for something other than work.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Note for Alex Voy

Alex, I got your email about your problems and just in case you don't receive my reply, I'm putting the gist of it here: I finished your beta and sent it back on Wednesday. I'll send you another copy on Sunday evening when I return home. Let me know what email address you'd like it sent to, or I can always upload it somewhere for you to download. Whatever works best for you.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Holiday Cheer

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday! I'm wrapping up some stuff here on my end -- betas, some emails, that kind of thing -- before heading out on the roads tomorrow, along with 3 million other Americans. I may or may not be online intermittantly this weekend, we'll see how it goes. Right now, the schedule is completely jam-packed with activity and every free minute is taken up with something of some kind. Which is the way I like it. So if I don't talk to you this weekend, see you on Monday!

Monday, November 24, 2003

Oh for the love of all that's holy and good, but subtext and text? Does it or does it not exist? Is interpretation valid or no? Does a dead horse rise? I refer you to bulletpoint number 9 here.
Baby, it's cold out there

I didn't mention that the temperature dropped about 20 degrees yesterday during my adventures in shopping. This morning, it was 30 F when I woke up. 30 F! Damn it, Jim, but this state just lost its competitive advantage!

Luckily, I remembered to turn on the heat before going to bed, so I wasn't completely frozen this morning, but like last February when the mercury dipped below freezing, I didn't have a jacket today and let me tell you, a sweater set just doesn't cut it. It made me think I really should have splurged and bought that lovely black pea coat from the GAP yesterday, instead of just settling on three pairs of trouser socks. But on a positive note, thanks to the super duper elastic of new socks, my legs are very nicely warm.

Yes, I know you are all thinking, "But you're from Vermont! You shouldn't be cold!"

Hey, I was cold in Vermont too and in Massachusetts as well (ask Bjorn). And I had polar fleece for those icy days! Never underestimate the power of polar fleece!

Other than the cold, it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood. The sky is a very nice faded blue, almost white on the horizon, rather than that ickle line of brown smog I see so often. And the freeways below us are practically clear of traffic. It's as if everyone has already taken off for Thanksgiving. Me, I get to be here until Thursday morning.

Today has been a FB morning. I'm cleaning out my stories folder and wow, there are some old things in there, such as fic written post-"Nemesis". But my credo is better late than never, yes? And I was feeling bad because I was slacking off on the FB lately and there have been superb stories posted in recent days.

I should probably get back to work...

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Unexpected shopping took me out and about today so I didn't get the things done online that I'd planned to do. I spent way too much time in toy stores and baby stores and came up empty. My grand purchase after all of that time was three pairs of trouser socks. Which I very much needed, but I drove nearly 30 miles for three pairs of trouser socks (not counting the 6 miles to the first shopping center where I was out-classed and then nearly suffocated by the aromas in Victoria's Secret).

And then there was that incident at the Mexican restaurant, when the waiter thought I was my 24-year old cousin's mother.

::dies::

In other words, I'm so unbelievably far beind in email. What I need is a secretary.

BTW, for those of you receiving this blog via email, I re-enabled the subscription service so you should be once have updates delivered to the convenience of your inbox once a day. Sorry about taking so long to notice that there was a problem. Feel free to drop me a email if you have any questions about the email subscription. Any questions about the RSS feed should be directed to jemima.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Jerie has requested a renewal of hostilities in a blog near you. Please watch this space for further developments in the exciting and thrilling Blog War . Who will make the next appearance on Gilligan's Island? Will the pool boys continue to deliver margaritas? Will the Mods run out of quarters? Who will take the wheel of the Great Intergalatic Minivan? Will whip cream radically change the ecosystem on the desserted island? More importantly, will doctors finally discover whether Chakotay have a pulse? Will Mulder and Scully ever discover what's really out there? Stay tuned!

Friday, November 21, 2003

I do have another unpopular opinion -- cliques are good. Cliques are fun. Cliques are understandably 'elite' to the people who don't belong and do want to belong. Everyone, for the most part, is part of a clique of some kind. In high school, there are cool cliques and not so cool ones. Fandom is the same way.

I'm not sure of the right adjective to describe my clique, known either as Mod Squad or Mad Chatters -- I only know how it makes me feel -- the idea that someone's got your back. It's a very nice and safe feeling and I understand there might be people who don't like that idea or us -- either specifically or generically. In the end, what others think doesn't matter, because this group of ladies, we just clicked for a variety of reasons and we enjoy chatting and emailing and occasionally, talking on the telephone. We get along great, we're there for each other when necessary, and we respect each other. That's really what's important.
I promised jemima I would come up with 10 unpopular things, despite my great dislike and the fact that the last time Liz Barr, who apparently is to blame for this, published her manifesto, I got flamed. Well, RJ got flamed along with me, so there's some consolation in that. But first, a little anecdote from work yesterday. A co-worker asked me how much it was to send a regular-size letter. The conversation played out as followed:

Me: 37 cents

Him: So this is enough? (holds up envelope with two stamps on it)

Me: That's more than enough. You bought a round-trip stamp. (I start giggling). It's going to get there and come on right back. (more giggling)

Maybe you had to be there.

****

As promised, 74 cents worth gives you 10 Unpopular Opinions:

Note: the word 'you' is used generically and is not meant to refer to any particular place/person/thing/vegetable/animal/fandom/story/mailing list/message board/email.

1. I don't prefer slash fic. Not choosing to voraciously read and write slash fic doesn't make me homophobic.

2. I don't like Fuhq Fests. Really. I don't. For me to accept a pairing, I have to at least see some signs that the characters know each other. If it's not canon that they know each other, then the author has to have a logical and compelling set-up. If not, then it's just original fiction that just happens to featured trademarked names for the characters.

3. Fandom grudges are silly. Please. It's not important enough to get upset over. Don't like something/someone? Move on. No need to spend time and energy flaming etc. The amount of time and energy that goes into perpetuating some of these hate fests could go into writing more fic!

4. Drabbles and flash fiction are killing fandom. Whatever happened to stories at least 1000 words long? And while I'm on the drabbles, most of them aren't good. Just because it's only 100 words doesn't make it good. You need to have a beginning, middle and an end, just like all regular 100+ word stories. And since I'm casting stones, I might as well admit that with one exception, my drabbles aren't any good either.

5. FB is not a requirement of fandom. It's a perk of fandom. This is an important distinction. If you're writing for the promise of FB, you're writing for the wrong reasons.

6. Read FAQs and list rules. If you mess up and get chastised because you didn't follow the rules, that's not anyone's fault but your own. Deal with it.

7. Muses exist. They talk. They move fingers on a keyboard. They just happen. Mine doesn't have a name like jemima's does, but I know what it feels like when she's here.

8. Beta readers are good. It doesn't matter how talented a writer you are or how much wonderful FB you get, beta readers can make you better. Don't post without one. And yes, grammar/spelling/punctuation does matter. Believe it or not, if you cannot take the trouble to correctly spell the characters' names, I can't be troubled to actually read the story.

9. Meta? So 2001. I really, really don't want to read an essay on why you write slash or why original fiction is so much harder to write then fanfiction and style versus substance, ad nauseum. We like nothing more than navel gazing, but heck, thanks to the bellybutton dance of Glass Onion and Zendom, has anything been said or ranted about we haven't already heard? Chances are if you think it's an original take on a subject, take another think: it's probably not. The next time you want to meta, fic instead!

10. Fandom is like high school. It's inherently unfair. The trick is to find a part of fandom that feels the least unfair to you and stay there. In other words, yes, the social strata exists, and some will be BNFs and others won't be. There's no need to meta on forever on the inequalities forever and ever. Accept it and move on.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

After the meme of Ten Unpopular Opinions swept blog-land, is it any surprise that now it's Ten Things I Love About Fandom is the new black?

Why yes, I am feeling particularly snarky today. Shhh, don't tell!
Happy Birthday, jemima!

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

For the record, I really, really, really dislike that '10 unpopular opinions' meme that's going around. It seems like another reason to be inconsiderate/rude -- especially on fannish 'unpopular opinions.' The Mad Chatters already know my opinions on things fannishly related. There's no reason for the rest of the world to know. Though, gotta say, I'm in such a mood, there are definitely a thing or two I'd like to say to some people, but I'm practicing what I don't often succeed at: restraint.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Also. I wanted to play a computer game today because, well, I did, and I apparently have none. So I was on Yahoo losing at Literati once again, when I saw a download of the Lemonade Tycoon Game. Which I played as a kid. So I downloaded that, played for about an hour, sucked lemons, and just when I thought I got the hang of it, Yahoo informed me my free trial was over and I needed to hand over $19.99 if I wanted to keep playing. This was probably a good thing. I could see myself losing hours of my life screaming at sim people walking by my lemonade stand, "Why oh why won't you buy my lemonade?"

For an MBA, I was very, very, very bad at this game.

In my defense, if Yahoo had let me play for just another hour or so...
Nothing to see here

This poor man got fired from Evol Corp for blogging.

For those of you who are concerned about my current blogging, I am at home and on my own machine. While I'm about to blog something semi work-related, it's not really so. Just that my boss said I could have January 15 off. Which makes for a really fun two days -- Sarah Brightman on the 14th and then a day off on the 15th. Hopefully, this little paragraph is not a firing offense.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Link of the Day

Provided by who else other than world-class surfer Bjorn? The Nigerian Scammers get a taste of their own medicine ici.
Quiz

Timeless
You are Timeless!
Literally, an air of ageless elegance surrounds
you, and you're well-loved by everyone because
you simply don't go out of fashion (and that
smash hit "Time To Say Goodbye" might
have something to do with things). You're
classy, dignified, and more than a little bit
regal. You're also famous the world over, but
you're still quite personable, benevolent, and
easy to love.


Which Sarah Brightman Album Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla
Done!


50,300 words! Whoop!

Saturday, November 15, 2003

This, that, and the kitchen sink

Someone is seranading me outside of my window. Or at least I think so. He is singing and my windows are open, ergo, he must be seranading me. But unfortunately, he is off-key and drowning out my non-off key music, and so I had to shut the windows on him.

Today, I purchased whole wheat pasta along with the usual egg noodles. I admit, I was attracted to the recipe on the back of the whole wheat pasta box more than anything else and in a fit of laziness I got already oregano/basil/garlic seasoned chopped tomatoes.

I did NaNo today. I'm somewhere around 43,000 words, and it looks like most NaNoers took last week off along with me. I'm on the middle of the third page today.

I haven't gotten much further with the Mary Magdalene fanfiction and am about to ditch Mary in favor of the Alamo. I can't believe Margaret George -- author of the Mary Magdalene book -- would let me down like this but I lost it when Mary's husband accused Mary of being crazy and then chased her out of town with a pitchfork. Okay, maybe the pitchfork part isn't true, but the rest of it read like a bad, bad fanfic (in fact, this scene is very reminscent of the fic jemima blithely calls "The Worst Story Ever"). This is supposed to be my intelligent high-brow literary reading, not more trashy genre stuff. There's plenty of the bad stuff here.

Is it just me or is "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" on all time on Bravo? And it seems cable television is where "Law and Order" goes after wearing out its welcome at NBC (where it is also on all the time -- is there a night when "Law and Order" isn't on on NBC?). It's amazing -- flip through any channel and whoa, "Law and Order" in all of its various permutations. I saw an ep briefly the other night with Claire, played by Jill Hennessey. The less said about Angie Harmon the better, though I'm not necessarily sure acting skill is a real requiremen for that show -- only the ability to look serious and occasionally summon up some righteous fury.

Friday, November 14, 2003

The writing machine is on sabbatical

I'm on day 2 of NaNo respite, which means I've probably fallen off page 2, but it's not a competition anyway, and the last two days, I haven't much felt like writing. As much as I still have more to go and know what I'm doing, I needed a break and I'm eager to come back to this tomorrow, or as early as tonight. Depends on how the day goes. The muse must be rested and eager.

I also realize I'm getting much, much more picky about what I write. I used to write anything at a drop of a hat and these days, I seem to think about ideas, toss them around for a while, but then nine times of out ten, don't follow it up. I'm wondering if that's a sign of burnout or trying to avoid burnout or simply choosing projects that appeal to my style and ideas?

That's not to say I'm not up to challenges, but I seem to be taking longer, don't feel the rush in anything I'm doing and I'm sure that'll change once January rolls around and I'll be like, "Eek!" Though, to be honest, I thought that 'eek!' would have kicked in by now. That hasn't been the case.

I think it helps to have inspiring work around you. I write best when I'm inspired by others. That's not to say I'm not into writing for myself, and sure, I write things down all the time, ideas here and there. But when it actually comes to focus and quality, that's when I need the high standards set by people around me. I love feedback and yesterday, I got three wonderful pieces of FB for some very old stories, and that was great. But I realize more and more that FB isn't a motivator any more.

What motivates me is the story I tell and how I tell it. It's probably one of the reasons why my circulation/profile in general has dropped so low in the last few months. It's not that I don't want people to read, but it's no longer as important to me as writing a story I want to read. I'm spending the time when I ought to be marketing myself thinking and writing. The decision was made unconciously, and occasionally, I'll see a ML and think, "Hmmm, I should join to get my name out there" but then I look at my crowded inbox, realize I'm not really giving FB to people any more and so why sign up for more of the same?

That's not to say I don't appreciate feedback. I do. I keep pretty much every single email I've ever received since 1999. I reread it. I write back to the sender and tell them that I appreciate their comments. I want them to know that it doesn't matter if it's the first note I've received or the hundredth; it's equally valuable and appreciated to me. So along with my own changing motivations and inclinations, the feedback given when someone else reads a story of mine and likes it is simply the cherry on top.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Con te partiro

Astute fans of the One and Only Sarah Brightman will recognize today's subject title. It's also my way of telling all of y'all my tickets to her concert arrived! ::incoherent fangirl squee:: My tickets are just beyond the floor, which is awesome -- I really don't think I could get much closer (I was on the floor, 14th row for Elton John, but that was also a press pass). I did have a momentary heart attack when I got the receipt and it charged me for two tickets, not just one, and I called the box office in a panic. They said it was just a glitch, probably from when the the system rejected my brand spankin' new credit card twice before going through on the third time. A very nice guy named Odney assured me that I was only being charged for one ticket.

The local news did yet another story on insane and crazy people on the internet yesterday. I just feel like grabbing news people and saying, "Okay, okay, we get that there are pedophiles and child molesters lurking in chat rooms, but what about us normal people?" I mean, granted 'normal' isn't quite the word to use for a group of women who can randomly erupt into incoherence and quite-focused behavior upon a sighting of Alan Rickman or go on for hours on whether Margaret George has written Mary Magdalene fanfic. And don't forget our past obsession, the saintliness of one Sir Thomas More. So maybe not your regular coffee shop fodder, but for God's sakes, I wish just once the news would say, "Look! Internet! Normal people! What a concept!" But then again, a group of women who chat endlessly on AIM about things other than picking up children (well, unless the child belongs to the woman) isn't exactly interesting news.

I haven't NaNo'd since yesterday morning. I'm not losing speed, just got home from the class at 9:30 or so last night, and by the time I ate dinner (toast! It's pretty much the only safe thing in my repetoire right now), I didn't feel like getting on the computer. So I plopped in front of the television and watched Avery Brooks narrate Ancient Evidence: Joshua and the Walls of Jericho -- any show that maps out earthquakes over two millennia is an insta-attraction for me (I was really taken with the idea of 'traveling' earthquakes, moving slowly down a faultline, due to pressure points building up). And yes, Avery Brooks was continuing to follow the acting style of his mentor, William Shatner, as he stood in the desert, using that "voice of doom" and "hand gestures of angst" thing he has got going. You'd think Brooks was storming Jericho himself, the way he was going on.

And oh yes, I've added a link to my RSS feed to the side bar. I think my blog update is currently not functioning -- it is rather sketchy that way. Hopefully, it'll come back online. I wouldn't want anyone to be deprived of yours truly for too long.

And, and... Sarah Brightman! January 14!

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

To whom it may concern

Here are the current NaNo standings. For the record, 500,010 words in 12 days, even given time zone differences, has to be bogus. That's 42,000 words a day, and if you work straight through and only sleep eight hours a night, that's 2,334 words an hour, 38 words per minute. Regardless of what jemima thinks, even I can't keep up that kind of pace.

I'm currently sitting somewhere around 41,000 and am about to need a lawyer. If you specialize in Constitutional law (US, that is), please drop me a line at seemag1@yahoo.com. It's much appreciated. Currently, I'm getting by by writing, "It's against the 14th Amendment!" So please, rescue me from my own lameness.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Not only can you subscribe to receive my blog entries in your email (sign-up to your left on the sidebar), jemima has now created an RSS feed for this blog. Those technically minded among you will know what to do with this information.
Drive by posting

36,213 words! Woo hoo!

That is all.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

We lay our hearts wide open

jemima challenged me to finish NaNoing this weekend, but just as I hit my stride, I found about an impromptu gathering of MBAs over at MBA S's new place. And just like in BC/S where I got lost everytime I went to this person's house, I went south instead of north here too and got there late.

So that's just a long way of saying that I lost discipline because of the promise of intellectual gathering and Coke. As in the soda, Coke. Gah. Didn't end up eating at the gathering though as they didn't realize V and I don't eat pepperoni or sausage on pizza, so later, three of us went out to eat and then I came back here to work on NaNo.

I'm currently sitting at 31,176 words.

Can I do 19,000 words in one day? Doubtful. As it is, my characters are already going off in weird tangents and somehow, I coax them back to where they are supposed to be, but it's still freaky when one character gets dumped in a Chinese restaurant and I'm sitting there going, "Huh? When was anyone going to tell me about this development?"

jemima thinks I'm in need of a support group. NaNo Anonymous, she calls it. I'd like to point out that most of the word count is her doing. I don't know what it is with Mod Squad members slogging off their responsibilities and pointing their collective fingers in my direction.

A support group. Hmph.

Friday, November 07, 2003

Due to satellite freeze yesterday, I didn't get to see the beginning of "Survivor" or "Friends", but DirecTV came back to life for the second 30 minutes (but by which time, I'd mostly lost interest in watching television to begin with). But, riddle me this, was anyone else (Bjorn?) as bothered by the vote-off at the end as I was? My favorite person is gone! Wah!
Bird by Bird

Word count: Contrary to popular belief, I'm not done, but am sitting currently at 22,402.

Anne Lamott (the patron saint of NaNo) wrote a book, Bird by Bird, that's supposed to be one of the really good writing books out there. Even the discerning folks over at zendom think so. I'm reading it now concurrently with NaNoing, because, y'know, NaNo requires all possible support along with jemima's refrain, "Another fifty words! You can do it! Go go go!"

I came across this quote in the book, a true vindication for those of who us are not huge planners and tend to ramble on endlessly until we stumble on our plot or when our characters blow themselves out of an airlock in pure misery.

E. L. Doctorow wrote: "writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."

Lamott goes on to write: "You don't have to see where you're going, you don't have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet in front of you."

Tomorrow, I shall present to you the very reason for Nanoing. But for now, I must NaNo.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

NaNo to You!

The current word count is 19,050, as of this morning. Yes. I'm a total and complete dork. Anyway, nothing like cat vacuuming, and the NaNoWriMo forums are perfect for that. Some of my favorite threads include Egregariously Erroneous Information, Your Worst Line So Far, How to stop a pack of stampeding pengins and Dear anonymous, homicidal, self-loathing protogonist.

Monday, November 03, 2003

1,667 freakin' words

I'm sitting pretty at 12,600 words right now. Yes, I'm surprised too and it's all jemima's fault. The Houston newspaper had an article on NaNo; you can find it here.

My favorite part: Here's the deal: Participants must write a 50,000-word novel during the month of November. That's 1,667 freakin' words a day. Word counts are determined by an online computer that couldn't care less how good, bad or ugly each work is. Quantity trumps quality in NaNoWriMo.

There you have it. The plain, ugly, unvarnished truth. We're not delusional; crazy, yes, but not delusional. We know we're not producing good stuff or even mediocre. We understand there's a reason why March is National Novel Editing Month. We know that 1,667 words/night is a hard quota to make. I didn't make it last year -- I fell about 7,000 words short. That's precisely the reason I'm back this year, even though I know this is possibly one of the most mind-bending, thankless things I've ever done. It's about guts and glory, baby! We're doing it because it's hard; like I said, didn't manage to finish last year and there's no shame in it. But I gave it a go and for that reason, I've have 43,000 words I wouldn't have had otherwise.

NaNo is about the challenge of the human spirit, to know there are people out there doing it with you, other people who are desperately trying to make a go of the novel thing. It's a time to sit down and force discipline into ourselves and just keep on going, come what may. So what if your characters start swapping cookie recipes like mine did last year or randomly burst into the chorus of "Moon River"? That's really not the point and it never has been.

I love reading the forums over at NaNoWriMo and I enjoy seeing what other people have done. For me, it's the perfect time to put aside other writing and work on a story idea that has been knocking around my brain for the last three months. I'm very aware that some of you will never see this year's novel, just like you didn't see last year's novel. But I'm in it for the challenge and the thrill of saying, "I wrote 50,000 words in a month."

There's no shame in admitting you're in it for the word count and not much else.
Is anyone else getting weird invitations to join Yahoogroups? I got one today for a group called 'hook_ups' which is "where the single people meet." Well, obviously the moderater (spammer?) has never been on a Yahoo mailing list before because quite frankly, it's possibly the last place one would go to meet their One True Love. And the name 'hook_up' -- ew. My guess is that these mailing lists are probably just spam lists, where people join thinking one thing and end up getting more spam in their inbox. It's yet another reason why one should just say No! to mailing lists.

Friday, October 31, 2003

Go, go, go!

NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow and so I'm going to be keeping blogging to a minimum over the month of November. I have pain in my left shoulder and typing exacerbates it. It's one of the reasons I haven't been online as much recently and why I've been slow to respond to email. It wouldn't be so bad if my job didn't entail so much typing, but it does, and so something has to give. So I'm still going to do my best to do NaNoWriMo and do the bulk of the writing -- between 4,000 - to 6,000 words over the weekends so I can take it a little more easy during the week (goal of 1,800 words/night). Just under 17 hours left to go!

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

I'm officially crazy -- I've reregistered for NaNoWriMo. So every night, I will have to write between 1,667 and 2,000 words in order to make the 50,000. Stay tuned to this blog for my eventual breakdown success.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Oh Canada!

This just in. The Rock Paper Scissors Championship (Motto: "Where beer is a sporting accessory") has a new champion: A Canadian named Rob Krueger walked away with about $3,825. Read all about this amazing feat here. So, not only does Canada produce international-level curlers and lawn bowlers, they also now have an RPS champion.

In my continued quest to discover new, exciting sports (see "Extreme Ironing"), I hereby give you the World Rock Paper Scissors Championship. The strategy FAQ is especially entertaining, and please, try to stifle a giggle when it talks about hiring a trainer. Wiggling fingers just don't cut it no more.

I proposed the sport of Extreme Writing to jemima, but she says it lacks spectator appeal. Like ironing and 'throwing' random hand motions has all the excitement and drama of a World Series. While it'll be years before we can get Extreme Writing its own stadium, you can still check out NaNoWriMo which is writing masochism at its best (worst?). So go, be a spectator at the craziest show in the writing world -- will these brave, intrepid (read: crazy) writers make their 50,000 words or not in the month of November? Will they give up precious holidays and shopping days to churn out 1,666 words of gibberish a day? Will they ever be able to bring themselves to look at those 50,000 words ever again? Go, go, go...

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Seema round-up

I geeked at the parentals and finally somehow finagled a technician to come to the house on Wednesday to replace the motherboard free of charge even though their computer is no longer under warranty. Go me.

My uncle gave me a new lamp and I've set it up here in the living room. It looks very nice on the glass coffee table and it's only a 25-watt bulb, so the light is very gentle and nice. It may make a nice night light -- I do need one since I usually get up about once a night.

Also, it's cold here. For those of you in the North laughing at me, I'd like to point out that in Vermont, I had polar fleece. So anyway, the mercury dropping below fifty today necessitates a blanket on the bed; the single flannel sheet just won't cut it.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Speaking of being spammed...

Someone at my office -- well, one of them, there are many branches/divisions -- put together a list of people to send a greeting card to for this holiday and so I was pleasantly surprised to get one yesterday evening. This morning I came into to find some 20 messages all from people I don't know, wishing all a happy holiday plus a few asking what the hey as they do not celebrate this holiday; one belonged to the Church of Scotland (I didn't know Scotland had a church separate from that of England), and there were also a Jew and a Catholic. Plus, rather ashamedly, due to that fact that this is a publishing company, the grammar/spelling/punctuation on some of these responses were downright embarassing. Especially when being sent to people the senders don't even know.

The initial sentiment was nice, but man, now it's starting to feel like a fannish ML.
jemima thinks I'm nuts for deleting mail unseen, but I gotta draw the line somewhere. And so, today unbound is no longer a valid email address for me. Same thing applies as info, sales, and webmaster. This morning, I only had one spam message in the TSEA (tm) and it was marked junk and so was appropriately filtered. So yes, I'm a happy bunny today. My yahoo email is beyond hope, but at least I can excercise some control over the TSEA.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

The Marlins took game five. No extra innings needed. Urbina, no matter what Williams says about him, is da bomb.

My newly found geekiness is wonderful and filtering beautifully. Farewell, dear Nigerians, farewell.

That is all.
Geekiness

I had it with spam in Top Sekrit Email Addy (tm) so I finally played around with some configurations on the mail server and SpamAssasin. Filtering has now been enabled on the inbox. The email will be flagged and *** JUNK *** will be put into the subject-line and then it'll be trashed, but I'll still be able to check out the mail and see if it's something I need to read. Right now, I've got SpamAssasin set at the default level 3, but if this deluge continues, I may raise the level and risk 'losing' some valid emails.

In addition, I also have three new mail recipes that will cause some emails to be deleted automatically. Since we're talking domain-level, any email sent to info, webmaster or sales will be automatically deleted without me even seeing it or without chance of retrieval. I don't think anyone here sends email to those addies, but just a head's up in case you feel the need to send me email at either of those addresses.

Finally, I've banned some domains -- specifically that stupid Italian Dance Grand Prix and BharathGreetings -- from sending me email. Both organizations got a hold of my TSEA and send me regular updates and emails, but with no way to unsub. Color me annoyed. So if any of you send me a BharathGreeting, it will bounce and I will never see it.

And while I'm glad to see Congress getting along for once, I don't have high hopes for this spam bill making much of a difference.

***

I watched the World Series last night. Right down to the heart-poundingly exciting last inning. Bjorn, feel free to pick your jaw up off the ground now.

That is all.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

PSA

I may be changing my Top Sekrit Email address soon as I've been getting more spam than usual. Those of you who do have the Top Sekrit Email address will be informed of the switch if and when I make it.
Burn baby burn

"Actually, my quads feel fine."

This was me, in a moment of delusion. I got home from work tonight in time to make the 6 pm circuit training class held on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the gym. The complex hired a trainer to lead the class; he's got a dreamy Australian accent -- added attraction. At any rate, I went to this one-hour class today and it reminded me a lot of the muscle-burning abs and gluts and body sculpting classes (motto: when you stop waving, your arm should stop as well) in the Big City to the Northwest, pre-MBA. What I learned in today's class is that 30 minutes of cardio does not equal strength and while I was still going strong on cardio during the whole time, the strength excercises were murder. But man, I forgot how much I enjoy the burn.

The quote from above came in a moment of sheer desperation. We had just finished lunges and squats and then the trainer (all cuteness and Australian accent having lost their charm by this time) said that we should line up against the wall and basically just as if we were in a chair but without the chair. First minute, I was fine. Then came more lunges and squats. And then another minute of the 'sitting'. Trainer adopted me as his special needs student this week and chose to 'sit' next to me. He leaned over and said, "Are your legs shaking yet?"

Through gritted teeth, I said, "Actually, my quads feel fine."

Which was mostly true. My legs are pretty strong and I can hold my own with lunges, squats, etc. It's the push-ups that do me in. I've never been really able to do push-ups, not even in peak physical condition due to my weak right wrist which tends to swell and give out when forced to perform any work more strenuous than lifting a coffee mug. So you can imagine just how embarassing tonight was. I used to sit push ups out in my aerobics classes and do bench presses or arm curls instead. But I gave it a shot.

Anyway, my muscles are reverbrating atm and I really hope my schedule allows me to attend more of these. I was always grateful for my Mondays off when I worked for Very Large Insurance Company as I could go to a morning body sculpting class with this impossibly cheerful instructor ("Lower, lower, lower, now hold, hold, hold, hold..."). I also met some cool people, including a French guy and we had a very nice conversation half in English and half in French. He spoke a little too quickly for me at times, but I also picked up a couple new words, and that's always a plus.

I will address the earlier post (see below, the 1:46 pm post from earlier today) at another time. I've got more to say on the subject, but I've got gather my thoughts when I'm more, y'know, coherent.
I haven't got time to respond to jemima's recent fandom in retrospect post although I admit to being one of the BOFQs ("Bitter Old Fic Queens") she is talking about. I'm all about being marginalized these days. Fandom takes too much time, and man, just way much more effort to go BNF ("Big Name Fan") than in the past (and BNFdom isn't all that it's cracked up to be -- say you're retired and suddenly, you are once again no one; on the positive side, this also means less pressure to write fic other people want to read. I personally got into fandom to write stories I wanted to read. The shift from me to you isn't all that it's cracked up to be).

Maybe I'm just nostalgic for the good ol' days and it was just as painful, unrewarding and seamy as jemima says it is today. In other words, the rose-colored glasses are off, and we BOFQs seem to have a high threshold for not only stupidity, but also for squickiness. It's no surprise the RL world thinks we're crazy when twincest and pretty naked boys -- not good old gen fic -- is what's popular, though not necessarily good.
News round-up

In an August survey of Yahoo! users, 77 percent said they would rather clean a toilet than sort through the junk e-mail in their inbox. Article.

Apple Computer Inc. said that Windows computer users had downloaded its iTunes digital jukebox software and bought more than 1 million songs at a cost of 99 cents each from its online music store since their launch for Windows last Thursday. Article.

Man survives plunge over Niagra Falls. Without protective gear. Apparently, he was smiling and just jumped into the water and whoosh, there he went. Crazy.

And this is what happens when "The Next Joe Millionaire" is considered quality television.

And ladies? The men are here.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Every weekend, they have an infomercial here for a Ronco Rotisserie Oven that is bigger than a bread box. You may have seen this infomercial -- the audience routinely yells out "Set it and forget it!" Anyway, I watch this infomercial nearly every week. And here's the odd thing: it literally grosses me out and yet I still watch it.

There's something about meat on a spit that I just really, really, really don't like. When I was in Munich last summer, I saw lamb revolving on a spit less than 5 feet from the busy street and I was completely grossed out. Which is odd, because if people are eating it in front of me, it doesn't bother me at all. But put meat on a spit, twirl it around and add an apple on top for decoration and I am ready to head to the next restaurant.

So it's odd that I even watch this infomercial, with the people sticking meat on to spits every which way. From pork to beef, from ham to lobster, no animal is safe from "set it and forget it." To add insult to injury, the people who invented the rotisserie oven also have this crazy scary needle thing (the one with the yellow handle) that "injects flavor" into the meat, and they keep stabbing at the poor thing with the needle, in which they have put such bizarre concoctions as olives, sundried tomatoes and garlic. So when you cut the meat, there is a little section running through it with these thingies in it.

Anyway, no idea why I watch these infomercial because I'm obviously not going to buy it, but I'm always impressed at the amount of enthusiasm people can muster up for these kinds of things once they've been bribed placed in a studio audience.

Email update: Working on it.

Friday, October 17, 2003

I gacked this link from Sheetal (see her blog in the sidebar): Medil Global Journalism Blog. I just found it interesting and am jealous of the wit and wisdom going on there. Reading blogs like this just reminds me I am really just a hack.
I didn't know what was so cool about Rupert on Survivor until yesterday. Honestly, he kind of has that caveman look going on and it doesn't help that these survivors are the least stylish group since Richard Hatch went buff; Rupert runs around in tie-dyed t-shirt and some kind of sack around his waist. But. Anyway. Last night, Rupert totally rocked. Not only did he helped Morgan win the reward challenge, but then he went back to Drake without sharing in the challenge. He gave up a shower! Soap! Shampoo! He knew how to play it, that's for sure.

And then when it came time for Morgan to loot Drake, Rupert totally took charge. He said he knew Morgan could take whatever, but he wanted them to take food. So he gave them several bowls of rice. Totally sweet, but smart too. Drake didn't lose any of their luxuries, but they still managed to conjure up goodwill but giving Morgan something they truly needed.

I didn't catch any of the playoff games last night, but Boston? I heard your cry of despair from over here. Better luck next year.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Many of you know I lack the talent to iron in normal conditions so obviously, Extreme Ironing is not the sport for me. More information here.

And I've been remiss in welcoming new subscribers to this blog! Nice to have you here and hopefully you find it enjoyable.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

I was looking for a copy of "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien to link here because the story got me in the same way that Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants" did and instead discovered a site where I could get copies of essays about the story for free or $14.95. Color me boggled. First, how insanely stupid are students to do this? Yes, I know sometimes you hit a brick wall when it comes to literary interpretation -- I know all about this, I'm a business major, for goodness' sake; I wouldn't know a metaphor from a simile if it hit me on the nose.

But anyway, if you're going to cheat, you should at least do it right and after reading the FAQ, I came to the conclusion you should never buy a composition from a site tlacking a grasp of English language fundamentals. See here: Unlike other essay websites, 123HelpMe does not profit from selling essays to students! In truth, we loose money almost every month of the year!

This question from the FAQ cracks me up:

Can 123HelpMe remove an essay from the website?

Yes, we can! We can remove any Red or Yellow essay from the website for 30 days. Since we need to pay someone to manually remove the essay, we are forced to charge $5 for this service. Send payment via Paypal to orders@123HelpMe.com Indicate the number and title of the essay in the Paypal message box.


I found MBA Essays as well. So all of that time I spent honing and writing my three essays first for the MBA program and then second, for the International Affairs program?

But really kids, don't try this at home.

ps. After all that, I didn't find an online copy of this story, but it is available in short story collections and I highly recommend it if you haven't read it. It's a fantastic story about Vietnam and a terrific way of 'showing not telling' character using a unique writing technique.

Monday, October 13, 2003

I've slowly started to catch up on my inbox. I'm now only about a week behind -- I answered an email from last Monday today, so at this rate, I should be all caught up by the end of the week. Again, very sorry.

And just for Bjorn: ICE CREAM!

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Preaching to the choir

Whoo hoo! Everyone get out their confetti, party hats and bugle horns -- it's Marriage Protection Week. Go there to find out why 'marriage' is endangered and what you can do to make sure that this most holy and sacred of institutions remains solely between a man and woman.

I'm amused. Can you tell?

Some choice bits from articles linked:

Talking Points on Marriage

But even childless marriages are a social anchor for children, who observe adults as role models. Besides, childless couples can be “surprised” by an unexpected pregnancy, and they can adopt, giving a child a mother-and-father-based family.

That's if a childless couple actually wants a child; if no, then the 'surprise' won't really be that surprising.

Other groups, such as bisexuals and polygamists, will demand the right to redefine marriage to suit their own proclivities. Once the standard of one-man, one-woman marriage is broken, there is no logical stopping point.

Uh oh.... now I'm scared. Polygamists, bisexuals and gays, oh my!

As society rewards homosexual behavior, more young people will be encouraged to experiment and more will be discouraged from overcoming homosexual desires.

I had to stop right here and put my drink away to keep from spewing all over my keyboard. 'Overcoming homosexual desires'? Please. Continuing on:

Homosexual relationships, which usually lack both permanence and fidelity, are unlikely to change to fit the traditional model of lifelong, faithful marriage.

The stupidity and ignorance of the above sentence speaks for itself.

Then this article is about Questions and Answers: What's Wrong With Letting Same-Sex Couples "Marry?"

I'll just let the arrogance of that article speak for itself (but be warned: it's really, really, really infuriating and I personally just want to smack the author around -- especially when the end of the article becomes an attack of gays and lesbians. I don't usually go around calling people 'idiots' but this author deserve to be so called).

To quote a really cool quote I saw in my blog rounds the other day: If you've got a problem with gay marriage, don't marry a gay person.

Friday, October 10, 2003

I stole this link from jemima, because it's a good one: what's a narrative?. At some point, I want to gather my thoughts on clarity in writing, but today is not that day since I need to think on it a bit more.
Meeting of doom wasn't quite as "finality doomed" (kudos to anyone who can remember where this came from :-)) as previously thought and source of concern has been addressed, action plan created, and we'll see what happens. More in chats o' doom.

Modly beings, how does chat o'doom sound for this weekend? Sunday night, most probably -- say starting at 9 pm my time? (to make allowance for the "Alias" fans amongst us and for Jemima the non-lush who will be busy celebrating Columbus Day doing something other than shopping).
Impending doom

We're having a meeting today. For those of you who know the events of the last few days, you know it's not been an easy week and until yesterday, hadn't even taken lunch in order to keep up. So yeah, we're having a meeting in the next hour or so and I've got this rock-hard knot in my stomach; I wonder how much stress had to do with my upset stomach and headache yesterday (I actually blame the food at the restaurant Sarah and I went to Wednesday night, but, I wouldn't discount this possibility yet). There was Yet Another Incident (tm) at the end of work yesterday and it was caught, fixed, but my guess is that it was the final nail in the coffin.

I really, really, really hope I'm just being overanxious, as de rigor, and that this is just a debrief and not concerning other people. I guess I'll find out when we have this meeting, huh?
Seema report

I didn't get online last night as planned due to not feeling well. Let me tell you, getting sick at work? Not the way to go. Anyway, I did make it to the restroom before, y'know, it was a real disaster :-) Plus we had six tornadoes tear through here. Honestly, it wa a scary, scary lookin' day all the live-long day. So this is just a short way of saying I haven't really gone through email and my goal is to get caught up this weekend. Also, my Top Sekrit Real Addy has been discovered by spammers -- or rather, one of my addies has been -- so now I'm downloading even more spam than usual. Again. Ant hill in West Texas. Problem solved.