Friday, August 30, 2002

So it goes. A new windshield. And since my warranty has run out and 36,000 miles are just around the corner, I can only imagine the other wonderful things in store for me. Excuse me while I curl up into a ball and contemplate the amount of cash I just dropped on my windshield - all the result of me trying to avoid a $25 late fee. ::sigh::
Lazy, hazy days

So in a sense I've gone from doing absolutely nothing to doing lots and lots of things. Which is very strange. Last week, I was practically bouncing off the walls trying to find something to do. The internet can only be amusing for so long - I have the attention span of about an hour per session and then I need to go do something else. But anyway, mucho busy these last couple days and the weekend will probably be hectic as well. Classes start on Monday - we must be the only university that actually ignores the fact that Labor Day exists. I only have one class so it's all good and generally easy to get back into the swing of things. I noticed that Lori has already started and has discovered some of the joys of going back to school. Hang in there - it gets better, trust me.

I've got a crack in my windshield that I need to go take care of today, thanks to errant flying projectile that came off of a truck. I'm afraid that it's longer than six inches - six inches or less means that the crack can be repaired and hence, fully covered by insurance, with no out-of-pocket expenses for me. Longer than six inches means new windshield, in which case I have to pay up to my deductible. So not happy about that. My car seems to instinctively know when I can't necessarily afford the repairs. For instance, last summer, had to get two new tires ($250). Then in the fall, someone hit me in the parking lot, so luckily that was covered under Uninsured Motorists, so I only had to pay the deductible on $1600 worth of damage. But still. And now the windshield.

This reminds me of my cousin who last year wanted a car of his own. It was pretty funny because he really didn't see much to car ownership other than putting in the gas. I mentioned oil changes to him and his eyes glazed over. I mentioned monthly payments and how much it hurt to write out that cheque every month. Then comes insurance and random repairs. And he doesn't have a job. So I asked him, "You're going to pay for this car with what money?" And his response was, once he got a car, he would get a job. I suggested that he got the job first and then get the car, but he insisted on the car first. It was truly circular logic. I also pointed out to him (in my capacity as an employee for an insurance company) that he was under the age of 25 (he was 16 at the time), not married, and living in a city that has very, very high insurance rates. Off the top of my head, I quoted him $3000 a year for insurance for an older model Japanese vehicle. His response? "That's all?"


Wednesday, August 28, 2002

The Breeding Ground moderated by the lovely SaraGoose. Go put your plot bunnies up for adoption there or pick up a bunny or two along the way. All fandoms welcome.

In other news, paid tuition today. Stood in line for about 10 minutes, and then saw that they had a drop box for those of us who aren't contesting the bill - so I went that route. I also stopped by the bookstore. I bought one book already from, but I still have a couple others to look at. The market research book is $100 and I'm hoping to find it cheaper - the other two classes didn't have books listed at all. Which hopefully is good news.

Still have to pick up parking permit and go to the post office to mail off yet another textbook that I sold on So far, my grand total is four books sold - which is wonderful. And I feel even better since I met A at the cashier's office today and he said that one of the books I sold today was being bought back at the bookstore for $5. I paid $80 for that book and they're buying it back for $5. Needless to say, I sold it on for considerably more than that.

Monday, August 26, 2002

Rumors of my death have been greatly exagerrated

I went toobing down the Comal on Sunday. Perfect choice. Was originally supposed to go to Six Flags, but it was too dang hot to take in an amusement park. Hottest day of the summer to date so the river was a much better choice. It's actually quite relaxing to sit in a toob and just float down. We had originally planned to toob the G--- river, but it is completely wild and has overflowed its banks due to the torrential flooding in July, so toobing there isn't allowed. Even the Comal was high and overflowing its banks (very weird to see picnic tables *in* the water), but it was calm (with the exception of the take-off chute - which was a blast. Imagine a toob on white water - fun!), thanks to being dammed off on both ends of the toob-able part. It took about two hours for the whole ride down and it was pretty fun. When we got out of the water, it was about 6 pm and the temperature was sitting at 102.

Today I hung out and watched "Mission:Kashmir," which tells the story of a terrorist in Kashmir (they call themselves "freedom fighters", but whatever). I've gotten about two hours through it, and probably have another hour or so to go. So far, it's pretty interesting. The one thing that I've noticed is that the real problems are never articulated in this movie. The terrorist - his name is Alfaat - says he's doing it in the name of religion, but his "girlfriend" Sufi says that she's a Muslim too and what Alfaat does is not what Islam is about. Interestingly enough, this movie came out before September 11 but I could see a lot of the same rhetoric that is being used these days in the media very much in evidence in "Mission:Kashmir."

I also went to the library and picked up a couple more "Star Wars" books - "Vector Prime" which I read a while ago and "Balance Point" by Kathy Tyers which I skipped because I didn't particularly care for her "Truce at Bakura." So much reading to do that on that front. I did want "Dark Journey" by Elaine Cunningham which is the next book after "Star by Star" but it was unavailable. I'm really, really addicted - weird. I was addicted to the books when the Timothy Zahn trilogy came out and it was a can't-put-this-book-down experience. Then I got confused as the books came out in different orders, not to mention, how fast they came out. I'd finish one and about ten new ones would be on the shelf. So anyway, it's weird now to read in reverse order because I already know what some of the major character arcs are - a lot of them came to a head in "Star by Star" but I figured there were things that I missed that I wanted to go back and review.

Someone somewhere mentioned a "fic diary" - sounds like an intriguing concept. Keep a diary as you're working your way through a longish fic. It'd be interesting to see what comes of it. I can already imagine mine saying something like "This sucks. Who's going to read this? I think I'll eat some chocolate instead." I think I'll keep a diary on the Kasidy fic - it's going slow enough for that. I think I'm on page 30 and I'm still not sure how Kasidy got to DS9 and whether it makes sense - but there she is and I'm going to have to figure that out. So, I'll do a diary.

Wednesday is "official get ready for school day." That's the day I pay tuition, buy books and get my parking permit. Hard to believe year two begins on Labor Day. My new schedule is whacked - I only have one class on Mondays and Wednesdays and it starts at 12:45. I have three classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays and they start at 2 pm and end at 7. I'd like to point out the complete lack of accounting in this schedule. I did get notebook paper, folders and binders today - so school supplies are out of the way.

Feedback is making me feel all warm and fuzzy, but at the same time, I'm feeling a little overwhelmed. I've got a few notes yet to respond to and I'm just generally feeling that same weirdness that I felt right after the ASC Awards. I got counseling from the Mod Squad on this but every now and then, I get that same feeling where it's like, "Okay, what now? If this one is a hit, how do I do better next time?" And of course, every time a new story falls flat, it's the reverse - "Oh, they just liked the fact that J/C kissed in that other story and I really suck and everyone's keeping quiet because no one wants to say so" (okay, I've never written a story where J/C kiss - at least I don't think I have). Weird. I think FB motivates people but it freaks the heck right out of me, to be frank. I stare at each note, contemplate how to answer it without sounding like an idiot, and then hope that I can make this same reader happy next time (unless it's a troll - and trolls have come out to play in droves on ASC as of late - in which case, I'm not really sure what to say). Pressure. I know fanfic is just for fun, but sometimes, it's an awful lot of pressure and it sends the angst bunny fleeing in a hurry.

Yahoo! is still acting weird. It's dumping mail by the bucketload into my inbox and it's getting a little daunting to shift through it - especially since I had to shift everyone over from my regular email address to Yahoo since my ISP mail server went down last week and still hasn't come back online. If I owe you an email, email me.

On a "slightly sorrowful because I'm going to miss you but oh so excited for you" note, bon voyage to Liz!

Saturday, August 24, 2002

I need another fandom like I need another accounting class. Okay, I probably need another accounting class, but I certainly don't need another fandom. But... there's always a but. I just finished reading ""Star by Star" by Troy Denning, the latest and greatest in the post-"Return of the Jedi" profic novels and dang it all, if that wasn't the cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers. Now I'm completely and totally verklemped over what happens next.So of course, I have to go a-searchin' to find out more fanfic of course, not to mention, find out when the next Star Wars book is coming out. Everyone else is waiting on JK Rowling, but me, I just want to know what happens next in the Star Wars universe!

For instance: (highlight for spoilers) Will Jaina turn to the dark side? How dare they kill Chewbacca and Anakin? How will Han and Leia deal with the death of two of their sons? Will Luke and Mara be reunited with their son? Is Nom Anor dead? Thank goodness for the book schedule. Apparently three more novels have been written after "Star by Star" and should be available now. But I'm really, really eager to know what happens next.

For some reason though, most of the fanfic I've found deals with the first two movies - ie Episodes 1 and 2, which frankly don't impress me that much. Yes, I saw them both, but I don't consider them as good as the originals. Luke, Leia, Han - they had character. I really, really can't see Amidala as Leia's mother - other than interesting choices in hairstyle, they don't seem anything alike at all.

Did a little bit of writing today. Not Star Wars related, no. Too complicated of a universe for me right now to deal with, but I'm also debating on the SNW contest and I'm leaning towards entering more than usual, but I also don't have a story-idea in my head that would be acceptable. And not sure that I'm going to come up with one between now and the deadline. So, those of you with plot bunnies you want to give up for adoption, I'm looking for one.
When it rains, it pours

Anyway, so much for griping about nothing to do. Yesterday was a whirlwind of activity. First off, I've sold three of my textbooks through (yeah!) and so I had to ship those off yesterday. Then it was lunch at the burrito place with "Momma" Lisa and going through her negatives of the trip - so I should have new Spain, Cannes and Nice pictures up in a bit. Right after lunch, I met up with V & K to go to the picnic for the first years. It wasn't actually as scary as I thought it was going to be and I had a good time. I did attempt to play volleyball for a while, but then out of consideration for my classmates, I got off the field. I'm really bad at it! The second years seem cool and very friendly - they have great attitudes and of course, we gave them lots of tips on how to stay sane. My classmates were very much pushing the "we're here to help you" attitude at them, as we didn't get that from last year's class and we really could have used their mentorship.

This morning was Habitat for Humanity. I got house cleaning detail and washed windows and scrapped paint off. When that was finished, it was time to lay the sod. Which is always interesting, especially as one very anal-retentive angry man was in charge of the lawn and he was practically yelling at us. At one point, I just kept loading sod into the wheelbarrow so I could avoid having to deal with him. Eventually, we sod-layers got smart, figured out what we were supposed to do (apparently, the lawn seams have a pattern to them - who knew?) and Angry!Guy calmed down. It's amazing how quickly work like this gets done when you have a large group of volunteers. I think there might have been as many as 20 of us on the site at one point, and we were supposed to work from 8 to 11:30 this morning, but we finished everything - the landscaping and housecleaning - by 10:30, which completely and totally rocks.

Plot bunnies are waking up and wanting to go forth and multiply as bunnies do. How is that list coming, Sara? ::grin::

Friday, August 23, 2002

Thursday, August 22, 2002

Where did everyone go? Come back, come back! I miss you all.

Or is just that everyone has a RL and I'm just stunningly bored with my current vacation state? This is the problem, btw, with being a graduate student. Everyone else has a meaningful job and something to occupy themselves from 8 to 5. Me, I just bop around hoping someone will say something or post something scintillating.

I'm seriously considering becoming a spammer to entertain myself. Or MSTing my own stories. Or watching a "Full House" marathon. Or writing "Seventh Heaven" fanfic.

Save me from myself.

Please, please, come back.

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

The lively art of writing

These are just a few tips I've picked up during my writing career, such as it is, most of it garnered while I was interning at a newspaper and some from a sadistic Honors English high school teacher whom I credit with getting me out of having to take any kind of English course in college.

  • Death is always tragic. Very rarely is a death considered untragic and so there's no need to describe the death of someone as "tragic."

  • Words like "this," "that," "it" nd "those" are vague. Specific details help a reader see more clearly and feel more keenly what is going on in a story. Replace words like "this," "that," "it," and "those" with a noun as much as you can.

  • "That", in addition, is usually a word you can do without. Example: I'm going to that Mexican restaurant that is on Sixth Street. You can omit the word "that" and the sentence still makes sense: "I'm going to the Mexican restaurant on Sixth Street."

  • By the same token, avoid the passive voice - the verb "to be" - as much as possible. As often as you can, make the subject of your sentence perform the action, don't let the action *happen* to the subject. Example: She was wearing a light blue leotard. This sentence can be rewritten to read "She wore a light blue leotard."

  • Silence is always broken by sound, so there's no need to write "The silence was broken by the sound of voices singing." This same sentence can be rewritten as "Singing voices broke the silence."

  • Short words are good. Don't use big words unnecessarily. After all, there's no point in writing a story where the reader has to consult her dictionary every five minutes.

  • There is nothing wrong with the word "said." Use "said" often and proudly.

  • Keep the subject as close to the action as possible while writing dialogue. For example: "I love strawberries and chocolate," said the director of communications, Jane Doe. This same sentence can be rewritten as: "I love strawberries and chocolate," said Jane Doe, the director of communications. Unless the title descriptor is absolutely necessarily, Associated Press style dictates that the subect comes before the action, in which case, the above sentence would read: "I love strawberries and chocolate," Jane Doe said.

  • Specifics are wonderful. Why use "red flower" when you can write "red rose" instead? A "red rose" gives a more vivid image of what you are trying to convey versus the rather vague description of a "red flower."

  • Punctuation goes inside the quotes, though that is primarily American style, I believe. Other English-speaking countries have different rules on that. In addition, double-punctuation - there really isn't a good reason to use more than one punctuation at the end of a sentence. Example: "I can't believe you did that!!" really means nothing. It's cleaner to use "I can't believe you did that!"

  • The first part of a conversation that is set off with a action verb ends in a comma. I can't really explain that well, so I'll give an example. Correct: "I'm going to the store today," Joe said. Incorrect: "I'm going to the store today." Joe said. Note the position of the comma in the first example and the position of the period in the second sentence. By putting the period in the second setence, two sentences are created, not one. So it basically reads as: I'm going to the store today. ::pause:: Joe said.

  • "Whose" denotes possession - "Whose umbrella is this?" versus who's - which is a contraction for "who is." "Who is going to the dance tonight?"

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

New article at zendom by yours truly. "My First Fanfic." Yes, against our better judgements, some of us actually talked about the unspeakable. Links included for the guilty.

Monday, August 19, 2002

Letter from Cote D'Ivoire

I MSTed this some time ago and thought I'd share it with y'all.



Oooh, letterhead....


Cote D'Ivoire? I was expecting a letter from Nigeria, but okay.

Dear friend.

Dear Mohammed, (can I call you Mohammed?)

With due respect and huminity, I write to you this proposal.I am the manager of bill and exchange at the foreign remittance department of Banque Internationale du Abidjan.

Oooh, a foreign email. I've never gotten one of those before. I'll be sure to mark Abidjan on my map of the world. I like to track where my emails come from, you see, and sometimes it's really hard because the viagra people and the porn people never tell me their names and refuse to tell me where they are. So I appreciate you being so up front and honest with me from the get-go. I can tell we're going to have a beautiful relationship.

I am writing following the impressive information about you through one of my friends who run a consultancy firm in your country.

::blush:: You're entirely too kind. I have no idea which of my many, many friends in this great, big country of mine gave you my name and so I'm not quite sure what they told you. I should tell you that my special talent is touching my nose with tongue and bending my fingers backwards past the 90-degree line. I should mention that I'm a terrible accountant and I single-handedly brought down Enron, WorldCom and Adelphia. I'm sure a few other companies will come to light in the next few days. But be assured that I have a good heart and my intentions are always positive.

He assured me of your capability and reliability to champion this businees opportunity.

I'd love to have the opportunity. As you might know, I'm recently unemployed and the job market here is a little shaky. I'm looking for any kind of business experience, the more illegal and lame the better. In fact, I'd love to get some experience in pyramid email schemes. Is this something you can help me out with? I hear if you send $1 to 5 people you can get $1 million in less than two months. That's a great return on investment. You can do the math.

In my department, we discovered an abandoned sum of U.S$17m US dollars (seventeen millionUS dollars) .

You know, it occurs to me that there are entirely too many "abandoned sums" of US dollars just lying around in African countries. What is up with that? I think the lesson to be learned here is that it may be dangerous to bank overseas because invariably, you end up dead or missing or overthrown from your position of leadership.

In an account that belongs to one of our foreign customer who died along with his entire family in november 1997 in a plane crash.

My deepest sympathy to the family of your foreign customer. Where are the survivors buried, by the way?

Since we got information about his death, we have been expecting his next of kin to come forward and claim his money because we cannot release it unless somebody applies for it as next of kin or relation to the deceased as indicated in our banking guidelines and policies but unfortunately we learnt that all his supposed next of kin or relation died alongside with him at the plane crash leaving nobody behind for the claims.

What a tragedy. How terrible. I'm completely verklemped by this news. You'll have to excuse me while I take a walk and recover myself. As my friend may have mentioned to you, I'm a sensitive individual with quite fragile nerves. I'm inclined to nervous breakdowns on a regular basis, usually between 3 to 4 times an hour. Occasionally, I feel the need to run in circles while screaming "Beam me up, Scotty!" Perhaps you have some advanced treatment in the Cote D'Ivoire for this condition? I keep looking at my email every day hoping for some kind of cure, but unfortunately, I've only attracted the attention of the viagra people and occasionally, the "natural growth hormone" dudes. Do you know anyone who can send me the approriate spam on this issue?

It is therefore upon this discovery that I and other officials in my department now decided to make this businness proposal to you and release the money to you as the next of kin or relation to the
deceased for safety and subsequent disbursement since nobody is coming forth and we don’t want this money to go into the Bank treasury as unclaimed Bill.

Who is Bill? Do I need to know anything about this foreign customer before you release this money to me? Will there be a pop quiz? What happens if not all the relatives are dead? Do I have to give the money back? Also, what language do you speak in the Cote D'Ivoire? What's your religion? Are you married? Do you have children? What's your middle name? Do you like your job? Forgive my presumption, but really, if we're going to embark on a glorious and profitable venture together, I need more information. I've already shared some important personal details about myself with you. How about a tit-for-tat?

According to our Banking policies and guideline here which stipulates that if such money remained unclaimed after five years, the money will automatically be transfered into the Bank treasury as unclaimed fund. The request of foreigner as next of kin in this business is occasioned by the fact that the customer was a foreigner an Ivorian,that someone from ivory coast here cannot stand as next of kin to a foreigner.

Hmmm... tricky that. I see the problem. But, riddle me this, Batman, what if someone from the Cote D'Ivoire became say, a French citizen and still had family left behind? Wouldn't that take care of the problem? And by the way, you never mentioned what country this foreign customer was from. Do you have very liberal banking laws in Cote D'Ivoire? Are you the next Switzerland? I'm just curious because when I get my first million in the pyramid email scheme, I'll need somewhere to deposit it. Any advice? You seem to be particularly good with financials and as I've indicated, my accounting skills leave much to be desired.

We agree that 25 % of this money will be for you as foreign partner, in respect to the provision of a foreign account, 10 %will be for reimbursement of any expenses incured during the curse of the transaction and 65 % would be for me and my colleagues.

Whoa there, big boy. Who are the "we" you indicate? I thought I was dealing with you and only you. I need some clarification on the subject before I feel confident enough to proceed. After all, *you* are the
one I'm involved with, you're the one who contacted me. I feel like we're best friends and this 'we' you mention is ambigious. I don't like the sound of it. I'd also like to see a copy of this contract in writing, preferably in triplicate. And while I'm making demands, I'd prefer a 45 percent of the cut.

There after I and my colleagues will visit your country for disbursement according to the percentages indicated.

Oh, so we're going to meet? Wow. I'm just so underwhelmed. So how many partners are we talking about? Hmmm? I know, I know, details shmetails. And when do you plan to be here? And do you know where I am? You know, those CDs you can buy with email addresses on them don't specify country. So I'm curious to know how you know where to come - you must be really good at this scamming thing! But don't worry - I'll be waiting for you at the airport with open arms this Friday at 9 am. Don't be late!

Therefore to enable the immediate trnansfer of this fund to you as arranged, you must apply first to the bank as relation or next of kin of the deceased indicating your bank name, your bank account number,
your private telephone and fax number for easier and effective communication and location where the money will be remitted .

Did I mention that I was unemployed? I'm afraid you'll have to call me. I don't know how much it costs to fax this all to the Cote D'Ivoire but I'm pretty sure it's about as much as I spend on groceries in a week. Can I call you collect?

Upon receipt of your reply, I will send to you by fax or email the text of the application. I will not fail to bring to your notice that this transaction is hitch free and that you should not entertain any atom of
fear as all required arrangements have been made for the transfer .

I love to hear "hitch free"! Just the other day, I got something in the mail that promised me a free cruise from Orlando to Mexico but then it turned out that I had to buy 6 nights and 7 days in a luxury hotel. Then there was this airline ticket I got. It was free as long as I could find someone to fly to Mongolia with me. I won't even tell you how disappointed I was to find out that my guided tour of Afghanistan fell through after I found out I'd have to bring my own artillery and hire my own warlord for protection.

You should contact me immediately as soon as you receive this letter.

As requested, I'm writing back to you. Hopefully you find me as fascinating as I find you. I'd love to
have something to remember you by. Pixels are so fleeting and the delete key has a way of working overtime on emails like this. Please, please, write to me as soon as possible. I'll be waiting by my inbox for your prompt and entirely trustworthy response.

Trusting to hear from you immediately.

And the same from me. Be well. I'm eager to proceed as I know you want to get your dirty paws all
over this money. I am eagerly waiting for your next email. Please don't be late. As I mentioned before, I'm in a delicate condition and require fastidiousness from the people I deal with. And oh yes, minor detail, but I'm a little nitpicky about grammar and punctuation. But no worries. We can work on that in the future. I'm sure we have a long, beautiful and fruitful relationship in front of us.

Your’s faithfully,

Your name is poetry to my ears. Smooches.


PS: This doesn't have anything to do with accounting, does it?
ACK! Double ack! So I've been working on the next story in the Glory Days universe for the last few weeks. Today, I finally got somewhere on it - or at least to the point that it's coherent and tight. Well, I saved it to my floppy and came back about an hour later to take another look and voila, the floppy has an error. "Unexpected error occurred while reading A:\sweetest_days.txt". Could you hear the scream? I rebooted and that didn't do a darn thing (and I'm really not sure why I thought that that would work).

Finally, I was able to open the file with MS Word - which apparently is more robust when it comes to corrupted files than WordPad is. Macs, especially, deal beautifully with corrupted files, but unfortunately, I no longer spend time near Macs. Anyway, got the file open and I quickly save it to the desktop. Then Word goes nuts. It decides that it must save the file to the floppy even though I've now changed the location to the desktop. So I humor Word (because it is the devil and I will not fight darkness... or something like that) and I'm patting myself on the back because I retrieved my file before that stupid paperclip decided to flash alerts and "Shutting down" messages at me.

But alas, the final joke is on me. I mostly have the story. I say "mostly" because somewhere along the line, chunks of text have been replaced with my disclaimer. That's right. Entire paragraphs gone, replaced with "All these toys belong to Paramount. Blah, blah, blah." And one paragraph is now nothing but question marks. Darned if I know what used to be there. And I assure you, the missing paragraphs were the very best parts of the story. ::sigh::

Who says writing is easy?
Yer Opinion Needed

Bored now. The highlight of my day was eating a cheeto. I probably should get out more, but you try to eat a cheeto with a mouth that's mostly burned. Not so much fun now, is it? I also read back issues of Reader's Digests. Somewhere in there, I organized photo albums, did laundry, and cleaned up after yesterday's shindig. I also worked a little on a fic and started looking at a VOY episode in terms of novelizing it.

Novelization is hard work. I didn't realize it until I wrote A Case of Need last year, a novelization based on "Workforce." I must have watched the videotape of that episode a million times (mucho gracias to Bjorn for making that possible) in order to get it all down right. And of course, and in addition to the scenes I'd selected for my novelization (all B'Elanna's POV), I also had to add my own material and then have it all work together. When I started, I thought, "Oh this will be a cakewalk." Nope, it's darn hard. Almost harder than writing your own take on an episode simply now your framework is even tighter. First, you're constrained by the dialogue that already appeared on the screen - not much you can do there. You have to write around it and transitions can be the devil sometimes. I can't write a "different" Torres or Janeway than the ones who appeared in "Workforce" - what I project for them *has* to mesh with what the rest of the episode depicts. So I can't suddenly have Janeway musing about Mark or the Hirogen because it simply won't work in this particular context.

My current novelization project is a toss-up between "Drive" and "Flesh and Blood." I'm more inclined to do "Flesh and Blood" (video also courtesy of Bjorn ::grin::) and I might even be masochistic enough not to take a POV. I would write the EMH, if I thought I could do him justice, but B'Elanna herself makes a fine narrator for this particular episode. I may do a flip-flop. Half Janeway, half B'Elanna. But then there is the Tom scene where he says "With all due respect, Captain, I'd like to get my wife back in one piece." ::sigh:: The way I see it, I have to either pick one narrator to do the novelization or I have to novelize the whole darn episode and there is just so much here that I really think it's impossible to tell it from one POV. What do you guys think? Since I'm 90 percent sure I'm going to novelize this one, leave your thoughts and I'll go with majority rules.
Survey Says

We love surveys at zendom. So if you participate in online fandom at all, please give Wendy a piece or two of your mind. Good karma and great fic in the One True Pairing promised to everyone who participates.

Sunday, August 18, 2002

Where is the Trek? by Jemima. Amen to that.

My cousin called today. She gave me an OTC recommendation and then said I needed to get myself to a doctor. Yesterday, my mother mentioned that we'd be fasting today and then she said, "Oh but that won't be a problem for you." It is distressing to see all the lovely items planned for tonight's dinner and I can't have any of it. My brother's gone to get the medication for me, so hopefully I can at least sample something tonight. I'll be heading back on Tuesday, so I'll go see a doctor there.

Sarah and I had a great time at the pool. It's a natural spring, a landmark actually for this area and I've never been. Five years and I'd never been. The water is pretty darn cold, about 68 degrees, and since it's an environmental safe zone, no chemicals are used, so it's a little slimey and there's seaweed in the middle. Even though it was 98 degrees out, we didn't feel hot at all by the pool. And of course, getting in was difficult. It's refreshingly brisk!

Saturday, August 17, 2002

Squeamish Part II & Fic Recs

I'm really, really sick of apple sauce and I'm hungry. Cranky. Generally Not!Happy. I called my cousin's wife for help as she's a doctor and I, well, I no longer have a doctor I can visit, thanks to being mostly uninsured and dependent on university health care. I'm not so sure that this a burn any more, but something else entirely. I am going swimming this afternoon with a friend so that will be interesting. It's a natural spring, so there's no chlorine (which I'm happy about because people, even toothpaste stings like crazy).

In other news, fic recs:

  • First Contact by Ruth Devero. C/P in the classic "slave First Contact" scenario. But better. Much, much better. Role reversal and some interesting characterization - C/P actually resemble themselves and Tom is pretty much "on" here. And thank goodness for no silly nicknames either (Pooky, anyone?)
  • In the Arms of Family by VS7.5. This is the homecoming Voyager deserved. Family reunions (or not, depending on the character), angst, happiness, fluff, some unscrupulous Ferengi, and a little bit of intrigue. Many talented authors contributed to this story, but the overall feel is very consistent and runs together smoothly. One of the best Voyager reunion stories out there.
  • Pacing the Cage by Lori. Picard and Crusher go on a road trip and the question of "What is a Worf?" comes up. You also get to hear Crusher say, "You're such a dad." To complicate matters, la belle mere is on Enterprise, driving Deanna nuts and then the Phase sets in. A little bit of angst from Tom, but all's well that ends well. A nicely done story all around.

Friday, August 16, 2002

Not to be read if you are squeamish

I'm on day three of liquid foods. And I'm hungry. Reason? I went to treat myself to a veggie burger and onion rings at Burger King last Tuesday. Something about studying for hours in the master's lounge and I needed to feel human again. And I love Burger King onion rings - the veggie burger, btw, isn't so bad either. Anyway, so I get my food and I pick at the onion rings as I drive home. My mouth feels funny within a few minutes after eating but I don't think anything of it. Until Wednesday morning. My mouth is completely burned. Lips, gums, roof of the mouth, tongue, beneath the tongue, you name it. Funny - I didn't even know that the onion rings were that hot (I ate the veggie burger at home). Even talking is a little difficult as every time I open my mouth, my gums get annoyed with me. Smiling is interesting because the skin was basically burned off my lips and so now I have that weird non-elasticky thing going and I feel the skin stretch every time my lips move.

I think the moral of the story here is to watch out for Very!Hot! foods when you eat.
I love Copy and Paste. Section of story goes from here to there. This gets deleted, moved over there, this gets rewritten, that gets completely cut... tonight was an editing night. I did an amazing amount of editing on a couple of stories and I'm still not happy with one of them, so I see a few more hours of editing in front of me on that one in order to get to flow smoothly. Someone famous said that there were no good writers, only good editors.

I'll admit that I don't like editing. It's a necessary evil of writing though, second only to a spell-check. The worst is when you have to hack away at a paragraph or sentence that you absolutely loved but realize it doesn't work. Or icky transitions that don't flow and no amount of padding will ever get them to work. Editing can be disheartening work, it really can be.

I'm impressed with "first draft" writers - people who just throw words up onto the screen and in their minds, it's absolutely perfect "as is." There's a certain amount of confidence in that attitude that I simply lack. It could explain why my hard drive looks the way it does.

There ought to be an "Adopt a Fic" program, where we can adopt each other's WiPs and nag them into being finished. So does anyone want a C/T fic? A C/7 lives happily ever after story? How about a B'Elanna explains it all fic? If you don't like those option, how about a story when Kira goes on vacation? Kira in the Resistance story? A Maquis DS9 story from God knows when?

I just found yet another virtual season out there. This one is a Star Wars-Star Trek crossover. Which reminds me of the endless "Is the Millenium Falcon better than the Enterprise?" discussions that used to prevail on ASC. I just spent an obscene amount of time checking this site's message board forum out and I've been very well entertained by the discussions. They take their season very seriously over there - even grading the authors who 'auditioned' for their season (apparently the winning entry received an 87%).

I'm afraid my fragile ego wouldn't be able to take that kind of beating. Especially now that I've confessed to the fact I don't like editing and have a WiP graveyard on my hard drive.

Thursday, August 15, 2002

Fandom Olympics. Go. Read. Much truth. Put away beverages first though.
It's raining. Hard. Evidently, suburbs of a major city are under water at this point and it's all coming this way. Doppler Radar does not lie, but it can ruin plans, that's for sure.

I've already gotten soaked once today and it's not even noon. I was a doofus and parked in the regular lot when I went to print the paper out in the computer lab. The water was in some places up to my ankles. That was at 9:30. Then I was an idiot and didn't take my umbrella when I ran from the car to Copy Corner to get the paper bound (clear cover, maroon backing - for those of you who enjoy these kinds of details). Needless to say, when I went back to campus around 11 am to actually turn the darn thing in, I parked in the pay lot so my exposure to water was about 3 minutes versus 15.

But the good news is that I SURVIVED my five-week summer courses! Whee! Everything turned in, everything finished, and I really did make it. There were some doubts along the way, but now, I'm going to rest my poor tired brain and hopefully, the rain will let up a little bit so I can actually leave my apartment at some point (though I'm really enjoying being dry again).

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Liz talks about the membership cap on zendom. Specifically, the flame we got not too long ago on it and which someone was nice enough to post on the zendom site itself. And this reminds me. I've got the next zendom article and I haven't started yet.

Can I interview someone? Puh-lease? AIM me! Email me! I'll put your name in lights. Or something.

::slinks off before Christine reads this post::

I'd forgotten exactly how hideous this program is since I use either TextPad or WordPad for ficcing, but OH MY GOD...

Fifty pages complete with graphs, spreadsheets and lovely pictures that all must be aligned and tweaked. Yes, I am a party girl. Me and my MS Word. Someone stop me from having ALL this fun.
This and That

::happy dance::

So I did get my A in stats. I missed it by a little over a point last week when I didn't do so hot on exam number 3 - which I took right after the fire. But made up for that this morning as this final exam replaces any exam grade that was lower than the score received on the final. Whee! The best part of it was that I caught two mistakes in the actual exam and the professor graded it while I was standing right there and while grading my exam, she found a mistake on her answer key. I am such a geek, though I suspect this wasn't the first time that had happened. But anyway, it doesn't matter - very, very happy now. Especially happy that the paper is almost finished and I'll be able to breathe.

Also, discovered everyone is on AIM in the afternoon. Did not know this. Explains why no one is on when I sign in around 10:30 or 11 at night. Which is fun because I was able to talk to certain people who are never online.

I could write but don't feel like it (48-page paper anyone?). Nothing I've written lately is any good at all and I'm just staring at the graveyard my hard drive has become and get all depressed about it. I think I'm just better off nagging other people to do my dirty work for me ::grin:: It makes me envious frankly of the people who constantly write and don't seem to ever run out of steam. Is it possible to become "ungood" as a writer? (that's provided you were any good to being with). Sometimes, that's what it feels like.

I'm in the mood for some serious angsty fic, preferably P/T. Monica gave me some C/P recommendations the other day that I could try out and she just recommended a Jane St. Clair story that I remember reading way back in the day - "Softly."

From Liz: "Everything is okay in the end. If it isn't okay it's not the end."

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

So I went to see Marketing!Professor this afternoon to discuss last week's exam. He had marked one of my answers with a question mark and I saw an opportunity to get some points back. I didn't get the points back (even though he agreed that the question was ambiguous and technically, I was correct in my interpretation), but I did manage to get an extension on the paper that was supposed to be due tomorrow by 5 pm. So now it's due on Thursday, sometime around noon.

What's odd is that I didn't even ask for an extension. He just gave it to me because I was running my mouth off about my test tomorrow, a teammate's test tomorrow and the fact that another teammate's wife just had a baby last week. I was just being contemplative, not even thinking about getting an extension. Weird. I'm not used to professors giving any leeway for anything without much begging.

I do wish he had given me back my three points. Especially when he agreed I was correct.

The first years are here. They were all lined up in front of the MBA office to register and sign in. It was odd - last year that was me. Now I'm like, "Oh, so glad I'm not you." Right now, they look pretty good - clothes look nice, hair and make-up, some of the guys showed up in ties. I give that look about two weeks.

Saturday, August 10, 2002

Victoria posted sometime ago about offering to beta for a newbie to fandom. Among other brilliant things, Victoria asks Given my view that one should take new authors in hand and help 'em out, do I write this person and offer to beta?

This is a hard question. There's the "encouraging" thing - selfish readers like me want new writers in fandoms with new, exciting takes on things. It's always amazing what comes out of some new voices - because they haven't been quite "assimilated" by fandom and their take on things, when well-written, has the potential to shake things up a little. I admit, shamelessly, that I've been known to nag Certain People to post or to write and I'm not beyond serving up ridiculous challenges in order to get the muse going again. So on that sense - encouragement of writing, to keep them in fandom, offering them FB to stroke egos, yes, I am all about that. But offering to beta? That's really hard.

First, it's hard to find a beta in the first place if you're new to fandom. You're lucky if anyone offers you FB the first time you post (heck, you're always lucky with any kind of FB, no matter how long you've been around). Finding a beta sometimes involves swallowing your pride. The common advice I've seen is for writers to approach other ficcers they admire and ask for help. That's all well and fine, but how often does that work out? I got lucky with my first beta, Liz, who came out of nowhere and said she'd be willing to beta for me. But for VOY, it was much harder. I did ask one writer who I admire for her help and she agreed and I was completely stunned that she would even give me the time of day. Another writer whom I admired and who is considered a BNF in VOY turned down my request, saying she didn't have time. That's fine, I understand that, but it made me wary of wanting to ask anyone at all for a beta.

Asking an established writer for a beta has two drawbacks, neither of which are personal. First, an established writer has her own circle of friends who trade betas. They're pretty busy - even betaing for one or two people takes a very long time to do justice to anything - even with all the best of intentions. Which leads to the second reason why asking an established writer for a beta may or may not work, as the ever wise Victoria says here: Because I barely have time lately to beta for my friends. I don't know if I want to take on someone new, who would obviously need a lot of work.

I get quite a few requests for betas and I turn many of them down. At first, I felt really guilty about doing so, but many of them come at a time when I'm trying to get my own writing done, or sometimes the story is similar in concept to something I'm working on, or whatever the reason. Recently, someone posted in a public forum that she hoped that I (along with other names in fandom) would be receptive to a beta request when she finished her new story. I didn't respond because I didn't know how. I could say, "Yeah, go ahead," as my first impulse. I mean, theoretically, it was a great compliment and I was flattered. But at the same time, I'm not sure that I want to take on a newbie author who is very, very new to ficcing. After all, this person might be a great writer - might be the next monkee or Penny, but really, I don't know that right now and without a relationship with the poster, how can I even commit to something that could either make me deliriously happy or completely insane? It makes me feel hypocritical as it goes against my desire to encourage more newbies in fandom. (And all you Trek writers out there? Why aren't you posting to ASC? Ahem - save that for another post).

So in that sense, it's so nice if someone just up and volunteers to be your beta. It takes away a little of the sting of searching for a beta. Especially if you're someone established in fandom and you offer your help and mentorship to a new writer - they are more likely to stick around. And face it, having a "name" in fandom helps. If a "name" recs a newbie, other people take note, and voila, lots of ego-stroking and perhaps you've kept a new writer around for a while.

But at the same time, I look at my beta queue and how much I have to go through for my friends versus complete strangers. I've done much editing for "strangers" on both fanfic and original fic and I never hear from them again. At that point, it's like, okay, so I just spent two or three hours working on this story and I don't even get a "you suck" in response? Frankly, it makes me feel, well, that I've wasted my time. It's not that I want everyone to agree with everything I say, but acknowledgement of time spent is something that is necessary - I wouldn't even dream of not thanking my betas for the time and effort even if I don't necessarily agree with them (and 99% of the time, they are sooo right).

Victoria says: And then there's the response, if I even get one. I've offered in the past and never heard back. I've done it for someone and never heard back. I've betaed and had the person disappear from the fandom (at least under the name I knew them) and I've betaed and had my suggestions totally ignored.

The changing name thing has happened to me - I volunteered to beta for a newbie who posted to ASC. It was a TOS story and I don't know the first thing about TOS, but no one else had answered this newbie's call for help. I never saw this name again after the first betas - though we did have a conversation or two re my comments to her. Anyway, a couple years later, this writer resurfaced on a "Beta Reader's Appreciation Day" thread on ASC and thanked me for the beta and I remember being absolutely stunned when I saw her "new" name - she'd been there on ASC all along, posting away, generating great reviews. And since I considered her a BNF at the time, her note about how grateful she was to me for offering to beta for her in a fandom that wasn't mine was really quite shocking.

But that is just one instance though of someone I beta'd for who just generally disappeared (and now I do hear from her on and off, but the initial connection made is long gone). And forgive me for being selfish, but at this point, I don't have a lot of time to spend betaing for someone I'm not going to have some kind of connection with. Plus, with friends, it's easier to be honest and they won't take it personally. I can say, "I didn't like this part" and they won't hate me for saying so. The trust is already there, the respect as well - you won't have that at first with a newbie writer. In fact, you could run the risk of alienating them completely from ficcing at all, or from you.

And BTW, this also applies to established writers. I have half a mind to write to an established writer on ASC who *insists* on spelling one of the character's names wrong. This makes me insane because this person has been on ASC just as long as I have been, if not longer, and *still* hasn't mastered the art of punctuation or looking up the proper spelling of a character's name. But then I think, a character's name is the simplest part of ficcing, is it not? So if this person doesn't care enough to check the Official Site for verification, why should I?

In the end, I guess if I thought a writer was worth mentoring, if I saw potential - yeah, I'd sent positive, gushing FB and then ask at the end of the email if they would be open to more critical comments? If they say no, fine, move along, and hopefully they get the help they need from someone else. If they say yes, then I'd probably make some generalized comments, nothing more and see how she/he reacts to them. A lot of newbies simply aren't interested in constructive criticism and for that reason, I'm not entirely sure that asking straight off if they'd like a beta is the way to go.

Friday, August 09, 2002

We Ricardian Revisionists finally get our revenge on Henry VII. Even if you aren't a die-hard Ricardian (and don't tell me you're accepting Shakespeare's version of the truth - it's flawed, I tell you, flawed!), this is pretty spiffy to play with.
New mailing list: DQVoyagers. Get your fresh fic here - a stories-only list (no discussion, no FB, just great VOY fic 24/7) featuring the newest fic by Cybermum, Delta Story, monkee, ragpants, Rocky, Tracy, Turtlewoman and of course, yours truly. BTW, this replaces part of my fiction_unbound list - that list will still receive updates re new poetry, short stories and essays. All fanfic updates will now go to the DQVoyagers list.

Thursday, August 08, 2002

Forgot to mention in my smoke-induced delirium - site update. New fic: The Absinthe Heart. Quark, Ezri, in a fic together, second person, present tense. Both Lizs are equally to blame.

Lots of quizzes, because I'm not really awake right now, and these looked like fun.

what's your inner flower?

[c] s u g a r d
e w

What Obscure Animal are you?
I'm still shaking from this morning's fire, pretty weepy. I don't think I've ever been that scared before, especially now that it's over, the firemen, police and ambulances are gone and I can finally sit and think about what could have possibly happened. Not that I wasn't thinking before.

The six of us who live in this building spent the hours between 4:30 and 6:30 this morning sitting out by the pool because our apartments had too much smoke. We had originally been sitting close to the building on a picnic table, but then had to move, as the smoke was billowing out.

The 911 operator was great. She was so calm - I wasn't really that hysterical when I called, as I had stepped outside to avoid the smoke and I couldn't see the source of the fire, but I only knew it wasn't in my apartment. She asked me about smoke and so I came back into the apartment briefly and had to turn away - the smoke made it hard to breathe, not to mention stung the eyes. That's when I got scared, grabbed my keys, the cordless phone, my wallet and got out of the apartment. I later came back with Edward (my across the way neighbor) to open the sliding glass door and bedroom windows to let all the smoke out.

The smoke alarms in my neighbors' apartments did not go off. That is rather worrisome. The only thing I can think of is that the fire started in the bathroom of this other apartment and that bathroom shares a wall with my bathroom, so all of the smoke came through the ceiling duct.

The firemen got here within minutes - I was so surprised. After I hung up the phone, my neighbor Edward was out of his place and the two of us went around to the other side to find out who else was there (being summer, four out of the eight apartments in my building are empty - but given how little we interact with each other, we didn't know which if any of the apartments were actually occupied, so both of us pounded on the doors, because it was 4 in the morning and we had to wake people up from dead sleep). But we had barely woken everyone up when the firemen showed up. There were two trucks, two police cars and the ambulance. I think probably 5 to 7 minutes at most had passed since I had called 911.

The firemen came out in full gear. They had masks, oxygen, heavy suits (btw, it was close to 80 degrees at the time - poor guys, so much equipment, they must have been so hot) and everything. They brought fans to blow the smoke out of all the apartments, fire extinguishers and a cool thermal camera, which one of the fireman showed me. He said that finding the source of the fire was pretty easy with that camera, as it shows all heat sources as bright white.

I got really upset when I saw the ambulance pull up because I was thinking that maybe we had missed someone, hadn't woken everyone up, especially since by then, the firemen had broken into the apartment where the fire was and all I could think was that there was someone in there. The four people who live on that side said that they didn't think anyone was in there. They were right. Later, the police officer came out to the pool to brief us and said that the fire had started because the bathroom fan had been left on for a prolonged period of time. The fan had overheated, sparked, and caused a chain reaction, hence the fire.

Anyway, check your smoke alarms. Seriously. Out of four apartments, only my alarm went off (not counting the alarm in the apartment where the fire started - which I could also hear through my wall). At least one other alarm should have gone off in one of the other occupied apartments. By the time I woke up, there was already smoke in my apartment and within minutes, I had to flee the place because it was strong. The same thing happened with everyone else. In fact, have a couple of smoke alarms. It's impossible to realize just how important this is until one saves your life.

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

KC rocks. He just zipped up all of my Europe pictures and sent them to me in one file, so I don't have to continue linking externally, thus getting them all messed up with those convulated file names. It's nice to have friends in programming places.

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

New article at zendom: "Bringing the Happy: My Guide to Understanding Fluffyfic" by Melina.
I think the punchline to these last five weeks is how much damage can I possibly do to my GPA?

I've consoled myself with what's left in a pint of Ben & Jerry's and am now pinning my hopes for redemption on the presentation on Thursday.

Sunday, August 04, 2002

Anyway, so I ruined dinner. Again. Well, sort of. I was really hungry after the marathon team meeting and came home to make rice and beans and quesadillas. Very ambitious. Anyway, didn't fold the tortillas like I usually do and when I flipped, filling went everywhere - counter, floor, stove, and some even stayed in the pan. But the rice and beans are doing well and I've mostly salvaged the quesadillas.

On another note, Jemima shows why she's our Lady of Alien Spores with Than Fade Away. She blames moi for this fic, but really, me? Humph. I don't know why everyone puts her muse's bad behavior on me. Really. It's simply... not right.
Victoria musing on newbies to fandom and whether you should offer to beta for them. Toughie, that, and I totally see the dilemma and understand. Must contemplate, formulate thoughts and figure out a response.

But first, must exploit Ecuadorians for a couple hours.
My Ya-Ya name: Countess Eats Like a Bird.

What's yours?

Saturday, August 03, 2002

It's unusually quiet on the internet today. Except for Monica asking if I was still alive or not and a few spammers, it's been weirdly quiet. All quiet on the ASC front, the message boards aren't updating, the bloggers are taking a break, the mailing lists are quiet, no new fic from either Trek or the X-Files... people, you are so not contributing to the procrastination front!

Which is probably a good thing. I've been an unusually productive bunny today, having finished reading my marketing text book two days ahead of schedule (whee!) and then, typing up all the answers to the questions at the back of each chapter and sending those off to my hapless classmates. Then I read through my handwritten notes for that class - I have over 50 pages and amazingly, pink ink does not read well. I'm working my way through stats right now, having read the chapter in question (do not understand it, I don't, but ah well).

I haven't "exploited Ecuadorians" today (as Bjorn puts it), but just wait - Sunday morning. But I did make a run to Target to pick up some calamine lotion - y'all might laugh, but fire ants are not fun when they've decided that you are the best meal in town. Flattering, yes, but not fun. Never, ever underestimate calamine - it's a beautiful thing.

Also went to the school bookstore to pick up scantrons and blue books - this is the latest scam the university has come up with: we have to provide our own scantrons and blue books. Karen provided scantrons for the last two stats exams, and so I've got the next two. Plus the blue book, for the marketing exam. Total bill? $1.19.

I did a little bit of work on some writing, but nothing too strenuous. The angst bunny refuses, absolutely refuses to come out and play. Last year, I was incredibly prolific, able to write anything at a drop of a hat. This year, it's less easy, more hard to do. It's not writer's block, so to speak, but it is something. I read through what I've written and I cringe in embarassment. There is some hideous stuff on my hard drive. It scares me. Scares, scares, scares me. Yes, I'm one of those people who automatically hates her own writing no matter what it is. To prove it, I usually forget the plots of the story within days of posting - Liz has been kind enough to summarize a few of the longer ones for me because I cringe at having to reread.

Go ahead, call me weak. So I couldn't answer that question on zendom on whether I like/hate my writing. I don't like it and I can't really think of anything good to say about any of it. But it's not a pity party - it's more of a critical eye, a tending towards perfection (I'm the type who actually erases huge chunks of homework if the numbers don't line up exactly). That and a huge case of incurable insecurity about which I have whinged to the Mod Squad about most recently.

So, procrastinating. But back to stats because I just got a brainstorm and I don't want to lose it. But really, people, you're awfully quiet today. Which means that I probably need to find something to do other than homework.
They're doing a 70s and 80s weekend on the radio. Which is very cool, because I absolutely love 80s music. The radio station I used to listen to before I moved had a "Friday Retro Rush Hour" - in other words, commercial free 80s music between 5 and 6 pm. The way they said "retro" always made me feel sooo old.

I keep thinking that the 80s weren't so long ago and then when I'm surfing along, I realize that there are people online for whom Britney Spears or the Spice Girls are the definition of Grrrl Power (and speaking of "grrrl" - when did it become cool to leave out the "i"? Doesn't proper spelling count for anything anymore?).

I do miss the good ol' days - when we had real girl bands, not these "put together on television for ratings" deals. Remember the Bangles? The Go-Gos? Bananarama? Expose? I'm feeling particularly nostalgic for the Go-Gos these days - I do have the "Best of Belinda Carlisle" on CD, but it's not quite the same. There was an infectious happy-go-lucky beat in the 80s, not so much angst - which made it so fun to listen to.

Friday, August 02, 2002

Site update

Forgot to mention that I actually updated the site yesterday. "Hero" by Rocky is the latest edition to the Glory Days universe. In "Hero," Janeway and Harry Kim cross paths on a diplomatic mission. And oh yes, new link in the Recommend Fanfic Archives section.
So I finished the calculations for Ecuador yesterday. I now have a variable cost set-up - but it took working backwards from Estee Lauder's financial statements to get there (you know, it's next to impossible to find out how much those little compacts cost - not the makeup, just the compacts. And while I'm on the subject, I thought I'd mention that Estee Lauder has a 75 percent mark-up on its products). I mentioned this to my dad and his comment was, "Wasn't that what they did over at Worldcom?"

Anyway, financials mostly done. I haven't figured out a way to compute the cost of building a manufacturing plant in Ecuador. So I think I'm just going to buy one. With a loan. From a venture capitalist.

What? No one ever said the marketing plan had to be realistic.

Thursday, August 01, 2002

Smurf This

Yet another edition in the ongoing Blog Wars

Seema was getting sick of the smurfs. She wanted them all to go away. She also wanted Richard and Em to go away, but given that Christine had yet to make a ruling on whether this dynamic duo was alive or dead, the Zen Resort management felt a little guilty and was still putting them up. Then there was Chakotay, who had managed to unroot himself and go chasing after Dr. Who, and Buffy was making eyes at Seven - it was enough to make a girl's head spin.

Seema signalled her poolboy, Robbie, for another margarita. Lately, margaritas and Ben & Jerry's were making all of the keruffles go down much better. She watched as Jemima and Lori took a walk along the beach. Apparently, there was a dessert island out there and while Seema was mildly curious about what a dessert island looked like, she decided to sit back and enjoy herself...

Until the smurfs started squabbling.

"He took my hairbrush!" Smurfette weeped as she pointed at Papa Smurf.

"I did not!" Papa Smurf said with indignation.

"Give it back!" Smurfette sobbed.

Seema closed her eyes, hoping they would all go away. But a second later, she opened her eyes to hear more shouting. Apparently, Chakotay was going after Hermione, one of the minions in Liz Barr's entourage of wizards.

"We have laws against this!" Christine bellowed. "You, sir, are too old for Hermione. Find someone your own age to pick on!"

"But she has tamed the angry warrior," Chakotay said reasonably. Hermione tapped her wand on her hand, looking vaguely pleased with herself. "I can't live without Hermione. She is my one true love."

"I thought you loved me," Em whined.

"His definition of love is flawed," Seven chimed in. "He confessed he wanted to be within transporter distance of me and yet, at a moment's notice, he has pursuing other females."

"I love you, Seven!" Chakotay fell to his knees, his hands pressed to his heart. "I don't know what came over me. It has been such a strange experience and I hope you can forgive me. You are my one true love."

"I thought I was your one true love," Hermione pouted.

"No, no." A petite red-head made her way to the front of the crowd, flashing an FBI badge at everyone. "I'm Special Agent Dana Scully. Now, I hear rumors of one true love..."

"Doesn't exist, Scully." A tall man joined her. "Special Agent Mulder. Love is a myth, a force of attraction that completely dispels logic and intelligence. It also leads to incoherence and rambling. The same symptoms of madness, you might say."

"That's so romantic," Em whispered.

"He's mine!" Hermione pulled on Chakotay's arm.

"No, he's mine!" Seven grabbed his other arm.

Seema lost her patience. All she wanted was some time in the sun with her statistics books and these people kept intruding, dang it.

"There is NO SUCH THING AS ONE TRUE LOVE!" Seema screamed. Everyone suddenly became very quiet and looked at Seema in shock.

Christine cackled. "You know, I'd pay good money if you'd-"

"I want all of you people gone! Gone!" Seema yelled. She grabbed Hermione's wand, waved it around a little recklessly, and poof, they were all gone. "Whew, I feel better already."

"Um, Seema, there could be legal ramifications," Christine ventured slowly. Seema pointed the wand at her.

"I think I'm going to hunt smurfs," Seema said. "I know there has to be a few more around here and dang it, they're starting to tick me off."

With margarita in hand and poolboy at side, Seema went off in search of smurfs. She was about halfway down the beach when a giant truck pulled up. A burly man jumped out.

"You order a bunch of t-shirts?" he asked.

"Yes, a few."

The man pulled out some boxes. Seema took a look. The first t-shirt read "Be Like Liz." Seema nodded approvingly; a very good credo to have. The second shirt read "I *know* you're plagiarizing me." The third shirt read "All for One and One For All." All of the shirts were bright yellow with black lettering.

Seema signalled for the poolboys to carry the shirts back to the Zen resort. She found the others inside the tent and handed them each a t-shirt.

"Are you calm now?" Lori asked. Even Jemima looked slightly afraid. Liz Barr, looking plenty apathetic, with chocolate and her newest poolboy, Hawkeye, didn't even blink. Christine, meanwhile, was doing a funky dance.

"Yes, especially since I've contacted the Swiss Department of War," Seema said. Liz sat straight up.

"What?" she asked in a dangerous voice.

"We're going to have a treaty," Seema announced. "Don't worry, you can all propose your own loopholes, but I think it's time we made a few things perfectly clear."

Christine whipped out her pen; being the lawyer in the group meant she got to redline all new proposals, contracts and treaties.

"The first stipulation is that the current Blog War hostilities must not go beyond the Zen Resort," Seema announced. "All hostilities are confined to those participants who initially began this war back in December or January. I lose track. Anyone who engages hostilities with a third-party must have dinner with Richard and Em."

"That's just cruel!" Lori exclaimed.

"They're dead, aren't they?" Jemima asked.

Christine shook her head. "No legal ruling there yet. Anything else?"

Seema nodded. She loved having all this attention. Sometimes, it felt really good to put her foot down. "All third parties MUST contact the Swiss Department of War before engaging in hostilities. I have no time for border clashes. All declarations of war must be submitted in triplicate and in seven languages between the hours of 8 am and 5 pm to the Military Attache for Switzerland. Grammar, punctuation and correct spelling are not optional in order for an Application to Engage in Hostilities to be considered."

"I agree." Liz raised her glass.

Seema was about to state another bullet point when there was a loud noise outside. Jemima bolted to check.

"It's a bunch of reporters," Jemima said. She sighed. "Thanks a lot, Seema. You got rid of the smurfs, but now the White House Press Corps wants to know all about it."

Seema just smiled and helped herself to some chocolate-covered strawberries. Her work here was done.