March 30, 2006
How to Not Write

Here's the sentence that caused the derailment:

That's how it used to look.

"That" being the night sky and "used to" being when you could reasonably figure the Norse pantheon was alive and well and sucking down mead.

Now there's the little problem of accuracy: just how much can you expect constellations to shift around in that period of time? Sure, many of you can shout, "Not enough to notice!" and be done with it. Me, I gotta check.

The real trouble starts when I switch from the word processor to the browser window...

Five minutes googling for an online planetarium simulator

Five minutes noodling around in VersionTracker for a freeware planetarium app

Five minutes downloading said app

Five minutes learning to operate said app

Five minutes cruising around Jupiter

Five minutes zooming thousands of years forward and back in time to conclude that if there was shifting, it was "Not enough to notice!"

Five minutes making the shift noticeable by zooming tens of thousands of years forward and back

Five minutes looking for Eloi on surface of the Earth ca. 40,000 A.D. (application resolution apparently not high enough)

So that's over half an hour lost. Sigh.

This is not as bad as spending ninety minutes trying (and failing) to find pinyin for "twin", but still, you can bet I will find ways to screw around in Celestia when I'm s'posed to be working.

Updating the weblog is another good way to avoid it.

March 27, 2006
In No Particular Order

Four things I said to strangers today that I should have said to people I know:

1) Sorry.
2) Thank you.
3) Shut the hell up.
4) Thank you.

March 26, 2006
And While I'm at It, Here's Something I'd Rather Not Have in My Head Right Now

[CTRL] + V for Paste: Recollect, recollect what the Clipboard collects.


I went to V for Vendetta this weekend, and I couldn't help noticing that the last time I saw John Hurt in a British totalitarian regime he was getting his ass kicked, and here was, doing the kicking as High Chancellor. Way to move up the ladder, Winston!

March 24, 2006
Bad News, Good News

So the bad news is that I've just missed my self-imposed deadline of wrapping up my revision of the novel by March 23rd. The good news is that I've been working on it steadily and I'm up to page 175. The new deadline is this weekend.

Feel free -- nay, encouraged -- to mock me mercilessly if I miss the new deadline.

Also, I want to take a moment to celebrate fixing two of the three most dysfunctional sections of the book. As usual the solution was surgical: a deceptively simple nip and tuck in the first section of Chapter 1 (which was already just about entirely rewritten since the last time anyone read it), and a major tangentectomy in Chapter 13. The chop in Chapter 13 knocks the book back into the wasteland between novella and marketable-length novel, but I can't worry about that now. It had to done.

The next big challenge is an underwritten section in Chapter 16, so cutting won't fix it. Wish me luck.

March 23, 2006
Three Things about Hand Lotion

1) Last month in a fit of crackly-dry-East-Coast-winter-skin desperation I bought a tube of Aveda hand lotion. Iíve used it maybe a dozen times, and Iíve only just identified its vaguely cinnamon-y and what I now recognize as starchy scent. Sweet potato pie. The lotion smells like sweet potato pie. I didnít notice it at the time of purchase, my olfactory receptors having been overloaded by the rosemary peppermint thyme after thyme organic herbal botanical hooha that is the Aveda product line.

2) Whenever I put on hand lotion I have a minor, mostly ignorable flashback to presenting Lady Macbethís Out, damned spot! monologue in eighth grade.*

3) While at work yesterday I dispensed a large dollop of Aveno (featuring Natural Colloidal Oatmeal -- apparently food makes you beautiful, as long as you use it on the outside). Since I applied it without ready access to my elbows (where the excess normally goes) I just had to keep rubbing it into my hands. That created rolly bits of oatmeal and skin, which had the same texture -- and, I suspect, the same nutritional composition -- as the Cliff Bars I keep in my desk drawer with the Aveno.

*See, look, off the top of my head:

Out, damned spot! Out, I say! One, two. Why then, 'tis time to do it. Hell is murky! Fie, my†lord, fie! What, a soldier, and afear'd? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account? Yet who would have thought the old man†to have so much blood in him?

I didnít even have to Google it.**

**Which you can tell is true because I got it wrong in like, five places.***

***Unless Iím being really diabolical and I Googled it and then flubbed it in a few places on purpose to make it look like I was working from memory.****

****Which I wasnít. Being diabolical, I mean.

March 15, 2006
Some People

Some people should not be allowed to carry 3í long tubes of rolled up paper on the Metro, because some people are altogether too inclined to bop their fellow passengers on the head for being pokey or blocking traffic or being loud and also dumb.

Iím just saying.

March 13, 2006
Meanwhile, in the DC Universe...

We're having a heat wave! A tropical heat wave! Or something. In any case, sticky East Coast weather and business casual do not mix, especially when you've packed for fall and winter.

At least I can control the temperature in my office with a device labeled (oh yeah) the Seasonmaker. If this isn't a book title yet, it should be.

The thing about the (duhn duhn DUHN!) Seasonmaker (okay, this is one of those things that only tickles me, right? Like the time I thought "Typeface" would be a good supervillain name) is that there's one nanometer on the dial that produces the exact right temperature, and all other points on the dial are discernibly wrong. Too hot. Too cold. Too full of paranoia-inducing microbes, or maybe that should be the other way around. Which would be fine, if it was always the same nanometer every day. But it isn't. It moves around. The Seasonmaker is a cruel maker of seasons.

March 06, 2006
Suspension of Disbelief

I just finished Marvel 1602.

Marvel character analogues in 1602: no problem.

Matt Murdoch getting his powers from random green goo dripping in a cave: not any harder to believe than the previous version.

Painted red fingernails on Queen Elizabeth on page one, panel four: oh, no way.

March 05, 2006

So here's an acronym for ya: OBE. That's Overtaken by Events, and it describes most of my attempts at posting lately. Here, for example, is an entry I started last Tuesday:

I've just taken inventory -- I've written a couple thousand words worth of blog entries since I came to DC, but you wouldn't know it because not a one was ever finished enough to post. I have scraps about the grocery clerk who thought I could see through brown paper bags, about the cab driver who took me along when he stopped for dinner, about the hierarchy of rejection and how it is a rejection letter can make me happy, about what I've done (and not done) on the writing front.

And it's all scrap, possibly salvaged someday but only fragments now.

I'm three hours into my flight back to DC, just under two hours to go and just over twenty hours later than I intended. This is the part where I have some 'splaining to do, not so much the twenty hours but how I came to be back in Seattle for a few days without informing all potentially interested parties.

I had grand intentions, I really did. I always do.

I spent most of my trip at Potlatch, the science fiction convention mentioned below. The much of the rest of the time was a succession of appointments -- hair cut, teeth cleaned, psyche purged, that sort of thing. All very good. Potlatch was good, too. I reconnected with the writing world, and did my first reading. I figured it would only be open to convention goers, but as it turned out I probably could have invited folks. Add it to the Shoulda list.

Five of us read, all members of the Clarion West Class of 2005.

And that's as far as I got. I was going to write about how great it was to read with Cat, Katie, Kira, and Rachel, but I got tangled up in how I would move from that to the news we got just over an hour later about the death of Octavia Butler, our first instructor at Clarion West.

Have you read Octavia Butler? If not, you should.