Anyone Else Smell Burning?

If you do, that's a few of my brain cells going up in smoke. I just had one of my rare outbursts at work, due to a phone call from a team of monkeys in Houston, TX.
I won't go into the particulars, but I just narrowly avoided a #%&* load of work due to some other people's incompetence. Monkey #1 wanted every file we had on a particular building and Monkey #2 assumed he couldn't open the files I had already sent them. Boss Monkey hadn't even told them to expect a CD of files I overnighted to them last night.
Few things irritate me more than having to do extra work because of someone else's idiocy.

In other news, Christmas was a little weird feeling, but good.
It felt weird because it was our first Christmas away from the family homestead. My parents sold the house we grew up in this year, so it was our first Christmas in 23 years not in that house. We had all the pieces of Christmas -- food, family, pets, presents, etc. -- but it wasn't quite the same.
My parents came up from Oklahoma and we commandeered the house of my brother's best friend. He and his wife were very nice about letting us stay there for a couple days so we could all be together. (Yay Gabe and Krissy!)
I got some nice things: silverware (hey, I'm not a college student anymore), Peewee's Big Adventure on DVD, a CD of Celtic music, a CD of awesome theme songs stolen off the internet, Jon Stewart's book America: The Book, a great snowboarding hat, and some other odds and ends. I also got a cool present [item description removed to prevent spoilers for the Australian readers] from Karen and Co.(thanks, guys!) and a hand-quilted runner from Gregg and Amy (thanks, guys!).

I still have some tidying up to do in my life before the new year, but I'm hoping in January to set a new task -- either finishing the novel I have in progress or editing the one I finished. We'll see.


Retry: Stealth Holiday

I had a nice post written out yesterday, but Blogger ate it and I didn't feel like rewriting it. Essentially it said what I was up to, buying gifts, going to holiday parties, decorating the house, etc. I've been having a good time, but have been extremely busy, of course.
The office holiday party was fun. They had a "casino" theme, and the gambling (with fake money) was a lot more entertaining than I thought it would be. Fear not, I won't be rushing out to Vegas anytime soon. If the experience taught me one thing, it was that under the right circumstances, I can lose a lot of money very fast.
I've bought all my presents, finished yesterday evening. The folks are getting into town today. This is the first Christmas in five years I don't have to get on a plane to celebrate the holidays. I must say, it's a little wierd.
Soccer's going well, though we've been losing. This higher league is tough, but we're playing better, so it's all good.
We just came back from a long lunch, where we ate, then played a couple rounds of pool. That was fun. Of the four of us, only one really played well.
Well, I'm thinking I won't get much blogging done in the next few days, so I'll just say... Happy Holidays to all my (three) readers!


Wickedly busy

I have been wickedly busy lately at work. We have a deadline tomorrow and I worked about 12 hours today. Relatively speaking, it wasn't that bad, because we haven't needed to put in that much overtime on this project before this week. I was just feeling grumpy because I was running out of gas and still had bunches to do.

Now I have to go to bed early because I have a very early dentist appt. Whoop-ee.


Busier Than Ever

What a productive weekend!
Friday night: tai chi holiday party (got a stupid purple dolphin candle in a white elephant gift exchange)
Saturday: snowboarding in the morning, Christmas shopping in the evening (got an awesome dress for the office holiday party)
Sunday: went into work, then visited my sister, then played soccer (we lost, but felt like we played well -- interesting contrast to the weekend before)

Giving up on the challenge off goofing off for the present. Too much holiday stuff to get done.

Remember I said I was having a little trouble with being unusually pissed off unexpectedly? Well, it seems to have gone away completely. I'd blame it on the old three letter acronym that starts with a P, but it lasted for months.

Things are looking up.


End of a long week

Every been attracted to someone so good-looking (in your opinion) that you can't even imagine the two of you as a couple?

Yeah, me neither. ;)

I've successfully goofed off while watching TV this week. Woo hoo!
Tomorrow I'm going snowboarding with friends and Sunday I have to come in to work.
Hopefully somewhere in there I'll be able to get some shopping done. Presents bought: Zero.
Also, hopefully, I catch up on some email that I haven't replied to because of the month of writing.

Tonight I'm going to a potluck thing given by the place I go to for tai chi. I wasn't planning to, but they're such nice people I'd feel bad blowing them off.
"No, sorry, I'm not going because I'm feeling a bit anti-social right now."


Trying to not do

Every time I've started a blog entry for the last few days, I haven't gotten much further than the opening phrase or first half of a sentance.
Why? I don't know.
Work has been busy. Outside of work I've been busy too (yes Nate, you'll notice I have difficulty not doing).
Tonight I'm going to do some pottery painting -- a mug for the office "white elephant" exchange at the holiday party.
Last night, I made honey-lemon baklava for the office cookie exchange tomorrow. While I was doing that, I watched "Angels in America" which won so many Emmy Awards last year. It was a bit peculiar. It featured lots of characters, few of whom I identified with (homosexuals, Jews, Mormons, lawyers, the mentally ill). The storylines were very interesting, though, including a reluctant prophet and a man who struggles against being something he believes he will go to hell for.
Sunday, I played indoor soccer, as usual. Our team got our butts handed to us by a very skilled team with half the number of players. I also went shopping, but didn't buy any Christmas presents and few holiday decorations. And I made catfood for the kitties. I also went to church and had brunch with the extended family.
Saturday evening I went up to Fort Collins to celebrate Max's birthday with him and Gabe and Krissy. That was fun.
And on Saturday morning...
I sat in front of the TV and watched "Frequency" (which I've seen before and liked) and "Serendipity" (which I hadn't seen before and thought it was OK).
So you see, I did goof off, for about 4 hours.


Getting a Grip

I'm trying to get used to the idea that my life is not to be spent at my desk, doggedly writing.
I've been trying to keep track of parties and get togethers. Trying to plan my Christmas gift and decoration shopping, plan shopping to restock the house in general. Trying to get caught up on emails I tagged for reply after Nov. 30.
And trying to relax. Still haven't taken that bubble bath yet.
I had forgotten how complex life is.

(And there will be no warm weather vacation in my near future. Too expensive and I have too many other needs at the moment. Latest ideas for rewards - ficus tree for the house or... darn it, can't remember.)


Post Novel World

So what did I do on my first free evening in a month?
Accomplished stuff. :) I made a present for someone (who may or may not read this blog, so I won't say who) at one of those pottery painting places and then I went home and mended some clothes. But I'd like to point out that I was in front of the TV for that last bit! I'm going to have to try a little harder at this "doing nothing" thing.
Also, I just started reading a book (Angel Fire by Ron Franscell) with some very good descriptive passages and am starting feel that with time I might be able to bring the newly finished book up to that level of quality. Things are not hopeless! Yay!
I had promised myself a reward for finishing the novel, but now, right before Christmas, I don't know if I have the dough to do it. I guess I'll have to wait till after Christmas presents are bought (to date, zero).
I had been thinking of getting one of the following: a PDA (been wanting one for years!), a new desk and desk chair (the one I have was free, but I bump my knees on it all the time), a spa package (never done it). Then, of course, there are the bazillion things I actually need: armchair, telephone w/answering machine, cell phone, etc.
My latest idea is to give myself a vacation. I have that timeshare week burning a hole in my pocket. All I'd need would be the dough to get there and for food.
The one reason I think I need a vacation is I've been noticing lately that my "anger" reactions seem a little more extreme than I really think is warranted. It doesn't happen all the time, or in all cases, but every now and then I think "Whoa, simmer down there!" and wonder where it comes from. Would taking a vacation/retreat kind of thing help? I have no idea, but it might be worth a try.


The Finish Line

I... did... it.
I... man...aged... to... fin...ish.
Seriously though, those last 500 words were killing me. I was slogging through the story linearly and suddenly thought, "I'll be up forever doing it this way!!" so I flipped through to a few spots where I knew I could add some description (and no b.s.!). Not done editing, of course, but a winner nonetheless.

Above you will see the "prize" (besides the warm fuzzies) - an icon to put on my webpage. The bird, you will notice, is smiling and instead of a typewriter has a finished manuscript.

For those wishing to see the previous icon, it's here.
 Posted by Hello

The Homestretch

Here's a running description of my sprint down the homestretch.
At the beginning of the day, I had 3980 words to write. It will all have to be filler, since the main line of the story has ended. A discussion of last ditch techniques have been discussed, such as a theme song (or songs throughout, a la LOTR), acknowledgements, a b.s. section describing the heroine in excruciating detail, and chapter dividers composed of words have all been suggested. I'll report which one I use at the 11th hour.

Two hours through the day, at approx. 10:30, I have written 528 words and am in Chapter 2. Assuming an average 200 added words per chapter and an hour per chapter in which to do it, I should be done in approximately 18 hours. Let's hope this number changes.

Four hours through my workday, approx. 12:30, I have written 1005 words, and am in Chapter 3. Not all those words have been added to existing chapters. I have added one prologue and two mini informational chapters so far.
In other news, the cats are hilariously chasing toys around the house, but in general are happy to have me around.
Also, the receptionist from the office called from her personal cell phone. It appears the phones at work are out, which is why I couldn't call in. I told her to tell my coworkers I wouldn't be in today. I'm continuing to fight off guilt because it looks better outside right now than I thought it would earlier today.

Six hours through, approx. 2:30, I have written 1777 words, and am in Chapter 4 (I added another mini chapter). Does it seem like I'm speeding up? Yeah, It seems like that to me too. Crossing my fingers.

Eight hours and still going strong. It's approx. 4:30 and I've written 2313 words. Yes, I've slipped a little in pace, but considering I'm only in Chapter 6 now, I feel like I will have plenty of good material and no b.s. at the end. The only problem, good material takes longer to write. That just means I have to work longer, of course. Well, at this pace, I think I have around six hours of work still ahead of me. I still have tomorrow evening, of course, but I'd rather just get it done, especially since the guilt has really set in. The weather really didn't turn out as badly as I seriously thought it would.

Ten hours and nearing the 49K mark. Approx. 6:30 and I've written 2810 words. I think I've dropped the pace again, but I'm heading into another mini chapter added and that always pumps up the word pace. I'll finish this evening for sure, without even making additions throughout the whole book. I have been editing at the same time, which has slowed my progress, but I like the results a lot better.

Twelve hours and seeing the finishline stretched out in front of me. Approx. 8:30 and I have written 3422 words. What does that mean in the long run you ask? Well, remember at the beginning I said I needed 3980 words? Yep, that means I have just over 500 words to go. When you hear from me next I will be done!

Oh Darn... Snowed In

After the harrowing (slight exaggeration) drive back to my house yesterday, where I was going 40 on I-70 and crazy people were zipping by me, I've decided I'm not going to work today. I've managed to get to work plenty of times after snowstorms before, so I deserve a snow day. Especially considering it's still snowing - mainly in the south part of Denver, but when they showed the downtown on the news this morning, it was snowing there too.
So I refuse to feel guilty for staying in today. Really.
Does the fact that I'd like to work on the novel today (4,000 wds to go) have anything to do with it? Yes and no. I was trying to imagine what my decision would have been without something to work on here at home, but I really couldn't make an unbiased decision.
Also... I haven't managed to get a hold of anyone at the office, so I'm probably not the only one playing it safe today.

How much did I pay the weather gods to produce this snow day right before the deadline? Let's just put the number at ALOT.



Here I am, back from the Thanksgiving trip, trying to get some writing done and I can't because I'm too busy wallowing in self-pity. I'm hoping writing it down will get it out so I can get back to the story.
The trip back was about three hours too long and apparently I'm a failure as a human being. That's ok though, as I see it, because lots of well-known writers are failures as human beings. It just ensures that we have lots of time to write.
It's entirely my fault that I ask a simple opinion question and get a Socratic method answer and when I object I'm told I'm being passive-aggressive (someone shoot me if I ever use that phrase to describe another person - I believe it is one of the least helpful criticisms one can give another person, except perhaps "defensive"). The nice thing was I actually did get to hear the discussion I was seeking in the first place, it just had to be phrased differently by another person in the car.
I know everyone should be cut some slack because we were trapped in a small space for a long period of time and everyone was stressed. But I'm tired of being told what's wrong with me. I'm tired of twisting this way and that trying to accommodate people I work with and people I'm related to. It makes me feel like my feelings don't count. Maybe they don't. Maybe the "higher" way is to subvert all personal "ego" and bend as the wind blows. If one has nothing one can call "feelings", one can't have one's feelings hurt. If you're being called passive-agressive, you wouldn't feel upset because thier feeling validated is what counts. That's certainly the approach I've taken at work. "The customer is always right." or coworker or whatever. I'm nothing. I don't count. What can I do for you?
See, having no feelings means you can toss out self-pity as invalid too. It's just the ego trying to be heard. Ignore it and it'll go away. Oooooohhhhmmmmm.
Like now.

(Now 5000 words are calling my name... ciao)


Chugging Through the Ending

Well, the story is coming to a nice end. It doesn't sound as abysmally bad at I feared it would be. I think I'll be a few thousand words short, so I'll have to go back and add some stuff in the middle. Hopefully that won't be too much of a pain.
Thanksgiving was good, though the family closeness is a bit much sometimes. I have a very opinionated family that likes to share thier opinions a lot. Not bad in small amounts, but requires patience over the long term. (Sorry guys!)


The Great Sardine Ride

We made it to Oklahoma, sanity intact, but covered in dog hair. Four adults and a dog were not meant to travel for 11 hours in a Toyota Matrix. The positive of that arrangement was we only had to drive for about 3 hours each.
I, of course, got zero accomplished on the story, but I've had plenty of time to mull over the ending. Result: in the same dilemma I was in 36 hours ago. I have several vague ideas, but no real strong finish. Finally I came to the conclusion that I need to write an ending, any ending, to finish this 50K words in 30 days, then later, if it really turns out to be a dog, rewrite after figuring out something better. Gotta focus on the goal here, not get caught up in quality issues just yet.
T-day dinner... lunch actually, will be in 2 hours. YAY! I am so hungry!


Excuses excuses

I don't think not going to tai chi class would have changed things, but it would have helped a little. Maybe I would have gotten to bed an hour earlier. Maybe.
After laboring over the novel for several hours and producing only a little more than half quota, I realized I still have some thinking to do on the end. I want it to be a bit more intricate (like one of those caper movies, Ocean's 11 or The Sting) than just the usual blammo action movie/story. That of course, requires thought and time to think -- something I'll have plenty of once we get going on the Great Sardine Ride to Oklahoma, but not something I had last night.
So finally I closed up shop and got to the real work of the evening: getting ready for the trip. Of course, this included typical trip stuff like packing and taking out the garbage, but I also had to clean the stovetop (because I had let it go too long without cleaning and there will be someone coming in to feed the cats - I can't have her seeing I'm a slob! Ok, it is NaNoWriMo time... mitigating circumstances) and replace the litter in the cat's bathrooms. I also had to dig out the vacation light timers and set the VCR to record my favorite shows.
Ironically, all this kept me up longer than the novel ever has - 3 am. Granted, I can pack and clean while I'm tired, but I can't write while I'm tired.
Here's to hoping I can still make good progress on the novel while surrounded by distractions.


The Yipeeyuk Strikes Again

"...and now my child, at last you know exactly why I work so slow."

Well, procrastination jumped on my back again yesterday. I still managed quota, but I stayed up late to do so. The good part? I did some serious mulling over the remainder of the storyline, which hadn't come together yet, and had some breakthrough ideas. I'm getting a glimmer of how this story will end.
Also, I'm about 600 words from 40K. Yay! Nearly 80% done!



Over 5K words today folks, and that makes 12K this weekend (including Friday). I am over a day ahead of "minimum", which I will be adding to slightly if I get my usual quota of 2K done Monday and Tuesday. Yippee!
I have a little over 12K to produce in the next eight days. No problemo! Even with lost time in the car.
[Doing the conga line by myself around the room...]

Lower Peak

Yay!!! I reached 35K, where I "should" be if I were taking the path of least resistance and producing the minimum required every day to finish exactly on the last day. What does this mean? It means that my average progress has finally come UP to the point that if I am consistent with my past production I should finish on time. If I were to produce from this point forward 1667 words per day each day for the remainder of the month, I will finish on time.
Of course, I will lose some time while traveling to and from Oklahoma later this week, plus I hope to not have to work as much (if at all) on Thanksgiving itself. So, I need to work up a surplus or suffer some sleepless nights Nov. 29 and 30th (until midnight, that is).

On the subject of hourly production rates, which came up in a comment a few days ago (abbreviated: Anne, why don't you produce more per day? I can't, I'm slow.), I have found that I do actually have a slower pace than many of my compatriots. Ok, "many" is too strong a word, but of the two whose pace I do know, one produces over 800 words/hour and the other over 1000 words/hour. I am about half that. On a great day I can push 600, but over time (evidence: this month) I produce about 450. I would have pegged it about 500 before this experiment, so I'm not too far off. This is generally with the TV off, but with occasional jaunts to Internet Beach as a break. I think I have difficulty concentrating. That certainly happens to me at work. Nice to know it's a general weakness, not one specific to the workday.
Fortunately I have a trait that evens the playing field -- persistence. It may take me twice as long, but doggone-it, I'm going to stay out here till it's done.

So, while the rest of the team goes in for a shower and a home-cooked meal, I'm going to stay and finish those last 15 laps. See you in the locker room!


Encore Encore!

Well, I'm being hit with "the sleepies" (as a friend calls them). I need to either get up and do some dishwashing, or go to bed. Haven't decided which yet.

I've got lots and lots done today, clocking in at about 10 hours of work and just over 4200 words done. I was hoping for 5 to 6 K, but one can manage only so much attention span. The words per hour dropped considerably after 3K. During my dinner break I watched "Someone Like You" (yes, the title is abominably bland). Normally I'm not much for romantic comedies. I'm too much of a romantic myself, and I find them a little too pat a lot of the time, especially considering how life doesn't really conform to the romantic comedy formula. Anyway, I happen to like this particular movie, mainly because it's female lead (Ashley Judd) is not overly saccarine and it's male lead (Hugh Jackman) gorgeous and charming beyond belief. I swear, if there was someone I wanted to meet in real life to see if he were as handsome and as charming as he appears on TV, it would be Hugh. I'll have *that* with a side of chocolate sauce, please! (Let it be noted for the record that the males in my family have not cornered the market on non-sainthood.)

Aww, one of the kitties has settled next to me on the couch. Too cute. Maybe I'll manage to stay and write a little longer.

A Good Start

Chugging away here at a good pace, provided I manage to control my attraction to procrastinatory activities.

Thought I'd post this quickly...
"NaNoWriMo will be featured on NPR’s Talk of the Nation next Tuesday! They’re dedicating an entire show to novel writing, and it sounds like they’ll be leading with a conversation about us."
It was a news item posted on the NaNo website. I'm not sure if the Tuesday they are refering to was last Tuesday or will be this Tuesday, but it's exciting to say the least.

Ok, procrastination over with, back to work! [bullwhip cracks in the background]

Back on Track

I was really tired at work today (yesterday, actually, since it's after midnight), so I had some serious worries about meeting quota this evening.
Thanks goodness as soon as I got home I got started. So, 4 hours of writing and two hours of watching TV later, I reached quota. Yay!
"Why were you watching TV?" I hear you ask? Well, I need a bit of a break and time to eat dinner. I just need a vacation from my own head for a while. The first show was good (Enterprise, latest in the Trek series) and and the second (Medical Investigation, a combination of the medical drama and the forensic shows) was so-so. There was some decent writing, but they relied way to much on the "charismatic leader" who I found a little overbearing. He fell smack in the mediocre section of the range, with Grissom (CSI) and Jack Malone (Without a Trace) being the positive end of the scale, and Horatio 'H' Caine (CSI: Miami) [cue sound of cat and hairball here] on the negative end.
Well, it's time for bed. I really feel positive about possibly kicking some novel ass this weekend.


Sucking down Darjeeling with Marie Antoinette

Bad News: Didn't meet quota, or even half quota, yesterday, so I'm even further behind...
Badder News: Old laptop is kaput, no novel writing during 24 hours in the car...

Good News: Got wonderful "It's about the process" speech from sister in anticipation of me not getting this novel done...
Gooder News: Have entire weekend to see if I can manage to come from behind and still win this thing...



I got skillz

Today I learned a very handy skill -- how to break into my own house with a credit card (or similar plastic membership card). That's without the deadbolt, of course. Thank you, Brian for suggesting it!
In other news, I got half quota done yesterday, as I thought I would. I'm going to aim for half quota today too, since I'm going to have dinner at Aileen and Brian's. I really really hope this weekend is very productive, so I'm not backing myself into a corner at the end of the month, but we'll see.
I half wish I could write faster, but the quality of what I'm producing is pretty decent (which it wouldn't be if I were writing "filler"), so I guess I gotta take my licks.


A Little Section of Downhill

Apparently, this marathon isn't completely uphill. I experienced a little break yesterday when I completed quota in a mere 3 hours. That was mainly because there was a short story tucked into the novel, and I had the whole story in my head. No gear grinding. I went to bed "early" but am still really tired today. I'm thinking that today and tomorrow I might take half quota days (equalling 1 day off), then I could make it through the week. This weekend will be interesting. No committments other than working on the novel.


Keeping the pace up

Last night I pushed through the last hour and made quota. Yay!
Going home yesterday, I was worried because I had realized that the time frame on the current plotline didn't match the pace of the story. I toyed with the idea of rewriting some of what I had already written, to pull the story forward in time a bit, closer to the action. But, not only did it seem that this would slow down my writing process, but it would also contradict my current method of following the characters to find the plot. So, there had to be a reason my characters had met in such a way and at that paticular time in the plotline. When I started looking at that, I realized that it had to happen that way to allow for character development. And in following that development through it's natural course, taking into account the feelings of my characters, I found a new plotline to lay over the other one! Yay!
This method of writing is really interesting, and I'm looking forward to finding out what quality of novel it produces. :)


Making up ground

Yesterday went well. Not wildly well, but well enough that I made quota and a little bit more. I'm running about 3000 words behind where I should be at this point. If I keep up with quota though, that will gradually disappear and I'll be able to finish on time. (For those who wonder what my quota is, it's 2000 words/day. That's 334 words higher than the minimum needed (50K words/30 days), so if I make quota, I'm gaining ground.) I don't have much leeway for taking time off, but as I said in the beginning, this is to teach me discipline.
Now if I can only figure out where this story is going...
(On a side note, I am learning not to push for higher than quota if it's 11 pm and I'm tired. Hopefully that will help my stamina over the weekdays.)


The Grind

Not doing so hot on the writing right now. Last night I went to have dinner with friends and figured I'd get back in time to do some writing. Well, that was before I gave a friend a ride home and she "just wanted to stop by" a bar/restaurant a guy she's dating has just opened. It turned into and hour and a half detour and of course I was too tired once I got back. I'm not particularly mad at her, just frustrated with the situation. She got sucked into talking to friends, and I'm going to be more wary of situations like that.
On the soccer front, we lost 2-5 tonight against a very skilled, very fast team.
Well, back to the mines...


D'oh! Kid 1 Adult 0

Well, the immature kid in me won last night. I managed to procrastinate my way to producing a little over 500 words. Of course, now the adult in me is in charge, and she is not happy!! >:(
Instead of complaining though, I'm going to go get some more words on the page while Aileen and Brian go get the Uhaul truck.


After midnight, we're gonna let it all hang out...

Got a late start yesterday, because my favorite show, Without a Trace, didn't end until 10, but I reached my quota anyway.
I'm still managing 500 wds/hr, so it still took me a while but I got to that magic mark! I only got real tired during the last hour. Then I would just get up and do something small and quick, like washing something or prepping trash to be taken out, tidying, etc.
We've moved on to a new segment of the story, which should be fun. I've increased the cast of characters, so that should provide lots of opportunities. Interestingly, I've noticed that I tend to keep my cast of characters to a minimum. This might come from my background in short stories, but I tend to think it's a desire for an "uncluttered" storyline.


Persistence is Futile

I did not manage to hit quota yesterday. I got through 1000 words before succumbing to fatigue. I was so tired that "pushing through" didn't seem like it would produce anything significant. I went to be "early" at around 11.
Looking back I think (can't be sure until I reread it) the stuff I did write yesterday was 50% crap. Oh well. Today will be better, I'm sure.


Choppy waters

Well, I reached quota yesterday, but because of procrastinating, I didn't get it done till 1 am. On the positive side, my speed was increased. I got 2000 words done in 3.5 hours instead of 4 like the night before. I hope that's a trend, especially considering what I was writing wasn't fast work.
What is fast work when writing a novel you ask? (Ok, you didn't ask, but I'm going to tell you anyway.) A fight scene is fast - it's descriptive, plus I have the whole scene in my head. I know where it begins and ends and in between kind of takes care of itself. Exposition can be fast if it's something I've been thinking over for a while. Transitions are slow. You can't ignore them and just say, "three weeks later," unless you've established a pattern of life for your character that the reader can insert in the blank. It has to be interesting enough that your reader won't put the book down, but not interesting enough that it distracts from the main plot. It needs to be filled out just enough that the reader gets the idea, and it needs to be concise. Transitions are hard.
Yesterday was a day of transition for my main character. Today there should be some big action going on.
And hopefully I'll be able to get to be earlier!


Smooth Sailing

Alright. I think I'm getting back into the "get your butt in gear" mode.
Last night, I achieved my quota of 2000 words and did it by 12:30. I'm still behind in terms of where I "should" be (if I were producing the minimum very consistently from the start), but my personal daily quota is a few hundred above the minimum, so I should catch up in the next week or so. Then, I'll be able to start building up a surplus.
The writing process has been really interesting. I'm getting the hang of "letting the story tell itself". We'll see what kind of product that yields, but it is fun, 'cause it's like watching a movie sometimes.
I do love writing. I just wish I weren't such a weenie about it.


One foot in front of the other

Worked on the novel until 12:30 last night and made it to 2,000 words. Yay! I'm still running a little behind, based on my past performance (ie. crappy middle of the week), but if I can keep the pace up, I should be able to catch up before the month is over. What I'd like to do is get the bulk done before Thanksgiving. I seriously doubt I could bring up the pace enough to get it all *done* before Thanksgiving.
End of the month. That's all I ask.


Pushing through

I (and the other gal) had to play without a substitute during today's game. We've been moved up to the C League. We lost 6-9. I played ok, but could have played better if I hadn't been so tired.
In the same vein, I'm doing ok with the novel -- yesterday I had a stellar 3,000 words written. Today 1,000 so far. I need at least twice that, but I don't know if I'll make it. We'll see. I just need to push through the tiredness and keep at it.
In fact, I'm supposed to be writing right now. What a procrastinating genius I am.
Ok, ok! I'm going!


Second Wind?

I got over a thousand words written yesterday evening! Yay!
I wanted to go to sleep around 11:30, but forced myself to hold out and keep working until midnight. I did, and somewhere in that time, I discovered a nugget of characterization which carried me through to 12:30. Yippee!
Of course, today is going to have to be a day of intensive working to catch up. Now that I know how hard it is to get my quota done on the weekdays, I know what I need to do to get done on time. I'm also hoping to get done early, so I'll be able to relax at Thanksgiving.
Intensive work may have to wait a couple hours though. I'm going to meet some other writers in the area and "talk shop."


Let's face it, I'm pooped

I went to bed at the "early" hour of 11:30, and I'm still tired! Yesterday, I went to tai chi and spent a lot of time doing household work. When I sat down at the computer at 10:30, I was aching all over and just couldn't even turn my brain on to write. Fortunately, during idle moments of the day I had been writing NaNo stuff on a yellow writing pad. I transcribed that to the computer, cleaning it up along the way, and called it good. Sure, it's only a page, but it's 435 words less that I have to write. Yippee!
I'm briefly going out to see my friends this evening, and only meeting a really attractive guy is going to keep me out later than 8. Hopefully I'll still have some pep in me to write some this evening, 'cause I am going to have a lot to catch up on this weekend. Only 1 out of the 4 nights have I reached my quota and the other 3 fell very very short.
It's like climbing a mountain. Don't look at the highest peak, you'll just get discouraged. Aim for the ridge or bend in the trail immediately ahead.


Long Climb Ahead

I'm feeling marginally better today because I wrote more last night than I did the night before. (Stayed up 'til 1 am doing it, too.) But I didn't get to my quota of 2000 words, not even half. Part of the problem was that I just bought cool hanging file folders for my new plastic file drawers. Well, the file drawers aren't brand new, I've had them for several months. Aileen pointed out just last week that they had grooves for hanging files. So I got the cool colored folders. Which meant I had to do this filing and organizing last night. HAD TO. Now I'm all organized and keyed by color. Fine. I love it, but couldn't it have waited 'til the weekend?
There were other, TV related, distractions -- "Lost" and Jackie Brown!
Today won't be too much better, since I need to keep going to tai chi, but I intend to keep slogging ahead, however slowly.
I think the key will be not to get too bummed about not making quota during the week, but keep moving, keep making progress, then catch up on the weekends.
We'll see how that goes. :\


Not Happy

Not only am I depressed that we haven't hit bottom yet (as evidenced by the recent election results), but I let the stupid electoral college battle distract me from producing more for my NaNovel. Approximately 150 words produced yesterday.
Damn you, electoral college! [shaking fist at the sky]

Edited to add: Well, I did some writing at lunch today. It made me feel better. :)


And a one!

Really enjoyed writing yesterday, generated some good stuff, but really it took too long to get to my goal of 2,000 words. I think I'm going to have to:
a) not let myself be sucked into TV shows (Come on! It was SNL!), and
b) institute a curfew, if I'm not done by 12 (and that includes random things like checking email), then I have to stop and go to bed!

In other news, it's election day! Last day for stupid political ads! Yippee!



Apparently a bit of snow on the ground is a sign that bad parallel parking is allowed. All courtesy is suspended. Every man (or woman) for him (or her) self!
I haven't seen so many half a space in front, half a space behind, in a long long time. Frickin fracken bad drivers!

And I need my mum to knit me a poncho! It's cold in this office and I lost my cardigan. Booo hooo! (as I sit here with my scarf wrapped around me like a shawl...)

PS - Haven't written anything for NaNo yet. I'm excited to get home and start!


The Longest Weekend

I don't know if it's because I'm looking forward to finally being able to start the NaNoWriMo (Monday Nov. 1 - Tomorrow!), but this weekend has seemed soooooo long.
Ironically (as I just realized) this weekend actually IS longer, because of the daylight savings change!
I feel like I'm skipping work today. (muahhhahahahah!)
I've dug up the spaceship schematics I developed a couple years ago. It's a pretty cool ship, if I do say so myself.
I've also developed the main character and the main badguy. She's an intergalactic bounty hunter and he's a con man (posing as a politician - fancy that!).
I'll be posting word counts and excerpts on the NaNoWriMo site (click the icon on the right and follow along :).


Quiet Friday

For some reason, it's especially quiet in the office today.

I'm going to two parties this evening and another one or two tomorrow.

I called my mother out of the blue this afternoon.

Amazon shipped my new headphones, but they appear to be stalled at Commerce City's UPS station. Must not have had room for them on the truck. Darn that free shipping!
(Nevermind. They just arrived and I'm testing them out now. Very good sound quality, at least to my untutored ear.)

Aileen got a job! Yippee!

Two more days till NaNoWriMo!

Back to work. :(


Tying up the season

Yesterday we had the final for the current indoor soccer season (don't worry, another season starts in 2 weeks). Our team was ranked first (in Division D) with a 8-0 record. How we went from loss-loss-loss-loss to win-win-win-win is beyond me, but if we have another season like this one, we'll be moving up to the next division and back to losses, I'm sure.
The final was, if not the prettiest soccer we've ever played, was certainly hard fought. The final score, 4-4. They got that last goal to tie in the last 12 seconds of the game. Argh, it was so frustrating. There is no tie breaker, 'cause they need to keep a schedule, but we were considered the winners because the last time we played them, we won.

In anticipation of having to focus on novel writing, I bought a new set of headphones on Amazon today. Crucial, since my previous set is 5 years old and one of the earpieces is broken off so that it's only one sided (handy at work, where one must appear available).

Bum bum bum bum bada bum! The novel challenge approaches! Tremble in fear/anticipation!!


Autumn Banquet

Yesterday, I attended the first annual Autumn Banquet. It was being given in my house by Aileen and Brian (aka my sister and brother in law and houseguests). It was a fantastic success, though the beginning was stalled a bit. All the non-resident guests were stuck in a traffic jam on I-25 for at least an hour. After they got here, however, everything went smoothly. The food was delicious and the table settings much admired. Everyone knows each other, so the talk was very "unfettered". Aileen got us so full of good food, we were helpless when she brought out the boardgames. We played a great game of Taboo, which ended around 11 or 11:30. That was also the end of the party. Next year's event is already much anticipated.

PS - Reuben's site is giving me a serious inferiority complex. He's gettin' all nihilistic or existential (yes, I know they're opposites, but I couldn't decide which one) on us. Me feel dumb. Me not write stuff of consequence.


Writing Excitement

When I'm at work, I usually have to listen to music (with words) to keep focused on repetative tasks. Oddly enough, it keeps me from thinking, which keeps me off the internet. It occurred to me today that my need to interact with words, either reading or writing them is part of what distracts me. Music and words helps keep it internal so I can continue to draw.
I have *got* to start writing more. Maybe if I siphon off that pressure to write, I'll be able to focus better at work. Maybe it'll just make it worse.
I'm getting really excited about doing the NaNoWriMo. I have a good idea about the story I'll write. I've had the main character floating around for a while. I've designed her spaceship in a class I took. And now a plot is coming into shape. I'm allowed to do some preliminary work on the novel: character development, outlines, etc. but not work on the novel itself.
The website for NaNoWriMo has a beautifully done (by a participant) spreadsheet to track how many words written, how many to go, what your words/hour are and how you are doing compared to the other days you've worked so far. It has lovely charts and
graphs and is very intricate. So, now I'm saved from "wasting" hours doing it myself (as I would undoubtedly do).
Boy, I'm excited!



I just signed up for NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. It's like a marathon for writers. The challenge, write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days (the month of November). I'm going to try and add a link to this site. We'll see if I can make it a cute graphic link or if I'll have to resort to a boring text one.
Edited to add: Score! I so totally rock, if I do say so myself. After the First of November, I'll switch that link to my personal NaNoWriMo page, on which you should be able to see my progress and read excerpts.Posted by Hello


Weekend Doings

I went to see Team America on Saturday. It was extremely crude and I was laughing/giggling during most of it. As usual with a Parker-Stone production, the songs were the best part. I still have Team America's theme song stuck in my head, and every other song was perfectly satirical ("Freedom costs a buck or five"). I thought they made fun of both extremes of the political spectrum very well. All in all, well worth the price of admission ($7 for a matinee!!!), but caution that it contains many scenes of graphic (puppet) violence, sex, crude language, and just plain gross stuff.
My soccer team is still on a roll. We had another big win today. It was against a team that I consider friendly, but one of the gals asked me "I thought you guys were nice?" To which I answered, "Well, some of us still are." I don't particularly like trash talking, since I think it's pretty unneccessary. Come on people, we're all adults here -- but some of my teammates get wrapped up in the emotions of the moment. Next week, we battle for the top spot in Division D. If we win, we can stay in Division D, but another season (10 weeks) of being on top and we have to move up to Division C.
PS - Haircut went well. I like it. :)


Wishful thinking #3

Nicole Kidman Posted by Hello

Wishful thinking #2

Jennifer Connelly Posted by Hello

Wishful thinking #1

Tomorrow I'm going to get my hair cut and am thinking about changing the style. The success of this could be greatly influenced by the quality of direction I give to my hair dresser. I figured the best thing I could do is find pictures of actresses who have hair cuts I admire. The photos above aren't necessarily representative of the haircuts, but are rather beautiful photos of the actresses I looked at. Now if only I could look like that everyday. All I need is a makeup artist, fashion designer, and hair dresser to follow me around all day...
This actress is Julianne Moore. Posted by Hello


It's a small internet after all...

Wierd coincidence today... I was searching online for stuff related to Buckaroo Banzai (my latest DVD acquisition). I found a chatty post about it on Montykins. I like the look and content of his site. It's attractive and simple to navigate, and he's a reasonably good writer chatting about any number of subjects. The wierd coincidence? The little link on the right for the "Damn Hell Ass Kings". That seems to be a group of online writers and creators that has an uncommonly high number of clever writers:
- I discovered Sars' Tomato Nation some months ago
- I keep an eye on Glark's Glarkware, since he comes up with some pretty cool and off-the-wall designs.
- I have dilly-dallied on Chicklit, but never found the time to explore it completely.
- I am a regular visitor to Television Without Pity, mainly because I like the folks at the "Enterprise" forum.
So, I'm adding Monty and his "Montykins" site to my list of interesting links.
I just love finding interesting sites and seeing how people communicate with them. Somehow I'm going to find a way to make my life more about this kind of communication. Starting with trying to be more faithful about this site and find some time to take it off blogspot and put it on my own url. We'll see how that goes.

Da Boys: Too Damn Cute

I took the kitties to the vet yesterday, just for a little general check up and get-to-know-the-vet visit. They're fine, don't worry. [Audience lets out collective breath.] The best thing? They don't hate me for it! Yippee!
Yep. I'm a sissy. I was worried about my cats avoiding me and not trusting me 'cause I catnapped them and held them down while another human poked and prodded them. Ok, I was really only worried about Martin, 'cause Matti is incapable of holding a grudge.
But they don't hate me and all is well with the world... [a big "HA!" from the audience and anyone who's been preoccupied with politics lately]
I'm putting a new cat picture online and linking it to the pictures section in the right hand column...


Wave of the Future

Exciting news! SpaceShipOne captures X PrizePosted by Hello

"...in this case my enemy is a varmint."

That's me going to take a whack at our team mascot, a gopher. Yep, we were the Varmint Cong (a Caddyshack reference). And won "best team name" out of sheer nostalgia. Posted by Hello

Buzz buzz busy

"So how's things at work?"
"So that's good, right?"
"Uh, yeah." (Except it cuts into my blogging time, darn it!)

Highlights from the past three weeks:
- My soccer team is still undefeated this season. We just won a game against old rivals and beat them 6-5. It was a hard fought game during which the other team made a great comeback, but we managed to score once more to beat them.
- I played golf for the first time. I didn't suck at it, so I'm inclined to play it again. My office had a golf tournament in which everyone was expected to play, golfer or no. Our team had a high (ie. bad) score, from consistently bogeying each hole (it was a "scramble", which meant we pretty regularly picked our one good player's ball). BUT we had fun, and in the end, that's what counts.
- Working some overtime on schematic drawings for a very large project near Fiddlers Green Ampitheater. Now it's on hold and I'm doing construction documents for another building (that I had worked on before *that* was put on hold).

I've been doing a lot of bargain book shopping. I think that's a subject for another day though...



I haven't been posting the soccer results lately, but my team is doing tons better lately.
We won the last game of the previous season (Aug. 15), which I missed. :(
Then we won the first game of the new season (Aug. 29), which I did not miss. It was pretty much a blowout, since the team we were playing were really new.
THEN we won last night's game against an opponent that has beaten us three times before. It was a hard fought game, we were down 1-6 at the half-time. We won 10-8. They are a very physical team, so we got into a few scuffles, but it was a very enjoyable game. :)
Go Team!


Here's Lookin' at You

Yours truly in front of my new (FREE!) webcam. Apparently Comcast is trying to get people to use their video email service. I don't usually like photos or video of myself, but this webcam is strangely addictive. Posted by Hello


Coordination conference in my office between Director of Construction, Project Architect, and Project Designer. Design-Build in action. Posted by Hello

Design Challenges

Two articles that came to my attention today...

Uniform Redesign

Flag Redesign

Blogging Troubles

I have had some trouble updating my blog for the last few days. I don't know if was Blogger or me (probably the former), but I deleted some of my posts containing incidental photos (test posts and the like), in case you were looking for them.


A sunset Aileen and I saw on the way back from scouting a temp job location. Posted by Hello


Gaming Going On

We're all gaming here at Casa Ana.
Brian's playing Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory,
Aileen's playing Myst,
and I'm playing The Crystal Key.
Both of these latter are adventure/puzzle games.
Oh, yes, and Iron Chef is on the TV.


Monarch Lake

Where we went canoeing and fishing. Posted by Hello


Taken during my solo hike... Posted by Hello

Back Again

Hmm... Another hiatus...
Well, I'll have to attribute it to the increased workload at the office.
Last weekend I went camping in the beautiful Rocky Mountains (near Granby) and will post a picture momentarily. Anyway, it was one of the (if not The) best trips ever. Granted, I got to the campgrounds late, and it was raining most of the way there.
The campground was 9 miles off the main road, but it took me half an hour after I turned off to find it on the dark, rainy, and (hard-packed) dirt road. But! When I found them, I was greeted by my friends who had a fire going and canopies up and a very nice guy helped me put my tent up during a temporary halt in the rain.
The next morning started out very misty and I took a solo hike along a ridge, taking lots of photos with my new digital camera. Then later that morning it cleared up and got sunny just as we were starting a group hike along the lake's edge. I almost lost my high school sweatshirt, but luckily (and with the help of someone's binoculars and someone else's sharp gaze) found it . After we got back and relaxed a bit at the campsite, I was convinced to go along on a canoeing/fishing trip. I'm so glad I did. The lake was beautiful, the canoeing so fun (I sat in the middle and took pictures instead of paddling), and one of our group caught a big brown trout. We saw an osprey that had a nest on a neighboring island and a moose on the way back to the camp.
That evening was nice. The stars were out and I had grilled buffalo steak and trout. Someone brought a really good bottle of tequila that I got to taste a bit of. No scrunched up tequila face with that one.
The next day, I just lounged around the campsite and knitted until it was time to pack up and go. Through a friend's suggestion, I drove back over Trail Ridge Road, "the highest continuous motorway in the United States" according to this webpage. Wow. Now that was an awesome experience. I saw elk crossing the road (stopped the traffic) and snow in the mountains. Then, since I was "nearby" I called up some friends and family in Ft. Collins and went up to visit. Like I said -- Awesome Trip.


Status Quo

Whew! My cats are normal! (See Exhibit A) Posted by Hello

Ze House

(Yes, Virginia, there are trees in Oklahoma.) From my recent visit to the new homestead. It's nice to see my architectural education paid off. Posted by Hello

Re: The Long Hiatus

Work has been very busy 'round here, so I haven't had time to goof off, darn it.
The ironic thing is, we just got cable internet at my house...


Om my, what a nice bowl...

My latest paint-your-own-pottery project. I originally intended it to be a catfood bowl, but now I think it's too nice for that. The symbol in the bottom is the Hindu symbol for om. Posted by Hello


Lake hike near Buena Vista

The destination for a hike I took on Saturday. A typically gorgeous shot, but I decided to post it anyway. I think my digital picture taking skills are improving. Posted by Hello

In the works

Whew! Life is busy!
I have some great photos from this weekend that need to be posted, plus I need to redesign my website, including a version of this blog.
I may be soliciting the assistance of a web-savvy cousin of mine (I'm lookin' at you, Reuben) to help me refine and put into action the new design.


Camera Days are here again...

Woo hoo! The UPS guy, taking his sweet ol' time, finally came to the office at about 4 pm. Contrary to popular expectation, I did not play with my new toy ALL evening. After eating dinner (tacos, see below) Aileen and Brian and I watched an English series called "Monarch of the Glen", then I hopped on my black charger, galloping across the Internet to bring you these very important photos.
Question now is, should I post the pic of the day in the blog itself (like the pictures below) or as a separate page?


My lovely sister, getting dinner. Posted by Hello

Ok...now?...how 'bout now?...now?

I'm sitting here waiting for my new digital (Canon Powershot A75) camera to arrive via UPS. I ordered it on Amazon (they were having a special, where you get a gift certificate towards future purchases) and took the Free Shipping option. That's always a gamble, since you might get it soon, or in two weeks. I was lucky, they shipped it pronto, and (according to the UPS tracking feature -- what did we do before its invention) the package arrived in Denver yesterday. So, it's on some UPS truck, making its meandering and agonizingly slow way to my office.
I have to resist getting up and looking down the street to see if I can see the truck.
I hate waiting...



Stress: when your family moves in with you and you haven't had a roommate in five years.
I love my siblings very very much and Friday they moved in. Actually, Max will be living with his best friend, Gabe, in Fort Collins, and Aileen and her husband, Brian, will be staying with me. We all kind of need our own space, and yesterday those spaces hadn't really been established. Today they have been and everything is much much better.
Sure, I hadn't anticipated the stress, but that's mainly because I'm not really interested in dwelling on what can go wrong. The important thing is we decided beforehand to communicate with as much honesty as humanly possible. So, if there's stress, at least it's not based on imagined worries. :)

Pic-of-the-Day is suffering a bit, not from lack of picture taking opportunities (the cats were sleeping together on the bed -- so cute!!), but because the camerasaur is not processing the pictures more and more frequently.
I'm going to order the camera online (better prices, I think) but I'm sorely tempted to just walk into a store for $25 more and get it now!
I'll alert you to more photos when that's up and running again.
Oh, and I'm trying to set up the Blogger picture posting feature, I just haven't gotten it to work yet.
(And Aileen thinks the camerasaur is 7 years old, not 10...)


Camera decision!

Okeydokey! I was in OfficeMax today and took an opportunity to look at the digital cameras first hand. The difference in size between the two cameras I've been considering isn't as much as I thought it would be. The A75 is really quite small, and the Elph is almost too small. Well. Decision made then. I'll take an A75 please.
The really nice thing? I just got paid for some extra work I did (thanks M&D!) and while most of it will go towards my credit card debt, I think I can skim off a bit for a new camera. Then I'll stop complaining. [cheers from the audience] Hey, quit that -- the camerasaur, while free, really is ancient (10 yrs old!).
You know I'll let y'all know when I get the new camera.


Itchy Political Philosophy

- I just finished a good book called "The Philosophical Strangler" by Eric Flint. It's a comedy fantasy novel that reminds me a bit of Monty Python or the Princess Bride. Very funny and a fast read.

- Last Saturday I cut my finger while cutting vinyl tile for the basement. It was a bit traumatic, but I'm fine now [sigh of relief from the audience] and have one of those high tech bandaids on that stay on for a few days and keep out water. Anyway, now it's starting to itch and that's great news (it's starting to heal!).

- I got sent the following link by a friend of mine -- This Land. Absolutely hilarious! A political cartoon that ladles out the humor evenly to both sides, and does it stylishly and well. I highly recommend it to Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike as a reminder to keep thier senses of humor in these tough political times.



- On Monday I saw two Buddist monks in my grocery store.  I wished I had an itty-bitty camera on me to whip out and snap a photo of them.  They were dressed in burnt orange robes, sandals, and had buzzed haircuts.  And they were smiling.  I think every Buddist monk I've ever seen was smiling.  They were so cute!

- Yesterday I managed to get some good photos of the cats investigating the printer

- My soccer team had a good game on Sunday, but lost again.  I think it was one of my best games ever -- I blocked, I collected and stole balls, I even made good passes, and I took hits.  In the last minute of the game, I blocked a powerful shot from a distance of about 6 feet.  So now I have a giant (about the size of a bread plate) spectacular buise that is blending beautifully from deep purple to chartruese.  Here's the Sunday evening bruise.  Today's Pic-of-the-Day features Tuesday and Wednesday's versions of the bruise.

- Blogger has a new photo blogging feature that I might have to try out.

- I'm trying to decide between two digital cameras to buy (or beg for)...
Canon PowerShot A75: 3.2 mp, very good performance, kinda bulky, $250.
Canon PowerShot SD100 (aka Elph): 3.2 mp, good performace, very slim, $250?
Right now I'm leaning towards the Elph, since it is easier to carry around and get spontaneous photos, sacrificing the better performance for portability and an increased likelihood I will actually use it.  If I find there are times I would prefer better performance, then down the line maybe I'll buy the other.


Site Addition

The day has arrived!  Woohoo!
What am I so excited about?  I figured out how to post pictures to this blog!  (See the right hand side bar from now on.)
Well, I kind of figured out how to jury-rig it for now.  As you know, I plan to redevelp the site, and that includes setting up an integrated personal site that includes blog, pictures, commenting, etc.  This is how we're going to work it for now.
I'm so excited about it, I'm thinking about doing a "Pic of the Day" feature.  It might turn into Pic of the Week, but we'll see.
Anyway, hope the three of you enjoy it!  ;)


Difference of Opinion

Yesterday, I wanted to let the cats into the backyard, so I got out thier belled collars, so they would at least be identifiable.  Matti let his be put on with a minimum of fuss, but Martin squirmed and pushed and would not allow me to put on his collar.  I held him tightly for a while, talking to him and hoping he would calm down.  He did not.  Finally, I let him go, but he had given me a couple of deep gouges in the inside of my elbows from his back claws.  I took Matti outside, hoping it would count as a reward.  Martin dodged around for about an hour and a half (while I ignored him completely) and then he decided he forgave me.
Next time, I'll have a big towel handy to mummify him.  They *have* to get used to the collar being taken on and off.


Tomato Fun

I am always on the lookout for funny and insightful writers on the Internet. Believe me, they are few and far between. Of the millions of blogs, about 95% of them are dross. I've just found one that I think I'll be visiting regularly and is of that 5% non-dross category.
The entry in which her cats are revealed as middle-aged psychologists transplanted into feline bodies in order to perform stress tests on thier subject (owner) is hilarious.
The site is Tomato Nation and is produced by Sarah D. Bunting. From now on, you will find it in my list of links. Enjoy!


Someone mentioned that they have lime smoothies at Jamba Juice and that sounds perfect for a hot day like today.
The Jamba Juice is (counts on fingers)... over six blocks away. That's over half a mile -- way too far to walk on a hot day like today.
Drive, you say? Ah, but Jamba Juice is situated next to The Death Lot. Which is so badly designed and so over crowded at lunch time, you are taking your life into your hands to drive there.

What to do? What to do?


The Good and the Bad

Sometimes I get really depressed about how ugly people can be. Yesterday, while I was walking back to work after lunch, I saw a mean guy in a car yell at and give The Finger to a bicyclist. The bicyclist was merely crossing at an intersection (two way stop sign) and the motorist had to *slow down to the speed limit* in order to let him cross. I mean, come on! It wasn't like he had to jam on his brakes; he had plenty of time to see the bicyclist start across. How much time did it add to his travel to slow down a little? And how likely is it that he would have to stop at light a couple blocks further anyway? I sympathize with the cyclist because as a pedestrian I've had to practically run across that difficult intersection many a time.
Inconsiderate drivers are bad enough without the added ugliness of uncalled-for profanity.

On the flip side:
I guess the overtime wasn't so bad after all. :) Not only did the presentation go very well and the client was impressed, but the boss took the entire office out for lunch at a local pub for burgers and margaritas (or enchiladas and beer, or what have you...). I like being appreciated!

Pagentry of Life

Here's the funny link of the day:

An article by a brave woman (writing for Slate Magazine) who tries out things people have wondered about but never had the guts to try. This time, she entered a beauty pageant...

Part I: Entering and Preparations
Part II: The Pagent


Devaluing my work?

This week I have been working overtime at my job. This is unpaid overtime, with no compensation other than warm fuzzies and the thanks of my bosses. My officemate contends that we get paid for every hour we work, the (monetary) value of the the others just goes down to compensate. $40/day at 8 hours = $5/hour, but if you work 10 hours, you're only paid $4/hour. Either way, I don't like working overtime. Compensation just prevents me from feeling taken advantage of, but even then I'd prefer to have the time than have the money.
I miss my cats. I miss being able to relax in the evenings. I miss working on my little projects around the house.
I don't like the rat race. I think it's a self-perpetuating and self-imposed myth. I renounce thee capitalistic culture! (Right after I buy a digital camera and a PDA ;)


Floor o' Glory

If the walls look awful, at least the floor looks Awesome!!
Thanks to Paden for helping me out (scraping floor, vacuuming, washing floor, putting down whole tiles and making paper patterns for the tiles going around door jambs).
When I get done the cut tiles around the edge, I'll think about a new color for the walls.

In other news, The Weed Forest behind my house has been razed. When Paden saw it, she said "Those are the tallest weeds I've ever seen!" I realized they were just starting to be taller than the 6' wood fence and the neighbors would start to be able to see it. It was then I knew -- The Weed Forest must go.


Painting Flop

I finished painting the basement yesterday, but despite all my artistic "talent", it doesn't look good.
Oh well. I've got to keep on schedule, and next is the vinyl floor tile.
When Aileen and Brian get here, if they totally hate the walls, we can repaint.

I guess this is one time I'm glad my blog doesn't support pictures yet.


Aroma d' foot

The latest cat cuteness:
I was sitting on the carpet with my legs stretched out in front of me, sans shoes. Matti was intrigued by the sight and had to go over and sniff my bare feet very thoroughly.
Cute, but wierd.


Too much fun?

I have, in the past, been a wallflower (out of my own choice, God knows why). After shucking that appellation, I decided not to pass up anymore opportunities for fun and entertainment. It wasn't really a conscious decision, like a New Year's Resolution or anything, more like a necessary step towards taking part in life. Well, I have lived up to this decision and rarely regretted it. Last weekend I kinda did. No, let's say Last Week.
Monday, after work, I went shopping (cat stuff, vinyl tile, etc. - multiple stores, thankfully in the same general area). Tuesday I went to Tai Chi class after work. Wednesday I went to dinner with aunts and uncles. Thursday I went to a BBQ. Friday I went to Tai Chi class having missed my regular Thursday class (the instructor was a real taskmaster). Saturday, I painted more of the basement and tried to spend some quality time with the cats because... Saturday afternoon I drove up to Steamboat Springs to join my friends camping. Sunday morning I drove back to Denver (the cats still remembered me! Whew!) just in time to unpack the car and get changed and go to participate in a Tai Chi demonstration. Then we went out to dinner afterwards. Once again, I got back with just enough time to change and go to a 9:30 soccer game.
I was pretty tired by that point, but I knew that if I didn't show up, I'd be dooming some poor gal to playing the entire game. There were 3 girls (including myself) which wasn't as bad as only 2, but it certainly wasn't as nice as 4 or more. I'm glad I went, but I felt awful immediately after it. We lost 7-3. :( One of those was me making an own-goal, which frustrated me *so much*, but it happens sometimes.
So. Too much fun? A tiny bit, yes. I'll still accept invites, but hopefully I'll be able to scale it back a bit. Tonight I'm going to paint pottery with friends, but next weekend I only have "tile the basement floor" to be accomplished (with a friend who has offered to help). I may see about visiting family up in Loveland, but I don't know if they're having a get together for the holiday or something. We'll see.
In the meantime, Carpe Diem.


And what have I accomplished?

Boy, do I feel like an underachiever.
Mattie Stepanek, child poet, died today at the tender age of 13, succumbing to a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy. He wrote five volumes of poetry that sold millions of copies.

My deadline for achieving that... 37.


H2 Oh!

I bought the cats a water fountain to drink from (cats preferring aerated water). Thier reaction was very cute. Martin just stared at it from a distance of about 18 inches, while Matti investigated, biting the stream of water and touching his paw to the surface of the water. Hopefully they'll get over the novelty and just drink from it.
And if this was as cool a website as Reuben's and if I had thought of getting out the camerasaur and if my blog supported photos (which it will, I promise), I'd have a cute photo to illustrate.


Historic Day

Today Mike Melvill became the first civilian astronaut to pilot his craft to the internationally recognized boundary of outer space (100 km above Earth).
Details about his flight and SpaceCraftOne are available here.

In not so historic news, my soccer team lost again to the Hooligans, 6 to 3 (though it was 4 to 3 until the last minute!). They sure run us around a lot, and thier female players have strong skills.

I'm adding a link for one of my favorite blogs (besides Reuben's Mecha Nations, already there). Stephanie is a chef and a writer with acerbic wit. She lives in San Francisco and works in a cheese shop. I don't know if I would call her site, The Grub Report, a blog, since she updates on her own schedule, but her articles are always filled with lovely descriptions of food and she sometimes bestows a recipie on her audience.

It's raining raining raining and all the world is wet...
Seriously, it's been raining A LOT for Colorado. It's nice, 'cause it reminds me of Back East, but people around here are not used to it!


Palmistry -- "I see you are bull-headed..."

Why yes, yes I am.
I bashed up my right palm removing the leftover tack strips in the basement. I used a small crowbar and my hand as a striking device. Why didn't I use a hammer, you ask? Well, I felt more flexible and able to fine tune my efforts AND it would have been too noisy with a hammer. I was listening to a book on tape, you see.

Aileen was right about the cats. Yesterday I saw them chewing on the edge of the sofa. Of course, I was disappointed. Up until that moment, I was firmly a resident of La La Land. Aileen reminded me that Butterball had her flaws too and we loved her. That helped a lot, bringing me down to earth. I have now got an inkling to the extent of how I romanticize things. So, I hold fast to the notion that they are, indeed, real cats and therefore flawed.
(Muahahaha! I love saying cat and flawed in the same sentence. They would be extremely offended, but fortunately they can't read this... I think.)


Moneyhooning... er, I mean, Honeymooning

I still love the cats as much as ever. They continue to be all around cute. I got purring in stereo yesterday. Martin is starting to "talk" to me. They chase each other around the house like maniacs. They were a little perturbed when I closed the windows yesterday (it was rainy and chilly) because they like to sit on the window sills and watch doings outside. Such nice boys.


Cat Pics

As promised, here is a short page of pictures of the kitties.
I (so far) have not regretted for a second bringing them home. I keep adding caveats, thinking that some time they'll have to be less that what I hoped they would be. So far they are all that I hoped, and more. :)


The Best Cats in the Whole World!

I'm sure every petowner (just like every new parent) thinks thier pet (or baby) is the best pet in the whole world. Far be it from me to break with tradition.
The honeymoon continues at Casa Ana. I just went home during the lunch hour to check on Da Boyz and make sure the house was still standing. They were, of course, sleeping. Nothing had been destroyed or broken or even put out of place. I ate lunch, then petted them for a while before I had to tear myself away to go back to work.
They still don't quite get sitting on laps. The most I've been able to convince Matti to do is put his forepaws on my leg while he was being scratched behind the ears. Martin won't even go that far, though he will lie down right next to you.
I could go on about how perfect they are, but I won't. I wouldn't want to make you diabetic... :)


The Fabulous Felinini Brothers

And now I have two cats.
They are an adorable pair of brown tabby brothers, 1 year old. One is slim and slinky, with gold-green eyes and an intrepid personality. The other is more plush, with a stockier body, dark gold eyes and a more reserved demeanor. I love them both already. They are currently hanging out in the spare bedroom until they get settled. I don't think it will take long.
I'm still working on names. I'm thinking Mattimeo and Martin (some of you will recognize the source of these names), and Matti makes a good nickname. Marty I'm still thinking over. I'll post thier picture sometime (after the battery of my digital camera finishes charging) soon.


Pets loom large again...

Mum was kind enough to send me the link to Petfinder.com and that set me off again. This time, it's cats (plural)...
First I was just looking at the selection, browsing different breeds and colors...
Then, one handsome fellow (grey tabby short hair) caught my eye. But the description said that he came with a sister.
The sister (black medium hair) said she was shy and bonded with the brother.
"Hmm," I thought, "I wasn't planning on getting two, but should I?"
After much thought, it seemed to me that it might be preferable to get two because they could be company for each other while I'm at work.
I consulted with my Great Cat Advisor (Paden), who said yes, two is good, and also gave me bunches of other advice, # of litterboxes, Simple Green spray, cat carriers, etc.
The organization under which I would adopt them is Rocky Mountain Alley Cat Alliance and they are having a general cat visitation session tomorrow at a local Petsmart. Paden and I are going to that, and if my pair are not there, then we will make an appointment to visit them specifically.
Oh, yeah, and there is a second bonded pair, two brothers, and a single cat (part Russian Blue) that look interesting too.
Yep, I'm in it up to my eyeballs...
(See this space for updates over the weekend.)

And for those who will ask: yes, I still would like a dog, but since my "nephew" Strider will be coming to stay at the end of July, I will have a chance to sample dog ownership before making the full plunge.


Tunder coming, Mummy, tunder.

I love thunder. Actually, come to think of it, I also like deep voices and percussive music (even had a crush on a tympani player during art camp one summer). One of my favorite pieces of music is the 1812 Overture (I have a version with actual Napoleonic cannons).


Soccer Results -- Bad

I don't remember the score, 4 to 2 or something, but I'm pretty sure we lost. :(
We had everything in our favor, mainly lots of substitues, while they had practically none and had to scrape up a gal from the stands (she was a player from a different team). Somehow we lost anyway. The defense played pretty well, though there was one guy who could dribble like a madman and shoot like nobody's business. I was standing right in front of him and he somehow shot the ball past me, past the keeper and into the goal. The other problem was that our offense just couldn't get the ball in the other goal. They had lots of chances, but just couldn't -- I don't know why and don't want to disparage their efforts.
To put it bluntly, it was one of the most depressing games of the season.
Next week the playoffs: will we be 5th or 6th place in the division? :(


Jo's Cool Site

One of my pet interests is storytelling through internet technology. I just found a cool website made for author J.K. Rowling. It tells a story in a new way. It gives a glimpse into Joanne's own writing life. Little audible and visual cues give it a flavor of reality. It's got some fun puzzle games, questions answered by Jo herself, and it's not dependent on Harry Potter.
It's Flash based, so it might take a little time to download for dial-ups (not an extreme amount though). It's a fun site.
JKRowling dot com (English version)


Health Alert

According to a recent study (published recently in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition), eating dark chocolate is good for you! There is justice in the world! :) The amount tested: a small, 1.6-ounce bar (equivalent to 5 Hersheys Special Dark mini-bars or 10 Dark Chocolate Kisses)every day. Now that's a health regimen I can stand. More details are provided in this WebMD article.

Idea Blossoms, Writer Rejoices!

I'm feelin' good today because one of my story ideas just blossomed. It had been just a bud for a while, but today it sprang forth to the next level. I was obsessing about something irritating that a friend said to me this weekend and I thought "I wish I could put that and my thoughts on that in a story!" Apparently my brain thought that was a good idea, because it riffled through the story ideas I have stored in the back of my head and with a flashing light and a triumphant "bing!" it produced the aforementioned story idea, now blossomed into something fuller and more lifelike. It's a contemporary story told through a series of emails about a young woman who is a "late bloomer." I think it may be a tragedy, actually. I don't know why the story came to me, I'm not particularly interested in contemporary novels or tragedies, but it's there and I think it would be a good venue to exorcise (or exercise) my personal frustrations.
Now to find the time to write it... (and for the mothers in the audience, yes, I dictated it to my new mini recorder, so I don't lose the idea.) :)


Extreme Website Makeover

Back in January, I was asked to join a committee of the AIA (of which I am not a member) that was being organized to oversee revamping the AIA Colorado Website. (Yes, it's hideous and they've gotten many complaints about it.) They've finally cottoned to the fact that the website is representative of the whole organization (out of date and not very useful, in my opinion). So, the committee got together to decide what exactly we're looking for, what can we afford, what should be the schedule, etc. I'm there as a representative of the younger, more computer savvy set. We sent out RFPs (Request for Proposals) to several website design firms, interviewed a couple, and settled on one. On Friday, we have the Design Charrette (big meeting where the design is all talked out and needs/wants are discussed). Once we started into the real application of the ideas we had been talking about, it really started getting exciting.


Dry Face, Moist Eyes

Summary of trip -- cons:
- it was windy and cold nearly the entire time (except, of course, for the last day, when we had gorgeous weather for packing up);
- by Monday I was filthy (there's a big difference between two and three days' dirt);
- and it's really not as relaxing as it sounds -- even though I slept reasonably well every night, I still felt tired when I got home.
Summary of trip -- pros:
- we camped by a gorgeous lake, with pine trees all around;
- I didn't forget anything too vital and I accidentally brought hat and gloves which *did* turn out to be vital;
- the fishermen of our group were superbly successful and we had enough trout to grill for everyone (there's something wonderful about sharing a meal like that);
- the people I go with are really nice, though oddly enough I didn't talk as much with the people I know well, and talked more with people I don't know as well.
Even though it was partly cloudy most of the trip, I got enough sun to give me a very slight burn and dry my skin out. I keep applying chapstick and moisturizer in the hopes it will stop feeling funny. The underside of my nose is really dry for some reason. That usually happens when you get sun reflected off water, but I didn't spend that much time right by the lake. [shrug]
When I got back, I took a shower and rested a bit, then went to a Memorial Day BBQ of some friends of mine. They are Scottish, and had a friend visiting from Scotland, as well as an English friend, so I just sat and listened. Very nice couple.
Then I watched a very good, but very sad film by Steven Spielburg called "Empire of the Sun." It was about an English boy who gets separated from his parents when the Japanese invade Shanghai (WWII) and how he survives until the end of the war. It depicted everything very realistically (except, perhaps, the Americans seemed a little stereotypical) and the boy who played the main character was amazing. I think it was supposed to be inspirational, but I felt mostly terribly sad.
And lastly, the other tear-enducing event -- today I applied to my immediate boss for a half day of personal time for a meeting for a volunteer cause (more on that in a different post) on Friday, and he said, don't worry about it, just list it as unbillable time. The cynic might suppose that it would end up being charged to the company as unbillable anyway and this just elimnates paperwork, or something to that effect. I just felt like it was a sign of them valuing me and the volunteer cause I'm doing this for. It's definitely a sign of how stressed I am about this job that I can get a little teary about this one expression of trust and value.



Ok, I know it's not PC to admit you like bacon, but I do. I don't eat it often. A couple of times a year, maybe. Since I'm going camping this weekend, I was preparing hobo meals in advance and getting sandwich materials together. I needed something easy to have for dinner tonight, since by the time we get there and get the tent set up, I won't be feeling like waiting for dinner. So, I had the brilliant idea to have a rare indulgence -- a BLT. Mmmmm... I bought a few strips of bacon and cooked them last night, had a tiny taste (Mmmm...) and made the sandwich. And now I can't stop thinking about bacon. (And again... Mmmm....)

I think one of my favorite parts of camping (besides waking up early) is planning the food I'll take. Nothing fancy, just hobo dinners of hamburger or chicken or salmon, potatoes or zucchini or broccoli, and mushrooms, stuff like that. Actually, maybe it's having everything packaged up and ready to eat. Prepared for me. The labor involved is enough removed from the reward it's like being your own butler. "Would you like dinner, madam? The chicken or the beef? Very well, madam."

I'm really looking forward to a weekend off. I'll post a report when I get back, but I fully expect it to read something along the lines of... ate, read book, wrote in journal, ate, napped, read book, talked to friends, ate, socialized, slept. Repeat as necessary. Maybe we'll put in some hiking or fishing, but just a little.


Key to the Solution

A month ago I lost my car keys and none of my spares worked (well, one did, but it got stuck in the ignition). Before that, I had a couple of scares where I thought I lost my keys. Now I'm having trouble with one of my housekeys sticking in the lock a bit.
Is this a sign from the Universe? If yes, what does it mean? Am I missing some "key" information? Am I stuck on the "key" to an issue? Or is it a sign I should get some WD40 and spray it in the lock? Hmm...


Soccer Results 2-6

Today we played very well, but we were up against a good team. I forgot my sneakers, so I had to play in my tai chi shoes, which are light canvas shoes with no traction. Fortunately, Michelle, the other D (defensive) gal was there, so I didn't have to play the whole game. So, after the game another gal on the team, Shivani, and I went to buy proper soccer shoes. I figure I'll keep them in my gym bag and that way I can't forget them again.
The game went ok. Our goalie was awesome and the team worked real well together. The other team was just better.


Annie the Grouch

Our office has "doughnut day" on Fridays. Every Friday, one person in the office is assigned to bring in breakfast for the whole office -- many people bring doughnuts or bagels, but the culinarily able of us sometimes cook (breakfast casseroles, cappuchino muffins, apple bread, etc., one guy used to bring in lox and its attendant fixin's, cream cheese, tomato slices, croissants). I enjoy cooking, so I make something between a quiche and an omelette. I only have to get up an hour earlier to make three different kinds, asparagus and tomato, potato and mushroom, ham and cheese (all of them have cheese, actually, so I make a mini asparagus and tomato without cheese for the lactose intolerant). I do it because I like to and a little because I'm showing off the fact that I can cook (same reason I have dinner parties, I suspect).
Yesterday, I tried to go to bed early, since I had to get up early this morning to make breakfast for the office, but I just couldn't get to sleep. I tossed and turned and fretted about... the thought that I hate my job and don't trust anyone I work with! What timing! Of course, I don't really hate my job (just want to get a different one) and like the people I work with, but it was a really interesting juxtaposition of grouchiness and obligation. The grouchiness has faded somewhat, under the pressure of people saying "Wow! Great breakfast! Thanks!" but I'm really glad that during the coming weekend I have little or no plans other than house chores and relaxing.


Ambition and Fear

Is there something wrong with me that makes me unambitious in my field? I don't think so, considering I'm not really devoted to my field as it is currently defined. Architecture is great - don't get me wrong - but I just don't have the burning desire to do it or talk about it all the time. I have friends that do, so I see what it's "supposed" to look like. I do that when it comes to writing. I have got to get out of this river and into that one.

Recently, my firm hired a new "job captain", the position that I, as a lowly "architectural intern" or "cad drafter" (both horrible titles, one implying I am still in school and the other that I only have a 2 yr associates degree) am supposed to be working towards. Do I feel supplanted or cut off from advancement? No, not really. (To be absolutely honest I feel a little relieved that I'm not under pressure to become the next job captain right away.)
A co-worker with whom I have had issues in the past said "I have something to talk to you about." and I immediately felt a chill of apprehension. Was she going to tell me I have been too ambitious, too condescending lately or that I need to make more effort to look like I've stepped out of a NY fashion magazine like she does. Eeep!
Turns out, no she just wanted to vent about the current organization of project staffing. (Funny thing is, my concern must have shown because she said "Don't worry, you're not in trouble or anything.) She's getting bored as a mere "job captain" but hasn't finished passing the 9 or 11 exams you have to pass to get a license. I think she figured she would have a sympathetic ear what with all my frustrated ambition (NOT!). I glossed over my own apathy and supported her search to find something more challenging.

So we come back around to the lack of ambition (to advance, not to do a good job) in this field. Is there something wrong with me? Yes and no. I'm in the wrong field.


Soccer Results 5-6...

My co-ed indoor soccer team lost again. BUT! We were playing the highest ranked team in our division and we were leading at the half. :) It was a tough and fun game. We had plenty of subs (enough players that we each shared a position) and we all worked together really well.


Romantic Comedies...

This weekend I watched two romantic comedies on DVD (unusual for me):
Alex & Emma -- *** (3 stars of 5) Amusing movie. I liked that it was about a writer (and portrayed pretty well) and the actors were good. The premise was interesting and well done. There was something missing, though. I liked it, but it didn't really stir me. The book within the movie was corny and a bit contrived. Good video fare, but I'm glad I didn't pay movie ticket prices to see it.
Love Actually -- **** (4 stars of 5) Well done film, wonderful actors. Explored love along several different lines and the sad moments were as potent as the sweet ones. Being somewhat realistic, some of the stories don't turn out happily and it breaks your heart. I can't speak highly enough about the acting, from the child actor (so cute!) all the way through the comedic ones (Hugh Grant was especially good, if not exactly stretching his range) and the dramatic ones (Emma Thompson is phenomenal). I recommend it, but probably won't own a copy.


The Office Panther

Today I was standing next to the receptionist's desk and noticed that our office cat (our office is a renovated house) was sitting in the window, wanting to come in. I noticed something in his mouth and as the receptionist stood up to let him in I said, "Oh, looks like Bygalow caught a mouse." Debbie, the receptionist cringed, so I went out to admire Byg's present. It was a small mouse, barely larger than 2 inches in the body. I praised our proud hunter and took it from him. After being distracted for a moment, Bygalow started looking for it, not realizing I had it in my hand. So, I left him to his search and disposed of the body in our dumpster. All in a day's work.


I speak therefore I am...

I think I've been able to enable comments, but I need to post something new to check.
Let's see...

Eclectic... an understatement.

I just bought a fresh batch of CDs from my dear friends at BMG Music and it's a mixed bag (literally).
From worst to best:
- Clay Aiken, "Measure of a Man" -- (Please don't hate me.) No, I'm not an American Idol fan, but I've seen this kid a few times and he's got a great voice and even better, a great personality. Acerbic wit is rarely seen amongst the rags-to-riches American success stories seen nowadays and I'd like to support it. A.I. took a relatively nerdy looking kid and made him, if not exactly a matinee idol, then something a couple doors down. The nice thing? The kid has personality and a good handle on the important things in life. So, I thought I'd buy his album to support him. The album itself is pretty wishywashy. He's got a great voice, but the cheesy ballads aren't my cup-o-tea.
- Yo Yo Ma, "Simply Baroque" -- I love baroque music and Yo Yo Ma is one of the best. How could I go wrong? I didn't. The CD is nice background music, including one of my favorite composers, J. S. Bach, and one of my favorites of his compositions "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring." Very pretty and very soothing.
- Howard Shore, "Two Towers Soundtrack" -- A beautiful beautiful score. I love soundtracks in general and the LotR ones have been wonderful. I will definitely listen to this one a lot.
- Jet, "Get Born" -- a new rock and roll band from Australia that I am now enamoured with. (You may have heard thier recent hit single "Are You Gonna Be My Girl".) They rock hard and have a good beat, but also have good roots with classic rock. Loud and fun and the ballads don't make me ill. I like them a lot and hope they stick around.