Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and warm

Yesterday was just a bad, unproductive day all the way around because of the fight with UHaul. They are going to do everything in their power to force additional money out of me which I do not owe in order for me to be able to remove my belongings and sever ties with them.

This is going to be an awful week. But I’m tired of being screamed at, threatened, extorted, and lied both to and about on a monthly basis.

If you haven’t read Lara’s interview with my re: Dixie Dust Rumors, please stop by and drop a comment.

By the time this posts, I’ll be in White Plains at the Apple store, at my Genius Appointment, getting the iPod sorted out.

I hope the rest of the day won’t be spent fighting UHaul. I’d ike to get it sorted out once and for all. I have client projects to catch up on, and also some more pitches to get out.

I will try to post my June Wrap-Up, but that might not get done until tomorrow.

I’m playing around with some ideas, and I hope to get back to a regular writing schedule this weekend.

I also got my next assignment from Confidential Job #1. It looks really interesting and challenging.

Hopefully, I’ll have some more interesting (and not negative) things to write about after the next few days.

Devon

Advertisements
Published in: on June 30, 2009 at 9:48 am  Comments (3)  

Monday, June 29, 2009

Monday, June 29, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

I am BACK, with lots of stories, of course. Did you miss me? 😉 I’ve broken up the post into categories with sub-headings, so you can skip the stuff that doesn’t interest you and only read what does.

And, if you didn’t get a chance to stop by and visit Lara’s blog on Friday, when she hosted a stop on the DIXIE DUST RUMORS blog tour, please do that today. I’d love a comment! She asked some great questions.

Okay, here we go:

The Heath Care Rally, Washington, DC on June 25
Out the door by 4:30 AM; drive to city wasn’t bad. I really don’t like driving in Manhattan, but the trains don’t start running early enough to get me there for an event like this. I handed off the car when I got down there, so the car went back home, I checked in, and got on the bus. Looked like I was the only one who paid attention to the security restrictions memo — wow, did people bring a lot of stuff!

The first blow came at check in, where I found out that, not only was I the only one from my local, but the only one from my union and its affiliates in the Broadway community, period. Seems they “opted out” because single payer is not on the table for this round of health care reform. I felt like I’d been kicked in the gut — first of all, my union has betrayed me YET AGAIN. Not only have they made it impossible for me to have insurance, even as a union member, but they won’t advocate a policy that will make it possible for me to get insurance. I plan to discuss it with my rep in detail next week (he’s out of the office this week) — I like him and trust him and he will give me the overview. Second, if we weren’t supposed to attend, why was the flyer circulated, and, if the decision was made AFTER circulation, why didn’t anyone let me know? They knew I planned to attend.

Would it have changed my attendance? No. I would have attended anyway. I deserve a health care option, whether the union believes I do or not.

The CUNY teachers’ union very kindly scooped me up and made me an honorary member of their contingent.

The trip down was fine. I read a bit, talked to some of my fellow attendees, who were mostly teachers, nurses, and power company apprentices.

We were dropped off at Union Station in DC and walked over to Upper Senate Park — which was a much shorter walk than I expected. They handed out lunch boxes — veggie wraps, chips, a cookie, water. Not bad. Won’t make my list of top ten meals, but it was edible.

New York City sent down nearly 10,000 people for the rally (3-4,000 more than expected), which was pretty good, and we mingled with people who’d come in from all over the country. The atmosphere was both cheerful and determined. The place was packed, but orderly, and people were in good spirits. It was nice to see my Senators leading the charge and various Representatives from our area speaking, along with actress Edie Falco, who, as a breast cancer survivor, has come to know the health care system intimately.

It was hot, it was humid, it was sunny. I tried to Tweet from the park, but couldn’t hook into a wi-fi signal. I wandered around a bit, moving to the edges of the park, and a bit out of the crowd. A mix of Congressional staffers were there, some with the speakers, some just stopping by during their lunch hour, or as they moved about their day.

One guy, who’d flipped his ID badge so I couldn’t read it and refused to give me his name made fun of the rally, stating it was a waste of time and resources, and said, “Health care is not a right; it’s a privilege.”

He can afford to feel that way — he’s on the Congressional Health Plan!

No trashcans and no porta-potties. I realize there are security concerns, but do they really think that heaping trash in a pile on the side of the park is safer than trash bags or bins? One could just as easily put something to cause trouble into one of the empty lunch boxes.

I headed past the Capitol Building in the direction of my meeting. The architecture of the building fascinates me and I took quite a few pictures of it. And everyone running around is either Very Young or an Old White Guy complete with entourage.

I found The Library of Congress, my personal temple. I had a few spare minutes, and would have loved to run inside and look around, but there was a line. I also thought it was kind of cool that The Library of Congress is next to the Supreme Court I don’t know why I think it’s cool, but I do.

DC has something called an “Open Park Project” of wi-fi hotspots. You can pick up free wi-fi in front of the Supreme Court or The Library of Congress and a variety of other areas. Except if you’re using my iPod Touch. Now, I bought the iPod Touch when I did specifically SO I could Tweet from the rally.

I don’t know DC geography and the maps posted didn’t make any sense to me. And, since I couldn’t hook into wi-fi, the mapping app on the iPod didn’t work. I was lost. I know, huge surprise.

I asked a cop for directions and got them. Unfortunately, he told me to turn left at the next corner instead of right, so I would up going off in the wrong direction. (Just like asking for directions in London — don’t. Use the A-Z instead or you’ll never get where you’re going).

I found another very nice cop (I was surprised by how nice all the cops were, considering how many stupid people they have to deal with every day), who got me sorted in the right direction. As we stood chatting,a woman walked by wearing a moronic grin and a tee shirt which read, “Jesus would vote against health care.”

Before I could say anything, the cop shook his head and said, “It’s really best not to engage with her.” She’s a regular in the neighborhood who believes no one should have health care or go to a doctor; that Jesus decides whether or not you “deserve” to recover from an illness.

Important Lesson: Government cars don’t honor traffic lights even when they’re not part of a convoy or don’t have sirens on. In other words, just because the signal tells you to walk doesn’t mean that you won’t get flattened by a large black car running a red light.

Finally found the Rayburn Building. Security wasn’t anywhere near as bad as expected — those guys are really overworked and under-appreciated. The Stupidity Quotient and the Nut Quotient are even higher in DC than they are in NY. (Although,when you look at what’s going on in the Albany Legislature right now, both Stupidity Quotient and Nut Quotients have gone through the roof).

I was early for the meeting with my Congresswoman, so I got directions to the cafeteria, which turns out to be in a different building, accessible via tunnel. I wandered around the tunnels for a bit, enjoying the way one can travel between buildings — helpful in lousy weather or crowded conditions. Somehow, I accumulated several Iraq veterans in fatigues who were on their way to meet with their Representative but had gotten lost. I’d passed the office in my travels, and, while I couldn’t explain to them how to get there, I could walk them there. I headed back to the cafeteria and grabbed a coffee and wound up in a conversation with several of the pages. It started in line with one page who was having a bad day, and I guess they get barked at a lot, because all of a sudden, I was surrounded by a bunch of them, like wading into a group of shelter dogs. I”m sure their lives were made more difficult on a day like this, with thousands of people flooding in to talk to the Reps, and at least I made them laugh.

Headed back to my Rep’s office (I actually knew my way around by now) and met some of the other people also scheduled for the meeting. My Rep was on the floor for a vote, so we met with one of the aides. It was fine with me; voting is how legislation is passed, and that’s why we sent her to DC, to vote for the legislation we want. But, of course, there was one person in the group who had a hissy fit.

One of the other guys in the group had been in DC for several days, making the rounds of Senators and Reps. He’s with CWA and was very articulate. There was also a woman from a local grass-roots organization and three others from three different organizations, and me. What I liked about the meeting was that it was an actual discussion — not one side talking AT the other and then the other side talking back. There was an exchange of ideas and brainstorming on various ideas and how to get them done, and the roles that each of us could take in helping move things forward to a common goal. I was pleasantly surprised that it was interactive instead of presentational. There’s already been some follow-up by all of us, and several of the people are people with whom I’ll stay in touch — including those in the office.

I was very impressed with my Congresswoman’s local staff, and I am equally impressed by her DC staff. They handle people diplomatically and have great follow-up. I feel as though my opinions are taken into consideration. I am only one voice and not everything will go my way every time, but at least it’s weighed in to the bigger picture, and that’s why we pay our representatives — to represent us.

I had hoped to track down two Congressmen from other states who have larger ambitions, who I’ve nicknamed Bonehead and Can’t Do — use your imagination, it’s close enough to their given names — and have a few words with them, but they, too were on the floor for votes.

The meeting ran far longer than I expected, and it was past time to meet the bus to get back to NY. I called the organizer to let her know I was on my way, sprinted past the United States Botanic Garden (which I must come back to visit), and, much to the surprise and chagrin of some of the cops, cut across the Capitol Plaza, barricades or not. I sprinted across Upper Senate Park headed back towards Union Station At the light, some very nice EMS guys stopped me for a few minutes because they saw I was over-heated and dehydrated. They got me back on track, and I swung through Union Station to pick up a salad and some water for the trip back.

I was still one of the first people back on the bus.

And I was one of the only people who’d thought about picking up something to eat for the trip back.

The salad and the water revived me. It took nearly an hour for the bus to get out of the area around Union Station and back onto the highway. I settled in and read Yasmine Galenorn’s DEMON MISTRESS and listened to music on the iPod.

They dropped some of us off at Madison Square Garden, I walked back to Grand Central, and missed my train by ONE MINUTE. I hate it when that happens. I had to wait a half hour for the next one and deal with Metro North’s higher prices and lower service.

I got home a little before midnight. I was rather infuriated to discover that there had been NO coverage of the rally on the news channels AT ALL — everything was exclusively about Michael Jackson’s death. Yes, it’s horrible for his friends and family, but it is not the only news story in the world, and for the stations to cover it exclusively instead of having it as ONE of the stories breaking that day is ridiculous. Look, I’m sorry he’s dead and all, but that story is not more important than 47 million Americans without health insurance or what’s going on in Iran or any of a handful of other events. MEDIAFAIL.

Political Miscellany
There’s all this commotion about Gov. Mark Sanford, and, of course, I have an opinion. First of all, it was badly handled. All he had to do to prevent such a public, volcanic meltdown was to say to his staff, “I will be out of town for a few days to handle some personal business; the Lt. Gov. is in charge.” And then he and his family could have unrolled things in a more subtle and private fashion, instead of building the obvious lies that had to explode in his face. Second, if he wasn’t such a hypocrite, it wouldn’t have gotten so much attention. For years, he’s passed harsh judgments on others. Once the affair started, one would think he would be self-aware enough to realize how it felt to be in those shoes, and, if he wasn’t going to reverse course, he could have at least shut up. But he continued to be judgmental, and it’s come back to bite him in the butt. Look, if he really loves this woman, may he have a long and happy life with her; it’s none of my business. But he made it everyone’s business when he handled it so poorly. Kudos to his wife for not standing beside him and letting him make a fool out of her, like so many of these political wives do. As far as his future, it’s up to his constituency to decide what will happen in his home state. The only time it becomes an issue beyond that is if he tries to run for a more national office. On a human level, I feel bad for him and for his family. The press conference was excruciating. But it was such an enormous act of self-sabotage, I’d love to hear a psych expert profile it.

As far as the meltdown in Albany, I am tired of the dysfunction on that level. Let’s wipe out everyone in power there and have the people take a new vote WITHOUT TIME FOR CAMPAIGNS. Give those interested in representing us one week to convince us they’ll do a better job, and let’s vote a whole new group in there. Enough already.

NHL Draft
Nothing like heading out the door at 6 AM when you’ve come home at midnight after a 16-hour day that covered 450 miles on the road and several miles running around on foot after two hours’ sleep. Plus when there’s banking and post office business to do and you have to leave before anything’s open.

Fortunately, by the time I hit Saratoga, places like banks and post offices were open. So I could have a divine almond croissant at Mrs. London’s, and then I could hook into a cafe where my Macbook picked up wi-fi (although the iPod still didn’t) and I could catch up on some email, Tweet about DC, and take care of my banking and post office errands. Spent more than I meant to, but at least it all got done. This week will be hell without the handbasket, and I’ve got to get my ducks in a row.

Stopped somewhere in VT for lunch and a quick wi-fi (still no luck with the iPod). I was so tired I was nauseous, and I started to worry I’d fall asleep at the wheel. Border traffic bad, but got to the hotel mid-afternoon. Checked in, showered,napped. Woke up feeling like hell. Ordered room service (rare), a steak and baked potato (even rarer).

Covered the first round, which was fun, but I wasn’t in any shape to do the type of running around I usually do. I have to say that this is the most media-savvy group of draft picks I’ve seen since I started covering the draft in 2002.

Hung out with some friends/colleagues I only see once a year at this event. We’re all at pretty major turning points in our lives, so the talk had little to do with hockey and a lot to do with life stuff. Went to bed pretty early for me (I usually get to bed around 3 AM on draft weekend).

Leisurely morning, hooked into hotel wi-fi (again, not with iPod), caught up on some stuff, read a little, indulged myself with several newspapers, felt better. The next six rounds of the draft went pretty fast; gathered info and headed back.

Originally I was going to drive until I was tired and then just check into a motel and head back Sunday. However, my friend in CT called and invited me over, so I drove all the way back down, swung by the apartment to check on the cats and pick up the laundry, and went to CT. Also picked up mail, and found yet an additional extortion attempt from UHaul — they are going to make my life HELL this week. On the upside, my new yoga DVDs arrived.

Yes, I took my mat with me this weekend and maintained at least my morning yoga practice in the hotel.

Went to my friend’s place for a late dinner, did laundry, hooked into the wi-fi — the iPod STILL doesn’t work. Spent about 45 minutes with AppleCare, who thinks the problem is with the iPod. So I’ve got an appointment at the Genius Bar on Tuesday morning — I so do not need that this week, but the reason I bought the Touch is so I could hook into MobileMe and Twitter and get email and all that, and IT HAS TO WORK. If all I needed it for was music, I would have stuck to the much cheaper Nano in one of my favorite colors.

And back to life stuff
Had a nice, restful Sunday at my friend’s place, working on my articles, recovering from the travelling, and gearing up from a Week of Hell Courtesy of UHaul.

I started working with one of the new yoga DVDs, MORNING, NOON AND NIGHT. I like it. I feel like my practice has hit a plateau, and it was time for a challenge. The evening practice is less challenging than my current one, more restorative. The morning practice is HARD. I’m not fond of lunges in the morning. But I’m willing to give it a try for awhile and challenge myself.

It looks like I’ve landed a new gig — I won’t be able to talk about it until there are signed contracts, but I’m pretty excited.

I’ve got a lot of follow up to do today from the past four days, and I’ve got some client projects to handle. I need to check job boards and get out some pitches, but we’ll see — I might not be able to do that until tomorrow or Wednesday. I also have to get into another fight with UHaul.

I’m not going to get much writing done this week, but, provided I survive the week intact, things will get better starting next week.

Think good thoughts for me, okay?

Devon

Published in: on June 29, 2009 at 7:55 am  Comments (4)  

Blossoms!

IMG_0271

My morning glories are in bloom!

Published in: on June 28, 2009 at 1:32 am  Comments (2)  

Change Is Good

So much is happening so fast that I’m sometimes overwhelmed. It’s all for the best, but I have to keep reminding myself sometimes, “Change Is Good.”

Published in: on June 27, 2009 at 7:33 am  Comments (1)  

Friday, June 26, 2009

I am on the road, but in the meantime, hop on over to Lara’s blog, Ramblings of a Suburban Soccer Mom where she hosts a stop on the DIXIE DUST RUMORS blog tour!

Published in: on June 26, 2009 at 8:03 am  Comments (1)  
Tags: , ,

Washington, DC

I left at 4:30 AM for DC to participate in the Health Care Rally.

I hope they have coffee carts!

Published in: on June 25, 2009 at 6:48 am  Comments (2)  
Tags: , ,

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy, hot, humid

My right wrist hurts badly from the computer work. I have to figure out a better way to hold that hand when I work.

Took care of some business yesterday. Will make some more decisions today and act on them.

Went grocery shopping, which is one of my favorite tasks ever. I love the lime cilantro mayonnaise I made last week We finished it yesterday. I’m going to have to make another batch.

Talked to the organizers about tomorrow – we can’t bring water bottles (even though it’s going to be in the 90s and humid), can’t take Purell (no bottles of any kind), and only small bags. So much for eco-friendly, right? I can’t be an entire day without hydration. I’ll wind up in the hospital. It means I have to buy a small water bottle for trip and rally, toss it before we enter the Congressional buildings, and buy another one for the trip home. We’re supposed to be GOING GREEN, people!

I’m going to try to get a travel pack of wet wipes or something. Too bad Purell doesn’t come in wet wipe form.

Watched Obama’s speech (In preparation for tomorrow) and then headed to Stamford for the iPod workshop. Returned the extra adapter I bought and didn’t need, because I have my plug-in-in 150-countries-without-blowing-up-the-hotel one from Brookstone. The workshop had only 4 people in it, and the teacher was good, but even though I was the one who had the iPod the least amount of time, they had trouble with things like, oh, turning it on. The bulk of the workshop was spent in the desktop/iTunes portion of the equation — stuff I already knew — and we never actually worked with the iPod itself, so I was a little frustrated. Again, if you apply the information from the other workshops to iTunes — it works.

Because everyone who works at Apple is so cool, I was able to ask my artwork import question after the workshop.

I really regret not signing up for the one-to-one classes. I’ve gotten everything I can out of the general workshops, and now I need something more specific and individual.

I loaded some more music to the iPod in the evening, and I added the Tweetie application. I had to call Apple Care (of course) because i got stuck on something, but they were very helpful (of course). I even bought a couple of songs from iTunes, to make sure I could work it properly (riiiight).

Today is about business and packing. I’m also trying to get mentally prepared for tomorrow. As someone who hates crowds, marches and rallies aren’t something I do often. But this is health care, and it’s important. I’ve got my concise pitch to the Senators and Representatives ready. It’s going to be very educational, and way out of my comfort zone, which is exactly why I want to do it.

Let’s make some history, people!

I’m not taking much — Yasmine Galenorn’s DEMON MISTRESS to read on the bus, my reporter’s notebook, pens, camera, iPod, and a cardigan in case the bus is cold. And wet wipes, if I can find them. A small bottle of water for the trip down, and I’ll buy one for the trip back, and something to eat for the bus. I’m leaving here at 4:30 in the morning and won’t be back until at least midnight — there’s no way I can do all of that on an empty stomach! 😉

I’m also going to load my photos onto iPhoto today, just in case something goes kerplooey with the camera going through security tomorrow.

I head back out at 6 AM on Friday, back on the road on assignment, so although I’ve scheduled bits and bobs to pop up on the blog over the next few days, you won’t get me “in the moment” again until next Monday. I’ll try to tweet about all the experiences if it actually works!

Lara, what I love about the Mac is that it’s not clunky — it actually works, it can do far more than the PC without buying tons of additional software that then argues with what’s already in the computer, and if you learn how to use one program, you can apply that knowledge to other programs, so you don’t have to relearn 15 different ways and try to remember what goes with which program.

The Mac makes it possible for me to live the freelance life I want.

The lovely employees at both stores are also encouraging me down the road to fully utilize all it has to offer, but I’m taking it i baby steps.

Devon

Published in: on June 24, 2009 at 7:20 am  Comments (6)  

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tuesday, June 23
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and humid

Yesterday was all about dealing with some business that I can’t yet publicly discuss. Today, I have to make a decision based on the information received and the research. Didn’t get much writing done. Got some work done on client projects, and pitched for two jobs.

I went to White Plains for the iWeb workshop, and I feel like a whole new world has opened up. iWeb is consistent with the other programs in the computer and it’s very logical in page building and design. In the class, I actually came up with a really cool design that used my own photographs and their reflection. i learned how to use opacity and sizing to make a photo or a book cover the background for the page. I learned which texts work best on any kind of browser and which ones to watch out for. I learned how to layer text and graphic and other elements. I learned how to build the navigation bar. The teacher was great, and encouraged the way I thought out of the box for everything. After a certain point, I got overwhelmed and couldn’t take in any more, but I learned a lot.

I now know that I can rebuild my sites from scratch, should I wish (and I will for Fearless Ink and for Devon Ellington), I can build the subdomains from scratch, and, if and when I move hosts, I can take my own design with me. And, since my host only allows me to build a certain number of pages with the site builder, by not using it, I can keep the designs/pages in their site builder I really like (such as Cerridwen’s Cottage), but build my other sites/subdomains with complete freedom.

Getting them up on the host could be tricky, especially if I have to take down my site for the transition.

One of the things I love about these workshops (in addition to the fact that they’re free), is that the teachers are REALLY good (even though I’m probably older than most of their mothers), they know how to explain things, they get excited when you come up with an idea they don’t really hear about a lot, and are eager to help you explore it.

Yes, in every single workshop, there’s been the moment where I did something and said, “Okay, I don’t understand why this happened” and the teacher comes over and says, “I’ve never seen that happen before; let’s figure it out” and we do.

I was talking to a staff member before class and he said that Apple is a better choice for me in particular because “PCs are for conformists and Apple encourages individual thought” and because the program structure within Apple is so consistent from program to program, it encourages more freedom and individuality. You learn how to use “inspector” in iPhoto and it works in iPages and in iWeb, etc. And the programs all integrate, so you can build whatever and however you want.

Since I have MobileMe, MobileMe can serve as my host, but for now, I’m juggling too many email accounts, etc., and I think it works better to have a host outside of Apple. I’m always a little leery of having everything on a single system, because if there is a failure, for some reason, I’m screwed.

The other thing I like about the way they teach is that they really build one’s confidence. As someone who felt beaten down by PC and the lack of tech support provided by Dell/Microsoft (in spite of buying the three year service contract), and as someone who refers to herself as “the PC-abused”, dealing with people who are genuinely helpful and excited to teach you and help you figure out how to make something work is amazing. If it hadn’t been for Colin and some of the other readers who coached me through the various PC problems over the years, I would never have gotten anything done, because the people who were paid to help me sure couldn’t be bothered to honor their contract. Apple is an entirely different universe, and a pretty wonderful one

I have to go grocery shopping today and run some other errands and make some decisions and just get a few things on track. I’m not getting the information I want and need for Thursday, so I have to get after them.

So it will be a busy day. I’ve got an iPod workshop this afternoon in Stamford. I’m going early to return a few extra bits I bought to go with it that I don’t need and to ask for help getting the Twitter application, since I don’t have wi-fi yet in the apartment and can’t download it from here. I’m also going to start packing for the weekend.

So it’s not “back to the page” for me today, but a whole lot of other stuff that will, ultimately, support my time at the page when I get back to it.

Devon

Published in: on June 23, 2009 at 7:19 am  Comments (3)  

Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009
New Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy, humid, rainy

Still gloomy and icky, and now the temperature’s going up. Ick.

I spent very little time on the computer yesterday due to the migraine. I managed to back up about 70 floppies from the PC onto flashdrives, which is a step in the right direction, and I’m sorting paperwork on the desk and throwing out a lot of what I don’t need. Maybe in a few months, I’ll actually be able to SEE the difference.

Read a little in the afternoon and took a nap.

Drove upcounty to see my friends and have dinner at a lovely restaurant overlooking the Hudson River. It was a lot of fun to catch up. It made me realize I really don’t miss working backstage right now! I miss some of the people, but not the situation.

Driving back was a challenge, because the Taconic Parkway has no overhead lighting on that stretch. It’s a beautiful drive in the daytime, but not fun at night, especially with the glare from oncoming headllights hitting the rain-slicked road and bouncing up. I drove pretty slowly. But I got home in one piece. The scumbag landlords removed all the lights in the parking lot (yeah, it’s illegal, but it doesn’t stop them). I wound up stepping into a puddle that went up beyond my calf. Fortunately, that particular pair of cute shoes is easy to clean.

I have to fight with UHaul some more today (the thought of it is enough to set off another migraine), and get some other business done. I’m taking an iWeb workshop tonight in White Plains, and I’m also starting Czech lessons. I’ve also got a couple of client projects to work on, and some correspondence on which to catch up. And getting the postage so the DIXIE DUST mailing can go out would be a good thing.

Good morning’s work on the Matty book. While I usually try to build the mutliple layers of the story in the first draft and then deepen or recede things in specific chapters in revisions, I realized that I have to layer this book differently. This first draft is the bones of the piece, the basic story and theme. In the next draft, I have to layer in the suspenseful subplot that supports the main theme and also raises the stakes for the character, and in the following draft, I have to add in a bunch of what I call “daily details” to clean up the logistics. Normally, I’d like to do that chapter by chapter, but this book doesn’t lend itself to that process. So I need to adjust to the book’s needs. it’s quite interesting.

Devon

Published in: on June 22, 2009 at 6:31 am  Comments (5)  

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009
Dark Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Summer Solstice
Raining. Again.

The worst of the rain passed north of us, fortunately, and, although it’s supposed to rain off and on today, I hope we’re past flood danger. Let’s hope.

I woke up with a migraine, which is just a sucky way to start one’s Sunday.

UHaul is the trigger, here, and until we get things resolved, they are, literally, making me sick.

On the positive side, I got my iPod Touch yesterday. Wow. I mean, wow. I’m taking the workshop for it on Tuesday afternoon. I’m pretty excited. I spent the afternoon learning how to use it, adding in the email functions, etc. I still have to get the Twitter App. I also got the adapter for overseas travel.

I also got some more info about Prague, and my language-learning CDs arrived. Yes, I plan to learn some rudimentary Czech before I travel. I’m very uncomfortable traveling to a place without knowing a word of the language.

I got a little bit of writing done, and I had some business to take care of, so it was’t all the productive a day. I’m in a holding pattern, waiting for some information before I can make the next round of decisions and take the next round of actions, and that’s always frustrating. I want everything done yesterday.

On a positive note, I’m meeting some good friends for dinner up-county tonight. Hopefully the roads won’t be flooded and I can actually GET there and back.

Happy Father’s Day, to those of you celebrating it. Stay dry!

Devon

Published in: on June 21, 2009 at 6:03 am  Comments (3)  

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Saturday, June 20, 2009
Day before Dark Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Rainy, warm,humid

Yesterday, I was what I commonly call “a waste of food.” Not particularly productive at all. Checked the job boards, finished up a couple of client projects, did a bit of research trying to get quotes from a hire I need to make in the next couple of weeks, dealt with some unpleasant stuff, etc.

The weather dried up and the sun actually peeked out for a few minutes (although not long enough for the morning glories to open).

I actually got some writing done in the afternoon — oh joy, oh rapture. Not much, and afternoons aren’t usually my best creative times, but it felt good to get some stuff down on paper. I read the Wharton bio, and did some more research for Prague. September’s really not all that far away. Prepped a bit for both DC and the NHL draft. Figured it will take me less time next week to drive 329 miles than to fly it, with all the time it takes to GET to and from airports, get through security, etc.

And explain this to me: If I want to fly to Montreal, and the direct flights out of JFK don’t fit my schedule, so I try to go out of a smaller airport or a different airport, all of them have me change planes in either Philadelphia, Newark, or DC. Now, if I could just stay in DC on Thursday night and fly out, it wouldn’t be a problem, but I can’t, because I can’t haul the stuff I need for the weekend down to the rally with me. If I book out of Philly, I have to change planes in Newark; if I book out of Newark, I have to change planes in Philly. But I can’t ORIGINATE on a direct flight out of either airport. WTF? If there is a connection,doesn’t it mean the connecting flight is travelling DIRECTLY? So why can’t I join it for the direct portion,from, say, Newark?

And the airlines wonder why they’re losing money! Not only do they treat their customers like crap, overcharge and underfeed them, but the routes are totally illogical.

So I’m driving.

Crunching the numbers, even with gas prices back up to nearly $3/gallon here, it’s still cheaper than flying AND takes less time, which is also money,

But that means I’ll be home for maybe four hours of sleep, so my bag for the weekend has to be packed and ready by Wednesday. All I can do Friday morning is pick it up and walk out the door.

Got a little bit of writing done this morning. I hope I can clear some errands out of the way this morning, before the next major storm hits. I’ll move the car up the hill. We’re on flood watch until late tomorrow afternoon. Let’s hope it’s a precaution, and not a prediction.

Back to the page.

Devon

Published in: on June 20, 2009 at 6:45 am  Comments (1)  
Tags: ,

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Rainy and mild

We dodged the flood bullet yesterday, but it doesn’t look as though we’ll be that lucky tomorrow. The brook held at the top of its banks, more a river than a brook, rushing, gray-green, filled with sludge, but not turning the neighborhood into a river — yet. However, we’re supposed to get rain again all night tonight and all day tomorrow.

I managed to get three loads of laundry done in the brand new laundry room before it began to get water-logged. I boiled and bottled about six gallons of water. We’ve got plenty of food and batteries. I moved the car around noon, when the brook rose four feet in an hour and a half — and it was still low tide. I’ll move the car back to the lot for the day, because it’s supposed to be dry-ish, and then move it up the hill for the weekend.

Yesterday was mostly about flood preparation. Finished up a couple of client projects, ran a few errands. I got some business correspondence done. UHaul got another Middle Finger award — this one as tall as the Chrysler Building, but I hope there’s a solution on the horizon. I’ve got more business correspondence to do today, and then, hopefully, all I have to concentrate on this weekend is the weather.

Lunch was great — slices of smoked salmon on ciabatta, using the rest of the homemade tartar sauce. For dinner, I made a turkey bolognese, using a recipe recommended by someone I met via Twitter. It was excellent. There are two versions of the sauce — one with white wine and cream, and one with red wine. I made the white wine version, and will make the red wine version next week.

I’m reading PRAGUE: A CULTURAL HISTORY. Wow. I basically knew NOTHING about Prague. We have a lot to pack in during eight days! It’s fascinating. It’s extraordinary how much of its history was shaped by writers, artists, etc., which I think is quite wonderful.

I got a bit of writing done this morning on the Matty book. I hope I can get more writing-focused this weekend. I have a feeling not much will get done over the next 2-3 weeks because of outside pressures, but then, although the entire summer is very booked and very busy, the writing will open up. Until a few things that are hanging over me are resolved, the writing’s not going to be what it needs to be. I’d like to resolve them in less than 3 weeks, but not all of it is in my control, and I’m not going to roll over and allow myself to be taken advantage of simply to get things moving faster.

Whenever I turn on the PC to pull stuff off the floppies and back them up, the McAfee tries to hijack the computer, demanding that I renew the McAfee software. Now, I don’t plug the old computer in to the internet. And there is no way IN HELL I would give McAfee another penny after the crap they pulled the last few months. I’d uninstall the program, but it won’t let me. Well, in a few months, I can just dump the whole unit and not worry about it anymore. But the gruntwork of the transfer is time consuming and annoying. Oh, well, gotta do it when you can’t pay someone else for the aggravation, right?

I’m glad I live on the third floor of this building. Saves me from having to build an ark.

Chad, I believe that one of the reasons groups are fighting change is that corporate profits are put ahead of lives. As a teenager, I temped in several insurance companies. At one in particular, the representatives were instructed to refuse EVERY claim without reading it the first time. If the person filing the claim challenged the refusal, then they were supposed to actually review the claim; but, since 75% of people who get a refusal never bother to dispute it, the company saved hundreds of thousands of dollars a year by not paying legitimate claims. And people who were too frightened or believed that they had no other recourse or were just overwhelmed by the paperwork had to pay out of pocket for care that was supposed to be covered.

Companies count on consumers being “too busy” to dispute/fight bad service, and every time a consumer allows something to go undsiputed, be it poor service in a store or a refusal of a legitimate claim, the consumer condones the company’s action and hurts all other consumers.

Back to work.

Devon

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Raining. Again.

Well, the sun didn’t last long enough yesterday for me to get out and enjoy it. Boo. 😦

I’m back, as Jenny, talking about writing without a contract in place, on Diane Parkin’s blog.

Pretty productive day, though. Got my assignment polished and out to Confidential Job #1. Took care of some business correspondence. Finished off a client project. Went to Trader Joe’s to restock the cat food supply.

I printed out CRAVE THE HUNT and had it stacked on the desk, waiting to go into a binder. And Iris had a temper tantrum and scattered the pages all over the living room. Sigh. Fortunately, they’re numbered.

I found that, if I use Safari, I can override the 1and1 server error. I can’t get into my sites to work on them, but at least I can access my email. Not perfect, but a stopgap until I can move things.

Trying to get back on track with the serial and CRAVE THE HUNT. There are some things looming in the near future that take a lot of energy and focus right now, and it’s negatively affecting the writing. Hopefully, once that’s sorted, I can get back in the groove.

I’m making preparations for the DC trip next week — so far I am not impressed with the organization, or lack thereof, and I’m setting a bunch of appointments on my own. I’m not going to stand around doing nothing, and it wouldn’t be right if I slipped away to a museum! So I’ll do my bit at the rally,and then I’ve got appointments with people who can actually create some positive change. I need affordable health care. This week is a good example — I don’t have insurance, and I can’t afford to spend several hundred dollars for a five minute doctor visit out of pocket (which is what it is here) unless I REALLY need it. I’m feeling off, not awful; I’ll deal. I had DECADES of pouring money into health insurance, and hardly ever needed to see a doctor. All of that should be credited, and I should be able to draw on it now Instead, I threw out money for years BECAUSE I WAS HEALTHY. How twisted is that? Plus, I’m sick and tired of the way they glance at you and order a plethora of tests, almost all unnecessary, because they can’t be bothered to spend the time to get to know you and your individual health issues. Assembly-line medicine doesn’t work. I do much better with my acupuncturist, and I’m calling her today to see if she can fit me in before she leaves for Saratoga. Whenever I leave a doctor’s office, I feel completely dehumanized. When I leave my acupunturist’s, I feel I can take on the world. The insurance companies in this country need to be gutted, and the health care industry needs to be rebuilt from the ground up so that doctors can provide individualized care and patients are treated like people, not like the plastic dummies one practices on in First Aid training sessions.

Next week is going to be a long day! 😉

I’m also prepping for the NHL Draft, which starts the day after the rally in DC. And, in a few weeks, I’m going to head up to Maine for a couple of days, to see my great uncle, and maybe visit some farms where they spin and die the yarn they shear from their sheep.

Hopefully the laundry room renovations are done. Six weeks ago, they told us it would take “about ten days”. Right. My friend’s out of town, so I can’t pop over to do laundry there, and the laundry bag’s about to burst at the seams. Fingers crossed.

I’ve got a fiction deadline coming up for a short story. I’ve got it percolating, and I’ve also got a couple of other short pieces percolating. Maybe, with everything going on these next couple of weeks, it makes more sense to focus on shorter pieces, pieces I can actually get done.

Now that I’ve visited The Mount in Lenox, it really makes Hermione Lee’s Edith Wharton biography come even more to life. It’s also making me itch to back to GOOD NAMES.

Back to business. There’s a lot to do. Maybe if I keep focused on work, I won’t notice that it’s raining. AGAIN. There are flood warnings, so I’ll be jumping up and down to check the brook every few hours, and see if I have to move the car. And I’m boiling and bottling water, just in case. Maybe today’s NOT a good day to do laundry!

Prepared fried cod cakes last night with home-made tartar sauce (wonderful) and roasted potato wedges (with oregano, cumin, and olive oil) dipped in lime-cilantro mayonnaise. Yum.

Back to work.

Devon