Thursday, August 23, 2007

Thursday, August 23, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Rainy and cool

I’m making a flying visit home to feed the cats. The gig in CT is going well – they have a great fitness room, and I’m taking full advantage.

I have THREE articles in this week’s issue of FemmeFan:

Horse Racing at Saratoga, pre-Travers:

Horse Racing at Del Mar:

and the Central New York Scottish Games:

Check them out, if you get the chance!

I’m home long enough to feed the cats, check some email, and get some business done, then it’s back to CT. I don’t have internet access there. I don’t mind, though, because I’m getting both writing and percolating done.

I do have something to say about the Michael Vicks case: this man is accused of running a dog fighting ring and either drowning or hanging several dogs himself. The NFL is only worried about the gambling aspect; and Vicks himself has apologized for his “mistakes”. Torturing and murdering animals is more than a “mistake”, and the NFL’s shrugging off of these acts is disgusting. All I have to say is give me ten minutes with Vicks, alone in a room with him. At first, I wanted a machete. But I don’t need one. And I’m sure there are many people who feel the same way I do.

In my opinion, the so-called “justice system” is going to wait until he murders a girlfriend or someone he considers a rival somewhere down the road before they do anything more than slap him on the wrist. Again, look at the studies: if someone is capable of doing this to an animal, they often move up to do it to children and then adults.

And PETA completely failed the animals here. All they did was go to the hearings, stand outside and screech. If they were actually motivated activists, they would have infiltrated the ring and taken it down. The idea of an organization like PETA is a good one, but the way they put their so-called beliefs into action – or lack thereof – is ridiculous.

Let us hope the Karma Dogs appear very quickly to take care of this situation. I have no doubt they will be far more inventive and imaginative than I could ever be.

Good Names is chugging along well. I’m in the last three or four chapters. I think it will come in at under 100K, which is a good thing, because than it means the next draft won’t be so over the word count I have to cut 1/3. I’m also slowing down as I near the end, because I hate the thought of leaving these characters. However, the next draft needs to build more tension and toss in more red herrings at certain points. This is far too straightforward a narrative as it currently stands.

“Revenge Tangents” is moving along, but it’s getting bigger than I thought. That’s okay, because I have the scope of the overall project in my head, and it can be whatever it wants to be.

Did some planning on some other projects, and I hope to get some work done on Tracking Medusa over the next few days.

Must check job boards, get some pitches out, do the first couple of pages on a couple of articles, and then get back to CT. I have a batch of brownies in the oven – it’s easier for me to make them here than over there, although I’m totally enamored of the kitchen there.

My thoughts are with everyone in the middle of the country, dealing with flooding. I hope the waters recede soon and there’s a break in the weather. I know, first-hand, how devastating this can be.

And the Utah miners and their families are in my thoughts and prayers. Something must be done to bring these men home. The owner saying there’s nothing he can do is crap. Then he shouldn’t have sent them in there in the first place.

FDNY lost two more firefighters when the former Deutsche Bank building beside the World Trade Center site caught fire – and they were trapped by shoddy construction work and the fact that the stand pipe supposed to get water up to the higher floors had been taken apart by the construction crews and left in the basement. The way this building’s demolition has been handled for the past six years has been completely unacceptable – especially since they keep finding human remains from 9/1ll there. Two more firefighters – from a house who lost 11 men on 9/11 – should not have had to die because of the greedy developers. And I’m getting tired of these same greedy developers – who did not lose anyone on that day – saying that we need to “get over” 9/11. There’s a difference between getting over something and healing from it to rebuild lives. The developers don’t care how many people were murdered that day; they want their cash. We never will get over it, even as we rebuild lives, the site should be a memorial the way Pearl Harbor is a memorial, and these greedy bastards need to be run out of town.

On that note (ahem), I’m going to do an hour or two of focused work here online, and then get back to the CT gig.

Devon

Good Names – 65,632 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
65 / 100
(65.0%)

“Revenge Tangents” – 11,875 words out of est. 12,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
11 / 12
(91.7%)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Monday, August 20, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

I need sleep!

I got the pre-Travers article done, polished and out in the morning. I did some more work on the Scottish Games article, but it just wasn’t sparkling.

I went to my friend’s, where I read the paper, played with the dog, read a bit, cooked dinner, did some writing, and, in general, had a fairly relaxing afternoon.

Came back, finalized the Scottish Games article, picked photos, and sent it off. I’m not happy with it. I haven’t done it justice.

I caught some of the Del Mar races, which affect the Breeders’ Cup in October, so I did a quick piece on them and sent that off. There’s a horse from New Zealand named Crossing The Line, who won the Del Mar Mile, and is a horse with which to fall in love.

Noisy Downstairs Neighbor was at it again. Even the cats are fed up. At least it was earlier in the evening, and not after midnight.

I’m ready to play CDs of bagpipes at full volume all the live-long night to see if maybe that shuts up some of the crazy neighbors!!!!

Good morning’s work on Good Names; decent morning’s work on “Revenge Tangents”.

I have to be very organized during the next three weeks, with all the traveling and working from different places. I need to clear quite a bit off my desk today and also do practical things like pack, vacuum, and wash the floors. They don’t wash themselves – believe me, I’ve tried.

I need to check the job boards, get out pitches, follow up on a few emails, send out some interview materials, research a quartet of articles, work on my column, and work on an article I want to get finished by the end of the week. And, one of these days, I’d like to get back to Tracking Medusa. I think I figured out how to fix the problem with the OBE chapter.

Not a particularly compelling post today; sorry. Too many things whirling around my head, and I’m trying to put together a to-do list that’s both logical and do-able.

Devon

Good Names – 63,632 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
63 / 100
(63.0%)

“Revenge Tangents” — 10,625 words out of est. 12,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
10 / 12
(83.3%)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thursday, August 16, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Cloudy and humid

Did you miss me?

It’s been quite a week! Good, in many ways, but exhausting. 656 miles on the car in four days.

Let’s start with getting the heck out of Dodge last Friday. My crazy downstairs neighbor came home again roaring drunk at 2 AM, this time singing at the top of his lungs and playing on his furniture with drumsticks for hours. It’s completely out of control. So, not only did I barely get any sleep, but the weather was dreadful. As usual, the meteorologists were wrong – they’d downgraded from predicting storms as bad as the ones that spurred the tornado two days previously to “light rain”.

Now, I don’t consider rain pouring down in curtains so that I can’t even see the end of the hood of the car “light”. It was awful all the way across the Tappan Zee Bridge the entire trip to Albany. It finally lightened up about 20-30 miles west of Albany, and the rest of the trip wasn’t bad.

I still made it from home to Syracuse in just over 5 hours, which isn’t too shabby. It was too early to check into the hotel, so I went to the Denny’s next door. I hadn’t been in a Denny’s since I lived on the west coast in the mid 1980’s. I forgot how big the portions are and how much salt they dump on everything. No wonder I was the only person in there who was under 300 pounds!

Drove around for a bit afterwards – found a Michael’s, looked at yarn, etc., but was too tired to buy anything.

Finally got into the room. It was fine, simple – wallpaper peeling a bit, the toilet tank took its time refilling. But it was clean, had large windows, got a lot of light, and was safe. I took a nap, tried to get some writing done, did about an hour of yoga, and went back to get take-out from Denny’s for dinner. Couldn’t finish it all – too big a portion and too salty.

Watched some bad television, did a core workout and went to bed early. There were dogs and kids in this hotel. The dogs behaved beautifully. The kids were a nightmare. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you’re too stupid and lazy to teach your kids to behave like decent human beings in public, leave them at home. Don’t inflict them on the rest of us. They’re not cute; they’re horrid.

Woke up early on Saturday. Did an hour of yoga, and got a bit of writing done. The complimentary breakfast was fine, although the coffee was awful. I met a lovely Great Dane named Princess Leia, who wanted my doughnut badly, but was far too well-behaved to just snatch it from my hand.

Got into the car and headed over to Liverpool for the Central New York Scottish Games. Got there just as they were gearing up, and got a parking spot only two rows from the gate, which was a good thing, considering how often I went back and forth to the car over the course of the day.

The Games were fantastic. I didn’t want to leave. It’s amazing that you can have over 1000 people, 200+ dogs, wandering around in the sun all day long, and nobody’s an asshole. Yes, there were plenty of kids dashing around and being rambunctious – but none of them were horrid. There was NO LITTER. Over 1000 people, no one designated to clean up, and no litter. Everyone picked up after themselves. There were trash barrels, recycling barrels, etc., etc., and everyone took personal responsibility. There was a little kid recycling a bottle that was almost bigger than he was. Everyone was nice and friendly and genuine. There was no snobbery, no exclusion, no nastiness. Everyone was there having a good time and interacting.

Music, music everywhere. There were dozens of pipe bands, plus other musical acts in the entertainment tent. And a hut full of harpists.

I admit that, after the first two hours of listening to pipers warming up, I’d kind of had it. I enjoy piping, but . . .however, after a handful of Excedrin and a Tennant’s, I felt much better.

There was a beer truck. As in a massive truck with taps on the side, with Guinness, Harp, Tennant’s, and some others. I hadn’t had a Tennant’s since the last time I sat in The Last Drop in Edinburgh, and that was far too long ago. (Here at the St. Andrew’s Pub, the only Scottish bar in Manhattan, I usually order a Bellhaven).

I played and played and played with dogs – Alfred, the “aggressive” Westie who rolled over to get his tummy rubbed every time he saw me; the German Shepard puppy with the huge paws who crawled into my lap and fell asleep, sucking my thumb; and many, many more. I met a woman who runs a Scottie rescue – Scotties aren’t good with cats, but she has a friend who does Westie rescue and often comes across puppies. If I raised a Westie from puppyhood with cats, he/she would be fine, and I’d rather have a rescued dog than go to a breeder.

For details on the actual games, you’ll just have to read the article in next week’s FemmeFan, but they were fun: the shotput, the weights, tossing the caber, tossing the sheaf, etc., etc. I got some good pictures to go with the articles. The pipe bands also had competition, which was just as fervored at the athletic competitions.

It was great to spend a day with people who were genuinely nice. And how often do you spend time at an event where no one is rude or annoying? I’d definitely go back. There was plenty of playing and flirting, but everything was in good fun. There was no hassle or sleaziness or annoyance involved. It was all upbeat and low key.

And, even better, that night, we got to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower!

I did not want the night to end.

Did core work when I got in Saturday night, and an hour of yoga Sunday morning. Skipped the hotel breakfast and got mine from the Dunkin Donuts across the street. Got on the road around 9:30. Made it to Saratoga by noon.

Unfortunately, it took an hour to drive from the exit to my friend’s place – a drive which usually takes 10 minutes! It was beach chair giveaway day, and people were insane – getting five or six vouchers, going back again and again and again. They gave away over 72,000 chairs! The track was packed, it was hot and humid and not a great race card. Kind of a disappointment. I did get to see my friend’s horse run in the feature race, and I met the horse named Dave.

Dave.

If you follow racing, you know that most horses have complicated names. But Dave is simply “Dave”. He’s the closest thing to a hippie horse I’ve ever seen – totally mellow. Nothing phases him. He’s friendly and curious, with this attitude of, “Hey, I’m Dave. Cool.” As he walked from the paddock to the track, people yelled, “Hi, Dave!” and he’d turn in their direction and nod his head as though he was saying, “Hey.” He’s a pretty good runner when he gets on the track, too – pays attention to his jockey, tries hard. He came in fourth for this race, which means he got some money, even if the bettors didn’t. He’s got a very distinct and engaging personality.

After the meet, we went back to the house to change, and then headed over the few blocks to Union Avenue, where someone was giving a reception with food, drinks, and music. I have no idea what it was for – never saw the invite. Met some interesting people – a man who used to be in the airline business, a woman who runs a site for women in racing, a woman who does feng shui consults. And, of course, it’s interesting to watch the whole band-for-hire culture at work, especially when they try to hit on the trophy wives. The older, wealthy men with the dumbass, shallow arm candy get real old real fast. But at least if they’ve got each other, they’re not inflicted on the rest of us, right? And we can go off and have fun with people of substance.

Speaking of which, several of us then went out to dinner at Leon’s, a Mexican restaurant owned by an ex-jockey. The food was okay, but one of our group found a piece of metal in the food, which is just not good. Needless to say, he didn’t have to pay for his meal.

We were all tired and had too much sun, so we made it a relatively early night.

I was up early the next morning, did my yoga. We went over to my friend’s barn during the workouts to visit with the horses and see my friend. She was outriding today, and they were working out on the Oklahoma track rather than the main track. We went back to the house for breakfast, which was fun – a lively, wide-ranging group. Another friend of my friends stopped by and wanted to go to the Horseshoe Inn for another breakfast. I decided to decline and get on the road early. I stopped by Mrs. London’s, the wonderful bakery, to grab something for later, and headed home.

The traffic was dreadful, and there were some real crazy people on the road, like the guy in the Mercedes who forced me into the median just because he felt like it. He had plenty of room to safely pass me and then get in front of me in my lane, but he wanted to occupy my space at the same time I was. It wasn’t that he couldn’t see me – he was looking right at me as he forced me off the road. Fortunately, a state trooper saw it and went after him. If there’s been a barrier instead of just grass in between, I would have had a serious accident. But I got home in one piece, albeit exhausted, unloaded the car, had dinner at a friend’s, caught up on a few things.

I plunged back into shows Tuesday and Wednesday. I’m not going to say much about it. Too much crap going on and I have other things that need my attention. Managed a good dinner with friends between shows yesterday, but the rest of it – it’s time for me to totally disengage.

Came home from the theatre at midnight to find that my crazy downstairs neighbor had his television blasting again and my crazy next door neighbors were in the midst of yet another domestic dispute. I’m going to start calling the cops on them, because talking to them politely isn’t fixing the problem. And I’m sick of disruption every single night, in violation of our leases.

I got some nice work done on both Good Names and “Revenge Tangents” during the time away. I’ve now pushed the word count for the latter up to 12K. I’m also working on a giveaway for people who signed up for the Muse Online Writer’s Conference in October, and a couple of other projects. I have a half a dozen article deadlines coming up, and the material for Confidential Job #1 is due tomorrow.

Busy, busy. Better get to work.

Devon

Good Names – 59,632 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
59 / 100
(59.0%)

“Revenge Tangents” – 8,375 words out of est. 12,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
8 / 12
(66.7%)

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Thursday, August 9, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny, less humid, pleasant

As usual, I packed too many pairs of shoes.

In my own defense, they are for the umpteen changes of clothes I always have to make buzzing around Saratoga. At least it’s summer and those little dresses roll up to next to nothing. I’ve packed sensible clothes for the Scottish Games in Syracuse. I’ve never been to Syracuse. I’m looking forward to it.

So much to do yesterday, so little focus.

Worked on some other articles, worked on some pitches, printed out the directions for my trip, made mega-dinner plans for Sunday with friends, found a bunch of upcoming anthology deadlines (thanks to the anthology newsletter).

Packed, prepared the receipt envelopes, the mileage book and all the frigging paperwork that goes along with writing trips.

And, even with the air on, it was unbearably hot and sticky, which is why every other word off my keyboard is a swear!

Researched a bunch of topics for The Big Project. Researched some other stuff so I can move forward with Good Names.

Prepared the writing bag, the camera bag. Yoga mat’s going along too, but not the weights.

Weight training couldn’t happen last night due to wrist pain, but this morning’s yoga session was good.

Unfortunately, I woke up with a migraine. I fed the cats, did my yoga, tried to write, but felt so horrible that I went back to bed for another hour or so. That’s the point of freelancing – a flexible schedule. I felt better when I woke up, took something to take the edge off, and will try to finish up as much as I can.

Yesterday’s tornado was categorized as an FE2 – cut a 9 mile path of destruction through Brooklyn. I’m not sure if it touched down in Queens, or if they thought it was a tornado and it wasn’t, or if the only actual tornado was in Brooklyn, but there was a lot of damage everywhere.

Tomorrow is supposed to be vile; I hope I can get on the road early and safely.

No word bar updates yet – I’m going to try to get some work done when the migraine lifts a bit more.

I’m offline until the middle of next week. Everyone – enjoy!

Devon

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Hot, humid, sticky, disgusting

I cannot wait to cover the Central New York Scottish Games this weekend. In addition to covering the actual sporting events (trust me, there are a few people I’d like to whack with a caber right now), I’m excited because I bet I’ll be exposed to some new (to me) music. I feel like I’ve hit a musical rut lately.

Some of that rut’s been helped by finding bands on My Space (I know, I know, how could I not know?), but nothing beats live performance.

I hate working all day and feeling as though I got nothing done.

I had problems with the email accounts all day, and felt that the tech support asked for inappropriate information. Sorry, bubbelah, not giving you the passwords. I am paying this host enough to actually get the service for which I pay; I shouldn’t have to spend an entire day arguing with them about a SERVER error. What can I say? 1 and 1 sucks. Unfortunately, it took me over a year to get my sites up and running once I switched over from Yahoo Small Business Hosting (which sucked even worse), and, at this moment, I can’t face switching everything again. However, within the next year or so, I expect I’ll redesign everything and then leap.

I managed to polish a press release and get it to the person who had to distribute it. I got some pitches out. I plowed through paperwork and email, but my inboxes are still filled to bursting, and the piles of paper don’t look any smaller.

Hate that!

Off to the theatre today; hopefully, I don’t have to stay for the show. I’ve got articles to get out this week before I leave; second requests to put out for some interview material, and writing to get done. And I’d kind of like to leave my desk looking a bit better than as though a shredder threw up all over it.

I wish I could train the cats to file. I mean, they’re sitting around all day sleeping. Why can’t they alphabetize? When I presented this to Iris, her look of disdain said it all, “We’re cats. We don’t have to work for a living. We just have to be – be adored.”

They certainly do that part well.

Several days ago, I watched a series of episodes back-to-back for a limited production. I won’t give details, because what I have to say is uncomplimentary, and I don’t want to be cruel to the people who put a lot of time and effort into it. It had religious overtones, to say the least, but the presentation was one of the best parts of it – it made sense, and wasn’t shoved down the viewers’ throats. Even though my point of view on the issues is quite different, I could appreciate the point of view presented. The themes were interesting, the writing was uneven – and it contained some of the WORST acting I’ve seen in a long time. Just dreadful. There was one actor, a second lead, who managed to pull off most of it because he relied on physical tricks. But then the writers gave him a character inconsistency near the end and he broke character because the writing gave him nowhere to go. Everyone else in the piece was unremittingly AWFUL. And I know some of these people’s work – some of them are decent at their craft. It was a terrific lesson in writing and production – I just felt bad for those involved that the outcome was so below par. (No, it’s not SAVING GRACE – I’ve mentioned in detail how much I flat out loathe that show and why).

Decent night’s weight training; good yoga session this morning.

I did some logo design work and some page design work for a gift I’m putting together for registerees for The Muse Online Conference.

Good morning’s work on Good Names. I’m having fun with the racetrack sequence.

Good morning’s work on “Revenge Tangents”. Although I’ve had to accept the fact that this is not going to be a typical short, and I’ve bumped up the estimated word count. Sigh. But it’s the introduction to a bigger project, and I have to get it right.

Now, if I could only make this next chapter of Tracking Medusa work . . .

Off to Manhattan, in this disgusting weather. Metro North better have the air conditioning on for once, instead of the heat, the way they usually do in summer. I had to turn the air on by 7:30 this morning. Ick.

Devon

Good Names – 55,382 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
55 / 100
(55.0%)

“Revenge Tangents” – 5,125 words out of est. 7,500

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
5 / 7
(71.4%)

Monday, August 6, 2007

Monday, August 6, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter DIRECT
Venus Retrograde
Rainy, hot, humid

I hope the barometric pressure shifts soon – my head’s about to pop off.

I gave up any hope of creativity by 8 AM, when constant interruptions just made me give up and go ahead to get the errands run and bills paid before this mega storm that’s already fourteen hours late hits.

Hotel is booked for the Scottish games – they wanted to know how many hounds I’m bringing! Um . . . okay. Can I borrow some?

Trouble with the business email accounts – they’re being wonky. Put in an amazingly restrained and polite request for service with the host, when really, I’d like to smack ‘em upside the head.

Managed to get three pitches out, though, and receive a colleague’s synopsis that I agreed to critique. Caught up on some email. Finally downloaded my own copy of FULL CIRCLE (took me damn long enough)

I have a stack of paperwork to get through this afternoon – it’s been sitting on the floor next to the kitchen table for several days, and needs to get DONE.

Got the groceries in from Trader Joe’s – had to stock up on the cat food!

I’m having trouble with the current Tracking Medusa chapter. I know what needs to happen, but I’m having a hard time making/letting/convincing it to happen.

Half-packed for the trip already.

Couldn’t find the mobile phone, so I called myself with the landline. Turned out Elsa was sleeping on the phone – she was quite perplexed when her tummy began to ring! For a second, I was afraid she’d eaten the phone, but it’s too big and she’s not that dumb.

Good yoga session this morning. Last night was a night off from training, but tonight, it’s back to weights.

As if the paperwork wasn’t weighty enough!

No word bar updates today – sorry.

Devon

Published in: on August 6, 2007 at 11:24 am  Comments (3)  

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Saturday, August 4, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Hot, humid, sticky, rainy

It’s confirmed! I’m covering the Central New York Scottish Games next Saturday, up near Syracuse! I’m very excited. And then, I’ll be heading to Saratoga for a few days to cover horse racing.

Today, however, in the Haskell over at Monmouth, I’m rooting for Hard Spun.

The cats demanded attention yesterday. Violet is tired of being the smallest and the most pushed around, so she’s fighting back. Iris demanded attention and finally sat her butt on the keyboard, causing all sorts of chaos on the screen. Elsa was merely pathetic for a few hours, then climbed on the kitchen table (which is not allowed) to watch my neighbor’s television through the window (he has a big screen television). When he pulled down the shades, she had a fit!

Bad storms last night, with lots of thunder, lightening, and rain.

Driving to CT, I stopped at a traffic light. The guy behind me’s honking his horn, waving his arms, motioning me to the right. The right was a turn-only lane. I got out of the car and asked him what’s the problem?

“Get in the right lane.”

“It’s a turn only lane and I’m not turning.”

“I like to be the front car at a light.”

WTF?????

I got in the car and took my own sweet time pulling out when the light changed to green. Tough luck, buddy, you don’t always get to be first, and I’m sick and tired of always being expected to accommodate everyone else’s neuroses.

Got most of the first dress done in the studio yesterday, although I’m unhappy with the zipper. I think I’m going to replace it with a shorter one. Thanks for the advice, Costume Imp! I may have to wait and get in the city – I can’t believe how difficult it is to get zippers out here in Westchester!!!

Got to tend to my personal life, too, which was a nice change. Sometimes, it just needs a bit of caretaking to keep on track.

Sat down to work on Good Names this morning and realized I hadn’t done the research I needed for the next section. Did enough to get the scene complete, but have to do more to finish the sequence. Sigh. I need more hours in the day.

Nice morning’s work on “Revenge Tangents.” The world of Posey Penrith, her friends Venice and Niktoria, the orange tabby cat Pickles and now the dog rescued from death row, Marvin, gets wackier and wackier. I’m starting to worry that it’s too large for what I originally envisioned for the project. But I need to see what it is, then figure out its venue.

Decent evening’s weight training in spite of the shoulder; good morning’s yoga session.

Off to finally do some work on Tracking Medusa, and then head back to CT.

Devon

Good Names – 53,382 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
53 / 100
(53.0%)

“Revenge Tangents” –2.625 words out of est. 5,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
2 / 5
(40.0%)