Sunday, December 31, 2006

Last Post of the Year

In a few minutes, Eugene and I are headed out for the evening. We're going out for dinner, then we're going to an improv comedy show--or, actually, two shows. Hopefully we'll get home before the drunk drivers hit the road.

Since this is the last post of the year, I feel as if I ought to look back at what we've done. We've been pretty active, I think. We've taken tango lessons, seen King Tut, visited with old friends and made new ones, been to Michigan, and visited England. Even more changes are in store for us next year.

As for resolutions, well, the last thing I need to do now is lose weight, but I do have to manage how much I gain. For a while over the holidays, I felt as if I was going to gain all my "allowed" weight at once. At least I can work out now; I had to skip it for a while. I do want to lose weight after the baby comes, of course. Needless to say, I want to be a good parent. Some of my other goals for 2007 include finally getting out of this apartment. For writing goals, I want to finish editing Lennon's Line and start submitting it to agents/editors, finish a short story I started a couple of months ago, and start the rewrite of Catalyst in the Crucible, next in the Paul Harrison saga. Hopefully I'll be able to do more research for some other novel ideas that are still incubating in my brain.

Have a happy 2007, everybody!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Two Days of Christmas

Two days, four visits, and lots of driving. That's what we've been up to the last couple of days.

It started Christmas Eve with a drive up to Wisconsin. We stopped first at my friend Liz's house to exchange gifts with her and chat for a couple of hours. We also got to watch the birds (and squirrels) feeding in their backyard. Their neighbor puts out corn for the deer, so there were a few of them around too.

Mid-afternoon, we said farewell and drove to my parents' house. My grandmother was there too (since she lives with them now), and one of my nieces was already there. My brother and his family came by right before dinner. Afterwards we exchanged gifts and had cake and tea. Eugene made his infamous flourless chocolate cake; half a slice was rich enough to satisfy me. The highlight of the evening was watching Heidi, my parents' toy poodle. She got two presents this year: a package of Snausages from me and a new toy from my parents. She wanted to play with her toy right away, and she kept chasing it until we finally had to put it away before she exhausted herself. Then, after getting a treat or two, she sat sphinx-like and stared at the can of Snausages as if she could will it to open and give her more goodies. She tried pawing it a few times but only managed to startle herself. I'm told that the next day she was still staring at the pantry where we keep her treats, waiting for more.

Christmas morning was private time for us. Eugene made a special apple puff pancake for breakfast, and I prepared fresh-squeezed orange juice. Then we exchanged gifts. He gave me four books; I gave him two books, a DVD set he wanted--and two cans of soup (in case he tried shaking the box). Hey, the soup was an improvement on the cans of dog food he put in my gift one year. (No, I didn't keep them.) Eugene even found time to make an apple pie to bring to our next hostess.

The visiting started again with a holiday lunch with Jan, Eugene's dad's vet partner. They've been together so long she's part of the family. Afterwards, we spent the afternoon and evening at Eugene's parents' house. His dad was born on Christmas, so it was a combination Christmas/birthday celebration. Lots of family came over in the evening, and there were plenty of kids to run around and remind us what the holidays are about.

It was nice seeing our families, but I have to admit I'm glad I have today off too to recuperate and catch up on some things around the apartment. Maybe now I can get back to editing again.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Regift I'm Grateful For

First of all, I'd like to thank everyone for their good wishes and apologize I haven't blogged much this week. I've been meaning to, but I'm still feeling a bit fatigued. I haven't even had the energy to work on Lennon's Line, and I want to rewrite parts of it. It may be time to have my thyroid levels checked again.

Anyway, I crashed early last night and slept in, so I'm feeling awake enough to tell you a story.

Years ago, for my 28th birthday (my golden one), I bought myself two rings. One was an onyx stone; the other, alternating sapphires and diamonds. I chose them because the colors are personally significant to me. Since then, I've worn both of them on my right hand. I do take them off at night (unlike my engagement/wedding rings), but I wear them every day without changing them up.

Last week, I took them off as I was cleaning the apartment. To keep them safe, I put them on my watch, closed that, and stuck the watch in my jeans pocket--something I've done lots of times. I left the watch and rings in my pocket later that night as Eugene and I ran errands. I didn't bother putting them on until the next day, when I couldn't find them. I checked the usual spots but soon decided I'd lost them while I was out.

It took me a few days to adjust to the fact I'd lost them for good. My hand felt naked without my accustomed rings, and it was strange not having a watch. So I decided to replace them, even if the rings wouldn't have the same meaning. I found an onyx ring on sale at the mall, and I bought a nice watch at a bargain price from Overstock.

This morning, as part of our routine, we did laundry. Eugene woke up before I did, so he brought the first load down. I roused when I heard him return to the bedroom. He was dangling my watch from his hand.

"Someone up there really likes you," he said.

Apparently I must not have frisked my jeans properly before putting them in the wash; my watch and rings were on the bottom of one of the laundry bags.

Eugene admitted later he was tempted briefly to wrap them up and give them to me on Christmas, but that might have caused some issues.

Needless to say, I'm happy to have my beloved rings back, and I'll have to be more careful with them in the future. Of course, I don't know how much longer I'll be able to wear any of my rings (in case my hands start swelling), so I have to enjoy them while I can.

Happy holidays, everyone, and may you experience a minor miracle of your own this Christmas!

Friday, December 22, 2006

From Russ's Blog

Since Blogthings formatting never works right for me, I'll just paste the link and my results--and my comments on my results.

How Much Have You Changed in 10 Years?

You've Changed 36% in 10 Years

Ah, the past! You may not remember it well - because you're still living in it.While you've changed some, you may want to update your wardrobe, music collection and circle of friends.

Yeah, right. I admire the current crop of celebrites so much I really want to dress like them or listen to them. And why would I give up good old college friends just for the sake of change? Maybe we as a society need to focus more on what is good and not on what is new.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Christmas in Chicago

Today, Eugene and I continued a holiday tradition by visiting the Christkindlmarkt in downtown Chicago. The weather was supposedly warmer than it was at our last visit, but I was still shivering. Of course, sometimes I have to wonder if I'm really warm-blooded, but there was a bit of a wind. I couldn't have any spiced wine this year, so I had to make do with cider and potato pancakes instead.

The markt was bigger and busier than last year. It was also more diverse, including items from Russia, Peru, and Nepal along with German ones. We bought a lace table runner, glass ornaments and a tree topper, and a set of four houses to start a Christmas village for display. We wandered around for a bit, looking at all the booths, the tree, and a miniature tree setup.

After leaving the markt, we checked out the window display at Macy's. This year, it was Mary Poppins. I think they based it on the book, not the movie. (I hate to admit it, but I'm more familiar with the movie instead of the book.) We then had a late lunch at a deli before heading over to Millennium Park. Eugene lost some of last year's photos when his hard drive failed, so he wanted to replace them. We took some photos of us at the Bean, where he proposed to me nearly two years ago. Then we waited until the ice rink was full of skaters (it was being smoothed out) so he could take some pictures of them.

Our final stop was Ghardelli's for a rich chocolate mint sundae. Then I snuggled under a blanket in the car while Eugene drove home.

I didn't take as many pictures as Eugene did, but I posted some here:

I Know Russ's Secret...

because it's actually mine, or should I say mine and Eugene's.

(If you don't read Russ's blog, you can check out the entry and the resulting comments here.)

Eugene and I will be bringing about the apocalypse next year, so start planning now. That's right: we're expecting our first child in June.

To answer a few questions you might have:

So far, the baby and I are doing fine. I've had nausea (not just in the morning) and heartburn, but they haven't been too bad. At least I've been able to eat. I've been tired too, which is part of the reason I haven't done much writing or editing lately. I officially enter the second trimester on Wednesday, so hopefully I'll get some energy back. We've seen the baby on ultrasound and heard the heartbeat, which is reassuring.

Yes, we plan to find out what we're having, but we probably won't announce the sex until the child is born. I personally know of a couple of cases where the ultrasound was wrong, so I'd like to be absolutely sure. Besides, I'm thinking of a unisex theme for the nursery anyway.

I've started looking at names, but we really haven't discussed them yet. It's tough figuring out a name with a strong meaning that flows well with our last name. Hopefully we'll decide on something before we leave the hospital.

As for living arrangements, the plan is to start building a house next year, but it won't be done until September (assuming everything stays on schedule). It'll be tough having a baby in our cramped apartment, but as long as we get out of here before the baby becomes mobile, I think we can manage. How I'll manage work and child-rearing is a different story, but it has to be done too.

Finally, we'd appreciate any good thoughts you could send our way. The doctor says I don't look my age, but that doesn't help me in the egg department, and my hypothyroidism can be a problem if it's not handled properly. Eugene and I just want to have a healthy baby next June.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Your Attention Please....

I just scored over 2.2 million on Tetris at this arcade. I'm not sure how many lines I created, but I got to level 80.

That is all. ;)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Social Butterfly

That's not how I would describe myself, but it's how my weekend went.

Saturday I got to see my good friend Kristi for the first time in months. She was down for the weekend at her parents' house, which is much closer to me than her current location. So I brought her a couple of gifts that I picked up in London for her. We had lunch at a local diner, then we braved the mall. Kristi was lucky enough to find a gift she'd been searching for. Afterwards, we browsed at the bookstore for a while. I brought her home and chatted with her and her mom for a while before I had to leave. Even though Kristi and I may not see each other often, we still always pick right up again where we left off. Hopefully I'll get to see her again soon.

I barely had time to check the Net at home before it was time to change and leave for my company's holiday party. It was at a seafood restaurant; we'd gone there the year before too. A few people were quite late, but we waited for them before ordering dinner. The crab legs were good, but towards the end of the night the service was quite slow. I guess next year we should look for a new place to switch things up a little.

Today Eugene's cousins held a birthday party for two of their children. It was mid-afternoon, so we ran some errands before heading over. We got there shortly after the party was supposed to start only to find that it had been in progress for a while. Apparently people had decided to show up early--which is quite unusual in Filipino culture, let me stay. We had some food, watched the kids, took a few photos, and left.

We still had things to do at home, including putting up our new "Mini-Tree." It's six feet tall but much skinnier than the big tree we put up last year. Since we haven't gotten that one out of storage yet (it's at my in-laws' house), we figured the only way we would get a tree up at this point would be to get a small one. I have to admit it's a lot easier to put up the Mini-Tree than the half-a-tree we had last year. Besides, given how many ornaments we pick up on trips, we may eventually need two trees to display them all.

Editing: Believe it or not, I did get some editing done today, though it was light editing/reformatting. I am going to need a break from Lennon's Line before I do the final edit.

Friday, December 08, 2006

For John...

(This is one of the many tribute songs written for John Lennon. I've been listening to it a lot today, the 26th anniversary of his murder.)

Edge of Seventeen--Stevie Nicks

Just like the white winged dove...
sings a song ...
Sounds like she's singing...
Just like the white winged dove...
sings a song...
Sounds like she's singing... ooo

And the days go by....
like a strand in the wind
In the web that is my own...
I begin again
Said to my friend, baby...
Nothin' else mattered

He was no more...than a baby then
Well he... seemed broken hearted...
something within him
But the moment...that I first laid...
Eyes...on...him...all alone...
On the edge of...seventeen

Just like the white winged dove...
sings a song ...
Sounds like she's singing...
Just like the white winged dove...
sings a song...
Sounds like she's singing... ooo

I went today...maybe I will go again...
And the music there it was hauntingly...
And I see you doing...
what I try to do for me
With the words from a poet...
and the voice from a choir
And a melody...nothing else mattered

Just like the white winged dove...
sings a song ...
Sounds like she's singing...
Just like the white winged dove...
sings a song...
Sounds like she's singing... ooo

The clouds...never expect it...
when it rains
But the sea changes colours...
but the sea...
Does not change
And so...with the slow...graceful flow..
of age
I went forth...with an age old... please
On the edge of...seventeen

Just like the white winged dove...
sings a song ...
Sounds like she's singing...
Just like the white winged dove...
sings a song...
Sounds like she's singing... ooo

Well then suddenly...
there was no one...left standing
In the hall...yeah, yeah...
In a flood of tears
That no one really ever heard fall at all
Oh I went searchin' for an answer...
Up the stairs...and down the hall
Not to find an answer...
just to hear the call
Of a nightbird...singing...
come away...come away...

Just like the white winged dove...
sings a song ...
Sounds like she's singing...
Just like the white winged dove...
sings a song...
Sounds like she's singing... ooo

Well I hear you in the morning...
and I hear you...
At nightfall...
sometime to be near you...
Is to be hear you...
my love...
I'm a few years older than you...
are (I'm a few years older than you) my love

Just like the white winged dove...
sings a song...
Sounds like she's singing...
ooo ...(repeat)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Here's a Good One....

You Are: 30% Dog, 70% Cat
You and cats have a lot in common.
You're both smart and in charge - with a good amount of attitude.
However, you do have a very playful side that occasionally comes out!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Ah, That's Better....

It's been a headless chicken type of week at work, and I'm sure it's going to continue at least through Friday. So it would be a good night to veg in front of the TV or play video games, and I did do the latter. But I finally got my butt in gear and did some editing on Lennon's Line. It's still a very light edit, mostly reformatting and trimming text. I'm glad to say the novel is now under 148,000 words. Given that Day of All Seasons, even after I tried to shorten it, is over 170,000 words, it feels like an accomplishment to shorten a novel to "publishable" length. (New authors are sometimes advised to keep their novels short. This keeps costs down for the publishers, who may then be more inclined to take a chance on a new author. I don't know how true this is, though.) Of course, cutting length is only good if it improves the story, but I do feel that I'm improving the pacing by cutting some paragraphs and other bits. I still need to review my crits from the OWW and incorporate those changes, but I have to admit that takes more gumption than I have at the moment. I think after I finish this pass through LL, I'll have to put it away for a while before I'm ready to edit it again. Hopefully that will be the last edit before I send it out.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Gee, What Could These Be?

And where could they be going? Hummm.....

(Believe it or not, Eugene took this picture. I didn't realize it was upside down until after I uploaded it.)

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Quick Recap

I've been a bit lazy about updating the blog, even though I've had things to blog about. Here's a quick summary:

I think I've mentioned before I'm a Nervous Nellie when it comes to winter driving. So Friday morning when Eugene watched the news and came into the bedroom to tell me the local roads were very bad, I took a snow day at work. I didn't get much done other than prep cookies for shipment (hopefully they'll go out this week) and take a much-needed nap in the afternoon. I didn't leave the apartment at all, but I'm well stockpiled with books.

Saturday I straightened out the apartment a bit. I also finally got out of the place: we had tickets to see Wayne Brady live. It was a combination dinner/show, though the dinner was separate from the tickets. The food was OK, things like appetizers, salads, and sandwiches (though I did see some people with prime rib). It was a packed house, and the show started late. The first game was a "gansta rap," which was ruined--or made even funnier--when Wayne's assistants couldn't spell words like "philanthropy." Wayne was rhyming words on a pad; he flipped the page over and went "what the--?" At least Wayne can spell! The show overall was funny, but it was even bluer than the Whose Line show. After the show, we stopped at Barnes and Noble on the way home.

Today was a quiet day, mostly doing errands and laundry. I haven't done any editing in the last few days; lately it's been hard finding the energy. Hopefully after we get the cookies out I can get my priorities straight again.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Feels Like Deja Vu

Apparently my car is a magnet for nails. I've lost track of how many times this is now--at least the third or fourth--but it happened again recently. I'm not sure where I picked it up; it may have been locally, or it may have been on Sunday when we drove up to see Liz. Either way, I must have been driving on it for a while without realizing it. I did notice some bumping feelings when I've been driving on the highway to work, but since it didn't occur for the entire trip, I thought it was just the patch of pavement I was on. Anyway, my boss noticed my tire was completely flat this afternoon. A couple of guys at work put the spare on for me, and my boss let me leave early to have it taken care of.

I got to Sears around 3:30. It took four hours before it was done. Everyone and their mothers had to get snow tires installed tonight in advance of the blizzard. (Foresight could have been more foresighted, don't you think?) It didn't help that even after my car was ready, it took a while for someone to enter it into the computer as being done.

The wait could have been worse. I browsed for a while at Barnes and Noble, enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate and a stuffed pretzel, and did some holiday shopping. I also bought three paperbacks for myself. I finished one during the wait and read 70 pages of a second. Still, it disrupted my plans to frost my sugar cookies tonight. At this rate, I think I'll have to do them on Saturday. But the important thing is that my car is once again safe to drive. I just hope driving tomorrow isn't as bad as they say it will be. I only drive about seven miles to work one way, but in a snowstorm, that's still farther than I want to go.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

My Sweet George

I would be a bad Beatlefan indeed if I let the fifth anniversary of George's death pass without notice. I've been listening to his music this evening, though I didn't get to listen to as much of it as I wanted.

It's probably obvious to those who know me that John is my favorite Beatle. George is my second favorite, however. I like his dry humor and respect his love for nature and spirituality, even if I don't share his philosophy. I listen to his solo music the most of any of the Beatles'. John's music is so emotionally intense that it can be painful to listen to at times, but George's music is more soothing.

I started reading a biography about George on the morning of the day he died, thinking I'd want to read it while he was still alive. I didn't find out about his death until early the next morning. I had a hard time getting out of bed to exercise that morning, but I forced myself to anyway. As I turned on the TV, I heard a familiar song. Since I wasn't fully awake yet, my thoughts went something like this: "Hey, that's Beatles music! 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps....' George.... Oh no!" Then the news anchor confirmed what I'd just guessed.

George's death in some ways is easier to deal with than John's. While George also died too young, the cancer made it seem inevitable. Even someone who writes alternate history like I do would be hard-pressed to create a scenaro in which he wouldn't have taken up smoking; it was just too "cool" at the time. George's death was more peaceful than John's--though the attack he suffered at his home at the end of 2000 couldn't have been good for his health. But George seemed to accept death gracefully, and "Brainwashed" and The Concert for George provide uplifting music for those of us who still miss him. Even so, the world is poorer without his presence.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Visiting Liz

I don't get to see my dear friend Liz too often. She still lives in the town where I grew up, but her work schedule is more of a problem than the distance. She works a lot on the weekends (she's in catering), and her schedule constantly changes. So when I found out she had today off, we had to go see her.

We still had our usual Sunday morning chores to do, so we got there around lunchtime. After showing Liz our wedding album, which she had asked to see, we treated her for lunch at Panera. We also gave her a couple of gifts I'd picked up in London for her--and her share of Cookiefest 2006. She didn't try them while we were there, but hopefully she'll approve them. We talked for a while, looked at some of Liz's pictures, and watched birds from the kitchen. (Side note: the subdivision where I used to live and she still does is fairly wooded, so it attracts a fair amount of birds. We used to feed the birds too, just as her family still does. You can see chickadees, woodpeckers, cardinals, juncos, and finches in the winter. I miss being able to watch the birds in my backyard.) We could only stay for a few hours, since I had to get back home and pick up a prescription before the pharmacy closed. Besides, Eugene needed to continue with Cookiefest 2006. It was still good to see her, though; hopefully we'll get to visit Liz and her family soon.

I've been naughty and haven't posted pictures from this week, but it will have to wait another day or so. I'm a bit tired and plan to go to bed early. At least I did some light editing on Lennon's Line this evening.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Ending Earthlink

Regular readers of this blog may remember the connection problems I had a couple of months ago. Because of that, Eugene and I ended up switching providers; nothing else worked. Today, I cut the final cord and canceled my account with Earthlink. In some ways, it's a shame I had to do that. I've been with them for over ten years, since I first started surfing the Net. My e-mail address has outlasted several computers. But lately I've been deluged with even more spam than usual; hundreds of spam messages flooded my old e-mail address yesterday. So, even though there are still a couple of bugs with the new system, I'm glad that I have a new e-mail address now. If you're not using that one already, my friends, please do so.

Anyway, I just finished my seventh batch of cookies; the only one left is sugar cookies with homemade frosting. Hopefully we can get them sent out (and yes, Russ, you're still on our list) next week. It's not so much that I'm tempted to eat them, but they're taking up a lot of space on our table. What a problem, huh?

Friday, November 24, 2006

Baking with the Beatles

Well, Eugene already described how Thanksgiving was on his blog, so I don't need to go into detail here. He did forget to mention the entertainment: kids (our ring bearer and one of the flower girls) and dogs. We goofed around with the kids before dinner. I even let them take pictures with my camera, though I need to delete a couple before I post them. As for the dogs, Eugene's father's partner stopped by for a while and brought three of her pets. One of them was a very friendly puppy, just the right size to stick into my purse. I didn't take him home with me, though.

As for what I'm thankful for, family and friends, of course, and especially my husband. I'm also grateful to be healthy.

Today I stayed home to bake. I was hoping to bake three different batches of cookies, but I only got two done. I'm not too happy with how the second batch turned out. It was a new recipe. The dough didn't roll out well, I didn't get the yield I was supposed to, and the cookies stuck to the pan so much some of them nearly broke apart. The cookies do taste good, but I don't think I'll make them again. But at least I had some good music in the background; I'm playing a Beatles marathon of their albums in order. Right now I'm up to Revolver. I'll continue baking and Beatling tomorrow.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Early Family Get-Together

We're not having Thanksgiving with my parents this year, just with Eugene's family. It'll be easier for us not to have to drive up to Wisconsin, eat, and then drive back down to eat some more. Still, I'm going to miss my mom's cooking this year. At least I got to see them yesterday. Eugene and I treated both sets of parents, as well as his brothers and my grandmother, to Texas de Brazil. It's an all-you-can-eat Brazilian steakhouse, featuring different varieties of beef, chicken, pork, and lamb, brought to your table on skewers. It does have a good salad bar too, but the meat is the star of the show.

It was good getting the parents together; I don't think they've been together since the wedding. The only bad thing about the event--besides the price--was that I ate so much I had a bad stomach ache later on that evening. (That's why I didn't blog last night.) It kept me up all night, but the pain finally ebbed this morning. (I'm actually glad I was able to go into work so I could start and finish a three-day experiment before the holiday.) I'm too tired tonight to post pictures; perhaps tomorrow.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Reunion with a Friend

Some of my college friends who read this blog may remember my friend Jen. We met our freshman year; we were next door to each other in Liz Waters, and we were both interested in biology majors. Since then, Jen moved to Kentucky; the last time I saw her was at her wedding two years ago. (She was unable to attend mine for a very good reason.) She's currently visiting her parents in Wisconsin, close to the border, so I drove up today to have lunch with her at a quaint little place called the Speakeasy.

My friend is a private person, so I don't want to post too much about her. She's also photo-shy (though she doesn't need to be), so even though I brought my camera along, I didn't get a picture of her. It was still good seeing her again and finding out how her life is going. After lunch, we went shopping briefly. I would have liked to have spent more time with her, but I'd promised to visit my parents before going home. Hopefully it won't be another two years before we see each other again.

Since Eugene and I are staying in tonight, we may start Cookiefest 2006. If you're not familar with that event, Eugene discussed it on his blog. I'm afraid I do have a slight correction to add to his description. Eugene said that we "bake to our heart's content." It's really more like we "bake until the nice men in white coats haul us away from the oven and give us aprons that truss up our arms."

Given that I plan to bake eight different recipes this year instead of six, I expect to get a visit from the white-coated men any day now.

Writing: I have been editing Lennon's Line, though it's been more on the order of line edits. I'm coming up on a section that drew a lot of comments on OWW, so I need to pull them out and go over them again. I still haven't finished that short story I was working on, so I should get back to that. The Muse knows I need something fresh to work on instead of alll Paul, all the time.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

And How Was Your Day?

(cue announcer voice for the following sentence) It's time once again for another Stupid Sandra Moment!

First, I need to provide some background. One of the instruments I work with in the lab is a HPLC, short for High Performance Liquid Chromatography. It allows us to separate, identify, and quantify compounds we're interested in. It does this by flowing a stream of liquid, such as water, a buffer, or an organic liquid, over a column. A column is a thin metal bar with an interior matrix that can be made up of a polymer or some other material, depending on the application. Different materials will be retained by this matrix for different lengths of time, so when they come off, they do so at different times. Other equipment then detects the compounds and registers them as peaks against a baseline. The whole setup takes up a good chunk of a lab bench and costs more than my car. When it works, it works well, but lately we've been having various problems with it.

We purchased a new column recently for a new project. I installed it today. The manufacturer recommends having the solvent running during installation to prevent air from getting into the column, which is a bad thing. This particular column requires a mix of water and acetonitrile, not one of the safest chemicals I've worked with. So as I put the column into place, I held it over the waste carboy we use to temporarily store used solvent before we dispose of it. Meanwhile, every connection of this column to the line was leaking. In attempting to fix that, I got lefty-loosey and righty-tighty mixed up. The column came free and slid down the funnel into the waste carboy.

I freaked a bit. Columns cost hundreds of dollars, and the other chemicals inside the carboy could damage this one. How could I get it out? The carboy opening was too narrow for me to reach inside -- and I wouldn't want to anyway; a mere glove wouldn't be enough protection. I tried fishing out the column with a magnet, but that was too weak to hold it. There was only one thing I could do: empty the carboy into the storage drum and catch the column when it came out.

I donned my lab coat and took the carboy to the warehouse where the drum is kept. As I unlocked the cabinet containing the drum, my boss came by with a gas cylinder. He's always the one empty out the carboy, so he came over and asked what I was doing. I'd hoped I wouldn't have to tell him what had happened, but I had to confess what had happened.

He doubled over in laughter. Then he shooed me back to the lab to take care of it.

Luckily, my boss was able to rescue the column, and we installed it. I'm still testing it, but I think it'll be OK. (Some of our columns are so delicate their matrices wilt if you look at them funny, so I'm glad this one isn't that sensitive.)

Now that I've atoned for my mistake by confessing it on the Internet, I hope the HPLC god will be satisfied and let us get some work done for a change.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Who Needs Words? Everyone!

I saw an article on this morning that made me a little (OK, a lot) miffed. Here's the link:

The premise of the article is that reading is a skill that will soon become obsolete for the majority of workers, who will rely on audio and video cues instead to do their jobs. The futurist author of this article doesn't insist all writing will go the way of the dodo; he acknowledges that "In 2025, tens of millions of Americans continue to enjoy books and magazines as recreational pursuits, and this happy habit will undoubtedly remain part of the landscape for generations to come." (How he reconciles this with the belief that these Americans will only be able to understand 100-word chunks of text is beyond me; perhaps he thinks all fiction will be of the flash (i.e., very short) variety. I'm a novelist by nature, so that would sink my career.) But he thinks only the leaders of America will need the ability to handle abstract thought.

While he includes scientists among the elite, the whole idea of dividing society into literates and illiterates scares me. In essence, the author is saying most people don't need to learn abstract concepts or critical thinking. After all, how can you teach these concepts without words? And if you have masses of people unable to do these things, how can you expect them to innovate? How do you expect them to elect capable readers and make sound policies about abstract concepts? Are we supposed to regress to the ancient style of Chinese government, relying on scholars who pass certain exams to be our governors? That doesn't sound good for democracy to me. A stable democracy requires middle-class, reasonably educated voters, not worker drones. We all need critical thinking skills, no matter what we do for a living.

Reading. It's not just a skill; it's a precious privilige. Exercise your rights early and often, and do your part to make sure the next generation appreciates it.

Thank you for reading this. Hopefully I'll have a lighter topic for my next blog entry.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Still Stunned

I didn't think I would have anything interesting to discuss tonight, but then I checked my e-mail.

I may have mentioned before on this blog that I'm a member of Broad Universe, an organization devoted to promoting women in science fiction, fantasy, and horror. I'm on their mailing list and received a digest of messages tonight. The main topic of discussion was sexual harassment in SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America, the professional organization for writers in this genre) and at conventions. I'm not sure how much I should share (and I don't know the names of the men involved), but one of the incidents mentioned by a woman on the list was about going to an awards ceremony and being slapped in the face by a well-known judge moments before receiving an award. Another woman mentioned not having her science fiction writing credits recognized and being excluded from panels while men wondered why they'd been assigned to the same panels.

I don't have enough background on these situations to make judgements about them. Nonetheless, I feel I should say something about them, if only to point out how unprofessional and unacceptable this behavior is, no matter in what field it occurs. I guess I'm all the more stunned by it because I attend WisCon, a feminist convention with a welcoming atmosphere, every year. Perhaps I take such feminism for granted. The woman who got slapped described how stunned she felt immediately afterwards, too stunned to react. Someone else mentioned how women are conditioned to automatically think they're somehow to blame for such treatment. Again, this is another reaction that makes it difficult for women to stand up for themselves in the heat of the moment. One woman did describe how she got someone to leave her alone, but it was a different type of situation.

I studied martial arts for a couple of years in high school and freshman year of college and reach the rank of green stripe, halfway to black belt. Although I no longer practice kicks and thrusts regularly, I like to think I still have the reflexes to defend myself in a similar situation. Given that I'm a short woman who looks younger than she is, it wouldn't surprise me if something like this did happen at some point in my life, either at a SF convention or elsewhere. Hopefully, if I remind myself that sexual harrassment still exists, I'll be more prepared to recognize it and defend myself if it ever happens to me. And hopefully this blog will make others more aware too. We shouldn't have to deal with this behavior in an era when a woman is two heartbeats away from the presidency, but some behaviors persist in the human population for much longer than they should.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Adventures in Voting

Well, it's that time of year we all look forward to: the final day we can be harassed by negative ads and prerecorded political messages. Yes, it's Election Day, the day I get to tell government what to do.

Normally I vote before work, but I had to go afterwards today because I slept in. I've voted here before, so I thought I remembered where to go. Not quite. My polling place is a church--ironic, given that we're supposed to have separation between church and state--but there are two churches used as polling places on the same street, not too far apart. You guessed it: I went to the wrong one. (In my defense, my old voter registration card had the address of my polling place on it, so I didn't think I needed to bring any other voting information with me.) I realized that when I got there--the parking lot wasn't familiar--but I went in anyway to get directions to the right place.

Once there, it took me about twenty minutes to vote. Much of that time was spent waiting for a cardboard booth to become available. I'm not going to reveal how I voted, but it should be interesting if all of my choices won. I doubt that they will, but at least I had my say. The suffragettes would be proud of me.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Happy Blog Anniversary to Me!

Now, where's my cake? Can't have a special occasion without cake. ;)

Well, one year ago I started a blog to comment on another friend's blog. I've found it a good way to keep in touch with my friends and let them know what Eugene and I are up to. It makes me feel closer to friends in other states. Sometimes it's been useful to me to look back at a particular event. Sometimes it seems as if I spend more time in Mundania on this blog than talking about SpecFic, however. I think a lot of the writers on OWW use LiveJournal, but I don't want to start a separate blog.

I haven't done any writing today, though I did crochet while Eugene called tech support about our wireless router. It's finally working now; I think the problem had something to do with the IP address. I'm still not sure if it's going to work well for me, as I seem to be having trouble loading some sites. I didn't think DSL stood for Darn Slow Loading.

Anyway, that's enough for tonight--Tetris is calling.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Party Weekend

It was a happening weekend for us, which is why I didn't post for a while. Yesterday we went to a housewarming party. We met the couple at our tango lessons earlier this year; I also know the woman through a local forum we belong to. They have a very nice condo. There were a lot of people at the party, including our former tango instructors and some other people from the forum. We spent most of our time talking to them. Eugene took a lot of pictures, so I shared them with the forum. I'm not sure if he's going to post the link on his own blog.

Today we had a party for my grandmother, who turned 92 on Friday. She lived on her own until September, when health issues forced her to move into my parents' house. At least some of her health issues seem to be improving now that my mother's caring for her. But to make it easier on my mother, we had a brunch at a restaurant in Rockford. Also there were my brother and his girlfriend, my aunt and uncle, and my cousin and his girlfriend. After brunch, we all drove up to my parents' house and visited for a while. Heidi, my parents' poodle, went crazy with all the extra people giving her attention. We brought along a huge cake from the same bakery that made our wedding cake; it was good, but it wasn't as rich as our wedding cake. At least we made it home without bringing leftovers home. I took pictures, as did Eugene, but I'm feeling too lazy to post them tonight. Maybe tomorrow; it's my blog anniversary, so of course I'll have to post something to mark the occasion.

Writing: I did write a little bit more of that short story I started last week, but I lost the momentum. I need to reread what I have so far and figure out where I want to go next. At least I did more editing on Lennon's Line yesterday; I even finished a chapter. Not sure yet if I want to write tonight; I may just go to bed early, after a round or two of Tetris.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

At Last, Some Real Writing!

It's easy to come up with ideas but much harder to work them up into full-fledged stories. Most of the ideas I've mentioned here have been shelved, at least for the time being, because they don't grab me hard enough to make me write them out. But today an idea came visiting at work, an idea that finally seemed to encapsulate something I've wanted to write about for a long time. So this evening I actually wrote over three hundred words on it. It feels like I've done so little writing or editing recently that even that small amount feels like something.

I don't want to say too much here before I finish the story, in case I derail my momentum. But I will say I'm experimenting with this one. It should be interesting to see what the OWWers will think of it.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Out of the Closet...

Today was an extra hour long, thanks to the end of Daylight Savings Time, and we had a sunny Sunday. We'd been talking about going to the Chicago Botantic Gardens. So, what do we do?

We clean out the closet in the office.

It turned out that neither of us was really insistent on going to the garden--I wasn't in the mood for a long drive today. So Eugene decided to tackle the closet, since we'd been talking about it for a while. I have to admit he did most of the work moving things in and out. We were able to get rid of some old papers, and I undid a sweater I started to crochet several years ago but never finished. Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of Eugene modeling his blue wig afterwards. But we did have fun finding some blasts from the past:

* a picture of my father in his service uniform (I called my dad and asked if he still had it, but he laughed and said no)

* trophies from high school forensics

* my school records, going as far back as kindergarten

* postcards, greeting cards, and letters. I even found a couple from Russ.

* Star Trek fan magazines

* Beatles calendars and other collectibles

We're going to store some of things at Eugene's parents' house until we get our own place. Hopefully then we can move other things into the office closet to make the office less of a landmine.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Slacking Off and "Shunning"

That's pretty much what I've been doing the last few days, at least in regards to blogging and writing. The last few days have been routine, nothing worth recording for posterity. Even today wasn't exciting: I did my chores around the apartment, and after dinner, Eugene and I went shopping. He bought some clothes at Marshalls while I bought conditioner and makeup at Ulta next door. At least we had ice cream at Ben and Jerry's afterward.

I've been trying to think of some new story ideas to inspire the muse again. (As much as I love the Lennon's Line and Season Lord stories, they've been in my brain for years. I feel the need for fresh meat.) One idea I've been contemplating has to do with shunning. If celebrities value fame so strongly, I think it would be an appropriate punishment to take that away from them. (And yes, I've been listening to Gilbert and Sullivan's "A More Humane Mikado" recently, but this idea was inspired by all the drama around Paul McCartney's divorce. Enough said.) The question is how could you enforce shunning in a technologically advanced society like ours? For example, even though Lennon's murderer is thought to have acted for fame, which is why Yoko requested that his name not be used, it's just as easy to find information about him as it is to find a newspaper article or encyclopedia entry that doesn't use his name. I'd think there would have to be some sort of SFnal element to make this work, such as a computer virus designed to eliminate all traces of a particular name or some spell cast over the collective public to make them forget the celebrity. But could you get an entire society to agree to something like this, and what effect would this have on the victim and anyone associated with the victim? (I picture this story as not being about the victim, but someone affiliated with him or her--say, a genealogist trying to trace his or her ancestry. I must be hanging around my husband too much. ;) ) There's still a lot to think about, but at least it helps me to put some of this down in text instead of carrying it all in my head.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

And There Was Great Rejoicing...

For Sandra has regained the use of the Internet at home.

Actually, it turned out to be a quick fix--I just used the CD that came with our new modem to install the new DSL on my laptop. And if you're wondering why I didn't do this before, it's because it's a backup CD; Eugene was able to get the new DSL working on his computer without even opening the envelope. I figured it was worth trying the CD before calling Tech Support; I had enough of that with Earthlink.

I'm still not home free; I'm connected via cable, not through the wireless router. So this means I still can't print. That's the next step to tackle, but I won't do it right now. Maybe later tonight if I'm ambitious, or even tomorrow if I'm not.

At least I was finally able to upload the pictures from the Thanksgiving dinner. Here's the link (they're at the top):

Yes, this is all I took, but Eugene has lots more. I'll remind him tonight about them. We'll see if he wants to upload them to his blog or to a site like photobucket.

More later....

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Thanksgiving Reunion

Every year in October or early November, our college friend Sara (and her friend Eileen) plan a get-together dinner for the group. We look forward to it for a long time, especially since Eugene and I only get up to Madison a couple of times a year. So we drove up last night for the dinner tonight.

As much as I love visiting Madison, even I have to admit this was a bad day to visit. It rained the entire day, and it was so cold I used a blanket in the car. (What can I say; I'm a thermophile.) Still, Eugene and I went to State Street so I could stop at one of my favorite stores, the Soap Opera. They carry all kinds of scented lotions and other toiletries, and although the staff is friendly and helpful, they aren't as pushy as some chain stores I could mention. We also stopped at WinterSilks and walked around the Farmers' Market, though we didn't get anything since we didn't have a cooler. Then we hung out at the mall and the bookstore for a while until it was time. The dinner this year was at a room in the local humane society. We got to see some of the cats, but despite our predictions, kittens were not given out as favors.

It was great seeing our college friends again and meeting some new people. Unfortunately, we were unable to have a Blog Summit, as Russ was stuck at work the whole day and couldn't drive down. Needless to say, he was both missed and dissed. ;) (Just kidding, Russ.) There was a lot of good food, including a brined turkey, candied yams, macroni and cheese, Eugene's famous apple cranberry pie, and my own homemade rolls. Toddlers provided the after-dinner entertainment by running around, banging on things, and attempting to escape. I got a few photos before the batteries in my camera died, but Eugene got lots more. I'm sure he'll post them when we're home. I'm in the middle of uploading mine to Photobucket; they should be done soon.

We only had the room until 8:00, but another part of this tradition is having breakfast together the morning after at a local restaurant. Hopefully I can find fresh batteries and take more pictures then.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Getting Closer...

We're making progress with our Internot problem. Today we set up the new connection with a different ISP. It works when it's hooked up to a single computer, but we're having problems with the wireless router. I wonder if something got messed up with it while we were trying to fix our connection problem before. Maybe our IT provider at work has some ideas. But at least now I can get online from Eugene's computer.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Still Here!

No, I haven't given up blogging, but it's kind of hard to do without an Internet connection. Friday will make two weeks without a Net. At this rate, we may switch Internet providers, since our current ones can't help us figure out what's wrong. Even the new modem we bought on Sunday isn't helping.

We did do some interesting things this weekend. Saturday night we went to the local improv comedy club at the mall. Eugene got to brush off his "deboning ice cream" suggestion from undergrad. They did it, but it took a while for the guy to figure it out. On Sunday, we got together with a friend and visited the arboretumn. Although there's been some color development where we are, there wasn't much in the arboretumn. It was still nice to walk around and enjoy the weather.

I haven't done much writing or editing lately, and I need to get back into it. Well, I have done some editing on Lennon's Line, but it's more nit-picking than anything else. I need to pull out my OWW crits and go over them again.

That's it for now. Hopefully one of these years I'll be back online and able to post more regularly.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Update on Us

First of all, our Internet at home is still down. We originally thought it was due to a "scheduled" interruption of service (which for some odd reason we were never informed of--I only found out about it on our provider's website), but even after that was supposedly fixed, we still couldn't get on. After two calls to tech support, along with the prerequsite transfers and frustration, we have a new modem on the way. Hopefully that will fix the Net.

What you missed: Saturday night we got together with some friends from a local forum to play games. Although there were a bunch of board games available (such as Would You Rather? and Balderdash), the most popular games were Spoons--like Musical Chairs--and Celebrity, which I skipped because I really do know more about quantum mechanics than I do about celebrities. Yes, like Wierd Al, I too am White and Nerdy. But we had a good time getting together with people and getting to know them better. Eugene brought his famous flourless chocolate cake, and it got rave reviews.

Sunday afternoon we drove out to Woodstock to pick apples. It was very busy when we got there--probably because the Bears game was in the evening. Some of the varieties weren't ready yet, and one that we wanted to pick had been pretty much harvested. Luckily, my favorite, Golden Delicious, was available, and there were a couple more types that we picked too. In all, we picked nearly three bags (or pecks) of apples. It's time for Eugene to make one of his other famous desserts, the apple-cranberry pie.

Monday night was a flashback to The Flood. I think we got close to three inches of rain. As if it wasn't strange enough to have no Internet, we also lost power around 9:00 p.m. We lit some candles, cuddled on the couch...and called Russ. Hey, we may still be newlyweds, but we have to take a break occasionally!

Last night and tonight were taken up with straightening out our Internot problem. Tonight we also checked out a local fitness center we're thinking of joining, then headed to the library, where I'm now blogging.

I've been slacking off with regard to writing or editing, but I did finish a couple of books. Even better, I received the contract for the anthology. It will be available in both e-book and paper form, though the e-book will be ready much sooner. But it's time to get some discipline again and get back to the keyboard, even if I hate editing. It's just got to be done.

I'm still uploading pictures from the weekend, but I'll post a link when they're done.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Technical Difficulties

Eugene and I may not be able to blog for a couple of days, as our Internet connection at home isn't working. The problems started last night around 6:30. I kept getting error messages while surfing the net, and then they wouldn't load even after I refreshed the page. I can't get e-mail either. Event my Internet provider's diagnostic webpage won't load, and usually I can at least work with that. Right now I'm at our local Barnes and Noble using their network. I was able to download my e-mail; I was afraid that if the problem was with our provider, I wouldn't be able to get that. I'll have to write down the technical support number before I leave.

We have several things going on this weekend worth mentioning. Tonight we're going to a games get-together hosted by a couple I met through a local forum. Tomorrow we may pick apples in the morning and go to a kids' birthday party (one of them was either our ring or coin bearer--I can't remember at the moment). When I have a chance, I'll post how they went.

I've been too lazy to edit Lennon's Line the last couple of nights. I'm at the sick-of-looking-at-it stage, but if I force myself to edit it for submission, will I be able to do a good job of it? And if I take a break from LL, what do I work on instead? I have several new projects in mind, but they're still in the pre-writing stage. Something to think about....

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Science Fiction vs. Horror: Definitions

This is a response to Russ's comment on the previous post. I originally was going to respond with another comment, but it wound up being quite long. Besides, the URLs weren't linked, and I used the wrong form of "its." I can't have typos like that in my blog.

Here's Russ's comment:

Now. Sandra, I'm going to take issue with your strict delineation between sci fi and horror. I don't think they can be so easily separated. Sci fi is about the unknown, about discovery, about mystery. These can be wonderous and enlightening, or they can be terrifying. Think E.T. vs. Alien. Which makes sense, by the way, because horror is about the unknown too - something lurking out of sight, a mysterious hidden threat - that sort of thing. The genres cover the same themes, so it makes sense that the delineation between the two frequently blurs.

And here's my response:

Well, yes and no, Russ. Science fiction can evoke a sense of wonder, but that's not necessarily its primary job. It's really more about the relationship between humanity and science/technology. Without the speculative scientific element, the story would fall apart. Here's what Robert Heinlein has to say: "A handy short definition of almost all science fiction might read: realistic speculation about possible future events, based solidly on adequate knowledge of the real world, past and present, and on a thorough understanding of the nature and significance of the scientific method. To make this definition cover all science fiction (instead of "almost all") it is necessary only to strike out the word 'future.'" (See more definitions here:

As for horror, this is directly from the Horror Writers Association website:

...horror can deal with the mundane or the supernatural, with the fantastic or the normal. It doesn't have to be full of ghosts, ghouls, and things to go bump in the night. Its only true requirement is that it elicit an emotional reaction that includes some aspect of fear or dread. ...By this definition, the best selling book of all time, the Bible, could easily be labeled horror, for where else can you find fallen angels, demonic possessions, and an apocalypse absolutely terrifying in its majesty all in one volume?

So, yes, there can be overlap, but the two genres are trying to do two different things.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Mayfly and Other Musings

I don't read much short fiction these days. I used to subscribe to the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, but I stopped to have more time for novels (and, to be honest, the stories didn't meet my needs). I still subscribe to Realms of Fantasy, though, and I try to read the online zine Strange Horizons every week. Sometimes the stories don't meet my needs either, but today I read a story called "Mayfly" that really caught my attention. Here's the link:

If you're interested, go ahead and read it before returning to this blog. I'm going to assume most of you won't read it, but I'm going to discuss it anyway, ending and all. You have been warned.

This story is about a woman from a family of human "mayflies"--the women live a full lifespan in about a week. (I don't think there are any men in the family, though the women do need a man to get pregnant--three to five days after their own births.) To compensate, they are born with memories from previous generations and seem to heal quickly. The story really grabbed me with a hooky opening and lines (as the latest May debates whether or not to consume her mother's dust--a custom in this family) like, "But my mother is not strawberry-flavored, so I opt for the shake." Ordinary activities take on new poignancy as May mails postcards, debates what to read, and goes grocery shopping, all done for the next generation. Although May seems isolated from most people, she still maintains connections with the rest of her far-flung family through the postcards. Although it's been a long time since I analyzed anything for an English class, the theme of this story, IMO, is family. Perhaps it makes a couple of points about using one's time wisely, as May first reads a "trashy" novel and then finishes Anna Karenia, a book started generations before her.

There were a couple of things about this story that didn't work for me. May's family is described as being very rich; she lives off of a trust fund. (I doubt her lifecycle would permit her to hold down a normal job.) Yet she rents an apartment instead of buying a house or condo. Perhaps it would take too many generations to complete that project; even paying a bill uses up much of May's precious time. I was also disappointed by the ending. Although it completed a cycle (from birth to birth), I wanted to hear the rest of what happens to this May. I don't know if the author (Heather Lindsley) insteads to write another story about the Mays, but if she does, I'd like to read it. I find myself fascinated by the world, so much like our own but seen through an unusual set of eyes.

I should finish with a plug for this magzine, since it subsists solely on donations. This is a pro magazine for this genre, so the authors and artists get paid. (I think the editors donate their time.) If you like this story, other stories, or the columns, please consider donating to them. There's a link to PayPal on the main page.

Turning to Locus, I see that one of my crit partners on OWW was supposed to have his first book come out this month. I didn't see it when I was at Barnes and Noble last week, but maybe I checked the wrong section. I thought it would be in Young Adult instead of Science Fiction and Fantasy; I'll have to look again. Even though it's in hardcover, I'll buy it to support him. It's called Reiffen's Choice by S.C. Butler. It's a strong story with some great description and a couple of unexpected twists; I recommend checking it out.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Wine, Women, and (Beatle)Song

This weekend was the Oktoberfest at our local winery, Lynnfred Winery, in Roselle. We weren't able to go last year since we were still away on our honeymoon, so this year we definitely wanted to attend. We arranged to meet with some friends of ours -- a fellow Beatles fan and her husband--there. Although we had some heavy rain in the afternoon, we were fortunate in that the rain stopped and held off for the evening.

I brought my camera but didn't take any pictures, so I'll have to describe the setting. The winery is in a large house covered with vines, with a covered porch next to the tasting room and a balcony overhead for the bed-and-breakfast suites. A tent covered the cobblestone parking lot for the occasion, with a smaller tent set up for the German band playing polkas at one end of the lot. Under the tent were lots of tables and the food and beverages; additional tables were set up outside. Behind the stand was a pig on a spit (I meant to take a picture of it, sorry.) Lots of people of all ages--even kids--stood or sat at tables or passed back and forth with bottles of wine.

After buying tickets for the food and drinks, we bought a bottle of white wine to share. I had a pulled pork sandwich and sweet corn, and Eugene bought a pork dinner with sauerkraut and potato salad. (I'm a bad German; I don't like sauerkraut.) The four of us sat at one of the tables, talking, eating, and drinking. Eventually we bought a second bottle of wine, this one a mixture of red wine, port, and spices. It was supposed to be warm, but they don't warm up the bottles, just the glasses. I still found it pretty potable for a red. While we told our friends about our trip to England and listened to my friend's husband tell us about his recent vacation in Ireland with his family, darkness fell. On the other side of the fest, children participated in a grape stomping contest; we heard the MC announce it but didn't watch. Our friends could only stay for a couple of hours, but it was great to see them. Hopefully we'll be able to get together with them soon.

Today was just a chore day for us; we did laundry and made a Sam's Club run for meat. The morning started off wet and overcast, but it cleared up nicely in the afternoon, after we'd already decided to postpone apple picking for next weekend. Hopefully the weather will still be nice then. I also uploaded over 360 photos from our vacation to Snapfish so we can start creating a photo book for our coffee table. I'd post the link, but you'd have to register with the site to see the pictures.

Writing: I finally finished my epic game last night, so I have no excuse to not work on Lennon's Line. I did some edits on it this afternoon, just trimming it down a bit. Time to pull out my OWW crits and start incorporating them too. I'd like to finish this project by the end of the year and start submitting it to agents, so it's time to kick things up a notch.

I feel as if I need to write in addition to editing, but I'm still a little uncertain as to what I want to work on. Catalyst in the Crucible, the sequel to Lennon's Line, is calling me, but I need to look at the plot and figure out how to simplify it. The first draft is over 200,000 words and needs some restructuring.

Heather e-mailed me this evening and said she wanted to read about the places I visited in England in LL. I hadn't planned to have Jo spend much time in London, but now that I've made the trip for myself, I realize I need to mention the jet lag from the trip. Maybe Jo can lay over in London for a day or two before taking the train up to Liverpool. I'm not working on that section at the moment, but I can think about it in the meantime.

Well, Eugene told me he blogged, so I have to check on it and see what he said about Oktoberfest.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Look Who's Blogging...

Today, Eugene broke down and joined the Blog Collective:

Picture If You Will...

It's still in the beginning stages. I'll add a link on the sidebar later on.

In other news: Sara might appreciate that yesterday I got to do some IT work in the lab, so to speak. I had to install program updates on one of the computers used to run a lab instrument. Another computer on a different system gave me much worse problems: as I was in the middle of setting something up, I started getting line error messages when I tried to run things. Rebooting the system didn't help. I decided to try reinstalling the program, thinking that some code had been corrupted. The first part of the reinstall was on a CD, and that part went smoothly. But for some unfathomable reason, a second, "optional" part of the program was on a floppy disk. That's right, an archaic floppy disk, which for some strange reason wouldn't work on the computer in question but could be read on another computer's floppy drive. I tried copying the files to a CD to use on the first computer, but the computer wouldn't accept the files unless they're on the original disk. So on Monday our tech guy will come out and swap drives to see if that fixes anything. If not, I have to keep calling the company we purchased the equipment from to see if we can get another copy of the disk from them. Why can't I just get to run experiments?

Writing: I've been a bad girl and been goofing off with a game I downloaded. It's one of those epic fantasy quests, and I still have several quests to finish before I get to face the Ultimate Bad Guy. Someone was talking on the OWW mailing list about cliches to avoid in writing; this game uses several of them. I suppose people not familiar with the genre still enjoy the cliches.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

One Year and Ten Days Later...

It's been quite an experience these last 375 days, learning to live with my sweetheart, sharing the ups, downs, and lulls of life. But at long last, we've earned our sweet reward....

our anniversary cake.
Instead of having to save the top layer of our cake in the freezer for a year, we received a fresh cake from our baker. And what a cake: yellow cake with chocolate mousse and raspberry fillings frosted with dark chocolate ganache. No wonder I've been counting down to our anniversary all year. But ironically, since we stuffed ourselves on sushi and crab legs earlier tonight, eating our delicious cake was quite a challenge. We did successfully feed each other bites of cake, but although it was good, it was almost too rich to eat. We might need some help finishing the rest of the cake. Anyone want to stop on by?

Writing: While reading Scientific American this morning, I came across an article about mass extinctions caused by anaerobic bacteria rising from the depths of the oceans during global warming and emitting hydrogen sulfide, a noxious gas. Sounds like fiction, doesn't it? Well, according to the article, it's not; the bacteria may have caused mass extinctions prior to the great dinosaur-killing asteroid. Still sounds like something I could work into a story; I got an idea for the writing challenge before I'd finished reading the article.But it may not quite fit the first line, and I'm still not how to work it into a personal challenge. You're supposed to use the challenge to do something you've never done before, and I'm envisioning this as a science fiction short story told in the third person. I've already used all of those elements before, so maybe there's something else I can play with in this story. Of course, since I prefer novels, a short story might be enough of a challenge for me.

I've been sloughing off on both critting and my own work; I hope my brain recovers from my vacation sometime soon.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Murphy Visits

I didn't blog yesterday because it was one of those days where everything went wrong, and I don't like making people listen to my complaints. Most of the snafus were relatively minor and cleared up today. A couple of them were more of a hassle; I had a flat tire, which I got fixed today at Sears. It was a leaky valve; it only cost $20 to repair, but the service guy didn't tell anyone when he was finished, so I had to wait longer than necessary. Eugene arrived home before I did, and I normally get home a couple of hours before he does. Another glitch that I need to figure out is what to do about my dentist now that my company is changing insurance plans and she's no longer in their network. I talked with our HR person today about it, and it looks as if it may not be much of an issue. There is one major problem (I don't think I should go into detail about it here) that I still have to try and resolve, even though I can't prove what happened. It won't be the end of the world if I can't get it to work out, but I won't be happy about it either.

Speaking of the end of the world, the OWW's writing challenge for October was posted to the mailing list today. The challenge is to write a story using this as the first line:

"The world ended yesterday, and I want to know why."

From one angle, this intrigues me: it is a strong hook. On the other hand, the first things that comes to mind feel a bit cliched to me. I think of mysteries (which I've never written, so that would be a good challenge) and of the deaths of parallel universes. For a short story, I'd rather focus on something smaller, like the death of one person's world. But I don't have a clear direction for that either yet. It would be good for me to try this challenge so my writing doesn't stagnate. The question is whether I can work this up into a story before October 2007. I wish the Challenge Dictator for OWW would give us more lead time for these challenges, as it takes me a long time to incubate a plot before I'm ready to start writing.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Our Vacation: Pictures

I've spent most of the afternoon uploading some of my photos to Photobucket. I've heard you can view pictures there without having to register, so I thought it would be the best way to share our photos. (Actually, I don't even have Eugene's photos yet; he has to burn them onto a CD so I can copy them to my computer.) Here's the link:

Please let me know if this works or not.

Our Vacation: The End

This part isn't as exciting as what came before, I'm afraid.

Our flight back to the U.S. was on Thursday. Right after breakfast, we took the Underground from the stop closest to our hotel to Heathrow; it took an hour, but at least we didn't have to transfer. We got there about four hours before our flight, and while we had to wait for a while after check-in to learn where our gate was, we needed the time to get through all the layers of security at Heathrow. Even after going through the metal dectectors, we still had to open our carryon luggage for inspection at the gate and submit to a pat-down. I have to admit the extra precautions were reassuring, though.

Since we weren't trying to sleep on the flight back, I watched X-Men: The Last Stand (OK, but I wasn't happy about the differences from the comics) and played trivia head-to-head against Eugene. I'd say we both did well. Clearing customs was much easier here than back in London, especially since we didn't have to wait as long.

Our flight back to Chicago wasn't until Saturday afternoon, so we spent the time with Eugene's aunt and uncle. We'd hoped to meet with some people, including the Dear NYer, but our plans fell through. It rained buckets on Friday, so we didn't feel like going out into New York. It was nice to relax and start catching up on more than just e-mail.

The airport Saturday was very crowded; Eugene speculated the rain on Friday had canceled some flights. There was some confusion about which gate we were supposed to use, but in the end, we made it back on time. We didn't get home until about 10:00 last night.

So, that's about it. London was very expensive, but we had a great time and would love to go back. There's so much there we didn't get to see, and we'd like to make some day trips to Bath, Stratford-upon-Avon, Stonehenge...and, of course, Liverpool.

I'm still uploading my pictures to Photobucket, and Eugene needs to transfer his photos to CD so I can upload them via my computer. I'll post a link when I'm done; hopefully this site will let people see the pictures without having to register first.

Our Vacation: Days Seven and Eight

Day Seven was Tuesday, and this was the last day our travelcards and passes would be valid. (Next time we go, we'll have to get a seven-day pass.) To make the most of them, we decided to visit Kew Gardens. First we ran a couple errands at the bank and post office, then we took the Underground to Kew Gardens, which was close to the outskirts of London. Once there, the slogan "Mind the Gap" quickly became "Mind the Crap" -- the crap from the waterfowl, that is. Some of the birds were kinds we weren't familar with, so we took pictures of them.

Kew Gardens is huge, so we barely scratched the surface. We toured three of the greenhouses, but we didn't go inside the palace or the pagoda. We examined one of the oldest trees in the garden, watched black sheep graze, and strolled through a Japanese garden. And, of course, we took pictures of Oscar and stopped to smell the roses. We encountered some light rain at one point, but for the most part--indeed, for the whole trip--the weather was pretty good.

We spent most of the day in the gardens, but we left mid-afternoon to have a proper English tea. The teahouse we found was a bakery/cottage; I'm not sure if the building itself was from King Henry VIII's time, but one of their receipes was. The inside was cozy; it felt like someone's living room with the decor and the fireplace. I didn't take a picture inside because it seemed too "touristy," but I did take one of the outside.

The tea consisted of a pot of tea (we chose peppermint), along with four scones, clotted cream, and jam. As if that wasn't enough, we also were able to pick two additional pastries after we finished the scones. It hit the spot; I wouldn't mind importing this custom back to the States. I don't think my waistline would appreciate eating like that every day, though!

After tea, we rode back to Oxford Street and looked for gifts. Nothing caught our eyes, but we did find an Internet place where we could clear our spam. Afterwards, we had dinner at an Italian place. We had a two-course meal of salad and pizza; the individual pizzas were at least 9 inches across and too much for us to finish, especially since we needed to leave room for dessert.

Wednesday, September 13, was the last day we had for going around. (Hard to believe our vacation flew by so quickly.) We started the day at the British Museum. The highlight here, IMO, was the Rosetta Stone, which was one of the first exhibits we saw. There were also lots of Egyptian and Roman artifacts. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera, but Eugene took plenty of pictures.

We left in the early afternoon. I'd had my eye on a Scottish shop with cashmere sweaters, so we stopped there. Eugene finally found some presents for his family, and I picked up a scarf for my mother and a couple of things for myself. Afterwards, we had tea again at a nearby hotel. This tea was even grander than the one we'd had yesterday. In addition to tea and scones, we also had sandwiches and chocolate cake. When we were done, we strolled around for a while, making it down to the Courts of Justice. Close by was the Knights of Templar church, and we strolled around their grounds until we found it. We couldn't go inside as there was work being done on it. We arrived too late to get tea directly from the Twinnings store, so when my coworker goes to England next month, I'll have to ask him to buy me some breakfast tea.

Our last dinner in England was at the same restaurant we'd had our first lunch at. This time, instead of the regular fish'n'chips, I had trout. Then, wishing we could stay longer, it was time to pack and prepare for the trip back.

Our Vacation: Day Six

This brings me up to September 11th, and yes, it was remembered over in England too.

We started the day at Westminister Abbey. Again, we weren't allowed to take photographs inside. Picture if you can tombs and monuments spanning hundreds of years all packed together. Some of the tombs had medieval effigies laying supine with their hands folded together; others looked to be 17th or 18th century to me, with the scupltures reclining on their sides. We saw, among other things, the coronation chair that's been used for hundreds of years; it has a space for the Stone of Scone from Scotland (which will let the Brits borrow it for the next coronation) and the tomb of Queens Mary and Elizabeth. One corner is dedicated to servicemen from WWII; some of the damage from that time was left there delibrately. Poets and scientists are honored there as well. I lit a votive to remember the victims of 9/11.

After going through the abbey and another church, we returned back to the hotel to drop off our purchases and had lunch at a pub (more fish'n'chips, but we had wine, not beer). Then we visited the British Library. I don't think I can list all of the bibliotreasures on display here: an ancient copy of the Diamond Sutra, Qurans, lavishly illustrated bibles (and a copy of the Gutenberg Bible), two copies of the Manga Carta, and a Shakespeare First Folio. More "modern" works were also there, including books by Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, and Kipling. There were musical scores, naval logbooks, and stamps from WWII. But of course my favorite part was the Beatles display of handwritten lyrics. It was pretty thrilling to listen to "Strawberry Fields Forever" while gazing at John's writing.

After I tore myself away from the library, Eugene and I "minded the gap" again and took the Underground to a stop close to the recreation of Shakespeare's Globe. The original theater burned down in the 17th century but was recently rebuilt. (I took pictures of the inside, but I'm still uploading them as I type.) The good news was that we were going to see Shakespeare's A Comedy of Errors at the Globe; the bad news, we had to stand. Before the show, we had dinner at a nearby Greek restaurant. I don't remember the Greek word for the meal we had, but it was like a Spanish tapas meal, with us sharing several appetizers. We had grilled octopus, flatbread, sweet dolmas, and mini spinach pies. Then we queued up for the theater. We were very close to the stage, so close we could touch it. Although it was an open-air theater, the night was pleasant and clear. Despite our sore feet, we enjoyed watching the play and being so close to the stage; it made the action more intimate. Afterwards, though, we weren't up for much more than going back to the hotel for some rest.

Our Vacation: Days Four and Five

Continuing our story...

The morning of Day Four (Saturday, September 9), we unpacked, discovered that the hotel didn't provide washcloths, and had breakfast at the hotel. Breakfast was served buffet style, and the items were pretty much the same every day: cheese, fruit, ham slices, soft-boiled or poached eggs, stewed tomatoes, rolls, butter and preserves, and baked beans (which we both avoided). They also had cereal, which became my staple. (I never felt curious enough to try the English Wheatabix, however.) And of course there was juice and tea; I particularly liked a green tea flavored with orange and lotus.

After breakfast, we set off to collect some LondonPasses (prepaid admission to some of the major attractions) and Underground (subway) passes we'd bought as part of our vacation package. We had to get them from a visitor center near Picadilly Circus, and since our hop-on, hop-off bus pass was still valid, we decided to take the bus there. But as we passed St. Paul's, Eugene said to me, "Let's get off here." So we did. (Later on, we found out that our LondonPass included admission to St. Paul's, but live and learn.)

We weren't allowed to take pictures inside of the cathedral (this one is of a statue outside), and I don't think even my writerly descriptive powers are up to the challenge. There are many monuments and tombs inside dedicated to military soldiers; there's even a section set off to remember American soldiers who protected England during WWII. The stained glass windows there have symbols for every state in the U.S. My favorite part was the dome and its amazing decorations; I think some of them were of the writers of the Gospels. After walking around the ground floor, we ascended many shallow steps to the dome. The first level was the Whispering Gallery, so of course I walked halfway around and tried it out. Eugene said he could hear me, but I couldn't hear him. Who said I could listen anyway? ;) We then climbed to the next level, the Stone Level, which was open to the outside. We took a few pictures, then climbed more narrow, twisting steps to the top level, the Gold Level. I freely admit I don't like heights, especially when they're open like this level was, and the stairs made me nervous. How the Fire Watch dealt with those narrow passageways in the dark during the Blitz of WWII is beyond me. Nevertheless, by focusing on one flight at the time, I made it up to the Gold Level and took more pictures. We then descended to the crypt to look at more tombs, including the Duke of Wellington's and Sir Christopher Wren's, which was in a side chapel.

We left St. Paul's around noon and hopped back on the bus, retracing most of the route we'd traveled the day before. Unfortunately, we misunderstood the driver and didn't transfer when we were supposed to. Consequently, we wound up taking the long route to Picadilly Circus--not good when you're hungry and worried that the center will close before you arrive. But it didn't, and not only did we pick up our passes, but we were also able to check e-mail (though it was more expensive than other Internet places we found, and I wasted two pounds on a computer that wasn't working properly). We ate lunch at a sandwich-salad bar type of place and took some pictures at Picadilly Circus, then wandered down to the National Gallery, passing by a nice street painting. There was only about an hour and a half before closing, so we had to focus on seeing the highlights and dashing from room to room. We still had time for the gift shop at the end, though. We took more pictures at Trafalghar (sp?) Square of the statues and fountain. I also fed piegons while Eugene took pictures of them using me as a perch. (One of them sat on his hand.) We then walked down Oxford Street (with very expensive shopping and lots of crowds) back to our hotel. After dropping off some things, we had dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant with live piano music while planning the next day's trips.

The next day (September 10, our anniversary!), we started by going to the Tower of London using the Underground. Although some of the stations were shut down for maintenance (yes, they do it on weekends), it was still easy to navigate. Transferring lines could be a hassle, as it required working your way up and down platforms. We got off at a nearby station and took pictures of a giant sundial before going to the tower. We joined up with a tour being given by a yeoman who lives at the tower; he had quite a few stories to tell about the tower. Remember how we slept through the Ceremony of the Keys the day we arrived? We explained what had happened to the yeoman, and they were kind enough to let us see the ceremony tonight. We were quite happy how that worked out. After seeing the Crown Jewels, we went inside a chapel and toured the White Tower, where the monarchs used to live. We spent a lot of money in the gift shops, but we did give each other anniversary presents from there.

By now, not only were my calves sore from the climb the day before, but I'd done something to my left foot and was limping. But even a limp couldn't keep me from visiting one of the holy Beatle sites--Abbey Road Studios. We took the Underground to the closest station, but I still had to walk several blocks. It was worth it, though. I didn't bother having my photo taken on the famous street crossing (a la the Abbey Road cover); it felt strange doing it by myself, plus it didn't seem safe. I wrote a message to the Beatles on the wall outside the studio, though.

After relaxing for a while at the Abbey Road Cafe, we took the Underground to Baker Street. We didn't have time for the Sherlock Holmes museum, but I had my picture taken outside. Instead, we walked to Queen Anne's park to eat ice cream, watch the birds (including a pair of black swans), and take pictures with Oscar. We even saw a bride and groom having pictures taken there, so that was neat.

As dusk fell, we returned to the Tower of London area and ate dinner at a noodle bar. We then hung around an hour or so for the Ceremony of the Keys. We, along with other observers, were allowed inside the gates. This ceremony has been going on for over 700 years; it started way back when the Tower was used as a market, and the guards needed to evict the merchants every night. We couldn't take pictures (not only was it forbidden, but it was dark), and it's only been shown twice on TV. As we watched, one of the yeomen, accompanied by guards, marched down to the gates and locked them. As they returned, they were challenged by another guard and exchanged a series of traditional questions and answers. They then marched under an arch before being dismissed. One of the yeomen told us a ghost story before letting us out of the Tower. We got back to our hotel around 11:00 and went to bed, tired but looking forward to seeing more in the morning.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Our Vacation: Days One-Three

We're still not home yet; we're flying back to Chicago tonight. Right now we're in New York, staying with Eugene's aunt and uncle. Since we have some free time, I figure I may as well start describing the trip. Photos will have to wait until we get home.

We left last Wednesday, on the sixth. We took a bus to O'hare. I'd checked in online the night before, so all we had to do was check in our luggage at the curb and go through security, which wasn't too bad. It helped that we'd checked on restrictions before packing. Then it was just hanging out at the gate, reading and waiting. We had a small communter plane, and the flight was routine. When we arrived at JFK, Eugene's aunt and uncle picked us up and had a nice dinner waiting for us at their house. We sat around the table afterwards, drinking wine and listening to Eugene's uncle's stories. I tried checking in online for our international flight, but I ran into a snafu and couldn't complete it for both of us.

Day Two was pretty quiet. We spent the morning with Eugene's aunt and uncle, and they treated us to a Chinese buffet for lunch. We left for the airport in the mid-afternoon. It was a little more involved checking in and passing through security this time, but we'd left plenty of time for all of it. We even obtained some pounds from a currency service. I ate a light dinner since I wasn't sure what meal we'd receive on the plane.

The plane this time was a 747. We were in economy, of course, but although there wasn't much space, it was still pretty nice. Every seat had a built-in console where you could play games or watch TV or movies. We also received complimentary travel bags with earplugs, an eye mask for sleeping, a toothbrush, and toothpaste. Dinner was pretty decent (I think it was a chicken dish, but I'm not sure), and we were given a glass of wine with our meal. Afterward, I tried to sleep, but I wasn't able to get comfortable. It's no surprise I couldn't sleep, but Eugene couldn't either, and that's saying a lot. Although it was exciting watching the sun rise over a new country, I would have preferred to sleep.

We arrived at Heathrow about 8:00 a.m. local time. There were about a thousand other international passengers who'd also come in at the same time, so we had to wait for an hour to clear customs. I was already starting to feel the fatigue, but we knew we had to stay awake as long as possible to adjust our biological clocks. It was a struggle, however. We'd prepaid for a shuttle to take us to our hotel, so once we were ready, we found the shuttle. We had to wait close to another hour before the shuttle came, but in the meantime, people from the company gave us tips about where to go (or not go) and where to eat. It took us another hour or two to reach our hotel, as we were the last to be dropped off; I was bobbing my head for most of the ride. We reached the hotel about 1:00, but it was too soon to check in. We were able to leave our bags with the hotel, though. Our hotel was in Bloomsbury; it wasn't a posh hotel, but it had the basic amenties (except washcloths, Eugene added in the background). We had our first fish-and-chips for lunch at a restaurant next door. To pass the time and get a sense of the city, we bought tickets for a hop-on, hop-off tourist bus traveling around London that stopped at the major sites, such as St. Paul's, The Tower of London, and so on. I was alert enough at first to pay attention, so I noticed things such as how clean the city appeared to be (compared to an American city), and how many of the buildings had flowerboxes at the windows. About half-way through the ride, I started to really feel the jet-lag. We returned to the hotel around 4:00. I couldn't stay awake any longer, so while Eugene showered, I just crashed in the bed. I think I woke up about 8:00 briefly, but by 11:00, both of us were fully awake. Right then, Eugene started wondering what date it was. We'd written to the Tower of London a couple of months in advance to get a pass to a special ceremony, the Ceremony of the Keys, in which the Tower is locked up at night. We'd thought our pass was for the day after our arrival, but after checking it again, we realized it was for the same day--and we'd slept through it. I felt especially bad for Eugene, as he'd read about it in a book when he was in high school and really wanted to see it. (I'd never heard of it before reading about it in the guidebook.) We figured there was nothing we could do about it, though, since it had to be set up so far ahead in advance. With a sigh for Misadventure #1, we tried to go back to sleep. That didn't work too well, so we watched the BBC for a couple of hours. Finally we fell back asleep around 3-4 in the morning and woke up around 7, finally ready to take on London.

More to come....

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Going on Vacation

Well, tomorrow Eugene and I go on vacation to New York and London. I doubt I'll have much time or opportunity to blog for the next ten days, but at least I'll have a lot to talk about when we return. Take care, everybody!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

A Wedding and Vacation Prep

Eugene and I went to a wedding reception last night. It was on his side; the groom's father is friends with Eugene's dad. (Eugene also knew the groom when he used to work at the front desk where Eugene worked out.) Since Eugene had to work yesterday, we couldn't attend the ceremony. The reception was at a hotel; the cocktail hour was held in a Polynesian-style lounge area before the room was opened up. It was a big reception; the groom's father told us nearly 500 people were there. There were a lot of friends of the couple there; some of them did beer gongs to get the couple to kiss. The meal was very good, but the cake didn't get served to us; we saw someone with a plate of sweets and followed her to a sweet table and cake in another room. We left around 11:00, since we didn't need to wait for the bouquet or garter toss.

Today we ran some errands, getting ready for our vacation. Eugene needed a new piece of luggage since he couldn't find his old one; luckily we found a good deal. We also picked up some other things we needed, like travel-sized toothpaste and extra batteries, and took care of some other errands.

Writing: I finished reviewing Sue's chapters, though I've been remiss about sending Heather her chapters. I better take care of that tonight. I've also been sloughing off with my work, though I should have some time tomorrow to edit. I'm not going to edit Lennon's Line during our vacation--I'm not taking my laptop with me--but I may try outlining the sequel. I'm also going to bring along some books for research.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Stealing from Sue

Sue posted this on her LJ, so I thought I'd try it here and see what kind of responses I get...

Instructions:I would like everyone who reads this to ask me 3 questions: no more, no less. Ask me anything you want.ANYTHING!Doesn't mean I'll answer them in the way you expect.Then go to your journal, copy and paste this, allowing your friends (including me) to ask you anything.Let slip the dogs!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A Janesville Jaunt

I had to take the morning off to drive up to Janesville (in Wisconsin) to take care of a couple of something with my parents. (Nothing bad, but nothing I want to make public either.) I left the time I normally leave for work but kept driving past the exit, listening to a couple of CDs I had burned. Illinois has been converting their tolls to an Open Road Tollway system, which means that if you have an I-PASS, you can pay at highway driving speed without having to stop. The one at South Beloit was supposed to be finished, but when I passed through, the ORT lanes were blocked off, even though they looked ready to go. Perhaps I was just a couple of hours too early.

The rest of the trip should have been uneventful, but I got off an exit too early and ended up in a part of Janesville I wasn't familiar with. To make matters worse, even Janesville was getting into the construction act; several of the streets were blocked off. Luckily I knew the place I had to go was next to the library, so when I saw a library truck, I followed it through the maze until I was back on familiar ground. I was twenty minutes late, but everything still worked out. Then I drove to my parents' house to pick up a few things. Guess what; the road leading to their subdivision was partially ripped up: you could drive out but not in. Since I've biked around the area, I knew there was another way into the subdivision, so I drove on down to that street and threaded my way back to where I needed to go. I have to admit I was glad to get back on the highway, which was much easier driving in comparison.

Writing: I did the line edits for two of Heather's chapters; I'll review them one more time tomorrow for overall comments and see if I can send them back to her. I spent a couple of hours goofing off; now it's time to see if I can buckle down before bedtime.

Site Meter