Saturday, June 16, 2007

Miss Me?

My son's visit and a project launch at work have kept me from posting, but I can't resist the pull of the blog for long.

Thursday night (the 7th) I drove with my son and a friend of his down to SoCal. We spent the night in Bakersfield and hit LA on Friday at about 10:30 am. It's really the best way to make that trip, the 7 to 8 hour drive is punishing if you do it all in one go. Besides, we avoided a lot of commute traffic, as well.

We spent most of Friday at my dad's place. His brother came by and we had lunch. My daughter and her SailorBeau showed up next, just missing lunch with us. Later my sister and her boys came by (the oldest is graduating next week and heading off to UC Davis in the fall). Then my sister-in-law came by with her boys who are 9 & 11. Her oldest was having his birthday that day, so they brought his favorite "cake" with them - two dozen Krispy Kremes. Then my brother-in-law came by after work, making it almost the entire clan, just my brother couldn't get there in time.

I was a wonderful get together - a typical noisy family gathering with a number of conversations going on all over the place. I was very grateful for the effort made on behalf of my son, who will be headed over to Iraq in the not too distant future.

About 8 pm my son, his friend and I headed out to Anaheim. We saw a Wienerschnitzel on the way and he had that for dinner. We got to the hotel around 9:30 and I half unpacked and headed to bed. Shortly after I'd turned off the lights a high pitched whine started. I wondered if it was my ears ringing, but I plugged them with my fingers and it stopped, so no, it was coming from somewhere, I thought, in the room.

I spent about half an hour trying to hunt it down. I shut off the AC, I unplugged the mini-fridge, I made sure all my electronics were off and even moved the alarm clock to the other room. No help. It seemed to be coming from the walls. I gave up and tried to sleep with a pillow on my head. Needless to say, I had a very fitful sleep that night.

Saturday morning my husband flew into John Wayne Int'l. and I drove out to pick him up. My daughter had to work Saturday, so she couldn't join us until Sunday. The trip to the airport and back was pretty uneventful, except that I circled about 20 times waiting for hubs to get outside. The good thing about that is the loop from baggage claim and out around the airport parking structure then back to the baggage claim is short and easy at John Wayne Int'l. - I'm glad I wasn't trying to do it at LAX - that's a nightmare.

There was one guy parked at the curb the entire time I was looping - I kept waiting to see the airport cops chase him off, feeling all self-righteous that I was obeying the posted signs that said "no waiting". The only thing I learned from that is I'm an idiot and should have pulled in behind him instead of wasting $3.50 per gallon gasoline, since not a single airport cop showed any interest in that parked car. However, with my luck, we both would have gotten chased off or ticketed or both. He should thank me.

Disneyland was busy, but not mobbed like I was expecting - I guess it's still early in the "summer" season. The day was warm but not too hot and my one application of Neutragena 45 SPF spray on sunscreen kept me from getting burned all day (yay!). I also bought a nice cap to wear to protect my scalp and face. There were painful lessons learned from my last trip.

What I didn't bring with me was a fanny-pack and I should have bought one when I got the cap. My little shoulder strap purse ended up putting just enough strain on my shoulder to have it aching by mid-day. I remedied that the next day - getting the fanny-pack was the first thing I did at the park on Sunday.

We rode Space Mountain first, and while making our way there, we saw that there was going to be a big media event the next day for the opening of the new Finding Nemo adventure that's taken over the old Submarine ride. A large portion of Tomorrowland was getting screened off for the private event. More on that later.

We were held up at Space Mountain for quite some time. First, before even entering the line, as they had stopped the ride and weren't letting anyone else in until they got it started again. We made it inside - then within a few feet of the place where you line up to enter the ride - they stopped the line again. They also turned on the lights at one point. The guys were disappointed that they hadn't been in the ride when the lights went on, they wondered what it looks like inside when it isn't dark. I just wanted it to be over with. I'm not so good on roller coasters these days - my head and back get really sore. Some of the riders got the choice to go again because they'd been stopped. Never did figure out why the ride shut down.

We did several more rides, including Haunted Mansion and Jungle Cruise (my favorites) then we walked over to California Adventure, where my husband and son & friend, rode the Tower of Terror and California Screamin' - without me. The California Screamin' ride has a 0-55mph in 4 seconds, magnetically propelled launcher, which they thought was cool. I went shopping and got a neat hoodie sweatshirt/jacket in pink with a small 'retro' Minnie logo embroidered on it and some cute Mickey shaped (you know, just the circle head and ears shape) sterling silver jewelry with little clear Austrian crystals.

We did a lot more walking around, and some shopping, then went to dinner at Blue Bayou. The food was ok, being right next to the ride is strange - some of the riders are rather vocal as they pass the restaurant "what's for dinner" and other things I couldn't quite make out. I had a prime rib slab that was an inch thick and covered more than half the plate (which was a good sized dinner plate). It was very salty and also had cajun spices rubbed into the outside - not bad, but way more than I could eat. After that it was back to the hotel and good night.

I was achy and tired in the morning, but I got up fairly early to get hubby to the airport for his trip home. Then it was wait at the hotel for the AEL and her SailorBeau to show up and then was back to the park. The kids wanted to do Space Mountain right off. The "media" center for the special event had taken over the Star Arcade right next to where the ride ends and where I went to wait for them. All I saw at first was a crowd of people just hanging around and lots of folk who looked like press agents and photographers wandering in and out of the media center. I had to use the restroom, which was around the corner and I saw even more people hanging out around them.

Turns out, some celebrities (mostly TV folk, I'm guessing) had on occasion used those restrooms and the gawkers were there hoping for a glimse or a picture or an autograph - good luck with all the Disney folk surrounding them wherever they went. There was a minor furor after I had returned from the bathroom and been sitting for a while. Apparently Holly Robinson Peete (according to the *squeeing* teen in the mouse ears) was in there with her boys (I think I got a look at her as she headed in past me - surrounded as she was with her entourage, I'm not 100% sure, but I didn't know who she was either - after looking at her picture on IMDb, I'm pretty sure it was).

Later on as I was walking over to meet the kids at California Adventure, I saw Dominic Purcell (Prison Break - but I know him from John Doe, which I loved) and his kids - he was saying "Watch this!" and catching an M&M in his mouth after tossing it about 6 feet in the air. Him, I recognized - what a hunk. *ahem* anyway...the thing about the media day that annoyed me most wasn't that they'd squeezed so much of Tomorrowland out of service that it was packed like sardines, but that these groups of people with their special passes were being led down exits into rides and allowed to cut the line ahead of folk who'd been standing in the sun for up to an hour. It just bugged me for really no good reason.

More walking and rides - I got tempted to request a wheelchair, my legs were so tired, but I decided that the kids could wander around on their own and I'd go get some rest at the hotel so I'd be fresh for a couple more hours in the evening, which I was. We spent that time at Downtown Disney, shopping and eating at a very nice outdoors restaurant. Then it was time for AEL and SB to head home, he had to get up early for work the next morning, and I wanted to get on the road back home around 10 am.

We did get on the road at 10:30 am on Monday, and the ride home was uneventful, if painfully long. We made it back in 7 hours, though - even with some pit stops along the way. One of the reasons we made good time was that it was a Monday, we missed the worst of the LA rush hour traffic and with passengers I could use the car-pool (Diamond they call it) lane. Then when we hit the 85 in NorCal we were driving counter-commute and didn't even need to use the car-pool lane. The other side of the freeway was a parking lot.

The rest of the week has been work, work, work. My project goes live on the 25th, we're in high gear with meetings and trainings and technology stuff. At the end of the day, I've been just to brain tired to post. I missed International Weblogger's day all together and I'm behind on my reading for my review (still). Lots of catching up to do today!

For those of you who read and are dad's - Happy Father's day tomorrow!

Hope you are all having a lovely weekend.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Humaniform Robot Created in Japan

Sorry there was nothing new on Sunday or Monday for you. With my son home and a number of other things going on, I just didn't get to posting. Tonight will be brief, I've been working most of the evening on a project for the day job and I'm still at it!

As you may have noticed, I have a fondness for my little Roomba. The company that makes it is iRobot, so I think that's permission enough to call it a robot. I have been fascinated by robot stories since I was quite young. I may have read an Asimov story, or it may have been from watching the Jetsons...who knows after so long? At any rate when I see a story about a robot, I go and read it.

There's one in the news now that has a lot of folk blogging and commenting, based on a Google Blog search. It's the Child Robot. Here's a snippet of what Salon Tech blogger Farhad Manjoo said in his post from yesterday titled "A child robot that looks like it eats children"

CB2, which is short for "Child-Robot with Biomimetic Body," is 4 feet tall, 70 pounds, and repellent from head-to-toe. Packed with hundreds of sensors sewn into its sick-white rubbery skin, and powered by compressed-air actuators that put halting movement into its elongated arms and legs, the 'bot is purportedly designed to mimic a human toddler but comes off instead like a murderous muppet launching the robot invasion.
He was referring to his viewing of this YouTube clip (the YouTube site says "Embedding disabled by request"). It is a creepy little thing.

The Gizmodo subtitle to its article about Child Robot brings to mind some very disturbing thoughts about who might want to buy this kind of a robot. Ick. Since I don't want that word searchable in my blog (it's bad enough that perverts looking for "sex vides" keep coming here from Jamaica and the Middle East) you'll have to go look for yourself.

Now it's back to that spreadsheet. I'm determined to finish it tonight.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Maybe Someday All My Posts Will Be About Just One Topic

Writers, do you have trouble making up good excuses for why you're taking so long to finish that WIP? You should consider having a good selection of reasons and rationales memorized andready for all occasions. Remember, "The dog ate my homework" didn't work on Miss Ratzenberger in the 5th grade, why would it now?

You need to get creative. For example, I saw the video below in the comments section of a post on Pandagon, referenced in Making Light Particles as "Pandagon FAQ, draft version". It's a response to the question "It’s so cool that Amanda’s got a book deal! But why is it taking so long for her to finish?"

Click Here for more great videos and pictures!

Here are some suggestions - feel free to use them.

"I got my protagonist lost in some underground caves and can't figure out how to get him out of there until I finish reading these 42 articles I Googled on spelunking."
"My horoscope told me this was a bad week for using my imagination."
"I have to make sure I'm keeping up with this thread on Absolute Write about Pirates of the Caribbean 3."
"I've decided that only celebrities get published, so I'm taking acting (singing, dancing) lessons instead of writing."

Feel free to suggest more in the comments.

Edit: J M McDermott suggested these in the comments:

I'd finish my WiP, but I'm WAY too drunk, all the time.

Also, Helena Bonham Carter keeps calling and calling me. I mean, seriously, how many times do you have to explain that "No" means "No".

My coffee machine broke. I've tried replacing it three times, but so far all I've managed to pick up are a waffle iron, a llama's bridle, and two illegal immigrants named juan valdez who keep offering me matte lattes - NOT COFFEE! shopping for a coffee maker seems to also require coffee.

I'd finish my WiP but people keep asking me what's taking so long. I spend more time answering that question than I do actually writing.

Also, I blame your (whoever happens to be asking) fascinating blog.

Other things around the blogosphere I've seen recently and made me think, on the topic of writing:

"So You Think You Can Write, or Tales from the Slush Pile"
"Five Years Later...(The Origins of International Slushpile Bonfire Day)"
"Five Top Reasons You Should Stop Calling Yourself a Writer, Right Now"

That whole writing thing is hard work. I have enormous respect for anyone who can stick with it. Anyone who says to themself, "I could do that" or "what's so hard about being a writer" should spend some time following links on agent blogs, writer's blogs and reading the forums at AW. If the amount of work needed to become a good writer doesn't faze you, you may have a decent chance. I recommend you start your education at Learn Writing with Uncle Jim.

Whatever you do, no matter how frustrated you get, don't send your book to Publish America. Please.

There's a new AW blog-chain going on - I hope you'll visit them:

Virginia Lee: I Ain't Dead Yet!
hunt & peck
Life, Writing, and Other Things
Food History
A View From the Waterfront
Organized Chaos
The Road Less Traveled

Friday, June 01, 2007

First Post of June

Tomorrow my son arrives for his two week leave. We've got an extended family visit/Disneyland trip all lined up for next weekend. My posting for the next two weeks may be sporadic, we'll see.

I don't send much snail mail. So when the postage went up I hadn't gone to buy any forever stamps at the lower price. I just now had to go dig up a 2 cent stamp to add to one of my old 39 cent stamp to send a letter. I had put this letter in my purse with the intent of mailing at the PO after I bought some forever stamps, but the other day, due to what I'm certain is the complete onrush of total senility, I stuck it, unstamped, in my mailbox and put up the "pick up" flag. My husband brought it in with the mail today and I think there was some rolling of the eyes when I realized what I'd done.

so I go to my file folder with stamps and return address labels (I am somewhat organized) to grab a couple stamps for the letter. Turns out I have quite a few stamps in there - even some 37 cent ones from two Christmases ago (Christmas is when I send the most snail mail in the form of cards). I will need to go grab a long strip of 2 cent stamps to use and while I'm at it, I'll pick up some of those forevers. The way I don't go through stamps, they just might last "forever".

I need to ship some stuff, too, so the trip to the Post Office is getting up to the urgent level. I need to get organized again and caught up with my backlogged to do list. Well, I wrote that about an hour ago. I took a break to grab my full page sticky label paper to print out a label to put on the box that now contains my daughter's purses that she left in my car the last time she was down here(some of the stuff I need to ship, along with a way overdue prize to Rob from Standing Rule for making the 2000th post on a thread I started some time ago on AW). I mentioned that I need to get organized? It took me most of that hour to re-arrange all the stuff that's piling up in my office to find the dang sticker package. However, I now have a bit more open space on the floor.

Coyote Wild's submissions period is open again. Do you write short (under 10k in length) speculative fiction? Think about subbing to Coyote Wild. Non-fiction (query first), Flash fic and poetry are also accepted. Please read the guidelines in the link above.

POD People has openings for reviewers. Email me if interested.

I've been reading (on and off this evening) a Salon article about a Harry Potter fan con down in New Orleans and this quote about a presenter just made me giggle where I've italicized. (The article may be in the Premium section, but you can get a free day pass)

At a session called "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Colonialism," 22-year-old Tracy Douglas was giving a persuasive, Edward Said-influenced reading of the post-colonial overtones of Rowling's fourth book. She pointed out the focus on the eroticized "other" -- Fleur Delacour, Cho Chang, Padma and Parvati Patil -- as the female sexual ideal. Douglas' paper sounded like it could have been given at the Modern Language Association conference. Except that afterward, she thanked her mother. Also, at the MLA, you see fewer people with stuffed owls.

Perhaps the MLA needs to think about that. Reading this article makes me think fondly about the upcoming NasFic in St. Louis. I put a countdown ticker in my AW signature:

Check out my meebo chat widget in the sidebar. Meebo allows you to use one chat program (and it's browser based so no need to download an application) to sign in to any IM, Yahoo, Aim, Google, etc. I decided to give it a try because of the widget.