Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Click The Link! You'll Thank Me

Just a quick post to recommend Author Scoop. William Haskins and Jamie Mason do a great job of collecting and sharing links, YouTube videos and other bits of news and information and smart commentary that writers and readers alike should all bookmark and visit often. They've done the surfing, all I have to do is go there and click the links. Thanks, William and Jamie!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Book Fair at UCLA

I don't use the camera phone much, so my finger did end up at the bottom of that picture, I'm afraid. The shot doesn't do any justice to the huge crowd. There were areas with graphic artists, POD publishing houses and then areas for larger publishers, book stores, etc. I ended up getting a signed copy (by the author in person who was at the book fair) of a new book, The Cleaner, a debut novel by Brett Battles. Bless him for braving the heat! I started reading it on the plane, so far it's a page turner, the plot is intriguing, the characters well presented, pace is fast - which is a must have for a thriller, at least for me.

The picture is also a test of mobile blogging, something I haven't used for ages, if I did use it at all the first time I signed up for it. Unfortunately I had to re-engage with the system and couldn't post the picture immediately from my camera to here this afternoon. UCLA is a lovely campus and I was there with an "expert guide" as well. When I needed to use a bathroom she knew exactly how to get me to a nice, nearby, indoor restroom. One of the scenic detours we took on the way to the fair was through the botanical garden. I took pictures of this incredible flowering plant with my digital camera. I have no idea what it is - couldn't find the plaque.

Closer view of the blooms:

I won't go into more detail about the bead shop purchases I mentioned earlier, but you can see pics at my beading blog, if you're so inclined.

It's Hot in LA this Weekend!

I'm down in LA visiting with some friends of mine. Yesterday we visited a lovely bead shop and had fabulous Mexican food at a nearby restaurant. Today we're thinking of visiting the LA Book Fair at UCLA. There's a heat wave here in LA - temps in the 80s. Still, there's a nice breeze and it's been lovely.

I particularly enjoy visits with these friends because along with being able to just hang out and enjoy each other's company, the conversation is lively and intellectually stimulating and I get plenty of exercise as we walked everywhere. I put in more miles on foot yesterday than I usually do in a month. I'm happy to say that I feel great today because I was a bit worried that I'd wake up unable to move my legs anymore.

I signed up with Twitter the other day, just for the heck of it, after reading a couple different blogs about folks who use it. I think it would be fun to Twitter the book fair - just not sure how to do it from my cell phone. I just tested it - it works! You can see me on Twitter as AWDawno.

I wish I could stay down longer and visit with the family, too. I just don't have enough leave time right now to spare as I'm saving as much of it as I can to spend time with my son in July when he comes home on leave.

Bought a book at the airport, Betrayal by John Lescroart. It's a bit hard to read as it uses the war in Iraq as a backdrop for a murder trial in the US. The defendant was wounded in a nasty situation where he lost nearly all of his squad. It's definitely the kind of stuff I don't like to think about.

I'm running low on battery power (forgot my power cord) so I need to close up the laptop now. More soon on my visit, maybe some pics of the book fair, too!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Beading, NCIS Flashback Drinking Game, and That Betamax Feeling

I got so busy with beading and posting on my new beading blog that I didn't get around to updating here. I'm trying to establish some foundational tools for marketing my designs and one of them is a blog. Eventually I move to my own website, but I don't have the time to learn all I need to know right now to set it up. I also need to get my business paperwork finalized - licenses, tax ID, that kind of stuff. I'm planning to set up an appointment with my accountant to see how much he can help or at least advise me about.

I'd love to do some crafts shows/fairs, so one of my next projects is going to be building the displays I'll need. I like the idea of using a picture frame with a padded insert - I've seen those at our local Art & Wine festival and like them best. I just have to figure out the right way to construct them. I also wonder just how large an inventory I'll need and what kind of variety. I'm in for some extensive research.

The spouse and I have been watching NCIS on dvd, trying to get up to date so we can start watching the current shows. I'm enjoying it. We have decided that we should do a drinking game - every time Harmon has a flashback to Paris we have to take a drink. There was a time a few discs back where it seemed he was having these fuzzy jumpy flashbacks every two minutes. Thank goodness they're fewer and further between now.

Speaking of dvds, I bought a new player for the spouse for Christmas from Amazon. A HD dvd player. Of course we all know what happened - BluRay is the standard and you can't get HD dvds anymore. Now I know how people who bought Betamax felt. Amazon sent me an email the other day with a certificate code for $50 on Amazon products. My dad just called me and said that I just *must* read the new Jeffery Deaver book, The Blue Nowhere, so I'll put that in my cart soon. There are a couple other books I'm wanting to read, so that $50 won't last long.

Well, I have a 6 am conference call tomorrow - gotta get to bed.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Cake and the Kitty

Ever get really frustrated? Then you know how this poor kitty feels

One of the grandkitties, Jello, does that on the door to my office (which I keep closed most of the time). She seems to go on forever when I don't open it for her, of course it probably seems that way to me since I'm usually trying to work and getting annoyed at the scratching.

I posted again on my beading blog - if you know beads and can help me find a particular kind of bead that I desperately need to finish something I started, please go visit my new blog: Dawno's Beaded Badge Lanyards and Jewelry

My son called me this morning and he's all safely re-located at his new base. No more internet in the room, though, so we won't be able to IM chat for sometime. I really appreciated that he'd IM me often so I'd know he was ok, especially when I knew he was going on a mission and hadn't heard from him in a while. I was lucky, so many (most, probably) families of soldiers don't hear from their loved ones so much.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Catching Up

I imagine after 3 months of not posting that I've lost most of my audience. If you do check in now and then to see what's up, I apologize for being "dark" all this time. I've come here a number of times in the last couple months, opened the "create post" page and stared at the blank screen for a while, then closed the browser tab without posting. I kept thinking there's nothing to say anyone could have the remotest interest in. Today, however, I realized that I really shouldn't let that stop me here. I mean, it certainly doesn't stop me when I'm talking face to face (it's the way people start yawning or making lame excuses that gives me a clue in real life) So, what the heck, here we go with what's on my mind today.

Beading: I've pretty much decided that I'm going to start a new blog for any rambles about my beading, so I won't afflict you with that here, except occasionally. Like now. I've sold 3 pieces on Etsy, most recently today, which is gratifying and gives me a little "squee" moment every time it happens. (somebody likes it! squee!) And, I've probably made a couple dozen new things since I posted last. I'm also trying new techniques, like making things with wire and chain, learning to connect things using loops and links, and trying wire-wrapping. The wire-wrapping isn't going too well yet, and I might not be patient enough to keep at it, if everything looks like a two year old made it and then the dog chewed on it afterwards.

I'd also love to learn to create beads or focal pieces with metal clay - the whole "need to use a torch or get a kiln" has blocked that for now, since I really don't have a place to use either. Maybe someday.

My son: Ever see a movie or tv show or read about a soldier whose paperback book, Bible, flask, some keepsake from his sweetheart, etc., stops a bullet and saves a limb or his life? Apparently my son's iPod stopped one from hitting him somewhere; I'm guessing arm or leg. He forgot it was in a pocket and it came along on a mission with him and now it's toast but my son is ok. Thanks, Apple!

My daughter: Doing great. Got a call from her the other day all excited because she got an A on a mid-term when she had thought she hadn't done so well. She's also all set with her summer job - working at the Y summer camp again. I think this is year 3 for that? I know last year she directed a gymnastics camp, this year she may try something new - haven't heard yet. But she's great with the kids. Which is why I keep wondering why she isn't interested in teaching elementary school (like her ol' ma did). She says she wants to teach High School. I loved teaching kindergarten, myself. Probably because I like crayons and paste and the complete lack of hormone driven teen angst.

Me in general: I think I feel more like blogging now that the days are longer and the weather is getting better. Winter is really rough on me. I suspect I have a bit of seasonal affective disorder. Out of 10 symptoms I have 8 of them pretty intensely from late October to early April, and two of them to a more minor degree. Of course, I'm too withdrawn and lethargic to get myself to a doctor until it's spring and I feel better and I don't need medical help anymore.

In February my uncle passed away and I spent a week down in Southern Calif. with my Dad, which, even under the circumstances involved, was really wonderful just because it's been ages since I've been able to spend more than a few hours with him in many years. I miss being near family a lot and I truly wish I could figure out a way to get down there. Another "maybe someday" thing - I can only hope sooner rather than later.

Around the web: I've been entertained recently by a series of videos called "You Suck at Photoshop" It's part tutorial and part soap opera presented by a guy, Donnie, who's life is falling apart rather disastrously, and yet he gives these Photoshop lessons - insulting the students all the while. Really funny stuff. If you haven't seen these, and you have a quirky, dark sense of humor, do.

Here's the first one so you can decide if you want to click on the link above and watch the rest of them:

Otherwhere on the web, I'm still faithfully following my favorite online comics, A Girl and Her Fed, Questionable Content, Girl Genius, Sheldon and about a dozen more. Thank goodness for Google Reader and RSS feeds! I bought a Going Postal mail pouch recently (its the second one on the page) and put some buttons I got from A Girl and Her Fed's creator, the Girl Genius site, and the Sheldon store amongst others (like a Star Trek delta badge, Discworld pins, my Sputnik pins from LACon and more). I plan on using it as my convention purse when I go to Denvention (66th World SF Convention) this summer.

What I'm Reading: Just finished Strangers in Death by J. D. Robb (Nora Roberts). I forgot that I'd ordered it from the Science Fiction Book Club, so I have two copies - if you'd like this book, I'd be happy to send the SFBC edition to you free of charge. It's a hardback book in pristine condition, although it's a slightly smaller size hardback than non-book club editions. Use my contact me link to email me.

Anyway, it was another good one. I enjoy reading them because I've grown fond of the characters and can't wait to see how they develop as the series goes on. If you're unfamiliar with the series, it's romance set in the future about a female police lieutenant who meets, falls in love with and marries (in the early books) a very rich, powerful, handsome man, Roarke, with a less than legitimate past he's (mostly) reformed from. In the later books the two of them often work together to figure out 'who done it'. The secondary characters are colorful and fun to know as well. One thing I might note in passing is that there's no dearth of love scenes between Dallas (the protag) and Roarke and they are somewhat explicit.

I've also been reading through David Drake's epic fantasy series starting with Lord of the Isles, mostly in eBook format. My introduction to it was via the subscription - which is a really cool deal. Weekly free eBooks in many formats (I use MobiPocket since I have the reader already). They offered the first book of the Isles series and when I finished it I wanted to read more. So I purchased the eBook bundle for books 2 - 7 via the Baen Books WebScription site. Right now I'm reading the latest book in the series, Mirror of Worlds, in hardback. Who says giving away eBooks isn't a smart idea? Got me to spend money on the rest of Drake's stuff, and I'll probably keep reading his work when I'm done with the Isles books.

I've never been a big fan of epic fantasy. I read the Lord of the Rings trilogy because, well, everyone I was friends with in 1971 either was or had read them - I even got notes from one friend in either runes or elvish (I don't recall which). But I've always been more of a SF reader, so with the exception of short stories in the magazines I get (primarily The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction) I don' t go out of my way to read it.

However, I've enjoyed the Drake books. There is a bit of the same things happening over and over - if I'd had to wait 6 months or a year to read the next book, it probably wouldn't have leaped out at me as much. I mean in every book people end up getting lost or kidnapped in some other dimension or time and there are quest-y type things, then at the end they all end up at some place where they all have to be together with the stuff they've learned or gotten to overcome the big bad whatever. This must be SOP for epic fantasy books. Even so, I'm enjoying the writing enough to keep going on to the next one.

By the way, if you sign up at you are entered in a cool contest for an Asus Galaxy EEE mobile PC, and you'll get free eBooks, too. And they're good ones - Farthing by Jo Walton and Spin by Robert Charles Wilson were in recent emails - both of which I've read and *heartily* recommend. By the way, this all ends on May 15th when the official site launches.

Ok, this has been enough rambling for two or three posts, so I'll quit now. Glad to be back blogging - hope I can keep it up, at least once or twice a week.