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So the young doctor got a Pay Pal account. I sent him 3000 koruny as a test. (That's about $171 on today's rate of exchange -- $120 a year or so ago)

First of all, the money took a week to arrive. And then an other week to clear. What's up with that? It's electronic funds. Last I heard, electrons did not take a week to travel from the west coast of North America to the middle of Europe. Can you imagine what phone calls would be like if they did? Ansible, anyone?

It gets worse, but the worse part is because of the young doctor's own special circumstances.

Taking out less than 3000 koruny a shot costs a small extra fee. He can't take out more than CZK 2500 a month unless he gets verified. He can't get verified without using a credit or debit card. We set up the Pay Pal account because his debit card is in a finite -- but indefinitely defined -- hiatus land. Otherwise we'd be using that. His withdrawal limit there depends on prior authorization (I guess that's to defend against identity theft -- kind of like when my credit union called to verify that it was indeed me that was ordering up plane tickets to Prague all of a sudden), but that can be managed, once the debit card is alive again.

Anyway, Pay Pal would work if his rent was about a third of what it is. For now, we're back to paying forty dollars a crack to send him his expenses. I am so looking forward to him getting his own loans.

On another front, it's very wet out there. It's going to be wet for the foreseeable future. As usual, there's pruning and spraying I should have done before this which will be very late now. As to whether the nascent drought has been averted -- I don't know. Why can't I find a site that just keeps tabs of season totals for my area? I know that Soquel Creek station has had 10.55 inches. And I could find the accumulated total for Bonny Doon. But I don't know what that means, because I can't find the "season normal to date" number anywhere. It shouldn't be that hard! Once in a while, an article includes that information, but when I look for where that information must have come from, I can never find it.

A minor frustration continues in thatthere are no numbers available for downtown Santa Cruz at all. This is not crucial for planning, because our water supply comes from the San Lorenzo Valley (i.e., Felton, Ben Lomond, etc), but it's personally interesting.

And on still another front: I am measuring my progress on the new new version of The Conduit in tens of words. Does that mean there's something wrong with the new approach, or does it mean I can't actually manage to write a novel and work full-time? I've done it before. But not, so far, a saleable one.
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I wrote, what, two hundred words? today: enough to maybe make this chapter work. I had more typos than ever. Mostly the number 3, even when the word had no W or E in it. Now that's a tidbit for a story: either a Dickian thing where the persistent typo opens up a process that reveals a cosmic conspiracy, or an alternate-worlds fantasy where the persistent typo is the byproduct of an embattled universe trying to score help.

My rec.arts.sf.composition friends: I'm lurking again. The reason I'm not actively participating is that I'll have to reinstall a decent program to read and respond with and there's no point in doing that on this computer, which I'm going to abandon as soon as I can work out excactly which of various strategies I'm going to employ in getting all our stuff migrated to Frank's computer. So anyway, I saw Wildepad stomping off in a huff because something he said provoked a political response that was apparently insulting -- what was that? It's safe to tell me here. And Alma -- if it was about that war, I can imagine what he said and why it was incendiary. You could also tell me whether anything came of that forensic anthropologist lady in Japan.


One of the mothers here said she's paying $790 a month for three days a week of infant care. That's more than Frank needs for all his living expenses each month. So things could be worse. My friend Mary is supporting her youngest in private college and her nephew in another college in another state, no financial aid for either of them. Things could be worse.

I am so completely screwing up this whole eating thing. I need rededication badly.
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I know I should already have Skype or something lined up, but it takes time to do stuff especially if you're me.

I made a date with Frank to call him on New Year's Day. I sat down at the computer to look up his number and his IM icon flashed.

[Unknown site tag]

(08:54:43) ftrollman@gmail.com:
Did you just call?
(08:55:57) Lucy Kemnitzer:
I just got up and I was waiting until about now to look up your number and try.
(08:56:25) ftrollman@gmail.com:
I was in the bathroom, and one of the phones rang.
(08:56:35) ftrollman@gmail.com:
And I wasn't sure if it was mine.
(08:56:48) Lucy Kemnitzer:
Okay, I've just looked up your number and I'll try calling now.
(08:57:09) Lucy Kemnitzer:
Give me a moment to organize myself.
(08:59:37) Lucy Kemnitzer:
okay, I just dialed 011 420 774 937 382 and nothing happened. Seriously. My phone is silent.
(09:00:06) ftrollman@gmail.com:
My phone is on.
(09:00:46) Lucy Kemnitzer:
Just now I'm getting "We're sorry, your party is not answering. Please try again later. Your call will now be disconnected. 53, 870"
(09:01:06) Lucy Kemnitzer:
I think "your party" must mean the 011 420 part.
(09:01:50) ftrollman@gmail.com:
00420774937382
(09:01:56) Lucy Kemnitzer:
I'm going to try again with another 1 at the beginning like it was regular long distance.
(09:02:11) ftrollman@gmail.com:
That is what it says on my phone card.
(09:02:31) ftrollman@gmail.com:
But I start with the 77 when dialling it in here.
(09:02:44) Lucy Kemnitzer:
it says on the interweb that dialing from US it's supposed to be 011 before the country code.
(09:03:13) ftrollman@gmail.com:
My phone indicates that maybe there is supposed to be an extra zero.
(09:03:24) Lucy Kemnitzer:
So this time I got the regular high pitched three notes and "I'm sorry, your call cannot be completed as dialed."
(09:03:39) Lucy Kemnitzer:
Instead of the extra 1? I'll try.
(09:03:39) ftrollman@gmail.com:
So 01100420 774937382
(09:04:08) ftrollman@gmail.com:
17 digit number!
(09:04:20) Lucy Kemnitzer:
okay, I'm trying that.
(09:04:34) Lucy Kemnitzer:
Now I have a regular busy signal.
(09:06:50) ftrollman@gmail.com:
I am theoretically getting five bars.
(09:07:06) Lucy Kemnitzer:
It turns out calling operator assistance is complicated too. You have to know who your long distance carrier is.


The operator got through on the first try, and I had a nice long expensive conversation. He sounded really good, much more cheerful than in writing.

On another front, I saw "The Golden Compass" yesterday and it was really, really well done. I had few disagreements with the visualizations, and the CG was really naturalistic and beautiful. And Lyra's personality came through very well (Pullman describes her as a "vicious child" in the book). And I got a really exciting idea for my final confrontation. For the record, it's the scene on the ice bridge that did it. I'm thinking Pinnacles.

Oh, dog, I just had another idea: wishes, earthquakes, tumbling rocks. Usually this kind of thing is not in the interface's purview but seismic waves can be expressed as information and manipulated in that way, probably, and it is after all a universal conduit.

I need a day off with no family around, but not for a few days yet. I still get tired for no reason. Also, today I was reading the second Sharing Knife book in bed and the nice fellow said "Why is the page trembling like that?" and it was my hand. I've been feeling as if my hands were shaking sometimes but I can't see them shake. This objective manifestation is so disappointing I can't even express it. I can't tell you how depressing that is.
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I'm well.

Just like that: Friday I was still coughing like a ninety-year-old coal miner, and Saturday I wasn't coughing so much but I couldn't keep going for more than a couple of hours at a time: and yesterday . . . we went to Gray Whale Ranch and picked up chanterelles for pickling for tonight and we went to two grocery stores and the plant nursery and I planted the plants we bought and I did some research for the novel -- I was trying not to do Ridiculous Movie Geography in Santa Barbara, where I have only been a couple of times.

There's a tree there -- a Moreton Bay Fig, one of the biggest in North America, with a romantic back story -- in a little triangular bit of park in a parking lot near the train station. And historically, it's been the hangout for homelss people in Santa Barbara. Now, if you have only a passing knowledge of Santa Barbara, "homeless people in Santa Barbara" sounds like an oxymoron. But it's like Santa Cruz: the cost of living is high, and there's a lot of people there who are afflicted with excessive wealth, but there's also a long tradtion of people living on the street there because the weather's good and poor people like to live in pretty places too. So anyway, I was trying to get it straight whether it was true that people actually sleep in the tree. I failed. Now I have to figure out what to do with the chapter -- I can't gloss over a thing like that. Because the guy gets dropped off there, and there he is: does he find out that he has to climb up there? Or does he find out that he's supposed to doss out on the little triangular piece of scrappy lawn? (I know what it looks like) I can't exactly fade to black on a juicy bit of detail like that. Not that it will take more than a paragraph anyway.

But that's the thing about details in fiction. You have to get them really right, at least fictionally right. The effort that you spend in getting them right might be completely disproportional to the space they take on the page. The importance that the details have to the overall drive of the story is also completely independent of the space they take up on the page and also the amount of effort it takes to get them right.

The tree thing is new in the story so I honestly don't know how important it is. Actually it might be wrong, anyway. I mean that the trajectory of this guy's travels might not be right for a homeless encampment yet. I was thinking of having his accomodations and experiences get starker as he moves north, not because north is a bad direction, but because everything would be moving in consistent directions, and the accomodations and experiences would be getting starker as the danger of his situation increases.
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I just found out there's a California registry of big trees.

There's also a National registry of big trees.

I think the reason that the three states with the most "biggest" trees are Arizona, California, and Florida (in opposite order) is that these three states also have the most tree species that nobody else has. I'm not sure that's true, now, I just think it might be the case. I'm not sure how to check it, so don't take it as a fact, only as a question.

Why yes, I'm working. That Santa Barbara Moreton Bay Fig is in my book.

still coughing horribly and having to change clothes no matter what strategy I use. How undignified is that?
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So I had this revelation while my writing group was being very kind but honest about the direction the book did not seem to be going. In order to make the story actually be a story: that is, progress from one place to another, with the experiences beign cumulative and the tension building and things seeming to matter,

I have to start over.

I so don't want to be back at the beginning.

However, I really need to. I need to tear the little bits of the story apart and put them back together in a different way. Things are at the beginning that should be later. Things that happen later shoudl happen earlier. The two guys he has encounters with ought to maybe be one and definitely ought to have less attention to them. (I'm also thinking that the "I wish you cared" followed by "I wish you'd be reasonable" can be shifted altogether to a different episode that already happens later -- nota: Forager Girl and Winston respectively)Ditto tomato fields. Ditto, probably, most everything else. Also he ought to try to flee situations that he simply suffers now.

All this shaving makes a very short story. But the group wants more about the research group so maybe I can get myself to a conventional length by doing that.

On another front, it's still not raining. The bottlebrush tree next door looks dry. That takes some doing. However, the ground is not dry. That's that pogonip for you.
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So one of the things I'm playing with is artificial personality development. Not how-to-make-an-artificial-personality, but how an artificial personality develops under the particular conditions that the interface is in. I don't remember whether I said that one of my writing group folks once worked in AI development and he says the thing they kept coming away with was that, no matter what kind of system they were looking at, the evolutionary sequence was: sensation, emotion, then analytical thought. This may be true. But it's not what people do in their individual development. Individually, you get all three from the get: but they differentiate more as they go along. If you watch a baby, you'll see that even newborns study. They're equipped with an instinct for learning and analysis. Before language, the analysis is pretty inchoate, but it's never not there. It's never just approach-the-pleasant and avoid-the-unpleasant.

What implications any of this has for the interface, I'm not sure. Because he's never a baby. He's a thing, at first, equipped with whatever his makers feel is more convenient for them. He only has to determine what their desires are, and really not much of that, since they keep tweaking him to simply know those things.

I guess he's a golem, but he's not made of mud: and he has a complete human body since his makers thought it was simpler to use an existing model and let it take care of itself in the biological way than to determine energy usage and design factors from scratch.

have to go to work again, and I really don't want to, and I wasted my weekend, more or less.

I tried to order a copy of How to Cook a Wolf by M F K Fisher for the young doctor, but they don't ship to Czech Republic.

And they say we live in a globalized world.
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I finished chapter seven, which is actually a bit of eight, all of nine and a chunk of ten from the original. It is safely squirreled away online too.

So there are twenty-six chapters in the original version, and I'm collapsing the number of chapters and expanding bits and contracting bits. I think it will still be under 85K when it is done. I think I am about 40% through this rewrite.

There are things that seem weak to me. Like the way that the interface often knows things about his prusuers when he hasn't been asked, though he's not supposed to know anything without being asked at least once. Also I think the voice is not quite right. I think I need to shorten a lot of sentences in the earlier chapters to give the feeling of a simpler mind. My natural way of writing is with a lot of long sentences, using layers of clauses. Also using a lot of gerund forms. I think those need to be made less until later in the book.

But for now I'm continuing with this phase of the rewrite. Getting the whole thing into 3rd person, mainly.

So

Nov. 11th, 2007 10:40 pm
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I posted Chapter 6 of The Conduit, which is 7 and most of 8 of the original. I started 7, so I'd know where I was with it.

In case you didn't catch it when I said so earlier, I'm posting these in private posts for now, and mentioning them in public to I don't know, brag on how fast the rewrite is going. It is a real rewrite. Not only am I changing from 1st to 3rd person, I'm normalizing chronology and changing other things as I go.

It's not all roses. When it was in first person, there were all these little places where the narrator could reflect on what a mindless thing he had been before, and how bits of consciousness unfolded and developed as he went along. But without that voice, I'm having to kind of get that in sideways. I'm afraid that it makes the story flat in some places, because at the beginning we're following closely along with a thing with no mind to speak of, which does not talk much and has no desire except to stay safe, fed, and not found.

Another thing I'm trying to do is to ratchet up the peril some. Honestly, I don't like doing it. My readers said I had to. But since the peril is supposed to increase as the story goes on, it's awkward having a lot at the beginning. Where do you go from up? So it's delicate.

And I decided that when I'm restive, or wanting to go read romances, I should just take a break and work on A Suitable Lover.

For other people, it's NanoWrimo, for me, it's finish the damned things already.

have to take Gloria to the dentist tomorrow, and I don't want to do that either.
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The first picture is the nice fellow's dumbrella avatar. It used to be much higher quality. How can it degrade without being resaved and reformatted and stuff? It's been sitting there in that file for a long time. I guess he needs a new one.




The second is the small form of the graphic for "Bella and Chain."

I need to get back to that story. I know everything about it and that. Also I want to redo some small parts, mostly graphical ones.

Meanwhile, it looks like The Conduit is going to have fewer chapter breaks and be longer overall. Part of this is dealing with how certain tropes? event types? repeat: I'm trying to make it clearer that each time they repeat it's with greater immediate consequence to the interface. This means much less backflashing, I think. Also I have to cut out a certain kind of interior monologue and replace it with a certain other kind of internal monologue. Since it's no longer a first-person narration but tight-third with unavoidable tiny flashes of tight omni. By tight omni I mean that the narration knows more than the protagonist but doesn't leave his shoulder. So when somebody dies and the interface doesn't see it, but it's important to the story, the narration says so.

Since I'm trying to ratchet the danger up, I'm disturbed that the first encounter right now ends in death for the wisher. I think I want to go back and instead of having the guy die of aflatoxin poisoning, he should get messily ill from some other food poisoning. Just as the guy who remembers and therefore teaches the interface about memory doesn't die from the heart attack. This way the first deaths directly caused by the wishes come later in the book and I can preserve the guy in the welfare hotel as the first dead body the interface is in the company of.

It's a problem writing about a person whose intellectual and emotional development is not congruent to normal development. I could go different routes. I could say that because he had nothing like child nurturing he won't develop social characteristics and will be unable to care for others. But honestly, that personality is boring to me. I'm not out to prove anything about human nature. I know that sometimes people would write a story like this for that reason. I'm not. I always was interested in the perspective of the fox that gives wishes, the little man with the violin in another fairy story, the bronze head, the witch's familair, the sorcerer's Damned Boy, Faust's homunculus, the genie -- a sentient, self-aware granter of wishes who has no direct agency of its own. An actively passive character. That's it.

On another front, my boss and her husband were thanking me for being in no hurry to quit and I admitted I had no place to go and they said that another person was leaving and they'd just as soon fill that place and I said, fine, I'll stay, and we'll just have an understanding that in the long run, I would be leaving. Things are somewhat better now anyway, I don't know why. The morning staff is no longer ragging on me, anyway. They have other problems, I guess, and maybe they've finally figured out how much work they leave for me to do every day.

It's not like they can stop leaving that work for me. It's just the way it is. There's only so much labor and so much time and so much slack. And the babies cry more in the morning, and I don't know whether that's transition blues or the fact that neither of them will play and sing when things are rough. I have a special crying song -- it's "whimper and whine" from The Electric Company, originally meant to illustrate the silent E -- and the babies automatically stop crying, if only for a couple of minutes, when I sing it. I only sing it when somebody's really upset, and I sing it almost everytime there are two or more babies crying. I think that the babies take it as a signal that life isn't always going to be this tough, I don't know. But I am sure that telling a baby "you're fine" in a peremptory tone of voice is never very helpful, even when it's true.

Sometimes babies cry because of existential angst rather than a physical need, and sometimes when they do that they want to be held more than is reasonably possible or convenient for the grownups. But it's never that the feeling is not true and it's never that the need to be held is unreasonable in itself. The task for the grownups -- who have other things to do to make the place safe and healthy and pleasant for all the babies, and other babies to hold, change, feed, etc -- their task isn't to derogate the existential angst and touch-cravings of the crying babies, but to help them find other ways to acjieve comfort. And the human voice is one of our most proximate tools. Pleasant, reassuring patter, humor, chanting, singing, are all pretty effective most of the time (nothing is perfectly effective all the time). So a baby caregiver who is silent or talking just to the other adults is missing out on a really valuable toolbox, not just a tool.

And we don't have time to talk about this because we never have meetings away from the babies.
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I just saved chapter two. The hard thing about going from 1st to 3rd is that the protagonist doesn't have a name yet. In first that's not a problem, it's just "I." In third you have to make it clear who you're talking about some other way: unless the protagonist is the only one in the story of its gender, it gets no unique pronoun,so it needs a unique name. To make matters worse, the protagonist has the quality of answering to whatever name you think he has. So it's misleading to refer to him by the names that the other characters are using for him (in the first two chapters he's been George, Sonny, and Pedro. It will get worse before it gets better). I am not at all happy with the solution I've embraced at the moment: the narrative refers to him as the Interface. I might be happier with a lower-case letter on that, since it's not a title of office but a regular noun like "typewriter." He being, at first, an object.

Other than that, the chapters are getting a couple-three hundred words longer, but there may end up being fewer of them as I front-load some of the material that originally never showed up until much later.

On another front, Malouma has an even better voice.
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So now I know how financial aid for foreign medical schools works, and that's why we're taking out a loan on the house. Just for this year, so far, because we don't want to be paying on the rest of it for longer than we have to. Also because the interest rates on the Stafford loans are not much worse than we can get on the house.

I want to make a hypertext novel. Of course the best candidate for that is Bella and Chain, which is already hypertext, but I'm not returning to it until I have a first draft of A Suitable Lover and a final draft of The Conduit. (which might make a good hypertext novel too, and also might make a graphic novel if anybody wanted to draw a lot of hoboes and migrant workers, plus a Band of Scary Things from Beyond the Fields We Know)

I am so unfocussed.

Talked to the law student today. His anxiety levels are not going down. Nor is his intense feeling that he must beat out the competition or be doomed to perpetual failure (which is defined as making less than $100K a year. This boy grew up poor, by the way).

Yesterday was the Arboretum plant sale (and the Native Plants Society, in one spot). I bought:

salvia sinaloensis
salvia pink thing
another salvia
two ginormous salvias
leonotis
mimulus selection (deepish speckled orange)
australian thing kind of like a mimulus but different
piggyback plant (California streamside native. I must be crazy. I never water in August! but I'm going to put in a drip system, I swear)
2 iris douglasiana natural hybrids, essentially for the nice fellow

I have planted five of these in my front yard. The others go in the back over the next couple of days. Have to take advantage of the planting season (that is, the rainy season).

Yesterday was also the farmer's market, and I spent a whole heck of a lot of money getting everything I could imagine except chard, celery and turnips, which I think I will get anyway at the grocery store. food TMI, but nothing really gross )

Also, am I the last person in the world to discover Crystal Waters? Nice voice.

New filter

Oct. 11th, 2007 09:12 pm
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I'm dealing with my lack of focus by surrendering to it, and writing whatever I can work on at the moment. Which means I'm plugging my way through the last chapter of A Suitable Lover on some days (the chapter is terrible and I get only 750 words or so at a time and frequently lose a hundred or two), and rewriting The Conduit on others, and working on shorts or a couple of longshot novels on other days yet. My writing group has convinced me that The Conduit needs to be made into third-person and to have its story-telling order moved around. This presents a lot of problems but I think the problems it solves are bigger ones.

So, I've done the first chapter, and it's 2770 words. I'm going to post it in a private post for now -- as a kind of backing-up, I guess -- , and I will make it into a filtery post if anybody's dying to read it. I've lost a thing that was dear to me, which is the horror-story opening that melts into something more mysterious and less sinister, but no matter how dear it was to me, it did not work for the group, so hoopla! tossed it is. I also had to lose the reference to Where the Wild Things Are because it just didn't fit.

I do expect to narrow my focus again when I can, but for now I'm just writing whatever I can write.

On another front, I've now lost 33 pounds, and my whole relationship to hunger has just completely changed. No more adrenalin rushes when I get hungry.

Also, I ordered the Czech textbook on ABEbooks (my son doesn't have a credit card). Amazon and ichapters had never heard of the ISBN. It costs $43 dollars to buy a $17 dollar book and ship it from Prague to Prague with 3 day delivery. I'd have spent as much as it took, though: like Frank says, he needs that book to live.

I think the book was written by the professor, or maybe another one at the Univerzity Karlovy
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It's very late, so I'm not going to go into detail, but I had to take Gloria to the movies today. Summer is not my movie season. It's full of car chases, explosions, and dumb cartoons. We ended up watching "Cars.' This movie is really well done. For once the cg is luminous and colorful, not weirdly grey and muted. It's also visually and kinetically very complex and rich and layered.

But it's corrupt at the core. It's essentially a pandering movie. The teamwork and true love gloss is just a surface polish. What the movie is really about is celebrating all the ick of the 20th century -- the monstrous petroleum gluttony, the insane drive to pave everything (yes, I know, the movie champions the old Route 66 over and against Highway 40, but look what we're supposed to be nostalgic for! Pavement and neon and what amounts to vast swathes of desecration of the desert).

At this point someexasperation can be heard and somebody says "It's just a movie for dog's dake. You're over analyzing and politicizing something that's really only innocent cartooning."

There's no such thing as an innocent Disney movie, okay? There's something to this movie, with its establishing shots of the huge Southern Nascar race track, and the opening dialog heavily emphasizing the Southernness of it all (dang, I don't want to cvome out against the ideas of a "southern culture," but why do they keep piling dreck on the the feast? Do I have to accept this crud in return for The Oxford Magazine and good music? What if I don't want to accept it?). There's something to it, with innocent, cute automobiles guzzling their oil and gas. There's something to it, with the racial stereotypes -- racial stereotypes? on cars? Can't they give these cars personality without racial stereotypes?

So, corrupt at the core. And, after all that, it still has a lot of car crashes and car chases.

On another front, Frank tickled the printer settings so I can print from Word Perfect again, so the ms of The Conduit is printed out and ready to go to its new destination. I have a cover letter almost finished.

And last: I have what Frank assures me is a mosquito bite most likely begind my right ear. It's so painful I can't describe it. It's just a hard place right under the skin, at about where the skull and the neck join, and just an inch or so behind the right ear. Did I say it hurts a lot? And, finally, to bed.
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This seems to say something I didn't start out to say, and I don't really agree with it, except perhaps as pertains to my very own self and not the world at large )

On yet another front, I have an idea for a new chapter for Afterwar involving more medical technology and distance from the front.

And since nobody told me the query letter's stupid, I'm going to look at it one more time and then use it.
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However, I did finally get those five stories mailed today. And I used the treadmill at Gloria's house though it was terribly boring because I couldn't get my book to stay in a readable position. The book is Kim which I read four times forty years ago. I wanted to read Zola, but I keep having this problem -- I hate the books. Is it the translation? Or is Zola really hateful?

We saw "Akeelah and the Bee" today and it is very heartwarming and sentimental, but it is also interesting and cool. There's some stuff about redemption through what? the dictionary? competition? helping? reconciliation? jumping rope? I'm not sure. Maybe all of these things.

Gloria's on a new medicine for the dementia, its stats look good. In general, her cognitive deterioriation has been accelerating, and physically she's been getting frailer. But this last two days, while she's been really very befuddled, she's been engaged, and her eyes have the light of human intelligence in them. No thanks to her regular doctor, who did not prescribe the medicine, and who, when I took her in last week for pelvic pain (and a history of bladder infections and intestinal difficulties) prescribed 800 mg of ibuprofen twice a day. No, we didn't do it. The other doctor gave her the dementia medicine and treated her bladder infection.

Tedious bad radio luck and annoying music most of the last two days no matter what station I turn to but I hit "The Elvis Blues" on the way home.I started free-associating about songs in general.

On another front -- I finally know how Winston got his own apartment.  And it sucks that there's only one person in the whole wide world who's actually read The Conduit besides me and who therefore has a chance in hell of knowing or caring anything about it.  Since Forager Girl is the protagonist of the next thing I'm writing when I finish Afterwar  (real soon now, I've got five or no more than ten pages to go, and I'm able to do this again), I understand that Winston is a major supporting character.  And he also gets a true lover in this book, in the process of F.G. getting hers.  I'm pretty happy with the way it's shaping up and it just might be one of those fast ones like The Conduit.  

I'm about to get maudlin about writing all these terrific things and not getting them read, so I'm off to bed.
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One of my earliest memories is of a rainy season like this. My father was a brakeman then and he had gone out of town on a run to I think Roseburg. There are only two people left in all the world besides me who might remember all the details. Anyway, the tracks washed out and they kept sending him farther and farther away. I forget how long he was gone in total, maybe a couple of weeks (he was usually never gone more than a couple-few days at a time even when he wasn't working the milk runs -- the short hauls around the Bay Area). It was raining and raining. I must have been four, or six at the most. I remember playing in the rain all the time, and my mother getting more and more worried. She was always kind of freaked out when my father was gone. She went into an actual depression later when my father spent months at a time on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

So there were a couple of days last week when it didn't actually rain, and both of those had sprinkles and high fog. Other than that it's rained for at least a couple of hours every day.

So I sent my poor dear Afterwar to Zeborah and she made a few comments and this had the desired result: I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel and better than that I can see that the book is much better than I feared, and it actually did the things I hoped it would do.

So the rest of this month, writing-wise, I plan to (1) rewrite the John Brown terrorism story from scratch to make a May 1 deadline: submit something to the Baycon writer's workshop by April 15th: and maybe get Afterwar complete and submit it.

In terms of other submissions, I ought to just gather everything up and send it all out again. I pledge to submit at least three other things besides the three I have already mentioned, and that one of them will be The Conduit.

I was thinking about going to Worldcon but it's sort of in the middle of the time we have available for visiting the nice fellow's brother at his sweetie's summer house in Denmark. Along that line, the time we're expecting to be in Europe is August 16-August 30th or so. (Emma, make sure I have the correct date for Jason's birthday) It looks like we'll be flying into and out of Amsterdam, but I haven't booked the tickets yet (you know, I keep getting cold feet, and it's only because the nice fellow insists that I do anything at all).

I went to see the other dental Borg today -- Dr. Cheng who plugs himself into the ceiling (this is so cute: he has this head thing that holds a little halogen lamp and the ceiling has a cable that he plugs himself in to). He's going to dig out my old roots in a couple of weeks, which have fused to the bone, and he's warned me that he may have to dig out lots and lots of bone to do this, and he says it's standard to do a bone graft though insurance companies don't pay for it. A bone graft is not what I thought it was. It's little particles about the size of sand, of mineral matrix extracted from cow bone. I had the impression it was tiny slivers. He says it's only a couple-few months before the body has resorbed the minerals and replaced them with new ones, anyway.

Then, somewhere down the road, I get implants.

I am soooo expensive.

And, well, I'm dizzy again. I wasn't earlier, so maybe whatever it is is going away. And I'm going to bed. Science News today has a bit about how not getting enough sleep makes people gain weight. Well, I knew that.
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I finally got the courage of my convictions and sent a query for The Conduit to Golden Gryphon, just over a year after I sent it to the other place where I have no direct evidence that they ever get any of my email ever.

I'm terrible at queries, but I think I'd want to check out a book described like this:

I’ve written a contemporary fantasy novel, _The Conduit_, in which the protagonist is a magical construct made to grant wishes – that is, he’s the user interface for the Universal Conduit. Made in human shape for the convenience of its users, it acquires self-consciousness and eventually an independent personality when set adrift by rifts within research group that creates him. Hunted by the splinters of the group, and by another group it doesn’t understand, it wanders the highways and skid rows of coastal California, at first only heeding its last instruction from a member of the research group – to stay safe. It makes its living at first from its capacity to grant wishes, and seeks out hungry people on street corners, in hobo jungles, and on freeway verges, manipulating conversations so that the right wishes will be made. As its human biology and neurology have a chance to develop,_it_ becomes _he_ and he develops awareness. And he realizes that every wish brings his pursuers nearer and he undertakes to learn how to make a living without wishes, trying tomato picking, cement breaking, every kind of casual labor, and eventually being befriended by an ambitious young gardener and the family he meets through him, but not before he is captured and lost by the increasingly violent splinter factions of the research group. The help of his new friends, including a Oaxacan curandera and a wilful and perceptive little girl, enable him to resist a final confrontation with his creators and his would-be destroyers.

and that's enough for today.
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Well, there's been precipitation. The ground is wet every morning. But for it to be rain, there has to be .2 inch of measurable rain in a single event.

I have cleaned off my utterly embarrasing porch and I have begun to decorate it for the Big Event. I have also finally assembled this funny little workbench-vise thing that was given to Ted a long time ago. And I have washed the furnace intake filter (it's the kind you wash). I have discovered ripe compost in the newcompost heap. I ahve figured out why Chain's dog is called Monkey, and what the consequence of that is, and I think that makes Bella and Chain into a more fun story, though harder for me to write, because I have to figure out what happens to allow that consequence to happen.

It has been eleven months since I sent out The Conduit and I have still not heard a single word. I have followed up three times without any response and every time I decide to yank it and send it somewhere else somebody talks me out of it.

I'm going to make the nice fellow a nice breakfast now. He deserves it: he works and works and works.

I'm seeing behind the curtain again, and I don't like it, and I know some of the things I should do, but I don't like those things either.

Mostly, I should clean the mess behind the curtain. And pay the bills.

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