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I'm finally fixing up A Suitable Lover for professional submission. The online version is seriously messed up: much worse than my saved manuscript (among other things, the uploading process elided words here and there, and an occasional phrase, sentence, and in at least one case, a really important scene. I don't know how much is due to user error and how much is due to the uploading machinery). I'm mostly cleaning up typoes and formatting, and making sure the missing bits are reintroduced, but I'd appreciate an eye besides mine to go over the newly-proofed versions and catch what I've missed and any crud I've missed because I read what I think I wrote.

It's going suspiciously quickly. I reread the whole book last night and I've cleaned up the first four chapters this morning. So I'm ready to start feeding chapters to someone if they're ready to read it for me.

I would really appreciate this.
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I finally figured out how to make the big reveal funny instead of tragic. I am sooo pleased. It involves pirates and race politics.

On another front, I am going to attempt to make dolmades with the leaves from the grape pruning I did yesterday and red lentils instead of rice for the stuffing. My friend Israel is having a barbecue tomorrow and it's my role there, as well as elsewhere, to bring an unexpected vegetable dish. Or sometimes three.
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I read somewhere that Franz Kafka thought he was writing comedies and was dismayed that people didn't laugh when they read his books, and that Jaroslav Hasek thoughthe was writing tragedies and was dismayed when people did laugh.

I don't know if it's true.

But this thing I've been writing is supposed to be a romantic comedy, andit just gets less and less funny. And as for the romance: well, our guy's just having the pieces picked up by our other guy.

I'm about five hundred words shy of the length I thought I would stop it at, and I've found myself in a whole that would take ten times that to get out of. If I want it to end the way I want it to, in an upbeat crescendo. I may have to tear the last chapter down and redo it.

But this chapter has produced one of my favorite lines so far: "Some people have a skeleton or two in their closets, Skip, but you've got a whole ossuary."

He does, too. But I may decide to throw out the last horrible revelation as being too dark for the tone of the rest of the book. I don't know.

I told the people who were reading it as I wrote it that they know what happens in the last chapter, and I didn't really have to write it, now, did I? But I was being disingenuous. They really don't.

And now I'm a little less sure I do, either.

On another front, when I told the latest painter I couldn't afford $6900 and I was probably going to do it myself (read: "hire my friend the window washer") he started backing and filling and saying not to give up. But he also says he has a lot of work right now and can't do it right away. I don't know what the deal is. I wasn't bargaining.

But I'm really going to ask Paul.

And the termite people never called again.

But the tree people are coming to look at the almond trees on Monday.

Insert usual whinge about missing the nice fellow and how hard it is to do anything without him.

And it's really cold, even for "normal summer pattern weather."
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Wrote: half the last chapter of the romantic comedy, and a chapter of the thing about the guy who is at one with the water system and enmeshed in a political struggle he doesn't understand and doesn't want to care about until people start threatening him.

It's close to a stopping place, but if I stopped it where it feels like it ought to end, it would be 40K or less, which makes it not a novel. Where the story goes after that isn't to my liking as a thing to write: I mean, I envision forty-fifty years of a life by turns tedious to describe because it's all about the bureaucratic plodding, and briefly, explosively dangerous, with those episodes not so much resolving as retreating as an ebb tide, the danger promising to return in its own time. You could write that, I suppose, as a picaresque, or an adventure series, and there've been more unlikely heroes for adventure stories than a water engineer with unlikely powers of perception and communication with watery things. No, it's not a fantasy, and his powers are not supernatural. He's been genetically tweaked so he can do his job better, is all. The bacteria and algae that have been tweaked to act as controls and movers for the water system don't have personalities. No sprites anywhere. Just biology and engineering and hydrology.

It occurs to me that it might work as a fixup with the similarly short one about the guy who has been set up to think he's a nutcase, so the bad guys can pin the assassination of our guy's mentor on him. Except it happens about fifty years earlier, now that I think about it. Unless I rework it completely.

I have called several termite outfits and finally got one that returned my call and is willing to come look at my house. The painter I was talking to before the house revealed all its horrors is now too busy. Another painter thinks he may not be able to get to it very soon, but he's coming out. I have called several tree services but not one has answered me.

The tree thing is getting urgent. I can hear my almond trees scraping against Hanelore's garage.

I have another job interview on Tuesday. I volunteered last week twice at the school where the Watershed Council is doing projects. I helped Emma move a bit. I worked the polls on Tuesday. I went with Zac to buy lumber.

I fixed my horrible leaking rear hose faucet. Practically falling in love with the woman who works in plumbing at the hardware store while I was at it. She was so competent and calm. It's too late for me to be her when I grow up, I'll have to make do with what I've got.

I got mc to two of the appointments he needs to get to for his SSI evaluation, which is all the appointments they've set up so far.

I deadheaded the front roses.

I got the checkbook for the life insurance account so now I can pay all my big bills and get my car tuned up.

I'm going to be out of money in a couple of months, but I won't have to do any of these things to my house again. And I'll be working soon.

So, and the nice fellow's birthday came and went and I survived it. One more first-without-him I don't have to look forward to.

I have discovered that if Truffle doesn't get a decent walk three days in a row, she will pine: she'll stop eating, she'll get constipated, and she'll start to look Addison's-y.

So I am working on getting up earlier so she'll get her good walk even after I start working again.

Oh, also, I figured out how to make a thing in Milkshape, but not how to view it in a form that will allow me to see how the texturing is working out. Nor do I know how to export the thing into SimPe, or how to scale it so it's actually the size it needs to be for the Sims. The project I'm working on in Milkshape is interchangeable pieces to make false fronts for Southwestern-style buildings, which also seem to be exactly what's needed to make the false fronts on the narrow old buildings I saw in Amsterdam and Prague.
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I've been taking buproprion for several years now, off-label: it helps a wee bit with focus, forgetfullness, and stupid sleep habits, and now I'm accustomed to it and when I miss doses I have more trouble with those things, especially the stupid sleep habits.

When Ted died the health uinsurance people transferred me from the workers' account to the retirement account.  They've suddenly noticed that I'm taking an antidepressant and now they're bombarding me with cheerful brochures about how it's not all my fault, and I'm not alone, and it takes time to get better.  It's an annoying waste of paper, is what it is.  And worse, each brochure comes with an assignment they want me to do.  One was I was supposed to check off thoughts and feelings I might have and if I had more than a certain number of them I was supposed to call "a health professional."  And another was I was supposed to make a chart of good and bad things that have happened in my life and mark down in columns whether I thought that they happened because of me or because of people and events beyond my control.  And if I thought I was the reason for the bad things and other people and things were the cause of the good things, I was in trouble.

Well, that's enough complaining about the mail.

On other fronts: I got a letter from the state assemblyman's office (signed by a Local Radio Personality, Rachel Ann Goodman, who does stuff on KUSP, or used to, anyway, I don't know if she's one of the ones who kept their jobs after KUSP went all NPR-PRI all the time), and they've spoken to somebody at UCSC who's weighing in on our side too.  It's like: everybody gets it but the central HR office in Berkeley.  And I suspect maybe they get it too but they have to turn it down first so we'll give them the stuff they need to make it look right.  Maybe.  I hope so.

I went shopping for Prague today.  I succeeded in getting warm fuzzy boots, gloves, and ear muffs.  I already have several scarves.  No, the boots, gloves, earmuffs, and scarves do not especially match.  This is fine.  I got a phrasebook and three guidebooks (my excuse: it's a long, long flight).  I talked to the phone people but I talked to the wrong ones for getting my phone activated for international.  

I also bathed cat and dog and treated dog for fleas and a hotspot.  And mopped the kitchen and bathroom, though I really need to do it over again.  Upstairs is nearly cleared out, but shed is not all loaded.

I'm working harder on writing right now.

spoilers for Prospect Road. Does it matter? Maybe, to somebody, somewhere down the line. )
Need to walk dog before going to help paint signs for a peace vigil.

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This afternoon we're I'm getting in a rental storage shed and Friday a dumpster.  So yesterday and today, with a bit of help from a couple of friends, I pruned the apple tree and the rose that grows in it back to nine feet off the ground where the shed will sit: ditto the neighbor's bottlebrush tree that mostly grows over the driveway: cleared all the very rampant growth that had covered the (dirt and gravel) driveway: and broke down two little berms I had made in the driveway years ago in my attempt to raise plants up to the sun.  I'm exhausted.  But I still have to move everything, everything, everything out of the eaves and the room proper upstairs (hence dumpster and shed) because Zack's going to repair the drywall and finish off the room: walls around the eaves, a real floor, wall in the currently open closety area. And there's a lot up there.

I am writing, a little: a couple hundred words most days and up to 1-1/2 thousand every third or fourth day.  What I'm doing, mostly, is finishing A Suitable Lover, and then I'm also picking at a thing I call Prospect Road which takes place in the world of the Chuy book and is a boarding school story with ecological science instead of wizardry, and collective values instead of individual heroism.  My guy is a kid who fell through the cracks of his own draconian community and chances to be recommended for a special remedial scholarship to a training school for the folks who manage the terraformed ecology.  He's damaged, and threatened by the rules back home, andhas never worked in cooperative teams before.  He has to learn to stick up for himself and to meld into a group.  It's nearly finished, actually, but not as nearly as the first, and the first is a hoot to write, so I'm finishing the first first.

And now I have to go get boxes and give the dog a thrill.

I wish Ted was here,


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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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
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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First Flush training this morning and this afternoon I get a free entry to Long Marine Lab for being so good. And right now, I'm writing the final set piece for the suitable lover, the first time I've worked on it since the last time the computer went south.

This year I'm team captain for the Merced outfall. My team and I went up there to scope the place out and discuss where to collect the water samples from. It's not obvious, because the culvert ends in a pile of riprap on the cliff. There's a wee opening in the riprap, into which the five gallon bucket will barely fit. After that? cliff, rocks, and the bay. We considered trying for a more open spot down the cliff and I suddenly realized these were the rocks where one of my former students was swept away by a big wave during a rather mediocre winter storm. So we don't want to go down the cliff when it's raining.

But the dog thinks I'm useless. Laters for you, pooch.

Also, my friend Anton has as a running joke the scenario of a crew coming into an office claiming to be there to replace the yellow ink on all the printers, because you hardly ever use any yellow ink!

Apparently, flesh tones use a hell of a lot of yellow ink. We're out again.
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This time I thought I had backed up my files up to last week in the (Frank-titled) "master ninj" drive automatically: that's where I thought I was saving things to. It's somewhat protected, because it doesn't have an operating system on it.

Instead, I was saving things to the drive that formatted itself for no reason. The file I tried to format, by the way, is untouched.

So, instead, I'm set back maybe two productive weeks: most of a chapter and half of another chapter. That is, I do have the version I mailed to myself, which is lacking in those things and some continuity work which I will have to reconstruct.

Everything that was on the C drive was lost. Everything. Fortunately, that means very little of my writing, since I did back all that up. It also doesn't mean the photos, as they are backed up. It does mean every single program and piece of hardware has to be reinstalled. It doesn't mean any of my recent email stuff, because that's all webmail. And I never looked at the very old email stuff anymore anyway. And the guy that worked on the computer this time had no theory. My theory? Microsoft's last security update, or else dust on the fans.

How do you clean the fans? Canned air doesn't do it. I can't seem to open the places where the fans are to wipe them off. There's a trick to opening them, right?


On a more cheerful front, the triumphant young doctor-to-be is homeish (actually at the moment over the hill being bought a laptop by a doting aunt and uncle). He has a long convoluted story of Kafkaesque experiences in Prague (appropriately enough). In order to expedite his student visa, he was first recommended to go to the US Embassy. The US Embassy was closed on Thursday (his first free day after the examination), but would be open Friday. He arrived at 11:30 on Friday to discover that the Embassy had already closed. But he could come back Monday, except that he couldn't, because his flight was on Sunday. The next recommendation was that he should go to the Foreign Police. This is supposedly much less scary than it sounds. The first place he was told to go to was not the Foreign Police, but the domestic police, who told him that he had to go across town to the Foreign Police. He got to the office that was named, but it was only the Foreign Police dealing with matters in several languages not including English. He had to go to a different office for the Foreign Police who could deal with English speakers. At one of these offices he was told he would have to go underground which was alarming until he realized he was being told to take the subway. Anyway, this next office turned out not to be the Foreign Police: it was the domestic police again, only the multilingual office. He still had to go to the correct office of the Foreign Police. He was given the address. But he couldn't find it on his map. The officer looked at Frank's map. "Oh, that's because I gave you the wrong address," he said, and went to look up the correct address. Which he found, along with the information that the office Frank needed was not open on Fridays.

None of this matters one bit.

It has been explained to Frank that if his student visa does not arrive by the end of the ninety visa-free days he gets as a USian visitor, he merely has to visit Austria and get his passport stamped there to reset the ninety days. Presumably he could do this indefinitely. But the student visa is supposed to take seventy to a hundred days, so he should be all right anyway.

More about the examination: most of it was easier than the USian MCAT medical school test, with odd bits of unexpected lore here and there. The part that allowed Frank to really shine, though, was the oral part. Here they gave him a stack of cards from which to pull a discussion prompt. He could hardly have pulled better prompts: one was about end of life care, and the other was about "alternative medicine." The first he was completely prepared for, because of his grandfather's death the year before. They liked what he said about that, and the other too.

He came home dressed in orange. He brought funny chocolates and a Czech fairytale book. And Cuban rum (of course).

Supposedly Czech is one of the hardest languages to learn. Nouns have four genders and six cases. Verbs may have a transgressive form, which unfortunately does not mean what it sounds like. Wikipedia apparently has four articles referring to Czech pronunciation and spelling alone.

I want to learn Czech.
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I was thinking that what's going on with my trees is plum pox.  There is only one treatment: eradication.  Which means sanitary removal of the trees as soon as the plum is stripped.  But according to everything I've read there is no plum pox in California and nobody expects it any time soon.

Then what I thought was that what both the apricot and the plum have is xylella fastidiosa, which is a bacterium spread by the glassy-winged sharpshooter, which is sort of like a leafhopper and sort of like an aphid. The disease is "phony peach disease" -- I don't know why "phony," except that maybe some people use phony to mean unacceptable or puny, not just to mean fake.  But that's not a real likely thing either.

There is brown rot on the plum, but that's different.  For one thing, it's treatable!  For another, it really does appear to be a second problem.

Or more: I think I may have a virus, and more than one fungus going on.  We have a choice of turning the back yard into a surgery or removing the trees to begin with.

Currently, though, I think I'm going for trying to cure the trees.

On a related front, I've been working on getting the primary fermentation going all day.  Seriously, I didn't even get dressed.  But I did make a straining bag, teeny tiny stitches by hand because I was annoyed by the sewing machine.  It fits perfectly inside the bucket!  And I treated the plums very carefully with campden tablets and cut the weird looking parts off them.  The bucket is going under the apple tree, carefully shielded from bugs and detritus and direct light, so I can tend it without being enclosed in the fumes!

Oh, and there's endage in sight for the nerdy gay romantic comedy.   Really, this time.  I've got notes and everything.
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Well, that was fast. I'm up to the last chapter again. I've added maybe as much as 3.5K, removed no more than 1K (it's looking like it will come in just under 85K, which I think is good for this kind of fluff. And yes, it's fluff). I'm stopping before I get to the part that I was having trouble with, because I want to be fresh when I do it. Of course I have other things to do today too -- not including going to work. I tweaked my back so badly washing tubs for primary fermentation yesterday morning that I can't go to work and pick up babies today. But I have to harvest plums anyway, or they're gone.

Frank went to work today! He's working for an ambulance company which is not as good as the one he wanted to work for, but better than the one he worked for before. (also, the pay? very bad. But it's not nothing) He'll be working in Santa Cruz, meaning (1) he doesn't have to commute any long distance to get to the hospital and (2) he doesn't need to and therefore can't move out -- he's not making enough to move out anyway. And it's less than a month before he's supposed to go to Prague for the test/interview, so he won't have saved enough to go and we'll be sending him somehow. He'll be getting paid for that last Shadowrun supplement any day now, but that's half a week's wages in real money. Most of his pay for that is cred in Shadowrun circles, which can be combined with a sawbuck to get you a sandwich.

I absolutely cannot tell if my romantic comedy is in the slightest bit funny. Isn't that sad?

Thanks everybody who commented on finding rss feeds for blogs on Blogger. I haven't been able to follow through on any suggestions yet, but I have some ideas.
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How do you do an RSS feed for Blogger blogs?  I have several bookmarked that I'd like to keep up with but it isn't going to happen unless I can add them to my flist.

Also, [profile] james_nicoll presents a link to some Karl Schroeder essays that are interesting, and which point to a site about vertical farming (which, if you explore the site carefully, shows signs of at least originating as or incorporating undergraduate term papers), which is also interesting.  But James complains that the essays will have no effect on science fiction, while I've already seen some of these ideas in science fiction already, especially the rewilding part.

I think Schroeder is wrong about using no ecological services at all: but I think he's right that industries can and ought to be closed-loop, that is, having no byproducts and using little or no stuff taken from the environment.  Though if the industries are making stuff that people use, of course, the loop either has to have a couple of open strands or it has to be a very large loop which encompasses at least part of the environment.  I mean because you can't make something out of nothing.  Though you can make something out of waste products, leftovers, and dead people.  The environment does that, already.

Also Schroeder says infinite growth! like that would be a good thing if we could only detach the growth from the environment, hermetically seal our cooties away -- but I prefer the word "indefinite" because we actually probably don't have infinity to work with.  And once you've introduced the possibility of reducing our footprint to near-zero (I don't believe in zero), I'm thoroughly agnostic about population growth.

On another front, for about twenty-four hours I had lost 22 pounds total, but I'm back to 18.  Bounce, bounce, bounce.

On still another front, I bleached the primary fermentation containers, which had gotten nasty since I last used them,  I'm making a shopping list and then tomorrow I'll start the process for a small batch.  I will also dry plums and maybe make some plum butter.  Why are you looking at me like that? I'm on Day 11 of the intro, and I will be able to have some carbohydrate things now and then after Saturday.  And the plums and apples are happening now.  The apples are early: this tree has traditionally been an October tree, not an August tree.  But everything was early this year.

Oh, and 2nd draft -- I'm already past the tightly choreographed scene.  I'm finding all the Chekovian mantelpiece guns I left lying around and making sure something happens to them,.  I'm finding places where there's something weird about details or word usage and twisting them to my comedic purpose.  I hope.  I'll be back to the final chapter before the end of the week and then I hope I will be able to write it correctly.  If not -- I'll write it as best I can and then get critique of it and hopefully that will show me the way to go.

And one more thing -- Emma, if you want any of those bean sprouts I bought, you better eat them tonight, because it turns out that they're very useful for the kinds of meals I have been eating.  So there's only a small amount left.

Also, also: the subject line? [personal profile] matociqualahas infected me.  The line itself is from "Little Henry Lee."  Which Harry Smith fanatics will have heard on the Anthology of American Folk Music.
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So I was closing in on the last word of the last chapter and I realized thagt these guys had been talking at each other for pages and pages and I was bored.

So I'm recasting the chapter: the same points get covered -- ick, how yucky it sounds to be talking about points that get covered -- anyway, over a longer chronology, but they do more stuff to get the points across, while talking a little bit less. But I haven't written it all yet.

Still, I expect Draft by the end of the weekend.

It's a water quality monitoring weekend, and also the Cabrillo Music Festival.

On another front, there was a young whale in the small craft harbor a couple days ago, and this guy went out on a jet ski in the middle of the night and herded it back out to sea. He may get into serious trouble for doing this -- legally you aren't supposed to go out on your own and do stuff to marine mammals even if it's well-meaning. It worked, which some people think trumps the law. Me, I don't know. But I do know of a case recently where a couple of people picked up two baby seals "abandoned" on the beach and the seals died. Scare quotes in this case because seals park their young: they probably weren't abandoned.

On still another front, Prague!!! And I can't figure out any of the visa stuff -- either he does or doesn't need a visa to take the test (he better not, there's no 90 days until the test), and the student visa, should he get in, requires him to arrange accomodations before he applies for the visa, and all documents, including his (non) criminal record and his health records, have to be presented in Czech.

But, Prague!!! If he gets in he needs $15,000 a year in tuition and fees -- if he spoke Czech he could do it for free! And then he needs living expenses. And I can't figure out how financial aid works if you're an American going to medical school in the Czech Republic. All the websites I visited that purported to deal with that actually didn't. But, Prague!

The Charles University was founded in 1348! Prague has been settled since Paleolithic times!

Shockers for the California boy, I bet: the summer is the rainy time, there is no ocean, and no salsa. But, Prague!

Actually, a suburban part of Prague called Motol. Green, it says, with public transport to the city center, and a huge hospital.
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You should be listening to Democracy Now anyway. Reading the site is good too. Today's lead story is about the privatization of water and the lies behind the bottled water boom.

Amy Goodman has quietly become a ubiquitous figure. She's a complement to Michael Moore. She's quiet, she's earnest, she's focussed. When she was interviewed by Steven Colbert, she indulged him but didn't give much in the way of snappy comebacks: it was kind of cute, actually, watching her. Meanwhile, she's on radio and TV every day with Juan Gonzalez, who has an unretouched but unexaggerated New York accent (one of about 35, I don't know which), and carried by more and more venues, she's part of this website, she has a newspaper column that is carried by I don't know how many papers. She's put a lot of effort into being not glamorous. Her hair is grey and cut in a simple fashion, if she wears makeup at all it's just enough to satisfy the TV cameras and their lighting. She starts out from the position that she has a position, so no false objectivity crap and no vicious undercutting of her allies in the name of evenhandedness.

But the research is good, the facts are true, and that's what counts in a news program. The "mainstream" media act as shills for the worst of the ruling class -- and their audience keeps shrinking, because if the news is going to be half as newsy as People magazine, you'll probably choose the happy fun one. And Democracy Now's share keeps growing, despite a conspicuous lack of showmanship, because it's interesting. It's interesting because you hear from people you wouldn't hear from elsewhere, you hear about things you wouldn't hear about elsewhere, and because it has it's own voice (slightly scratchy and definitely not perky, in the case of Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez).

On another front, I have my new glasses and my left eye is exhausted already from not having to yank itself into an unnatural position anymore. But it's the other lens, the one without the prism, which has rainbows on its edge. I may have to edge into using these glasses a little at a time.

And on a still further point, my guys have gotten into a side discussion of how personal "impersonal" art (botanical drawings, in this case) can be. They are completely unruly, these guys, and persist on being the people they really are despite the needs of a romantic comedy. They will not stay on message, even though this is supposed to be the grand reconciliation and resolution scene. They have three little words they have to say, but what do they say instead? Chiaroscuro:sketchy: frenetic.

I'm a 0

Jul. 31st, 2007 11:00 am
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According to the BBC Sex ID test, I come out with a 0 score on their scale, which means I have no brain sex. Or maybe I have a double brain sex, I don't know, because when they tested separately for factors that they thought were masculine or feminine I got equally high scores. And I got high ones, too, except on the eye reading one. The eye reading one is dumb, though, as anybody who's read The Film Sense knows. But some of the tests didn't have statistical significance, even according to their wimpy explanations, so I think they were just in there because somebody thought it would be fun to write a java script for them.

On another front, stupid backstory keeps wanting to make an angsty drama and I want to write a romantic comedy.

Stupid backstory.
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Now I'm anxious because I might have more material than I can fit into one chapter but not enough to warrant another chapter.

We'll see.

I think I should mount a movement to chagne the spelling of all -ng words to -gn, so I don't have to keep fixign what I'm writign.
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Tonight, anyway.

I'm more and more dissatisfied with the book, which is I believe a developmental inevitability. Here are some things that irritate me at the moment (when I am about 4.5K from the end of the first draft -- i.e., three days' work):

1. If the protagonist is going to be such a whiny little guy, shouldn't he be deliberately ridiculous?

2. Or maybe he should be less whiny instead.

3. If the love-object is going to be so relentless in pursuing the Truth About Skip, maybe I should give him a better motivation than Love At First Sight, which he's already been noted not to believe in?

4. Maybe this guy ought to have some motivation at all? And maybe a little more back story?

5. If the title of the book is A Suitable Lover, and the germ of the book is that conversation about how Skip is a perpetually unsuitable lover, maybe the idea shouldn't be introduced and dropped in a few chapters?

6. Why on earth do I find it necessary to have the people who like Skip the most bitch him out at every opportunity? If he's that annoying,how do I expect anybody to want to read about him?

7. Skip's sex schtick seriously needs tweaking. Also Marcus's. I don't so much think that the scenes themselves are so bad, but one of the things about Skip is supposed to be that he'll do whatever the other guy wants -- whatever, within reason -- so the three? sex scenes in the book shouldn't read the same, should they?

8. Why should anybody care about the minutiae of Skip's back story? Why does it matter whether he ran away or was thrown out of his ex's apartment? Why does it matter whether he tried to call afterwards or not?

On another front,I have made large strides towards cleaning up my front yard. I cut quince branches for hours today. We filled the greencycle can and we have a pile more of sticks. I hoed away at the dirt strip that ought to be a sidewalk. Tomorrow: more raking and sweeping, and if I can find the sticker for extra recycle pickup I'll bag the extra sticks and label the bag for pickup Wednesday. I also made leek and potato soup, only a week later than I said I would.

Frank looks glowy and golden in sky blue.
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After the planning commission meeting we were told that a meeting would be set up for the neighbors to talk with the developer. We all exchanged emails. I got the second round of emails, apparently, that confirmed that we'd have a meeting today (Weds July 25). But the time and place were to be set later. This happened on Thursday. I sent a couple of emails asking for the time and place, and offering to let people on my street know about the meeting. By Sunday, when the nice fellow and I were walking back from the Moscow Circus performance at the Boardwalk, I still hadn't heard. We passed by the house of the woman who set up the meeting, and we had a weird-vibes conversation in which I figured that she had decided to hate me because I have the opposite conserns to hers and she said that she would be sending out emails the next day to say when the time and place would be.

No email.

Tuesday I had this feeling that this woman was not going to tell me the time and place and I would be out my opportunity to voice my concerns and make my suggestions (which are not hostile, remember, I like the project in general). So I sent an email asking for the information, but instead of replying to the one person I used the "reply all" function, and yes, I got an answer, not from the woman who had been organizing things, but another woman. The woman who had organized things had sent out two emails on Monday including, as far as I can tell, everybody on the original mailing list except me. The woman who answered my email was a person who hadn't been at the original Planning Commission meeting, so she doesn't know that she and I are on the opposite sides of the spectrum on our concerns. She's avidly opposed to the project from the get: doesn't want nine units where there were two, doesn't want more people in the neighborhood, doesn't want any trees chopped down, even if she can't see them and they're going to be replaced by three trees each(that's the rule for heritage tree removal: cut down one, plant three: that's after you get permission to cut them down, which isn't easy, I've seen the Urban Forester defend two nasty palm trees on properties belonging to people who couldn't afford to and couldn't themselves keep them pruned and safe -- many palm trees are horribly unsafe pruned, because the old fronds are hard and edged with sharp teeth, and fall off in high winds).

So I'm going to the meeting, which means I'm not coming home after work.

So I figure I'm going to have to clean up the front of my house if I'm going to go forward with this, because if I don't, the yuppie types are bound to come after me.

On another front, Frank has an interview Monday. Last night he drove a friend to San Jose (70+ total in the middle of the night): today he's meeting a Texan friend in LA (1000+ miles total): and tomorrow he's picking up a friend at the San Francisco airport (180+ miles total). My car is already at least a thousand miles late for an oil change, so I have to make that appointment for as soon as possible (Tuesday if they'll take it). No, I don't go to the 1-hour places: I take it to my mechanic a few blocks away. It's a ten-year-old car: I can't afford a new used car: it's a good car: I need an attentive mechanic.

On still another front, I started the last chapter last night. However, this morning, I discover that the Master Document feature has, yet again, removed four thousand words from my book, and I have to rewrite again. What the fuck? Who knows Word Perfect? Why is it always the last four thousand words???

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