Sunday, October 14, 2007

Holy Bat Guano! I've been busy!

WritingI received a request, and immediately said yes, to reprint some of my “Imagination’s Edge” articles in French. Watch for them at Jusqu’au dernier mot. This will be the second time my work has been translated; the first time was when my short story “May Pole Bones” appeared online in German.

Otherwise, I’ve been incredibly busy editing, editing, and editing. I’ve had a couple of engineering books this month. Hey, they said, “You don’t need to know anything about engineering to edit these books.” I said, “Well then, you’ve got the right person for the job!” LOL! All I can say is, it’s a darn good thing I never got it into my head to become an engineer, because anything I built would fall over in the first stiff breeze. I’ve also been doing a steady series of books on education/pedagogy as well as some sets of flashcards that are a fun way for kids to learn about geography and history. And there’s also been a steady diet of personal finance, career development, and standardized test preparation books. Great variety!

Plus . . . a couple of production managers I’ve worked with in the past gave my name to other editors who were looking for copy editors, and I now have two new clients! I’ll be working on the Mobil Travel Guide series for HowStuffWorks, Inc., and I’ll be working on an online “Reference Guide” for the American Library Association.

A year ago, I struck out on this venture with one client; today I have five clients. I’m very psyched! (And very glad I made the decision that I did, as hard and scary as it was.)

To celebrate a year of full-time self-supporting self-employment doing writing-related stuff at home, I’ve posted my resume here.

Someday Real Soon Now(TM), I should be able to take a day off and dedicate it to finishing the update of the Quick Reference Market List that I started . . . six weeks ago? Gleeps.

One way I relax is by playing each weekend in the free Public Handicapper Contest. The current contest started in May and will wrap up with the Breeder’s Cup at the end of October. I’ve spent most of the time muddling along in midpack, but recently I’ve moved up in the standings—to 367 out of about 4,500 participants. Of course, I’m still about $80 out of 20th place and a T-shirt and $140 out of 3rd place and a trip to the big national handicapping championships! But when I started, I really didn’t “get” stakes races—all the horses looked really good to me, and I didn’t feel as though I had any way to predict who’d win. Now I’ve feel as though I’ve developed my handicapping skills over what they were. You can check out my rise or fall in the standings for the next two weeks here: just type in Rottie in the “Find Player” box at the bottom.

FamilyEvery summer, I think that the dogs are finally getting older and calmer, and every fall, they show me that they were just hot. Now that the air is once again crisp, they are frisky, engaging in manic whirling-dervish wrestling matches and chasing squirrels as though they’re beef bourguignon (don’t worry—they can’t catch them). AJ the Rottweiler is especially vibrant, as in vibrating, as in all aquiver all the time. She takes the breed’s typical focus to the level of obsessive-compulsive disorder and the breed’s drive to warp speed.

For the cooler weather, Doug brought home a Plush Kitty Nest for Bootsie so he could have his fleece-lined jacket back. The “nest” has a plump, kneadable reversible cushion (one side fuzzy “suede,” the other side fluffy “fleece”) and fleece lining inside the walls. At first, she was pretty freaked by it, but we kept putting her in it, and now she’s completely adopted it. (And Doug has his jacket back, except for when I use it to lure the kitty to her place under the spotlight on the dining room table so she doesn’t keep settling in on, walking across, and viciously attacking a manuscript I’m working on).

The fish are doing well, except that somehow my pH has dropped. I hadn’t tested the water for anything for months, because I didn’t think there was any need. However, after two apparently healthy oto catfish failed to thrive after one and two weeks, respectively, I wondered if there might be a problem. At first, I think the pH was below where my test kit registers. After two daily water changes, I’ve gotten it up to 6.2, which is still too acidic. Well, the tetras might be reasonably happy, but the other Asiatic fish would like it higher, and it’s certainly not good for the snails’ shells. Oddly, the water out of the tap is only at 7.0 or 7.2, not up at 8.0 like it used to be, so that may be part of the problem. Tomorrow will see a trip to the fish store to see what they suggest (crushed coral?) and pick up some other supplies like frozen brine shrimp as well as a water hardness test kit and maybe a phosphorous test kit. Also, the one-eyed Glowlight Tetra succumbed to something, probably bacterial infection that gained entry through the wound, but no one ever picked on him and he had the company of a school of his own kind (important for tetras).

CultureFinished Frederik Pohl’s Years of the City, which extrapolates a future New York City in what’s really a series of novellas. Quite enjoyable. Now reading Arthur C. Clarke’s novel Imperial Earth, which surprised me with its easy assumption (in 1976!) of bisexuality. It also blends nerdy techie speculation with real psychological insight into complex characters. So far, very enjoyable.

Home & GardenI took a couple of days and got some cleaning done inside the house; still have a lot to do, though. And the fall chores await. The massive maple tree in the backyard not only still has all its leaves but they’re still green. It always waits until just before Thanksgiving before dropping them. If there’s snow on the ground, I don’t rake! The mess will still be there in the spring.

I brought back the sweet pepper plants, and they were loaded with peppers that were just about to turn colors. Then one dog or the other, or both, raided them. One day, the plants were heavy with yummy vegetables; the next, not a pepper to be found. I could just throttle those dogs!!!

  • Check out this rhythmic gymnastics montage. Holy smoke! Are these young women actually human or some kind of amazing mutants?!

  • Consumer Consequences is a fun simulation developed for American Public Media (public radio). Walk through it and find out how many Earths it would take to support humanity if everyone lived like you. (It would take four Earths to support 6 billion of me.)

  • A boy got bullied for showing up at school in a pink shirt. So a bunch of kids wore pink shirts to make a statement for tolerance and against bullying. And the movement is spreading. Great article in the Globe and Mail.

  • The Degree Confluence Project is a volunteer project to photograph and journal a visit to every intersection of latitude and longitude on land on Earth. Beautiful photos from all over the world and cute stories.

  • provides all kinds of tools to show the relationships between money and politics. Very interesting data here.