Sunday, November 4, 2007

WotF Honorable Mention!

Writing—Got an Honorable Mention from the “Writers of the Future” contest with a story I wrote last fall. Back when I was submitting regularly, I made Finalist once and got lesser honors a few times. It’s nice to know I haven’t backslid horribly and my stories aren’t crap. That was a real confidence booster.

Knocked out four books in about nine days ending last week, sometimes working 16+ hours at a stretch. Then for about a whole day, I had no projects on my desk. I hardly knew what to do with myself – LOL! Then UPS came with a manuscript for proofreading, and I felt whole again. ;) I jittered away the caffeine and stress hormones, slept a whole lot, and got back to human. Now I’ve got the book on my desk and a packet of flashcards on its way, and I’ll be getting my American Library Association training on Tuesday, so it’s back in the editing saddle!

The Public Handicapper Contest ended in a satisfying manner; I placed 353 out of over 4,500 participants with a $22 balance. I’m looking forward to the “Winter of Our Discontent” contest that runs December-January.

Family—Got the chemistry in my 55-gallon fish tank back into alignment. However, I’ve discovered that my tap water is full of phosphorous (P), so I’ll need to plan to eliminate it on a regular basis. If I had a higher-light setup, the plants might use it up as fertilizer, but since I don’t, the plants don’t grow that fast and use that many nutrients.

Now I’m tackling my 20-gallon “hospital” tank (which I haven’t needed as a hospital for ages). It’s not as bad as I’d feared. The pH is about 6.8, and the carbonate hardness (kH) is quite low, so I’ve hung a mesh bag of crushed coral in the filter’s outflow to raise the kH and, thus, the pH gradually. The general hardness (gH) is fairly high, a consequence of not changing the water very often. Evaporation concentrates the hardening ions; when you consistently remove only a little of the more concentrated water (because the level is already low due to evaporation) and top off with softer tap water, then the water gets harder and harder. More regular water changes should bring the gH down. As with the larger tank, the P is high; I’ll need to place some P-absorbent stuff in the filter or tank to get it out. That stuff is expensive—bleh.

The ammonia and nitrite are good in both tanks—yay! In the 20 g. tank, I toss a little food to the Malaysian Trumpet Snails a few times a week, and they keep the filter cycled with their wastes.

As I write this, I’m leaning back slightly in my chair and wearing a fleecy top, and little Bootsie is curled up on my chest, purring away. I’m so glad I serve a useful purpose in her life!

Culture—Finished Arthur C. Clarke’s Imperial Earth: good book, no idea why someone gave it that title. Now nearly done with Ian McDonald’s Evolution’s Shore (published in the U.K. as Chaga). I like how McDonald’s experience of being Irish has informed his view of neocolonialism and the empowerment (or lack thereof) of Africa. His female protagonist is strong and flawed. However, he occasionally lapses into idealizing ethnic groups—while well-meaning, it is another form of objectification.

Home & Garden—Everything I cleaned last time I had time to clean is dirty again, and the fall chores still await.

Fun!

  • The New York Aquarium has a fabulous walrus baby! OMG, he is sooooo cute! He loves his mommy very much, and when they nuzzle each other with their whiskered faces . . . eek! He was 115 pounds at birth and is over twice that now. Read more about mom and baby here and see more photos and videos here.
  • Plug in your ZIP code at OpenSecrets.org and find out what political candidates your neighbors have donated to. Also use the site to learn all kinds of info about political donations to various campaigns.