Thursday, January 30, 2003

I tried to find a link to put here, but couldn't locate anything suitable. So I'll do my own summary. I noticed some mention in a Reuter's story on AOL today that some telemarketing companies and a trade group filed suit to stop the FCC from setting up a Do Not Call registry. This figures. We've had one in New York for a while, and I can't say enough good things about it - I notice a huge decrease in the number of annoying phone calls I receive. What a pleasure! So I hope the FCC wins.

This reminded me of an article I read recently in The Independent, about a bill pending in the State Assembly that was sparked by the success of the Do Not Call registry. They are considering establishing Do Not Mail/Email Registries. I tried to find a link to that story also, but once again, came up short. Anyway, the article stated that paper junk mail leads to about 500,000 tons of solid waste annually! My paper recycling bins are collected every two weeks, and they are always overflowing. Sure, some part are newspapers, catalogues that I want to receive, computer printer paper, envelopes from monthly bills or personal mail, and food packaging boxboard, but the vast majority is irritating, unwanted junk mail, plain and simple. Credit card offers, solicitations from all sorts of companies, mail order company catalogues that I will never use, you name it. And I notice Spam is growing in leaps and bounds in my three email accounts - every time I open my mail, there they are: improve your credit, get a second mortgage, XXX-HOT HOT HOT Click here, buy virus checking utilities, the convoluted scheme to help out someone in Nigeria, verify your account by sending in your credit card number and password, and usually a few to howzer-wildcard that are gibberish. So here's hoping the Assembly creates that Registry, and saves us time, space, and some trees.

I ordered an enhanced keyboard for the Netvista. The Aptiva has one, but I forgot to upgrade when I ordered the new machine, and we didn't realize how much we'd miss it. It's important, when the phone rings for "business" to be able to hit the Mute button on the CD easily. The LAN is working out just great. It has really cut down on the hassle of upgrading. Transferring files to the network is a wonderful solution, plus the old faithful Aptiva is right downstairs if I need something. The stairs are giving me a workout - but that is actually another plus. Still, there are things to tweak here and there, which is a tiny pain. The Aptiva is recognizing my HP 1170C printer, now that it is on the network, as 800-something; it still works, but some paper is manual feed. Hit print, run upstairs to feed paper! The Netvista tells me there is no Internet mail server when I am in Lotus Notes. Hit "save mail as draft," run downstairs to send!

There was a time when I did a lot of computer support at work; I was never a big techie, but as an early adopter and enthusiast, I developed some skills, and so later adopters and those with fewer skills became dependent on me when the folks from the help desk were slow in responding, or when they had been dismissed with "it's a user problem" or "we don't support that software" as the official techie response. But that was mostly back in the days of DOS, Windows 3.1, maybe early Windows 95. Email was catching on. Networks were not so pedestrian. A benefit was that I liked the control of choosing the brand and installing options and configuring my own machine.

I am not inclined to spend my time that way any longer. I don't miss the days of crawling under dusty desks in my skirt to find the cable, or dragging monitors and laser printers around on my task chair. No more questions directed at me that have "hit F7" as the answer. Now the only thing in my chair is my rear end, and although work attire is most commonly sweat pants and a tee shirt, you won't see me on my hands and knees.

Now I just want it to work! I've been lucky - or made good choices - maybe because no approval from above was required, this was my nickel! But I haven't had a bit of trouble with my computers or printers, and I hope that continues. I can't remember the last time I had so much as a paper jam! That little tool pack I received at some computer marketing event or another waits to be called into service again. Maybe in a few years, when I'll need a small screwdriver to fix my eyeglasses? Not sure, because in spite of umpteen hours staring at a screen, and although the clock is ticking, I haven't reached the point where I need to wear eyeglasses yet.

I have started my research into POD. The demands of the semester mean that I can't spend quite as much time as I'd like, but I am learning something, I guess. There are so many vendors, and it is all a little confusing. The Writer magazine did an OK job of summarizing in the current issue. Anyway, because my query has been sent, as usual excitement interferes with my sleep, and so I gave in and burned the midnight oil. I reviewed my proposal once again, and wrote a nice little bit on One Egg Cake for the first chapter. :-)

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

First day of on campus class...and it is still brutally cold!

Tuesday Too

1.) Are you comfortable spending time alone? Do you actually look forward to that time? Why, or why not?

Yes - I am very comfortable spending time alone - I work from home most of the time, and I am always alone then. I do look forward to it. I like it, and when there are times with no solitude - I miss it. Of course, I have two dogs and a cat for company, and that suits me fine. Why? I need the personal space, the peace and quiet, and time to think. Sometimes I suspect I am "too comfortable," and so I force myself to get out and interact.

2.)What's the next best thing to your best thing?

My computers!

3.) What do wish you you'd done last week/last month that you didn't do? If you're someone who accomplishes everything you set out to do, please let us in on the secret.

Send Christmas cards. Not doing it was a first, but I was pressed for time and way too tired.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

The answer came a big box on the porch, delivered by the mailman. It reminded me of something my sister told me years ago, about a guy she knew who took many times to pass his driver's road test. At that time they didn't tell you at the end of the test what the results were, instead they made you wait and receive the notice in the mail. He said, when the envelope comes and it's fat, you failed. If it is thin, that means you passed.

I knew that big box meant at long last an answer, and I knew the answer was "no," but for a moment after I opened it I thought maybe I was wrong. On top of the box were several books. Books! I didn't see my returned proposal right away. So I read the enclosed letter, savoring each word until I realized that my first impression had been correct, just like the thick motor vehicles envelope. It was no, but to soften the blow, there were three wonderful complimentary books for me, as well as a recommendation for another publisher to try.

So I went right over to the computer - the network is up and running and my old machine is right there in the living room - and whipped up a query letter. On the way to Samsonville, I mailed it. I'd figured, during this long wait for rejection, that when it came that was it. I was going to stop querying and go Print on Demand, risk a bit of money up front, sacrifice some prestige, have total control, but maybe more profit. So the recommendation was appreciated, but time's a-wastin'. I guess I will see what the query yields - but at the same time, start researching POD. You see, on the one hand prestige is hard to sacrifice...but on the other, control is very attractive.

Friday, January 24, 2003

I go in spells, of thinking about my book project very little, to having it always in mind. Working on it (of course), or sending a query or proposal makes me think of it often, almost obsessively. The semester is starting to rev up, but for the moment my focus is still elsewhere. (And, an aside, soon the computers will be setup and networked!)

Recipes over the years

As a newlywed in 1926, Mimmie started writing recipes in a spiral-bound notebook. On the cover is taped an illustration of a kitchen by Maxwell Mays that looks much like Mimmie's at the old house. At some point she labeled this notebook "Old Book." The stained pages inside are written in fountain pen and long ago started to crumble. At one place, they were sewn by Mimmie to the binding, and the thread remains intact.

About 1970, my sister painted a "mod" recipe file box for Mimmie. Inside, I found several packets of index cards, some in Mimmie's handwriting, and some in my cousin's, carefully sorted and rubber banded together.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Update on the Wynkoop House: this story from the Kingston Freeman, and this one from Preservation Magazine.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Still very, very cold! Hot chocolate and tea weather!

Tuesday Too

1.)Where in the world does your lap go, when you stand up?

I asked my dog, Sophie, since she's always laying across it when I am sitting on the couch. She said, "I don't know, but I think it is very rude to disappear so suddenly."

2.) "Life's is mysterious, don't take it serious." Are you easily riled by things you could have laughed off? Why does,or doesn't that happen to you?

Sometimes yes, but usually I try to not sweat the small stuff.

3.) On the other hand, some things are serious. What argument/situation can't you walk away from?

Yes, this is more true. Serious things do bother me. I try to work on this too, because it is important to know how to deal with stress. Sometimes walking away isn't the best choice. This is on my mind today, and the question reminds me of the situation with my friend. But I don't write about specifics like that here, and I am not going to start.

Monday, January 20, 2003

Tidying up, getting organized. Getting ready for the new semester. Took down the Christmas tree, don't laugh! Yeah, it was kind of crisp but no worse than past years. The Samsonville tree will come down next weekend. Both were fresh cut so it seemed a shame to not squeeze every minute out before disposing of them. And, I got a new computer, new office chair, and two new computer desks. All must be in place so the computers can be networked on Friday. This project was long overdue.

Friday night the shower and kitchen sink pipes froze - I think it was something like 15 below and of course we forgot to keep the faucets dripping and closet doors open. The kitchen pipe burst, and once again we were treated to a flood and no water for a spell. All is repaired now.

Today we did something very, very hard, regarding being honest with a friend, about something that just might be none of our business. It seems appropriate, amidst the straightening up, to take care of unfinished business that has been bothering both of us for a long time, but that didn't make it easier. Now I feel relieved and sad at the same time.

Friday, January 17, 2003

I have finished updating the Gully Brook Press website; I posted a new Nileston News (the subject is plagiarism). I mined some tidbits on the theme from this ejournal from March - May; I believe this will be my new process for creating the newsletter. The virtual museum is focused on winter and Christmas Trees - better late than never!

A batch of blonde fudge (candy making is not easy, even though Mimmie made it seem like it was) is ready for shipping to Black Dome Press. I hope the staff isn't all into low carbohydrates or something!

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Shhh! I'm writing, offline.

Here's Rudy rolling and sliding and rubbing his face in the snow...

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Tuesday Too

1.) Scientists have predicted the earth will be swallowed up by the sun in 7.5 billion years. Will humans still be around then? Have they already gone to another planet? Did they incinerate themselves eons before the sun ever sucked on the straw? Write 2 paragraphs on the last days.

I'm fairly imaginative, but 7.5 billion years is beyond my imagination. So I have no clue.

The Sun was hot. It was hungry. It cast a beam around, trying to choose some refreshment. "How about Mars?," it thought. "Nah," the Sun eventually decided. "Green people are bitter." It continued to search. "Hmm...maybe that cute one instead?," it wondered, then it flickered, taken by surprise when the Dogstar pleaded for Pluto to be spared. "OK, Sirius," grumbled the Sun. It resumed flashing its beam, pausing occasionally to consider the alternatives. Its mouth watered. "Look at all those refined carbohydrates," it said. "Yes. I'll take Earth."

The Sun grabbed Earth with a blazing beam of light. Pluto and Sirius started to tremble. For a minute, flames shot all the way to heaven, then suddenly, the blaze died down to mere embers. The Sun spit the big rock out. Earth resumed its orbit. "What happened?," demanded Mars, who had been feeling very lucky. Earth shrugged. "I thought I was a goner for sure. Then all that snow in Gina's yard nearly extinguished the Sun!"

2.) What does the earth's tombstone say?

So, did you remember to bring flowers?

3.) Do something nice for mother earth today. What will you do?

Something that would also be nice for Ms. Kitchen. (Good thing there are no fruit flies in the winter.) I will stop procrastinating, and wade out to my recycle bin to dump the nearly overflowing pail of organics. I may have to take a shovel along.

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

It seems the Wynkoop House in Saugerties is now threatened; here is the story in the Kingston Daily Freeman. I sent a tip to Preservation Magazine again. I swear, if, like the Defreest-Church House, this house is demolished, I think I won't be able to bear it. (More posts on the Defreest-Church House appear on November 7, 8, 13, 16, 21).

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Bob's (43rd) birthday was Sunday. We went to Villa Valenti for dinner, a wonderful, cozy Italian restaurant. They have homemade pasta and a great salad bar. Yum!

Tuesday Too

1.) According to a "New York Times" article, lawsuits against reality TV shows are on the rise.
What's your take on this new form of "entertainment"?

I have two reactions:

(1) I detest these programs, I can't stand the hype associated with them, I don't watch them, not even the first Survivor, I can't understand why anyone would watch, much less go on, any of them, the match-making, the stupid endurance contests, the disgusting eating stunts. And to top it off, I'm sure a lot of it is 100% contrived, too. The people who are involved in making these shows deserve a good swift kick in the pants.

(2) I detest the obsession with litigation. OK, if some jerk from a reality show tricks an innocent into doing something dangerous, fine, (maybe) suing is acceptable. But when a greedy pathetic fool willingly goes on one of these shows, then later claims that dangling in a harness from a bridge, or eating hot pepper and dog sh-t, or whatever stunt was required to win the 100K was harmful and so now some exhorbitant damages are deserved, it is ridiculous. Contestants on these programs deserve the Darwin Award (and a good swift kick in the pants).

2.) Are you inclined to reveal personal things about your self in your weblog that you might not be as forthcoming about with your friends/family? Why or why not?

No. True, all journaling is somewhat therapeutic, but that isn't really what I'm doing. For me this is a lubricant to encourage writing. Anyone can read the things I write. I am pretty much the same here as in person.

I have written some on this subject before, so here's a bit of that, mixed in with a few new thoughts. A long time ago I used my paper journal to vent, really vent, uncensored. Afterwards, I threw out some of the pages, thinking, I can't save this junk. I know there is a strong, perhaps dominant, school of thought that goes, don't censor yourself in your writing, and I understand where that is coming from, but once I achieved adulthood, I thought about the diary as a historical record, and I decided I wouldn't write too many things in my journal that I would mind someone reading. I have kept that structure in the years since, and it has worked out for me.

But the transfer of that little spiral bound book to the world of digits means, I think for me anyway, an additional layer of self-censoring. I have conflicting thoughts about whether this is good. No question inspiration and quality writing does come from strong feelings, and it is no fun to read bland, vanilla words. On the other hand, sometimes when I am surfing I read the journal entries of others and I think, wow, posting this stuff isn't the greatest idea. I don't agree with the thinking that such writing is healthy and creating a valuable dialogue in the online community. I believe fiction writing is better for making use of that sort of material. In my opinion there is a difference between tactlessness and creativity.

Finally, I am always cautious about what I write here about students. It wouldn't be fair to them to do otherwise.

3.) Is there something or someone you take for granted that you shouldn't? Maybe today is the day to change that. How would you go about it?

I try not to take things and people for granted, but on a day-to-day basis I think I could be more thankful. How to change? Some conscious effort needs to be made to consistently pause, and remember this.

Monday, January 06, 2003

Obviously, I haven't been doing much posting here lately. Chalk it up to the holidays, and for a while I was feeling kind of under the weather. I think I am on the mend now. I finally finished my students' grades for the semester, and since it is intercession, I am trying to take some time away from the computer. I am giving my back, hands and eyes a break.

I have a long and probably unrealistic to do list. I may make a batch of blonde fudge for Black Dome Press today. The goal is to pry an answer from them - any answer. If it is no, I am considering self-publishing, using someplace like iPublish. It will probably cost me a few hundred bucks, but I think it could sell enough copies to at least break even. I'll have to research this of course.

I am reading Charming Billy, by Alice McDermott. So far, it is a good read. There's nothing like a good book for burning the midnight oil.

Thursday, January 02, 2003

Happy New Year 2003! Will the rest of this winter be as snowy as the first part, I wonder?

Tuesday Too? Two days late!

1.) What was the best moment/time for you in 2002?

1. January: Getting a positive letter about my Mimmie book from a publisher.
2. April: Receiving a copy of my education book in the mail.
3. August: Taking that first swim in the new pool.
4. December: Opening a Christmas gift, a 97-year-old copy of Harper's Weekly, about Mark Twain's 70th birthday (thanks Ma).

2.) Is there something significant that will be different for you in 2003? How come, or why not? about get more exercise, learn skilled relaxation, not worry, eat right. Why? To be healthy. And continue to pursue publication. Why? To be happy.

3.) Some people really enjoy celebrating New Years. Do you? Do you have a ritual associated with the arrival of the new and passing of the old? What is it?

Not really. Some years we go to a party, some years we go to Albany's First Night, some years we go out to dinner, some years we stay home and watch Dick Clark on TV. When I was a kid, I always spent New Year's Eve with Mimmie, drinking tea and talking all night.