…and what I had for breakfast
Towards the end of last year I started posting a monthly set of specific (mostly) writing goals for the coming month, and that really helped me keep on track. So, my specific writing goals for the rest of this month are:
- Post a list of stories in the editing queue to the Editorial Board mailing list.
- Post at least four blog posts that are about things I like, rather than ranting or critiquing, et cetera.
- Complete at least four more chapters of edits on Book 1.
- One re-write pass on the spin-off.
- At least two more scenes for Book 3.
That’s a bit ambitious, but I think it’s do-able.
I’ve been reading the sex advice column written by Dan Savage since back in the early 90s. Between reading his stuff for many years, briefly meeting him at a queer fundraiser, seeing video excerpts of his public speaking engagements, and so forth, I don’t just sometimes succumb to the illusion that I know him, I sometimes fear we’re leading strangely parallel lives. So it should be a surprise to no one that I follow him on Twitter. The other night he posted a snarky comment about a commercial for viagra/cialis/one of those pills to treat erectile dysfunction. I find those commercials awkward and weird and ripe for ridicule. One of Dan’s brothers replied with an equally snarky comment, and seeing both tweets, I replied with an observation that I’ve never understood the bathtub analogy/metaphor/whatever the designer of the commercial means it to be.
A minor anti-gay troll replied to my comment, of all things, to say that Dan has the blood of queer and trans teen-agers on his hands because he spreads the “lie” that homosexuality isn’t a sin. He said it much more compactly, but that was clearly what he meant. Earlier in the day, Dan had been tweeting about the recent case of a trans teen who committed suicide after her parents rejected her and forced her to go to conversion therapy. I don’t know if this troll thought my tweet had something to do with that, or if he was just targeting anyone who seems to interact with Dan. I replied that proper blame rested with people such as him who bully these kids into suicide. He replied. I replied once more.
Now, my rule on dealing with trolls is that I can reply no more than twice if they target me, and then I reply to all further communication with “Bless your heart.” No more arguing after that. But he moved on to someone else. A quick glance at his twitter account reveals that 99% of his tweets are angry replies to people who reply to Dan. So he seems to be an even more narrowly-focused bigot than most.
Whatever floats his fruit loops, I guess.
More dental work in my near future
After my last two dentist visits were all good news, I suppose I should have expected something to go wrong soon. The crown came off one of my teeth. Actually, it looks like the post broke. I wasn’t eating. I wasn’t even drinking anything at the time. It just popped off while I was typing. At least I have the crown, not sure if that will simplify things or not. I wasn’t supposed to see him again until the end of the month, but…
Dead air time
When I’ve had to work any of the week between Christmas and New Year’s, at every place I’ve worked, it’s always been a quiet time to get caught up on this. People are out on vacation or working from home because they’ve got kids home from school—both at the place where I’m working and our customers. So it’s a good time to work on things that you’ve been trying to make time for.
The down side is, that seems to true for just about everyone. So most of my news sites—by which I mean places where I can get news that is actually news, and not just talking heads who are repeating the same stories every 20 minutes to fill the time—publish next to nothing. And a significant fraction of what they do publish are listicle. A listicle is one of those articles with headlines such as, “The top 10 gay rights stories of 2014” or “The 7 questions state and local officials have to answer about the stuck tunnel machine” and so on. This was true before the internet age. Print magazines and newspapers used to go to these top X lists ore retrospective stories at the end of the year.
The list articles and other kinds of filler start being a higher percentage of what’s published right around Thanksgiving in the U.S. The percentage goes up each week, usually reaching a peak of maybe 65% at New Year’s Day.
I noticed a variation this year. The usual peak percentage of filler happened during the days leading up to New Year’s Day. But this year, with New Year’s being a Thursday, what happened was that almost nothing new was published on Friday or through the weekend after. I wasn’t the only one taking a four-day weekend, by any means. Virtually every freelance journalist and most of the editors of the small and specialized news sites just went away. The percentage of what was filler didn’t technically increase, it’s just that almost nothing new was published at all.
It’s a little bit eery.
My subconscious is so cliché
Friday morning I had one of those dreams that usually only happens in movies, shows, or stories. I was having a very annoying and slightly scary dream involved an alien invasion. I woke up. Except I woke up at my office, which was totally deserted. And because it was dark outside, and I couldn’t find my phone and something was wrong with my computer, I couldn’t figure out it if was evening or super early in the morning.
So I was trying to get out of the building and get home, because I was worried Michael would call me to say he wasn’t feeling well and wanted me to come pick him up at work. I found my phone, and I literally couldn’t read the time or any other information on the screen. At which point I realized that I hadn’t actually awoken, I was still dreaming.
At which point I woke up in bed, struggled out of my covers, and immediately made sure I could actually read the alarm clock and the books by my bed before I believed I had really woke up.
All of this happened after I had gotten up, driven my-not-entirely-well husband into work, come home, and decided that I needed at least a nap.
It used to be the case that if I had to go to an office supply store, I would almost always wind up buying several things that weren’t on my list. And I really looked forward to such trips. That hasn’t been the case for a while, and I was struck by that particularly this weekend when I had to drop in the local Office Max to pick up two shipping boxes of a very specific size.
Part of it is changing technology—both how changes in technology have change my behaviors, and how those changes impact businesses. One example: for most of my life if you asked me what I had in my pockets, one of the items would always, always, always have been a pen or other writing instrument. Often I would have more than one, and even if I didn’t have more than one, the one I had would usually be a four-color pen. That started to change when I got my first PDA. I still often carried a pen, it it was specifically a pen/mechanical pencil/stylus combined tool.
Now that I have both an iPhone and an iPad with me most of the time, I don’t carry a pen in my pocket any longer. Oh, there are several pens, markers, and mechanical pencils in my backpack, which is often with me, but not in my pocket. When most of my note-taking consists of typing something into an app on my phone, the need for an ever-present writing utensil has virtually ceased. Plus, writing implements carried in pockets tend to get lost, broken, or otherwise used up faster than ones carried in a backpack. So, while I still need and use them, I don’t need to replace pens and pencils nearly as often as I once did.
I use less paper in all forms—loose sheets, notepads, notebooks, sketchbooks, et cetera. More stuff is done on my mobile computing devices or my laptop (which is portable). So, the reams of paper and the piles of notepads and so forth don’t hold quite the allure as the once did.
The other side of this equation is that since many other consumers have made similar changes, the range and types of goods the stores offer has changed. That was brought rather dramatically to my attention while I was waiting in the check-out line. The impulse buy shelf was full of things like lip balm and cold/flu tablets. No silly USB drives in the shapes of various cartoon characters (those are still sold in the store, just not up at the impulse-buy shelves), nor odd gadgets, nor unusually colored desk accessories, nor novelty pens. Lip balm and cold remedies. At an office supply store.
I need to track down that article I read about the cycle that big box retail chains go through. I’m sure it has some commentary about the impulse buy shelves.