So as I’ve mentioned in the past, Demand Media is giving out a lot of bonuses this month. And if I finish 125, I get an extra chunk of change—this is actually a regular bonus, but I usually don’t find it practical to try for it.
But when I thought about it today, I realized that if I put in the extra 35 or so articles by the end of next week, and then do that much less articles next month, I could make the quota without neglecting my other writing.
On the other hand, trying to bat out an extra 35 in time to get them all approved will be exhausting and stressful. And given that I’m not desperate for the extra money (I’d love to get it, but I can pay my share of the bills without it), maybe it’s not worth the candle.
Whatever I do, I figure it’ll be a learning experience about my limits.
Okay, enough about my awful first-world problems, on to links!
•My new And column is out, on the NSA spying revelations.
•Echidne links to several stories, including one about Virgin Airlines proposing to help passengers hit on each other. Another link is to an article about the age gap between Hollywood leading men and their woman, actually looking movie by movie at the gap for Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, George Clooney and others.
•The growing popularity of hummus means a boom in chickpea farming.
•Paleofuture looks at the decline in mass transit in LA, and argues that it wasn’t the result of a scheme by car companies to destroy mass transit. Rather it was the transit companies delivering sub-par service, so the automobile looked the ideal solution. The comments include some disagreement.
•Texas Rep. Michael Burgess sees fetal hands moving and brilliantly deduces that male fetuses can masturbate at 15 weeks. And therefore, they can feel pain. But right-winger Ann Althouse (while insisting on her support for abortion rights) complains that this is hideously disrespectful: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” So there! Meanwhile, anti-abortion activist Lila Rose assures us “abortion is never necessary to save a woman’s life.” So never worry about the facts.
Category Archives: Personal
So as I’ve mentioned in the past, Demand Media is giving out a lot of bonuses this month. And if I finish 125, I get an extra chunk of change—this is actually a regular bonus, but I usually don’t find it practical to try for it.
I’m not sure why when I started this blog on MySpace years ago, but I did. And even though I’ve been posting here for four years (which was a wise choice—I have a lot more readers here) I’ve kept the other blog running, cross-posting to it.
Only yesterday when I went to cross post, I discovered that MySpace (which has been going through assorted changes) has decided to clean up the website. That includes no more blog posts and also removing past posts, so the whole blog is gone.
I don’t think there’s anything brilliant that I lost (and I won’t miss the inconvenience of double-posting) but it is annoying. More so that MySpace never notified me this was coming—though I suppose in all the Big Exciting Changes maybe they did and I blew it off.
Okay, that aside, this was a much better week than last week or the week before, quite aside from my anniversary:
•I finished my next draft of the new Monster Earth story The Fox and the Hedgehog. The character side is starting to take shape, the monster battles still need work. Which come to think of it was the case with the first story too.
•I rewrote Mage’s Masquerade, my Regency fantasy. On my last draft, I replaced the magic with psi-powers, this time I substituted the pseudo-science of mesmerism. I’m not quite sure if this works—it fits the period (the concept of mesmerism developed in the 1700s) but it’s harder to explain than generic psionics. Also most of the attacks on my hero have to be reworked to fit.
Even if I go back to magic, reworking the story has made the romance much stronger, so I think it’s been worth it.
•I put in a little more work on a new short story, Oh the Places You’ll Go, and my post-World War I fantasy (still untitled).
•I updated my Google plus profile and linked it to Google’s “authorship” program which will (I gather) show my latest stories from Raleigh Public Record, Demand Media and And, plus linking to this blog.
•I reviewed the material from that branding seminar I attended last week. No dazzling insights yet (not that it’s bad, as I said last week, it’s just not applicable at the moment).
I’ve also forced myself to go back to what I used to do, break from writing from 5 p.m. to 6. It always feels easier to keep working, but if I break, then start up with whatever’s left to write (usually just blogging), I feel much more relaxed. Non-stop computer-work wears me out.
And now, the Demand Media stuff:
•Does a Married Couple Need to File a Separate Return for an LLC?
•The Tax Impact of Business Supplies for Landlords
•How to Calculate the Basis Across Multiple IRAs
•What Are the Tax Implications of a Company Car With a Company Logo?
•What Real Estate Losses Can Be Deducted?
•Business Strategies to Cut IRS Tax Debt
•The Advantages & Disadvantages of Capital Gains Tax
•Can Divorced Couples Split Rental Property on Taxes?
•Tips on Refinancing With Low Closing Costs
•Disability Tax Deductions
•What Causes Tax Deduction Limitations?
•Is the Mortgage Interest Deductible on a Foreign Investment Property?
•What are FHA Loans?
•Can a Trash-Hauling Business Take a Charitable Deduction for Donations?
•Can House Remodeling Expenses Be Deducted During Tax Payments?
•Can Real Estate Rentals Secure Your Retirement?
•Real Estate & the Death of the Family Sole Owner
•Consistent-Use Theory in a Real Estate Appraisal
•How to Not Pay a Lot of Taxes on Large Sums of Money
•IRA Early Withdrawal Calculations
•How to Calculate Fair Market Value of Property After a Casualty Loss
•Tax Deductions for Buying & Renting a House to Parents
•Tax Deduction for Donating Consulting Services to a Nonprofit Organization
•Tax Benefits of IRA Vs. HSA Accounts
•Removing Real Estate From a Revocable Trust
•Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Property at Another House?
•Do I Need to Pay Taxes on Insurance From a Deceased Person?
“Love is worse than a crap shoot. It’s more like a spin on the world’s largest roulette wheel. When you love someone (and I mean that term broadly, to include attractions, crushes, any of those moments our insides open toward someone else in a way which is beyond logic and our control), it doesn’t mean anything except that you love them. It doesn’t make them good for you, or interested in you, or anything else that ends in the word “you.” If it turns out that they love you back, in a way that makes both of your lives better, that’s one of the luckiest coincidences that can happen in the world.”—postcardsfromguyville.blogspot.com
Quoted for truth. But once in a while the spin pays off.
About five years ago, I was at the Denver Mensa Annual Gathering when I saw this very cute brunette sitting and reading outside the hospitality suite. Recognizing the book (Collapse by Jared Diamond) I decided the fact I’d read another of Diamond’s books gave me something to talk about so I approached her and we struck up a conversation (we’d met the night I arrived but it was very brief).
We ran into each other a couple more times but when my schedule changed I had to leave very early Sunday morning. And while the dawn breaking over Denver is rather lovely, it didn’t make up for the annoying fact that leaving early precluded me getting her email.
Fortunately, she was more efficient and found me on LinkedIn. Which I assumed might be flirting (it wasn’t) so I emailed her back. And we did a lot of back and forth email before I tried very tentatively flirting, and she asked me if I was, in fact flirting. I said yes, she suggested we move up to phone calls (and in violation of all rules, discussed marriage on about the second or third).
About two months later, we met at the Atlanta Mensa gathering. And before we went home, we upgraded our FB statuses to “in a relationship.” Then followed lots of long-distance visits and into 2009 as we prepared for me to move up in 2010.
During this, when I first talked about her online, I identified her by her initial. She said she’d prefer me to use TYG for The Young Goddess and so it has been since.
We’d sort of assumed that I’d propose after we’d moved up and saw how it worked. Only I started thinking that it would be more romantic to ask ahead of time, so that she wouldn’t feel pressure to say yes (i.e., it would be a lot harder for me to go back to my old life once I’d moved from Florida to Durham). So I popped the question to her in November, on the beach. She was so silent with shock that I thought she was going to say no. But she said yes (phew!).
And June 11, 2011, we became married. Today we celebrated the second anniversary. And it’s fabulous.
This has not been a good year for the SFWA, sexual equality wise.
First, for the 200th issue, they used a cover of a swordswoman in a very small halter-top and a chain-mail bikini bottom (I didn’t hear about this until recently, as I joined right after), rather than, say, armor or any sort.
Inside the issue, in discussing great editors they had known, Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg referred to one female editor from the 1950s (a very respected one, I gather) as “a knockout.” Which I gather (again, I haven’t seen this issue), was not a standard they applied to any of the men they talked about.
Then in 201, C.J. Henderson discussed branding andmarketing and cited Barbie as a textbook example of a brand that despite 50-plus years and lots of variation, never loses sight of the core brand. He then went on to add that part of her brand was “that she maintained her quiet dignity as a woman should.” An assessment of womanhood that had nothing to do with the point of the article (he also mentioned that when Barbie got her college degree, she never acted as if Ken didn’t want her to be successful. I think Mr.Henderson’s making another point there about women in the real world). E. Catherine Tobler expresses her less than enthused response, including that the organization she belongs to gave all this the stamp of approval.
And then, in 202, Malzberg and Resnick unfortunately decided to defend themselves against what they saw as a wave of criticism being flung at SFWA and themselves (scans and excerpts here). It would have been more persuasive if they hadn’t trotted out every argument in the book: They were being complimentary, would anyone object if they’d said that about a man, why is it wrong to mention women are attractive, they are so totally not sexist, OMG CENSORSHIP!
Which is, I suppose, why I wanted to mention the current storm here: That is the standard response, not only on sexism but racism, gay issues, religious issues, etc. That the speaker obviously didn’t mean to say anything wrong, so therefore they didn’t say anything wrong. They have no sexism/racism in their heart, so they couldn’t have said anything sexist/racist. And anyone who shouts them down is calling for censorship!
And I suppose it’s possible that someone in this fight is indeed calling for censorship (however you define that)—I’ve only read a fraction of what’s been discussed. But equally certainly a lot of the people are not. They’re simply saying “This shit is sexist, don’t run articles/pictures like this.” Which is a reasonable request, especially when the stuff is sexist, more so when you’re paying dues to the group responsible.
Malzberg and Resnick also have an absolute right to argue back, but these are not good arguments. Equating criticism with censorship is never a good argument, let alone invoking well, if we can’t say this, what if the government starts saying who you can have sex with? If the censors get away with this, the next step is Nazism or Stalinism!
That’s not a slippery slope, it’s a gigantic leap across an abyss.
John Scalzi, current SFWA president, has a reasoned response online here.
I had intended to post a whole bunch more today, but instead of being swept away by countless demands on my time, I was swept away by laziness, and the opportunity to do next to nothing. And it felt good!
Part of which is probably Tropical Storm Andrea pressuring my sinuses. Partly also a busy week.
It was satisfyingly productive, though a little catty-corner. There are extra bonuses for the Demand Media stuff this month, so I’m front-loading them big-time. Plus the meeting I went to Wednesday sucked up some time, as did writing it up. I also attended three hours of a “building your brand” seminar online, for free. A lot of it isn’t really applicable to me (I don’t have a product or a service that needs funding, or a website anyone’s going to have the urge to buy), but some of it may be. I’ll review it later this month.
I managed to meet my goals for the week (30 Demand Media), though by late afternoon today, I think my performance was really dragging. But now it’s the weekend, and we have nothing in particular to do, so it should be extremely relaxing. Fingers crossed.
I really have a huge fear of getting lost.
It’s worse now that I’ve moved up here because I’m much more likely to be driving somewhere I haven’t been before. I was reminded of this when I went to Raleigh to cover a meeting for the Raleigh Public Record last night.
I’d mapped out my route, but all day I had this feeling of impending doom … Fortunately, as it always does, it vanished when I started driving. Well, until I arrived at downtown Raleigh and despite having printed out directions and studied the map, I did get lost for a few minutes. And then came the challenge of finding a parking space. My editor told me there was free on-street parking after five, but he didn’t mention how little of it would be available … Finally I settled on a parking garage close by, rushed across the street to the meeting.
And rushed back because I’d forgotten to look our shiny new car.
Still, no damage, no accidents, and our new car drives so much better than the old one did. So, yay.
In Engine Summer, John Crowley’s narrator observes that snake hands—the parts or stories that branch off from the main body—are the most interesting part. Of course snakes don’t have hands, but stories don’t really branch if they’re told right—it’s all part of the same narrative.
This weekend has been a whole bunch of snake hands, which is why I didn’t post yesterday and didn’t get the couple of posts done I was planning for today (or pretty much everything else).
Saturday, after posting, TYG and I went out shopping, then to a continuation of the Hitchcock festival where we caught North by Northwest last week (this week Shadow of a Doubt and Rear Window with a film-group dinner at a tapas bar in between).
Sunday would have been slower, but we’d been invited to brunch by recently engaged friends. So we got up early and rushed out to get some bicycling done. Unfortunately, we overdid it (I had a feeling we might be pushing it) which left me somewhat wiped the rest of the day.
Anyway after brunch we went car shopping. It was frustrating: Several hours but only one car driven (either the lot was closed or they didn’t have the car we wanted). By the time I got home, I was exhausted.
Today, we got up, took a walk,then I made the pear/butternut squash soup that I was too tired to make yesterday. Then out car shopping again. This again turned out much longer than anticipated—but that’s because we bought the car,so at least that’s taken care of.
So while my planned activities for today (lots of little stuff I wanted to catch up) got diverted by snake hands, it’s a good thing (our old car was close to dropping dead mid-trip). And we won’t have to do more car shopping.
On the down side, I have a feeling that getting the remaining details wrapped up (dropping off the old car we’re trading in, signing paperwork, taking it for a practice drive on quiet streets before I brave the freeway) will suck up a lot of work time tomorrow. Unfortunately, it needs to be done (I’ll have more on that topic tomorrow too). As I’ve said before, some weeks there are just too many giants with axes.
(Cover by Billy Graham, rights all belong to current holder).
This wasn’t as poor a week as last week, but it wasn’t as big an improvement as I’d hoped.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, I have a bad habit when circumstances leave me really behind: my brain decides it’s hopeless trying to do anything as I’m clearly not making my goals, and balks at doing more work. After last week’s mess, that’s dogged me all this week. It didn’t help that I have a couple of other things to take care of for Mum, and that I gave up Tuesday to get recertified in CPR/First Aid. I gave serious thought to postponing so I could some extra writing done, but I’d have had to eat my reservation fee. And on the whole, I’m glad it’s done.
Output this week was pretty mediocre. I got a little bit more done on Brain From Outer Space, continued to toy with Fiddler’s Black and finished my replotting of Southern Discomfort. I gave a last redraft to Original Synergy and Learning Curve, which will be in the collection I hope to have out on Smashwords by the end of June. That was much less than I wanted to do.
I did keep my Demand Media stuff up, though today I just threw up my hands. I’m still dealing with Mum’s stuff, and I’ll be quitting early anyway (TYG and I have plans) so my brain is once again saying, what’s the point?
Still I did get these done:
•What Happens When You Borrow From Life Insurance?
•Do I Owe Taxes if I Got Money From My Mother When She Died?
•Can You Write Off Your Homeowners Insurance Deductible on a Claim?
•Can Babysitting Be Considered Charity on Federal Taxes?
•Can Credit Card Debts Be Attached to Real Estate?
•Do You Pay for Property Taxes & Homeowner’s Insurance if You Own a Timeshare?
•Can I Invest in My Husband’s Business With a Self-Directed IRA?
•Can You Dissolve an LLC if You Owe Creditors?
•Can I Claim Private Pre-K as a Tax Deduction?
•Do Losses Have to Be Reported in the Same Tax Year?
•Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Stolen Equipment?
•Should I Convert $10,000 to a Roth IRA?
•If My Husband Has a Mortgage on a House He Bought Before We Were Married, Is it Half Mine?
•Can I Contribute to an IRA With a Credit Card?
•How to Lower Taxes on the Sale of Inherited Rental Property
•Can I Deduct College Student Rent From My Income Tax?
•Can You Deduct Shipping Costs for Medical Supplies on Your Tax Return?
•Can I Deduct My Labor Expense for Investment Property Repairs?
•Do IRA Fees Go Against the Annual Contribution Limit?
•Can a Sole Proprietor Sell Capital Assets?
•How to Deduct Losses With a Roth IRA
•What Is the Monthly and Annual Net Profit Margin?
•How to Estimate a Claim on Homeowner’s Insurance for Storm Damage
•What Types of Investment Theft Losses Are Deductible?
•IRA Contributions’ Effects on Income Tax Owed
•Are Homeowner’s Insurance Loss Payouts Taxable?
•Is Landscaping Tax Deductible?
•Illinois Real Estate Law – Quitclaim Deed Vs. Warranty Deed
•Can a Live-In Partner Take Children as a Deduction on Tax Returns?
•Can You Take a Tax Deduction for Wedding Receptions?
And that’s that. Rather than make ineffective efforts at work, I’m going to quit now and enjoy myself. Hopefully I’ll be able to reset after the three-day weekend.
Not my best, week in short. I suppose I can take comfort from the fact that returning to the mean works both ways: After a really bad week, the odds are very good you’ll do better the next.
The security contractor we had in Monday was the start. He wired up our new security system, and it took close to five hours. And as I’m the one at home, I’m the one who had to make conversation, answer questions (which door do we use most) and hear the occasional pitch for upgrading the package (which was worth it, we added a couple of things).
Wednesday, we had a repair guy come out and look at various possible problems (floor issues, wall issues, window issues). TYG had scheduled him to be here before she left for work. But he was late.
Thursday, we had the heat-pump guy in to check for general maintenance. Today, my new recliner’s being delivered, my old one having fallen almost completely apart (I have to sit in it very carefully). This is the chair I work in, so having a good one is important.
Plus Mum was sick again, which was pretty distracting (all better now) and I’ve had to work on assembling documentation for a financial aid package for her, which, of course, took more time than was convenient.
The end result? Well the good news is I have a very comfortable chair, our heat pump is fine and we’re getting repairs done. Mum’s package will go out tomorrow.
The bad is that I didn’t get crap done outside of my Demand Media stuff. Anything longer was just impossible under the distraction.
I should be able to make up most of it in the next couple of weeks (though I have a non-writing project Tuesday that will eat up most of that day), but it’s been painfully frustrating not getting any fiction done the entire week (nor any other writing projects).
But with all that sorted out, next week ought to be much better. And in the meantime I have the weekend to recuperate. I can use it.
“Jeffty is Five” was Harlan Ellison’s contribution to the Year’s Finest Fantasy, which I reviewed a couple of weeks back. What struck me rereading it was how much my reaction differed from the first reading.
The narrator is a thirty something guy nostalgic for the movie serials, pulp magazines and radio adventure shows of his youth. Jeffty was his childhood friend, and now still a child, a five-year-old boy who refuses to age.
Which turns out quite cool for the narrator because whatever magic Jeffty invokes affects the media as well: when he’s around Jeffty he can go the movies and see new Humphrey Bogart films, read new Edgar Rice Burroughs Barsoom stories, listen to new adventures of Captain Midnight on the radio (eventually things go horribly wrong). When I was in college, I really loved the whole idea, and the execution. Rereading it, not so much. Not that I spot some hideous flaw in the story, it just didn’t move me.
As someone who rereads a lot of stuff (as you know if you follow this blog regularly), I’m often intrigued by how we don’t cross the same river twice. So I started thinking about what it was that didn’t work for me this time.
One obvious possibility is that I’m simply not as attached to reading (or watching movies, or TV or comics) as I was 35 years or so ago. I was shy, a little withdrawn and so a lot of my passion channeled itself into reading/watching fiction. I came alive with the characters, fell in love with them, felt my pulse race, etc., etc.
That hasn’t been true for a while. I still love fiction in all its forms, but it’s not my emotional center any more. I’ve learned to connect with people, even long before I met TYG. So where I could identify with the narrator’s yearning for all those fantastic tales he remembered, I don’t feel it now.
Which leads to a second point, there’s much less need for nostalgia now. If it was on TV or in the movies, it’s almost certainly on DVD or at least videotape (not always, but usually). The most obscure of comic-books, once unattainable, turn up in hardback collector’s editions or trade paperbacks. Internet used-book services make it possible to find pretty much anything. I don’t have to sit here wishing Mission: Impossible were still on; I have three seasons on DVD and I can stream the rest on Netflix. If I want movie serials, I can (and have) catch them on DVD too.
Of course, the “Jeffty” narrator isn’t just nostalgic: He’s quite clear that he doesn’t want to rewatch old stuff or listen to tapes of old shows, or watch cheap modern imitations—he wants new material done just as well as the old stuff, and in just the same style (reminding me of one column from the 1980s where Ellison complained about radical new changes to old comics characters, but also grumbled about Marvel’s New Universe competing with the company’s Silver Age line). And here we really part company.
It’s not just that I have no huge desire to see a couple more seasons of I Spy or the Addams Family or a few more albums of Beatles work (that might be cool, but even so I’m not moved by the prospect). It’s that I don’t see myself looking back at my childhood and teenage years and thinking everything was so vastly superior. I have nostalgia for my teen entertainments, but I can’t fool myself that it’s based on some immense difference in quality. Maybe the fact that entertainment hasn’t change that much (not compared to the death of radio drama and movie serials), or maybe I’ve just outgrown nostalgia in some way. When I saw the play Is There Life After High School in my early thirties, I was quite moved; when I saw it in my late forties, I wasn’t. The production was good, but looking back at high school just didn’t impact me so much. I think I’m supposed to grow more nostalgic as I age, but perhaps I’m doing it wrong.