No snow, just random facts and links

On the back of the menu my children bring home from school, there is often filler material. This must be sourced from some national syndicate, because this month’s filler is about snowflakes.

This school serves chorizo for breakfast (not every monring). It will not get snow. Regardless, I now know that 15 inch diameter snowflakes once fell in Montana, that the average snowflake falls at 3.2 miles/hour, and that “snirt” is a Canadian word for the dirty snow that blows across the prairie.

I’ve been trying to do a slideshow on Examiner, and I’ll get there – but the first attempt is sad… You’d think for a feature that is known to drive traffic, they’d find a way to make it easier to use.

If you’re like me, and you have wasted the last six or seven years using the internet to work Know Your Meme will get you caught up on all the  internet fads (is that still a term? Or has it been replaced?).

15 random facts about coffee. Yep.

Empathy and stress reaction may be genetically linked.

Now You know.

 

Writer’s Group Notes for 9/10/09

The last time I posted I got 52 hits within 24 hours. My normal rate is like six. There are two possibilities: a particular phrase ranked high in a search engine, or the link I left on the meet-up site got clicked – a lot. The only way to test this is two seperate entries (though they both share this paragraph).

This entry tests the writer’s Meet-up link hypothesis. That would be the Central Phoenix Writer’s Meet-up on whose behalf I “organize” the Thursday night splinter cell.

I don’t have a whole lot of notes from that meeting. I was somewhat distracted by my beloved children doing homework/fighting at the table behind me. I do have some links – and we’ll get to those presently.

My son learned some things about writing:

* Copy down the actual writing prompt – that is how you stay on topic.

* Research first, then write.

* The advantage of a word processor is that you can move text around. The advantage of a draft on paper is that you can’t accidentally obliterate 100 words in two keystrokes.

* Writing well means ignoring whatever silly thing your sister is doing to distract you.

* The sooner you get down to writing, the sooner you’re done, and you can let your beloved Father, who has been glowering at you on and off for several hours, have his precious laptop back.

We all had to learn those lessons as young writers (swap “laptop” for “electric typewriter”). Most of us, like my son, learned them the hard way.

He didn’t finish the essay at the coffee shop. We didn’t print out a final copy until midnight. One of many reasons this blog is 24 hours “late”.

LINKS:

Galaxy Express on digital SF Romance sales

YA author Mary Pearson discusses what YA lit is and isn’t.

Aussie scribe Lee Masterson on word count categories

Writer’s Digest interviews Anne Tyler about flawed characters among other things.

And from way back in WD’s backlog, a subject constantly bouncing around in my mind: Too Many Ideas Syndrome:

Cynthia Whitcomb, who has sold 70 screenplays and seen 29 come to the screen, puts on a chef’s hat instead. Her advice: “Think of your ideas like pots on the stove in the kitchen of your creative mind. Lift the lids and look inside. One of them is always closest to being soup. Write that one first.”

My son could use that advice.

Lookee there, it’s past midnight.

Now You Know.

WesternCon 62 Wrap-up

Back home, where the AC is not so cold at all…

More lessons from WesterCon 62:

Having two separate names for a Con does NOT help promoting it at all.

If you held a panel “Living with Asperger’s” – you would probably fill the room – for an hour of awkward conversation. [So ya know: this is not simply a casual interest of mine.]

If you’re a panelist and you go off at length about problem panelists dominating the conversation – guess what? Yeah. Horrified attendees will mock you on their blogs.

Sometimes the panel you most looked forward to attending turns out to be the least informative. So it goes.

In RPG’s at least, e-book sales did not measurably eat into print sales. Something for the rest of the publishing industry to note.

And now, in no particular order, links I have written down in my notes for one reason or another:

RPG Now for RPG e-book and more. Also: Warehouse 23 – for everything by Steve Jackson Games.

Middle-Earth for middle-graders: MEAG

If you’re going to self-publish, at least do it right with outfits lke this:

AZ Publishing Services

Looking for an agent, or just info about agents: Agent Query

and/or Query Tracker

(Oh – and agents do not frequent fan-orientated cons. They already have slush piles.)

Because I drank their booze and didn’t pay for it: The United Federation of Phoenix (Hooray! two, maybe three extra hits…)

Claudia Villa, costume designer who helped Kelly Sparrow (aka my daughter.) BTW, I’m best known around the Con as Kelly Sparrow’s father.

And she’s been warned that this is the last year she can get by on cute. Next year, she needs to work a bit more on her costume.

Pirate parties are the best.

Now You Know

Pix from Tule Mesa

Ben and I went camping/backpacking near Tule Mesa, which is near Dugas Arizona. Much of those adventures can be found in my other blog:

Are We Lost Yet?

But the photos are here:

The Equinox Filter on FR 68G:

Beyond which a 2WD 06  Chevy Equinox will not go!

Beyond which a 2WD 06 Chevy Equinox will not go!

Typical scenery on Tule Mesa

Tule Mesa

The big juniper at Cavalier Point:

Cavalier Point

Ben looking out from Tule Mesa:

Ben on Tule MesaBelow is the Verde Valley from roughly Camp Verde to the bend past the hot springs.

Our Camp at Salt Flats:

Camp at Salt Flat

Ben felt that there was too much wind to bring his hammock, which I suspect translates into he couldn’t find his hammock. When backpacking, if one guy brings the two-man tent, you might as well both use it.

Ben at the Salt Flat TH

Ben at the Salt Flat TH

That’s his brand-new Jansport Scout backpack which he got for his birthday. This is just across the drainage from the campground.

Nelson Place ruins:

Nelson Place ruinsYou find these less than a mile down the Nelson Trail. The springs they were built around are the only ones reliably flowing in the Pine Mountain Wilderness.

Bongo plus Verde valleyOur little buddy on top of Pine Mountain, the “high point” of the wilderness area. The views along the length of the Verde Rim trail are like this.

Finally, the area is starting to recover from some fire damage:

Though shade is many years away

Though shade is many years away

Bongo at Dugas:

Bongo at Dugas II

Now You Know

A Splash of Quick Facts

It is safe for normal humans – and even Americans – to drink the water in Bogata, Columbia.

80% of the children in the Bahamas do not know how to swim. I know this because I’m on assignment about a woman who has taught water safety there.

The ABC’s of drowning awareness:

Always have your eyes on the kids

Barriers

Classes on first Aid and CPR

The Central Phoenix Writer’s Workshop drew twenty (20!) people last night. That’s double the size the format is designed for. So I am shifting to moderating a Thursday night meet-up, same time, same place, same format, different night.

My kids, particularly my son, I decided the like water polo – of all things – enough to participate in a team throughout the summer.

Wet Beaver Creek (oh- stop giggling!) Wilderness Area is closed to camping until 2010. Fire reasons, I think. Bummer. I’m still trying to pin down a logistically plausible hike for this weekend.

For the riggers: ZFX’s new No-go guage

Writer Louise Marley on E-books and other promising trends in publishing.

And more fuel for the e-book debate: statistics!

Now You Know.

A hundred miles a day for eight days

Between driving a stakebed out to a distant golf course and back for a show, cross-valley errands, and a camping trip to the Rim, I drove about a hundred miles a day for the past eight days, gaining some wisdom in the process.

First, the Equinox photo I promised:

2006 Chevy Equinox

That photo is near General Springs on the Mogollon Rim. If you can see them, the decorations drawn in the dust on the side of the car are courtesy of the children.

Eight busy days later, and I have learned a lot of things:

Three layers of mark-up will seriously impair the viability of a competitive bid.

Burn Notice is the secret re-boot of the A-Team.

Everyone in Little League is a volunteer, except the guys in the national office – who are paid – and this is reflected in the league dues.

My informal and random poll indicates that  0 out of 19 education professionals believe that No Child Left Behind (as implemented) is actually helping to educate children.

One guy calls the truck pack – and all the other logistical geniuses on the call need to live with that guy’s decisions, or you add an hour to load out.

If you have a crew loading out a show on a golf course, and you lock the only restroom, this will not prevent the crew from relieving themselves. It will only prevent them from relieving themselves in the toilet.

One simply cannot underestimate the importance of worklight when loading out in an open field in the middle of the night. Moonlight is not an acceptable substitute.

When launching model rockets, bring extra batteries and fuses.

The RXC went camping at Bear Canyon Lake, on the Mogollon Rim. Some notes about that site can be found on my other blog:

Are We Lost Yet?

Hammock at Bear Lake

When taking middle-graders camping, they all need chairs, or none of them need chairs. Musical chairs around the campfire is a recipe for discontent.

The kids get their own campfire.

The kids get their own campfire.

American adults car-camping will never run out of food. They always bring too much. This was, however, the first trip in a long time where we did not run out of booze. Perhaps we’re growing wiser.

Pie irons still rock! Especially now that we know how to use them.

New vocabulary: Bailing wire = “ranch tape”

I have established that the Equinox can bounce through the Buick Filter. Though I damn near found the Equinox filter (its still a 2WD) on our way to General Cabin Springs. We were scouting a multi-day bacpacking trip taking the General Crook Trail east from Clear Creek to its intersection with the AZT (near General Springs), then taking the AZT north to Blue Ridge Reservoir.

Having scouted that, I have concluded it wuld be far easier to start at Blue Ridge and head down to Clear Creek. But it would be even easier just to stay n the AZT and go down the Rim to Pine. I’m still noodling on these things.

But there is a marked section of the GCT that follows AZ 260 from around Camp Verde to the Rim. We found a blaze by following a randomly selected dirt road off the highway. I love the Equinox.

Camp Verde State Park s closed on Tuesdays.

Some links:

World Food Program trying to bring disaster relief over the objections of the Myanmar government. “The people of Myanmar do not eat biscuits…”

The Onion reporting on President Obama’s visit to Denny’s.

Now You Know

Land of the Lost Car Dealers

We traded in the Buick for a 2006 Chevy Equinox. Partly to have a vehicle we can haul kids/dogs/bikes in w/o multiple trips, and partly to solev my Buick Filter issues on forest roads.

Here’s what we learned:

* All the young, high-pressure sales guys that used to prowl the lots are gone. Only the old, undermotivated guys who have been doing this forever are left to slowly show you cars.

* If you can find something between the car you really want (we looked at a 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe  with less than 10K miles) and the car you could easily afford (a 2006 Jeep Patriot with power-nothing. Nothing!) for which you can make the beans work out, take it.

* Subaru seats are too close to the floor – even for folks like my wife and I who have no legs.

* I defy you to find a working clock or timepiece visible in a car showroom.

* If you just accept going in that a dealer is going to screw you on your trade-in (because that’s where they really make their money), it takes a whole lot of stress out of the process.

* Walking in with a pre-approved load also takes a whole lot of stress out of the process. Because now, they’re not trying to inflate their margin thru mystery financing. Thge best they can hope for is to beat your pre-approved offer (which happened).

* It’s a whole lot easier doing this with a trade-in that still runs well, and middle-aged finances.

On an obliquely related note, SF Channel ahs been running a Land of the Lost marathon. I used to worship that show as a child – though I remember giving up on it mid-way through the third and final season because the writing was getting lazy. L of L hads a lot of weird fun ideas going on all at the same time, and if you got past the 70’s kid TV show pacing and the horrific SFX, there was some good Science Fiction underneath, and decent character development by Saturday morning standards.

The biggest difference you’d find now – past the SFX – is that a competent adult parent was a central character in the show. This hardly ever happens on kids’ TV.

Another difference was that Mom was dead – and they talked about every once in a while. My kids watch iCarly all the time, and after seeing every episode for three seasons, could not tell you what happened to her mother.

For all of that, four episodes in a row is my limit.

Now You Know.