Catching up with some quick lessons

I took a vacation, followed by back-to-back conventions in and around an extended visitation from Earl, and now that is all over, and I have my life back, and some time to reflect.

For those that know and/or care about Earl Hedges, he has left for Rochester NY on adventures, and will not have reliable internet for some time. That is what I know.

Now, some brief lessons learned in more or less chronological order:

My Vacation

Lo Lo Mai Springs Resort is what any KOA wants to be: over-priced and still worth it. I paid $40 a night for a tent site (which is twice what I might have paid at Dead Horse Ranch State Park, a few miles down the road) and I did not feel cheated at all.

First of all, we had the place nearly to ourselves until Friday.

Second, our tent site was right on Oak Creek. (Wading around in rivers works leg muscles you did not know you had. )

camp at LLM

Third, they all the KOA-like amenities such as showers, and a store etc. The store is cash only – a handy fact to know in advance.

Fourth, the neighboring property has a group of Alpaca’s, to which Cheryl is partial.

cz w alpaca

Cheryl and friend.

Yes – it was quite warm, hence our extensive experience with wading around in Oak Creek.

And yes – we were able to hike the West Fork of Oak creek without disaster.

occ by cz 1

Photo by C Zierman

 

I found I had to choose between quality time with my girlfriend, or documenting antics for Are We Lost Yet? I no longer have the bonuses to do both (if I ever did). AWLY? has not been updated in some time. I regret nothing.

There is probably still a market for a Arizona winery book. Meanwhile, we have these resources:

Verde Valley Wine Trail

Screenshot_2019-09-08 VVWC_Map2018(3) - Map-inside-brochure-wineries-8-18 pdf

CoKoCon

This is still CopperCon in size and spirit (and personnel) .

I played some Go Action Fun Time and moderated some panels.

Spoon theory, I now know after moderating a panel on it, is a metaphor for rationing personal resources while managing a disability. I did not have much to add, as whatever my disaqbilities, energy is not something I have ever had to ration.

RPG’s and writing: “You have to accept your godhood.” – Beth Cato

Do You Need an Editor? Yes.

“Write with abandon. Edit with extreme prejudice.” T.L. Smith

Five Rules of Writing (amended)

  1. Show – Don’t Tell
  2. Avoid Cliche’s
  3. Keep your ass in the chair
  4. Use adverbs sparingly.
  5. Just get there.

For rule 5  “there” is the story. Start where things start happening, and get to the end expeditiously.

Good world-building insulates you from characters (and player characters) going off the map. BUT BUT BUT the reader only needs to know enough about the world to follow the story. Just get there.

Things that appeared in my inbox:

Remedial crash course in website design: How Not To Suck at Design

Emmy Award-winning showrunner of The Office, Brent Forrester, shares his rules of writing comedy.

And finally some oddly edited but nerdily fascinated backstage action from the Drottningholms Slottsteater.

Drottningholms Slottsteater backstage 5 min from Drottningholms Slottsteater on Vimeo.

 

Now we know.

The illusion of a secure perimeter

When one door won’t close and another door won’t open, it’s time to replace both of them, and that’s what happened. After 15 months on the property phase one of my renovation plan is complete. I have secured the perimeter.

This was supposed to take me four months. But the costs were higher than expected (which you’d know if you read the last entry) and my life is a balance of many things at once.

Because I can get away with it.

KIMG0777.JPG

New door in an old house. 

The fencing is fixed, the exterior doors have been replaced, the most troublesome windows have been summer-proofed and the swamp cooler has been brought back from the dead.

One of those doors is open now, because it is inexplicably 70 degrees in late May.

My grandfather, who built the Arizona room that comprises the rear portion of the house, saw fit to reinforce the bottom door jamb with galvanized fence tubing. Which is very innovative if you never want to replace the door. But if you do,  the door guy earns his fee by spending two hours cutting the thing away with a grinder.

Thanks Grandpa. (I say that a lot when working on the house – in that tone.)

My girlfriend was in town last weekend, so word count stopped at 3500, mostly Jack and writer’s group.

My Thursday night writer’s group no longer meets at the Armadillo Grill. The meeting space we have used since way back when I ran this group’s predecessor has been converted to the manager’s office.

So we have landed at the Duck and Decanter  at 1651 E Camelback – basically across the street.  That worked well last week. Sandwiches aren’t the same as fried calamari, and serving beer is not the same as being a bar, but we had a quiet table, good light, food and beer. I’ve been worse.

Of the many things that Cheryl and I did over the weekend, what was most interesting is what we did not manage to do. We drove north on Monday wit the intent to hike the fabled West Fork of Oak Creek. (Yes, this is in my book: Five Star Hikes Flagstaff and Sedona, along with every other relevant hiking guide ever printed.)

Wfork Wilson home.JPG

I took this for the book, but it looked just like this – only hailing.

 

We drove north, however into dark, gathering clouds and plummeting temperatures.

 

 

 

 

Consequently, I can report that the Colt Grill in downtown Cottonwood is an excellent place for a burger and beer and maybe a flight of whiskey samples, and, unlike the Oak Creek trail, we were not getting hailed upon while we enjoyed it.

colt-inside

Whiskey good. Hail bad. 

If I have a point here, it’s that success, or just getting away with it, is determined as much by how well you recover from mistakes as how well you avoid them.

Sure, I could’ve checked the weather first. But if I’m honest with myself, and by extension you, I would have gone anyway.

But Cheryl might have brought different shoes.

Now we know.

The Moments of my Balls in the Air

When something spins around an axis, engineers measure it by its moments. That’s one of the many things I’ve learned studying for my ETCP Theatrical Rigging certification. Because we have a client that wants to see one. I’ve been doing this ore than 20 years, but its still a big, complex, convoluted technical discipline, and I learn a lot every damn day.

  • The top channel in a pulley, where the rope goes in, is called the “swallow, and the bottom part, where it plays out is called the breech.
  • Manila rope is graded by something called the Becker Value. It measured with photoelectric reflectrometry (so by color) and is obscure enough that you may know more about it right now than most rope dealers.
  • Manila rope is also stronger than hemp rope , so it is no real loss than you can’t readily find hemp rope in the US. Theaters would buy manila anyway.
  • Calculating the forces on three point bridles is insanely convoluted. Like skip that question and come back if you have time because there are literally 17 steps.

So my approach to studying, after flailing around a bit, is to alternate between three textbooks:

I try to read a chapter a day in each book, and do the problems in Rigging Math.

So that’s one ball in the air.

I still try to market my hiking guides and still contribute to the blog my publisher set up for that purpose.

The latest is here: http://trekalong.com/arewelostyet/2015/09/18/taking-the-inner-basin-off-of-my-bucket-list/

In writing that I learned that it takes about 3 hours to put together an 800 word article with pictures. But I couldn’t hike inner basin without telling someone about it, could I?

Another ball far from my hand but not forgotten is Go Action Fun Time

It turns out that marketing a new Role-playing system has an extreme degree of difficulty.  The trouble is the learning curve vs the plethora of established systems that people are already familiar with.

Scott Thorne, of Mongoose Publishing cites: “Lack of interest by customers in venturing outside their comfort zone.  There are very few “Igors” (cue Dork Towerreference) who are willing to try a brand new RPG just because it pops up on the new release shelf.  Most stick with the tried and true, going for the new PathfinderDark Heresy, or, much less than in days of yore.”

http://rpgr.org/news/scott-thorne-on-future-of-rpg

My quest for game masters to play test this thing remains at zero hits.

And I just sent the complete manuscript to  Beanstalk and Beyond to my publisher. That’s right, they signed a contract for a book they had yet to actually read. Good thing they signed it with me, huh?

Some reasonably relevant links:

NPR on how book sale numbers are lower than you imagine, and perhaps generated by voodoo.

http://www.npr.org/2015/09/19/441459103/when-it-comes-to-book-sales-what-counts-as-success-might-surprise-you

and author Kameron Hurley has some cold facts on that same subject:

http://www.kameronhurley.com/the-cold-publishing-equations-books-sold-marketability-love/

Now You Know.

A rare night back in Phoenix

“I used to believe that Destiny was capricious, but the older I get, the more convinced I become that she is actually perverse” – Jack

Careful what you wish for…

I have been on the road fairly constantly since, well, the last post. I’ve learned a lot, but mostly I’ve learned that when you’re on the road for work, regardless of how many hours you actually bill, you’re gone to work 24 hours a day until you get back home. Being able to waste a few hours at the motel is not at all the same as being able to go home and attend to the rest of your life.

I enjoy travel. I enjoy my job. I even enjoy traveling for my job from time to time, but I am not set up to do that every damn week.

Anyway, among the many things that went unattended was this blog.

I have been working (on and off – but mostly on) the perimeter of the auditorium renovation at Red Rock High School in Sedona. I’m also writing a hiking guide about Sedona. Synergy right?

10-12 hour days wipe out hiking opportunities. Non-hiking, non drivers who share your motel room wipe out hiking opportunities – particularly when the motel is 15 miles away in Cottonwood. Fourteen working days (and counting) on this job – one short hike.

OK Enough sniveling. These are the most important lessons:

Every time you change the plan, you are adding about 50% of the time you have already put into the job to the overall time of the job. So if you are 40 man hours in and decide to say, change the baseline of all the measurements, you’ve added 20 man hours to the job.

In 99% of all installations, within a quarter inch is going to be close enough. Really. Even if you’re German.

If you are going to heckle the help, it is poor form to get all butt-hurt when they heckle back.

It wasn’t all work. My family spent a week in San Diego.

If you spend a week in San Diego as a tourist, you will end up at some point setting foot in Sea World. I didn’t want to go to Sea World. We had no plans to go to Sea World. There I stood in Sea World, the victim of some inexplicable geas. The key to happines at Sea World is to just accept that you cannot eat for less than $20 a plate. And once you’ve paid that extortion for cafeteria food, don’t feed it to the seagulls; be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

I have a lot more to say on both of these subjects, and the new Droid phone lying in front of me, and some notes from the writer’s group. All in later posts.

The hard part, I have learned, is just starting that first post after being gone for a while.

I go back to Sedona on Monday.

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

Random revelations from a fun weekend

Because we could all use a fun weekend…

The AMC bowling alley near Chris-town has Guiness on tap. A family of four can bowl and eat pizza for about $65 (not including black & tans), and watch as your children discover that real bowling is not at all like the Wii.

With current construction conditions, it is 2.5 hours door to door from the Padegimas house to the Kinsey residence in Tucson. (Half of the eight people who read this know who I’m talking about. A fourth of them live there.)

Watchmen is rated R for good reasons. Don’t bring the kids.

The Gifted and Talented Education  (GATE) program in Arizona is largely funded by federal grants, and so survives the state budget ax better than a lot of programs you might think more vital.

By the time I’m finished, the hardware for my new gate might cost as much as the lumber.

You can fit a 9′ board inside a Malibu.

The Rio Solado project, along the banks of the Salt River as it “flows” through Phoenix (though it currently has a fair bit of water) makes for a good, easy hike if you’re out of shape, and don’t want to prepare for an expedition to get your mileage in. But there is NO convenience store within walking distance of the trailheads.

My Beloved Suns are running out of time to win their bet with GM Steve Kerr and make the play-offs. They must win a LOT of games to overtake Dallas – who they play next – for the 8th spot in the West. Perhaps some mid-court defense would be in order after all…

Now you know.

Counterproductive Drunks

It wasn’t my fault. The desk lamp knocked my beer over into the basket of freshly washed laundry. The lamp, I suspect, was drunk.

drunken-lamp

Of course, so was I. Not only was I not moving laundry forward, I was actually being counter-productive, which is just gut-wrenching for a workaholic.

Still, not nearly as traumatic as taking time out of my life to watch the Suns kinda wave their hands a little bit as Celtic after Celtic dashed past them for nearly uncontested lay-ups. Did GM Steve Kerr laugh or cry? I couldn’t tell.

Memo to former NBA coach and now ABC commentator/curmudgeon Jeff Van Gundy: Basketball is supposed to be fun. This is not Hardball. Lighten up.

A few writing links:

Gary Westfahlon why so many SF predictions don’tcome true. [via Locus Online]

And Lynn Viehl, in her blog Paperback Writer, shares the 22 Immutable Laws of Publishing.

So say we all.

Campground reservations jumped 11% in January, and firearm sales jumped 28.8% (though an upcoming change in legalities may have prompted the gun sales).

“Yes, economic times are tough and it’s obvious that lots of people are facing financial hardships. But lots of folks also respond to such challenging times by realizing the things that matter most to them – family, friends and the outdoors – can be enjoyed without a big hit on the family budget,” said Gary Hovatter, deputy director for the Arizona Game and Fish Department [to the AZGF public information officer].

Here’s hoping that hiking is recession-proof.

I can replace both for the gates in my backyard for about $150 in materials, which is refreshingly affordable. Now, just getting it done…

And then drink beer.

Now you know.