Random geography and other writer’s notes

Yes, the Thursday night writer’s group is still going, and I have been able to attend most of the meetings, despite my neglect of just about everything else that didn’t have money attached to it for the past six months.

Dolce Expresso closed, and we were sad – and homeless.

Restaurants make poor meeting places for writer’s groups.

1) the wait staff will interrupt the read-aloud without remorse – because they don’t know.

2) A large party tends to be put in a booth – which is troublesome.

3) You will baffle or annoy those around you.

BUT

4) (and most importantly) if you’re going to tie up a chair for two hours, you’ll need to spend $10+. A cup of coffee only buys you about 45 minutes.

Also, the particular restauraunt we chose slapped an 18% gratuity on all of our checks because we were more than six butts.

So now we meet at Urban Beans – and life is much better.

For those who attended – and those who enjoy random, out-fo-context facts:

There are two Kashkars – one in Kyrgyzstan (Kara-Kashkar), and one in Chines Turkestan (aka Kashgan). The latter was on the Silk Road and is at least 2000 years old in one form or another.

More famous than either one – at least according to Google – is Cafe Kashkar, your source for Uzebek cuisine in times square.

Novosibirsk, Siberia, is actually a big place, and lloaded with all the culture and class you would expect from Siberia. Actually, it odes contain a major university and the State Opera Academy.

Add this to your try before you die list: Absolut Pepper vodka

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By-the-wind jellyfish (above) are properly called Velella Vellella.

And Ace Carson is not Buck Rogers. Really.

This is Buck Rogers:

(Yes, that’s Gil Gerard and Erin Grey – the stars of the late 70’s movie and TV series.)

Now You know

 

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About damn time…

I promised some notes for the Thursday night folks, and they’re here, and you don’t have to skip down that far…

2nd edition AD&D came out when Excel was still almost strictly an accountants tool. By the time the RPG community discovred it, we had all collectively (and pretty much at the insistence of Wizards of the Coast) moved on to 3rd edition+. Consequently, there are no good Excel character sheets out there for ADD2. I spent longer researching this than any other item below (except the car keys).

The correct tire size for a 2006 Chevy Equinox 2WD LT with 16″ rims is: P23565R16 – which is the size of the tires in the front. It was not the size of the tires in the back which were both smaller and (consequently) balder than the front.  Or they were. $230 later and all the tires match – two of which are new. Related: 20 minutes on the internet saved me $30. Not a bad return.

The keys for that Equinox are either:

  • Within 100 feet of N33d 35.478   W 110d 36.618 (the campsite where I lost my keys) OR
  • Somewhere within the Equinox that can only be reached by tools.

Leaving an extra set of keys with your loving spouse will save you several hundred dolllars. The tank of gas and dinner for the in-laws involved in having them delivered was, then, pennies on the dollar.

2006 Chevy Equinox is the most frequent search term that leads to this site. But let’s talk about writing.

I have already written a little primer on how to seek and query literary agents: Quick & Dirty guide to finding agents

Writer’s Market and/or WritersMarket.com is the industry standard for finding an outlet for non-fiction articles and/pr short fiction (and basically anything else that’s not a book. The physical book is more complete, but tends to get out of date by the end of the year. The website (which requires subscription) has gotten mixed reviews for functionality. I’m about to subscribe myself – I’ll let you know.

[The book I linked to includes a free sub to the website.]

Meanwhile, freelancewriting.com has a less exhaustive but free listing of writer’s guidelines for various publications

Nerd-pron: Attack Vector Tactical

William Gibson’s Neuromancer

Allen Ginsberg’s Howl

Looking for Thai-American magazine markets leads you to Writer’s Market or site in Thai.

If you can re-map you keyboard from Windows – I dunno how. (And I looked). So there’s I failed to learn. Sigh.

I’ve been traveling, which is always full of lessons, but that will wait for next post – which will be sooner than 9 days.

Now You Know

Notes from the 1/14/10 Writer’s Group

Big group (11 writers at our peak). I would’ve have split into two groups if more people had brought work to read. As it was, you had two choices, read loudly, or bring a lot of copies. We had examples of both approaches.

Here are some relevant links:

Pine Ridge Reservation is a real place.

Em’s island is fictional, but based on the real Sandwich Archipelago in the south Atlantic/North Antarctic ocean.

www.ipulpfiction.com has some sort of Quicktime thing that locks up my browser. They have a $10 reading fee, which violates the Harlen Ellison Rule that money should always flow towards the writer, but they are up-front with the terms, and your odds are better than contest writing. Besides, some of that reading fee goes to one of our own.

An after-hours conversation brought up some interesting things:

That “long vowel sound” that your teachers beat into your head no longer exists. Its a relic from middle English (and several other languages) where a long vowel was just that – a vowel you held for multiple beats. It was abandoned in English around the 15th century, but its legacy still complicates our spelling. More on that here and here.

Finally, James Merill – poet – a brief bio from poets.org.

Now you know.

The pain in my ass and driving to LA

I have an acute lumbar strain. I’ve been suffering with this for a week. Its’ getting better, but slowly. I’m no longer 24.Though literally a pain in my ass (though mostly right above my ass), the experience has been instructive:

I’ll never really know how I did it. I suspect it awas a combination of abuse over several days – as the situation became gradually worse over several days.

If you can stand up, sit down and walk on your heels and then on your toes – you likely have just a muscle problem. You haven’t screwed up your spine.

A hot bath has been the single most effective treatment I’ve found for it. A hot shower, on the other hand, makes it far worse. Standing in one place and turning in a tight circle (and what else do you do in a shower?) all aggravate my situation.

Chronic pain drives my beer consumption up by 50%. (So that’s three beers/night instead of two – before anyone plans an intervention.) And so you know, Ibuprofin, even at 800mg, is not contraindicated with alcohol. I’m fine. Stop blocking the TV.

A week later, I’m at about 70% (up from my low of 45%), and it only hurts when I do something (like stand, or walk). It no longer throbs at night – and I’m fairly stoked about that.

And I can sit indefinitely – which is quite fortunate. Because I only missed a day and a half from work. There was nothing that preventred me from being able to drive a 16′ moving van to LA to fetch some followspots.

In California, the sign says “trucks and vehicle towing trailers – 55 mph”. The normal speed limit is 70 mph. I now know that “truck” in this sense means something with more than two axles. I didn’t know that on the way in – so I split the difference and averaged 65 mph.

No one wants to see your Ryder moving van in a weigh station. Drive on by. (I actually learned this lesson years ago).

Sometimes I have sat on a Phoenix freeway and thought “this is almost as bad as LA…”. And I was wrong.

If your company issues you a gas card for a particular brand of station, take some time, use the internet, and find all the locations for that brand along your route. There was a Shell station in Quartzsite, and had I known that, I would have saved myself a hundred rads of stress. I coasted into the Tonopah Shell on fumes, and only because I turned off the AC for the last 50 miles.

The guy comp’d my refill of coffee, though. That was cool.

Now you know.

 

Demand Studios, Tucson and AZ288

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 separate entries (though they both share this paragraph).

I made some money from Demand Studios. Of course, I had to give them my correct Paypal account. However, DS keeps trying to shove money into a bad Paypal account until it goes in. Good to know.

I normally wouldn’t lead with that, but I am testing the search term hypothesis.

I spent Labor Day in Tucson with some friends. I learned that the pineapple cactus is endangered, which means that Raytheon has to fence around every one of them that grows on their lot.

I also learned that you can’t casually buy a good screen door. The doors off the shelf at Home Despot and the like are rolled aluminum. You can special order an extruded aluminum door – which is the good stuff – but you pay more and wait longer.

I took Wed and Thur off and went camping – but with a mission: I stopped and took notes and photos of seven different campsites all more or less along AZ 288 which snakes roughly from Globe, through Young, and then up to the Rim.

My campsite at Upper Canyon Creek campground

My campsite at Upper Canyon Creek campground

The account of that expedition appears in Are We Lost Yet? The profiles of the campsites will eventually appear in  the Phoenix Camping Examiner site. Photos on Flickr. I’ll update with links when I get these things up.

I can report, however, that there is one reliable convenience store in Young – providing you drive through in daylight. The owners of Buddi Gas and Mini-Mart can help you out. Don’t get your hopes up too high – the dogs sleep in the back aisle next to the ice cream machine.

Ooh! I also saw sheep! They have herded sheep from the top of the Rim to somewhere outside of Chandler for decades through a 3 mile wide corridor that, at some point, follows AZ288. September is the time they go south. I encountered the herd just north of Young. The Basque shepherd said they had been on the trail for three days at that point.

A herd of sheep on FR 200 just north of Young, 9/9/09

A herd of sheep on FR 200 just north of Young, 9/9/09

We pause now for the sheep jokes, before changing the subject entirely.

If I take a class on say – chain hoist maintenance – but then I don’t work on such a device for six months, I find I have lost all useful knowledge I might have had from the class.

When quoting a job, don’t get in any more of a hurry than the client is – you just trip yourself up.

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.

The need for dark coffee and a high PEI rating [12/3/08]

The good news: my daughter is student of the month, and is entitled to a free celebratory breakfast with her family.

The bad news:breakfast starts at 6:50am. Sunrise: 7:15am. eating cafeteria food in the dark is one of the many things that parents do for love.

Speaking of the need for seriously black coffee, check out these three items I found on Dark Roasted Blend:

Physicists making coffee with lasers and cooking hot dogs with tesla coils.

How living things and minerals may effect each other’s evolution.

And Tristan da Cunha, the world’s most remote inhabited island. The next step is to acquire a photo of one of their urinals…

Some inportant advice about living with writers.

And finally, tile comes with a rating from the Porcelain Enamel Institute to indicate its resistance to abrasion. They go from Class 1, so fragile they should only be used on walls to Class 5, “suitable for all residential and commercial use.” Monocuttura indicates tile glazed with a single passthrough the kiln, though the uncredited article (advertisement?) (anyway, not from the PEI website) I’m using as a source doesn’t mention why anyone would care. Vitreous tile, more usefully, has less than 3% water absorption, and is what you want around pools or spas.

Now you know.