Do the work or take your chances

I’m a bit deflated at the moment. A bid I worked pretty hard to research and get right will go largely for naught because some out-of-town outfit has underbid us by half based (presumably) solely on the bid documents, which I know to be incomplete and on occasion contradictory.

This is called “buying a job” and there’s no defense against it unless you are also willing to take a loss on the project.

Here’s my policy: $0 is still better than the -$X you lose bidding a job for less than your cost.

The end client – an arm of the county government – will have no choice but to accept the lowest bid. Good luck with that.

I have added a new post to Writing Made Visible about e-books – a subject of much discussion on this site as well. In particular, let’s go back to Mike Stackpole’s Authors Can Be Stupid series of blogs:

This is from the yesterday’s addition to that series: …A Brief Note on Self-Publishing – which attempts to summarize the previous eight posts:

I do not believe that even digital self-publishing is easy. I believe it is simple, and there is a world of difference between those two things. Establishing your own business is hard work. If you don’t put that work in, you will not reap the benefits of your business, pure and simple.

At this writing, Mike (he’s local – we’ve met) is still going on about this.

Now that we basically know that autism is unrelated to vaccination, a bigger, better study links the condition to older parents. But before you panic – here’s some perspective:

“This study does not say advanced mother or father age causes autism,” [Study co-author Shanie F] Dawson tells WebMD. “This is one risk factor among many factors that contribute. In the majority of cases, we are not going to find that any one factor accounts for any individual child’s autism. Parental age is just one risk factor that is interacting with other genetic and environmental factors that lead to a child developing autism.”

I have my 2010 Writer’s Market! (Happy birthday to me!) Among the discoveries from my initial skimming of the pages: there seem to be moire markets fro graphic novels than middle-grade fantasy novels. Here I sit with a head full of ideas that would work well (or better) in that format, and all I have to show for it are words – dull old-fashioned words.

OK, I’m 95% there in terms of pro-quality copy (don’t judge by this blog – I never do a second draft here). I’m only 65% there in terms of  pro-quality illustration – and I am woefully under-equipped. While I’m sure I have the talent to get to 75%;  I’m not certain I have the talent to get to 90% – which is the threshold to start asking for money.

That leaves me with two choices:

  1. Find reliable collaborator (which is a huge challenge – especially among middle-aged adults with lives and jobs. A Collaboration involves 2-3 times the time commitment vs just banging the thing out by yourself.)
  2. Become a better artist. I’m not certain if my talent ceiuling goes high enough, but I won’t know by guessing. So I’m going to commit to drawing something every day – and re-educating myself in the craft. The we shall see.

Meanwhile, if you are a competent artist withtime on your hands – Boy do I have some ideas for you.

And I’m hanging onto my notes about that job. The whole project is swarming with free-floating chunks of magical thinking and when those pieces collide with reality, doors may open unexpectedly.

Now you know.

Ignorant buzz causes unrest

Real wages have fallen every year since 2001. Much as we’d like to blame the Bushco Administration, the money that could’ve been your raise actually went to insurance companies. That’s right: the decline in wages matches the inflation in health-care costs.

Except that its wrong. Look at a 2006 report, before the recession distorted all the numbers, and the truth is worse: 47% of workers do not have employer-sponsored coverage to begin with, and that class of workers – the bottom -was the most likely to see real wages fall.

So where did all that money go? In 2006 – it went straight to profit.  That sort of behavior leads to unrest.

I spent Friday in Prescott Valley watching an easy show turn into a fire drill due to some persistent hum in the audio system. See if you’ve heard this one before, veteran ME’s: the audio guy insisted it was house power causing the hum.

To his credit, he could demonstrate hwo the buzz varied with the dimmer levels. Sharing a neutral or ground with that service could indeed cause that hum. OK. I played some games with the limited feeder on ahnd, and swapped services for him.

The I sat for the better part of two hours while he traced out a “separate” buzz issue in his monitor rig. I didn’t pay much attention (I actually ahd another, though less interesting fire to attend to), but they seemed to touch every piece of gear from the board to the power distro.

And then the hum was gone.

I’ve been doing this drill for twenty years, kids. It is almost never house power causing your stupid buzz in a relatively modern building (and the venue in question is less than 5 years old). It’s somewhere in the gear that bounced a couple hundred miles in a truck last night.

But I played the feeder game for him. And he felt that solved the problem. I just nodded and smiled. All part of my 20 hour day.

BTW – best Foreigner tribute band ever!

I kid! Foreigner – the real thing – actually puts on a good show, and you will be amazed at how many songs you recognize from radio (assuming you’re older than 32).

A couple posts back I mysteriously hit 52 pageviews in a day. I still don’t know why. My normal average is 6. I know now that it wasn’t Demand Studios, and that advertising a link on the Meet-up site is worth about a dozen hits max.

But the WordPress metrics I have for this blog exceed in quality and detail any metrics for any other blog I write – including blogs that pay me by the pageview.

This post’s lame Examiner plug: I learned how to embed a Google Map into a blog post. Check out the results here!

Now You Know

My Easter in PV, and the weird, wild future

I have a little plastic Buddha that I carry around in my backpack for luck. I’m not actually Buddhist, but I like the little thing, and this Buddha also carries a bag. He’s Travel Buddha.

buddha-at-tcc

Kinda fuzzy in the foreground, but that’s him at Tim’s Toyota Center in Prescott Valley, where I basically spent Easter. Prescott Heights Mega-church (I’m not sure that’s the real name) hold their easter service there every year, bringing production up from Phoenix. They, however, provide the 20′ wooden cross to be suspended over the stage.

easter-buddhaThat’s our buddy on the balcony behind the set. So, a few things:

If you’re the guy who drives the van from Phoenix, you can’t stay all day unless the whole crew stays with you.

Without going into detail, when the computerized fire alarm in Tim’s Toyota Center is activated, even in test mode, it will automatically shut off show power, whether the show is going on or not. Related, do not flip switches marked Fire Department Only unless you are the fire department.

I don’t know how many of you will be in possession of a walki-talkie radio during a show, or some other reason. But if you have a radio, and a dramatic even happens, like, say, hypothetically, show power shuts itself off in the middle of an Easter Service staged in a hockey arena, please, for the love of whatever you hold sacred, resist the urge to key open the microphone and blurt out the first thing that comes to your head.

Let me revise and repeat: if you’re not directly involved with The Incident, stay off the radio!

I swear it felt like three minutes waiting for all the knobs to stop telling me the power had gone out so that I could tell them that the power was back on.

What we particularly don’t need is people who have no idea what they’re talking about (the followspots are not part of show power, for example, and the fact that they’re working does not mean the power is restored) chirping in with their opinions of what might be going on.

Now that I’m done venting, let’s take a look at the future:

Did you Know? (via Methodshop, via lots of other sites)

Juan Enriquez at TED about Homo Evolutis (and why bankers are dicks).

PS: Asking when they’re going to nail the Easter Bunny to the cross is not considered an “appropriate” question, and none of the “worship team” will find this as amusing as the rest of us.

Now You Know

Three very different challenges to my sanity

First, some notes from my daughter’s birthday party last weekend:

If you give a seven year old a whistle – you will end up taking it away from her. This particular girl never grew tired of blowing her whistle. At first, we wondered about her sanity, but soon feared for our own.

“That’s a pretty whistle you have. Can I see it for a second?” … [CRUNCH!]

I didn’t really do that to her. But I thought about it – a lot.

There’s probably a good transition into Sunday morning talk shows from there, but the kids do not actually sleep at sleepovers, and most of my Sunday was spent putting out the nmerous little fires when exhausted children try to play with one another – or simply eat breakfast.

On Moday, I learned about bid bonding – the insurance bond contractors must provide to bid on a project. I won’t bore you with the details – but that’s what I learned.

Bidding a project isn’t about the math. It’s not that difficult to figure out the amount of money you’d prefer to get for doing a project. The tough part is deciding how far below number A you’re willing to go to get the bid – and then living with that decision. Isubmt that bid today, and then I’m done with spreadsheets for a while, and I’m back to the part of my job that requires a five-point safety harness.

Tuesday we did taxes. I learned that mileage fr your day job, your sole proprietorship and non-profit activities all use different calculations, and that those calclations changed md-way through the tax year. Even so, around 1400+ miles driven to write the hiking guide. Didn’t wipe out my profit (for tax purposes) but it came close. (I also bought a lot of hiking gear – which is all business expense in my universe).

How did we do our taxes before Excel?

Now You know

Pride is expensive. [1/29/08]

A clear signal of the respect rapper Lil’ Wayne has for his fans: his show Wednesday started on time, but the headliner did not even set foot into the building until more than an hour after he was scheduled to start, uh, doing whatever it is he does onstage. Consequently, he had to cut his act short to avoid giving a ton of money back to the promoter.

(Something like 200-300 people staff a typical arena concert. That’s a LOT of extra labor costs cause one guy can’t manage to find the stage.)

I suspect he will join the long list of gangsta rappers who got their one big national tour, and then disappeared off the face of the earth.

The Suns-Spurs game just ended. I’m going to call it: The championship window for the Nash/Stoudemire-era Suns closed when GM Steve Kerr let Mike D’Antoni walk away to New York. Both Nash and Stoudemire will be on the final year of their contract next season. I can confidently predict that at least one of them will not be in a Suns uniform by this time next year.

O’Neal hasn’t made them a better rebounding team. Coach Porter hasn’t made them any better defensively. At least under D’Antoni, they scored.

A couple of good links to feed the cerebellum:

A graphic display of graphic displays

And writers on writing. [via SF Signal].

Now you know.