Tuesday, December 30, 2008

118-210-57-71-91-15-163-5

Nope. Not winning lotto numbers. Only the freeways it took to get to last weekend's reunion get together in San Diego with my kindergarten/junior high/college chums.

The good news? TONS of blogable material!

The bad news? We're all so OLD, none of us can remember any of it!

Oh, well. Here are pictures:

This one's the view from Nancy and Kathy's CORNER room at the Manchester Hyatt. (Yeah, corner room--what a score, huh?) And considering the hotel was teeming (no pun intended) with Oklahoma State folks on tap for the Holiday Bowl, we were surprised to get upgraded. Well, at least half of us.)


Here I think I can safely interpret some confusion over a gift...? Nancy appears slightly afraid. Either that, or they're both trying to hide their hands so as not to give away their true ages for the photo. Ha ha.














View from the ninth floor. Now, does this look like cold weather to you? Right. It wasn't. All those sweaters, jackets, boots and gloves? Totally unnecessary. Sigh. That's California for ya.














We had LATE lunch at this cute place in Seaport Village before heading off to yet another venue, this time for alcoholic libations cuz, y'know, we hadn't had enough the prior evening.










And last but not least, for your viewing pleasure, an obscure shot of the guy I drooled over during cocktail hour. Don't worry. I didn't make it too obvious--I cropped Kath out of the picture.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

As I traipse off to the annual Christmas luncheon to partake in traditional fare like tacos and enchiladas (not to mention margaritas), I urge you to consider one thing:'Tis the season to SPEND, SPEND, SPEND...so get out there and do your patriotic duty.


Oh, and have a happy holiday.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Progress Report

I'm sure a few of you are wondering how I'm doing on the smoking thing. Mostly, I'm amused by the vast spectrum of reactions from my friends and relatives.

To some, even one cigarette means I've totally failed.
To others, 12 cigarettes in a week's time is nothing short of miraculous.

Let's just say there's a special place in my heart for 'the others.'

The positive:

I went two entire days (yes, 48 hours) before my first cheat. You may think that sucks, but hear me out: The last time I went even 24 hours without a cigarette was 1982.

So I'm getting better at it.

After the first cheat, I didn't have a cigarette on the following day. Yes, I had to stay home on a Friday night, avoid the computer, and go to bed early to achieve that milestone, but I figure if that's what it takes...

I would have done better on Saturday if I hadn't discovered two leftover cigarettes in a pack I'd thought empty. Turns out I'm not gonna be one of those people who can leave cigarettes lying around just to prove I'm above temptation. Still...I only smoked one of them right then and there.

I haven't smoked a cigarette at work in over a week.

I haven't smoked a cigarette while getting ready for work in over a week.

I haven't smoked a cigarette while driving to or from work in over a week.

By the way, did I mention I'm taking the drug "Chantix?" (Yeah, that's the one airline pilots are prohibited from using because suicidal thoughts are a possible side effect, although the whole process of trying to quit smoking is so stressful, I'm wondering how you can tell the difference.) Anyway, it's supposed to block the receptors in your brain from experiencing the God-given pleasure that nicotine brings. Now, logic makes me note that you have to SMOKE for this to work, don't you? Guess that's why they say it's okay to cheat during the first month. Plus, I'd swear that sometimes I THINK about smoking and those little nicotine receptors perk up (I picture them as puppies pawing at the air for treats) but because of the Chantix, nothing happens. They're left bereft--like at the airport when you see people waiting at the gate for a dearly-loved relative who doesn't show up.

So sad, it makes you wanna weep. (Yeah, for the airport people, too.)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Is It January Yet??

Geez...it was one festive event after another this past weekend. I'm exhausted, and I think I've already done the 7-lb. holiday upload.

I only took pics at one event, and here they are (well, some of them...the good ones--i.e., none of the photos taken of ME--ugh, wince, gag.) We begin with the traditional "first photo with the Mariachis," so that's 10-month old Evan with mom Tanya (Blogreader Joe's niece). Evan looks fascinated, doesn't he?

Old hands Travis (l) and Trevor (r) are future-Mariachis-in-training.
Aw...cousins...give little Evan a couple more years, and this trio will no doubt instill terror in the heart of Mom/Aunt Renee.

Finally, for your listening pleasure, something from violinist Miguel.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Just A Regular Thursday--Not

It was early, it was freezing, and I hadn't had a cigarette in over 24 hours.

These are my excuses for what you're about to read.

I was running late, and as I tore out of the bedroom, I spied a bottle of water and tossed it into my purse. Okay, now flash forward to a vision of me driving along Highway 23, enjoying the snow-capped mountains in the distance. Instead of having a cigarette, I decided to pop open the water.

Only, I couldn't get the cap off. Even when I pressed in the two little indented thingies.

Struggle, struggle...ah! Finally.

I went to take a swig...

One of those weird, split second thoughts flashed through my mind--how did I manage to get nail polish remover around the rim of the bottle?--before I filled my mouth with this:

Instead of this:
Not good, folks. Trust me. But what could I do? I was driving! Couldn't just spit it out all over myself. Couldn't swallow it. To tell you the truth, the next few minutes are a little hazy. I think I found a breath mint to add to the lacquer-like taste. Then I grabbed some old receipts out of the glove box and performed a swabbing maneuver.

Ugh. Yuck.

Fortunately, I then (miracle of miracles) happened to notice a REAL water bottle in the passenger seat--hm, no safety cap, shoulda been a clue--and downed it in three seconds (no doubt spreading poison throughout my system).

Anyway, it's been a couple hours, and I haven't gone into anaphylactic (sp?) shock or anything, so I think we're cool.

But, remember: Indented side thingies on water bottle are probably a BAD SIGN.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

Where There's A Will There's A Won't

I remember the day I discovered that some of the jobs I thought of as belonging to men were, in fact, things I could do. (Actually, I owe this epiphany to former roommate and lifelong friend, Kathleen. She was a whiz around the house.) As I recall, picture hanging was the task in question. I thought you needed men for measuring and hammering and such. Turned out, no. You didn't.

I was so proud.

But as the years went on, I learned there were limits to my handiness. BIG limits. Like not knowing anything about wiring and electricity. Like not being physically strong enough. Add to those limits an innate laziness, and well...you get a picture of how much stuff there is around my house that needs doing.

Sometimes, though, corners can be cut. If you're creative enough, you can sidestep actual skill and come up with alternatives.

Sometimes, though, the best efforts fail.

So, ya might have heard about the arctic blast currently hitting southern California. B-r-r-r-r. Time to crank up the old heater, right? 'Scuze me. That would be the NEW heater that accompanied the new air conditioner I purchased over the summer.

Only, guess what?

No heat.

Lots of nice, cool air streaming from the vents, but no heat.

Oh, I could have called 'the man,' but that would be too easy, doncha think? Instead, on Sunday, I hauled out a space heater and lugged it into my 'office.' Then, I consulted my 'go-to' guys at work. The consensus is that my gas valve is turned off. "Follow the gas line to the little valve and give it a twist," my brother says. "But if the heat doesn't go on, be sure to turn it back off."

See, it's that kinda talk that scares me away from giving that little valve a twist.

Nonetheless, tonight when I got home, I dutifully opened the door to the closet in which the furnace resides. I didn't see any little valve. I DID see, however, lots of warning signs and cautions.

These made me feel a touch queasy.

I concluded that the little valve thing might be inside the the front panel, but knowing I didn't have the courage to give it a twist, I didn't bother popping said panel off. Besides, my sister-in-law loaned me a SECOND space heater--one guaranteed to 'heat up the whole room', so truly, this whole electric heater deal wasn't sounding so important.

Satisfied, I decided to get some exercise, so I turned on the TV and hopped on the treadmill. I'd only gotten through one replay of the Bush shoe ducking debacle, when

Pffft.

Silence.

I also came to an abrupt halt.

Hm. No TV. No treadmill...sure enough, also no computer and no space heater in the office.

Blown circuit breaker.

I trudged outside, held my cigarette lighter up to the electrical panel and threw all the switches. Eureka. (Okay, I lied. The truth is, I had to do this twice because the first time I BELIEVED the labeling and only flipped the one marked 'lights and outlets'. On the second trip, I flipped them all. Voila. TV is back on and--obviously--so is the computer.)

Hey, at least I knew the location of the box and what to do with it. So what if it's 48 degrees inside? That's what sweats are for, right? And planning vacations to Puerto Vallarta?

P.S. to Blogreader Mindy--if you're still at a loss as to a Christmas gift, you may wanna consider buying me a flashlight. Preferably one with batteries that work.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Blackjack!

Ha. Funny how I always think in gambling terms, huh? This time, I'm referring to the number TWENTY-ONE...as in, I received CONTRACT NUMBER TWENTY-ONE from True Romance Magazine yesterday. Woo hoo! So far, I'm in the first three issues of 2009. Think I can go 12 for 12 next year?

It's more work than you'd suspect. And getting harder to come up with ideas. Usually I start with what brings the hero and heroine together. A singles bowling league...shared custody of a dog...a party (wow, thinking back, parties have figured prominently in several sales). Then I look for a conflict between them. Opposites sides of the track...competition for a goal. Whatever. Sometimes I start with nothing but a scene heavy on dialogue and hope for the best. Usually, about halfway through, I start looking for a twist--a surprise--that will carry the story through to the end. Oh, yeah...and I start figuring out what makes the two characters fall in love. This is, after all, a romance. Anyway, it's that halfway point where I stall--where my fingers start typing so slowly, I fear I'll never reach the end. One of these days, I swear I'm gonna find a way to know the story from A to Z before I even start, so I can whip that sucker out so fast, my head'll spin.

Yeah, and pigs will fly, too.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Fun and Frivolity for the Holidays

Not sure WHAT'S got into the writer world this past week.

First, there's Karen Tabke's First Line Contest which I blogged about here. And yes, I entered my first line. Would you like to know what it was? Here goes:

Looking back, my mid-life crisis began on a Tuesday in March, right there on aisle twelve of the local supermarket between the laxatives and the condoms.

I had to go look it up on the blog because I think I already revised it for:

Second, there's agent Nathan Bransford's crazy (possibly suicidal) 1st paragraph contest. Crazy because, last time I checked, there were over 1000 submissions. Happy reading, Mr. Bransford!

For that one, I submitted:

Looking back, my mid-life crisis began on a Tuesday in March at the local grocery store, right there on aisle twelve between the laxatives and the condoms. That’s the day I stood before an assortment of tampons, wondering whether my diminished egg production warranted the forty-eight count economy size. See, I worried about leftovers—about a future when the half-empty box still sat under the sink, mocking me every time I reached for a hair dryer.

Ha. And when I got home last night, I rewrote THAT version, which may make it into:

Third, Firebrand Literary Agency's Query Holiday. For this spot of Christmas madness, agents at Firebrand have opened the submission process to ENTIRE FIRST CHAPTERS for the period of one month, commencing December 16. So if you write a crappy query letter, this one's for you.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

How Fun Was Palm Springs Last Weekend?

Short Answer: A blast!!

Although, I have to say, it's not my favorite drive. I swear, the older I get, the more I detest L.A. traffic. Maybe it's all the big rigs...maybe it's that everyone's in such a friggin' hurry...or, maybe I'm best suited to a rocking chair these days. I dunno.

But the truth is, if Palm Springs were closer, I'd be there more often. First, the weather. Perfect. Balmy. In November! Second, the architecture. The design aesthetic I regarded as kitschy and hokey in the 50's now fills me with fond nostalgia.

So, we checked into the Hilton (so conveniently located!) and were given a lovely poolside room with shuttered sliders to a patio complete with table, chairs and chaise. As much as we loved our little room, we had more on our agenda than lazing about--namely, casino visiting!

Yes, just steps across the street (so conveniently located!), we found ourselves at the Spa Casino, where we spent a couple hours MAKING MONEY until we met up with Randi's friend, Jim. Then, it was off to more lofty pursuits--dinner on the patio of a Mexican restaurant, followed by the annual Palm Springs Christmas parade (which is, ostensibly, what drew us there for the weekend--oh, no it wasn't the casino, don't think that it was). With coffee-to-go from the restaurant (enhanced by a bottle of Bailey's in my purse), we cheered on the home crowd of marching bands, decorated fire trucks, and mini-celebrities. Talk about getting in the Christmas spirit!

Later, we re-visited the gambling spirit...

How.Much.Fun.

I took some slot winnings to a 3-card poker table and spent...oh...maybe four hours there? You kinda lose track when you have such a fun table--not to mention a handsome guy (YOUR AGE) sitting next to you. (Okay, warning about Palm Springs: make sure your gaydar's in calibration before visiting or else you'll wonder all night whether that guy your flirting with is even on your team. P.S. I never DID find out.)

Anyway, I teetered back to the hotel around 2 a.m. to find it empty. (No big surprise--getting Randi out of a casino is harder than getting Blogreader Joe INTO one.) Suffice to say, she showed up around 5.

In the morning, we walked to our favorite deli (did I mention the Hilton is conveniently located??) for breakfast, did a bit more gambling, than beat the pending storm back to L.A.

Here now, for your viewing pleasure, is some video I took of the parade. I know. It sucks. You really had to be there.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

'Tis the Season...for Writer's Cramp

Time to do Christmas cards.

Is there a more annoying or boring task known to womanhood? Each year, I try to streamline the process--y'know...print out labels...write a generic letter I can "tailor" to each recipient. Unfortunately, this year I've managed to complicate things to the nth degree because...yes, I'm sending a slew of lucky friends and relatives a copy of the Christmas Anthology in which my story appears. Cool though, huh? Christmas card AND a present! But I have to keep track of who gets the bonus and who doesn't. And I have to pray that the nonrecipients don't read my blog and wonder why they didn't rate. Oh, and I have to make sure I don't send a copy to someone I've already given one to.

Meanwhile, do they make Christmas-themed bookmarks? How expensive are they? (It's already costing a whopping $2.98 just to send the damn book. Bah, humbug.)

Plus, I can't just stick the thing in the mail without some sort of explanation; hence, the obligatory Christmas letter...which I have yet to write. (Do I have to put it on Christmas-y paper?) Conveniently, when it comes to recapping the year, I have my trusty blog for reference. But I just perused it, and guess what? I didn't do much of note over the past 12 months (hey, there's a surprise). A couple weekend getaways here and there. Several sales to True Romance. I don't think anyone cares to hear about my epic switch from Earthlink to Time Warner, though. Nor the rejections for my latest manuscript.

Maybe I'll make up something fabulous (I AM a writer, after all). A three-book deal, perhaps. Or a movie option.

If you get such a letter from me, pretend it's all true, 'kay?

Friday, December 05, 2008

Just Call Me MacGyver

Doncha hate it when you've gotten off the freeway, you're halfway home from work, and something's RATTLING around in your engine? Yep, me too.

Oh, and doncha hate it when you've left your cell phone at home on the charger THE ONE TIME you really need it? Yep, me too.

So......I pull into a grocery store parking lot, making sure to choose a well-lit spot. My first instinct is to head for a public phone, but I'm wondering if maybe they've gone the way of the 39 cent stamp, so I re-think, and go back to the car.

Could be some strange foreign object's taken up residence in the engine. Could be it just needs a well-placed nudge to dislodge it.

I start up the engine, pop the hood, and peer inside.

Part of the fan belt is flapping round and round. Well, that can't be good, I think to myself.

I shut the engine back off, peer under the hood again, and lift up the strip of rubber for proper examination. It's about 1/8" wide and two feet long, and I try tearing it off.

The strip lengthens by about a foot.

At this point, I sense a male presence passing by, and I probably shoot some helpless female pheramones in his direction, because he stops and asks if there's a problem. I explain and ask his opinion of my plan to buy scissors to cut off the strip. He apologizes for not knowing anything about cars, but says he has a tool we can use. (Sidenote: how sweet is that? The guy offers assistance with something he knows nothing about? Is this is pick-up, then?) Anyway, he even has a tiny flashlight and performs the surgery on my behalf.

He then wishes me luck and we part. (So, no. I guess not a pick-up.)

I crawl home with one eye on the temperature gauge and one on the road.

Tomorrow, when I coax the poor thing to the office, at least I'll have my cell phone to call AAA should disaster strike.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Did I Miss A Memo?

I've been under the impression that ratings for awards show are at basement levels. Mostly because there's too many of them. I mean, come on. Oscars, Emmys, Golden Globes, People's Choice, AMA, CMA, SAG, Director's Guild, Independent Spirit awards...just to name a few off the top of my head.

So now there's a show just to announce nominations? That's right. Last night the Grammy Awards devoted an entire hour of TV time to read off the finalists in categories from best pop duo to best newcomer. Sure, they threw in live performances by people like Mariah Carey and Christina Aguilera. Even dusted off the Foo Fighters.

But, man. Talk about anticlimax. It was like: "And the nominees are" (insert five acts I've never heard of here) "and tune in on February 15th" (or some such date) "to see who wins." Huh? Delayed gratification to the nth degree.

But speaking of acts I've never heard of...who the hell is L'il Wayne? Eight nominations? Seriously?

I need to get out more.

Or quit listening to talk radio.

Maybe lose about forty years off my age.

Probably all of the above.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Babysitting!


Look who I'm babysitting at the moment! It's niece Mindy's sweet little dog, Kipper. No, he's not a Bichon like Kody, but a relative of some sort--Havanese. And yes, I've already called him Kody several times--just like the doddering old fool that I am.

As I write this, Kipper's sitting on my lap, weeping a little 'cuz his grandma and grandpa went to lunch. Sadly, I'm a poor substitute for REAL relatives.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Opening Lines

No, I'm not talkin' pick-up lines, although I DID catch the finale of some reality show called "The Pick-up Artist." Man, is there NOTHING I won't watch on TV? Has anyone seen that Chain of Love show? How about Sharon Osborne's charm school for the Rock of Love skanks? I'm tellin' ya, if these shows are broadcast throughout the world, it's no wonder we're hated far and wide.

Anyway, the title of this blog post refers to author Karen Tabke's annual "First Line" contest. Best to go to the site to get instructions, rules and regs if you wanna enter, but in a nutshell, you post your opening line next week. One sentence. One (hopefully) HOOK-Y sentence, that makes the cut to the next round. If so, the following week, you add a second sentence. And so on and so forth. Strikes me that if you wrote an entire novel with that much concentration on each sentence...well, can you imagine?? (Yeah, you'd probably slit your wrists.)

But it's a fun contest to watch...and I'm thinking of entering with my WIP. The prize? Five lucky finalists get to send their first 20 pages to Amy Pierpont, a Senior Editor with Grand Central Publishing.

As Jeff Probst would say on Survivor, "Worth playing for?"

Uh, yeah. DUH.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

NaNoWriMo--The Final Frontier!

Well, as you can see, I failed miserably this month, even though my goal was a paltry 25,000 words instead of 50,000. As I write this, Beverely has soared across the finish line, and I'm sure Jax will cross it by midnight.

You ladies ROCK!

In my defense, that bout with bronchitis set me back. Also, I'd like to point out that I wrote an additional 4,000 words on a story for True Romance that I didn't include in the total. Sadly, though, I don't ROCK, I stutter-step. HA, kinda the way I dance (blogreader Joe is nodding is head right now).

Meanwhile, I read through my WIP last night--approximately 50 pages. I wasn't as thrilled as I'd thought I'd be.

(We interrupt this blog to report the shuttle just went over!!! BAM!! BAM!!!)

Anyway, sometimes novels take on a life of their own. Or maybe, I'm in the wrong mood to be writing, cuz...geesh...this one's so friggin' serious. Too dramatic for my taste. I need to go back and find a way to inject the yucks. The...I dunno...insouciance...is that the right word?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Black Friday

Okay, I admit I did NOT do my part to resurrect the economy yesterday. I only hope that the rest of you made up for my absence. Instead, niece Jamie roped me into joining the family for a portrait, complete with an honest-to-goodness photographer. I took the opportunity to snap a few pictures myself, so here they are. That's the "grandparents photo" with Barry and Polly in the center, flanked by Ashley on the left and Jake and Zac on the right. And that's the Perlstein family below, complete with Mom and Dad (Jamie and Jon).

New parents Brian and Juli-Ann with baby Paige wallowed in the wet grass for this pose.

Finally, last but not least, niece Mindy (and fellow spinstress) to me, but Aunt Mindy to Paige.

Let's hope the professional guy did a better job than I, huh? (P.S. I think you'll agree that Paige is the only consistently photogenic one of the group.)

Nice setting though, huh?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!


I know I've been lax on the old blog lately. Guess I've been busy at work and with my NaNo Project. Just thought I'd drop by and wish all my readers a very happy holiday and to remind everyone that it's just important to be thankful for what you DON'T have.

Borrowing from an email sent to me by friends Debi and Skip, permit me to plagiarize!

Be thankful that you don't have everything you desire.
If you did, what would there be to look forward to.

Be thankful when you don't know something,
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge,
because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes.
they will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you're tired and weary,
because it means you've made a difference.

It's easy to be thankful for the good things.
However fulfillment also comes to those who
are thankful for some of the setbacks in life.

May the good things in life be yours in abundance, not only on Thanksgiving but through

the coming year.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Gory Details

Please note I spared y'all the day-to-day saga of the switch to high speed until that last post. Actually, after the first couple weeks of on-site visits, calls to Earthlink and Time Warner, live chats via the Internet, yada yada, I pretty much gave up. Figured I'd wait until the BILL was due, then politely explain why I was choosing not to PAY IT.

Sure enough, when I contacted the billing department at Time Warner on Friday, they instantly set up yet ANOTHER tech visit for first thing Saturday morning. Yuck. My favorite thing in the world. An appointment (at my home, no less) at 8 in the morning.

Whatever.

Decided to give it the old college try.

Promptly at 8, my phone rang. "I'm parked in your driveway," the TW tech informed me.

"Give me a minute to throw on some clothes," was my answer.

Yes, sans makeup, I opened the door and let him in. I think his name was Brian. Or Ryan. Something like that. Anyway, he went to work, performing the same old diagnostics his forerunners tried. Then he decided he needed his "earthlink book"--except he didn't have one, so he called in reinforcements. Two more guys showed up within minutes.

Now I had three tech guys standing in front of my computer, scratching their heads. (I was dying to take a photo for the blog, but didn't wanna embarrass them--I'm so nice!!) Eventually, the whole thing was taking so long, guys 2 and 3 left to handle Brian/Ryan's next appointment.

Meanwhile, Brian/Ryan resorted to desperate measures: he ran a new cable directly from the street up through my 2nd story window. Nada.

Next he called "Tier 3" support. Apparently, these are Time Warner's really big guns on the tech front. After listening to Brian/Ryan claim he'd exhausted every option imaginable, they all agreed it must be Earthlink's fault.

Where have we heard this before??

My memory of what followed is a bit hazy. I believe there was another call to Earthlink involved, but I can't quite remember the outcome. All I DO know, is that in the end, we were back with Tier 3, who I'm pretty sure is capable of beaming wireless death rays to targets of their choice. Anyway, all of a sudden, I saw Yahoo Messenger pop up on the monitor. "I'm connected," I told Brian, all excited.

He grabbed his phone and asked Tier 3 guy what he'd just done.

From my end, I heard garble garble, then Brian/Ryan turned to me. "They took off the Earthlink code."

"Meaning?"

"Meaning, you're connected through Road Runner."

Uh-oh. This did NOT sound promising. "What about my Earthlink email account?"

More garble garble, both on the phone end and in person. "Let's try it," Brian/Ryan suggested.

Tried it. Worked like a charm. Still, I KNEW IN MY HEART, this was probably the last I'd see of earthlink.

Sure enough. Brian/Ryan scurried out of there like a guy on a bad date. Three hours later, I went to check email and earthlink didn't know me from Adam. Not on Outlook Express. Not on the webserver. Not even one last email saying our five year relationship had been fun, but now it was time for him to move on.

See, the ONE criteria I had for upgrading was....I wanted to keep my email address. Not just for convenience, but because I have emailed submissions to agents and editors out there, some of whom use only email for their responses. Okay. I realize that on the OFF-CHANCE one of them can't live without my book, they'll find me via snail mail. But what of the partials? The maybe's? Well, here's hoping they use that SASE. And for the electronic submissions where there WAS no SASE, I guess I can send another email...but experience tells me those follow-ups get lost in the ozone.

But, I digress. On with the story.

So there I was without an email address to my name (except for one I use on Yahoo). I went to Roadrunner's site to set one up only to learn that I should have been given one when I "signed up for the service." Hello! Never signed up! Searched all over for a phone number. Tried "live chat" but...duh...needed an EMAIL ADDRESS to use the feature. Finally got ahold of a human who was able to give me the address, but not the password (how convenient!). She transferred me to another human who, after several fasle starts, finally figured out how to reset it.

Fortunately, I was savvy enough to successfully add the new address to Outlook, then I spent the next hour updating all my Yahoo groups, sending a blanket email to my address book, trying to remember all the places (iTunes, Yahoo webhosting, Blogger, etc.) that are anchored by my sad former email address.

I'm sure I missed a few.

Probably even a lot.

I guess we'll never know what the problem with Earthlink was, but I'm thinking their ad campaign to entice dial-up customers to switch to high speed cable is ...um...gonna be a major bust if they all turn out like me--former customers.

Oh, the icing on the cake?? Got an email from earthlink today addressed to my company's account, but referencing my phone contact this past Saturday. (Guess maybe they had the company account as an alternate contact address.) Anyway, they asked me to take an on-line survey regarding my satisfaction with how they handled my problem...

You can imagine how much FUN I had with THAT!!

P.S. I suppose this post was about as fascinating as someone's childbirthing story. Sorry.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Am I Still Here???

More elaborate stories later, but the migration from dial-up to high speed cable took a new turn today, with the end result being that I no longer have my original email address. Surprise!

I'm a tad concerned cuz this blog is tied to that account. Which may mean nothing...or everything. Anyway, if I disappear, or am unable to post at some point...you'll know why.

The evil techies are at work.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Number 20!

In addition to making s-l-o-w (but relatively steady!) progress with my NaNo project, I can report another True Romance sale! Yippee! For the first time, I actually wrote a themed story--this is for the February issue. Valentine's Day sounded to yawn-y (y'know, cuz it's not exactly my all-time favorite event), Presidents Day...Groundhog Day...nothing inspired me.

Until I came up with Mardi Gras. I mean, what could be better than a romance centered around a masquerade party?

Along with the contract came a lovely note from Nicole, the associate editor. Let me just mention that flattery has a way of increasing my productivity so that Nicole is one smart girl. Ha.

Anyway, so that makes 20 contracted stories since receiving my first in February of 2007. I guess that first one wasn't the fluke I originally thought, huh?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The 88 -- Coming Home



Swoon...what's not to love about boyishly cute guys and feel-good music? They remind me of the Beatles before they went whacko.


P.S. Go, Keith!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cough, Wheeze, Snort--And A Milestone Is Shattered

As my hairdresser said today, "I hope you didn't get that bronchial thing that's going around."

BINGO.

And so, yes...my long-standing record fell. In the 26 years I've worked here, I've called in sick only once and technically, I wasn't even sick that time--it was more of a jet-lag thing circa 1988 which I insist does NOT count.

I even got up, showered, and dressed yesterday morning, then thought...what the hell am I doing? Just because I felt immeasurably better than on the day prior, didn't mean I was firing on all pistons. (Okay, and to be honest, I went home early on Friday. Like at 10 a.m.)

So instead, I dragged myself into what the health care system calls "extended care" and sat with all the rest of the germ-laden sickees. Bottom line: bronchitis (but, yay! no pneumonia!). And with a couple scripts in hand, I am now well on my way back to Randyworld. (I have to admit it occurs to me that were I still a spring chicken, I probably would have toughed this all out, but oh well...at some point, I guess I clearly must give in to middle age.)

Anyway, I spent the time sleeping and watching a WHOLE LOT of TV which, thank God, kept me well entertained. And at odd moments, I began to compile the following list, so here now...

THE ADVANTAGES TO BEING SINGLE WHEN YOU'RE SICK

  • You can moan and groan all you like without feeling like a pathetic loser
  • You can toss used tissue wherever you like, including into the growing mound on the opposite side of the bed
  • In fact, the opposite side of the bed is useful for holding many essential items, e.g. reading glasses, thermometer, washcloth, remote
  • You needn't put the caps back on pill bottles (this saves a lot of energy, trust me)
  • You don't have to eat boring stuff like chicken soup and jello
  • Instead you can eat whatever you crave, like ice cream cones and pizza
  • You can look even more decrepit than you normally look when you wake up
  • You can watch TV all night long
  • You can take as many hot baths as you like without hearing someone say, "another one?"
  • You can drink Nyquill right out of the bottle, saving you from having to clean that little plastic cup
  • You can talk yourself into believing any medication you happen to have around the house is certainly within its expiration date
  • You can throw stuff on the floor when your nightstand gets too cluttered with other medicinal debris
This has been a public service announcement intended to reach all the whiny single people out there who wallow in depression when they're sick.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Perplexed

So I'm driving through American suburbia this morning on my way to work. I stop at a signal and while I'm waiting for the light to turn green, I notice a woman pushing a double stroller containing infant-type children down the sidewalk.

This strikes me as odd, but I can't figure out why, so I begin to analyze.

First, I note that the woman is probably not the kids' mom. Why? Because she's wearing a uniform. (It helps to point out that she's also Hispanic, and even from my car I can tell the babies are blonde.)

Okay, so she's the Nanny. No biggie.

But let's examine further. If I were a mom (yeah, I know--huge stretch, but bear with me), I would think that taking the young'uns out in a stroller would satisfy one of two purposes: either, a) to get myself some exercise, or b) afford the little tykes some fresh air. Obviously, a is out because the mom's nowhere in sight, and I'm having a problem with b because morning drive time on a busy street translates to nothing but noxious car emissions. Besides, this just strikes me as an afternoon-type activity.

Anyway, so here's my conclusion.

Mom has obviously mistaken her children for DOGS.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Road Trip


Randy and Randi in front of Cold Springs Tavern, a popular biker stop in the San Marcos Pass. Built as a stagecoach stop in 1886, it's been a restaurant and bar since 1941. One of those places you mean to stop and see sometime but are always in too much of a hurry for--but not this past
Saturday. Yep, I can cross it off my to-do list.

Crap. Why can't I ever figure out how to put pictures on Blogger? Or maybe it's them, not me.
Anyway, two photos (God know where they'll end up amongst the text I'm writing) are of that bridge I love so much. The one you can't see at all as you drive over it. I always knew there had to be an awesome vantage point from which to take pictures...not that this it IT exactly, but since I'd just wolfed down a humongous cheeseburger, I barely had enough energy to leap from the car and scramble around to find a spot at all, so give me a break.

So, you know where this all leads to, right? What can I say...the hotel made Randi an offer we couldn't refuse. Not that we did any gambling while we were there. Oh, no.

Friday, November 07, 2008



This is precisely the way you feel when you've foolishly committed to participating in NaNoWriMo.

Ha. Kidding. It's going pretty well, actually. Last night I wrote a scene in which my heroine, confronted with the biggest decision of her life, seeks counsel from a dog named Alfie. Yeah, I loved it too, although (thus far) I've resisted letting her say, "What's it all about, Alfie?" Tempting, let me tell ya.

Anyway, if you can believe the widget on the right, I'm at 4,444 words--or for you non-writer folks--about 18 pages. Hey, only about 360 to go! I'm practically finished! Let's whip out the synopsis and query letters now, huh? Kidding again.

Can you believe I actually dragged myself out of bed thirty minutes early this morning? Yeah, me either. Managed to squeeze in another page. During NaNo, you take every opportunity because falling behind usually means falling off the map entirely. Or the chart. Whatever.

I may not make 50,000 (in fact, that's a given), but I'll be happy as pie to get half of that.

Stay tuned....

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Halloween 2008


Gold cocktail dress, gold gloves, gold hair, gold purse overflowing with gold wrapped chocolate coins...and a gold shovel. What's it add up to?? A GOLD-DIGGER, of course!


Ah, the lovely Ann and Marty. Can you see the delightful black hair sprouting from Ann's nose and chin? Nice touch!

Those bastards Rex and Sandy. Well, Sandy has cat ears on, but it's hard to tell, isn't it? I'll forgive her since she's the one who had the camera and preserved this memorable evening for posterity.

By the way, I'm thinking of donning sunglasses for all future occasions. The eyes aren't just the windows to the soul--they give away your age, as evidenced by the stranger sitting next to me who thought I was about 42. (Crap...when did I stop being 42??)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Fidgety Widgets

More accurately, malfunctioning html.

'Cuz that monthly thingy purportedly charting my NaNo progress is NOT right, folks. I mean, come on. What's that big red blob for Tuesday? When, in truth, I ROCKED it last night. (In my humble opinion, of course.)

Did I mention that I'm not doing the out-and-out NaNo goal? Nuh-uh. Not me. Writing 1600 words a day is pure torture and, speaking for myself, not conducive to quality writing. At least not when I'm working on a novel I truly believe has potential.

So I'm slogging along at 3 pages a day to reach 25,000 words by the end of November. Oops. Just did the math. Three pages a day puts me short of 25,000. Oh, well. I'll make it up along the way. Somewhere.

Bottom line, by the end of the month, I should have almost 1/3 of the book done. And if I continue at that rate on into December and January, well...as writing friend Brooke says, I'll have something new to pitch by National next July. Oh, let's be even more optimistic, shall we? I'll have a SALE to celebrate by next July.

By the way, got a rejection in the mail this week, but did I let that sucker deter my NaNo progress? Hell, no.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Terry Spear, Superstar!

I'm so proud of writing friend Terry, I could burst!

Apparently, each year, Publishers Weekly takes the opportunity "near year's end to review the year in books, highlighting the very best of what American publishing had to offer in fiction, poetry, nonfiction, comics, religion, lifestyle and children's."

Well, guess what?!?!?!?! Terry's book, Heart of the Wolf, was named (among only five titles total) to the best in "Mass Market."

Yay, Terry!

Truly amazing, although well-deserved. To read the list, click here. To visit Terry's website to see how to purchase Heart of the Wolf, click here. Again, CONGRATS, Terry. You're an inspiration!


Sunday, November 02, 2008

Ready, Set, Splat!

NaNoWriMo commenced yesterday at 12:01 a.m.

Uh, I didn't do so hot. Well, to be fair, I had a Halloween hangover (pictures to come--of the costumes, that is, not the hangover). Still...I managed to write, um, two (count 'em, TWO) pages. With a third added this morning (at 8 a.m. no less!).

It's been awhile since I typed the words "Chapter One." Pretty daunting, let me tell ya. Plus, since I've been mulling this book over for MONTHS now, I truly wanna do it justice, and so far, the pages I've written are missing something. Can't quite find the voice, I guess. Or maybe I've written these scenes in my mind so many times, they just look funny on the screen.

Whatever.

I shall persevere...if only to make those bars and charts in my sidebar look a bit more respectable.

Go Jax! (Currently in first place, the byotch.)

Friday, October 31, 2008

The 88

Trust me, you oughta be checking this band out. But, hey. Don't take my word for it--go sample the new CD at their MySpace page by clicking here. Oh, and read this nice write-up in the Los Angeles Times today. The 88 is definitely a band to have on your radar!


I'm no reviewer, so I'll let the music speak for itself.








Okay, in the spirit of full disclosure, I'll admit...I couldn't be more proud of my old friend Keith Slettedahl (88 frontman), seen below in his new role as proud father to Violet on the left and my nephew Brian with his new daughter Paige on the right.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

It's That Time Of Year....

...and I'm not talkin' Halloween, folks.

Nope. TWO days from now (cue scary music), I'll descend into what's fondly called NaNoWriMo FRENZY. Days and nights filled with thoughts of word count. Mad dashes to the computer for adding to THE GOAL.

(Oh, speaking of goals...I, er, shortened mine this year. To 30,000 words. So sue me, and yes--I guess that means that no matter what, I won't be a NaNo "winner." Trust me, I can't BEAR to go back and clean up the crap I write when I aim for 1666 words a day--or whatever 50,000 divided by 31 is. So this is better.)

Anyway, that's what those new doohinkeys in my sidebar are about. Widgets they're called. And the first one is supposed to track my progress, the second to put guilt trips on my friends who are stupid (oops, I mean, crazy--no, inspired?) enough to do this.

Ha.

Stay tuned.

Cross your fingers.

A little praying might not hurt either--y'know, if you're so inclined.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Interview With Debut Author Jeff Rivera


Okay, I have to be honest from the get-go. I haven't read Jeff's book (have you SEEN my To-Be-Read Pile?? It's that tower of pulp threatening to bury my bedroom in paperbacks.) But I admit I'm intrigued. First, because Jeff's a man writing romance and second, because Forever My Lady takes place in a unique setting with characters not always seen in traditional contemporary romance. So when Jeff contacted me about including Randy Writes Romance on his blog tour, I readily said, "Yes!"


And now, the interview:

Randy: Why do you think my readers would be interested in Forever My Lady, Jeff?

Jeff: Well, your motto is Romance with an Attitude. Haha! And this story certainly has lots of that. I think Forever My Lady is a new twist on a love story. It deals with not only the whimsical experience of love but also the hard issues we really deal with in life. It covers teen pregnancy, racism, rape yet that doesn't bog down the love part of the story. I'm very much a romantic at heart and corny as it sounds, I believe in true love. I believe in finding "the one".


Randy: I see your publisher is Warner/Grand Central (Randy pauses to drool). Tell us about the process. Was it frustrating?

Jeff: Most of my frustrations were learning to adjust with self-publishing to being published by a major publisher. There was so much red tape I had to get used to. At first I didn't like the feeling of being reeled in but I've grown to appreciate it and know where the corporate world is coming from. I think I also come at the publishing industry from a new fresh perspective that more innovative people in the industry definitely appreciate.

Randy: (Still drooling) Tell me more about getting the news from Warner/Grand Central.

Jeff: I remember that day so clearly and not so clearly because I felt like I was in a fog and it took several months for me to realize that this thing I had been dreaming of for so long had finally come true, that it wasn't just some dream. I had to actually have my friend shake my hand in order to realize it wasn't just a dream or visualization I was doing. It was actually happening.

Randy: I hear you have experienced homelessness in the past. How has that shaped your writing?

Jeff: I think it shaped my writing in knowing that anything could happen to me. That helped me step inside the shoes and mentality of my characters so I could write from their perspective easier.

Randy: How can my readers find out more about you and Forever My Lady?

Jeff: My website is www.jeffrivera.com and Forever My Lady is available at any bookstore, Amazon.com or my website.

Randy: Thanks for being here, Jeff...and BEST of luck with your debut novel! ! !

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Continuing Saga....

You'll be thrilled to hear that after I emailed Time Warner questionning whether their support staff actually have pulses (and, y'know, heartbeats, brains--the whole shebang), they responded with these immensely helpful instructions.

1. Check my TV reception. (Um, thanks. We tried this on the day of installation. TV reception's fine.)

2. Check all the connections for your cable modem. (Hey, there's an idea. Like the three technicians who've been out might have missed a loose connection when they installed the thing. Crap, now that I think about it, why should I have trusted their expertise? Not that I haven't had all the cables in and out several times, so I think we got that one covered.)

3. Reboot the cable modem. (What am, I a rookie? That's, like, number one on the troubleshooting hit parade.)

4. If the above doesn't work, contact Time Warner's Broadband technical support line at ....
blah, blah, blah. You just KNOW that's my favorite one, right? The one where they hang up on you after you go through two minutes of punching in answers to recorded questions?

SIGH.

My response to their latest communication was to, once again, point out that if a human being is reading the entire email, her or she should be coming up with a different response. I ended it with an invitation to just admit they don't have a solution and that perhaps I should physically remove the equipment, dutifully return it to Time Warner, and go back to being a dial-up customer of Earthlink.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Saturday Fly-By

Busy, busy, busy...getting ready for a quickie gambling trip, but couldn't leave without sharing this:

So in my latest efforts to solve the big connectivity issue, I tried Time Warner's on-line email support. Here now, for your growing amusement, is the communication which transpired. Best to read from the bottom up to get the full gist! (Please note, my response included the phrase: Did a HUMAN actually read this correspondence at ANY TIME WHATSOEVER??? I THINK NOT.)

Dear Randy (last name redacted)

Thank you for contacting Time Warner Cable Support.

What I understand is that you are facing connectivity issues with the
Internet services.

Randy, I do apologize for the inconvenience caused to you

I will try best to assist you.

Randy, I suggest that you contact Road Runner Technical chat Support
team on the lick below, as they would be glad to assist you. (Um, Road RUNNER??? Did they not notice I'm an EARTHLINK CUSTOMER???)

http://www.help.rr.com/HMSLogic/rrchat.aspx?poolname=TW-Austin

If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to
E-mail us again or contact our Live Chat at the following link:
http://www.timewarnercable.com/CustomerService/chat/chat.ashx

We value you as a customer! (Yes, that's so obvious!!)

Sincerely,
Kyra Cooper (Kyra, do you really exist? As in, do you have flesh on your bones and stuff? Or, are you made up of circuit boards and chips?)

Time Warner Cable Online Customer Service

Customer support works 24/7. (Yes, this is sooooo convenient, thus far.)

You can now chat with us online at the following link:

Our team of knowledgeable online representatives are here to help you
with your service questions or issues.


http://www.timewarnercable.com/Localization/Corporate.ashx?tid=21&linkid
=11


Please include all previous correspondence in your reply.
Messages are not saved indefinitely after they are responded to.

Original Message Follows:
------------------------
My home phone is (redacted) I believe the new account number is
(redacted). I will be in and out most of the weekend, but will appreciate
any
help you can provide. I suspect the problem is some internal issue since
1)
the TW technicians were unable to make their own laptops work, and 2) a
person I know who's pretty conversant with setting up internet
connections
tried re-configuring my laptop and still, it didn't connect. FYI, when I

checked the connection status, it said speed: 100 but then above it was

stated "low or no connectivity"--I tried "repair" while connected via
dial-up, but it said it was unable to repair.

Randy

----- Original Message -----
From: "Syracuse (Support)" <syr.support@twcable.com>
To: <randyjean@earthlink.net>
Sent: Friday, October 24, 2008 5:10 AM
Subject: Re: Connectivity Issues (KMM251298I23L0KM)


> Dear Randy (redacted),
>
> Thank you for contacting Time Warner Cable Support.
>
> As pre your e-mail I understand that you have been facing technical
> issues with your internet connectivity from the time you upgraded your
> earthlink to TWC high speed cable, and you were unable to contact TWC
> via the phone.
>
> I certainly understand the frustration and inconvenience this has
caused
> to you.
>
> I will be happy to assist you with this.
>
> Randy,can you provide me with the 10-digit phone number and the
account
> number associated to your account, as I will have to escalated your
> issue to the respective department. It is a specialized and dedicated
> department for resolving such issues and will be in a better position
to
> help you.
>
> If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to
> E-mail us again or contact our Live Chat at the following link:
> http://www.timewarnercable.com/CustomerService/chat/chat.ashx
>
> Sincerely,
> Atkin Jones
>
> Time Warner Cable Online Customer Service
>
> We value you as a customer! (Whew! Glad to hear it! I was worried...)
>
> You can now chat with us online at the following link:
>
> Our team of knowledgeable online representatives are here to help you
> with your service questions or issues.
>
>
>
http://www.timewarnercable.com/Localization/Corporate.ashx?tid=21&linkid
> =11
>
> Our customer service is available 24X7
>
> Please include all previous correspondence in your reply.
> Messages are not saved indefinitely after they are responded to.
>
> Original Message Follows:
> ------------------------
> First Name:Randy
> Last Name:redacted
> > Email Reason:Connectivity Issues
> Statement of problem:I'm at my wit's end. TW technican came out a week
> ago, hooked up modem to upgrade earthlink to high speed via TW cable.
> Although I appear connected; technician unable to access web; his
> supervisor instructs him to tell me it's Earthlink's problem. Later, I
> call Earthlink--go through various diagnostics unsuccessfully.
Earthlink
> tells me it's TW's problem. I contact TW again and they send out two
> technician's on Friday. After two hours, technicians unable to make
> connection although computer still says connected. TW supervisor says
it
> must be Earthlink's fault. TW technician calls Earthlink. Still not
> successful. TW leaves. This week I contact Earthlink via live chat. Go
> through three different people, telling the same story again, until
the
> third person says he can't help me because connectivity problems are
the
> responsibility of TW. I call TW several times, punch in selections on
> the recording, and am told due to high volume of calls my call cannot
be
> answered at this time. Try later. Click. I'm at a loss as to what to
do,
> short of cancelling all my services in total. Any advice?
>
>
>
>

Friday, October 24, 2008

Your Tax Dollars At Work

Had to share this one...

Okay, so we get a notice that next time around, our quarterly sales tax return must be filed electronically.

Uh-oh. You see where this going already, right? Government...Internet...electronic transmissions....NEVER A GOOD COMBINATION.

Anyway, so I go to register for said event--in advance, no less! Immediately, I have a problem. I'm supposed to input an owner's name in order to bring up the appropriate company info. Hm. I try my dad's. I try my brother's. I try my own.

Nada.

I use initials. I use middle names. Yada, yada, yada...

Nothing.

Long story short, it turns out our company is so ancient our original seller's permit didn't require ownership information.

A light bulb must have gone on over at the old State Board of Equalization headquarters, for at about this time, I receive a form letter stating it's just occurred to them their database doesn't go back past 1999. (Minor detail, huh?) Anyway, they proceed to give me interim instructions to get on the database, then ask me to complete an attached form and mail it to the return address at the top of the letter.

Only, guess what? (You'll love this, I promise!). Here's the return address (typed verbatim):

State Board of Equalization
Local BOE Office
Address, City, State Zip
Telephone Number - Fax Number

Um...something tells me my form ain't gonna get anywhere with that address.

Meanwhile, I imagine the State employee responsible for this mix-up is out celebrating his or her promotion to the next pay grade. Whaddya wanna bet I'm right?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

It Never Gets Old...

I received a contract for my nineteenth sale to True Romance the other day. Yippee! Like the title of this post says, it never gets old...nor does receiving the checks!

As always, these stories are based on true life--the name of this one is "My Deadbeat Brother Is Ruining My Life."

Ha ha...I told him not to take it personally.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cable, Wherefore Art Thou?

First the good news.

1. Those Earthlink guys in New Delhi are exceedingly polite.

2. Time Warner technicians show up on time.

Okay, finito for the good news.

Let's recap, shall we? On Thursday, Time Warner sent Josh over to install my shiny new modem and to run cable up an outside wall into my upstairs office.

That went smoothly.

Okay, finito for smoothly.

Josh hooked up all the doo-hinkeys, made all the configuration setting adjustments, and the computer boasted proudly of its new speed.

Only one problem. Despite proclaiming its high-falutin' connection, I was unable to access the Internet, nor send and receive email. Minor problem, except that this is the sole purpose for having said connection.

Not to worry. Josh was on the case...only, after trying everything he could think of, he finally broke down and (shamefaced) called his supervisor who informed him that everything looked fine on Time Warner's end, concluding that my best bet (read: ONLY bet) was to contact Earthlink and tell them to "migrate" my account.

I threw up my hands and figured, later. I'd call them later.

Cut to later: long story short, the exceedingly polite New Delhi guy tells me that it HAS been migrated. As far as they're concerned, case closed. Earthlink has done its part. Now it's up to Time Warner...who agrees to send out another technician on Friday.

(Sigh. This story's becoming real tedious, huh?)

Anyway, two technicians show up on Friday (again, promptly!). After a couple hours, they gave up the ghost. Call Earthlink, they're told by their supervisor. To his credit, the Time Warner guy made the call, only to be run through the same diagnostics I've already tried. In the end, the two technicians left...and I still had no cable connection.

Yesterday (here's the finest moment thus far, really) I got on the phone again. Tried Time Warner first and, after punching in all the appropriate selections, got: "I'm sorry. We're experiencing an unusually high volume of calls. Please try again later." Click. (Gee, why am I not surprised about the high volume??)

Tried Earthlink again. Same thing. (And here I'd thought calling on a weekday was a brighter idea. NOT.)

Next, I gambled on a live chat with Earthlink. Polite New Delhi guy number one transferred me to Polite New Delhi guy number two who almost let me cancel the whole shebang until he realized the cable had already physically been installed and transferred me to Polite New Delhi guy number three...who...you guessed it...told me I had to contact Time Warner for connectivity issues.

So that, dear readers, is where things currently stand. Meanwhile, I'm using dial-up at the rate of $1 an hour to access the Internet. Can't WAIT to address the issue of nonpayment when Time Warner broaches the subject.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Only In California...










So on Saturday night, Blogreader Joe took me out for a long-delayed birthday dinner at the restaurant of my choice. Squee! I chose Mastro's cuz I love the ambience, the piano bar, and...well, duh...the food.

We were shown to a room in the back and given a table for two. Next to us was a table for six, three facing three, with a lone chair at the "head." If you're picturing this correctly, that lone chair is approximately 2 feet from where my plate will rest. (In a moment, this will become important.)

I ordered a glass of wine, and we perused the menu. Suddenly, I was distracted by movement nearby.

Yes, my eyes did not deceive me. The woman sitting next to me was feeding scraps of salad to a small dog sitting in the purse on the chair at the head of the table!

I mean, euw.

It's one thing to tote your dog along to dinner, but to feed him from the table??? Minutes later, a guy with a communication device in his ear (i.e., an official restaurant employee) stopped by to ask a few questions. Politely, I didn't listen, but I heard the woman say, "Check your computer. Just check your computer."

Official Restaurant Guy didn't return to the table, so I guess the computer must have said something like "party of six plus canine."

When the woman's steak came, she carefully cut it in doggie-size pieces and alternated with one bite for herself and one for the mutt. Midway through the meal, she picked him (or her) up out the purse and left the table, returning minutes later. One can only wonder what kind of business the two took care of in their absence.

Meanwhile, does it not surprise you to learn that the woman barely conversed with her tablemates? (As a matter of fact, they all looked pretty miserable to me.)

I have no explanation for the above except to hypothesize that what this woman lacks in looks she makes up for with bizarre behavior.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Playing Ping-Pong

So here's where we're at:

Time-Warner: "We've done our part. You need to call Earthlink."

Earthlink: "We've done our part. Call Time-Warner."

Time-Warner: "Call Earthlink."

Meanwhile, no Internet.

Are you surprised?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

If You're Trying To Send Me An Email....

HA! SEE? This is what I'm talking about!

Mysteriously, when I arrived at work this morning, I was unable to log-in to view messages on Earthlink's web server.

A temporary glitch, I thought...until I WAS able to perform said operation on my company account.

Uh-oh.

I called Earthlink. Excuse me, to be more precise, I called Earthlink's representative in New Delhi. From what I gather (and, trust me, the guy could have been reciting the Hindu (?) alphabet for all I know), there's an issue (gee, what a surprise!) in transferring from my dial-up account to my shiny new DSL account with TIME-WARNER. Whatever. The bottom line was that after speaking with this gentleman, I was able to view my email.

Meanwhile, I recognized the urgency with which I should officially activate the new account, so I took a deep breath and phoned Time-Warner.

This was a relatively painless conversation if you don't count the shameless sales pitch to add my landline or the minutes of silence as she "looked up my account"--what was she doing, taking naps?? Anyway, got an appointment for the installation between 10 and 12 on Thursday (much better than Verizon's business practice of giving you the 8 to 6 routine, I might add.)

Only thing is...a couple hours later, I attempted to access my webmail again. Peachy--the log-in was successful...except that it showed NO EMAIL. As in, NONE of the email I've carefully saved over the past four years (let alone anything new). Okay, I didn't panic because I've got all important email information saved in Outlook Express on my desktop at home. If my past history gets wiped out in the transition, so be it.

But now I'm unable to log-in again.

And people wonder why I was afraid to mess with my ancient dial-up account??

Monday, October 13, 2008

Why The Stone Age Is Fine By Me

"Dial-up? You're on dial-up?"

Okay, so I got tired of the utter disbelief when, on occasion, I was forced to admit that yes...I had NOT advanced to the age of high speed Internet service. My reasons ran thusly:

1. Earthlink, my ISP, didn't have DSL available in my neighborhood.
2. I abhor the idea of giving my cable company and/or my phone company more money. As far as I'm concerned, they're already a rip-off. Besides, I wanted to keep my email address.

One day, about two years ago, Earthlink called me up, offering me high speed access. I spent a 1/2 hour on the phone, answering their questions. They ended the conversation with: "Okay, within 3 days, you should hear back from us, letting you know whether the service is available in your area." ????? I thought that was the reason for the call! Three days passed and I got a recorded message on my home voicemail: "Sorry. Not available yet." Hey, thanks for wasting my time.

Anyway, so you know the drill. About once every hour on the hour I get messages from all-of-the-above touting their new services. Bundle this, wrap that. Ad infinitum.

Finally, I broke down. Earthlink was advertising DSL specifically to my address! Yippee! I checked the website and YES! Available!

One small item held me back with which I'm sure you can all relate--no matter what you do, no matter how many precautions you take--SOMEHOW, the transition is never smooth, right? Whether it's the lack of hardware (um, do I have something called Ethernet?), or new software they make you install (why doesn't my desktop look like it used to?). Whatever. Something's gonna go wrong. You can rely on it.

Still...I figured, I'm relatively safe. I can always use the dial-up connection.

I pressed the purchase button.

Immediately, I get an email telling me Time Warner will be contacting me about setting up installation. Well, you can imagine how this news made my heart sink. Time Warner?? Ya mean here I avoided using my cable system all those years and now my new DSL is coming via...my cable system?

Not a good omen.

So, I admit...I procrastinated making the call. For weeks.

Then, Saturday night, I'm tooling along the information highway, all happy with my dial-up connection, and I hear the ping of an incoming email.

Hm. It's a warning from Earthlink. I've exceeded my 20-hour dial-up limit by 67 hours at the rate of an additional dollar per hour.

Groan.

Turns out....well, you get it. Now that I'm officially a "DSL customer," my dial-up is no longer limitless. Who knew? (Don't say it--I'm sure it's in the small print somewhere.)

Guess I'd better schedule that friggin' installation (which, by the way, I was supposed to be able perform myself).

I TOLD YA I liked the Stone Age better.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Guaranteed To Piss You Off

Or at least shake your head in dazed confusion. (Yes, just another bonus I offer faithful blogreaders.)

So...today I was browsing the FBO site. For the uninitiated, that stands for Federal Business Opportunities and it's where the government maintains a database of solicitation requests for items and services it intends to purchase. I was looking for a scheduled announcement regarding altitude chambers for a research wing of the Department of the Air Force.

Well.

On any given day, you can stumble over stuff to make your head spin. Here's the one that caused my Linda Blair moment this morning:

Solicitation HE1260-09-T-4000
Original synopsis pre-solicitation notice issued October 09, 2008 at 7:19p.m., modification issued same date at 7:41p.m. with the final solicitation issued 2:45a.m. on October 10, 2008.

Are you ready......???????????

The title is: CHEERLEADER CLINIC-YONGSAN, S. KOREA

Okay, deep breaths now....

Let's discuss.

First, the verbiage: "The Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DoDDS) Pacific intends to issue on a Full and Open Competition basis, Firm Fixed Price Purchase Order to procure a Cheerleading Clinic in Seoul, South Korean. The period of performance will be from 03 November 2008 through 07 November 2008. The contractor shall provide all labor, materials and supplies necessary to provide cheerleading training for approximately 120 participants. Specific details shall be included in the Request for Quote (RFQ) Number HE1260-09-T-4000 to be posted in the Federal Business Opportunities website on or about 10 October 208, to close 5 days...blah, blah, blah...

This is just wrong on so many levels, isn't it??

First...what the hell is the Department of Defense doing arranging for cheerleading clinics? Don't they have more important things to do...like, um, kill terrorists?

Second...Seriously? Korea? (Okay, I "get" that these girls are the daughters of men and women stationed in Korea. But still.)

Third...Full and Open competition? Is this a hot industry I should know about?

Finally, and most importantly, since when did it become necessary to conduct professionally designed clinics to teach young women the art of cheerleading? Oh, I'm not so old that I don't know this goes on in the states. My own great-niece began participating in them before she even reached her teen years. But I remember a time when the "older girls" handed down their routines to the "younger girls." No camp. No clinic. No per diem expenses in a town half-way across the state, let alone the country (or sea).

All I can say is: Sis-boom-BAH (humbug).

Another fine example of our (fast-dwindling) tax $$$$ at work.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Where I'm Stuck

These days, I have story structure clogging the otherwise normal functions of my cerebral cortex. Plotting methods ooze from my pores like cheap perfume on a humid day.

But I'm getting there. Sort of.

My spreadsheet overfloweth with scene ideas and chapter hooks.

So here's what's got me stumped: this new realization that the complications leading to crisis/climax at the end of Act II oughta be a direct consequence of character choices made in the initial attempt to deal with the problem coming out of Act I.

Okay, did that make sense? Or, did your head just explode?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A Minor Inconvenience

I headed out of the parking lot Monday afternoon, using my customary route to reach the freeway. As I approached the on-ramp, I noticed the signs barricading the entrance.

Damn.

I HATE when CalTrans screws with me.

Then I remembered...I knew the reason for the blocked entrance, and I shivered.

In 1970, serial killer Mack Ray Edwards confessed to burying one of his victims along the 23 Freeway which was then under construction. Edwards hung himself in prison, so he's long gone, and I don't know why it's taken all these years, but forensic experts are finally excavating a site where they believe they will find the remains of a sixteen-year old boy murdered forty years ago.

In the midst of these turbulent times--when politicians can't be trusted and CEOs are raping the economy--it's somehow comforting to know that local government is spending the money and taking the time to reach a resolution regarding this young man's death.

Even if their successful efforts mean nothing more than bringing closure to whatever family members are left forty years later.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Time Out For A Rant

Let’s blame:

President Bush
The Republican Party
The Democratic Party
Congress
Wall Street
The CEO of every bank and investment firm
The mortgage brokers
The insurance companies

But...

God FORBID...

We should blame ourselves.

We, who seem to have lost our work ethic along the way, becoming instead a nation of people who feel entitled to make something from nothing.

House flippers. The kind who buy, sit, and sell. No tangible good produced there.

Day traders. Or, more accurately, gamblers. Fingers fly over computer keyboards, while nothing is actually produced.

Multi-level marketing. Make money off of signing up people to make money off of signing up other people. Oh, yeah. Lots of all-American production there.

No credit? No problem. Here’s your house.

No job? No problem. Here’s your house.

So what if the higher interest rate down the road makes the house unaffordable? We're talking RIGHT NOW. And RIGHT NOW, you want that house. Figure the rest out later.

Buy now, pay later. That’s why God created credit cards. When those bills become too burdensome, you can always walk away unscathed with a little think called bankruptcy.

And maybe, if you’re lucky, your neighbor’s dog’ll bite you. Instant $50,000 MINIMUM, and that’s without having to go to court. Or there’s always the local grocery store. They’re constantly leaving water in an aisle, perfect for the slipping...

Plenty of ways to fatten up the bank account without having to perform actual work.

And if everything goes to hell, well...there’s always the government. They’ll take care of you...won' they?

How many of you salivated when you read the email going around purporting that $700 billion could be spread out over 200 million American adults, giving us $450,000 a piece, which we would in turn spend on mortgages, college loans, and consumer goods? How many of you were already picturing that plasma screen TV on your wall??

Until someone emailed back and suggested you calculate the division problem...

Take some responsibility, people. Do a little work.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Twitter

Color me clueless.

And a jumper on bandwagons.

'Cuz, as you may have noticed, I've commenced tweeting. (Is that the proper lingo?)

As in, I'm on Twitter. All I know is that it seems to be the rage on blogs, and you're limited to 140 characters per "tweet" so how much time could I possibly waste on this new fad? Although I have to admit--I can't imagine anyone wanting to "follow me" as I make my way inanely through the day.

We'll see.

I can always delete, delete, delete.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Pure Brilliance

In case you haven't seen a version of this and were wondering just how the *F* we got into this mess...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

It's Here!

See that book cover to the right? Yep, I'm finally holding a copy in my hot little hands! My short story, "Disappearing Act"--the true account of my efforts as a child to keep tabs on my dad on Christmas Eve so he wouldn't miss "Santa's" visit--appears on page 137.

Okay, if you're a friend or relative...or if I met you in an elevator one time...don't rush out to buy it because I probably already have a copy for you.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Dear Faceless Stranger...

I hope the money meant something to you. Like, you were able to run out and buy your little girl the doll she's been wanting that you couldn't afford cuz you lost your job. Or that it'll help you with the down payment on that apartment you need to rent cuz you're being foreclosed on.

Y'know. Something like that.

++++

Here's the deal. No one stole any money from me. (Not unless you count the stupid slot machine manufacturer whose FLAWED design cost me $350.)

Yes.

$350.

Sad, huh?

I was building up a bankroll, cutting into my losses of Friday night. Got it up to precisely Three Hundred Fifty Dollars and Two Cents. (Note the two cents--it's the CRUX of the problem).

I inserted the bet slip into a slot machine at the same time my friend Randi inserted hers into the one next to it.

Beep Beep Beep

Now, remember. I'm not exactly a rookie, here. The sound seemed to be emanating from Randi's machine, so I said: "I think it's trying to give you change."

The beeping stopped. We proceeded to spin. Within a minute, I decided to move on, and I hit the "cash out" button.

Took my slip.

Chose another machine maybe twenty steps away and inserted my slip. The credits registered only two cents. Fine, I think. My slip's jammed again (for the third time that day, as a matter of fact.) Calmly, called a slot attendant and filled her in.

She uses her key to open the front and informs me I didn't put a $350 slip in. Still calm (knowing there must be ways to prove it), I insist that I did.

"No, no," she says. "You never took the $350 from the previous machine."

Crap. I suddenly get it. It was MY machine doing the beeping. It was trying to tell me to take the TWO CENT slip.

Which meant....uh-huh. My $350 was still in the previous machine.

Only, of course, by now...it wasn't.

Security reported that the person who used the machine after me (probably sitting right next to Randi!!!) caught my unexpected windfall and cashed the entire ticket at another machine about ten minutes later.

What could I do? Obviously, there was no way the casino was gonna refund my money. And, yes, it's MY RESPONSIBILITY TO VERIFY THAT THE AMOUNT ON THE BET SLIP DISPENSED IS CORRECT. I get that. (Hell, I'd lost my glasses--wouldn't have been able to see the amount anyway.)

Still. Nine times out of ten, machines that feel this overriding urge to refund the money outside of nickel increments, automatically shoot out a bet slip. Some just add it to your bank, because after all, it's PAPER. Not like they're actually dispensing pennies, nickels and dimes....!!

Later, I met a guy at the bar who said the same thing happened to him once. According to him (I'm not sure I believed this), he got security to review the videotape and they tracked down the culprit in the casino. Gave him the option to pay the money back or never step foot in the casino again.

Sigh. Lesson learned.

The good news is, I got it all back the next day with some excellent bonus plays.