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.


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 and Forever My Lady is available at any bookstore, 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?


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???)

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:

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

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.

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
help you can provide. I suspect the problem is some internal issue since
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
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.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Syracuse (Support)" <>
To: <>
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
> to you.
> I will be happy to assist you with this.
> Randy,can you provide me with the 10-digit phone number and the
> 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
> 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:
> 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.
> =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.
> 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
> 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
> third person says he can't help me because connectivity problems are
> 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
> answered at this time. Try later. Click. I'm at a loss as to what to
> 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.


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


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 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.


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 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.


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.) 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.


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......???????????


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, 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.


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
Wall Street
The CEO of every bank and investment firm
The mortgage brokers
The insurance companies



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


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

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Like it says in the are the wind beneath my wings!