Archive for August, 2008

A Few Words about Words…

I have been nursing severe sinus issues… probably for quite some time, but especially since finishing last weeks jury duty. The courtroom where we heard the case had a thermostat (remotely controlled from a building about two miles away, on the other side of the local river) that must have felt it important that the room be able to double as a meat locker after finishing cases for the day. Starting last Wednesday I have been constantly blowing my nose in an effort to be able to breathe (blowing, sometimes, with mixed results).

I finished the short script last Friday, and have sent it out to one person for a reading, and am preparing two printed copies for others to read. I have also submitted it to “my” writing group for review…

Now, with that said, I had my first class last night, and the prospects look… interesting. As I think I have mentioned before, I have that jumbled ball of nerves floating around – I’m excited, because it’s a writing class [which means, you know, I have to write stuff!], but at the same time, there is the nervous tick of not having had this instructor before – not knowing how he grades or really how he even runs the class [overall].

There are actually stories [published] that we will read and discuss from an artistic standpoint [to think about other ways of building a story, etc.]. I have already started looking over the three [have read one, and marked the other two] for next week, and can already see part of where the idea of “other ways” can go.

Here, however, is the meat of why I was moved – first thing this morning, to create this post… More “Words from Wheaton” (hey, that’s kinda catchy)… As I have mentioned before (by means of cross-posting, linking back to Wil’s blog, or others), I like seeing other writers having epiphanies… Even the few times that I have had my own, it has always been a good feeling to actually hear other [read: professional, published] writers say the same thing. More specifically, admitting, without a lot of ego, the process of hitting walls and trying to break through – finding a way for a story to work, realizing that the approach may need to be retooled, or the story completely rethought.

Growing up in the pre-digital age, the writers I read were huge, living on pillars and pedestals. Granted, this was the mind-set of a thirteen year old, interested in telling stories, mentally trying to comprehend the art of writing. In seventh grade, my friend Chris and I talked about (and even did a basic plot storyline) for a trilogy… and other than a few efforts of thirteen year olds trying to start a book, it didn’t get too far. Trying to understand how a writer could assemble a book – let alone a series – became one of life’s assumed mysteries.

Now, as Will demonstrates in this post, there is a huge advantage for us writerly/creative types – peer support for the isolated. Also, for those of us still in the early stages of (what I want to develop into) a writing career, the digital age helps to find those authors that are wanting to come down off of their pillars, to bee seen as normal people, and in some small way, to help those that are interested, build their own pillars.

It is always good to have proof that I am not the only one. [read the linked post, and you’ll know what I mean]

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The Jury….

Is finally over… I was summoned for Jury Duty earlier this week, and I did actually get called and have to serve (for a civil case… which is actually a hidden blessing, as there was a criminal case that was also being called for that I could have ended up on)… it was actually a little funny… I was the first name called in the process, so I had the twisted “draft-related” thought (“With the Number 1 pick, the Civil Court selects….” – no, I’m not right :o) )

In other news, I’ve finished reading one book and already started on another. I want to finish the script before next week (and there is more of an incentive than before to finish… classes start back up today, with my first meeting is next Tuesday night)… since my class may need me to put effort on the class writing-projects more than the “other” writing-projects…

I’ve put together a spreadsheet for tracking my writing progress (I know, it might be a tad over the top, but it’s another way I thought about approaching, trying to look at the process of writing as a numbers game, etc.); I’ve read of others doing this form of strategy, and I’ve thought about trying it for years. It may seen rather cold, but when the key (at the moment) is production and word count, it’s something to try…

Withthat being said, back to work – playing catch-up on some of my side projects from the last couple of days (actually at work)…

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Sick Days…

Catching up on things at the office after missing yesterday… which was really weird…

I woke up early (before the alarm) with a weird quiver in my stomach, from an equally weird dream (the dream had something to do with the [platform] diving competition at the Olympics, and has now been lost to the ether of a whole lot of sleep). I recognized the quiver as the initial indicator of wanting to throw up, so I stayed in bed as long as I could stand it. I sat up slowly, trying to force things to settle. I stood up, walked to the bathroom, and dry heaved. Three times.

It’s a wonderful image, I know. But that was it – the only time all day that it happened. I had a fever that ran for most of the day (which I spent in bed, waking maybe about 3-4 times), until after MC got home.

Last night did have a few rather cute/funny moments. I was lying on the couch watching Bourne Ultimatum, and my dog Piper nosed my arm (indicating she wanted me to pet her), and when I would finish, she would nose it again. We did this several times. Meanwhile, my cat Snoopy (yes, he’s a cat) came and laid on my chest, much like when he was a kitten, and he stayed there for a good twenty to thirty minutes.

I still feel a little out of it (the tail end of the bug, I’m guessing, combined with lack of eating yesterday, dehydration), but I’m functional. I’m actually looking forward to trying to do some writing tonight (at some point)…

We have the photographer coming over tonight to talk about some of the wedding plans/shots, which will be later this evening, but I do want to get some more work done on the “Drive” script, and I need to work on a prompt piece for next week’s Writer Group.

Then classes start up again…

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On Customer Service…

[I am envisioning a Carlin-esque monologue onthe subject, and am likely to revise this post later, possibly to do just that… – jle 8-8-08]

It’s amazing how focused on customer service everyone is getting today. Obviously good customer service is important from a business perspective – if the customers are happy, they are more likely to come back anf exchange their money for the company’s goods and services. However, when did customer service turn into babysitting? When did the self-accountability of the patron become a non-factor?

I work sort-of with the medical sector, and this fact is very relevant here. If a patient fails to monitor their own medications, and runs out, they create their own emergency. It frequently happens that a patient will have been out of medications for several days before contacting us for a refill. A few hours later, they are calling back to find out if their prescription is ready, or why the medication has not been called in to a pharmacy. The medical staff needs time to take care of things – they do have more than one patient to take care of, and just because [generic you] couldn’t keep an eye on your own stuff, [generic we] are now expected to drop everything to fix [generic your] mistakes?

I also find it tiresome (both humorous and frustrating) when ther will be “last minute” calls that come in, where a patient is “getting ready to leave town, tomorrow morning” and needs their medication tonight. Oh, and they call at 4:45 pm on Friday, with the clinic closing at 5pm.

I have worked in restaurants, and I know how things work there as well, and it’s funny how our expectations shift based on the type of restaurant we visit. Fast food, we expect basic, sometimes crappy service – and we generally get it (even when you hope for the best). The more prestigious the establishment, the higher the expectations – from drinks never being left empty, to high quality food, to smiles on the server’s faces. It’s hard, and I generally try to relax in restaurants (but the manager in me quickly jumps into action, and I have a low tolerance for someone trying to blow smoke my way – don’t tell me “things are slow because [we] are short staffed”, doesn’t cut it, especially if [you] are strolling around, leisurly, instead of showing some hustle), and otherwise give the benefit of the doubt.

But it’s crazy how much has come to be expected, without thinking of the “other people” (those performing the service. Individuals are more concerned about themselves – their problems, or their own failure to plan correctly – and they expect someone else to jump to their rescue.

Now, I can understand some issued with the elderly, or the “challenged”, andthere will be genuine moments where emergencies may come up… but otherwise, people need to grow up and actually learn to be responsible for a change. If you want to think about yourself, learn to think for yourself.

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Script…

Just a quick note to say that I have managedto push on, finishing about 8.5 (almost nine) pages, so far today, for the script project. It feels like I may be about halfway through, but we shall see how things play out.

I plan on trying to touch up a bit more tonight, to try and extend the page count for the day, but with dinner plans this evening, I’m not quite sure how much I’ll be able to add.

In either case, I’m happy that I have pushed through the wall I was sitting at. Yeah!

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Movie news…

One of my 2008 goals is to knock at least 100 movies from my Netflix queue… I have deleted, then added, and deleted again some of the movies that appear to have cheesier plot lines or don’t appear to be rated very well. Also, I dropped several ofthe TV series that I had listed in the queue (honestly, do I need to have all of the seasons for a show on the list at the same time – especially if I am not really sure I’m going to like the show to begin with [anime & BBC shows])…

However, in doing all of that, I am still very close to the “max limit in queue” (500 items)…

Which actually makes me cringe a little, as I look back over my “Recently Watched” list… as of right now, I have only watched 10 from my queue since the beginning of the year… I’ve got some work to do if I want to make it to 100 movies…

[and, yes, I do mean movies, not just “discs”… watching a TV disc, while it will be entertaining, is not something that I would be recording under “Recently Watched”… ]

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Weekend catchup…

I started this post on 8/5/08, but thought about discarding almost as soon as I started, but the “Auto Draft Save” managed to keep it active… Frankly, I was a bit out of sorts (read: grumpy and slightly depressed) when I generated the heading…

MC’s nephew came out, with her parents, over the weekend. He stayed with us, while they stayed elsewhere. Since the nephew was coming, I figured I would set up the Wii… of course, once the system was set up, the itch to get a couple of games became very hard to resist (which, of course, led me to get two games… but they were used, and actually togehter cost less than most of the other “used” games that I was also interested in… (side note: I think it’s hilarious – and stupid – that the price difference between a “new” vs. a “used” copy of a game is only $5… seriously… why? Where’s the deal there?)

The writing has again stalled… my hopes to finish the script last week were unfulfilled. I had thought about submitting my revision/new pages to “my” writing group, but did not get them up with the requisite lead time to make sure people could read them for the meeting (last night).

Sunday, MC and I drove out to Durham to go to one of the malls there – mainly to go to a jeweler. We had gotten our rings while in Vegas, and had them sized shortly after our return (sometime in March, I think). The Engagement ring had a stone lose, so MC switched to what is going to be the band (which also has stones in it). We went to drop off the Engagement ring, and while we were there we had the other one looked at. It turns out that both of MC’s rings had lose stones, and I will need to take mine when we go back to get her rings, to make sure my ring is fine. Of course, the side effect of the trip was to take some advantage of the “Tax Free Weekend” that we had, and we each got a few things – me mostly pants, for work, but still… there was more than just the ring, so it worked out okay.

Then, there was the dentist. Monday. We had gone for a regular check-up back in June… it my first trip to a dentist in several years, and I was told there would need to be some work done… cavities, and several of them. Monday was my first visit to start the process, and yesterday my mouth was still a little sore when trying to eat. Today, it is my jaw that’s still a bit sore (from where the needles went in to inject the pain killers)… and I think that was a big part of my grumpy state yesterday…

Of course, there is also the fact that MC has not been feeling well for the last couple of days (even having to stay home yesterday), so I’ve had that playing with my mind a bit…

I didn’t really want to put most of this out there, since a lot of it is “darker” stuff, and I don’t like putting the “dark” stuff out… but the consolation here, is that it is a slice of life… that the ups and downs are all part-and-parcel of the whole experience… So there it is, thr brief update of the weekend…

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