Jan 31

Sergeant’s exam

Only seven people passed the Sgt’s exam (out of 15 or so people who took it.)

I was one of them.

I got the highest score: 95%

I’m pretty pleased.

Jan 29

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Jan 26

Where the heck did January go??

I just looked up at the calendar and saw that the end of the month is just a few days away. [groan!] It can’t be! I have too much to do and too much undone!

Bleargh. I have a story that needs major revising that I really wanted to submit to Polyphony 6 (deadline Jan 31.) I’m going to hate myself if I miss out on submitting there, since it’s a good market.

I need to do some massive studying this weekend since I’m taking the Sergeant’s exam on Tuesday, and I have this feeling that I’m going to totally tank it. I’ve been going through the study guide for a month now, and it’s all just so damn stupid. It’s chock full of “management theory”–the kind of stuff that’s created by people who’ve never actually ad to manage real people in the real world before. Here’s an actual sample question:

A formal structure of authority for coordinating work units is most accurately referred to as a/an:

a. procedural plan

b. staff assignment plan

c. organization

d. schedule

I mean, give me a break!! How does knowing this make a person a better sergeant? There are a ton of questions like that, and so all a person can do is just try to memorize the answers they want, and hope that the questions are lifted from this book. Sheesh.

Maybe February will be better? Hmmm.. I seem to remember telling myself that “things would be better in the new year.”

Jan 24

Coment Spam

I’m getting absolutely hammered by comment spam, and my filters are only catching about 3/4 of it. It’s driving me nuts, so I need all of you to please bear with me for a bit. If you leave a comment here it will be held for moderation the first time, but after that it should go right through. (Hopefully.)

I’m hoping this will eliminate my daily activity of deleting close to 50 comment spams a day.

Jan 22

Protected: Weigh & Measure #4

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Jan 20

Diet and exercise progress

I started an account at fitday.com to track my diet and exercise. It’s a free account, and it’s a pretty decent way to keep a log of food and activities. I don’t always trust what they have for nutritional values of various foods, so most of the time I just put in what’s on the label of whatever I’m eating, or I look it up at the Calorie King website.

But, overall it’s a pretty neat little program. I do find it helpful to log my food intake since it helps me control the little snackings that can really destroy a weight-loss program. And this thing calculates the whole calories in/calories out thing and charts progress, and is generally nifty enough to keep a geek like me happy.

Well, mostly happy. I had a major geekout this evening and created a spreadsheet to keep track of my weight and bodyfat percentage, with additional columns to calculate actual pounds of fat lost versus muscle gained, as well as a running total of fat lost and total weight lost. I’m also going to add a column to my weekly progress chart for bodyfat %. I have a Tanita scale/bodyfat monitor, as well as a handheld Omron Bodyfat Analyzer. Since they both work by sending a tiny electrical current through your body and measuring the impedance to calculate your bodyfat percentage, and since the scale tends to send the current up one leg and down the other and the Omron sends it up one arm and down the other, my Grand Plan is that averaging the readouts of both devices should give me a fairly accurate means of tracking my overall progress.

Yeah, I know, I’ve gone completely off the deep end with this. But hey, it keeps me motivated!

Jan 19

Into New Orleans

I drove into the city yesterday to attend the George Alec Effinger writer’s group for the first time. (GAE passed away a few years back, but the writer’s group lives on.) Andy Fox (author of Fat White Vampire Blues) invited me to the group, and since it has some members who have significant writing credentials I figured I’d give it a try.

The first adventure was actually finding the place where it was to be held. The group had lost its original meeting place (in a “commandeered” classroom at UNO) and thus was meeting, at least for this week, in a cafe down in Uptown New Orleans. Well, I had no idea where this particular cafe was, so I left way early. Fortunately, I only passed it up once before locating it, and then only had a ten minute search for a parking place.

The next adventure was actually meeting up with the other members of the group. See, I’d only ever met two of the members in person, so as I looked around the cafe I realized that I could quite easily be looking right at all of the others and never know it. Luckily, though, one of the two that I actually knew walked in just a few minutes after me and we managed to secure a table large enough for the whole group.

So, after about 15 minutes of small talk, the critiques got under way. The biggest crimp in all of this was the background noise of the cafe, and it was later decided that the group would be relocating to another site where we could actually have a private room to ourselves. The critique portion was basic Clarion style, where everyone gets a turn to give their crit, while the author says nothing (except to answer specific questions.) Only after all the critiques are finished is the author allowed to rebut or explain.

Well, the first story to go was one that I had significant critique of. (I’m not saying it was a bad story, but rather it was one that I felt had a lot of issues and had a lot of room for improvement.) However, the first person to critique that story gave it an absolutely glowing review, leaving me feeling somewhat uncomfortable because a)I really did not want to waste my time in a critique group that was merely a mutual admiration society and b) there were flaws in the story that I had considered glaring and c) it was my turn next and I was about to give a radicaly different critique that would probably seem much more negative coming on the heels of the glowing one, and d) it was my first time delivering a critique there and I was about to lay a big nasty one.

So, it came to my turn and I took a deep breath and decided to not back down from my critique. I smiled and said, “I guess everyone’s going to hate me right from the start!” and then proceeded with my analysis of the story and its problems, strengths, and gave suggestions for possible fixes.

The next person gave their critique, and it was another quite nice one. I began to cringe inwardly. But, then, the next two people gave critiques that nearly echoed mine, which relieved me greatly.

Don’t get me wrong–it’s not that I think everyone should agree with me. And, I realize that a story might appeal greatly to one person and not appeal at all to another. Its just that if no one else had pointed out the problems with this story, I would have had serious doubts about the effectiveness of the group as a whole.

But, my fears were allayed nicely, and as the rest of the evening progressed and other stories and chapters were critiqued, I was able to get a good sense of the various critiquing styles of the various members. Overall I think it’s going to be a good fit, and there’s enough diversity in the members to ensure that the stories that come from the group don’t seem homogenized.

About the only thing I saw people doing that I don’t like doing is line edits of stories submitted for critique. See, I think that line editing of anything but the almost-final product is a waste of time unless it’s something truly egregious, or perhaps a case of a certain word being used repeatedly in a short span of time. If a story is going to go through significant rewrites, why the heck would you waste time on picking apart phrasing? [shrug] I’m sure there are many who disagree with me, but I told the group that I didn’t give line edits, and I didn’t expect them either, and I saw a couple of people nodding their heads.

And, the other good thing is that one of the other members is from the Northshore, so we plan on carpooling for subsequent meetings. Good thing since I was literally falling asleep on the drive home. I’m such a fuddy-duddy. I’m just not used to being out late anymore!

But, overall, I enjoyed myself and enjoyed the people. It is a good spur for me to write more, which I definitely need. I just have so many irons in the fire it’s far too easy for me to set the writing aside as one of the lowest priority items.

Jan 15

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Jan 13

Lofty goals

Jack is back, so my brief stint as a single mom is at an end. Whew.

I had great grand and glorious goals of getting up in the morning and getting on my exercise bike and doing my first-thing-in-the-morning cardio so as to maximize my fat burning etc. But the Baby kept waking up and I had about two hours last night that was spent in trying to get her and them me back to sleep.

So, I was weak and reset my alarm to give me that extra half an hour of sleep.

I’ve been on this for about a week and a half now, and I can’t tell if my progress is much different from the last time I did this. I do know that I’m not being anywhere near as good about packing a lunch, but then I’m not in the position I was in last time where I was away from any sort of meal preparation or storage place. Now I have the luxury of a refrigerator and microwave, and plenty of space to store staples for emergency noshing. The scale is being quite stubborn about budging, even with the prodigious amount of cardio I’m doing. (Yes, I weigh every morning.) It will be interesting to see how my measurements compare on Sunday.

Jan 10

Where I laugh so hard I nearly wet myself

So, I was over at my sister’s house (doing continued work on the costumes for the revived-version-since-the-original-got-fucked-by-Katrina Fucking Play That Will Not Die, otherwise known as Beauty & the Beast) and I was telling her about the DVR we got when we switched back to cable, and how we absolutely luuuuurrrrrrvvvve it, and how cool and great it is. And I said, “And it’s nice to be able to rewind things that you’re watching, especially if you live with someone who is rather deaf who is always saying things like, ‘What’d they say? What’d they say?’”

At which point Anna came running in from the other room, screeching, “Daddy? Daddy? Daddy?”

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