Disney was my first marathon (back in 2001). Steph and I were supposed to run it together, but she unfortunately got injured and I had to run it alone. Since she’s gotten better, we’re both considering going back down in 2012 so that she can do it. Me? I’m contemplating the Goofy Challenge. That’s running the Half-Marathon (13.1 miles) on Saturday and then the Marathon (26.2 miles) on Sunday.
This past week, I became a game review contributor for a site called Multiplayer Hub. I get the opportunity to review video games (yah!), write about them (double yah!), and get paid for it (wooo!). Yeah, I’m pleased. Reviews will start showing up on the site Feb 1st.
Admittedly, it’s a (very) small position, but I’m hoping that it will help get me into a steady schedule of writing and give me exposure to grab larger projects. As for money, it’s Cookie Money*. Not a lot, but enough to make it worthwhile.
Stepping out and even offering my services for the position was a bit nerve wracking. Every writer will attest to this – you’re putting yourself out there on a pedestal for others to examine, accept, or reject. Fortunately, it worked out for me and has given me a bit of confidence.
So this flows into another project I’ve been working on – http://www.matthughes-ink.com, my freelance writing website. Consider this my official first step into the realm known as Freelance Writing, aka ‘The Art of Writing and Getting Paid For It’.
Freelance writing has been something I’ve been interested in doing for a long time. I’ve read about it, browsed a lot of forums, and tried to think up ideas (that’s the hardest part for me). While at Viable Paradise, I talked to a bunch of my classmates who were freelancers and learned from them. I also had a nice long conversation with John Scalzi that cleared up some concerns. After working out the kinks and thinking about it for the past couple of months, I decided to take the plunge. I’m even getting business cards, which I’ll probably give out more often than the ones I have for my full-time job. Go figure.
No, I don’t expect this to mean I’ll stop working full time (Rule #2 – Don’t Quit Your Day Job), but I do expect it to give me experience, confidence, and general fun. And if some extra money goes into my pocket, even better.
Over the past two days, our Internet at home has been down for approximately 24 hours in total. The first time happened Tuesday night for about 5 – 7 hours (went to sleep, didn’t know when it came back on) and then last night it was out from 5pm until around 6:30am. I get twitchy without my Internet. Thankfully, Steph found ways to alleviate the problem by playing games, reading, or watching Monk on DVD. We even cooked and did dishes together. I went to bed at a reasonable time.
Obviously, this is a grand conspiracy on the part of our Internet Service Provider. By disabling my ability to connect to the outside world and find mindless distractions, they’ve rendered me helpless and made me more of a ‘model citizen’. Just what they want, don’t you think?
While I was thinking just how far reaching this web of lies went, I stumbled across something else – conspiracies work great in novels. And I found a perfect place to fit it into Genie Memories, though it’ll require some minor re-writing. Nothing that I can’t do. I started writing it up this morning and found an easy 1700 words (so far).
So, hrm. I guess a conspiracy is good for something. Now I just have to find a conspiracy that leads me toward a winning lottery ticket. I just hope it doesn’t involve the electricity going out.
Up until this weekend, I don’t ever recall hearing the term ‘hoarfrost’. The meteorological definition is :
A deposit of interlocking ice crystals (hoar crystals) formed by direct sublimation on objects, usually those of small diameter freely exposed to the air, such as tree branches, plant stems and leaf edges, wires, poles, etc., which surface is sufficiently cooled, mostly by nocturnal radiation, to cause the direct sublimation of the water vapor contained in the ambient air. — source
Yeah, complicated. In short, it’s frost that coats trees and looks remarkably like hair. The word ‘hoar’ comes from Old English meaning ‘hair’, specifically in regards to appearing like the white hair found on an old man’s beard. You can read up on that here.
In any case, the hoarfrost was everywhere this morning. It sure gets around.
This is our treadmill – a Vision Fitness T9500. Neither of us enjoy running on treadmills for a variety of reasons, but likewise, neither of us deny that they have a purpose. After a lot of research and saving up money, we bought this one. Up until earlier this evening, we’ve owned it for three weeks and haven’t set foot on it. Why? Well, that’s a tale …
After my father-in-law and I carried the 350 pound beast into our basement, we discovered that the power cable going from the computer down to the circuit board was pinched and cut by the leg joint. This meant no power was getting to the treadmill. In fact, there was a little red light on the circuit board that flickered sporadically to indicate a really, really bad connection. For all purposes, we had a dead treadmill.
I headed back to where we bought it, Decorah Bicycles, and they placed a service call to get a replacement part. Just had to wait a bit. Waited a week and the part finally came. The wrong part. It had the wrong ends and was about 18 inches too short. Short of bending time and space, it wouldn’t work.
I called Vision Fitness myself and asked for a new one to be shipped out. “Sure!” they said. “We’ll send it out Wednesday via UPS and you’ll have it by Friday.” (They’re in Wisconsin, so that’s a quick trip). So we sit back and wait.
Friday comes around and the UPS truck drives right past our house. No delivery. Steph calls up Vision Fitness. “Oh, we haven’t shipped it yet,” they said. “We’ll do that next week.” “Can it be next day air? I mean, I have a $2500 treadmill sitting in my basement doing nothing.” “Oh, I don’t think we can do that. The order is already placed and the warehouse guys have gone home for the night.”
To say the least, we were not pleased. We grumbled and resigned ourselves to yet another cold, icy weekend without being able to run. Since Steph was going snow shoeing this weekend, we headed down to Decorah Bicycles to get some things she needed. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any in stock (popular item + dead of winter = frequent sell outs). While we were there, they asked “Has your part come in yet?” I said, “No. Maybe by Wednesday.”
Travis, owner of the shop, comes up front with a screwdriver and says “Well, let’s take ours apart.” Five minutes later, I held a brand new power cable. An hour after that …
Steph and I are already beginning the battle to see who gets to run on it first. I’m fairly certain she went to bed an hour before me just so she can sneak in a few miles before I’m fully conscious. No matter. At least it’s put back together and we can use it.
In summary : Decorah Bicycles = Kick ass customer service.
Vision Fitness = … well, let’s just say your treadmill better work a hell of a lot better than your tech support.
One of the more enjoyable things about working at Luther College is J-Term. For those unfamiliar with the term, J-Term is the 1 in our 3-1-3 schedule for the school year. Every student takes one course and it’s crammed into the four weeks of January. It’s also a great month to take study abroad trips since you’re not away from home for a long time.
As a student, I loved J-Term. Take a class for 2 – 4 hours during the day, have some homework at night, and you get to spend the rest of the time with your friends. As a staff member though, I have mixed feelings for the sole fact that it’s basically an entire semester crammed into one month. Problems have to be solved immediately or you might lose two or three days, the equivalent to a week during a normal semester. This puts people on edge.
On top of that, we started training 17 new employees (that uptick in the economy is all my doing, I expect to be showered with praise from the White House soon enough), sat in on a hiring committee and worked on a bunch of other problems.
So, as one can guess, it’s been a busy and stressful month. I haven’t managed to do much writing at all. When I get home, I’m just exhausted. But I was able to pull out some successes so far:
Submitted an entry – A Coin for a Trick – for the OddContest. Judging happens in March so it’ll be a while.
Submitted a short story – Korl Builds a Wall – to Realms of Fantasy. Also won’t hear back from that one until late February or early March.
Beat my instructor (!) 3 out of 5 times in Brazillian Jujitsu.
Hopefully the rest of January will be more relaxing.
I’m working at home this afternoon. My wife does this on a daily basis, but I never thought it a good idea for me. For starters, I get distracted far too easily (why yes, I am writing this while I should be working) and that leads to poor work results. And another thing is that my job very often deals with face-to-face communication with clients. That’s extremely difficult to do from home and Video Chat just doesn’t cut it right now.
This morning, Steph discovered that I had a gray eyelash. This is the first bit of gray I’ve ever had.
She plucked it and as I held it in my hand, gazing down upon it, I thought of many things: I am no longer a young man. I am getting older*. No amount of playing computer games, reading comics, doing dangerous activities or acting childish will change that.
But most importantly, that one gray eyelash signifies a great moment, the moment when I can finally say with legal authority:
“Get Off My Lawn!”
I’m so happy.
*Addendum: I am not any wiser as I immediately asked Steph how she deals with her gray hairs. I got hit. I deserved it.
It is the solemn duty of every Viable Paradise grad to pass on the word and thus, I do so with today’s post:
Viable Paradise will be held October 3rd – 8th on Martha’s Vineyard and is now accepting applications until June 30th. I’m going to quote John Scalzi, a three-time instructor:
Those attending get intensive week-long instruction on the art, craft and business of writing science fiction and fantasy from the likes of Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Jim Macdonald and Debra Doyle, Steven Gould and Laura Mixon, Elizabeth Bear and me, of whom all told have more books, awards and relevant practical experience in the genre and in publishing than is at all decent. It’s also got an impressive list of alumni, including nominees for Hugo, Nebulas, BSFAs and other significant genre awards. It’s a really good and useful workshop, in other words, by people who know their stuff, for people who want to learn and publish.
Polish up your submissions and get them in. You won’t regret it.