Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Real Life Disaster

Disaster Strikes!

First of all, my condolences go out to everyone suffering thru these devastating fires. I'm not sure how we in the blogosphere can help, but we'll try to relay what information we can get.

I think there's a huge difference between
a fictional disaster and a real life crisis. Whereas during a fictional account you can sit back and just enjoy the scenario as it plays out, in real life everything becomes chaotic and unpredictable. One of the biggest hurdles they face is idiots who won't evac until the last possible second. I don't think anyone is really prepared for a disaster of any scope. I just read a piece on CNN that said 68K homes are now threatened. I don't think there's that many homes in my entire city.

I'll be updating this blog entry as I find more info.

SD FireBlog or FireBlog
Noah's Wish Pet Rescue
Satellite Images from Nasa

Google Information Center:
San Diego Fire Map
LA Times Fire Map
Blog post

Monday, October 22, 2007

I'm a Slacker

Slacker Update

OK...it's time to write an update about everything...so here goes:

  • Dawn's Rise: I've done 2 things:
    1. I've submitted the prolog and 2 chapters to critters.org for review. Unfortunately they run about a month behind so I won't see anything any time soon. This also requires that I read/critique at least one story a week for them.
    2. I've looked into this site that posts reviews of query letters...publicly. I wrote a 500-word summary but they need 400. I've gotten it down to 450 but it's hard to figure out what to cut. I think I may just re-write the whole summary because it's just plot points and doesn't capture the essence of the story. I also don't want to just post the whole plot off my story out there.
  • Wild Mary's Way: This is on hold right now. I like the story, and feel free to read the chapters I've posted so far. The story just needs far more work than I can devote to it right now. It's just not a great sample of my work.
  • NaNoWriMo: I have some ideas about a concept I'd like to do. I want to create a blog-based story, a cross between LonelyGirl15 and the War of the Worlds radio broadcast.
  • Running: I'm training for the Seattle Half-Marathon so each week I'm going to try to run a little further. Yesterday I ran 9 miles, and next Sunday my target is 10. I need to get in a 12+ milers before the race.
  • Puppy: She's doing great, I'm doing great. I guess my allergies adjusted, so we're keeping her. I hope I don't relapse because that would suck.
  • Ski Season: It's just around the corner. Once ski season starts, all bets are off.
Well, that's my update for today. I'm always trying to get stuff done but nothing seems to be happening. It's this damn TV season. I'm deliberately avoiding a lot of shows but they keep pulling me in.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Blog Rating

My Blog is Rated PG

Well it's official, my blog is rated PG!!
What's My Blog Rated?

This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:

  • crap (2x)
  • death (1x)

So what the fuck? Haven't I fucking poured my god damn heart out here? How the hell am I supposed to write shit if I can't even earn an 'R' rating? I've had it with these motherfucking people on this motherfucking internet! If you asshole douchebags don't think my writing is the shit, then go to hell!

There, how's that PG rating now???

Friday, October 12, 2007

Author Brandon Sanderson

Author Report - Brandon Sanderson

Today we had another great author and speaker on campus. Brandon Sanderson came and talked mostly about how he became a writer and how he got published. He answered a lot of questions about the industry and his books.

One of the things he mentioned was that most authors start in obscurity, and it's really hard to get noticed. Most first books sell really poorly. He said that surprisingly, one of the factors that can increase sales is to simply put more of the books on the shelves of bookstores. He didn't make much from his first sale, only a ~$5K advance.
He wrote 13 novels before finally selling Elantris, which we all got a copy of. He also is currently working on the Mistborn Series.

He's always loved "
Epic Fantasy" and believes in creating strict rules of magic with serious limitations.

When asked about breaking thru to be published, he gave me some advice I actually hadn't heard before. He recommends networking at SF conventions. I need to do homework to find out who will be there, and try to catch up with them in bars or other places. Interesting. I actually met my wife for the first time at a SF convention...

Well I can't wait to read his books. He's great in person and if you get a chance to see him you should.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Running Gear Essentials

Get Ready for Racing!

I've been thinking about all the crap I use when I run. There's so much of it that I forget to bring/pack/wear something half the time. I've created this handy list so I can refer to it whenever I need to. There's a lot of preparation that goes into training and racing, and this barely scratches the surface.

Normal Everyday Gear - This is the stuff I use every time I go running.

  • Tech Shirt - On warm days I prefer sleeveless shirts. On super hot days I've gone shirtless. I'm fond of Nike products.
  • Tech Shorts - Some of these have built-in liners. They're very light weight and provide a lot of cooling and prevent chafing.
  • Compression Shorts - I wear these under unlined shorts and pants to prevent chafing.
  • Tech Socks - I found some cheap Russel Dry-power socks at Costco that have never caused me an issue. (half the Amazon.com price)
  • Running shoes - I prefer New Balance 857. To me, proper shoes are the absolutely most important gear I wear. Bad shoes cause untold pain and injury, and I believe it's the #1 reason why people quit running.
  • Visor - Keeps the sun and sweat off my face.
  • Sunglasses - Because I'm kewl.
  • MP3 player - Currently on my 4th player...a Creative Zen Plus. It's really tiny but can play videos and receive FM. Unfortunately it's not waterproof. I found that out the hard way. Remember to charge it! Remember to synch it!
  • GPS Pedometer - This gives me time, distance, pace, and I can download details of my run to my computer and analyze with free software. I use the Garmin 305. Remember to charge it!
  • Heart Rate Monitor - I have a separate Polar HRM I use at the gym but my 305 also has one built in. I do all my runs based on heart rate. It's the most accurate measure of effort.
  • Water - I wear a CamelBak 2 liter pack except for races. It's 5lbs full. It really helps on warm days. If you buy one from REI they'll replace it if it ever starts leaking (like mine did).
  • Body Glide - On wet days or high mileage days I apply this liberally to certain areas. For long races I even put it on my feet!
  • Inhaler - Lately with the new dog I've needed this to clear my lungs before I run. It's also good to have for emergencies.
  • Cell/Camera Phone - Once in a while I just need a pickup because some days I just don't have it because I feel sick or I hurt something. The camera is a plus because you never know when you'll want to snap a picture during a run. The "bird on a stick" picture is one I took on a run. Remember to charge it!

Cold Weather Gear - When the temps get into the 50's or below, I need more layers to keep warm. The general rule is to dress like you would standing still at 20+ degrees warmer, but with rain and wind that more of the exception. I try to wear stuff with zippers so I can open it up as I warm up

  • Long Sleeve Tech Shirt - Somewhat heavier than the T shirts but very breathable.
  • Long Pants - Usually with zippers on the side. On really cold days I wear them over regular running shorts.
  • Running Jacket - I like the Wind Stopper type which aren't really for running but whatever. They're expensive but worth it.
  • Rain Jacket - This I'm still working on. I have a very lightweight plastic one but it isn't very repellent. I'm going to get a new one sometime this winter.
  • Gloves - Fleece gloves wore well. I generally take them off after a mile or so.
  • Hat - This just fits over your head. You want one that breathes.
  • Ski Gear - For extreme cold, I have fleece leggings and sweater. I wore these for the Seattle Rainathon last year but they absorbed way to much water. But on dry days they work great.

Gym Workouts - Nothing too exciting here. I generally go to 24 Hour Fitness, but I also now have a membership at the Pro Club.

  • ID Card
  • Lock
  • Towel
  • Sweatband
  • Filled water bottle

Race Day - I've come up with a special race-day routine. I also do most of this routine for my long-run so my body gets accustomed to it and I can make adjustments when needed.
  • Protein Shake - Here's my recipe: Cream, Plain Yogurt, 1/2 banana, 1 egg, Sugar-Free sweetener, Soy Milk, Cocoa. Throw it all in a blender. Ok, there's probably more fat than protein in here but it helps stave off hunger until after the race.
  • Caffeine - A must for any race. I either pull a couple shots into my shake, or lately I've been drinking a Starbucks Sugar Free DoubleShot Espresso.
  • Registration - Some races require pre-registration...so don't forget your number and chip!
  • Cash - Sometimes they have stuff for sale at the finish line. Also if I register day-of-race I like to pay in cash.
  • Snack - If the post-race food sucks then make sure you have something. I like the EAS Carb-sense bars.
  • Change of Clothes - I generally wear my race-shirt home (but never during the race) but sometimes they run out.
  • Gels/Beans/Energy - I don't use these except on the longest runs, because once I start eating gels, I get a little burst, but then I crash. I need to keep eating them throughout the rest of the race.
  • Garbage Bag - Don't laugh. If it's rainy out, why get all your tech gear wet when a simple garbage bag will keep you dry? After the race starts and you warm up you can throw it away.

I hope this helps you understand what you'll need over the course of a year to be able to run and to race.

Author Charles Stross

Author Report - Charles Stross
Today Charles Stross gave a talk on campus. We all received copies of his book Halting State. I got there early and asked him about writing. He gave me these URL's to check out: I really liked him. He read for about 30 mins from his new book Halting State. It's a strange near-future book read in the 2nd person. The story is about some future merging of virtual- and real- reality filled with spies and agents.I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the book.
Charlie is from Scottish and really kills his "BR"s. He has a great sense of humor and was entertaining. He's current on tour in the US mainly on the West Coast. Look for him at a signing near you.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Issaquah Rotary Run 10K RR PR

10K: 10000 meter race (6.2 miles)
PR: Personal Record
RR: Race Report
mm: minutes per mile

Ok it wasn't a spectacular PR like my last few races. Of course my last 10K was at least 250m short so that record was a little fast.

I ran the Issaquah Rotary 10K. It was a warmish breezy drippy day, about 60 at the start, unlike last week's rainy 50 degrees. The course goes gently uphill for the first bit then over a larger hill in the middle. The rest is mostly downhill, and I had a breeze at my back.
I haven't run a 10K since March, although I had a HM in there (I ran an ~11K in June) My goal was to break 62 mins, and under 10mm pace. After running a sub 29 5K last week, I figured that this was within my reach.

So here were my splits. This was probably my best-run race:
Split HR elevation
1 10:03 156 +20
2 10:09 167 +40

3 10:06 173 +19
4 9:53 176 +28
5 9:39 177 -85
6 9:37 181 -34
.2 9:01 183 +7

So previous PR: 64:35/10:23mm on a short course
Today: 61:54/9:57
I beat my goal by 6 seconds. According to my Garmin, the course might have been ~80 meters long, accounting for 23 secs or so, which is why the splits don't add up exactly.I'm pretty happy with the declining splits, although the elevation changes and wind helped a lot with that.
I also ran the ~11k at 10:27 so I beat that pace too.
I did feel some fatigue between 3 and 4 but I ran through it, then the last couple miles my stomach felt a little crampy but didn't grow into a full side stitch.
Now it's time to start running long runs, and building back up to my next HM in Nov.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Weird Crime Story Idea

While I was waiting for a pizza tonight, I thought of this interesting crime story. I call the concept "50-State Cop Killer". It's about a guy who goes around shooting 1 cop in every state, told as a first person retrospective by the killer. He's facing down the 50th man during the story. At first he just sniped at them, then he decides to make each killing harder by trying to find specific scenarios, like cops who are bad, or cops that fall into his traps. He begins leaving clues as well, trying to increase the degree of difficulty. Of course when there are only a couple of states left, things get really dicey because the net is closing around him and the police are extra vigilant.

Of course this all starts out with some kind of grudge. Perhaps a cop killed his family, or he has police in his family who wronged him. This all leads back to the last killing, his final act, where he intends to culminate his wrongful spree. The last victim is of course somehow tied to him or his past, and is a pretty good guy. This victim is essentially the hero of the story, although he has his share of skeletons in the closet.

I haven't written much if anything about crime or cops or anything like that. I'll need to think through this idea some time and see where it goes...

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Wild Mary's Way Update

The more I work on this story, the more I hate it. There are so many damn problems with it. I never did like the Wizard character.
I don't ever really mention what exactly my dream was anywhere in the book.
This is what I think it was (yes, try to to remember a dream you had 12 years ago or whatever):
A woman loves a man. He betrays her with someone else. She becomes angry and violent, and fights him over everything. In the end they get back together in some kind of intense moment of truth.
But this book has gotten very complicated, with a bunch of crap thrown in. I'm seriously considering just throwing up the rest of the chapters unedited, but the problem with that is it's not my best work and not representative of my talents.
So this leaves me with a choice:
  1. Take down the chapters and call it a day
  2. Put up the chapters unedited and crappy.
  3. Put in a lot of effort into something and still be left with a not-great offering.
The only advantage to #3 is that the process of editing the book may be helpful and take my mind off Dawn's Rise for a while. But I can't let that effort sit too long, I need to start figuring out a plan to try to engage an agent.
And I need to stop watching so much TV.