Friday, December 28, 2007

Ready for the New Year!

In spite of getting very little done over the past few days, I feel pretty good!

TJ bought us a stand-up punching/kicking bag for Christmas, and my sister-in-law, who always picks the perfect gifts, got me a Rebounder trampoline. Combined with the weight bench in the foyer, we now have a quite impressive "Allcot Home Gym" set up. And I've used it the past two days, in spite of being tired and crampy and, quite possibly, still hung over from a few days before Christmas!

We also got the house organized to the point where I can actually clean--as in, make the bed, vacuum, dust--on a regular basis. It feels good to not trip on *stuff* continuously, and was one of my huge goals for the new year.

Now, my quest for bookkeeping/submission tracking software begins. Any recommendations on good programs for a freelance writer?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Another Freakin' Meme from Boddie

So Boddie posted this open-ended meme that someone tagged "anyone" with, and she decided to tag "everyone at AW." I kind of like the whole libertarian attitude of "an open-ended meme tag" so if you feel yourself so moved, and you haven't already been tagged by Boddie by virtue of being on AW, go for it.

Don't expect me to be as funny as Boddie, though. Or as cynical. ;)

1. Wrapping or gift bags? I like mixing it up.

2. Real or artificial tree? Real. I grew up with real trees, and an artificial tree would just be something *else* we have to store 11 months out of the freakin' year.

3. When do you put up the tree? Usually around the 2nd week of December, but we still don't have a tree this year. I'm thinking of starting a Christmas Eve tradition. :) I really don't like the stress of having a tree, worrying that the cats are going to: climb it, eat it, knock it over, set fire to it (don't ask, but I'm sure they could if they set their furry little minds to it!)

4. When do you take the tree down? I hate doing that, too, so as much as I hate having it up, it stays up too long. Third week in January or so.

5. Do you like eggnog? OMG, yes! Especially spiked.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? A red Fender electric guitar that I never learned how to play. I'm sure there were more favorite toys that I just don't remember from when I was younger. I was very, very lucky and spoiled as a kid.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? No. I'm not big on the holiday decorating and haven't gotten around to buying one.

8. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Wow, I'm not sure. Dunno.

9. Mail or email Christmas cards? In theory, real mail, but I still haven't sent mine out this year. :(

10. Favorite Christmas movie? White Christmas

11. When do you start shopping for Christmas? About 2 weeks ago, my sister, sister-in-law and I all went out shopping. It was actually a lot of fun and the start of a new tradition for our family.

12. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Anything ginger bread. And pumpkin pie. And all the gift foods we get. And Egg nog spiked with vanilla rum. Yeah 'tis the season--to get fat!

13. Clear lights or colored on the tree? White, and we just bought LED lights last year on sale at Sears after Christmas, so we have new lights this year! YAY!

14. Favorite Christmas song? White Christmas.

15. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Either way. We're easy going.

16. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? Probably, but I like Amy's names better.

17. Angel on the tree top or a star? ANGEL!! And yes, I've heard the joke...

18. Open the presents Christmas eve or Christmas morning? Christmas morning, although we always opened them Christmas Eve as a child. Now, hubby and I open one present each Christmas Eve.

19. Most annoying thing about this time of year? The traffic and the fact that people who don't drive 11 months out of the year are now on the road. That and feeling obligated to buy gifts for people you don't really like.

20. Do you decorate your tree in any specific theme or color? Not usually, although I've always wanted to.

21. What do you leave for Santa? We never do, because we don't have kids. When we have kids, we will leave cookies and milk for Santa and a carrot for the reindeer. Although Santa may have to "know" to look in the microwave for it, otherwise, PanzerCat will bat it off the table and try to eat it. Maybe a note on the fireplace..."Dear Santa: Cookies and milk are in the fridge, help yourself, just stay away from Mom's beer!"

22. Least favorite holiday song? Christmas Shoes. I think that song was written for the soul purpose of making anyone with a heart cry.

23. Favorite ornament? All my Mischevious Kittens Hallmark Collection and our collection of Trek ornaments!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Breaking These Chains!

It has been an amazingly busy two weeks. Between the launch of the RECON forum, a podcast interview today scheduled to launch on Blast Radius Woodsball Podcast in the new year, a rush assignment to write almost 100 product descriptions, and four more assignments from regular clients, I am working non-stop and cramming Christmas shopping and all that other good stuff into the sparse minutes in between.

I haven't gotten to start my exercise regime or anything else, but was happy to hear hubby say that, come the new year, he wants to get the mess in the house under control!

I want to write something thought-provoking and entertaining, but I'm pretty fried.

So you'll have to settle for this post, marking the end of the 13th AW Blog Chain (like the 13th Warrior, only more entertaining!)

I've got some reading and commenting ahead of me now, although I've stayed up to date on most of it!


A Thoughtful Life

Gillian's Food History

Getting Confused and Coming All Undone

Life in the Middle

So You Want to be a Chic Chick


Twisted Fantasies

It Had To Be Said

Finding Boddie

Virtual Wordsmith

Random Acts of Unkindness

Chocolate for Your Brain

Virginia Lee: I Ain't Dead Yet!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Poem

I received a lovely gift from one of my editors and his staff today--a delicious box of Belgian chocolates.

This simple statement prompts me to confess another vice.

No, not my love of chocolate, that's common knowledge!

I write poetry.

In spite of Robert Heinlein's warning, "A poet who reads his verse in public may have other nasty habits," I'm going to share a short rhyme I just wrote.

I got chocolate, I got beer,
Christmastime is almost here.
My belly's full of holiday cheer,
Please hide the scale come New Year's!

I suppose I shouldn't quit my day job. Oh, wait... that involves writing, too!

By the way, for those of you who visit Miss Michele, I want to apologize for the delays in your readings. I received a writing opportunity requiring a super-fast turnaround and I've basically stopped doing, well, anything, to get it done, in the hopes this website will use me for ongoing work.

I hope to finish up tonight and start tomorrow back to normal.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Chained AND Tagged...

In much the same way a writer gets multiple assignments (and deadlines) all on the same day, Wordsmith tagged me with a meme late the other night. Before I could compile my five facts, I realized I was next in the AW Blog Chain #13.

When it rains, it pours, even in cyberspace.

With my blog chain post done, I figure I better play along with this tag before there is no one left on the World Wide Web for me to tag.

Here’s how it works:

Link to the tagger and post these rules on your blog. Share five facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird. Tag five people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Okay… I have got to “steal” Plaid Earthworm’s random fact #1.

1. Random fact: I am left-handed, too. So is my sister, my nephew and his mother (which would be my sister-in-law). I also seem to have many of the stereotypical traits of left-handers… I can be accident-prone (or at least clutzy, but lucky! No broken bones or major injuries so far!) I’m creative and intuitive. None of these have been proven, of course, but it sounds like a good excuse when I stub my toe on the coffee table or drop a glass when I’m washing dishes.

2. Weird fact: I have a tank. No, really. This won’t seem weird to anyone in the scenario paintball world, but my husband built a paintball tank out of plywood and fiberglass on the chassis of a 1992 Chevy Blazer. It was featured on a trading card in an issue of RECON Magazine. I have been known to shoot out opposing tanks with a Nerf rocket from the turret and then giggle maniacally.

3. Weirder Fact: My cat, Panzer, was born on the passenger seat of the tank. We raised Mama Cat and the kittens until they were weaned. The other three kittens were adopted (the girls, Jade and Jasmine, went to one home, and Panzer’s brother, Jeter, went to another.) Panzer joins Xena, Onyx and Ghost as our furry little roommates who don’t know how to clean up after themselves.

4. Wow. What more can I say after I talk about my tank? I used to own several iguanas, a Savannah Monitor and prairie dogs, Wendell and Emmett.

5. Factling: I am a huge sci-fi fan, especially Star Trek, and used to edit a fanzine back when that kind of thing was widely distributed on paper. Oh, wait, I revealed that on Absolute Write. Okay, okay. I also had a huge crush on Jonathan Frakes, aka Commander Will Riker.

And Deanna Troi.

In that girly-crush, purely platonic way, of course.

Okay, who do I want to tag now?

Moonslice over at Light Green Stairs

Lavinia aka Karen-Bob at Write Now

Rachel at That Which Deranges the Senses

My blog chain predecessor over at Twisted Fantasies.

And... Joanna at Life in the Middle (who may have been tagged before and, if so, I apologize.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Unchained Confessions

The famous (infamous?) AW Blog Chain began at A Thoughtful Life, where Kat posted about distractions. Gillian over at Food History then blogged about lists.

From there it continued, finding its way to sex toys (and, in fact, back to lists) with Williebee and then, again, back to distractions over at Twisted Fantasies. Michelle Rasey, blogger at Twisted Fantasies, also wrote, in that same post, about pregnancy and motherhood. While I'm no stranger to distraction, I blogged about that a few days ago.

While it's really tempting to pick up on the sex toy reference, I will refrain. I'm going to take this blog chain, #13 for those who are counting, into uncharted territory to talk about babies and children.

I worked an art auction the other day, a fundraiser for a traveling football league made up of boys age 8 - 12. When I attended this same fundraiser last year, I felt like my co-worker, Joanne and I, spent most of our time scolding the boys. "Please don't touch the artwork. Please don't lean on the table. Don't run! You're going to fall and get hurt."

This time, the auction company owner went with me. An older man with grown children, he gritted his teeth every time the young boys tried to write a fake name on the silent auction bid sheet, ran across the reception hall, or sprawled out on the floor to play their Nintendo DS.

After we left, I commented, "The kids seemed to be better this year than last."

"Really?" Rudy, the owner, grimaced. "I can't imagine what you girls went through last year."

I shrugged. "The same: don't lean on the table, don't run, put the pens down, yadda-yadda. They just seemed more manageable this year. Last year, I walked out swearing I was never, ever having kids."

But was it the kids who changed, or me?

I've noticed a shift in my way of thinking over the past few months. Maybe it's the proverbial biological clock or maybe it's boredom. When I see kids misbehaving in public places, my standard response is: "OUR kids will never act like THAT!" These wild children are not representative of their entire age group. Clearly, it's their upbringing.

Yeah, right.

In reality, I know better. But until the day comes that I am seeking out a spot in the "candy-free" line in order to keep a two-year old from having a temper tantrum, let me enjoy my delusions, would ya?

I cannot wait to see where Boddie goes with this, but I am sure it's going to be funny.

A Thoughtful Life
Gillian's Food History
Getting Confused and Coming All Undone
Life in the Middle
So You Want to be a Chic Chick
Twisted Fantasies
It Had To Be Said
Finding Boddie
Virtual Wordsmith
Random Acts of Unkindness
Chocolate for Your Brain
Virginia Lee: I Ain't Dead Yet!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Musings on Three Totally Unrelated Matters

New Forum
After my post yesterday about my Internet addiction, two things happened. My connection went down for two hours. I have never felt so lost. Instead of sitting down and *writing,* I made phone calls to close friends and did some housework.

When it came back up, I discovered that RECON Magazine's forum has launched!

I can't help but think it's neat to have a forum for the magazine I edit, sort of another step on this path to success.

New World Views
I had a conversation yesterday that caused me to re-think my views on charity. Someone I know (well) is turning to a charity organization to make Christmas a little better this year. As a Libertarian, I believe 100 percent that charity should be handled in the private sector, not by the government. People should have a choice of whether to contribute or not. So I support, in theory, these types of private charity organizations.

I like to think I am extremely charitable to people I *know*, but when it comes to organizations, etc., I consider very carefully. Do the recipients really *deserve* it. *Why* do they need help?

With inside information about one particular case, an old lesson hits home for me. You can't judge someone until you've walked in their shoes (or at least know their circumstances.) And if one person is truly deserving, probably countless others are as well. Who am I to judge without knowing?

I'd like to send you to Mysti's blog. Mysti is a kind, generous individual who doesn't have these misgivings (or maybe it's sheer selfishness?) about charity that I had. For every link back to her blog and every comment posted there, she will donate $.01 to Habitat for Humanity.

My Journey

Go there. Make a comment. I'll wait.

Back? If you have a blog, please link back to Mysti's site.

Thank you.

New Cat Story
To end this blog on a lighter note, I have to share a story about my 1 1/2 year old cat, Panzer. Panzer is completely fearless, 14 lbs. of pure muscle, and just about the largest housecat I've seen.

Well, he's not *completely* fearless. Panzer is afraid of the front door. Maybe it's because he was born outside, adopted by us at four days old, and used as bait to lure his mother into a Have-a-Heart trap so she could nurse Panzer and his three siblings. I guess that could have been traumatic.

All four of our cats are indoor cats. None of them try to get out. But whenever the door opens, Panzer runs away. Yesterday, he was perched on his cat tree near the closed front door, when my husband opened the door to take out the garbage. Panzer leaped off the platform and into the kitchen (going the long way to avoid getting any closer to the front door) ran down the steps and into the bedroom. Not only does he not want to be *near* the door when it's opened, he doesn't even want to *see* it. He wants to be in a completely different room. It's like he thinks the open door will suck him out into the great wild.

It was actually quite funny to watch.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Whips and Chains... oh, Wait...

Because I don't spend nearly enough time on the Internet, I've joined the AW Blog Chain this month.

It's my first time doing something like this, but I know many of the Bloggers involved and visit their sites regularly. It should make for some good reading, so I urge you to check it out! (See the links to the left!)

Meanwhile, I'm continuing to battle my Internet addiction. I need to set some parameters for myself. I wind up checking AW, e-mail and a handful of blogs every time I stop one project and begin another. Since I am big on multitasking and tend to bounce back and forth from one article to another, this is a huge problem. I estimate I spend about 4 hours a day just checking forums, etc.

Sure, I've landed jobs from it, but I feel like it's getting to be a problem, when I'm putting in 10 - 12 hour days writing, but too much of it is spent NOT writing.

Now there's discussions on AW about Skype, LinkedIn and other social networks that threaten to suck up more of my day. Help? Suggestions??

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Power of Prayer

While mindlessly surfing the Web tonight, I followed one link to another and arrived at:

I'm interested in picking up her book, now. And I think I will begin taking her online course on a weekly basis. Because, you know, I need to add another site to my Internet addiction...

But, seriously, I'm even more interested in her suggestion to start a prayer book for those who need healing.

I don't think it's coincidence that I found this site. I'm a big believer in synchronicity and I'm working on a marketing project with iprayerworks, which is essentially the high-tech, web-interfaced version of what Ms. Altea suggests. For churches, Toby Dagenhart's software is absolutely brilliant (IMHO).

But for individuals I believe a pretty notebook will work well. I plan on starting my own. And yes, it has to be a pretty notebook-- or at least one that feels "important" to the user. I'm big on special notebooks and am well-known in the paintball community for carrying around my little Moleskine books. But my prayer book has to be feminine and flowery, to promote life and healing and make me happy. Yours can be whatever you feel it needs to be.

The first name in my prayer book will be Monty Doom, my close friend in paintball whose MS recently took a turn for the worse. He has a legion right below his brain stem. It resulted in vertigo and loss of vision. His vision is back now, but it must have been terrifying. Monty lives almost 3,000 miles away from me, but I pray for him everyday.

The next name will be Bob Juengle of Bear Claw Paintball who was recently diagnosed with cancer.

And Bea Youngs' father. Bea, I'm always, always praying for your dad.

Thank God those are the only names I can come up with right now who need as many positive thoughts as we can send them. I'm sure I'll think of more when I get my notebook. Of course, there are those people who I just want to bless everyday because they are an important part of my life and I want them to be happy.

Ms. Altea's explanation of why prayer works for healing makes a lot of sense, and falls in line with my own beliefs on the topic. It can't hurt, right?