Monday, December 13, 2010

The Past Couple of Months

view of ISS from Soyuz 23, on its return to Earth carrying Shannon Walker, Fyodor Yurchikhin, and Doug Wheelock

The past couple of months have been a mixed bag. After looking at my stress test pictures, my cardiologist thought I had perhaps developed another blockage. After doing a heart catheterization, he found out it was nothing. (Something like 90% of the time it's nothing.) I was glad I got that taken care of, while I'm employed and still have insurance. Now I won't need another stress test for two years.

At work, they have an online program that asks all sorts of nosy questions about your health. After taking the survey, I found out I'm at risk for depression and alcoholism. Tell me something I don't know! (Things at work suck so badly a woman in my department just up and quit. She had worked there for 17 years.)

My '01 Ford Ranger started leaking gas. Drip...Drip...Drip... They have plastic gas tanks now, which means they can't just be welded like in the days of yore. It cost me about a thousand to get that fixed. (I don't want to grip too much though, as it's the first big expenditure I've had to lavish on my truck. Still...what an odd thing to break.)

And now, worst of all, my t.v. has crapped out! My beautiful 42" Vizio I bought just 18 months ago, the t.v. I took the above picture off of, has four HDMI jacks, all of which stopped working. (HDMI jacks are what you plug cable boxes, blue-ray players and the like into.) One by one they went out, and I'd switch to the next one. Well, I ran out of working jacks.

Luckily I got the extended warranty, so I'm still covered on that. Glad I saved that receipt. Whew... They're coming to work on it tomorrow. I'm hoping they just give me a new one, which they might.

Being middle-aged sucks. Everything you own breaks, your body starts to go to pot, and you still have to work for at least twenty more years before you can retire. Bleah...

On a positive note, my novel is coming along. Despite long periods of utter neglect, I have finally reached the 150 page mark. That's about 42,000 words. It was supposed to just be a 7,500 word piece I was going to send to a magazine (Analog), but the damn thing has taken on a mind of its own.

One roadblock I hit was a scene at the Asakusa Kannon temple in Tokyo, a place, in a city, in a country I've never been in. Wikipedia and other sites provided a little help, but only still pictures and a map. (Incredibly, the only map of buildings I could find was from a random tourist's website.)

And then it hit me: youtube. There are a bunch of vids from random tourists visiting there, so after watching them I had enough of a feel for the area that I could write about it. I also took out a couple of books on Tokyo from the library. Though one of them was from the 70's, it gave me an interesting picture of the place.

(Example: according to the book, next to one nondescript high-rise apartment complex in Tokyo, there's a clearing with a rock in it. The rock has a hole bored through it. They used to crucify people there, and sometimes burn them at the stake, using the rock to hold up whatever torture device they were using.)

Incredibly, not much of my research made it into the scene. (If I had included everything, the scene would have read like a travelogue.)

I do feel better knowing the place though. Without having a feel for it, the scene had been pretty sparse and dry. It felt almost unethical, to just leave it as I originally wrote it. Now, though I've added only a few lines, it seems a lot better.

Anyway, that's enough updating for now. See you in two months!

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