Thursday, November 15, 2007

Pretty...Shiny... Parroty! - Thursday 11/15/2007

So this morning I took this photograph of one of my teacups to post over at 43Things, to show how well a recommendation for cup cleaning had worked. It was grungy and stained--not shiny at all--from being used at work and not really cleaned properly for weeks.

A little baking soda and dish soap made into a paste worked great at polishing it up without damaging the lusterware surface. Sweet!

But you know, things like paying too much attention to a teacup don't go unnoticed in a house with a well-adjusted African Grey. The first shot, in which he walked up and stuck his beak into the lens of the camera, didn't come out at all.

He finds it hard to believe that there's really nothing in this cup.

Meanwhile, today's my first layoff day. They have this program in California for people like me. You can be laid off part time and receive unemployment benefits for those days. So each of us at my place of employment will be laid off 1-2 days a week until the 21st of December. Then we have to use our comp and vacation days until returning to work on January 7th, if there is work to return to by then.

I have a goal over on 43Things to "Survive the WGA Strike." Which of course, I will. I have no fear of actually perishing. For me, surviving it in good health means staying productive.

On my layoff days I need to, minimally:

--write for at least an hour (not including blogging)
--do a little something for the house (cleaning, laundry, yardwork, grocery shopping)

This doesn't mean that I won't write more, or devote time to writing-related business like sending out submissions, or read. But one of the advantages of living is beginning to understand yourself. I know that, given my personality, I will beat myself up if I don't feel I've done something every day.

Today's WGA Strike video, Who Are They Lying To? points out that the big media companies are either lying to their investors or to the writers. Isn't that interesting?

In Other News... - Wednesday 11/14/2007

News round-up time.

First, on the personal front:

I've had another of those short seasons of discontent with my novel, but I'm feeling really good about it again, thanks to last night's writing group meeting. Braveheart and Tomasina listened to my whole plot, which includes subplots and secondary characters, and wow! I do have a story, and I don't really need the flashy upping-the-stakes idea I had and worked on for a few weeks.

It was very affirming and helpful. It feels good to be back on the original track, and okay that I spent time exploring what turned out to be a blind alley. All writing is good practice and I did learn something important about one of my main characters that I'll use in a toned-down way.

Something else I'm concerned about these days is an impending new commercial development in Acton, my little high desert town. Here' s a Daily News article, which kind of tells what's going on. What I don't get is where they get their statistics on the size of Acton. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, there were 2,390 residents of Acton, which means that--even given the expansion of the town in the past few years--with 1,000 signatures, at least 1/3 of households are opposed to the high density of the development. When they say there are over 9,000 residents, I believe they are using statistics that describe the entire Acton/Agua Dulce area, which is more than 80 square miles!

The local group that has sprung up to fight the developers, who have not been up front with the town council, is SORTIE (Save Our Rural Towns from Inappropriate Expansion.) What we are saying is not that we don't want any development at all--sadly, it's impossible to close the doors on paradise right after you arrive--but that it should be appropriate to the community's needs. There are also drainage issues that aren't reasonably addressed, which is a BIG deal in a dry climate like ours.

I've written a personal essay about development issues that's supposed to be published in the fall issue of Weber Studies. Sigh. I feel the fall slipping away between my fingers and no fall issue has been issued. Sigh again.

Turning to the ongoing WGA strike:

Check out this Not the Daily Show video from the writer's strike front lines. I love writers. Funny and smart.

And if you have just endless amounts of time to devote to this subject, this letter from creative producers to Variety explains that they are not opposed to the writers. This is why I've referred to the AMPTP opposition as executives rather than producers here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Talking Around It - Tuesday 11/13/2007

Let me see if I can reconstruct the conversation I had this morning at Starbucks. (Bob's was closed for cleaning. Sigh. And me dressed like a grown-up for once.)

Man walks into a coffee house, orders, pauses at a table to wait while his haiku of a beverage is constructed. There's a newspaper on the table.

"None of us are going to get rich at this rate," he says in my direction. "Well, I never expected to get rich. I just didn't expect to be poor."

I pause for a second. Are we talking about what I think we're talking about?

"It doesn't look like it's going to end anytime soon," I say, my fountain pen hovering over my notebook.

"Nope. This is terrible. Terrible. They're going to ruin television," he says. "These guys aren't going to budge."

"I don't think they are." Not sure which side he's talking about. "There aren't even any talks scheduled at this point."

The barrista recites his haiku and he gets up to fetch his beverage. He turns around and looks from my face to my notebook to my face again.

"I do script research for a living," I tell him, "We're hoping to hang on till the new year, but... No scripts, no research."

"Oh, yeah," he says. "You're done."

He has good timing.

"Are you in production?" I ask. He has an ID on a lanyard around his neck. In this neighborhood, that usually means a studio or maybe St. Joseph's hospital, but he's wearing a cream cable sweater, not scrubs.

"I work for the actor Rob Lowe who's on Sisters and Brothers." Yeah, I know of Rob Lowe. "He's not working."

We wish each other good luck, and he heads for the back door.

I was going to print a disclaimer here, saying that this blog entry does not represent the opinions of Rob Lowe or his employees or associates. But then I realized that neither of us expressed an opinion beyond an agreement that our livelihoods are in jeopardy.

I guess that's how amicable strangers agree to disagree.

Or not.

Anyway, here's another fine video from those writers whose creative talents are being used to keep the discussion interesting.

#39 Poached Halibut with Artichokes and Olives

This was another off-the-cuff recipe I came up with last night. Actually, the DH and I discussed what might be good with it, since I was tired of just lemon and dill.

Pretty simple and good enough that we’ll do it again.

The usual poaching in the microwave recipe is to cook for 6 minutes on high and let sit and cook covered for another 6 minutes PER POUND.

Quartered a can of artichokes and a half can of black olives and tossed them on top of about 1 1/2 pounds of halibut. Added a little water and a tablespoon or two of lemon. Sprinkled with dill and paprika. Cooked as above. Sprinkled with Parmesan cheese right before serving.

MMMM. And we have leftovers today!

Puppy Reunion - Monday 11/12/2007

Remember Luna!? Our former office manager stopped by today for a visit and brought the dogs with her. Boy, do I miss my puppy breaks.

She made herself right at home.

Sunny also made himself at home in the bottom of one of the shelving units in the main office.

Strike news: No new talks are scheduled. There is a rumor that the networks are just going to wait six weeks and begin to hire non-union writers.

Cool Thing: Another great video from United Hollywood. This time, exposing the executives' comments about how much much they expect to make on new media in spite of their claims of confusion.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Because You Asked - Sunday 11/11/2007

Actually, someone on 43Things asked what I saw when I looked out my window to daydream, and that turned out to be the only pair of photos I took today. KimN identified the flowers as Indian Blankets a while back.

Another of my goals over at 43Things is to put my money where my mouth is. That involves donating to causes I believe in, supporting authors by actually buying books (as well as feeding my literary habit by going to the library) and subscribing to at least one literary magazine a year, and now: ordering bracelets from Strike Swag, which I'll give to my co-workers. (They're 20 for $10.00.)

I'm planning to disburse the leftovers to people down at Priscilla's. It wouldn't be a terrible thing if the strike were over before the bracelets arrive in 1-5 days.