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Topless adventures in the Old Dominion

I am feeling extremely smug right now. So smug, in fact, that I had to say "Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah!" to the heavens.

You see, I'm writing this blog at my friend's home in Richmond. Today we took the top off the Jeep and thrilled the hell out of her daughter and her daughter's friend by driving around in a Jeep with no top, blasting their favorite tape from my stereo system. The unfortunate thing about their favorite tape is that it is entirely devoted to songs about Snoopy and the Red Baron which, as my friend pointed out, lowered the coolness factor of being out in an open Jeep with music blasting. I agreed with her, but countered that my wearing driving gloves was cool enough to cancel out the uncoolness of bubblegum music. And besides, I thought the coolness factor was lowered by having two children with us in the first place, but she disagreed, probably because she got carded at the Fourth of July festivities yesterday and was still riding that high.

In any case, the girls had a blast, especially because I told them they could enter and exit the vehicle by climbing in and out instead of using the doors. They didn't need to be told twice. I believe my kid stock went up at least a hundred points today.

But here's where the real smugness comes in: I bought a 9-by-12-foot plastic tarp yesterday that was intended to cover my hard top, which is in my rather humid and moldy garage. Instead, I decided it would be a good thing to cover my car with the tarp rather than raise the top before dinner, mostly because there are trees in the driveway that were dropping things on my car. So Sorena and I covered the car with the plastic tarp while her mother and father were busy with the contractor, and then we proceeded to--God help me--play her Scooby Doo game on the computer until they finished with the contractor. (The really scary thing is that I was enjoying it.) But before they were completely finished, Heidi called upstairs to tell me that it was raining out and did I need her to help put the top back on. I just smiled, feeling incredibly smug, and told her that we had already put the tarp in place. Then I checked, and the tarp was doing a dandy job of keeping the rain off my car in spite of the deluge outside. We'll put the top up later, but I am feeling smug, indeed.

Which is why I had to send a raspberry heavenward. There just isn't a better feeling than finally winning one over on Mother Nature.--MAY



We hold these truths…

When you stop to think about the Declaration of Independence, and you think about the second paragraph, which is quoted far more frequently than the preamble to the Constitution, which is the document that has far more power, what strikes me the most is the first clause of the first sentence of that paragraph: We hold these truths to be self-evident.

A 21st century translation would be: DUH!

Think about THAT while you're watching the fireworks Wednesday night. I'm off to the Old Dominion for a few days.

And below, for your reading pleasure, I present the first part of:

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

You can read the rest of it here:

Have a Glorious Fourth, all. And a safe one!--MAY



Desperation is the mother of invention

Well, okay, it wasn't really desperation, and no, it wasn't really invention, but I guess it was necessity. Because when you have a broken printer and you're broke, you tend to fiddle around with the printer until you fix it. So that's what I did this evening, and now I have a working printer again. Which is a beautiful thing, especially since I'm writing so much lately. Well, and because I tend to be more pleased than anyone when I actually fix something that was broken. Now, at last, I can read my stuff on PAPER! I can edit it with a pen while sitting just about anywhere, and not having to stare at a monitor.

Well, actually, I can already edit my stuff anywhere, since this is a laptop and it has a three-hour battery, and in fact, I have been sitting outside with the kitties of an evening, writing as the sun goes down and not needing to get a light so I can continue to write. But now I can edit on paper!

Oh, but back to the printer. You see, here's where my resistance to being crafty or a fix-it type kicks in. I have one of those freebie HP inkjets that come with a new computer that a buddy from Chubb gave me. It was originally a loan, but as I helped him get through Unit 6, he wound up giving it to me. But I haven't been using the printer much since I left Chubb, and then it started having problems. First it wouldn't feed the paper, so I wound up getting tired of feeding it manually, so I stopped using it and used only the printers at work. Now, when I need it again, the print was coming out extremely light and missing large pieces both above and below the x-height. (Meaning serifs and caps.) I could delay no longer. I was forced to:

Read the manual

I checked the troubleshooting page, the one titled, "When your printer stops printing". I discovered that--DUH!--inkjets can get clogged due to dried ink. There was a solution: A Q-Tip and distilled water. Well, I have no distilled water. I decided to do without and tried just the Q-Tip. After cleaning off the ink, I checked the manual again. "DO NOT CLEAN THE COPPER CONTACT!" it declared in boldface. Oops. Too late. Well, I put the cartridge back in, ran a test, printed a test page, and decided maybe all I needed to do was keep on printing test pages.

That was pretty much the solution. I'm still losing a bit on the top and bottom, but it's readable enough. And the paper feed problem seemed to fix itself, 'cause now it works again, and I'm not going to ask questions. I'm quite pleased to be able to read--on paper--my 1,000-word humor piece that I wrote yesterday. Now all I need to do is find a market for it.--MAY



It's the Golden Blogiversary

I just love making up words. This is my 50th blog since I revamped this web site. This isn't actually the 50th blog I've posted, as there are a couple that just didn't work and are sitting in the alternate bin, waiting to be taken out and reworked. Such is the writing life. If we were able to make everything we write work, there would be a lot fewer starving artists out there, and even more books to read. Which would be a wonderful thing, but then again, only in my dreams. So it isn't the 50th posted, but it is the 50th blog I've written. Hooray!

I'm tempted to go and count the words in each of my blogs, but what I really should do is just average them out. (A few minutes later.) Okay. After doing a rough estimate, I've come up with about 42,000 words in the other 49 weblogs. That's about 210 typed, double-spaced pages, or nearly a book's worth. 50,000 words is considered a fairly respectable novel length, or at least, it used to be in the pre-Robert Jordan, pre-George. R.R. Martin days. I think they caught Stephen King disease, except neither of them have nearly as much talent as King does.

You know, I actually am obsessive-compulsive enough that I will probably figure out a way to count the words in all my blogs. I can't really go by the Word files I start them in, though, as I often edit them once they're in the html file. I should probably just write a VB program that counts the words for me. It would be good practice, if the job market ever opens up again. Except now that I've spent the last two months writing nearly every day, I've been reminded of how much I love to write, and how much I've always wanted to spend my days doing this. I don't really want to be a programmer any more. I've been taking my laptop outside in the afternoon and letting the kitties wander around the courtyard while I write. I write the blogs, a novel, short stories, outlines, letters to people that I never intend to send, journal entries, grocery lists--well, okay, not the last. It was just there to see if you're paying attention.

So between the 42,000 words of weblogs, the five or six thousand words I've gotten in my novel to date, and various other short stories begun since I was laid off from work, I've written the equivalent of a novel in two months.

Not too shabby.

I will take a job as a programmer, of course, as soon as the job market opens up for me. Unless before that happens, my articles and short stories start selling. But I'm starting to think that my time in corporate America is running out, and I see myself sitting in a café in Richmond, writing on my laptop, watching the world go by. Now that would be an ideal world, indeed.--MAY

(P.S.: A little over 500 words in this blog.)