Tuesday, March 27, 2012

And she's back to talking about the cats

Back to the cats because that makes me as attractive as writing about math.
I am involved with a cat rescue group.  I’d rate myself as Crazy Cat Lady, as opposed to CRAZY Cat Lady.   I currently have an embarrassing number of cats in the house, besides my one cat and two dogs.  Number unspecified on purpose ;^)

Anyway, every time I want to say ‘no’, there’s some sad story and these little guys end up fostered in my house.

I have a bottle baby from 2007 that was left in a cardboard box marked ‘free kittens’ outside a grammar school.  The girls in it were only two weeks old, so not on solid food yet.  I have another lady cat that was born at my local Petco in 2008.  Her mother was left in a cat carrier in the back of the store giving birth, and I got a call to go pick them up.

There’s a neurologically impaired cat that visited my house that likes hanging beneath my desk and fighting shadows in the bath tub.  She's gone back to her original foster house to have more opportunity to be observed.  She may be developing more problems, and I'm not home enough (a job and a half outside the home) to give her the attention she needs.

So last year, I was minding my own business on a Friday morning when I got an email regarding bottle baby kittens with a dead mother in Newark, and through the back and forth the story kept getting worse – the mother was poisoned, maybe with antifreeze, one kitten was already dead, they thought there was three kittens left and someone was on their way to get them and bring them to me.  I got all worked up because the rest of the kittens could die on me if they had the milk from the mother after she drank the antifreeze.  Well, I took one adult cat to an adoption that night, and the delivery was made – it wasn’t three kittens, it was seven!  Not all of them have found a home yet, so I have these wild teenage cats that think I’m their mama all over me.  They’re very loving, so I’m not sure why their fur-ever home is taking so long.

The good thing about this rescue group (and many others) is there’s no time limit put on these cats finding a home.  They’ll stay with us, get fed, live in a warm house, go to the vet, and go to adoption events till that special person finds them.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Love that math

Politics and cats?  I’m swirling round the bowl here …

Do you want to hear about my work?  I am not a full-time author.

For years, I worked at IBM on external customer accounts getting the work done to fulfill contracts and messing with data on how to do that more efficiently.  Like many, my job was off-shored.  Two fellows in Brazil got tapped, and it wasn’t till the end of my thirty day notice (they were busy with other training) that I found out they did not have the same IT background – I did pricing for projects, and IBM breaks down different hardware, software, maintenance, labor and miscellaneous items in different pricing categories and then I priced for different customers, all with their own contract terms.  No worries for me though, I could look at the customer request and vendor quotes and fill in my pricing spreadsheet like a sudoku puzzle.  I enjoyed pricing.

I admit I’m one of those odd math people that find numbers and spreadsheets fun.  I kid that if I could write in a spreadsheet, that I wouldn’t wonder how good it was.  It either adds up or it doesn’t.

The other part I loved about the job was translating pages of contract methodology into plain English.  I worked with Service Level Agreements.  Let’s say IBM is hosting a web site on servers somewhere, and a customer would like to be told that the web site will be available 100% of the time.  Let’s say IBM negotiates for 99.5%, but then every year promises to improve based on performance.  That's continuous improvement of the SLA.

Anyway, I did the improvement calculations.  After Year 1 of the 10 year contract, I look at the contract, there’s pages of how each type of change is calculated, and I treated it like a word problem.  The end result might be 99.67%.  I talk to IBM internally, and give them all the changes.  Lots of those calls turned into ‘why is this bad for us?’ because there'd be a monetary penalty for missing that measurement.  Then my slides would get presented to the customer, and I’d explain where the numbers came from, and ‘why this is good for you’. 

Now I’m doomed because you know how much of a math geek I am.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Web Presence Established

Establish a web presence outside of playing games on Facebook … check.

And GoodReads - let me tell you about GoodReads. I want to update my account with books I've read, but the recommendations sound so good, that I'm adding more books to my 'to read' shelf than to 'already read' shelf.

I’ve even opened a Twitter account, and possibly could tweet about more than cats.

I did mention politics in my first blog post.  It is a big election year, and I was unemployed for two out of the past four.  I don’t really see party because there are so many issues, and there is no perfect candidate for me even on my top issues.  There’s many months to go, so I’ll keep checking the news for anything that’s a positive influence.  The negative influences are depressing.

So about my writing, which is why this blog exists ...

My first original novel, The End of the World Sucks -

My entry into this year’s Amazon Breakthough got turned down during the first stage – the pitch.  That means my 300 words about what my book’s about didn’t make the cut.  I did gain a coupon for a free proof copy of my book, including shipping, and that expires the end of March.

That’s okay.  I got another contest lined up, and I can work on minor edits for the rest of the month because the deadline is not until April 1st.  Works out good with that printed proof from ABNA/CreateSpace.

I also have an appt to consult about my book with The Book Doctors, Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry, in April, or at least that's how I plan on spending my twenty minutes on the phone with them. 

I have another coupon from CreateSpace for being a NaNoWriMo winner (National Novel Writing Month) for five print copies and I pay the shipping that expires in June.

This past weekend, I went to an amazingly informative meeting regarding self-publishing.  It’s an option that sounds like a lot of work.  I'll keep that in mind for now.

And after all that, I signed up for both sessions of Camp NaNo – June and August.  I even filled in titles and one sentence plots so I don’t forget what I plan on working on.  I currently have four ideas for other novels.  One involves becoming an expert on Theodore Roosevelt and his time or enough to wing it convincingly, so I can’t work on that yet, though I did play around and made a partial front page for a newspaper.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Establishing a Blog

I don’t know.   I’m told all writers should have a blog and frequently update it.

Now that I’ve submitted my 2011 NaNo work The End of the World Sucks to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, I suppose I’m now serious.  I did spend a lot of time writing and editing, and joined groups that told me all authors need to have a web presence.

Here’s the problem that I see – everyone has different opinions.  What if I express something that goes so against a person’s beliefs they never want to read anything by me again?   Perhaps I am more sensitive to this now that I realize I know someone who believes Global Warming is a hoax.

I’m not sure how surprised I should be because she has always expressed strong conservative political beliefs, and this discovery came about because I was lamenting that Jon Huntsman was no longer a candidate – the sole Republican that believes there is something to Global Warming.

Like we’re seeing with politicians, there is never going to be universal agreement on all talking points.

Since I hang my clothes out, take the inside ladybugs for a ride on a piece of paper, try not to chemically treat my yard to uniform perfection, and like most animals, I was already on the environmental track.  Now, my daughter is getting ready to study Conservation Biology or some other flavor if she goes to a different college, and will settle for nothing less than saving the world.  So I’m not going to buckle and say maybe not at this point, no matter how eloquently someone explains that Global Warming is a hoax perpetrated by the scientific community at large.  Let’s face it, I want my daughter well-employed, so we can go get a lovely hobby farm, and raise Nigerian dwarf goats.

In that way, we are conservatives.  I’m only aware of Ron Paul saying it, and I’m paraphrasing here, that the ability to buy raw milk should be left up to the consumer.  Big government can’t watch out for everything and if the sale of raw hamburger meat is legal, why not milk?  I do know unpasteurized milk contains pathogens, but the people that find its health benefits outweigh the dangers should be allowed to buy and drink it, along with local farmers, meeting guidelines regarding the health of their livestock and collection methods, be allowed to sell fresh milk.

So there’s blog post one, except I need to add some pirates, ninjas, vampires and zombies now.  There we go.  Oh, and cats.  I like cats.  I also have two dogs.