Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Dusty Updates

I call this his Got Milk pose. Remember his puppy shot? (My favorite Dusty pic.)

He's such a rascal! And we just love him! But his bad temper hasn't disappeared. I bought a clicker last week after I read an article by Shirley Chong.

I had seen an advertisement for the perfectdog system and googled it to find some reviews. A professional trainer replied to someone's post about the collar being used by the system being similar to spikes on the inside. The dogs shown on the infomercial were tooo docile in the after poses. It gave me a bad feeling to see their spirit essentially gone. He mentioned these lessons by Shirley Chong which essentially make use of a clicker to create a training relationship between you and your dog.

Stay tuned for results in the coming weeks. "Don't hate me because I'm beautiful."

Monday, March 30, 2009

Here we go again

High water AGAIN, and it's not because of the Spring thaw which hasn't happened yet. I'm beginning to think I need an office in town. My satellite dish is about three feet from being under water.

Friday night was the fourth night of terrifying weather. And I've NEVER seen the state of Louisiana lit up like that. Amazing that we didn't have more tornados though there were reports of teacup (that's bigger than baseball)sized hail. Anyone who knows me, knows that I totally freak out when it's lightninging. And when the water starts rising, I can't describe the anxiety that pervades everything I do. I absolutely can't imagine what those courageous people in ND are going through.

So four days of torrential downpours and many inches of rain later...

My little flower garden that is usually at my feet when I sit outside to write is at the water's edge. Only 6 of the 26 steps are out of the water right now and still rising.

Backwater from fields, ditches, marshes, and bayous push wildlife out of their normal territory. This morning I saw wood ducks,and deer.

A few days ago this huge gator was feeding while I worked on RC. Needless to say, he made me uneasy. We've only had one that big on this corner of the bayou (that I've seen). One of the residents saw the gator pull a big doe off the bank and kill it, its tail casting huge sprays of water as it thrashed the deer from side to side, ten feet into the air. Even though this gator was 100 feet out in the water, I backed up closer to the back door. The first picture shows how close he is to the satellite. In the next shot you can maybe make out what a monster he is.

Actually, HE is probably a she. The authorities say the females are feeding right now. That's when you don't want to interrupt them. She was moving swiftly across the bayou, diving, swishing her tail, more active than you usually see them.

So now, I have to keep a close eye on my Dusty dog.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Idle man hands

Yeah, I stole it from Leah who stole it from Smart Bitches. It is just too funny not to pass on.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Nola Conference 2009

Well, the conference is over and Cadence and I had a great time!

Cadence Denton

Cadence got a request for a full! I knew it - she has built such a cool world. I got validation that I should set OTHR aside for now and concentrate on RC. Both the agent and editor I met with seemed excited about receiving a partial on that book.

(It always amazes me that some people just pitch ideas, barely born story blurbs.) So now I must concentrate on applying all of the recently learned plotting techniques to RC and getting it finished. I'm excited about that.

We missed Cora at the conference and wish her dad well.

Especially enjoyed meeting those authors from the new Diamond State Romance chapter. This chapter sounds like an up and coming force in romance. I can't wait to go on one of those writing retreats or the field trip to Memphis.

Shayla Kersten, Delilah Devlin, and Elle James on the right. Delilah and Elle were kind enough to teach a three week plus Plotting bootcamp for those of us who were registered for Nola Stars. What a great workshop!

It was nice to see our young author friend, Jamie Colette who got a request for a full on her ghost story.

Terry Spear on the left taught a workshop on Hooks and seems very knowledgeable about many subjects. I recently heard about her workshop on showing vs telling coming up in May. Then I met her and won a critique by her. Very serendipitous huh. and Ruthanne, a very sweet lady, was part of the organizing committee for the conference.

It was difficult to make more than a couple of the workshops with appointments overlapping them and workshops scheduled opposite each other.

There were some lovely baskets. I think I spent $35 to try to win the spa basket and didn't. Since I don't ever win anything, next year, I'll spend my bucks on a sure thing, our authors' books at the book signing.

Jennifer Blake gave the keynote address at lunchtime and I got tears in my eyes. It was on Inspiration. She went through quite a school of hard knocks but overcame every obstacle with perseverance and creativity. Most inspiring.

Congratulations too all the attendees!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Wild Blue internet rant

I live in a third world country. It's called rural Louisiana. That's why I haven't been able to upload my blog.

10 nights ago I tried to get online to do a minute amount of research on OTHR - no luck! I rebooted the router, rebooted the modem, then again, the router. Restarted the computer, rebooted the router. Okay, so it wasn't the router. There were some heavy grey clouds which is all it takes for Wild Blue to go down, not even grey clouds.

So I called Wild Blue to find out if our satellite was out.

Two months ago, I went through a similar situation. I was at my maximum downloads for the month, was told I was in violation of FAP, the Fair Access Policy. So I raised my package to the Pro version which got me out of FAP purgatory immediately.

Well, it happened AGAIN! The representative said in her condescending voice, "you have a violation error, that's why you can't get on. You are allowed 17000 MB and you've gone over 109%." (19Gs)

I said, how can that happen?

She said, "I don't know," still patronizing, "but these modem reports are accurate. Do you download a lot of music or play games online?"

That's what I don't understand. I don't download a lot of files, don't spend a lot of time on YouTube, though I'd like to. No, so how is this happening?"

Tech Support girl: All I can tell you is that your modem records the history of your acitivity.

Me: I realize that, but when did it happen. Where's the detail? Can you tell me where the overage is coming? What type of activity?

Tech Support: I don't know. But in about 7 days you should be down below the limit.

Me: Is that all you can tell me?

Tech support: I really can't tell you any more.

Me: When is my contract up?

Tech Support girl: Oh, let me check, but we don't want you to leave Wild Blue.

Me: Then you better get someone who can answer my questions. I mostly do email, blogs, chat, download computer updates to the tune of about 1000MB a month, a couple Audible downloads, another 200 MB, where is the rest of it going?

After several minutes she comes back and gives me a few dates to look at my history and gives me the bad news. My contract doesn't end til Dec. 09.

Yesterday, I spent almost 45 minutes with a tech support person trying to determine where the overage is coming from. I had a thought - I've been trying to network more, visiting more blogs.

Her first question: What is Google reader? What is an rss feed? Sheesh.

After I explained, we determined that there are some surprising bandwidth suckers.

Chat - big bogger
Yahoo Mail - Most of the time I couldn't even get yahoo open and then all I could do was compose a message not view any - the ads, chat, calendar, etc bogg it down.
Google reader - BIG time drain and other blogs that have heavy video or high res content.
You Tube, not so surprising.
News channels, anything streaming.
Automatic updates to operating systems, virus scans, Powerpoint email attachments, and software downloads behind the scenes.
Doesn't take much to go over 70% of 19 gigs every 30 days.

This on top of the information Google Meister, Leah, sent me the other day on google reader, themed email, importing your mail into an actual software email program like outlook or in the mac's case Entourage. This can be done with gmail but costs extra with yahoo. Google mail is surprisingly less draining so I guess I'll be swapping all my groups etc. to gmail addresses.

Aren't you glad you have real high speed internet? My aunt in D.C. just swapped over to Verizon, a complete package with home phone, cell phone and internet for $69. I'm paying almost $300 for that and don't even have unlimited internet or cell phone minutes. Where's the equity in this? We already drive farther and live in poorer communities.

$80 a month; it's a crime to pay that much and get this kind of service. I may have to spend a day a week at the library downloading updates and checking on fellow writer's blogs.

I'm at the conf in Shreveport so I hope my bandwidth is back to normal when I get home. Of course, my speed will be back but I won't be able to go anywhere. Yesterday it was finally down to 74% - 70 being the magic number.

And I'll bet when they say high speed in the stimulus package they mean satellite. Get ready, rural American for a step above dialup. No speed and plenty of limits.

UPDATE - STILL at 74% 24 hours later. I'm getting a lawyer.