Snow day in Ontario

February 8, 2013

When the weather gets snowy, my instincts are to hole up somewhere warm – work from home, venture out when it’s blown over

But today, despite all the warnings of the big winter storm, I brushed Ghost down and drove carefully into the office. We had a really big team deadline today, the sort of thing where communication is important, so I thought it would help if I was on-site. Ironically enough, the point man on the team wasn’t able to make it in, because the roads in his area weren’t plowed all morning, but its a good thing that I was in the office because I could help him work from home and find the memos he left on his desk.

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Now I’m sitting in a train on my way to Toronto.

20130208-175827.jpg There’s a Buffy / Angel fans meetup at Cafe Mirage in the Yonge Shepard center, and that’s always a blast. I love their pizza, and I’ve been saving room for it all day. It’ll be good to see the fan crew too, even if most of them were at the shindig after Warm Bodies last week.

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An eventful day of snow and driving

December 29, 2012

Winter has definitely settled in on Hamilton over the last few days, and I’ve been learning quite a few things about winter driving that you don’t learn until you have your own car in the winter. Like how important it is to have a snow shovel, especially when you live in an apartment building and park your car in the open lot out back.

I went to the local mall this morning, being careful to brush the car off very carefully before – luckily there wasn’t enough snow that I needed to actually dig it out. Walked around the mall enough to get my exercise for the day, picked up my groceries, got back to the car, brushed it off again. Turned on the ignition, wiped off the windows, noticed that there was some ice on the back windshield that I hadn’t brushed off, so I grabbed the scraper/brush, got out again, took a few seconds to go scrapy scrapy…

and the door wouldn’t let me back in. I was locked out of the car, with the engine running, my groceries sitting in the front seat with the heat going.

Luckily, I had a cell phone in my jacket pocket, and I was able to call CAA. It was a long wait for the guy to show up, brushing my car off again every fifteen minutes or so, but finally he showed at the mall entrance, followed me to my car, with the wipers still going every so often, and pulled out the tricks of the trade. One little doo-hickey that inflated itself with air to pull the passenger side door open, just a little up near the window. A metal wedge to help keep the door propped open just that crack, And a slightly flexible angled bar, which he stuck in through the crack in order to pull the unlock switch.

It took him about half a dozen tries – he kept complaining that the door was unlocking and then relocking itself – but finally the door was open. I dived across, unlocked the driver’s side door, pulled the keys out of the ignition, and then hurried around to get in the driver’s seat. As soon as the tow truck pulled out, I hurried for home to put the meat, the eggs, and the frozen potatoes into the appropriate cold storage.

Later, I drove over to my Mom’s place, to help her get packed and move out of the condo. The drive down the main streets was fine, but once again, the visitor’s parking lot was full. (This happened on Christmas Day, and we ended up parking my car in her spot on the P2 floor of the building while driving her car up to Kitchener.) So I drove around her neighborhood for a bit, looking for a decent parking spot on the curb, but the side streets there looked like they hadn’t been plowed since yesterday afternoon.

I tried to pull off to the side to let a truck go past me on the street behind the condo building, and got myself well and truly stuck. After the truck managed to inch past me, a friendly man out brushing off his own car came over and asked if he could help, and he was able to help push me out of the groove. I kept driving around a little while, and managed to pull into a three-hour spot down the street from the condo building.

Once the packing for the day was done, and Mom and I were heading off to dinner, there was more snow-driving fun. My three hours were almost up, and somebody had parked behind me, cutting off the easiest way of getting out of that spot without driving through a low snowdrift. My mother actually helped talk me through without having to resort to shoveling or salt, showing me how to ‘rock’ the car back and forth, switching between reverse and first gear, something I don’t think I’d been taught before.

I hope the roads are a little less eventful when I head down to the Pier for a modest holiday write-in tomorrow!


A tale of two Waffle-paloozas

December 1, 2012

Well, National Novel Writing Month ended on a random but fun note here in the Greater Hamilton area, which is certainly appropriate. For a few years we’ve been doing ‘Waffle-palooza’ on the last night of November – an occasion to gather together at a Williams Coffee location, type madly to reach 50k or whatever other end-of-the-month goals we have in our sights, and then celebrate by ordering Belgian waffles.

This year, since there was a regular Friday write-in at the Burlington Power Center Williams, it was agreed that this should be the venue for Waffle-palooza 2012. It was next door to a dessert joint called Demetre’s that also had great Belgian waffles. And since my Co-ML is out of town, Waffle-palooza was all on my watch.

The weather forecast said scattered flurries throughout the day. Yesterday afternoon it began to really snow – not a ferocious blizzard, but more than flurries. More than anybody was prepared for.

I left work just before 5 pm, crawled the two and a half kilometers through crazy traffic, and tried to take a shortcut between one Power Center parking lot and another that was much too steep and slippery to drive up. Back out onto the main road the wrong way, an illegal U-turn to get going north, (well, okay, more of a three-point turn, but it worked out alright,) and I finally got to Williams around six-twenty, to find one of the Burlington write-in regulars and two of his friends, who had just gotten there by bus a few minutes earlier.

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The groundhog day storm.

February 3, 2011

I started hearing things earlier this week about ‘the big storm’ that was going to hit on Wednesday – we haven’t really had a big snowstorm yet this winter, though the snowfall that hit the day I went down to Saint Catharines for the workshop was substantial. But everybody was talking about this one being a biggie, so I made sure that it would be possible to work from home if that came down to it. This is something that often is done on really bad-weather days at my job if some people think it would be dangerous or a tremendous PITA to get to the office.

As the snow started to pick up Tuesday night, I remember noticing that the streetlight glow through my bedroom drapes was so bright that it was distracting, and ended up putting on one of those eye mask deals. That was from all of the snow in the air and the ground, of course, reflecting the light around.

Wednesday morning, slept in till nearly seven, got up and turned on the local TV news, and they’re going through a big spiel of local closures and ‘If you don’t need to get on the road, don’t,’ so I figured that I wasn’t going in to work. Logged on to the office network, started working on the top item in my to-do list, and soon enough emails started coming in from the other team members confirming that they wouldn’t be coming in, so I added my me-too.

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Blogosphere Monday: And this time, concentrate!

January 17, 2011

Blogosphere index

I’m still feeling the blogfest love, so this week I’d like to spotlight one of the founding homes of the ‘Show me Yours’ blogfest“…And this Time, Concentrate!”

At this point, Summer’s blog has lots of cool stuff on gaming, pictures of snowy weather, advice for writers, resolutions about books to read and discussion of writing goals. Also some kittens, and Summer’s ‘Show me Yours’ is still halfway up page 1.

More than anything else there, though, I really love the paraphrased quote up at the top of the blog, from which it gets its name.

So, enough of my rambling on. Go follow the link and read Summer’s rambling!

Oh, and I’d like to give Misa a very special Blogosphere thanks for sending a Stylish Blogger award my way! Whoo-hoo!


Workshop Portfolios

December 8, 2010

I’ve only mentioned it here in passing, but I’m seriously planning to get to a six-week genre writing workshop for the summer of 2011. I’ve researched three of them: Clarion, Clarion West, and Odyssey, and I’ve gotten approval to take some unpaid sabbatical time in addition to my paid vacation if I’m accepted to one of them.

That’s getting to be the crucial point. The window for applications to Clarion opened on December 1st, just as I was recovering from Nanowrimo and getting myself back onto Eastern Standard Time. Deadline for applications to Clarion and Clarion West are both on March 1st, 2011

However, what I’m confident in submitting for my portfolio is starting to become a little clearer.

For a while, I guess I was confused by the different requirements for portfolios to all 3 workshops. But taking a good hard look at them, some of the complications prove to be meaningless for me:

Clarion wants 2 different short stories, between 2500-6000 words each.

Clarion West doesn’t mention word counts at all, but wants from 20-30 pages of work sample in manuscript format, which looks like it would be around 4500-6800 words.

Odyssey wants a sample of no more than 4000 words. Clarion West and Odyssey both suggest that a complete story would be good if possible, but don’t insist on it.

And in reviewing my available stories, I sidelined three of them pretty quickly. “The artifact” is still very rough, which is understandable considering that I conceived it and wrote it in five days in an unfamiliar city. Which is what I’ll have to be doing over and over again for these workshops, apparently, but I don’t necessarily need to pick a story for my portfolio on that basis.

“Wolves of Wyoming” and “The case of the Wizard’s vice” are in better shape, but I’m not that confident about either of them considering that they’d have a strike anywhere I’d be submitting them. They’re fantasy, and though Clarion and Clarion West don’t rule out including other fiction genres in the portfolio, (Clarion West even makes a point of saying that in their FAQ,) they ARE specifically Science Fiction workshops. And both stories are around 5,000 words, so I’d need to trim them down for Odyssey.

That leaves me with ‘Harry and Mars’, ‘The Landing’, and ‘Exploration and Evaluation.’ I do like ‘Harry’, though it got a somewhat mixed response at Hamilton Writers last night… it’s short enough that I can expand the characterization somewhat (which it badly needs,) and still fit the Odyssey word count. The new draft of ‘The Landing’ was received very well by Hamilton Writers when I brought it back to them in September, and it should fit in the middle of the page count guidelines for Clarion West. Once I’m comfortable with them, I can submit them both for Clarion. ‘Exploration and Evaluation’ is less strong overall, but can stand as an alternate just in case I see some flaw in one of the other stories that I can’t fix at the last moment.

One thing that I’m considering trying with ‘Harry and Mars’ would be a significant change that might make the word count explode, but I think that it’s still worth a try. As written, the first draft concerns a suicide on the first successful mission to Mars, and that was probably part of the original idea that I had when I started writing it back in September.

Somebody at the meeting mentioned “One problem I have is that it’s not that sudden, when you decide that you’re going to kill yourself,” and it sounded like he knew at least a little of what he was talking about. That got me to thinking, what if the first suicide attempt wasn’t successful, if they get to Harry in time to save her life – then what? Can they really keep one member of a five-person crew on suicide watch? With that change, I was also considering changing my POV from Harry herself to Charlie, the engineer, who could be the one who saves her.

Okay, I think that that’s enough blog rambling for tonight. Wish me luck with all my portfolio stuff, everybody!

UPDATE: I’d also like to announce to anybody who cares, that I expect this blog will remain proudly snow-free for the holiday season. The Weather Network is telling me that I’ll be getting enough of the stuff outside over the next few weeks, so I don’t intend to let snow into my cyber-world!


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