Thursday, March 31, 2005

Some Random Insect-Related Thoughts

Tuesday I went out running with Rob and we talked about how we used to see lots of monarch butterflies during migration season when we were kids: you'd see clouds of them in the air during spring in California. Not super-dense clouds, admittedly, but you would see several at a time fluttering along in neighborhoods and parks alike. In recent years, though, we haven't seen nearly as many. Rob noted that a few years ago there was a difficult, very cold winter that killed a lot of the butterflies, even in dedicated butterfly roosting areas like the one atNatural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz.

This spring, though, it seems they are slowly making a comeback. Since having that conversation on Tuesday (prompted by a sighting of a single butterfly), I've seen monarchs here and there--not in huge amounts, and none of them very large, but they've been noticeable. There are apparently a lot of places around the Bay Area where you can go see butterflies, but I'm just happy to notice that they're coming around again, and that I don't have to go anywhere special to see them. No doubt the butterfly conservationists are happy, too.

I've also been seeing clouds of some other mystery bug--this one not so pretty--in our backyard in recent weeks. They were swarming in the dwarf citrus tree and the crape myrtle tree, and they looked sort of like mosquitoes. But why would mosquitoes swarm in trees? I finally got a closer look and I could tell they weren't mosquitoes, and in fact, they look like some kind of bee or fly with a black/dark brown body. I couldn't really tell what they were, even after looking at many creepy pictures on BugGuide.net (yes, I was obsessing). I think they might be something called a flower fly or Syrphidae, but I'm not positive. I didn't want to get too close in case they did turn out to be bees. This meant that, instead of braving the bug-filled rosemary plant conveniently located in the backyard, I had to buy rosemary at the store. However, I also bought bug spray at the store, so...hopefully this will be a temporary bug issue.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Hometown Hijinks

Here's an interesting little piece about Modesto that I found on google while looking for something else.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Ups and Downs

Man, am I having a schizophrenic week. I got all those rejections (see below) but I just got an e-mail back from the literary agent I queried yesterday...and she said to send the whole novel. So I guess I'll be back in Anticipation-Land for a while. Not too bad a place to be. It's better than Rejection City, which is dismal and huffy.

Oh, how sickeningly perfect. The sun just came out from behind the clouds and is casting a bright ray across my keyboard. I'm not kidding. It was cloudy and drizzly all day before this, a tiny relapse into winter before the extended rehab program of spring. Or something.

Yahoo!

It's just one big rejection party over here. I got my third rejection letter in three days today. This time it was (finally) the Modesto Bee, which has graduated from the list of People Who Are Currently Snubbing Me to the much longer list of People Who Have Rejected Me. No Community Column for me.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

If At First You Don't Succeed

Then you suck, multiple times. Or something.

Anyway, I've just e-mailed a query letter to this agency in order to defer the pain of the rejection I just got for my YA novel. I'm hoping it's a good sign that a) the agent I'm targeting shares my first name (albeit without the all-important "h"), and b) the agency is the same age as I am.

Sigh.

Well, it's been a rejection-filled couple of days. Yesterday I found out that I was not a recipient of a Wallace Stegner Fellowship at (boo! go bears!) Stanford. Gave me flashbacks about applying to Printmaking graduate schools, too--tons of applicants for 5 fiction spots and 5 poetry spots.

And just minutes ago I got my manuscript back from Bloomsbury Children's Books with a "Sorry, not quite what we're looking for" note. I know that I ought to write back and ask them for more details, if possible, but I'm feeling too dishearted to do that right now.

Amazing that, for a writer, getting a huge envelope in the mail is BAD news.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Bad Movie Update

Okay, I just had to come back and post this. In the horribly sensationalistic movie I'm watching (see below), apparently--oh, horror of horrors--Northern California residents are being evacuted to Fresno.

Also, in one of the movie's fake TV reports, the graphic at the bottom of the screen blithely noted that the president declared "marshal law" (sic) in California. Freakin' fabulous. Somebody ought to go tell my friend Marshall. He'll be pretty pleased about that.

Duck and Cover

I'm taking a break from revising an article I'm planning to pitch (again) to Poets & Writers. So I'm folding laundry and half watching a truly god-awful movie called 10.5 that's being replayed on USA. It's about California suffering a series of horrendous earthquakes that destroy the coast. The movie is about five hours long, I think, and I happened to catch the part where a 9.2 quake hits San Francisco and causes the Golden Gate Bridge to crash into the Bay, proving the plucky scientist lady right and the disbelieving politico wrong.

Anyway, it reminded me of all the times I've been caught in traffic on either the Golden Gate or, more usually, the Bay Bridge, and had to resolutely NOT think about earthquakes, or even natural disasters of a less drastic nature such as slippery sleet or sudden gale-force winds. I did this on a regular basis each business day for about two years; three if you count the year I was going to SFAI. That year, though, I spent a lot of time on Bart and the bus, which present a whole new set of earthquake-related fears. Actually, one time there was a huge power outage in the Bay Area and my Bart train had just gotten into the Montgomery station--the second stop in SF--when the system came to a grinding halt. Boy was I glad I didn't stop UNDER the bay. As it was, there were no buses to be seen by the time I got out, so I hoofed it from Montgomery to the Art Institute in order to make my appointment with my Graduate Tutorial advisor. That wasn't a good day.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

A Blogless Week.

I don't really have any excuses for not blogging this week. My temp job at the Office of Education ended on Wednesday, so in theory I had all these new daylight hours with which to do things like catch up on blogging. But I've been all exhausted for no real reason. Well, we have been stressed out a bit because Rob's sister, who had her baby on Saturday, had some illness problems and then the baby had jaundice.

I probably ought to tell the baby story, huh. I promise there will be no gooshing from my end. He's pretty darn cute for a newborn, but that's probably because I get to hand him back when he starts crying. (Yeah, my maternal instincts are a bit on the low side; what can you do?) Anyway, Rob's sister had a 7lb. 3oz., 20-inch-long baby boy on March 12 at 7:20 pm, named Miles. After going home from the hospital on Sunday, she came down with a 103 fever on Monday and had to return to the hospital, sans baby. As far as we know, it was just a flu--no serious infections--but she had to stay for a couple of days until they were sure. Then the baby had a high bilirubin count--i.e., he had some jaundice--and he had to go back into the hospital for some more tests. Luckily, this was temporary and mom and baby are now home and happy.

We got to see them today for the first time since Sunday. I held Miles. He promptly peed his diaper and then cried. Then, after he was changed, Rob held him and he was a perfect angel. That figures.

Anyway, other than stressing about that, I don't have much of an excuse for not blogging. I've been tired and felt like any extra anything--especially if it could be construed as work or work-like--was just too much to ask. I have saved up a few fun links, though, so check these out:

  • Here's a web art project called Historic Waikiki that has some interesting histories, photos, and anecdotes.
  • Or, if you think you're an expert on classic video games, try the quiz on PBS's Video Game Revolution site. I am not an expert, as it turns out. When you start asking questions about Burger Time, I'm not quite as knowledgeable. However, there are also some interesting articles, if you want to brush up first.
  • Lastly, there are apparently some paranoid folks who think Gmail is too creepy. I am not one of them. Apparently, says the site, "Most writers, even if they are only writing an email message instead of a column in a major newspaper, have more respect for their words than Google does. Don't expect these writers to answer their Gmail."

And that's it for now. Oh, and in light of the whole Michael Jackson thing, we got a little paranoid ourselves and re-named the WritingYA Weblog to Finding Wonderland, instead of Neverland Revisited. Just in case, ya know?

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Kid Time

I have a nephew on the way, soon to be born in Stockton, California. More news later!

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Hey! Where'd Ya Go?

I have not been a good blogger lately. I've been suffering from blog inferiority complex, for one thing. There's been a lot in the media lately about blogs and bloggers, and all it did was remind me that I am keeping this blog for no useful purpose whatsoever. Then again, I make no pretenses about being a journalist. Aquafortis is purely for entertainment purposes only. Imbibe at your own risk.

The second reason my blogging has suffered is that new blog I mentioned in the previous posting. At least in theory. Plus I'm trying to put together a sample website so that I can advertise a package web design deal for writers and artists. Man. Getting a business going is hard. It's hard, I tells ya. It's especially hard when you're working 40 hours a week.

Which brings me to the third reason I've been a bad blogger: my new temp job that I promised to tell you about. There's really not much to tell. I'm working in the HR department of the Stanislaus County Office of Education. Amongst my duties is helping with No Child Left Behind paperwork, which is sort of interesting inasmuch as lots of teachers don't meet and are never going to meet the requirements. The really funny part was that I was photocopying special ed teachers' transcripts and something like 80-90% of them went to Chapman University. To me, that seems strange. I hear that they're not so much of a degree mill any more, but I have my doubts. My main doubts here are due to a) that huge number, and b) the fact that they may not have much competition around here to force them to be better (as opposed to the campuses in, say, the Bay Area or SoCal). But anyway. Yeah. I did a lot of filing and copying, but the pay is a little better, the people are nicer, and I feel like I'm doing something socially productive and worthwhile even though I think No Child Left Behind is crap on a cracker.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Me and My Friends

I am so busy this week. I have a new temp job, a much better one than that ill-fated Wastewater Treatment Plant drudgery with the endless file reorganization. More on the new job later (though it's not really that exciting, I promise you).

Today I'm just leaving a really quick note plugging a new blog that some friends and I have started called Neverland Revisited: The WritingYA Weblog, and its companion blog, ReadingYA: Readers' Response. If you're at all interested in literature for young adults--as a reader, a parent, a writer, or whatever--please drop by.