Friday, January 29, 2010

Into the Storm, and Hopefully Through

Well, I'm the last person in the office today, at least on this side. I think the Big Cheese is still here on the other side, but is fixin' to leave. I have completed everything I wanted to do today. The four business items and four personal items on my To Do List are crossed out. Time to head out.

Not home though. I'll go once again to my mother-in-law's place, for at least one night and possibly two. Since she does not have a computer, I will be AWOC for a couple of days. No posting possible.

It has snowed without ceasing since I got here at 7:20 AM. I think 3 to 4 inches, though I'll know for sure when I exit the building. If any of my snow driving skills learned in my Rhode Island boyhood, and expanded by some years in Kansas City are still active, I should be out of the storm in thirty to forty-five minutes. I have a couple of writing pads and a thousand ideas. And no place to go. Perhaps I'll get a little bit done this weekend.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Storm Is Here

We've been hearing about it since Sunday. We were in a winter weather advisory on Monday, a winter storm watch on Tuesday, and a winter storm warning on Wednesday to begin Thursday 6 AM. About 3:30 PM it started. It's rain right now. It should switch over to something frozen--sleet, freezing rain, or ice--within another hour or so. It should change over to snow by Friday morning and snow all day. They're saying 2 to 3 inches of accumulation, but just forty miles north of us it will be 6 to 7 inches. So if that storm tracks just a little bit south....

I'm not going home tonight. I packed a bag and brought it with me today. I'll stay with my mother-in-law at her apartment in Bentonville tonight and probably Friday night as well. I set the thermostat at 58 degrees this morning, but in reality we are likely to lose power if it doesn't change to snow real quick.

I've got Mark Twain's short stories. I've got a Writers Digest magazine. I've got a Wesleyan Theological Journal issue. I've got a few pages from Emerson's letters to use to write an article. I won't have a computer, but paper and ink still work. Esther's apartment is only three miles from the office. If I need to I could walk back to the office in the morning. Or I could stay there, keeping each other company, resting up so this cold will finally leave me alone, and write and read much.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Day Usurped

Okay, so this morning I had two things on my mind--well, actually three:
1. Get the reanalysis done for my floodplain project so that on Wednesday all that would be left would be to have the CADD tech change the two maps and assemble a submittal to send off.
2. Attend writers critique group at 7 PM.
3. Help my wife decide on when to go to Oklahoma City: today with Sara and Ephraim; tomorrow the day after them; Thursday; or Friday.

Concerning the floodplain analysis, I had good success on Friday, completing 1/3 of it (as to total computer runs), and less success on Monday, due to interruptions, working sub par due to this cold, and to normal Monday inefficiencies. Still, the morning went well, and by a little after noon I had completed much, and could see my way to finishing it today or early tomorrow morning, making deadline.

I had a couple of conversations with Lynda. She felt she should go on Thursday, but we are under a winter storm watch for Thursday: 4-8 inches of snow, possible ice, possible rain. It all depends on the track of the storm. I suggested she go tomorrow. Sara called at 1:45 PM or so, when I was working on my analyses after lunch, and said they were going today and that Mom needed the cell phone (hers has never been replaced; I'm not going to do it) and would I meet them in Decatur, sixteen miles west. I hopped in the truck and met them to transfer the phone, and headed back to the office to check one thing in Centerton (right on the way) useful for my floodplain analyses.

Heading back to the office, about 2:45 PM I witnessed a four car accident right in front of me. I circled around the block and hung around about half an hour until I could give my contact information to one of the emergency workers, and drove the mile to the office. So far no one has called to take my statement. Others probably had a better view and so they may not need my observations.

So, with time lost but with no wife to go home to tonight, I decided I would stay at the office till 6:30 PM, rush to writers guild, getting Sonic on the way. That would almost make up for the Decatur run and the accident time. But no, the VP in charge of Production dropped by, asking me to assist that afternoon and help with an unexpected floodplain issue in Covington Louisiana. So from about 3:45 till 5:45 I huddled with one of the young engineers, then with the said VP of Production, including a conference call to our Dallas office where the project manager who botched--I mean supervised--the original work could hear our findings.

That done, I went back to my computer and saw an e-mail from another engineer, saying he knew I was busy but he had finally made the changes to the wastewater lift station project I checked last week and it had to go out tomorrow and could I look at it by mid-morning. He had the specifications done that I insisted he do before I signed off on it, he said. I told him to get it to my by 6:20 PM and I'd take it home. I also wished, by this time, I had not committed to going to writers guild, cause I sure could use the entire evening at the office.

The lift station documents in hand, and the writing I was to share tonight in the truck, I rushed to writers guild, picking up my discount Sonic burger along the way. And nobody else showed up. I waited half an hour, knowing there would be a message on the answering machine at home, saying it was cancelled because of people not being able to attend.

Had I known writers guild wasn't going to meet, I would have stayed at the office until my floodplain analyses were done. But at that point, I was about a mile from the house and fourteen from the office. So I came home and entered the Dungeon, deflated from the day's usurpations, very tired from the emotions, and possibly from the effects of my lingering cold, so I decided to not bother with the two articles I was going to write tonight. This post will have to do. I'll pack a bag to take in tomorrow and spend the night in town, either at the office or at my mother-in-law's so I won't have to fight the snow on Thursday. I'll stay in town Thursday night as well.

Right now, I feel both sad and mad: sad at the missed opportunities and the tiredness, and mad at the usurpations. My choices are to fight the emotions with food or with writing. About the only writing I could do tonight is to critique a poem over at Absolute Write, but the way I feel I'd probably dash some budding poet's spirit with an overly-harsh critique, and I don't want to do that. So the forage in the fridge it is. I seem to remember seeing some vanilla ice cream in it.

ETA: Oh, and when I got to the writers guild meeting that didn't happen and opened up my Sonic burger with mayo and added ketchup and took a bite, it turned out it had mustard on it instead of mayo. The perfect unauthorized substitution for an usurped day.

Marking Time

My health is improving. The coughing associated with the pneumonia is gone, I think. I'm still on an inhaler that pumps some kind of medicine in me four times a day (when I don't forget), and that will go on for another 84 pumps. Still sucking on cough drops and occasionally taking some over-the-counter cough syrup. But really, I cough almost not at all. The stomach flu I had lasted only 24 hours. I'm still fighting a garden-variety cold, but I think that is waning now. So, praise God for feeling better.

I think my immune system is below normal, so I'm not yet ready to go back to an exercise regimen. Perhaps next weeks I'll resume light calisthenics and walking. I'd like to get back to purposeful weight loss efforts, rather than just what might come off as my body fights this or that illness. When the fight is over, the weight comes back on fast.

Writing is where I'm really marking time. The only writing I've done since Dec 17 is the one article for I have three other Suite articles started, and will hopefully get them published within a week. Tonight I plan on going back to writers critique group, and sharing with them the 490 line poem from Father Daughter Day, "The Legend of the Mill". I shared this last time I was there, but the poets in the group were absent, so I'll do it again. Can't say that I feel like doing much writing yet. Motivation must lag immune systems in regrowth.

Of course, having grandson Ephraim around is a pleasant distraction. He may leave today with his mom, or she might leave him for us to watch a few more days then bring to her and her returning husband next weekend. I got to rock him last night, singing hymns and praying with him. He always lays down and stays there when I do the honors, unlike when Lynda does it. He will usually object to being laid down and insist on more rocking. Must be grandpa's touch.

Friday, January 22, 2010


After sleeping [cliche alert!] the sleep of the dead Wednesday night, which followed a day of mostly sleeping while my body fought the stomach bug, last night, Thursday night, started sleepless. To find the cause(s) that set my mind going so strong I guess I need to retrace the day.

  • At work my weight was down to an 11 month low. I'd have been disappointed if it wasn't, after what I went through Tuesday night/Wednesday.
  • Also at work, I took a stand against a bad practice I feel another engineer was doing, refusing to approve something for submittal to a State agency, and that felt good.
  • By the end of the work day I (think I) figured out what is wrong with my flood model, which caused FEMA to reject it. Today I get to put that theory to the test. Unfortunately it's going to be tedious work, model revision cross-section by cross-section, tweak upon tweak, plus adding about three cross-sections, which is tedious in itself.
  • At home I had a good evening playing with Ephraim, giving him his bath, reading stories, and rocking/singing him to sleep. He's responding well to what I have him do.
  • After that, I completed an article for and posted it, the first article I posted since Dec 17. It felt good, and it's the first of a cluster of four or five articles on the same topic that should go fairly easy.
  • Then I left the Dungeon, came upstairs and read 16 pages in my current reading book, The Complete Short Stories of Mark Twain. I'm not yet half-way through its 680 pages, though getting close to that milestone.
So, which of these things caused my sleeplessness, such that laying down at 11:45PM saw me still awake at 1AM? I suppose all of them. I had visions of Ephraim, knocking down the block towers I built, and asking me to do the "pokey pokey". I had visions of a floodplain model, corrected and doing exactly what FEMA wants while at the same time providing protection and appropriate access to flood insurance for residents of the city. I saw a company that puts ethics above mere adherence to an arbitrary schedule, and engineers who knew the right way of doing things and did things that way. Strangely (?), I had no vision of any short story by Mr. Twain.

But most of all I saw writing projects, many of them. I saw a whole host of articles at Suite101, including rising page views and revenues. I saw my short story published. I had a vision of teaching a poetry writing class [this one is on-going, nightly], asked to do so based on my Suite101 articles on poetry. I saw Father Daughter Day published and a huge success. I saw the e-zine/magazine I'd like to publish, Technophobia, published, and a wild success. I saw my newspaper column, "Documenting America", syndicated and a wild success, with spin off books as a result. And I saw myself writing for as the Northwest Arkansas Christianity Examiner, again with wild success.

All of this because I managed to get eight hundred words and change coherently put together and published, after a sickness-caused dry spell of a month. No telling what visions of failure will do.

So at 1:15 AM I got up, had a bowl of cereal with real sugar and cinnamon, watched a little of a news program replay, found a Writers Digest I hadn't read yet and read an article about religious publishing wars (which turned out to be a bit misleading based on its title), and went back to bed around 2AM. Sleep came at some point, not sure when. The alarm at 6AM seemed a lot louder than normal.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ephraim's first big adventure

You all might be wondering why I haven't posted more this month. Of course the bout with pneumonia was the first thing. Then Tuesday night I came down with a stomach/intestinal virus of some sort. All "action" was done by Wednesday morning, but I too weak and tire to go to work. So I slept in, then spent time between the couch and my reading chair--not reading but just laying my head back. By the end of the day my stomach felt much better and I had a little energy. Still went to bed about 10 PM.

But, the other reason for my lack of writing is: grandson Ephraim is with us! We have kept him a time or two before, but only for a night and a day while the kids got away. With son-in-law Richard in Boston on a two-week residency for his doctor of ministry degree, daughter Sara and wife Lynda decided we would keep Ephraim for at least one of those weeks, allowing Sara to get caught up with many things around the house. So last weekend we made the drive to Oklahoma City and drove him back to Bella Vista.

So far, all is well. Mother-in-law Esther came out from Bentonville to stay with us and help out. Ephraim knows grandma real well from all the times she's stayed with them, but not grandpa so much. So I've had to work hard to get him to warm up to me. It's working. He's letting to read to him, and enjoys when I build block towers that he can knock down.

On Tuesday night (before I knew I was coming down with that thing) he let me do the honors of reading and rocking before bedtime. After reading, I took him into his room and sang to him--not baby songs, but some of the old hymns of the church. Then I prayed with him--not baby prayers, but a grown-up prayer for his sleeping through the night and getting over the little bit of cold that is lingering in him. When I put him in his crib he was not asleep, yet he laid down fine with no complaints. This is a change, for when Lynda does that he cries and wants her to hold him and rock him some more. Ah, it must be grandpa's touch.

I think the current plan is that daughter Sara will drive up to see us this weekend, but will leave Ephraim here for another week. That's fine with me, though it may continue to put a crimp in my writing. That's okay, as he will never be 20 1/2 months again. Writing can wait.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Year-end Summary for

I began writing for on June 21, 2009. I see this as part of my platform-building plan, a slow plan that I hope will increase potential readership of books I someday hope to publish. I'm not sure that I've explained this plan in detail on this blog, nor that I will, for fear it is going to have zero impact on my publishing worth. But it's a plan, and I'm following it. So how did I do at Suite, in about half a year? Here's some stats:

Articles published: 72
Words therein: approx. 58,000
Revenue earned: $40.57
Views of articles: 31,014
Revenue per article: $0.56
Revenue per word: $0.0007
Revenue per 1000 page views: $1.31

Paltry. Pathetic. As far as revenue goes. Although, I was one of the winners of that November contest at Suite, which paid me $101. I suppose I should add that in. Then it would be:

Revenue earned: $141.57
Revenue per article: $1.97
Revenue per word: $0.0024
Revenue per 1000 page views: $4.56

Better, but still weak.

And those 31,014 views of my articles, while not bad, are certainly not a platform, as those people almost all found my articles from a search engine, not because they were looking for me or my work.

So, has it been worth it? I set aside my novel-in-progress to work on Suite articles, as I said all in a platform-building exercise. Has it been worth it? My assessment: Too early to tell. I need to stick with it, try to add 150 or so articles this year, and re-assess next January. Also, I need to find a way to make a little more money writing, and to continue to work on my novel as I do all that.

Retirement is only 7 years, 11 months, and 12 days away.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Back In the Land of the Living

Hey Loyal Readers:

I'm back at work, back almost to normal. Still coughing some, but not as deeply, not as long, and not as often. I think I'm over the pneumonia.

I have a couple of comments to catch up on, then I should resume my regular posting schedule.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Book Review: The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Part 2

I want to be careful with my statement about Tolkien's "Oxford snobbery". I'm sure some people would take offense at that. I don't want to denigrate a great institution that has produced many scholars and statesmen. My concern is that Tolkien seemed to put himself above the masses as far as literature goes. Maybe C.S. Lewis did as well, for when they were meeting one time and decrying the lack of good literature in English, Lewis said to Tolkien, "We shall just have to write the types of stories we like." [loose quote]

Tolkien was constantly correcting readers and reviewers about their misinterpretation of his works. This shows up in the letters. A reviewer would write something about The Lord of the Rings being excellent Christian allegory. Tolkien would write the reviewer and say it isn't an allegory, Christian or otherwise, and that he hates allegory. Then he would write his publisher about it, and then one of his children, then maybe even a friend. A reader would ask a question about the mythology that came before his published works. Tolkien would sometimes write pages about Luthien and Beren and the Valor and Numenor (apologies to the Elvin language for not adding the accents where JRRT did), or at times he would advise the reader to just enjoy what was written and not worry about what wasn't. His tone often seemed snobbish to me.

But, perhaps it is more a case of author pride than it is snobbishness. Tolkien worked years on his books, developing first the languages then adding appropriate myths that the languages must tell. He fought to have it published, even trying to strong arm his publishers into accepting a package deal of The Lord of the Rings and the unfinished The Silmarillion. He fought proofreaders who kept trying to change the spelling of words he wanted spelled a certain way. He fought his own personal schedule that never seemed to give him quite enough time to do all he wanted. Finally a book was produced. How dare a reader misinterpret something and then have the audacity to write him about it!

I don't quite know why I am so fascinated by letters. It began with the letters of Charles Lamb, and has spread in every direction therefrom. I think I like them because they tend to be unfiltered history. Read someones letter, something not expected to be published, and you might just find out about the real person, not something a biographer wants you to know. Since these Tolkien letters are selected rather than complete, and since many of the letters are excerpted, some filtration has taken place. Yet, the history comes through.

I always try to include in my book reviews a recommendation of whether my readers should read what I read. What about this one? It cost me $7.98 plus Overland Park and Kansas sales tax, a steep price compared to what I usually pay. Should you go off and do the same? Probably not, not unless you are an incredible Tolkien fan, or unless you love letters as I do. Don't worry about his references to Bilbo and Frodo and Gandalf. Don't worry about the twenty pages of explanation of Numenor mythology. These might be difficult--they were for me. I'm glad I read them, and the book is a keeper for me, so that my letters collection is that much more complete.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Book Review: The Letters of J.R.R.Tolkien

JRR Tolkien wrote three great works:

The Hobbit, 1937
The Lord of the Rings trilogy, 1954-55
The Silmarillion, posthumously 1977,

and a few lesser tales related to his invented mythology, a hots of professional essays, papers, and speeches, and his collected letters. Let me say right off that I enjoyed The Hobbit, but disliked The Lord of the Ring, bogging down in the second half of The Fellowship of the Ring, and not picking it up again. Someday I will finish it, when many things more to my liking I have read.

I was predisposed to dislike Tolkien from my college experience. IN Butterfield Hall, all the guys I disliked because of their politics, alcohol consumption, or drug use raves about him. I concluded that Tolkien wasn't for me, and gave him no more thought until reading a biography of C.S. Lewis. Still, I read nothing of Tolkien's until the movies came out and decided I should read the books.

Fast forward to March 2009, when I was in Kansas City to present a paper at an engineering conference and, as is my out-of-town-habit, sought out a bookstore. In a seconds bookstore on Metcalf Ave., I found volumes of both Tolkien's and Lewis' letters. I left the bookstore poorer in cash but rich in literary acquisitions.

I found Tolien's letters [The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien: Selected and Edited by Humphrey Carpenter with the assistance of Christopher Tolkien, 1981, Houghton Mifflin Company] fascinating. many dealt with publishing and writing. Beginning with Letter 9 (in the book, which excludes many of Tolien's extant letters) written on Jan 4, 1937, we learn about The Hobbit, already in production with mainly the maps and illustrations to finish. He was greatly concerned about the American edition, especially the illustrations: "...let the Americans do what seems good to them--as long as it was veto anything from or influenced by the Disney studios (for all whose works I have a heartfelt loathing)."

This is an example of what I tend to call "Oxford snobbery" in Tolkien. It was just against Americans, but against anyone who tried to analyze his works. Tolkien commented to friends and publishers about negative reviews. He corrected those who misunderstood his invented languages. He corrected misconceptions about the mythology of Middle Earth, main after The Lord of the Rings appearance, and sometimes advised his correspondents not to worry about it.

Certain themes continually show in the letters.
  • The importance of literature: We all need literature that is above our measure--though we may not have sufficient energy for it all the time. April 1959, to Walter Allen
  • His health issues: I was assailed by very considerable pain, and depression, which no ordinary remedy would relieve. ...We (or at least I) know far too little about the complicated machine we inhabit.... 31 July 1969, to Christopher Tolkien
  • Friendship with and criticism of C.S. Lewis: But for the encouragement of C.S.L. I do not think that I should ever have completed or offered for publication The Lord of the Rings. 18 Dec 1965 to Clyde S. Kilby; It is sad that 'Narnia' and all that part of C.S.L.'s work should remain outside the range of my sympathy, as much of my work was outside his. 11 Nov 1964 to David Kolb
I have much more to write about this, but my post is too long as it is, and I need time to collect some more thoughts. Look for a second post.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Book Review: "The Chimes" - a novella by Charles Dickens

It was 1843, and Charles Dickens' latest novel, Martin Chuzzlewait, was not selling well--at least not by Dickens' standards. So for another project to make some money, Britain's most popular author wrote A Christmas Carol and got it to the market fast. It didn't sell wildly, but made its author a little. More importantly, it established an important tradition: the Dickensian Christmas, and over twenty years of Christmas books and stories.

The next year Dickens wrote The Chimes, as he had A Christmas Carol, seemingly in off moments between his regular novels being written chapter by chapter just in time to be serialized, and rushed it to print. It is the story of Toby "Trotty" Veck, a day laborer/porter, aged into his sixties. He spends every day on the streets, in the shadow of a church, waiting on someone to have him deliver a letter or small package for six pence, or maybe a shilling.

From the church the chimes peal, keeping Toby company and speaking to him according to his mood. Toby Veck is poor, and almost alone. His young adult daughter, Meg, is the only one close to him. She brings him a hot lunch of tripe and potatoes, and they sit on the doorstep of Alderman Cute for Toby to eat. The gentleman passes out his door with two equally corpulent friends. They upbraid Toby for eating tripe--"the least economical, the most wastefull...consumption"--and finish what's left on Toby's plate. The, as Richard comes, the man Meg has just said she it to marry on new Years Day, the alderman advises Richard he can do better and not to marry Toby's daughter. He does, however, engage Toby to deliver a letter to the local Member of Parliament.

The book then follows Toby's actions that day and a dream he has that night. Toby delivers the letter to the MP, learns it contains orders to incarcerate a certain Will Fern who is down on his luck, meets and encourages that man and befriends him. He makes a midnight visit to his beloved chimes, and while among them falls into a trance, or perhaps a dream. He see things in Meg's future, in Richards' future, and his new friend's future, and even his own future. The book ends with "all's well", as Meg and Richard marry on New Years Day, Toby's new friends--Will Fern and his adopted daughter--come to live with him.

Although counted as a Christmas book, Christmas is never mentioned. All events look forward to New Years Day, which is close at hand. After reading A Christmas Carol many times, and seeing umpteen dramatic presentations of it, plus the many modern adaptions, almost anything else Dickens wrote about Christmas will be a let-down. And this one was. I found it difficult to follow Toby's dream/trance, and all that was happening. Perhaps I didn't read it as closely as I needed to. The language is slightly archaic, and the physical and social circumstances unfamiliar to a 21st Century American. None of these badly so, but perhaps they added up to hinder understanding.

The characters are not as well developed as in other Dickens books. The alderman and the MP are bad guys. Everything they do works against the poor, yet they call themselves the friends of the poor and justifying various anti-poor actions as being in favor of the poor. Each one makes a single appearance in the novella, so perhaps Dickens did not have enough space to fully develop them. This book is much more social commentary than A Christmas Carol, something Dickens put in many of his books. The rich and powerful are bad, the poor and downtrodden are good. No in between, no mixtures, no offsetting qualities. I haven't read much Dickens (that is reserved for retirement), so I don't know if his novels have better developed heroes and villains than this one.

Should you read this? Probably, if you can find it without plunking down a bunch of money. It should be in any collection of Dickens' Christmas writings, and is probably available on-line. It's good to branch out from his best known Christmas story. Next Christmas: The Cricket on the Hearth.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

January Goals

I think I'm feeling a little better today. I've had two days of antibiotics, on the third day of breathing treatments and the strong cough syrup. I'm still coughing, perhaps not as much and not as deeply, and my voice is a little closer to normal. I just washed accumulated dishes, so after sleeping most of the morning away, I'm ready for a couple of hours at the computer.

The 7th is kind of late for January goals, but this is the first time I've felt like typing them. Wrote them in my journal on the 4th.

1. Blog 12 times.

2. Write and publish 8 articles at

3. Make at least one freelance submission.

4. Write 1000 words in In Front of Fifty Thousand Screaming People.

5. Begin work with Demand Studios articles.

I should probably have more goals than that, but in my reduced capacity I'll feel good about getting that much done. Last night, while watching the football game on mute, I put together notes for a Bible study I want to write. I looked in the usual places, and didn't find it. I'd like to get some of it typed today.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

What the Doctor Said


Yep. Went to see him yesterday. When he listened to my lungs he said he thought I had it, and ordered the x-ray. The x-ray showed less than he was expecting to see, but he said he still though it was pneumonia. Coughing without sinus drainage. No flu-type body aches. No fever. Just the persistent cough. They gave me a breathing treatment and a shot of antibiotic, plus prescriptions for an antibiotic, a home breathing treatment, and a strong cough syrup.

So, it looks like I'm home for a while, at least for this week. I won't go back to work or church until the cough ends. I have gobs of sick time accumulated, so no worries there. Guess I'll just lay around and rest, sleep, eat, watch bowl games, read, and play mindless computer games. Lynda is in OKC with Sara, Richard, and Ephraim. I've been reading a ton, mainly in the letters of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Also in the Bible.

Funny thing, I haven't felt much like writing. Made a few entries into my journal, but haven't felt like writing to this blog or any articles for or anywhere else. But as I was reading in Numbers this morning, my memory was jogged about a Bible study I had planned to write about Israel becoming a nation, taking material from Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Joshua. Perhaps tonight I'll feel like at least outlining that. Maybe in a day or two, if the medicine kicks in like it should, I'll feel like writing again.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The December Report

I've still been sick these past few days. Taking Thursday off didn't work, for we had a second Christmas dinner, and I did too much with the preparations. Rested that afternoon, as my voice totally left me. Friday I managed to get a little rest, but don't think I felt any better by the end of the day. I knew then that I'd be resting Saturday and Sunday and going to the doctor on Monday.

But Saturday included packing the van for Lynda's, Sara's, and Ephraim's trip to Oklahoma City. Still, I did less of that work than I usually did, Lynda and Sara doing more. At 2:00 PM they drove off, and I hit the couch, probably at the low point. I saw a little of a bowl game, but not much, as I dozed or slept for a few hours. I got on the computer a while last night, but didn't feel like writing. I finally felt like reading a little.

Today I woke up to find 2 inches of snow on the ground. We were only supposed to get a dusting. Since I parked the pick-up in the drive on Saturday, that meant I had to shovel or else would not be able to get up the slope tomorrow and head to the doc. So I shoveled the part of the drive behind the pick-up. And I felt marvelous doing it. I coughed little, and the fresh air entering my lungs, even though it was around 26 degrees, seemed good to me. I coughed little while I was out, and not much the rest of the day (until the last half hour). I spent a lot of it on the couch, or in my chair.

So I'm behind in my beginning of the month posts. I'll check in with my December goals now, but will leave January goals till tomorrow. Where I fell short in December, I'll blame it on two weeks of being sick.

1. Blog 12 times >>> Did this.

2. Post at least 8 articles to >>> Fell two short, posting only six articles.

3. Make my submittals log perfect: all entries made in appropriate places; all acceptances/rejections gathered. >>> "Perfect" is a hard standard to live up to, but I think I accomplished this. I spent an evening early in the month getting things up to date, and don't think I left anything hanging at the end of the month.

4. Make my ideas notebook perfect: appropriate dividers; hard copies of all ideas in the file. >>> I did quite a bit of work on this, but "perfect"? Probably not. Still, I believe I have a system in place that is significantly more workable than what I had at the beginning of the month.

5. All poems properly filed; includes transferring all poems from my computer at work to the one at home, and making the one at home the official repository of electronic copies; hard copies of all poems in a file. >>> Did almost nothing on this, except dealing with some of the hard copies I had floating around the office and the house.

6. Write 2,000 words in In Front of Fifty Thousand Screaming People. Last month's goal was too ambitious, given all that's going on. >>> Nope, did nothing on this.

7. Finish that appendix in the Harmony of the Gospels. I believe I left it, some months ago, with not much more than a page to finish. I shouldn't leave it hanging. >>> Yes! After having this for a goal for several months, I finished it. This required that I read through the entire appendix and the related text. After all this time I wasn't sure what the last page of the appendix was supposed to say. I decided it wasn't too bad as it was, but did see a few things that needed to be added. Anyway, it's done, and I actually began working on the next appendix.

8. Continue studies of Demand Studios (tutorials, editorial guides), and begin writing for them. >>> I continued my study of what Demand Studios requires, but I did not begin writing for them. I discovered that they do have some articles available for writing that I can probably write, maybe about $100 to $200 worth. I'm fairly certain this will be a goal in January.