Taiji, manuscripts, database

Today was Taiji class.  The instruction is following an interesting direction.  It’s our third class, but we have yet to do a taiji form.  Instead, we’re learning pieces.  We spent two days doing the upper-body parts of Cloud Hands one-handed.  Today we did them two-handed for the first time.  Separately, we’ve done several bits of footwork:  shifting weight, empty step, etc.  We’ve not yet done anything that combines upper-body and lower-body motions.  However, I have a strong sense that we’re building a proper foundation.  By the time we do our first actual piece of the form, I expect we’ll have most of the moves for doing the whole thing.

Got some writing-related work done today.  I put two manuscripts in the post.  I also revitalized my old submission-tracking database, which I hadn’t gotten properly set up when I got a new computer several years ago.  I wasn’t actively submitting manuscripts, so it didn’t seem urgent.  Then when I started sending them out again I didn’t want to wait to get my tracking system working, so I just did the tracking in a spreadsheet.  Today I got the old tracking system working again, and moved over all the data from the spreadsheet.  So, I once again have complete submission information for all my manuscripts, including a few old manuscripts that hadn’t yet been submitted to every market.

Contributors copies of US Airways Magazine

US Airways Magazine is running my Wise Bread article Understand Capital Costs in their section “The Gist.”  It appears on page 22 of the October 2009 issue.  I got my contributors copies in the mail today.

I’m not sure what day they actually change out the magazine onboard the planes, but I assume for the next month or so airline passengers will be reading my article!

Jackie on the Bus

Jackie on the Bus (photo by Philip Brewer)
Jackie on the Bus (photo by Philip Brewer)

We were both heading out yesterday, Jackie to downtown Champaign for lunch and then a meeting with her fellow spinners, I to the south end of the research park where the Fitness Center was letting local Yahoo employees (and friends like me) renew our discount memberships.

Jackie’s bus left three minutes before mine, so I had a chance to take this photo.  I did some pretty heavy processing in iPhoto, mostly adjusting the levels so as to emphasize Jackie’s face at the cost of washing out things like the brick wall behind the bus.  I’m rather pleased with the way it came out.

Getting outdoors

"Bee on Clover" by Philip Brewer
"Bee on Clover" by Philip Brewer

I do fine at getting outdoors enough in the summer.  In the winter, though, I’m prone to spend far too much time indoors.

There’s a sidewalk around the interior of our apartment complex that makes for a fine short walk.  (It takes about seven minutes, so I think it’s probably close to a third of a mile.)  In the summer, I might do that walk at any time.  In particular, I do it while I’m writing, when I find that the prose isn’t flowing.  That’s usually a sign that I’ve taken a misstep in the story, and a seven-minute walk is often just what I need to figure out where I’ve gone astray.

In the winter, though, I don’t do that, because the cold and the snow turn the little walk into a big production.  Changing into outdoor clothes (and then out of them again) can easily double the time for taking a quick walk, so instead of being seven minutes it’s a quarter of an hour.  Plus, I figure if I’m making that kind of investment of time, I ought to do more than just walk around the block–I should get a real walk in, or run an errand.

That kind of thinking leads to trying to optimize my time–scheduling my walk not when I need a short break from writing to get back on track, but when I need to go to the bank or pick up something at the grocery store.  And if I don’t have any such chore to justify the outing, I tend to just stay indoors all day.  (One of the few upsides of having a regular job was that it did get me out every day.)

Since I know I’ll feel better if I do get out everyday, even if just for a few minutes, I’m thinking of creating an artificial errand:  taking a picture.  I figure it’s something that can be added onto any actual errands I have–I can just bring the camera along.  If it seems like a day for a longer walk, I can take the camera along for that, too.  And if it’s not a day for a long walk–if I’m busy, or the weather’s bad–I can just as easily take a picture on a short walk.

When I get a picture that I’m pleased with, I’ll post it here.  This one’s from a day or two ago.  When I was a boy, one had to be careful walking across a field of clover because there’d always be bees around.  This summer, finding a bee on a clover was a rare treat.

Angel of Memory

My dad got a copy of The Ninth Letter, the University of Illinois literary magazine, and after looking at it sent it along to me.

The goal of this issue seemed to be to produce a physical object was as important as the content, and what they’ve produced is full of stuff–posters, cards, etc.

One thing in it was set of pieces of cardboard to be folded and then assembled (with the addition of a penny as a weight) into a little cardboard toy called the Angel of Memory.  Jackie put it together.  I grabbed this video with my camera.  I forgot that there’s no easy way to rotate video, so you’ll have to turn your head 90 degrees to the right to see it properly.

angel of memory

(I may be missing some trick, but it seems that you have to follow that link, and then click on another link in the page that comes up to see the video.)

Fellow sf/pf writer Karawynn Long

Just heard from Karawynn Long, a fellow sf writer who’s also keeping a personal finance blog:  Pocketmint.  (With Catherine Shaffer, this makes three of us sf/pf writers–I wonder if there are any more?)

Pocketmint is full of personal stories turned into larger lessons.  I rather liked Downsizing appliances to save money, which tells the tale of finding perfectly good freezer in the garage of a new house. Because it was so handy–already there and running–they started using it, rather than going to the work to reorganize the garage to use their own smaller freezer. The core of the article is a link to the US government’s EnergyStar calculator, which she used to figure out how much money they’d save using their own newer, smaller freezer. Then there’s the story where she caught a mistake the bank made that could have cost them $6100.  Lots of good stuff.

I’d actually read her sf work back in the day.  She had a story in Enchanted Forests, where she shared the table of contents with Bruce Holland Rogers, and she had a story in Century, a market that I submitted to but never sold to.

I’ll be keeping an eye out for her new work, both pf and sf.