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My birthday was Tuesday. Monday night I received a call about a job interview, so I scheduled it for Tuesday morning. It was the only birthday present I was expecting on my birthday, so I thought that was a nice little present to myself. I was up nights at that point (I guess I still am), but it was at 9 am, so I figured, hey, I’ll go to the interview, then come home and go to bed. Howard Tayler (www.schlockmercenary.com) and I planned on going out to eat that day, and I had a date that night, so I planned on getting to bed about 10:30 am, sleep until 3:30, get up, meet Howard, then head up to my date.
All in all, a good plan.
I took a little nap that night because I’d only had about 4 hours sleep the night before. Woke up at 6am after two hours. Enough to get me by.
Left at 8 am. It’s about a 40 minute drive, but I’ve never done it at 8am and I didn’t know how bad rush hour would be. I knew it was TERRIBLE coming back in the evening.
Pulling out onto the main road, lights flashed behind me. Evidently I saw my opportunity to merge with traffic and didn’t come to a complete stop at the stop sign, then merged in front of a sheriff. The stop put me about 15 minutes behind, but I thought I still had time.
Then, about a half a mile away from the interview, I blew my right front tire. Pulling over, I realized that when my key bent we made four copies from the bent key, but none of them opened all the locks on my car. The one I had on my keyring opened only the driver’s side door, and I didn’t think any of them had opened the trunk. It was 8:55. Cursing, I called my mother to see if she was willing to go find the other keys, then come meet me. Then I threw out a thumb and caught a ride going to a building one away from the building where I was interviewed.
I got there at 8:59. I went to the bathroom after checking in the the receptionist. As I walked out of the bathroom, I heard her telling the interviewer that I had just arrived. I told him about my trip and he seemed impressed that I still made it on time. Whew.
I didn’t feel like calling my mother back during the interview. I thought that would be a bad move, so I waited until it was over. She doesn’t have a cell phone so she couldn’t really leave until we knew I would be ready to go. So I settled in and read a book on my iPod while I waited for her to do the 45 minutes or so of driving.
It was then I realized there was no way I could go out with Howard. If I did NOTHING else, it would be 1 pm before I got to bed. I’d have to be awake by 5:30 to get to my date on time (it was 50 minutes away . . . everything is 45 minutes away from my house), which meant 4 and a half hours sleep at the most, and we all know you never get to bed immediately upon getting home. So I called Howard and rescheduled, mad at my day for another thing going wrong.
My mother found me and one of the keys opened my trunk (and the other doors, BTW). She’s never changed a tire herself, and she had a hip replacement surgery that’s set an upper limit on her applying force to anything, so she sat in the car and watched.
Then I had to change a tire. I have had two rear-impact car accidents that have damaged my lower back. I can think of NOTHING more painful, that I have actually done, than changing a tire. I was literally on the verge of tears from the agony by the time I was done. My mother came out toward the end and found that there was something she could do. Every time the wrench fell off a lug it was an excruciating processes for me to move from the position where I could turn the lugs to a position where I could reset the wrench, and then another excruciating move back. She just stood next to me and reset the wrench when it slid off. When my back finally gave out completely and I just couldn’t possibly be in position one moment longer, I said I needed a break. She turned the jack twice at that point (it was basically finger loose) and pulled it out. I hadn’t realized I was basically done.
I called a couple tire places on the way because you usually save about 30-50 dollars if you call in a head of time. Tire places will often cut you a deal if you’re shopping different places by phone (they want you to come in), but they give you their normal prices if you walk in the door. I found a decent deal and drove there.
By the time I got home, I could barely move from the pain. I ate dinner, went to sleep, woke up after 4 hours, and went on my date. Saw Clash of the Titans. The author did some interesting things with that movie that I don’t think anyone but I noticed. Then I came home, napped, and Called the day dead.
It seemed like a bad day. Let’s list the bad:
1) Got pulled over on the way to a job interview.
2) Blew a tire on the way to the same interview.
3) Didn’t have a way to get into my trunk to fix the tire.
4) Had to wait a long time for a ride.
5) Had to cancel the only thing anyone was planning on doing for ME on my birthday (Dinner with Howard).
6) Had to make my mother drive out to save me.
7) Had to change a tire.
8) Had to buy a tire when I’m unemployed, using up the money I’d intended to spend on myself for my birthday present.
9) Had to go on a date with 4 hours sleep.
But I’d like to point out:
1) Didn’t GET a ticket despite being pulled over.
2) Blew the tire in a high traffic area instead of in the middle of nowhere on my fifty minute drive to my date.
3) Still made it to the interview.
4) Interview went well enough that I’m cautiously optimistic.
5) Got picked up by the first car when hitchhiking. (That has NEVER happened to me before. People NEVER pick me up. I’m large and sometimes I frighten people).
6) Found out I DID have a key that opened all the locks.
7) Had a pleasant date.
So I still didn’t get much in the way of any birthday presents (my mother produced a pair of dockers for my interview that she told me after the fact would be my birthday present . . . she’d bought them months or even years ago) I call the day an interesting series of good luck rather than bad. Let’s call that a win.
So we’re now past the third week of me being laid off. I’ve received my severance check, but if I get rehired by the same company within 60 days, I have to pay 75% of it back. Since my best lead right now is a job that opened up there the same day I was laid off, I have to be VERY careful with money.
So updates: Carolyn told me I didn’t have to pay her for the recording stuff I’ve already done, considering my situation, and she’s not charging for the Jake Black Benefit Story. But I can’t pay her for anything else, obviously. In addition, now that I don’t work there, I have to pay for this hosting. In the meanwhile, I’ve been hitting my daily deadlines for prepping ahead on the fiction. Right now I’m working on what I THINK is going to be the first novel after all the Echoes short stories (probably starting about 4 months into the schedule after I start releasing again.) It’s one of my earlier works, and I thought about rewriting it from scratch, but I think it might be funner to analyze it a bit as I put it out, for all the other writers out there. Let me know if you think that would be something you’d find entertaining. Either way, Josh passed it off as not too embarrassing to release.
As for cancer and chemo, this Thursday is my mother’s last chemo infusion. It will almost certainly be the worst, and I’ve cleared my weekend for it, but after Sunday, every day should be better than the last. Hopefully, forever.
So, I was laid off last week. Just now getting my head above water and thinking about it. Anyway, this has some implications on anything that requires me laying out cash (paying artists for new art and sound techs, for instance), but I’m hoping to get rehired by the same company right away. They offered me a tech I position (or told me I’d be welcome to one, if I applied), but I don’t know if I can make my mortgage at Tech I pay. Plus, if I get hired back too soon I have to pay back 75% of my severance. So I applied for another position at the company that is approximately the same pay as the one I just lost. I’m cautiously optimistic. I’d be great at that job.
What am I doing with my free time? Twitter (Among other things, of course . . . Twttter is probably ten minutes of my day). You can find me at @robertjdefendi. I’ll try to tweet things like how recording is going and where we are in the various Echoes playtests. Jump on and follow me if you tweet.
Doesn’t mean that I won’t be updating here as well. I just know I’ll tweet more often, so I thought I’d let you all know about it.
This is my schedule for LTUE this weekend:
– Fantasy without Magic
(Paul Genesse, Brandon Sanderson, Robert J Defendi, Lary Correis, James Brown)
– The Howard and Bob Show. What do you get when you get two prolific writers together on a panel? Come and find out!
(Howard Tayer, Robert J Defendi)
– Soft-science SF-Can “hard” SF be about the “soft” sciences — psychology, sociology, etc? Who’s writing the best in the field?
(Helge Moulding, Roger White, James Dashner, Robert J Defendi, LarryCorreia,
– How to write a good short story. You have to be concise, clear, articulate, and still keep the reader’s interest. What does a short story writer need to know/do to write a great short story?
(Robert J Defendi, Suzanne Vincent, Eric James Stone, Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury, Brad R. Torgensen)
My mother had a double mastectomy about two and a half weeks ago. She’s recovering nicely and the although they found cancer in a lymph node during the surgery, the pathology came back with no cancer beyond that (this report came last week, and it’s the first “good” news we’ve had.) The total size of the tumors was 9 ML, which is below the mandatory threshold for radiation and chemo. I suspect they will still want to do chemo, but I’m hoping they recommend a light course.
Also, I have LTUE next week, Thur, Fri, and Sat. Life the Universe and Everything is a sf symposium at BYU. Click here for more details. I look forward to speaking on my panels. I’ll post my schedule tomorrow.
Finally, I want everyone to know that robertjdefendi.com isn’t current. The reason is I’m moving the data here (you might have noticed the Spacemaster page appearing on the right . . . the credits page is pretty darn annoying, so I haven’t gotten to it yet). Anyway, I retitled this site to include my name a while back because I intend to point robertjdefendi.com here when I get all the data moved. I know my updates have been sporadic, but this is where I intend to make them.
Caroline and I were talking about how to record the Jake Black story just this week. Now we’re working logistics.
Thanks for your patience.
Hi. I was planning on posting an update on status this week. However today I discovered that a lump my mother found in her breast doesn’t look good to the doctors. They’ve drawn the biopsy, but they aren’t expecting good news.
I might be a little out of it the next day or two. I’d appreciate any prayers, meditation, or general well wishes you might throw our way. Her name is Patricia Christine Adams.
I still intend to do a Jake Black fund raising podcast. I’ll keep you posted on other matters.
Jake Black is a local comic book writer. He is a dear man and I love him deeply. I don’t follow his blog (bad me!) so I just discovered that he has cancer. Our FLGS, Dragon’s Keep, is holding a fundraiser to help pay for treatment on Saturday the 12th. You can find more info here.
I’ve volunteered for this, and I’m sure I’ll be doing something, even if it’s fetching and carrying for the comic book people who are participating and throwing all my available cash at their donated product. But I’d like to do something more, and I need your help.
I’ve talked to Carolyn. We’re going to do a Jake Black Fundraising podcast audio story (to release end-of-Octoberish). It will be my short story The Great Midwestern Squirrel Conspiracy of 2010. I’ve been saving this one for a special occasion, and this is it.
So here’s how it’s going to work:
I don’t have the technical bits in line yet (let’s assume I have to set it at a hard minimum price), but Carolyn is in a master class until the middle of October, so we have a little time. It won’t hurt to have a run-up period for people to check in on the site again. Let’s start the buzz on this one.
You’ll donate money. You’ll get the story somehow. Jake gets everything paypal doesn’t take. What I don’t know yet is how much I should set as the minimum donation. I want it low enough for everyone to get in on it, but paypal starts with a pretty big chunk, so the more we pay per story, the lower the percentage they take off the top.
I haven’t read the story aloud in a while. I believe it’s about an hour long.
If this works, I’ll be releasing my other comedy stories the same way. This might mean I have a lack of comedy material for free, but I think we can all agree that this is a good cause, and I’d like to be able to say that thousands of people banded together in laughter to help pay the medical bills of a good man in need. (Did you hear that? Thousands. That means that I don’t want to settle for the standard small percentage of of sell-throughs. You all want to be a part of this. I know you do. Let’s all step up and do something special.)
So what do you think we should charge? I want to really try to get as many people donating as possible. Chemo and radiation are expensive, and insurance doesn’t cover it all. WEKM suggested $5 at Dragon’s Keep tonight, but I want to hear the rest of you as well. Be honest. I don’t want to set the price and find out everyone is well-meaning but practically, they don’t get around to paying the price point.
Comment. Let me know. It’s for a good cause.
You must go to Schlockmercenary.com. You must read up on the delightful product XDM. You must buy it.
If you’re going to GenCon, buy it anyway (if you ship it priority I bet you’ll get it before you go). When you get there, buy another. If you hand Howard both, I bet he’d doodle something special for you. Tell him I said he would. But you have to buy one now. And one there.
Actually, you love your family, don’t you? They each need one. Oh, I understand. No, no. No need to explain why you don’t love your family. I get it. I won’t tell them. I mean, I will probably never see them, right? This will likely never come back to haunt you. I’ll just go weep for your cold, stony, heart.
I need to go rethink my view on humanity.
Or DO I?
I think I have good news coming. Watch this space.
So I discovered yesterday I couldn’t download Dan’s version of the file until it I got home and by then it was today. So here it is, our first movie podcast. It ain’t pretty technically, but they will get prettier as we hammer out the problems.
Okay, I just listened to it. It’s pretty bad, sound wise. That’s why we made it episode 0. Anyway, we promise to work to improve it.
Here are some Liner notes: