Category Archives: The Dog Ate My Homework

Oh, that’s why I don’t work much in the evenings any more

I tried last night because we’re dog-sitting for Lily and Tito this afternoon so I wanted to make up for the inevitable lost time. Here’s photos of the winsome twosome, in case you were wondering (Lily’s on top)It did not go well, though I did get my next Atomic Junk Shop post up. Plushie loses it and starts barking his head off about once every five minutes. Wisp comes in, begs for food, then goes out again. I could just go isolate myself in my office, but the trouble is I like hanging out with our pets. I don’t want to isolate myself. But if I try that again, I definitely will go that route.

That aside, work went well this week. I finished our taxes, discovering we owe in a little (bad!) but at least they’re done. I’ll check them over again to make certain I figured things right, but I doubt I’ll discover a major error that gets us a refund. Oh, well.

I finished editing Chapter Six of Undead Sexist Cliches and made a final read through of Chapter Four. The latter went slower than I wanted — I had more cleaning up than I expected. I got some Veterans Network articles written (here’s one on art therapy for trauma, and one on military trivia). I did a lot of viewing for Alien Visitors but not much writing. I must compensate for that next week.

My new approach of breaking down my day and assigning a set number of units to different projects went … okay, I guess. I seem to be running out of Undead Sexist Cliches units, but we’ll see how it goes the rest of the month.

This weekend I will probably work Sunday. That’s not typical, but I have a lot to do this week once I become fully vaccinated on Tuesday. Best to make up the time in advance. I’ll be back next Friday to report how it went.

#SFWApro.

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I slept with two women last weekend. Pics so it happened!

Here’s the pic.It was nice being able to sit with both of them, as Trixie gets a little jealous when Wisp’s on the couch with  me. One of the many things we’ll have to work out if Wisp ever becomes a completely inside cat. Now that the weather’s nice, she’s much more of an outdoor cat; having her go to sleep in my lap is rare of late. However we’ve bought cat littler and a littler box for the spare bedroom where she sometimes sleeps with me. That way if she does use it we can close the door and keep the dogs from eating her poop.

For a bonus, here’s a cover illustration for Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? but done in the style of a hardboiled PI paperback novel (you can see an example in this cover post). I don’t know the artist.

#SFWApro.

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My battle plan did not survive first contact with the enemy

As I mentioned at the start of the month, I thought breaking down my schedule into blocks of time and assigning them to different projects (e.g., eight units for Leaf, eight for Veterans Network articles, eight for the golem article). That way, when my schedule takes some kind of unexpected detour, I can make sure I’m still putting enough time on everything.

This week that did not work, though I think it’s less a flaw in the plan than just life. But then again, if the plan can’t cope with what life throws at me, it’s not much use. But really, this situation is exceptional. I have several projects due before the end of the month and I’m getting my second vaccine shot on April 27. If it leaves me feeling like crap I need to have all my essential projects done so I can just lie in misery. TYG is getting her shot around the same time (I really should have listened to her and gotten mine further apart, but when I saw an opening, I panicked and grabbed it) so even if I’m fine, she might be sick — and I know from experience that’s going to kill my productivity too. So the golem article and all my Veteran Network stuff has to be done by April 26.

Plus next week I have an Alexander Technique appointment, our dogs’ trip to the rehab vet and allergy shots for them. That’s going to eat up quite a bit of time.

So this week I wanted to work on veteran articles, Leaf pieces and the golem piece. I did well — the golem article is finally looking good — until yesterday. About 10:30 Wednesday night, Plushie became scared of the invisible monsters he’d spotted somewhere in the bedroom and insisted on climbing on me for safety, then licking my face for about 20 minutes. Finally he calmed down, but by that point I was completely awake. I got up, worked for a couple of hours, got ready to go back to bed … and Wisp meowed to come in and wanted attention for a little while.

I did get to sleep eventually but it didn’t help much. I finished an article on Agent Orange, and did a little work on Undead Sexist Cliches (final proof of Chapter Two. Looks good) — I’m actually quite impressed what I can do when my brain is utterly fried — but I didn’t get the golem article finished as I’d planned.

Last night I took an Ambien to ensure I’d get a decent night’s sleep. The price was waking up late, then Wisp came in, snuggled with me and fell asleep in my lap (it was cold outside).The result was that I never had the private time I need to get my head in the game. Today was not productive. If I didn’t have the deadlines and the possible sick days ahead, I’d have devoted it entirely to reading the remaining golem novels on my list.

I will try my plan again next month, but for the moment the onrushing deadlines render it moot.

Oh, I had Southern Discomfort come back from a publisher with some critical feedback. I’ll discuss what they said when I’ve had time to mull it over.

To end on an upbeat note, here’s Trixie sniffing a flower.#SFWApro.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book

My birthday was, perhaps, a little “meh”

I didn’t expect anything spectacular, seeing as we couldn’t go out, and TYG isn’t comfortable ordering takeout during a pandemic. But a little after midnight, TYG got an emergency call from work, which woke me up. When it was obvious I couldn’t get back to sleep I went downstairs with Wisp until my eyelids started to droop. At which point Trixie had an upset tummy so I let her sit downstairs with me so that TYG (who had to work — I was taking Thursday off) could sleep. Unfortunately sleeping with a restless dog plus a cat proved unworkable.

The result was that I spent most of my birthday a little bit out of it. Fortunately I feel much better today, and my birthday did have some fun moment. Watching 63 Up. Playing Jotto (a gift from my bro) with TYG. Pigging out on junk food. Using the stationary bicycle — I’ve fallen out of the habit lately (inclement weather made outside bicycling a non-starter). The only thing that really disappointed me was that I’d wanted to sit down and think through my schedule, my projects, and which ones need prioritizing (and how much). I only managed a little of that.

The rest of the week was productive without much getting finished. Well, except for a post at Atomic Junk Shop comparing DC and Marvel Silver Age storytelling (the above image from Fantastic Four is part of it) and a Veterans Network post about burn pits and their health hazards. Other than that it was stuff worked on, nothing finished: movies watched for Alien Visitors, reading about golems and almost finishing the final edits on Chapter Four of Undead Sexist Cliches.

The work was not finished, but it did progress. And hopefully it will progress further come next week. For now, writing is done.

#SFWApro. Image by Jack Kirby, all rights remain with current holder.

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Growing older can be difficult but it beats not growing any older

At least for me, celebrating my birthday today. It’s a little horrifying that it’s my second pandemic birthday; this time last year, it never occurred to me we’d be mired in the Trump Virus nightmare that long. On the other hand, six months ago I figured the pandemic timeline might leave me and TYG stuck at home until 2022. That we may be vaccinated within a month or two is astonishing.

Pandemic aside, life is good. True, there is no question age is taking a toll. My knees are stiffer, other parts of me ache in various ways they didn’t use to and obviously I’m that much closer to a fatal something than I was thirty years ago. But that said, I had a friend younger than me die last year, and a friend roughly my age die a couple of years before that. That I’m still around and in good health for my age is pretty miraculous.

I’ve been writing full-time since I moved up here. I was nervous as hell giving up my job on the Destin Log, even though I knew moving up to be with TYG was the right choice. I’ve been able to pay my bills since then, just by writing (well, some census work the first year too). That’s really remarkable. A little erratic and nerve-wracking at times, but that’s a small price to pay.

And as I wrote a couple of birthdays back, age does not keep from doing my work, nor do I feel the need to retire. Writing is fun for me; I’d be thrilled if I could concentrate on fiction some day but if I’m still writing Leaf or similar articles that’s far from a horrible fate.

And I’m with TYG, and we’re happy and that’s just awesome. There have been occasional dark times in my life when, while not suicidal, I wondered if anything would really change for me if I kept going. Turned out it could, more than I ever imagined, and better than I ever imagined. Lord knows, I couldn’t imagine making it through the pandemic year without her. Or our menagerie.I shall spend today thinking about my ongoing projects and how to organize and prioritize my time. That’s as close to work as I’m going to come. Otherwise it’s bicycling, movies, reading, pups and whatever TYG has planned (nothing involving going out, for obvious reasons).

Happy birthday to me!

#SFWApro.

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I slept well this week. I imagine DST this weekend will fix that

Switching back and fro from Daylight Savings Time to Standard has disrupted my sleep schedule (and millions of other people’s) for years. As I’ve aged, it gets worse. There’s a bipartisan push in Congress to end the switch; I hope it works.

But for some reason I did sleep remarkably well this week, even with Wisp occasionally in the bed with me and demanding petting. Getting a full night’s sleep sometimes works against me — being able to work uninterrupted in the early morning has some advantages — but this week it didn’t. Partly that’s because my various projects require research reading and research viewing (for Alien Visitors) which makes it easier to squeeze in a little extra work. The doggy care wasn’t particularly demanding, though I am getting quite wiped after lunch walkies. Thinking back, it’s the first time since Trixie’s injury last year that I’ve been giving her a full morning walk while it’s still cool enough for a full lunch walk. Apparently that and the heat is taking its toll. I’m going to try hydrating heavily before lunch walks next week and see if that helps. I sure hope so — there’s no way I can rejigger my schedule to avoid working in the afternoon. Though in a couple of months it’ll probably be too hot for big walks anyway.

So what did I get done while I was so wonderfully rested?

I did my Leaf articles, of course, though there were fewer to claim than I expected. I made it up by doing a couple more pieces for the Veterans Network website (my first article, on K9 Veterans Day, is already up). This looks like it will be a steady source of additional work, which is always welcome. I also spent an hour chatting with my friend Lisa Wildman, who works there, about the gig and what they’re looking for.

I did a lot of reading on golems and wrote a rough first draft of the paper. I still have more reading to do, but having it down on paper gives me a much sharper idea where I’m going, which is reassuring. I also took time out of Wednesday to go pick up some research reading from the Durham Library. Normally I’d have waited for the weekend but I had a couple of other errands that needed doing, so …

I started the final draft of Chapter Four of Undead Sexist Cliches. It needs more work than I hoped, but it will get the work until it’s good to go.

I skipped working on Questionable Minds as I mull over a couple of edits I’m not sure about. I got a little bit of work done on the Alien Abductions chapter of Alien Visitors. I’m starting to get a feel for that subgenre faster than I thought.

Oh, and I published a blog post about DC’s Kobra over at Atomic Junk Shop.

Overall a satisfactory week. Fingers crossed DST doesn’t disrupt the flow too much next week.

#SFWApro. Kobra art by Jack Kirby, all rights to image remain with current holder.

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Gimme a dog with hair, long beautiful hair!

So last weekend we shaved Plushie down. Here’s his before face.Here’s Plushie after.And here’s my hair-covered self, after.We’d normally have waited until it was a little warmer, but Plushie’ hair has become so horribly matted TYG went ahead while she had some down time. It took a couple of hours due to Plush resistance and the challenge of removing some of the tougher matts.

Much to our distress, Plush Dog has been shivering quite a bit since he lost his insulation. However it’s getting out of the 30s and up into the 60s and 70s this week so I think he’ll be okay.

Trixie did get trimmed, but not severely. She’s not as matted and TYG was worried about messing up her coat gratuitously.  Hopefully by summer we’ll be able to take them to the groomers (Petropolitan) for a professional job

#SFWApro. All photos mine.

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A dog with a ribbon in his hair. And then Wisp.

I’ve had this photo on my laptop since Christmas, but I forgot to post it. Better late than never, right? For the record, we didn’t keep it on more than a second, otherwise it would have ended up in Plushie’s mouth.

Now, the Wisp stuff. Last weekend, Wisp’s habit of mewing for attention in the middle of the night left me really wiped out. My friend Dana said if I just stay upstairs and don’t come down, eventually Wisp would give up. I decided to try that — she’d still wake me up mewing but I’d just have to go into my room and write instead of going downstairs. No chance to brew any tea, but Dana was right, I couldn’t keep letting Wisp wake me up at 12:30 or 1 AM.

Next night, instead, she came right into the bedroom and joined me (I was in the spare bedroom after the dogs’ restlessness forced me to relocate). First she tried snuggling close, then she settled onto the comforter at the foot of the bed and I went back to sleep.

Monday night she came up again, but I couldn’t make it back to sleep.

Tuesday was … nuts. Plushie was restless and woke me up. I went downstairs and read for a bit, started to feel ready to go back to sleep … and Wisp showed. Later I went to sleep on the couch and she, after an hour sitting on the far side of the room, decided to perch on the back of the couch right over my face. Distracting. Tuesday night, though, she went upstairs when I did and settled in quite comfortably. I slept like a log.

Wednesday night, Wisp was in the bed before I was but I didn’t sleep so well. I’m not sure if it was the cat lying next to me inhibiting my normal shifting in sleep or just random bad sleep luck. Last night I took an Ambien so when this goes live I may still be asleep.

We’ve also bought a laser pointer to tease her with. Wisp loves chasing the red dot; what we didn’t expect is that Trixie interprets the cat rushing around as a sign she’s ready to play. Trixie ends up giving her a play  bow or similar gestures, and gets a little baffled the cat doesn’t respond the way Plushie does.

It’s remarkable to look back at some of my cat videos from a couple of years ago and see how far Wisp has come from when she could barely bring herself to cross the threshold. It’s been her choice, but I feel absurdly proud of me and TYG for bringing her this far.

#SFWApro.

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I put in the hours, but the work did not flourish

Just as I planned last week, I skipped watching movies for Alien Visitors in favor of getting the writing done … only not much got done. A rewrite of the introduction, which is an important chapter — it’s a capsule the history of ETs in print and in popular belief, coupled with an overview of film and TV versions — but I’d really hoped for more.

Unfortunately this was one of those weeks when the doggy care was very demanding. Our visits to rehab are once a week instead of twice, but they’re around 2 PM or so for the next few weeks, so that takes a bite out of the day. Wisp has been in a lot, demanding petting (she gets it) and throwing my morning routine off. The lunch walkies after Monday were all mine; Wednesday, for whatever reason, I was completely wiped out. I’ve no idea why — it’s not like double walks are anything new — but I was not in peak condition to write that afternoon. And last night and the night before, Wisp woke me up around 1 or 2 AM when she decided she was lonely. On the plus side, she’s coming up into the spare bedroom (I sleep there when the dogs get too fidgety for me to sleep in our queen-size bed) when she wants me. She rushes away as soon as I move — she gets very nervous if she’s far away from the doors downstairs — so perhaps eventually she’ll come up and sleep next to me or something. That would be a lot easier. But yesterday and today I was wiped out.

And this morning she was hyper-fidgety. Rush in, get a quick pet, rush out again into the cold and rain. Decide she doesn’t like it, come back. Rinse, repeat. I know, cat, but it’s not typical for her. At the moment she’s snoozing on the couch again. I had Trixie on the other side of me so I could pet them both, but Trixie sulked and went to the other couch. I really hate feeling that she feels neglected (especially when I was making a point not to neglect her).

So not much Alien Visitors. I might have squeezed some in during my morning viewing while I exercise and eat, but I wound up bingeing and finishing DC’s Swamp Thing, now streaming on the CW website. I don’t feel bad about it (I’ll have a review up soon).

On the plus side, I did turn Undead Sexist Cliches into a print manuscript on Amazon and ordered a copy. I’ll go over it for any final errors/changes and then I’ll be done. Well, once I get a cover. I intend to try Draft 2 Digital‘s print-on-demand service too, but they require a cover before I start. I’ve been very pleased with their ebook service so I want to see if their paperback publishing works better than using Amazon’s kindle POD service.

And I got started on another project, contributing an article on golems in fantasy and comics to an anthology on Jewish specfic. Truth is, the only reason I made my hours this week is because I pushed to finish Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman’s The Golem of Hollywood — dreadful book (reviews will follow) but definitely relevant.

And I did do plenty of Leafs which is more money in the bank. That’s always welcome.

And now the weekend. I’m ready.

#SFWApro.

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Our neighbor has a very small dog

Chiquita is a maltiepoo, barely six weeks old at the time of this photo.One of the minor frustrations of the pandemic is that normally I’d have been petting the dog — well, once she’d had her shots — but TYG and I take social distancing very seriously, so countless puppies have been denied the pleasure of my petting.

The hawk in this photo, I am fine with not petting. They have many sharp parts and I suspect they’re not as asocial as Wisp turned out to be.#SFWApro.

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