Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Kellie 0, Potential Employers 2

The CU job that I've been excited about for over a month is a no. Finally found out yesterday that they had already filled the position. And I found out today that a medical writer job I applied for a couple weeks ago has also already been filled. I've got my resume out to three more places, and will fill out another application this week.

And the agent still hasn't responded to my query letter. *Sigh*

Monday, March 29, 2004

Cleaning is Grand

So today I went through and cleaned my desk hard core. It's almost completely empty. And I went through my computer, getting rid of any stray personal and/or useless files that may still be hanging around (resumes, etc). I found a link that I've been meaning to post here for quite sometime. It's a Grand Unified Theory for Everything in Nature. Very amusing, but I'm a nerd, so don't take my word for it.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Golden Onion

They've done it again. The headline for the Rover spoof is hilarious on its own, but you're really missing out if you don't read the entire article. Especially Golombek's quotes. My favorites of the Nanotechnology Infograph: "Mad scientists can build nightmarish, dystopic future too small to see" and "Scientists say nanotechnology could be used to fight terrorism, if that will get them some damn funding".

I have quite a few posts simmering in my brain, but this week has been pure and utter hell since Monday afternoon. I'm still in hiding a bit, hoping things settle soon.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Break Through

I finally pushed myself through my weird writing issues yesterday! It's been about a month since I've really done anything with my writing. Impatience to hear back from the agent or to hear about the job held me up for most of that time. Then finding out I'd been laid off get me away from writing the rest of the month. Finally on Friday I decided to change my attitude. The Waiting Game was making me miserable. I realized that I should just assume I would be out of a job for at least the month of April, and that I could use that time to write full-time. If a job possibility comes up to change that assumption, great. But I'm not going to count on it, and I'm going to stop hawking the phones and my email expecting it.

So I spent Friday evening and all day Saturday getting used to the idea of a Unemployed and Full-time Writing April. As Saturday wore on, I could feel the job impatience fade and the writing impatience build. But in a good way. Writing impatience as in my Muse saying, "C'mon, Kellie! Let me at 'em!" I should've guessed on Friday that when I got a decent chunk of inspiration for Strings of Betrayal that I would be ready to dive back into my writing. It's been a long time since I've received scenes for that book. Granted, it still didn't tell me much about my hero. That man's another tight-lipped ingrate like Darren. By Saturday evening, I told myself I was going to write on Sunday. I was just going to say "Screw it" to whatever hang-ups I still had about my HD revisions. I was just going to ignore the sense of "This is WAY too much work" that was bothering me about The Masque and look at some research ideas.

And that's what I did on Sunday. I even did a few things for Strings of Betrayal: I created a Write Way doc for it and started transferring the notes I already had into that doc; I redid the map so it was bigger and accurate to what I wanted; and I did tarot readings for the four main characters. I didn't have time to do any interpreatations, but I wrote down the results for a later interp. I did all the SoB (what an unfortunate acronym) work while watching A&E's The Last King. The only reason I watched it was because of Rufus Sewell. And my warped memory of history told me that Charles II was the king during the American Revolution. Isn't that the last king that matters to me? :) My AP US history teacher is weeping if he's reading this - as are any of my readers who have a passing interest in English history. I should've taken a moment to read the blurb about this show, or even to have looked up Charles II on the Internet so I'd have a better idea what I was going to devote 4 hours of my Sunday night to. Because as near as I can tell, the only big deal about Charles II was that he fought to stay out from under the thumb of Parliament. And it took him four hours of sleeping around with various women, watching plague and fire take London (which seemed to have nothing to do with anything about the Parliament buisness except to provide stunning dramatic "cliffhangers" for A&E to end an episode with), and yelling about how he would name his heir not Parliament or about how he would not stand for ill-treatment of Catholics. Overall, I was very glad I spent the entire four hours doing stuff for my writing and only half paying attention to the show. I would perk up whenever they took that God-awful wig off Rufus' head or when he was wearing somewhat revealing top or when he was fencing. But that's about it.

So yesterday was a stunning entrance back into the writing world. And it feels like it's going to last and that the attitude adjustment will help me immensely. I'm sure I'll have bouts where I just can't stand the fact that I don't have any Answers. I just hope they'll be much more short-lived than they have been until this weekend.

Friday, March 19, 2004

New Vocabulary

Via Joel, the NEW WORDS FOR 2004: Essential additions for the workplace vocabulary. (I've kept only the ones I liked or could add something to.)

SEAGULL MANAGER: A manager who flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps on everything, and then leaves.

ASSMOSIS: The process by which some people seem to absorb success and advancement by kissing up to the boss rather than working hard. (See this thread for some fantastic, writerly tongue-in-cheek sucking up.)

SALMON DAY: The experience of spending an entire day swimming upstream only to get screwed and die in the end. (Hmm, you think last Friday qualifies as a Salmon Day?)

CUBE FARM: An office filled with cubicles.

CROP DUSTING: Surreptitiously farting while passing through a Cube Farm.

PRAIRIE DOGGING: When someone yells or drops something loudly in a cube farm, and people's heads pop up over the walls to see what's going on. (I'll be leaving the cube farm on March 31. I wonder if my next job will have the same opportunities for prairie dogging?)

XEROX SUBSIDY: Euphemism for swiping free photocopies from one'sworkplace copy machine. (I wouldn't know anything about this word.)

IRRITAINMENT: Entertainment and media spectacles that are annoying but you find yourself unable to stop watching them. The J-Lo and Ben wedding (or not) was a prime example. (Another good example: OJ Simpson Trial.)

404: Someone who's clueless. From the World Wide Web error message"404 Not Found," meaning that the requested document could not be located. (I hope this one worms its way into often-used slang. It's neato.)

GENERICA: Features of the American landscape that are exactly the same no matter where one is, such as fast food joints, strip malls, and subdivisions. (Another good example: The Midwest.)

OHNOSECOND: That minuscule fraction of time in which you realize that you've just made a BIG mistake. (I've experienced this due to an unfortunate goof with instant messaging. Note to self: do NOT send the venting message to your boss - the object of your vent - when you mean to send it to your pal.)

Wednesday, March 17, 2004


OK, job-hunting means you have to get your jollies in the oddest places. The usual things might not be as amusing as they were before becuase, well, you have no job any more. And that's bound to put a pall over things, even if the job sucked. I suppose that might explain why Mark and I stayed up past midnight discussing what various tales were parodied in a few Simpsons episodes. Most likely everyone remembers the Bible Stories (Milhouse becomes Moses, Homer and Marge become Adam and Eve, and Bart battles Nelson in David and Goliath II). Mark and I remembered those no problem, but we were stumped on a couple of later episodes that spoofed tales from the public domain and American history lore. So after much poking and prodding of our memories, I finally announced that we had to go look it up on line or else I would never get to sleep. The amusement here was in remembering our favorite episodes. I laughed very hard when Mark reminded me about the scene where a naked Homer slides up the sloped glass ceiling of a church - while a service is in session, no less.

I also felt my fancy tickled ever so slightly this morning when I decided to grab a Linkin Park CD for the car. I have both Hybrid Theory and Meteora. Meteora absolutely floored me with its coolness. Sure, one of the lead singers often screams out you in a "I'm going to lose my voice in the next five years because of this" voice, but for the most part it works. But Hybrid Theory never appealed to me in the same way. I reasoned that it might have been because I first listened to it while reading some of Kushiel's Chosen and that music, good though it may be, does not go with that book. So I decided to listen to the album in the car on my way to and from my soon to be non-existant job. And darned if that CD didn't sound a heck of a lot better than I remembered from my previous listening. Moral of the story: location, location, location. And rap/metal music doesn't go well with renaissance-time fantasy. At least not to my ears.

And the final amusement of the day for me was looking at the Blogger banner up top of my blog. Under the two little adverts, there's a line that says "Related searches" and lists a few things that either would bring up my blog in a google search or some bot determined readers of my blog might want to do a google search on. One of the strings was, I kid you not, "backstreet boy fan fiction". My internet experience is now complete.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Happy Friday

That title should be read a la the Monty Python "and there was much rejoicing" enthusiasm. My Friday started out great. My mother was in town and we spent a nice day and half together. Did lots of fun tooling around the area yesterday. I dropped her off at the airport this morning and then went back to work for a half day. Remember those lay-off rumors I mentioned a while back? Well, they made the big announcement yesterday while I was away. So I returned to work to find out I had been laid-off. My last day at that job is the 31st. The good news is that I will finally be done with that job by the end of this month. That will go a long way toward helping my attitude and my life in general. The bad news is that I no longer can pursue another job in the leisurely fashion I've been. Of course, it doesn't help that I haven't heard back from the one job. I called this afternoon to see about getting a status, but no one was there. Hopefully on Monday.

Another piece of good news is that I now have a complete experience of Corporate America. And it's always good to add to that ever-lengthening list of Character-Building Experiences. Plus now I get to explore the amazing area of Unemployment Benefits (assuming nothing happens with this pending-job app thing before March 31st).

And there was much rejoicing. Yay.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

The Value of Science

Last week's West Wing episode really did a neat job about the value of science and research. I didn't like that they made Ellie the stereotypical "give me a microscope and a solitary lab and leave me the hell alone" scientist attitude, but you can't win 'em all. I was stunned watching that episode when some congresswoman made a comment that revealed pretty clearly that she begrudged AIDS research - due to, I suppose, some implied perception of the lifestyle of AIDS-sufferers. I had no idea that certain people would willingly cut all funding for AIDS and HIV research. Granted, these persons would shove the money at breast cancer and Alzheimer's research and such, so they're not completely heartless, but still.

I saw this episode just a day after a two people in my crit group told me that they thought we'd be beyond Mars by 2075 and that it was silly to set my story there. They said it's been done to death, and we'd likely be someplace cooler. I was more than a little surprised at this response. I can understand the "it's been done, move on" reaction. But Mars isn't the point of my story. The point of my story is the social and scientific conundrums we'll be dealing with in 2075, a time that I think space travel will be moving out of infancy and into mainstream - or at least it's plausible for it to happen by then. And Mars and the Moon are the only likely places for us to be by then. I don't want my novel set on the Moon because that's too close to Earth. And I want it set on a planet, not a space station. So Mars is the only option. Unless we get some sort of miraculous discovery in space flight. I'm not holding my breath.

But their response got me thinking. Scientifically speaking, we have the capability to be on the moon already. We have the capability to have a better and bigger space station. We have the capability to have more drugs and cures for all sorts of medical maladies. But science doesn't exist in a vacuum (well, unless you're in space, I suppose). Science shouldn't exist in a vacuum. It's a bad idea for any one thing in this world to not have some system of checks and balances. Science is no different. If it means science gets held back in a lot of areas, we'll have to live with it and work with the reality of the world science exists in to make whatever progress we can.

That's why I don't get Andi's attitude about space exploration. I would think someone so concerned about the oceans would be very excited about the past existence of water on another planet. If we're so keen on saving Earth's waters, maybe it might help to know how the same waters vanished on Mars. But she's right, there are a lot of worthy causes that aren't getting funding they deserve. And it's a hard pill to swallow to watch money being spent elsewhere in a seemingly less important area of research. Here's the thing with science, though: it's hard to know where the big, life-improving, earth-conserving discoveries will come from. Science is nothing if not serendipitous. Who would've thought that past pollution of the environment with man-made chemicals would lead to the discovery of bacteria that can survive on such toxic substances? The negative effect of one area of research led to the positive result of another. Science is the pursuit of truth. Limit the scope of science, and you limit the scope of the truth you will find. Limited truth will not help humanity or the rest of the animal kingdom or the Earth as a whole. We have to go forward with our eyes wide open to everything. The little string that you find buried in the dirt could eventually weave its way far into the future where it turns out to be the trigger for a life-saving machine. To ignore the string when you see it out of the corner of your eye could be disastrous.

But watching good, promising research lose funding is hard. It's just as hard as watching education lose funding, or seeing the strange ways in which money is spent: billions of dollars for space exploration, but we've got a lower class barely surviving and the state of health care for even the middle class is frightening. If I had my way, we'd start our budgets by making sure good education and quality health care were available free for everyone. Then we'd hash out where the rest of the money would go.

Science has long-since gotten used to the vagaries of funding. Scientists know how to squeeze the most out of every dime. They know how to get to the bottom of their puzzles even with one hand tied behind their back. Every puzzle is worth studying. Even physics. I've hated electromagnetism since I first tried to learn about it high school. Yet here I am, applying for a job in a physical science department so I can help those scientists communicate their research. I have no idea why we should give a rat's ass about the heat capacity of a two-component superfluid Fermi gas. I can't wait to find out. Because science always has the potential for practical application. It may not be all that obvious, like the purpose of that string, buried in the dirt. But that potential is there, and it will be found and applied to something else that brings a step closer to something we need to know about the universe. I can't begrudge the funding this project gets just because a project that has a more direct practical application is losing funding. It's all going to balance out eventually. The truth will be found and put to good use. Maybe not in my day, maybe we'll get it horribly wrong in the process, but we'll get there and find a whole slew of new puzzles waiting for us.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Interesting Report

The Committee on Publishing Ethics (science and medical journals) reported on the fun things scientists do when trying to get their research into ink. For those of you who don't know, "publish or perish" is a very real thing for scientists trying to make careers for themselves in research. To make matters worse, the journals where you are published also factor into the way your career is perceived. There are tiers of journals: the excellent, the good, the so-so, and the jokes. If you've been published fifteen times, but only in the latter two of the four tiers, you ain't going anywhere. As the Nature Science article indicates, some scientists try to weasle their way around the system by getting one paper published in more than one journal. The numbers they toss out really are small. But it sounds more like this committee is focused on medical journals. I'd be curious to see the numbers on science journals and also read about what they deemed "unethical" and how they found their cases. There are a few subtle practices that aren't considered unethical, per se, but they certainly aren't above-board. I have no idea how some committee could ferret them out. And this report only studied cases where the editor of the medical journal in question smelled something fishy. It's great that people are looking into this and trying to find more ways to keep medical research honest.

Science ethics is a strange beast. And it's a bitch to study in your traditional lecture method. Case studies often evolve into an infinite series of "what-ifs" that drive even the most balanced person to strongly consider going postal in class. But if actually suffering through the class means we cut down on research misconduct, then I'm all for it. However, HD exists because of my own experiences with fellow students in a science ethics class. Some of the attitudes I heard expressed there truly terrified me - especially when we consider where science can take us in the next few years. Which brings me to the point of HD. Are we really taking the time and effort to ask the right questions of ourselves now?

Monday, March 08, 2004


I had a lenghty post started about things I've realized this weekend involving my writing, my identity, my career goals. But apparently my thoughts are still fuzzy on the matter because I got distracted in the writing of said post and couldn't get the train of thought back. Suffice to say that I'm fed up with the stupid things I've been doing to myself about my career goals, my identity, and my writing. They helped me deal with some big life changes, and they allowed me to get to this moment of reflection, but now they're just annoying and useless. And yet they're still hanging on. It's like walking around on extremely dry land in full scuba gear. Not helpful. More on this later.

Friday, March 05, 2004


So when Mark and I made the "I'll read Clancy if you read S.L. Viehl" bet, I knew exactly what I was doing. I told him since the Clancy book was 800 pages, Mark had to read two 400-page Stardoc books. I did this knowing full well that the ending to Beyond Varallan is one that you can't just walk away from. I remember mentally snickering when we agreed on the reading deal, eager for the moment he would get to the last page of the second book.

It happened last night.

As I steamrolled through Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Chosen, I saw that Mark was getting closer and closer to finishing. When he was a few pages away, one big shock was revealed and he made a "hey, wait a minute" comment. I could barely contain my evil laughter. Then he finished the book, and, without a word, got out of bed, walked to the study, and came back with the third book, muttering, "It doesn't make sense. Why? Why? Stupid characters." He told me he had to read the third book if only to explain the ending of the second. I suppressed maniacal laughter again, because an explanation is not immediately forthcoming in book three. Poor hubby read about 80 pages, trying to get the explanation and muttering more when he didn't get it.

I'd say Mark is now well and hooked on the Stardoc novels. Just as I knew he would be after Beyond Varallan. I too remember reading Endurance and muttering vile curses upon Sheila as I furiously read that book and ignored my own writing, short-changed as much of my sleep as I dared, and delayed the eating of meals as long as possible. Her books are bad for my health. Very bad.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004


I'm not really in the middle of The Masque. I'm still threading cool things into the chapters and introducing the reader to a lot. I'm in the beginning. I'm very happy. But I'm definitely in another middle of my HD revisions. And that's why I'm frozen. That's why I was surfing the net and found this instead of writing something. I was reading that and thinking about HD. I think I'm going to go home tonight and look over the outline I put together for that book way back in Fall 2001 or so (maybe it was Spring 2002). Reading Holly's accounting of her middle troubles reminding me of mine. As I really immersed myself in HD, I realized that my book was going nowhere. I need something more. So Mike, my #1 Bad Guy, wanders into the story and mucks around in the plot. Denise suddenly decides that she isn't going to die at the beginning of Part 2 like I originally thought she would, thus taking the focus of the story away from Margie and Aidan, where it was supposed to be. Life gets really complicated for Aidan because not only is his mother still hanging around, but it turns out Mike is really his father, not Darren (long story, see Part 1). Plot gets mucked further. As I pushed my way through the revisions of Part 2's middle, guess what? Eugene decides that he's not going to die like I told him we would at the end of Part 2. I compromised with Eugene and informed him that he would live, but he would be mute and deaf. He agreed, but then when I wrote his very first scene in Part 3, the bastard starts talking and listening to someone else talk. I actually didn't even realize what had happened until I had finished the scene. That, and Denise tells me that she's going to unravel a different scientific quandry in Part 3 and ignore the one I originally had her working on.

Maybe I'll quit The Masque and leave it forever stuck in the beginning. I shudder to think what Deb's going to do once I get to the middle. And Baxter might blow up Mars and rocket everybody to Alpha Centauri if I'm not careful.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004


Forget that cool Mars stuff, tell me more about popcorn packers' lung, aslo known as bronchiolitis obliterans. I will never look the same way at my bag of microwaveable popcorn again. And, to complete the scientific hat trick, do you think the current dinosaur extinction theory is sexy? Gerta Keller thinks so, but doesn't buy the theory anyway.

Wasting Time

I watched the Oscars instead of writing. I told myself that I was stuck in my HD revisions, but I could've worked past it. I told myself I wanted to see a fantasy movie sweep a ton of awards, but I could've read about it and been just as happy. Last night, I lounged in bed watching The Simpsons instead of writing. I told myself I was too tired (I wasn't able to fall asleep until 1AM after the Oscars) and needed the rest. Besides, I was stuck in both my projects, right? Another night of letting the subconscience mull things over couldn't hurt. And one night doesn't hurt. But it'll turn into a week if I let it. This is why I really want to get out of my current job. It's hard to motivate yourself and stay motivated when you're bored out of your skull for fourty hours every week.

And then my current reading list isn't helping either. I'm not able to face my faith and the anger it brings to read Breaking Faith. I'm not patient enough nor nautically-minded enough to slog through Master and Commander. And I'm sure as hell not enjoying Without Remorse. I will finish that book - I made a deal with Mark. But now is not the time to hold my reading enjoyment captive. So tonight I will pick up a couple books I'm interested in and see if that helps my motivation. I usually get really motivated when I read a good book. Some writers get depressed and think, "I'll never be able to do that." I, almost always, get excited and eager to write my own stories and see if I can improve my skills.

And meanwhile, I'm going to put a placeholder scene in The Masque and keep moving forward with the stuff I don't need to research, and I'll push past the weird second-guessing of the science I've already laid down in Human Dignity and keep pushing forward there. I was miserable last week, waiting for the agent response and any word on the job front. I'm not going to let that happen this week.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Waiting, Waiting, Waiting

It's been three weeks since I emailed a query to the next agent on my list. I expected a similar if not quicker turnaround time as my last two rejections. Three reasons for the longer time: the agent is just swamped and takes longer, the email got lost in cyberspace or was accidentally deleted or some other internet snafu, or the agent is actually considering reading more from me. I can deal with the first option. The other two are things I can actually do something about, but I just have to wait. Argh. Of course, my imagination got carried away with me while considering the lack of response last night. The agent has been blown away by my cover letter and is busy calling top editors with the concept of my book. I'll get a call this week from him saying he's landed me a multimillion dollar contract.

Excuse me while I laugh at myself at length. *pause for hilarity* I'm better now.

Another thing I'm waiting on is this job. Can I interview? Huh, huh, huh? Puhlease???? The deadline for submitting resumes is this Wednesday. So the earliest I could hear anything would be the end of this week, most likely the beginning of next week, assuming I hear anything at all.

And the final thing trying my patience is my writing. I had high hopes of slogging through a couple of minor blocks in HD this weekend. But then I got tripped up on a science issue. So now both of my projects are stalled out on science. Not a bad thing, really. It's kind of fun to bury my nose in my virology and biochemistry books, hunting for information I need in my novels.

So while I got no closer to achieving patience this weekend, I did have a small epiphany about my writing. I love it. I've said that before because I knew I did, even if I didn't feel it. But now I feel it. I can feel the weight of characters, plots, and worlds sitting in my brain, eager to gain access to others in print. I can feel the desire to create, to immerse, to get it right. It's not going anywhere, and I don't want it to. Amazing that it took me so long to really and truly accept writing as a lifelong career into my life. But there it is. And there it will stay. Feels really good. Makes the waiting a little bit easier.

Who am I kidding? No, it doesn't. I'm still as impatient as ever.