Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday Review #46

This isn't going to be a mega-review, but I am going to go a bit outside my normal scope for context.

So, last week, I started a new job and had a cold very nearly turn into bronchitis. Simultaneously.  Good times.

Yeah, I think that about catches us up.

So, last Friday Chris and I set off to go down the shore. We stopped at a hotel in Somers Point, which is just outside Ocean City, and had a decent dinner and heard some great (if too loud) music.

English: Wildwoods sign on the boardwalk in Wi...
English: Wildwoods sign on the boardwalk in Wildwood, New Jersey, taken on Memorial Day 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Saturday we drove into Wildwood and checked into our hotel before wandering the boardwalk. We basically walked the entire length in one direction, stopping here and there to shop or ride some rides, and by the time we got to the other end, we were hungry and found a nice deli for sandwiches. After eating, we played mini golf, then headed to the beach.  It was too cold for swimming, but we waded for a while, then dried off at a nearby beach bar. We then proceeded to shop and ride our way back down the length of the boardwalk; we ended up walking the whole thing, end to end, in both directions. No tram car for us!

We had to run to the store at this point, so we played another round of mini golf while we were out and about. After a shower, we went back to the boardwalk to see the lights and kill our ride card, before finding some dinner.

Sunday, we decided to go to Cape May for lunch. We got there in remarkably good time, and decided to see the alpaca farm for a bit first. I bought more yarn than I probably should have. We then got a great lunch and wandered the shops briefly before heading home and, again, making shockingly good time.

You'd think, having been sick, that all this would be too much, but the combination of the medicine I was on and the sea air really worked wonders. That said, I slept hard Sunday night.

Monday, I volunteered.  Tuesday, we met up with friends to play a little poker. Wednesday, Chris got sick -- I really hope he caught my cold, because I can't handle catching another so soon. Thursday was uneventful, and that brings us to today.

Haven't done much knitting, but thanks to my commute, I've been getting plenty of reading done.  In the last week, I read Silent City, which was pretty good; finally finished The Complete Father Brown Mysteries; and read MachoPoni: A Prance with Death, which is just terrible. Now I'm back to chipping away at Women's Life in Greece and Rome.

So what have you been up to?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What makes you happy? #44

There's quite a few things on this list that shouldn't make me happy but do anyway.

Nitro at Six Flags Great Adventure
Nitro at Six Flags Great Adventure (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I'm going to add another one:

Roller coasters.

I am absolutely terrified of heights. I white-knuckle down escalators. I avoid balconies.

And I do prefer the kind of coaster that launches you over the kind that drops you.

But I just love the ridiculous loops and twists and inversions and, once the g-forces glue me safely to my seat, even the drops.

(And besides, even the most heart-pounding coaster is still significantly safer than the drive to the amusement park.)

What's your favorite coaster?

Note: while researching for this article, I found out that the Nitro recently broke down and riders had to walk down from the highest point. I have to admit, that would put me off coasters for life. My best to all those involved.

Monday, August 25, 2014

I Don't Know What I Want... Chapter 10, Part 2

I Don't Know What I Want, But I Know It's Not This

By Julie Jansen 


Chapter 10: One Toe in the Retirement Pool

So, potential retirees, today we look at:

Step 2: Exploring Roadblocks and Opportunities

Are your finances in a good place for you to retire? When you calculate this, assume that Social Security won't cover everything, you'll live longer than average, and inflation will affect all your expenses; on the flip side, remember that your investments will stay invested until you sell them, so any of your money which is working for you will continue to do so. If you don't want to crunch the numbers yourself, consider hiring a financial planner.

Where do you want to live when you retire? Do you want to stay put? Move to someplace with a lower cost of living? Better climate? Senior-friendly community? Be sure to inspect your destination thoroughly, including staying there for a while if you haven't yet. Everything from the weather to the hospitals to the community centers are important.

Do you want to work at all once you're retired? It might be a good way to keep busy, meet people, and extend your retirement savings. Or, you can look at it as a low-risk way to try something new, like starting a business.

In any event, be sure you plan your retirement with the same thoughtfulness you'd plan a job search.

Next time? You guessed it! Action plan!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Pocket Muse #6

The next prompt involves people I know, which I'm not doing on a public forum. The following is vague, but we might be able to work with it:
Cover of "The Pocket Muse"
Cover of The Pocket Muse
"It all means little, all the painting, sculpture, drawing, writing... it all has its place and nothing more. An attempt is everything. How marvelous!" -- Alberto Giacometti

Make the attempt.

In On Writing, Stephen King says that, as a kid submitting stories to sci-fi and fantasy magazines, he would collect his rejection letters on an old railroad spike. Rejections with feedback were especially valuable, because it meant that the editor had actually read the thing, that the story had potential.

There's a product out there -- I first saw it in a SkyMall catalog, but I know they sell it in legitimate stores, too. It's a combination picture frame/storage box, and it's mostly for young kids' art -- they draw a picture, you put it in the frame, and the old art stays together.

I like the idea of getting one of these to display rejection letters. In my workspace, I could frame and archive each bit of feedback as I get it.

There are problems with this, of course.  For one thing, I've submitted all of one piece. And the editors are people I know, so I'm nervous about the selection process: will they be too nice and let me in if I don't deserve it? Will they be too harsh in order to prevent just this kind of favoritism?  And I'm insecure by nature, so even if these folks are 100% even-handed (which I have no doubt they will make every effort to be), I'll always wonder, whether I make it or not: was I good enough?

Which is the key, isn't it? Was I good enough? Not: was my story good enough? To say nothing of: was my story good enough quality-wise, but a little too long/quirky/domestic/etc. for what they had in mind?

Stephen King also had the benefit of established sci-fi/fanstasy magazines. I can't even think of any; any I might have heard of have long since shut down. Who even publishes short fiction, these days, anyway?

Not to mention that the few bits of short fiction I've written have been distilled from long-form drafts, and I miss all the details, backstory, and worldbuilding a novel allows.

But even if there was an establishment, it would be The Establishment. The grand old man who gropes a female colleague. The boys club that thinks female fans can't possibly be real fans. The guys who came up with the Open-Source Boobs Project. Ugh.

And I'm not one for cons, anyway. I don't thrive in crowds of strangers.

I mean, Octavia Butler was a classy lady whom I've had the privilege to meet (and the horror of hitting with my backpack). I love everything Mary Doria Russell has written, and suggest you drop what you're doing and read The Sparrow right now. And I kind of have a girl-crush on Ursula Vernon. So it's not entirely creepy white men.

Ah, but those ladies are geniuses. I just poke concepts with sticks until someone yells at me to write a plot, already.

We'll know soon enough what happens when I attempt a plot, attempt a submission.  We'll see.

Tell me about an attempt you made.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Jim Henson's Muppet Babies: A Table for One Can Be Fun!

So while Chris was away on business, I found myself at a restaurant by myself. This is not a big deal for me, but as I was leaving, a song popped into my head that I haven't thought about, much less heard, in at least 25 years.

Could be the introverts' theme song, couldn't it?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What Makes You Happy? #43

This is my 250th post here at the Great Niche Adventure.
Fireworks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know I don't have a ton of readers, but I want to thank each and every one of you. And if you like anything you read, I'm not above asking you to link to it on your social media platform of choice.

So, I shall do both of those things.

Thank you so much for reading. If you're enjoying it, please post links to what you like on your Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, etc.

I look forward to thanking you again when we hit 500!

Monday, August 18, 2014

I Don't Know What I Want... Chapter 10

I Don't Know What I Want, But I Know It's Not This

By Julie Jansen 


Chapter 10: One Toe in the Retirement Pool

 Now, this chapter is for folks who are ready to retire, so I don't think this is going to apply to many of you, but I can think of a few people who might be reading this, who may not find this chapter all that useful but who know plenty of people who would.

Plus, it's not like I can just skip the chapter.  

So let's do this!

The first thing Jansen wants us to do in this chapter is to consider why it is we might want to retire. Is it just time? Did your spouse or partner retire? Do you want to get out while you still have your health? Are you in a good place financially? Do you need the time to devote to family? Do you want the time to devote to hobbies or passions?

Well, you know what comes now:

Step 1: Complete the "One Toe in the Retirement Pool" Self-Assessment

As always, we start by reviewing previous self-assessments; in this case, our values, interests, and skills. But this time, we are supposed to think about which of them we'd like to get involved with when we retire. If we could do anything in the world during retirement, what would it be?

Oh, for me, I would travel, but give myself more time in the great cities so that I could do them thoroughly rather than rushing on to the next thing. You can't write in the garden if you have to hit 17 more museums before Thursday.

Now, think about your expectations for retirement. Did you always plan to retire at a certain age? Why? Have you talked to a financial planner about retiring? Why not? Is your will and other paperwork up to date? Have you weighed the pros and cons of retiring? What will your lifestyle be like? Have you discussed all this with your spouse/partner/family? If so, what are their thoughts? If not, when will you? Have you talked to someone who has retired recently about their experiences?

Next time? Roadblocks!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What makes you happy? #42

I don't actually know why this one makes me happy.
English: Wildwoods sign on the boardwalk in Wi...
English: Wildwoods sign on the boardwalk in Wildwood, New Jersey, taken on Memorial Day 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most of the things that make me happy are quiet, intimate, contemplative, controlled.

But I love a good boardwalk.

When I was kid, we'd go to Wildwood, or to a lesser extent, Ocean City. I haven't been to either in ages, but I've been to Atlantic City and Santa Monica Pier, both of which capture some of the feeling in different ways. You can even get a taste of it -- but just a taste -- at Disney's Boardwalk or the Midway at Six Flags.

It shouldn't make me happy, I freely admit that. It's crowded and loud, I feel extremely self-conscious, I'm very susceptible to sunburn, I don't trust the coasters not to break down, the food isn't that good, the stores are tacky sometimes to the point of offensiveness, and I wasn't into the party culture even when I was young enough to fit in with it.

But I love it. The boards and the sand and the ocean, the fudge and the $2 slices, the carnival barkers, the way the rides light up at night, the tram cars...

That's just summer.

Monday, August 11, 2014

I Don't Know What I Want... Chapter 9, Part 4

I Don't Know What I Want, But I Know It's Not This

By Julie Jansen 


Chapter 9: Yearning to Be on Your Own

All right, potential entrepreneurs, now that we've looked over the roadblocks and obstacles, let's..

Step 3: Create an Action Plan

First, write a vision statement. How do you define success? What makes your business unique?

Then, you'll write a business plan. This is a necessary step when you apply for funding. You'll need:
  • A company overview. Projections of your progress, the type of business you're running, the structure of the company, your tax situation, your legal requirements, and your insurance needs are all part of this.
  • An executive summary. A snappy overview of your company, this should discuss your market, your product or service, your target clients, your strategy, your management, and your finances. Consider writing it last, even though the book lists it second (I guess it goes second in the packet once you're done).
  • A marketing plan. How, exactly, do you plan to make money? What are you selling, to whom, where, for how much? Who is the competition? How are you promoting yourself? How are you keeping clients happy?
  • A management plan. How are you spending the money you make? How are you structuring and operating your business? What's your business's name? What equipment, utilities, inventory will you need? Do you need employees? What kind, how many, how much will you pay them? What kind of records will you keep and how will you keep them?
  • A financial plan. How much will it cost to open, and where will you get it? Detail every single cost. How soon will your business break even?
Jansen then lists a 26-item checklist of things to so when starting your new business. I'm pretty sure copying it goes beyond fair use, but since I'm pretending you're actually reading along with me, I'm going to refer you to the list itself (page 176 in my edition).

But once you go through the list, you'll be well on your way to a new business! And next time, I'l be well on my way to Chapter 10!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Friday Review #45

Oof, it's been a long time since I've done one of these. I'm not even gong to try to catch you up with everything I've been up to. It's time to go back to focusing on the last week.

Last weekend, we visited a friend whose family has a house in the Hamptons.  It was a lovely, relaxing weekend (except for the part when I slipped on some slippery patio stairs, but don't worry, I'm ok!), and we got to see Guardians of the Galaxy.

...And that's pretty much it. It's been a slow week. I've mostly been trying to keep on top of everyday stuff and planning for future weekends.

I have been working on my sweater, though. I'm kind of hating the bind-off, so it's slow going; I also picked a little at my twisty scarf.

Writing in the 18th century, Mary Wollstonecra...
Writing in the 18th century, Mary Wollstonecraft is often hailed as the founder of liberal feminism. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In reading news, I'm studying away at the The Chicago Manual of Style, and reading The Complete Father Brown Mysteries. I finished Maria, or The Wrongs of Woman. And I need to start the next book club book, which I suppose I will tell you about next week.

What have you been up to?