Made the first cut

Some of you will remember that I entered a book manuscript in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition a few weeks ago. The first cut was announced today, and my work is still in the running. The number of entries has now been reduced to 1000, and the next cut, to 500, will be announced in about a month. Making that next cut means at the very least you get an evaluation from reviewers at Publishers Weekly.

Spinning study group had its monthly meeting this afternoon, where I found myself coaching others on spinning cotton. This might seem odd, but most spinners begin by learning to spin wool. From there they branch out into other animal fibers such as alpaca, mohair (goat,) llama, etc. Cotton requires techniques that are almost contrary to those used for the animal wools, and it's often a difficult transition for a beginner. I had considerable trouble with it myself three years ago, but managed to break through and now find that I enjoy spinning cotton just as much as I like wool. This has made me a sort of evangelist of the vegetable fibers or something like that.

In other news, the 2010 edition of the Furry Survey is out, with all the same defects it has always had, but probably still a good idea to register your inclinations and opinions.

survey banner

How to roast a ground hog

I think it's time we dethroned the whistle pig from his phony position as weather predictor. It's been snowing all afternoon, the roads were drifted badly coming home, and now the temperature is dropping to single digits again.

I'm trying to ply some very finely spun cotton that I did and not having the greatest of luck. Snarls and tangles galore. There must be a better way to manage it, and I'm going to have to find what it is.

That's about all the news there is today. It's a Wednesday, and you can tell.
Miktar's plushie

Microwave failure

Microwaves have weird failure modes. Our old Sharp has been working for a long time (more than 13 years I'm sure) but in the last year the light inside has been erratic. Sometimes would come on, sometimes not. Sunday morning as I was making breakfast, though, something else failed in a more spectacular mode. I had put some butter in there to melt for the pancake batter only to hear a buzzing sound like a chainsaw when it started up. I hit STOP immediately and opened it to look. The inside was full of smoke.

Apparently something that diffuses the microwave beam had failed. There's a square of some fibrous material in the wall of most microwaves that covers the mouth of the waveguide. We now had a rectangular hole about a quarter inch across burned in that stuff. I don't know enough to mess with the innards of one of these, and getting it wrong could be really dangerous. Likewise, finding someone to repair it would have cost more than what we spent to buy it years ago. So I looked around online to see what could be found locally, and we went to Sam's Club in Crystal Lake to get a new one for $170 or so.

Now we have to figure out what to do with the dead one. I'm reluctant to put it out for trash pickup for fear someone will take it and try to use it. I'm quite confident it is not safe to use any more. I guess it will have to sit here until the county has one of those hazardous materials collection days.
nosy tess


Once again the NWS overestimates the power of a storm by an order of magnitude it seems. Their dire storm that was supposed to produce 8 - 12 inches of snow overnight barely made it to three. I could have used a snow day, too.

The light coating of snow was perhaps wetter and heavier than it looked, but doesn't explain why UPS also failed to deliver a shipment that was supposed to be here today by both their own and the shipper's estimate. They had it "out for delivery" this morning from Dekalb, which usually means delivery that day. This evening it is "in transit to final destination" and still hasn't reached us.

In order to make eggplant parmesan for dinner today as promised, I needed more mozzarella so I stopped at the grocery in Harvard right after work. This is a good sized independently owned supermarket that has been in town for decades. At 5:15 in the evening their store was nearly empty. No cashiers on duty and the only operating cash register was at the customer service counter. Judging by what I see repeatedly around here, the "recession" is far from over.

Beer bread!

No Knead Beer BreadI declare the bread a success. Here's a photo of the loaf as it came from the oven. It has a real "crackling" crust, the kind that makes crackling sounds as it cools and is hard enough to shatter. The inside is chewy like sourdough. Very good, and quite easy. The only hitch is the long rising time (20 hours total.)

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Since the oven was already hot, I made a pizza too. Everything Pizza Home made whole wheat crust with three cheeses, tomato, onion, green pepper, anchovies, mushrooms, pepperoni. Nice and tasty.

And it's snowing. Hard and fast, and right on schedule. Just maybe this storm will live up to the prediction, which means 8 inches by tomorrow morning and more during the day. Oh, and artwork happened (well sketch for same at least) while the bread was baking. Argos will have the news on that, at least as soon as he puts it up.

Bread experiment

Attempting to reconstruct an excellent bread recipe that we have somehow misplaced. This is a "no-knead" dough. It rises at room temperature overnight, is shaped with very light kneading and rises again, then is baked inside a closed container such as a cast iron Dutch oven. Very easy, though I recommend a scale to weigh flour rather than measuring it by volume.

Recipe and photo tomorrow if it succeeds.

We did get about a half inch of snow last night, which was within the predicted range. Warm enough today to turn everything slushy. Tomorrow evening though, another big storm is supposed to hit. Now they're up to a 12 inch prediction, which makes it start to sound like another overly dramatized dud.

No art today due to cold symptoms that caused me to sleep much of the afternoon, but maybe tomorrow (or the middle of the night if I now find I can't sleep.)
running clyde

Isn't this where I came in?

A 5-10 inch snow accumulation predicted for Sunday night. Isn't it nearly March?

One person with a vacation day at work, and another went home sick at lunchtime. I haven't worked such a long desk shift (without ever sitting down) in a couple of years. Ow. Yeah, I know, I'm spoiled.

That and not enough sleep last night are too much. I was going to paint or weave or something tonight, but I think whatever I try I'll fall asleep doing it. ;p
angry rearing

Insanity in America

It's a rampant disease that seems to strike primarily among the far right. Following the example of Timothy McVeigh, another lunatic has attacked a building in Texas. He did it by flying his private plane into the building kamikazi style, apparently because IRS offices were located there. *shakes head* Teabaggers are loonies. Too bad his name wasn't Muhammad or something so the right could blame him as an "Islamic terrorist."

Gasoline prices are once again behaving irrationally in this area. After a couple of months of wild fluctuations and absurd differences of as much as 21 cents/gallon between neighboring towns, today they are all the same. Literally, down to the last tenth of a cent. In order for this to happen, Harvard prices had to come down by 6 cents during the week, while Marengo prices went up by 12. There is no way to explain this by market or futures fluctuation, because those go only one way at a time. I suspect the price was fixed by mandate from the oil companies somehow.

Weather here was so warm today that puddles were forming on top of the old snow. This included puddles in front of Dutch doors on the barn where the horses go in and out. Sure enough, the water was drawn up between the bottom door and the sill where it froze, making it very difficult to open those to let the boys in this evening. I expect the same problem in the morning letting them out.

We are not, however, having the kind of flooding we had two years ago. That was fueled by record snow accumulations that melted all at once. This has been a repeated thaw and freeze that is ruining road surfaces but leaves our land relatively dry.

Found myself doing art memes on DA. Huh. I haven't done that sort of thing since... jeez... high school I think. Hope I'm not regressing already.

It's Wednesday again

Bah, humbug to Wednesdays. Now that there's only an hour or so until closing, things are starting to slow down. Thank goodness.

I'm rather surprised at the reception my artwork has received on both SF and DA. I'd almost be inclined to say that it's not worth writing when you can be so popular by doing art. Art is faster, too. I could do a traditional painting every two or three days. Writing a very short story and getting it to where I'd let anyone see it takes more like a week. A novella is a couple of months, a serious novel might be a year or more.

FA is quite a different story, though. To get noticed there, you have to do not just art, but porn, it seems. Oh, there are a few exceptions, but most of them do a fair percentage of erotica as well and their followers take the non-yiff art in along with it. Writing is hopelessly irrelevant on FA, as I've noted before.

In any case, I'm off the edge now. I have several more picture ideas in my head that are going to have to get onto paper to make room in there for writing. Oddly enough and at least so far, I have not been inclined to draw my own characters or scenes from my writing.

Flat pony

Good thing it's a short week. On the other hoof, the reason I need it to be a short week is because today had two day's worth of work to do in one day. Somehow the tradeoff doesn't seem worth it. And on top of that, tomorrow is Wednesday.

I wanna go to bed now, but if I do I'll wake up at 3 am. No good.

Oddly enough, my rather amateurish artwork is now getting faved at SoFurry, where my high quality stories are ignored. The art is no more pr0n than the stories are. Hard to figure.

Yawn~~ C'mon, gotta stay awake and do some laundry at least. I'm nearly out of clean socks. ;p
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