Friday, October 30, 2015

Weekend Reading: The Where Did That Week Go Edition

It has finally happened- a week has gone by with no posts. I think I only have one more week of my hectic work schedule, so hopefully I'll be writing more posts, soon.

Here is part of what I've been busy with: Missed Chances, the first Annorlunda Books Taster Flight, is now available on Amazon. Since the stories in this book are public domain, Amazon wouldn't let me do a pre-order period, and the only way to find out whether they'd accept the book for publication was to just publish it. So the ebook version is live. The print version will come out next Wednesday, and the other ebook versions (, Kobo, and iBooks) are in process now. I had originally planned to test out KDP Select with this book, which would have made it an Amazon exclusive, but they won't take public domain stories into KDP Select, so I'll list the book everywhere I can.

You can still get a free copy of this book, though- if you sign up for the Tungsten Hippo Weekly Digest by Sunday at 8 a.m., you'll get a copy. If you want to read this book but don't want to be on the Tungsten Hippo mailing list, I am also recruiting some advance readers here. Advance readers will get their copies over the weekend or early next week.

So... since links are all I'm posting these days, lets get on to the links!

The Bikini Islanders are looking for help resettling in the US, since the island we resettled them too after using their atoll for nuclear testing is now threatened by rising sea levels.

I am absolutely horrified by this story. Student records should never be made public like this.

The story of the little village that stopped the spread of the plague in the 1600s is a little gruesome, but I'd love to visit the village.

Have you seen Wordnik? I could see losing a lot of time on this site.

Sophia Benoit's suggestions for things women's magazines should write about is pretty amusing.

I bookmarked two Stochastic Planet photos this week: the beautiful and the funny.

And that's all I have for the week. I haven't been out and about on the internet as much as usual because I was so busy. I also haven't been commenting on people's blogs as much as usual. I am still reading! I'm just more likely to be reading on my phone while waiting for someone to go to sleep, and I am too old to write comments on the touch keypads on phones.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Weekend Reading: The I Wish I'd Read More Things Edition

I want to start this week's post by saying that I am thinking of the folks facing Hurricane Patricia, and hoping that they'll all make it through OK. The same El Niño conditions that have made the water at our beaches unusually warm and that promise to bring us some much needed rain this winter are making this a terrible storm. I hope we don't wake up to read about a disaster tomorrow.

Now, to the links.

One of the reviews of Unspotted that I was waiting for came in, and I couldn't be happier with the result. The wildlife biologists at Dispatches from the Field loved Unspotted.

In other publishing related news, we're running a GoodReads giveaway for Okay, So Look- go enter if you are so inclined.

Still talking about books and reading... over at The Atlantic, James Fallow wrote about reading on a screen vs. in print, and he got a couple of really smart notes back from his readers. Whenever I see the handwringing about on screen reading, I always wonder if there were similar debates when the written word moved to books from scrolls. I also think about the fact that it is fairly well understood that the switch to writing stories from the oral tradition had an impact on our language and our brains, and wonder why no one is advocating we go back to memorizing all of our stories and transmitting them orally.

You can thank Bad Mom, Good Mom for that last link, and also the next two, about the return of the novella and the problem of what to call a non-fiction "novella." I really wish I had a good answer for that last one. It would make my emails to potential reviewers much easier to write.

Bad Mom, Good Mom writes a lot of good, thought-provoking posts, and posts cool pictures of her sewing projects. Go check out her recent post on why the future of diesel engines matters for a taste.

I'm glad the compounding pharmacies will be able to offer competition for the medicine that Martin Shkreli jacked up the price on... but I'd still rather we solve the underlying problem instead of using this work around. As a consumer, I'd rather take a medicine produced under a validated manufacturing process with a validated quality control system than have to rely on a compounding pharmacy. That's not to impune the work of pharmacists at compounding pharmacies. It is just to say that when you can have a repeatable process and quality control, it is nice to have those things and it seems silly to have to give them up just because some finance guys want to be a**holes.

The title of this is too good to change: Why Angry Old Men Calling a Meeting to Yell at a Woman Is Always a Spectacular Failure.

On the falling number of working women in the US.

Apparently some big news site decided to poll its readers about whether they would go back in time to kill baby Hitler, and the internet spent a good part of the day talking about that. The best response I saw was someone who linked to this cartoon.

That's all I have. I saved a lot of other interesting looking things to read, but I didn't get to read them. So let's end with some happy stuff. This is all sorts of awesome:

And this is really funny:

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Updates, Even Though Events Don't Warrant

I dropped my phone on Monday. This is nothing new. I drop my phone all the time. I'm a klutz. This time, though, I dropped it on the concrete sidewalk and it fell in such a way that the bumper I had on it did no good, and the screen cracked.

So, I'm sitting here waiting for my new phone to finish configuring itself, and I thought I'd write a quick update post.

Item 1: The first day of the October session of my Better Projects class was today. I thought the class went well. I am always really energized and happy after I finish giving a class. I suspect this tells me something about what I should focus on in my consulting business. I'm not yet sure what I'm going to do with that message, though.

Item 2: This has pushed me closer to deciding to offer an online version of the Navigating the Path to Industry seminar I've given a couple of times in my local area. Exact timing, pricing, and other details are still to be determined, but if you want to be sure to hear about the seminar if I decide to offer it, enter your email address on this form.

I'll be honest: the number of response on that form will influence my decision about whether to offer the class, because I'm human and I like money.

Item 3: Today, I finished assembling the text and images for the next Annorlunda Books release, which will be called Missed Chances: Short Love Stories with a Hint of What Might Have Been. I still have quite a bit of work to do before it is ready for release, which is a shame, because I'm targeting November 3 for a release date. I think I'll make it, at least for the ebook format. I'll make it for the print book format only if I don't have to order a second proof- i.e., if there are no major mistakes in the first proof I order. Right now, I have a solid potential interior file for my proof uploaded, but no cover (that's coming later this week or over the weekend). I am 75% of the way through converting my file from the Word document needed to make a print version to the HTML document needed to create the ebook. So, not bad, but a lot of fiddly bits left to do.

Last night, I finished reading through a print out of the book, and was reminded that I really like the stories I picked for this collection. They are five public domain stories- so all old. (To be in the public domain, their authors have to have been dead for at least 75 years.) But they are all really good, and I think the book is fun to read. The stories I chose are:

  • Aunt Philippa and the Men, by L.M. Montgomery
  • The Kiss, by Kate Chopin
  • The Victory, by Rabindranath Tagore
  • The Mystery of Wilhem Rütter, by Helen Hunt Jackson
  • A Florentine Experiment, by Constance Fenimore Woolson
Since they are public domain stories, you could go read them individually elsewhere. But they are not collected into a single convenient volume anywhere else!

Item 4: My kids have their Halloween costumes. They will be Tinkerbell and Cleopatra. Petunia wants to be Tinkerbell because she got a large light up Tinkerbell wand at Disneyland and she wants to take it trick-or-treating. Pumpkin wants to be Cleopatra because she read a biography about Cleopatra and really got interested in Cleopatra. She has been saying she wants to be Cleopatra for Halloween since summer, at least.

Item 5: I have made zero progress on packing things up in the old office/guest room (a.k.a. Petunia's future bedroom). This is a problem, because we were sort of planning to paint it this weekend. I should set myself a goal of getting my shelves cleared off tonight. 

This means that I should stop using the ongoing phone set up as an excuse to goof around on the internet and get back to some sort of work- either finishing up the items on my work list for the day or packing those shelves.

More updates will no doubt be forthcoming in the future, even though events probably still won't warrant them.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Just Keep Making Progress

Our home renovation is almost complete. The new room is done and painted, and our desks are in there (although not in their final arrangement.) The fancy barn door into the office is up, and half painted. We like the colors we chose. The expanded living room is awesome. The removal of a built in bookcase inbetween the living room and the kitchen/dining area has opened the space up even more, and I'm still amazed by how spacious our common living area feels now.

The new patio we had to get due to some drainage issues is great, too. It will be really nice once we get some furniture for it and it will be even nicer once we come up with the money to put up a pergola or something to give it some shade. However, the new room provides some shade, so I think the patio will be really nice even as it is.

Of course, there is a lot left to do. Our garage is still a mess. The walls are painted, but the skirting boards are not- that is on Mr. Snarky's list for today, actually. He's gotten some shelves back up, but we haven't put our big floor to ceiling shelves back where they belong, so the garage is currently not functional as anything except a storage area.

Yesterday, we moved the piano and Mr. Snarky's desk out of what used to be our office/guest room and will eventually be Petunia's room. When we moved the desk out, we found some mold on the wall behind it. This is not completely surprising: we had a problem with mold growing on some outside walls back before we added insulation to our walls. I cleaned the mold off the walls, and started the process of de-molding the bottom of Mr. Snarky's desk drawers. As we surveyed the walls in that room, though, it was impossible to avoid the conclusion that the room needs to be painted. Hooray. More work.

Before we can paint, we need to finish boxing up the things in that room. Mr. Snarky has a ton of CDs, and they need to be boxed, and the shelves moved out of the closet. I had some shelves on the wall that need to come down, so I need to find a place to put the things on those shelves.

You'd think the obvious answer to that last problem would be: on the shelves in the new office. But we don't have shelves in the office yet. We're going to buy the Ivar shelves from Ikea and paint them. That is the best solution we can find that we can also afford- the overall renovation project has been quite expensive, to the point that the $3000+ cost of getting custom shelves is not feasible, and we have been unable to find any non-custom shelves we both like other than Ivar (if painted).

And the list goes on. I won't bore you with the rest of it. There's just a lot to do. I have given up on having a firm goal for when everything will be done. My new goal is that we just keep making progress- certainly every weekend, and sometimes during the week, too. I guess this is an example of matching the project management methods to the team and the project. There are just too many surprise additions to our to do list to be able to have a firm schedule for this project. But we do need to keep pushing to get it done, so we have defined an overall workflow and set firm intermediate goals for ourselves.

I have taken the "just keep making progress" mindset into my business work, too. at least a bit. There, I have more firm deadlines for myself. But those are all intermediate goals, really. My current push is to finish the book I will giveaway as part of my Tungsten Hippo birthday celebration. (I'll post it for sale, too, of course.) I will also be giving my Better Projects class starting this Wednesday, and I have a new book submission to write editorial comments on. I'm toying with the idea of taking the talk about job searching that I have given a couple of times in person and turning it into a seminar I could deliver online. I need to make a decision about whether to do that soon. I've decided I want paperback versions of my books to be available at, so I need to work on that. And this list goes on and on, too.

In this case, the long term goal is "build a sustainable business." That is a bit daunting, even more daunting than "finish the home renovations." The intermediate goals are a lot less scary, so I focus on them. I am beginning to think that is the secret to starting a company. Yes, I need to think about long term strategy and the like, but that is just words and aspirations. The real progress comes when I translate those aspirations into concrete, short term projects, and then complete those projects.

And with that in mind, my morning tea is done, and it is time to get to work on the real to do list for the day. Up first: finishing the ebook text and converting it into HTML for the ebook.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Weekend Reading: The Great Week, Great Links Edition

This has been an eventful week for me. I found out that I do indeed have a contract that will pay me some money next year, allowing me to continue my weird collage approach to my career for at least one more year. Hooray!

Okay, So Look came out Wednesday, and it has been doing great. Thank you to all who bought it and helped spread the word. It is currently the #1 bestseller in the Religious Humor category, which downright delights me.

See, I told you that people really like this book once they try it! 

It also got a nice review in The Friendly Atheist, so now there is a good review from a rabbi (quoted on the Annorlunda Books page) and an atheist, which is also pretty awesome.

I wish I could say that Unspotted was doing as well, but it hasn't found its audience yet. There are some ads I'd like to run for it, but they require at least 5 reviews on Amazon, and Unspotted is stuck at 3. If you've read it and would be willing to review it on Amazon, that would be a big help.

Finally, enrollment in my Better Projects Through Better Planning class closes Monday. If you've been procrastinating on signing up, now is the time to do it! I spent 1.5 hours today listening to the recording of the first class from last time and while that helped me make some improvements to my slides for this time, it also made me squirm to listen to my own voice for that long. Ugh.

Anyhow, how about some links?

This is an amazing story- Matt Bors and Martin Shkreli.

This rewriting of famous quotes into the type of language women have to use to avoid being seen as "aggressive" or "angry" in meetings is exagerrated but not by much. The "Let my people go" one in particular made me lolsob.

Speaking of lolsobbing:


Here is a horrifying story about how women's pain is taken less seriously. Given that we also know that we also know that Black children are less likely to get pain medication, I can only assume that pain felt by women of color is taken even less seriously than pain felt by white women. 

Horrifying in a different way: this story about data being used to implicate a man in an unsolved crime (he was later exonerated). Here's another worrying story about someone using the 23andMe API to create an app that could restrict access to websites based on race. Note that this seems to have been a "white hat" demonstation project, but still... it gives you pause, doesn't it? And just when they seemed to be moving past their troubles with the FDA.

I caught up with the History of the English Language podcast and have had to go looking for new podcasts to keep my commutes happy while I wait for new episodes. I have two new favorite podcasts:

And your chuckle to end with: pirate cat.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Another Big Release Day

It is time for another Annorlunda Books release day post!

Today is release day for Okay, So Look, a humorous novella-length retelling of the Book of Genesis by Micah Edwards.

I suspect you're skeptical of this book. I was, too, when it first landed in my inbox. But I really enjoyed reading it- and I learned a lot about the Book of Genesis from reading it, so I knew I had to publish it. Everybody I've handed the book to has had that same skeptical look in their eyes, followed by the same "hey, this was a lot of fun to read!" reaction.

As the author says: "The Bible's full of fantastic stories, and it's a shame so many people miss out on them because they've heard that the book is just a collection of boring lessons sandwiched between tedious lists of begats. Nothing could be further from the truth! It's a collection of entertaining, bizzare and colorful stories sandwiched between tedious lists of begats."

Reviews are starting to come in.

If you're curious about the book, you can read a short excerpt on the Annorlunda Books website.

If you're ready to buy, all the links are on the Annorlunda Books page, but for your convenience, I'll put them here, too:

You can also read it via a subscription service or your library (if they buy it!)
  • Overdrive (one way your library can buy the ebook. It will also be in Baker and Taylor, or they can buy direct from Smashwords)
  • Oyster (a service now slated to sunset in January- but you can still read books if you're already a subscriber)
  • Scribd
It is obviously my pick of the week over atTungsten Hippo. If you're inclined to help me spread the word about this book, here are some ways you could help:
As always, I am extremely grateful for any help you feel like giving me, and for the fact that you reas this blog. The end of the super busy period I created for myself is now in sight, so I hope to be back to writing more substantive posts soon.  

Friday, October 09, 2015

Weekend Reading: The Still Really Busy Edition

I'm entering the home stretch on the super busy period... Okay, So Look comes out next week (but you can pre-order now!) and the early bird registration period for my "project management for non-project managers who still need to get sh** done" class ends tonight.

I've also got almost all of the pieces for my next book project assembled- it will be a collection of public domain short stories, and will be an Amazon-only ebook (I'll probably post somewhere about why, but the short version is that the alternate "go wide" strategy isn't as easy to pursue with a book built from works in the public domain). However, I'll give a free copy in MOBI, ePub, or PDF format to everyone on my Tungsten Hippo weekly digest mailing list by the end of October. Pushing to release the next book so soon after Okay, So Look comes out is a bit... intense. But it makes sense so that I could tie it in with my Tungsten Hippo birthday celebration. Also, if I don't release things, people can't buy them, and if people don't buy things, I'll have to go back to having a regular job.

Anyway, all of that is to say that I should be writing more "real" posts here soon. I miss it!

In the meantime, here are the links I have for you this week:

On getting your research topic explained to you by a less knowledgeable man. Which reminds me of these tweets from @ClaraJeffery:

Speaking of Clara Jeffery, the story of the billionaire who sued Mother Jones is chilling. I mean the good guys won, in the end, but what a fight.

This essay about lockdown drills makes my heart hurt. I want to cry every time my kids tell me about the drills at their school. How do we keep deciding that the best answer we can come up with for the problem of school shootings is to make our kids practice hiding from "bad guys" in their school?

Mother Jones published a very good story about threat assessment teams that try to prevent these tragedies. If we had any sense we'd make guns harder to get, too, as the experts in the article agree.

On a more hopeful front: if the preliminary results for Lemtrada hold true in the full data set, there is potentially some very good news for MS patients on the horizon. I expect there will be a lot of discussion about the price of this drug, though. I'm sure it will be expensive, and even cures cause controversy when they're expensive, as the debate about Sovaldi shows.

While we're talking about the drug discovery business, Derek Lowe has a good discussion of the problems with the Valeant business model.

I heartily approve of Laura Vanderkam's daughter's taste in picture books!

And, speaking of princesses, this is obviously a product of the impressive Disney PR machine... but hooray for the girl who is the voice of Moana. I'm really looking forward to seeing that movie, to be honest.

The niqabs of Canada is an awesome tumblr.

Some fodder for the next time you need to show someone that correlation does not equal causation.

Some cool shirts for kids. (Thanks to the twitter friend who sent this to me... apologies for not remembering which of you it was!)

This is a really cool thing:

I have to link to this xkcd cartoon rather than embed it because the mouse-over is the best part.

And finally, one more closing laugh, courtesy of my pun-loving husband.

Monday, October 05, 2015

A Cautionary Tale for People with Allergies Married to People without Allergies

We spent the weekend at Disneyland, celebrating Petunia's sixth birthday. We all had fun, and Petunia was thrilled to get to wear the "It's my birthday" badge and have everyone wish her happy birthday. But, as much fun as the trip was, I think it would make a boring blog post, so I'm not going
to write about it.
On our way to meet Minnie Mouse.

Instead, I give you this actual dialog between Mr. Snarky and me last night, about two hours after we got home:

Me (blowing nose for the gazillionth time since getting home): I don't understand why my nose is so runny! It wasn't like this in Disneyland. Maybe I'm allergic to our house.

Him: Well... that bush* is still in the green bins in the garage. Maybe I shouldn't have propped the garage door open.


Him: Well, the bins don't go out until Tuesday.

Me: And they couldn't have just stayed in the back yard????

Him: But we always keep them in the garage.

Me, suddenly understanding why I was using my inhaler more than usual last week: SO? (Blows nose again. And again.)

End scene.

In the next scene, I plug in my air filter and turn it on high and take two Benadryl before going to bed.

My husband would never hurt me on purpose, but sometimes I think he might send me to the hospital by accident. He has no real allergies and sometimes forgets how sick the things I'm allergic to can make me.

*This is the bush that I used to make him trim as soon as it showed signs of flowering, because I am extremely allergic to it. It was in the way of the new patio we're getting, so he dug it up. And then left it in the garage, apparently.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Weekend Reading: The Short and Early Edition

Today is Petunia's birthday, and I'm quitting early to spend time with her. So this post will go up early, and will be shorter than usual.

I'm also not going to focus much on the horrible events in Oregon yesterday. This post, from just a little over a month ago, about another horrible shooting, still stands. As I said on Twitter yesterday, I think that the people on the other side of this debate view mass shootings in a fundamentally different way than I do. I do not think there will ever be a shooting that is the "last straw" and magically changes their minds. If we want to do something about guns, we have to speak up politically and drown them out at the ballot box- because the extremists are a minority, even among gun owners. If you've recently decided to get involved and speak up, don't forget about state level legislation. In many ways, that is where the action is at right now.

And that's all I want to say on that.

This post about working mothers and what happens when child care arrangements fall through is beautifully written. Go read it.

If I'm being charitable, I'd say a bunch of CEOs think they're working on gender equality and aren't being very effective. If I'm being realistic, I'd say that a bunch of CEOs are paying lip service to gender equality and actually don't care about it all.

Petunia's isn't the only birthday in my life this week. Tungsten Hippo turns two, and I'm giving away free ebooks to celebrate. Tell all your friends!

I don't usually link to my real name stuff here, but I think more people would benefit from reading this week's post, which is about using visualization to deal with performance problems. Also, if you're planning to enroll in this month's session of the Better Projects Through Better Planning class, you only have one week of early bird pricing left. I do not plan to give this class again until next summer at the earliest.

I really liked this post from Kameron Hurley: Your Work Matters.

Oooh... a non-Disney movie to try with Petunia! (Also, welcome back to blogging, Anandi!)

I love Stochastic Planet because sometimes it shows me pictures like this one.