Monthly Archives: August 2009

Absolutely, Positively, No.

I am not doing NaNoWriMo this year. Too busy, too much going on at work. The fact that I have come up with a terrific idea for a NaNo novel – breezy, fast-paced, completely outlandish storyline – will not sway me. I will simply write consistently. Calmly. Without drama. I will set a daily writing goal for myself, and meet it with aplomb.

My daily writing goal (other than times like RIGHT NOW when I need to finish my treatise chapter)? I’m usually happy with 500 words a day. But perhaps I’ll be a little more ambitious come autumn, and by November, my daily goal will be, oh, I don’t know, perhaps 1,667 words.

That seems like a nice, round number, doesn’t it?



Goodreads? So Far, Meh.

I signed up for tonight because of a tweet from UChicagoMag alerting me to a giveaway of my former Hyde Park neighbor Sara Paretsky‘s new V.I. Warshawski novel (I love V.I., and not just because of my not-so-secret crush on Kathleen Turner). Registration went all right, but I keep getting error screens when I try to add a book or look something up. Too bad, because it looks like an interesting site.

Also, I’m trying to break myself of the habit of double-spacing after a period. I learned to type on a manual typewriter back in the stone age, and that was the convention then, but I’ve been hearing rumors that the kids today only use one space. Although I was skeptical, and have held fast to my antediluvian ways, Grammar Girl recently set me straight, and now I have no excuse. So if you see me double-spacing here, please feel free to slap me in the comments.

Back and Re-Unfocused.

We had a kickass vacation at the beach, active and outdoorsy and fun, with great weather. Now I’m back at work, it’s gray and stormy out, and I’m exhausted and feeling blah, with too much to do and no ability to focus my attention more than a few hours in the future at the expense of some significant deadlines coming in the next couple of weeks. So I’m going to share a couple of the highlights of our vacation instead.

We hauled our bikes more than 800 miles this trip, and got a lot of use out of them. The kids rode their own bikes several times on the quiet streets around the beach house, and the Siren and I rented Trail-A-Bikes to attach to our bikes, which let the kids ride behind us on several longer rides, including two that were 12 miles or more, mostly on a forested trail built on an old railroad right-of-way. We also took up a new hobby: letterboxing. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s following clues on websites like or AtlasQuest to little boxes hidden somewhere in the world (often in the woods, but sometimes in surprising urban locations) containing a stamp and a logbook. You stamp your own rubber stamp into the box logbook, and the box’s stamp into your own logbook, then hide the box where you found it. The kids thought it was very exciting, but I think the Siren and I enjoyed it at least as much as they did. We found letterboxes all over our part of Delaware, including along the trail. You can see one hidden in the brush at the base of a tree here:


The kids and I even took a tour of the Dogfish Head Beer brewery, which was great fun.


I also ran two 5K races, and placed third in my new, ancient age group in the second one which was on the morning of the Saturday we left. My time for that second race wasn’t a PR but was still pretty good – 21:05 – and the medal doubles as a bottle opener, which is awesome. I love small races – limited competition and cool prizes.


On the drive home, we stopped to find one more letterbox in a park in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, where we stopped for the night. It was on the side of a small drop-off over a landing leading to a cliff:


Best vacation ever. Only 50 weeks to go until the next one.

The Sporty Family on Vacation

So after putting in pretty much full days of work Monday through Wednesday and a solid half day on Thursday, the important brief for work got filed Thursday night (thanks to an associate who was back at the office) and the vacation began in earnest. I ended up begging for – and getting – an extension on the chapter I’m writing for a treatise, which I will regret later but am very grateful for now.
We had a full day at the beach yesterday, then a quick trip to Funland last night, all in all a pretty great day except for Junior refusing to eat at dinner. I gave him an ultimatum a couple of weeks ago about not getting special food at dinner, so now he has to eat the same dinner as the rest of us. Last night that didn’t go so well, and he essentially skipped dinner. Today, he ate much much better.

Some of that was due to the 10.5 mile bike ride we did this afternoon, mostly on a wonderful gravel trail, between the towns of Rehoboth Beach and Lewes, through farmland, forest, and salt marsh on an old railroad right of way. The trail itself is pretty new, only completed in the last year or two, I think, and since the kids are only just now old enough to really enjoy it, the timing of its construction worked out well for us.

We had the kids on Trail-a-Bikes, which attach to an adult bike to create a tandem with a second seat suitable for a child. We rented one for Junior originally, but after a couple of shorter rides it was obvious that Unfocused Girl would burn out trying to keep up with us on a longer ride, so we rented one for her, too. They work pretty well, but keeping your balance when the kid in back wobbles from side to side takes some getting used to.

It was a nice, long ride, and wore everybody out. I figure if we do a couple more of them in the next week, we might actually be a sporty family, not just crab-cake eating, beer-drinking pretenders (although I did buy matching Dogfish Head Beer hats for me and the kids at the brewpub the other night).

The Sporty Family (f/k/a the Unfocused Family) kids after our triumphant return from the big bike ride, and Junior displaying his impressive collection of scabs, bruises, bug bites, and mysterious owies:

On Vacation.

Typing this out on my phone doing 75 on I-80 through eastern Ohio, the Siren driving. Time for our annual two weeks at the beach, thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

It took us a little while to get out of Dodge, but we managed. This year, the Siren’s new car enabled us to add a bike rack big enough to hold all of our bikes. We now look like one of those sporty families who are always off on those active vacations that sound much cooler than just hanging at the beach and eating too many crabcakes. I do like crabcakes, though, and Dogfish Head beer, which flows aplenty at the Dogfish Head Brewpub 5 minutes from our little shack.

I think a brewery tour is in order this year.

I brought more work than usual,, but I think it will all be done by next Friday, so the second week should be completely relaxed. Meanwhile, there should still be plenty of time for hanging out on the beach, catching up with some old friends, and getting thrown to the mats by the kids – last summer we bought our own gym mats for taekwondo practice and turned the deck into our own private mini dojang.

I love summer vacation.