Tag Archives: Winter

Winter Sunday Stats #1: Brrrrrrrr.

Baby, it’s cold outside.  It was 6 below zero (Fahrenheit) at 9am when we left the house this morning for the Christmas Pageant and concert at church, 3 below when we left at 2pm, and is still 3 below now at 7:30pm.  That’s before wind chill.  We did have a salt truck come up our street last night around 11 while I was shoveling, but it has been so cold that the salt doesn’t have any effect.

Tomorrow, it’s supposed to go up to 11.  It goes to 11.

I did the world’s longest post yesterday, so I’m going to keep this short.  Here we go:

Running:  Not much lately, and none today — too much going on this morning.  Today was the Christmas Pageant at church, and Unfocused Girl gave an outstanding performance as the Archangel Gabriel (“Gabe,” to her friends, the Archangels Mike and Ralph).  It was also the annual Christmas concert, and Mrs. Unfocused was the soprano soloist; she sang Lauridsen’s O Magnum Mysterium, and then Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols, as a soloist and with the choir.  She was — as usual — mesmerizing; she’s got pipes.

Yeah, I’m bragging on my wife and daughter.  Deal – it’s my blog.

iPod: I’ve been getting an education in writing science fiction and fantasy from the Odyssey Writing Workshop podcasts.  Odyssey is a six-week residential writing program for science fiction and fantasy writers, and they’re putting a number of lectures by established authors and editors from the workshops out as podcasts.  I don’t recognize all of the speakers, but they’ve mostly been very interesting.

Writing:  Not so much.  I’ve gotten some good work on the outline of Project Hometown (almost entirely during my commute), but I’m still mired in the character synopses for the minor characters.  I haven’t gotten much done on the revisions of Meet the Larssons, because evenings have been a little jammed.  I’m still on page 107 of the original manuscript, but I’ve written several pages by hand to be inserted there, so I’ve made at least a little progress.

As a side note, Agent Kristen at Pub Rants has posted her own statistics for the last year, and they’re very impressive.  Most impressive are these two:

number of new clients

estimated number of queries read and responded to (and yes, that is up from last year)

Two new clients out of 35,000 queries.  She’s just one agent of course; there are 424 agents listed at the Association of Authors’ Representatives website. Still, those are intimidating odds.  Happy New Year.  Time to get back to the revisions.

Happy Hanukah, everybody!

Yo, Mayor Daley! Where Are the Salt Trucks?

It’s winter in Chicago, and for the second snowfall in a row, the city’s usual fleet of salt trucks are nowhere to be found.  Under the light covering of snow, the streets are covered with ice, but the only salt going down is what my neighbors and I are throwing down ourselves.

I took a cab last night, and the driver was complaining about the same thing.  He said that if the city isn’t going to salt this winter, he’s going to stop driving.

Bad things happen to Chicago mayors who ignore winter weather.  Daley has been one of the best at keeping the streets cleared & salted so that it isn’t completely treacherous to drive.  Maybe he’s just distracted by the financial crisis or Blago’s arrest, but come on, Mr. Mayor — get back in the game.  If this had happened a year ago, you’d have fired someone by now.

No work on the MTL revisions last night due to distraction from the Blago story, and none tonight because of a holiday party.  Back to work on Friday Thursday (getting ahead of myself looking forward to the weekend, I guess) .

Running and Writing in Place

I made it to the gym today, finally. It’s been so damn cold I can’t bring myself to run outside (if the temperature is in the single digits, I’m not goin’ out there in tights), and I just haven’t had the energy to drag myself to the Y that early in the morning. On days like that (and like this), my only shot at a run or weightlifting is to go to the gym downtown during lunch, which is a 50-50 proposition at best, because as often as not, something comes up and I end up working through lunch and not having time to go.

Today I made it, and I would like to thank all the people who signed up for gym memberships for New Year’s and have now stopped going. There were plenty of open treadmills today, and I got there at the height of lunch hour.

I’m not going to spend much time writing about my runs here. If you’re interested, and God knows why you would be, I’m keeping my public training log at Buckeye Outdoors. When I talk about running on this blog, I expect to stick to races and extraordinary events.

That said, while I was running today, I came up with a couple of ideas for Meet the Larssons, which made me feel productive. I’ve heard other writers talking about getting ideas on their runs, but most of the time my day (and night) job occupies my attention on mid-day runs. I was glad for ideas about my current work in progress, frankly, because lately I’ve been spinning off more ideas for other projects, which will be great when the novel is done, but until then they’re just cluttering up my head.

There’s one I managed to write down this morning, which is a keeper. I came up with the situation for my next novel. I’ll probably use it for NaNoWriMo, unless I start working on it before November.

The Coldest Weekend of the Year

One good thing about the coldest weekend of the year:  I’m getting a lot of writing done, at least today.  Yesterday was Junior’s Batman-themed birthday party, and the ten four-year-old boys (plus the three members of the League of Older Sisters) wore us all out, so I didn’t get anything done on the novel yesterday.  Today, though, I had to skip my run (it was -5 degrees at 8:30am, and while I may be crazy, I’m not stupid), so I’ve written around 1800 words on Meet the Larssons, plus a couple of posts here.

Weekend Assignment #199: When do you sleep?

I left the link to the assignment off the original post – sorry Karen.

When I was in high school, my motto was “No sleep ’til Brooklyn!” I lived in Brooklyn, though, so that was alright. It’s not like I never slept.

Short answer: my sleep schedule is unhealthy and likely to lead to heart disease and unsightly wrinkles.

This winter, I’m getting up around 6:45 am on weekdays in winter when I don’t run before work (most days, since it’s cold and dark in the morning and I’m a wuss). It’s when I go to bed that’s a problem. I had gotten to the point by December where I came home, helped put the kids to bed, then logged back into the office and worked until midnight almost every night. I was able to put the brakes on that, but now I have the novel to work on, not to mention the blog, so I’m staying up even later. At least I have some work/life balance. When I have some discipline about going to bed, I’m running on about six to six and a half hours of sleep a night during the week, which is just under what I need in order to function normally; when I let things go, it’s more like five.

Extra credit: If we had no other obligations, it is entirely possible that Mrs. Unfocused and I would go back to the sleep schedule we had the summer after we graduated from college, when we were unemployed, living on credit from Harper Foods, and spending our days swimming in Lake Michigan at The Point. That summer we went to bed at 4:00am and slept until noon.

Weekend Assignment #198: On Winter

Waiting until the last minute to do my homework — it’s just like high school. Or college. Or law school. Or elementary school, for that matter. The new Weekend Assignment is up at Outpost Mavarin. Here it is:

Weekend Assignment #198: What is your favorite thing about winter? Whether you love this time of year, hate it or merely endure it, you should be able to find something good to say about the season. What is it?

Before we had children, every winter the Mrs. and I used to drive up to Door County right after Christmas and stay until New Year’s Day or January 2. (For those of you not familiar with the Midwest, Door County, Wisconsin is the northern tip of the peninsula that divides Green Bay from Lake Michigan, and is a summer resort area for families from Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, and as far as the Twin Cities.) Most of the shops and many of the restaurants are open for that week — everything closes after January 2 until May — but it is never crowded, except for breakfast at Al Johnson’s in Sister Bay.

We went snowshoeing in the state park, antique shopping, watched old movies at night. One year, we were supposed to leave on New Year’s Day so I could be at the office on January 2, but on New Year’s Eve, it started to snow. When we woke up on New Year’s morning, it was still snowing. We tramped into the main building at Eagle Harbor Inn (where we always stayed) for breakfast, and heard that the road from Green Bay to Milwaukee had been closed by the state police, and would not reopen for several hours after the snow stopped, at the earliest. We were free! This was around 1998 or 1999 — I had no Blackberry or laptop, so I had to just leave voicemails for a few people, and then I was completely off the hook. There was no problem with our staying an extra night in our room, we drove into Egg Harbor to see the wonderful New Year’s Day parade (including the town’s little yellow fire engine) and eat dollar brats grilled up by members of one of the local service clubs as a fundraiser. I don’t remember what we did that evening, but I’m sure we enjoyed every minute of it. It was the best snow day I had had since the winter of 1978/79, when New York (where I grew up) had a massive blizzard and the snow plow broke down in the middle of our street, leaving us with an eight-foot high wall of snow, easily four to six feet thick, crossing the entire street, and all of the kids on the block stayed home and had the mother of all snowball battles, using the wall of snow as our barrier, our fort, our mountain, or our high ground for firing down at the others.

Now I watch my kids when they have a snow day; they’ve only had one or two since they started school (they’re young yet), but I remember my daughter jumping up and down the first time she learned that when there is enough snow, they cancel school and you get to play outside.

That’s what I love about winter: the possibility of snow days. No other season offers anything comparable, the possibility that the weather will be so bad that school is canceled, but so good that you can spend all day playing outside (with occasional breaks for hot cocoa and marshmallows).

Extra credit: What do you hate most about winter?

This is harder than the main assignment (which I suppose is why it’s extra credit). My first thought was: travel. I fly often enough for business, and flying in winter is really miserable because of the weather delays. I’m not going to use that as my answer, though, because these days flying is a miserable experience in all seasons, so there is no reason to single out winter.

The winner is: cabin fever. I get it as bad as the kids do. It’s hard to get up to run outside in the dark. It’s even harder when you know that out there in the dark, it is really, really cold. By spring, I am leaping at the chance to run outside in 40 degree weather, and the kids are begging to spend as much time as possible in the mud pit that is our backyard in April. By the end of February, we are all a few cards short of a deck. What I hate most about winter: cabin fever.