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Here's what I did with winter break!

Notice I don't call it "vacation," and here's why. On the other hand, it sure was a nice break to not have to be "on" for classes all week!
  • I've been writing several mornings, every week since mid-December. Completely revised the opening scenes of The Galactic Adventures of Jack & Stella, completely re-envisioned how I'm handling POV (which means significantly rewriting every single other scene, too), wrote many more notes for future scenes, and cut thousands of words while writing thousands more... I've passed a total of 44k words, which means it's more than half-way done (based on a projected 70k)!

  • Finished updating all three syllabi and Blackboard sites (that's the web interface for KU courses) for my spring semester classes. Sent all the students links to where their syllabi live online. HOORAY! Good lord, is it just me or does it take everyone most of a day to do this for each course?

  • Worked a bunch on the hot-rod Newport, including rebuilding the broken valvetrain; finishing installing the new fuel-injection system; installing half the custom exhaust (with electric cut-outs for added raucousness on demand!); designing a crankcase-ventilation system that won't put so much smoke into the intake and getting started installing that; and finding a great deal on a new front-drive system that'll upgrade the alternator to handle fuel-injection duties, the A/C and power-steering pump to something that works, and convert it to a simpler serpentine-belt system that'll make it more reliable and more efficient - oh, and it's all polished aluminum, so it's much lighter and really pretty, too. ETA for street duty: a week or two! Assuming something else doesn't blow up....

  • Did a bit of work on the Chevelle, but I want to get the Newport mobile, washed, waxed, and covered before really diving into this project; picked up some more parts I'll need, though. ETA for street duty: Late spring.

  • Rewired a cool vintage ceramic lamp and installed it in the ceiling of my living room. MUCH nicer than the old (light-free) ceiling fan that used to clutter up the space:

  • Did a bunch of updates on the Center for the Study of Science Fiction's website, and planned much more. Oh, and we're working with a major donor right now who's intending to support not only a full-ride scholarship for the summer Workshops, but also something even bigger for a student coming to study SF during the regular semester. Details to come....

  • Started reading for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best SF novel. Loving everything so far, which is great, but could also be trouble come decision time....

  • Got back into astronomy, with a new (to me) 100mm f/9 apochromatic refractor. WOWEE, does it provide gorgeous images! This is my first apochromat, a type of refractor that uses varying types of rare-earth glass to produce lovely, sharp, and color-free images. On a really nice German equatorial mount with dual-axis drives and a handy through-the-polar-axis North Star finder:

  • Resumed a regular, hardcore workout schedule at the gym. Tried the beautiful-but-useless fancy fitness center here at KU (Ambler), because it was free to staff & faculty last week; we usually use beat-up, old, and dingy - but free - Robinson, because of its really useful and large free-weights room, and only visited crowded Ambler that once.

  • Oh, and on a related note: Not to sound braggy or anything, but over Break the awesome clevermanka started giving me regular, multi-hour massages at least once a week, sometimes EVERY DAY. OMG, I am so lucky.

Other stuff, too, like watching the new BBC Sherlock series! (Which starts on PBS tonight.) LOVE IT SO MUCH.

What did you do over the past month, whether or not you got a break?



( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 19th, 2014 06:28 pm (UTC)


Yay for CSSF news, new light looks awesome, and everything else is faboo. I was just thinking that I'd love to make the writing workshop this year.
Jan. 19th, 2014 06:42 pm (UTC)
Hey, that would be so cool, Rae! I'm still making some edits, but you can find the most up-to-date info here.
Jan. 19th, 2014 06:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I think I meant conference... I got confuddled. ;)

Edited at 2014-01-19 06:49 pm (UTC)
Jan. 20th, 2014 10:51 pm (UTC)
Well, that would be good, too ;-)
Jan. 19th, 2014 08:31 pm (UTC)

I generally write about my activities as they happen rather than writing a summary like you have here. Short story though:
Christmas party with friends, including Bad Santa on our huge television.
New Year's Eve at the Seattle Symphony.
Some house cleaning.
A trip to California to talk my mother into drinking her Ensure, with the incidental benefit of getting to see five films at the Palm Springs International Film Festival (including the excellent documentary Tim's Vermeer.

Anyway, your break sounds more interesting.

About yours:
1. Sweet telescope! How easy is setup and storage? Lugging around heavy gear can be an impediment to astronomy.

2. What's useless about the beautiful fitness center?

Jan. 20th, 2014 10:50 pm (UTC)
That all sounds like a lot of fun (except for the ensuring your mother drinks her Ensure)!

Thanks - it _is_ sweet! It's WAY simpler to lug around than my 17" Dob or 12" SCT. Heck, I can carry it around on its mount with one arm, the other carrying the box of eyepieces and filters. I expect I'll end up using it way more in the backyard than the bigger ones!

Ah, the beautiful fitness center has a million treadmills and exercycles, but only three benches and two racks for doing squats. They have many tons of free weights, which is great, but the room where they must stay is TINY. Plus, it would cost a lot to keep going there. Nah, I'll stay with my free, dingy, but useful gym ;-)
Jan. 19th, 2014 09:30 pm (UTC)
Sorry, Chris, but including things you LOVE to do like car building, astronomy, and getting great massages in that list does NOT count towards not calling it "vacation." Totally not buying it. SRSLY DUDE! :D
Jan. 20th, 2014 10:50 pm (UTC)
Hahahaha! You got me ;-)

Almost hit 50k words in Jack & Stella today!
Jan. 23rd, 2014 05:12 pm (UTC)
Darn FaceBorg conditioning. I keep trying to click a non-existent "like" button.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 05:21 pm (UTC)
Jan. 23rd, 2014 09:08 pm (UTC)
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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