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About writing, editing, publishing & getting it out there

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How can I help…and what’s in it for me?

A handmade quilt and cap made by some Astoria (Queens) crafters to contribute to the post-Hurricane Sandy aid efforts.

I admit to a bit of depression setting in over the hurricane recovery. It didn’t hit our house—we were fine—but several friends had flooding and are still without electricity. I feel helpless.

I spent another day down in the Rockaways over the weekend. I was needed to drive again and I was happy to do it, but there were a lot of other people helping, too—maybe because it was a mild day. I helped with some unloading of food and cleanup at two church centers, but that was it; I sort of felt “extra.” Read More

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I sit down to write a blog…

I do admit I get distracted and procrastinate a lot. Just now, about to sit down and write a blog, I thought it would be better to have pictures with it. I was going to write about my new laptop, and my frustration about being told by Microsoft that my computer was not eligible for an upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8. The Staples salespeople (there were several trying to convince me that day) had told me that they offered a rebate on upgrades to Windows 8 on all new laptop purchases, since it was coming out in October and this was the end of September. I emailed Staples and got details on how to order the upgrade and then apply for the rebate. I’ve gotten rebates from Staples before; you can do them online and there’s never been an issue beyond having to wait a few weeks for a check. So I started the process, confident that even without my computer-savvy husband Paul around I could do it myself. He had braved the roads to drive into work.

Because Hurricane Sandy has put NYC public transportation out of commission (the subways are flooded and I’ve just heard the wonderful news that a bunch of MTA buses in the yard at Jamaica were flooded and damaged, too (seriously? That couldn’t have been avoided?), my company is closed again today and I’m losing another day’s pay. Again, I have work to do here, but because I was home and had time, I thought it might be good to get the upgrade out of the way before I forgot about it and lost the paperwork and/or the offer expired. Knowing my past history, either one of those could easily happen.

But when I got the email from Microsoft that I was not eligible, before I let myself get upset (either I’ve been screwed or I’ve made some mistake in the process–hopefully the latter), I grabbed a pen and dialed the customer service number. There was no email address., naturally. I steeled myself and promised to be patient with the barely understandable customer service rep who would inevitably pick up. Oh, yes, I could get lucky and get someone from the U.S. In the past that’s been someone from Texas calling me Honey. Is that better than the overseas call centers? It’s a toss-up — sometimes I do understand the Indian accents better than the ones from the deep South. 

Anyway, it was all a moot point, because the call didn’t go through. Damn. Oh, yeah, we just had a massive hurricane!

Grumble grumble.

Anyway, my point is that I sat down to write the blog and decided I needed a picture of my laptop as illustration. The laptop didn’t look good against the ugly flowery tablecloth we currently have on our dining room table, so I moved it to the coffee table, where it looked better. Then I decided that if I were really going to illustrate “working on my laptop,” I’d need a prop — a coffee mug, which I frequently have next to me. I didn’t have one just then, though, because I’d already had two cups of coffee. OK, I thought, I’ll get the mug and pose it (and I can show off the pretty new handmade cup I got on my trip to Ireland). The mug was obviously empty so I decided to fill it with coffee I wasn’t planning on drinking. I debated with myself briefly, but felt that heating it in the microwave to try to capture some steam rising was a bit obsessive.

On my way to the kitchen, I saw that my cat, Pip, had shoved himself into the bag containing all the service and refund information that Staples had given me when I bought my laptop. Obviously, Pip had ennui due to being stuck with us in the house for two days straight, and he was attempting suicide. Of course I took his picture (being an impartial journalist) before talking him back out of the bag.

So. I do not have Windows 8 yet. A guy (girl) from Staples customer service with a name I have never seen before in my life said that it would be easier to discuss the issue over the phone, if I would call customer service. Suuuuure it will be easier, H——— uhh ….. Sir (Ma’am?). I didn’t attempt to make the call just yet; without actually trying again, I just told them my phone was out due to the storm. I will deal with this later. I have more important things to do. Like catching up on some editing, and … no, not playing with the cat–editing.

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Storm is coming–no work Monday!

As I wrote in my last post, we returned from vacation late on Friday, giving ourselves two days to get settled in, get some rest and prepare ourselves for the return to work on Monday. Saturday morning, we drove into the city to pick up our kitty–my friend Jim had been watching him.
Pip was not happy having to get shoved back into his carrier for the drive back to Queens. (He was flipping me the bird just before I snapped this photo).

I did start doing a little work on Saturday, as I have some projects due (I had to do a little work on vacation, too, but I was OK with that–the vacation was very much needed but so was the editing work; I couldn’t pass it up).

Now, it seems I’ll have one more day off. Hurricane Sandy is on her way to New Jersey and New York, and the whole region is preparing. The MTA is shutting down subways starting at 7 tonight, at the same time that the MetroNorth and Long Island RR will start their last train runs. Bus service will be stopping at 9 pm.

I checked in with my boss, offered to work from home if needed (if that’s even possible — we still could lose electricity). She told me the company would be shut down, so (hooray!) no work for me tomorrow.

But my husband, who works at a radio station, may have to go into work. Even though we live in NE Queens, he apparently lives the closest to the station (in lower Manhattan) than anyone else in his department. His company will pay him if he has to park somewhere or stay overnight, but he said I might have to drive him into the city. I hope that isn’t going to be necessary, but I said I would do whatever was needed.

We went shopping last night because we had no food in the house after our trip, and this afternoon I went back to our local KeyFood to get a few extra items, some water, some snacks and peanut butter. Nothing was really essential, but what better excuse than a storm to allow yourself to buy junk food?

Apparently, people in our neighborhood think they are going to be stuck in their houses for two weeks straight because this was the condition of the KeyFood bread shelves at 2 pm this afternoon. The bottled water shelves were sparse as well–I was able to grab a few 1.5 liter bottles just in case.

We live inland and on slightly higher ground than the coast, so I’m not too concerned about safety yet, but I always get nervous when I think about what could happen. Areas are being evacuated, and as always when people are told to get to a safer location, some residents declare they will not be leaving. One lady told a reporter that she “couldn’t leave” because she has a generator and has to be there to turn it on manually. That made no sense to me. If she’s not there why would she need to turn it on? No one wants to be stuck in traffic driving out of town (that sounds like it might almost  be the worst part) or sleep on a cot in a shelter if there’s nowhere else to go, but do you want to have to be rescued when conditions worsen?

People on the NJ coastal islands and peninsulas who have been through this before have no excuse for staying in their houses, but people in the northeast just aren’t used to severe weather. They see tornadoes and hurricanes on TV; the worst of it rarely happens here and they think that it won’t be that bad. I’m just periodically checking the news for updates, hoping that we are safe and that all our friends and family are safe as well.

I’m very happy I can stay home, as I have other work to focus on, and, frankly, I’m not quite ready to start back after our blissful two weeks of vacation.