Saturday, April 28, 2012

Lilacs

On one of the more warm days, I drove down Alicia’s road and smelled the ultimate in indicators for spring – Lilacs.  I don’t know what it is but until I get a whiff of the spring air heavily laden with lilacs I don’t feel like it is spring.  I love this flower and plant.  I have three in my yard and one is blossoming.  They are young and growing nicely – no thanks to me. 

Our spring has been a bit funky here in Wisconsin.  We’ve had hot like late summer hot and now we are cool with threats of snow / frost.  I think we are going to have an unusual year for weather.  However, spring has now sprung for me with the scent of lilacs lingering even in the cool spring air. 

I’ve been so busy this semester I’ve not had a lot of time to stop and smell the roses (or lilacs) and now that the semester is winding down I’m starting to look forward to my summer.  This summer I have a pile of books to read.  I want to get back to submitting a lot of my writing.  I also want to work on two manuscripts and see if I can get two others actually published.  My summer is filling up even before it has started.

The two girls in Georgia will probably be coming home this summer.  I am trying to figure out when to take off for their visit.  Of course we don’t have solid dates yet but I’m still looking forward to it.  I want to get Stephanie’s afghan done for her and if at the three quilts I’ve had in the works for a while.  After that for sewing I have a pile of material for Vicki.  She has a bunch of material she wants me to make into work clothes for her.  Along these lines I have the next afghan lined up (and waiting in the living room) as well as yarn for a number of gifts.  I also still have three fleece blankets to get done. 

The question becomes how much of this will get done during this summer?  Hopefully all of it but you never know.  I’m looking forward to taking my vacation time and enjoying my down time.  I’m aware it sounds like I won’t be getting down time but it is for me.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Book Publishers Beware!

Governor Walker just repealed the Equal Pay Act.  This is criminal in my eyes.  Women already don’t make the same as men.  The excuses I hear for women earning less is that they are more likely to take time off for having babies.  My answer to that is who do you think put the baby there?  Another one is that women take more time off to care for children.  My answer to that is maybe men should step up then.  We have to carry the kid can’t men step up and do more of the day care. 

I’ll add a note here to all those fathers / uncles and other males who have stepped up to the plate and done what you should, these comments are not directed at you.  They are directed at the outdated and chauvinistic norms that women are held to now.

Recently I read an article about gender bias in the publishing arena – I am taking classes in this field so it only makes sense.  “Vida, an American organization supporting women in literary arts, has compiled statistics on the gender split in books coverage at publications including the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, the New Yorker, and the New York Times Book Review, each of which showed a substantial bias towards using male reviewers and covering male authors.”  http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/mar/02/gender-bias-books-journalism-vida?INTCMP=SRCH

In most cases only about a third of the books or reviews were done by women.  I’d have no problem with this if women only made up a third of the offerings but they don’t.

Is publishing stuck in another era?  I’m beginning to think it might be.  I’ve been reading articles about lending ebooks, self publishing etc.  I’ve read naysayers proclaiming the move to electronic books will kill publishing.  I say publishing is going to kill themselves if they don’t move forward.  To me these seem to be symptoms of the same problem.  Publishers and publishing companies are not changing with the changes in the market, those offering product, and those buying product.

If the companies did move with the times they could embrace new technology as well as please the largest group of buyers (which by the way are women). 

The feminist in me rails against the injustice of the publishing industry being so backwards.  The realist in me just wants to work harder to be published and write reviews.  Perhaps I should use a less feminine name to write under.  Or better yet the publishing companies and reviewing papers should come into the 21st century and let the women have a voice too. 

More than this though, the publishing industry needs to get behind women and women’s issues in order to keep their audience.  Money is tight during these economic times that means people are being very selective about where their money goes.  Women are choosing how to spend their money.  If they can’t get ebooks or only hear a man’s opinion of a book they might be less likely to purchase books in any format. 

Publishers and other industry insiders should be standing up with women and fighting against actions like Walker’s.  They should also be cultivating good female reviewers.  Newspapers and other review publications should be encouraging more women to write reviews.  This will increase readership and level the playing field for all.  It is past time to embrace the changes in the industry and in our society.  It is time to come into the 21st century and recognize who your customers are and treat them better than you have been.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Health Care

Here is yet another reason why we should have a national health care program.  We are already struggling to pay for prescriptions for Vicki as she has no insurance (thanks to Walker changing the rules on my insurance). 

Friday she had a sore throat.  Saturday and Sunday she ran a fever and progressively got worse feeling each day.  Monday I called the doctor’s office to see what it would cost to get her in with no insurance and how much they needed.  The answer - $97 but we didn’t have to pay before she saw the doctor. 

She tried to say she was fine and didn’t need to go.  I ignored her and insisted we go.  She has strep, pneumonia, and ear infections in both ears.  She got a prescription which cost us $55.  Fortunately the doctor looked in her ears before he insisted on the swab of her throat because otherwise we would have had to pay for that test as well. 

She doesn’t have $150 to cover these medical costs.  She is unemployed.  If I hadn’t insisted on her going to the doctor what would have happened?  I’ll take the $150 over a hospital bill any day. 

We asked about reducing the fees and were given the name and number of a person in the clinic to call.  I talked to her today.  They take the full household income.  Never mind that Vicki is an individual.  If I threw her butt out of my house she could get assistance.  But because we love our daughter and don’t want her living on the street we now have to pay for these medical expenses. 

She’s upset because she knows it will stress me out to juggle bills to pay for this.  I’m upset because the system is broken and needs fixing but the moment someone takes the first steps they are bashed for it. 

I don’t care what anyone else says a National Health Plan is essential.  Call it socialism or welfare or whatever you want, there are people like my daughter who are trying to get jobs and trying to live on their own and support themselves but get beat up by the system when they are sick.  Perhaps we should cut back on benefits for representatives (the few) and refine this plan so that everyone can go to a doctor when they need to rather than waiting until it is so bad they nearly die from it.
 
I hate to quote Star Trek but really the good of the many (in this case) outweighs the good of the few.  Quality healthcare shouldn’t be for only the rich or working.  It should be for everyone.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Danger! Beware!! Yarn Sale!!!

Finally I have a moment (or half a one) where I can put some thoughts together.  It has been a very busy period for me.  Here it is nearly two weeks later from the last time I was on here – I can’t believe that much time has slipped by. 

Work has been frantic and by the time I do work and school I’m so tired I can barely get through the night.  Registration this semester has been more stressful and difficult than in previous semesters.  I thought maybe it was just me but I talked to a couple other people and they agreed.

This last weekend I got talked into going to Herrschner’s for the day.  For those who don’t know, they are a huge mail order catalog company with a store in Stevens Point Wisconsin.  I crochet.  I crochet a lot when I’m stressed.  I like to have one big project going – like an afghan (currently Stephanie’s star shaped with an 8 mile circumference) and small projects to fill in when I want something quick to finish and feel like I’ve accomplished something. 

I have lots of faculty and student workers to make gifts for.  This gives me a target for making all my little goodies.  I’m not going to say what I’m making them for the winter holidays but they will be crocheted things most likely.  Herrschner’s was having a HUGE sale on yarn.  Instead of doing homework on Saturday like I should have I snuck off to this sale.  Stevens Point is a two hour drive so it generally turns into a most of the day event. 

Friday I printed off their internet page with all the sale yarn listed.  I circled the ones I was interested in.  Saturday we asked and they honored the prices.  I got skeins of yarn that normally cost between $7 - $10 each for anywhere from $1 – $3.50 each.  I was thrilled for the savings but also I will get to work with yarn I don’t normally buy.  Some of the yarn includes silk, chenille, fleece, and alpaca.  I’ve been wanting to work with all of these for quite some time. 

While I didn’t get homework done, I did enjoy wandering through the yarn and touching everything.  Yes I touched all sorts of yarn.  There is something about the textures, softness, and colors that just gives me a thrill.  Other women have a thing for shopping for clothes – my thing – YARN… 

Best part of the day – my husband didn’t complain at all because I spent money on yarn!!!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Return from Vacation

While I had guest bloggers covering two weeks ago, I was on vacation and getting a ton of homework and other things done.  I enjoyed my very productive week off work. 

I haven’t enjoyed my return from vacation.  It was the week from hell at work.  There were miscommunications, registration issues, problems and more problems.  I’m used to that, I try to just go with it but for some reason this last week I just wanted to throw something against the wall. 

Perhaps my wonderful vacation took me too far out of work mode and I just got out of the habit of dealing with all the issues.  Nope I just think it was a crummy week.  It wasn’t like there were big things – just a lot of little ones.  One of which was the fact that for three of the five days my computer had to be worked on.  They upgraded my system from XP to Windows 7.  I like the new system but for some reason they couldn’t get my second monitor to work.  Finally on Wednesday, I had two IT guys in my office attempting to get it to work.  Since it worked Thursday and Friday I’m hoping that it is fixed.  I’m not holding my breath though. 

This weekend I spent working on homework and managing life.  I paid bills, worked on gifts for people, homework – did I mention that already? – and a bunch of other things.  I feel like I’m glued to my computer and in my head.  That is probably the problem – I’m too much in my head thinking about things.

Oh and my crappy luck wasn’t any better at home.  I took Vicki to the grocery store and sat in the van reading homework waiting on her.  I had the radio on with the key turned to the battery position.  Thirty minutes into it my radio stops working and I think damn now what’s wrong?  I try to start the van – it gives the lovely clicking that I dreaded hearing.  Now I’m parked in on two sides and have the cart return on the other side.  I’m thinking how the hell is Ken going to jump my van if I’m parked in.  I call him and he is annoyed with me.  I say the van should be able to handle the radio for thirty minutes.  Fortunately right before he gets there the guy in front of me pulls out and Ken pulls in.  He hooks up the battery cables, turns on his engine, and tells me to try it.  The engine popped right off.  I left it running the rest of the time I was waiting.  I hope this isn’t a sign of how the coming week will be.

Wayfarer Convictions

The new Wayfarer novel is published!!!  Wayfarer Convictions is available on Smashwords and Amazon.  It will be available in paperback by ...