Suddenly, this summer

There sure are a lot of conventions and events over Memorial Day weekend! Balticon, Wiscon, BayCon, MarCon, just for a partial list of cons, EarthSpirit’s Rites of Spring in western Mass…most of the people I know are away at some gathering. I hope everyone is enjoying safe travel and a good time!

The weather has jumped from chilly, dreary and rainy to hot, humid and sunny. It hit 92 degrees yesterday! We hardly got spring at all–for one thing, a week of rain washed out some of the flowers, like the flowering crabs and lilacs, at least around here. I’m hoping the apple crop won’t be adversely affected. On the other hand, the foliage is so lush and green, I feel like I should be swinging on vines to go down for the newspaper. But my yards sure look nice! I finally got out and mowed last Wednesday, and then I got the tiller out and completely tilled the front vegetable patch. I tilled north-south, applied two full carts of compost from the compost pile and tilled east-west. One nice thing about all the rain: the soil was soft and tilled more easily than last year. I kept having to stop and pry stones out of the tiller tines, though. For some reason, the soil around my house is full of little stones, like a fruitcake with fruit. I have no idea if this is natural (glaciers? The river?) or a residuum from past use of the land (I once heard it had been orchards). It doesn’t stop me from getting nice crops of carrots and potatoes, though, when other conditions are favorable.

Speaking of which, I went up to Farmer’s Exchange and got seed potatoes and onion sets. They had baby chicks! So cute!!! Baby chicks define cute, until you really pay attention to their behavior. *wry smile* I’ve started putting the seedlings outside to harden off for the garden, and they’re responding very well. The peas and spinach are struggling because of the heavy rain and lack of sun, but I got trellis netting for the peas and put that up yesterday. The bee balm and rose bush are growing, the poppies and peonies have buds, I’m going to get at least one iris bloom. It’s almost summer. I even got the flag bracket repaired so I could put the flag out for Memorial Day. I felt bad I didn’t get it up for Patriot’s Day but that bracket is a chronic PITA.

I’m focused more on publishing and writing work now, so I may not get to a lot more extra yard work for a while, beyond gardening and keeping the lawns tidy. I spotted a lot of poison ivy this week now that it’s fully leafed out, and it’s no wonder I got such a bad case of it: I may not have been exposed to it where and when I assumed I was. *sigh* The battery acid approach still has a lot of appeal, but my neighbors might have objections.

The ARCs for Anne Fraser’s second collection, All Places That Are Not Heaven, arrived and have been mailed off. This past week, I’ve been working on a massive book blog database and querying bloggers for reviews. There are so many book bloggers, with so many fans and followers, it’s just mind-boggling. Reading, as a recreational activity, is obviously alive and thriving! But the big change I’m seeing is the number of reviewers and bloggers who not only accept ebooks, but often say they prefer them over paper books. Just one year ago, that was uncommon. Most bloggers said they wouldn’t take ebooks at all, or grudgingly would, but preferred not to. Now, book bloggers who won’t take any kind of ebook are emphatically in the minority–a small and shrinking one. It makes sending review books to other countries–which I have done with paper books–a lot easier and more economical, too.

I was disappointed this week when I received notification that I did not, for the fourth year in a row, win the Speculative Literature Foundation’s Older Writers Grant. I wasn’t going to enter this year, but changed my mind at the last minute. Now I don’t know why I bothered. I guess I had this irrational feeling that just maybe, after four years, I might have a chance, but obviously not. I got all suspenseful waiting for the email, though, and then when it arrived on Wednesday, I descended into utter gloom for the rest of the evening. I’d already been rebuffed by the Mass. Center for the Book last month, so I’m running 0 for 2 this year, just like last year when I failed to get one of some fifteen small writing grants awarded by the Mass. Cultural Council and then was rejected for the Older Writers Grant. *sigh*

Then there’s the continuing saga of the broken camcorder, which I posted about below. I’ve been so unhappy about this, it’s only now that I’m up to writing about it, which probably tells you something right there.

The day after my post on April 26, I received a call from the camera repair shop saying that my camcorder was ready. That meant I was committed to pay their bill, so my rebellious thoughts of telling the repair shop to keep the damn thing while I just bought a new one had to be abandoned. Since it had been two and a half months, I drove right down to the shop in Arlington on Thursday, April 28, to pick up the benighted camcorder.

When the owner brought out the camcorder, I immediately opened it up to check on the DVD. This was the DVD that had been stuck in the camcorder, that I couldn’t remove from the camcorder because I couldn’t open the DVD cover. This was the DVD with all the IPNE conference video on it, which I could play back, and “finalize” and un-finalize, but couldn’t get off the camcorder without physically removing the DVD (believe me, I tried everything I could think of. I couldn’t move the video to the memory card, or transfer it directly to any other device by any means except, possibly, re-recording the video onto another device as the camcorder played it, which I didn’t try because I didn’t have a way to do that). This was the entire reason I took the camcorder to be repaired in the first place–I couldn’t get that frellin’ DVD out. I would certainly have removed the DVD before I left it at the shop if I could have! I’d removed the memory card.

Well…there was no DVD in the camcorder. “What happened to the DVD?” I asked. The owner gave me this utterly blank stare. There was no DVD in it, he said. Yes there was, I said. He rustled around in the paperwork and pointed out that he’d put a little question mark on the repair slip after the note about a DVD being in the camcorder. I don’t know why he did that, unless it was because he couldn’t verify my statement that the DVD was in there without opening the cover and checking, which he couldn’t do because I had brought the camcorder in precisely because the cover was jammed shut.

He called the Phantom Technician, who claimed there was never a DVD in the camcorder. There was nothing more I could do. I had no way of proving that there had been a DVD in there two and half months earlier.

I was just SO upset. I was really, really, really upset. I tried to keep my cool, but I made it very clear that I was upset, and I said that recovering the DVD was the major reason I even bothered to have the camcorder repaired at all. I paid the bill and came home, but I remained upset most of the day. It wasn’t merely that I’d gone through all that bother and expense and then lost the DVD. What I hated was being lied to. The Phantom Technician had to know that DVD was in there. If it got broken or even lost, well, these things happen. But he LIED. He couldn’t possibly have repaired the camcorder’s DVD drive and not known that DVD was in there. He screwed up and lost it, and then he LIED.

Moreover, he claimed the cover jammed because there was “sand” in the camcorder. I’m damned if I know how sand got into that camcorder when I never used it outside, only took it to a couple of conventions and the IPNE event, and had a snug zippered case to carry it in when I did. There’s no sand in the case: I checked. I don’t believe there was “sand” in it, I think the cover just jammed because the camcorder is a cheap, Chinese-made piece of shit. Don’t EVER buy a product from Samsung!

The next day, I had calmed down enough to call the repair shop and explain why I wanted the DVD so badly. I said I knew, with absolute 100% confidence, that the DVD had been in the camcorder. I described the DVD (I’d bought a couple of packages of them, and I’d given considerable thought into what type I wanted to use, so I knew exactly what the DVD was) and what the videos on it were. The owner said he and the Phantom Technician would look for it.

The weekend of May 14, I started to think about calling the repair shop to follow up, and I realized that my land line phone was wanked, due to Cerridwen walking over the fax machine/message center to get to the front windowsills. I’d thought the drop-off in spam calls was suspicious! I got the dial tone back and checked Verizon voice mail, where calls go if the phone is wanked, and sure enough: a couple of messages (none from or about Dad, thank the gods). One was from the repair shop: they thought they’d found my DVD.

So, on Monday, May 16, with gasoline prices having just topped $4.00 a gallon, I drove all the way into Arlington again. The Phantom Technician, who I now visualize as probably smoking pot heavily on a daily basis, had indeed found a DVD. But it in no way resembled my DVDs–it wasn’t the same brand or type–and the camcorder, which I had prudently brought with me, wouldn’t even read it. It just spun around for a while and coughed up an error message. Now, the camcorder is fixed, and I’d tested it with a new DVD, so that wasn’t the issue.

So I wasted more time and a couple of gallons of gas, and I still don’t have my DVD. It’s possible that the Phantom Technician and the repair shop owner are still looking, but at this point, I figure it’s a lost cause. I’m still pretty upset, but there’s nothing I can really do about the situation so I’ll just have to get over it. It wasn’t like IPNE formally asked me to record the sessions, I just had this new camcorder and offered to do it.

I seem to constantly be tripping over lots of little hiccups and technological glitches, especially on the Internet. The problems I was having with this journal have not recurred, but has been having problems (and a huge percentage of book blogs are on Blogger), Hotmail keeps choking up, and it seems like something is always temporarily down or being upgraded or forcing a restart. My car’s back door latch is jammed and I’ll have to take it in to be repaired. I tried WD-40 but the problem seems to be more complicated than sticking due to the constant rain, as I hoped. But none of it’s worth whining about, really–especially compared to the fact that I know someone in Joplin, Missouri whose home was completely destroyed by the monster tornado last weekend. Pepperell hasn’t even heard a growl of thunder except for one night!

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