The place that I get my haircut is in the same shopping center as my gym, so after my workout, I stopped in to get my haircut and I feel much better having done so. When the haircut was done, I decided I needed to eat something, so I headed over to Chevy’s (also in the same shopping center) and had dinner. Freshly made guacamole and chips. Fajitas. Chips and salsa. It all hit the spot.
Strangely, when I got home, there was no mail, which is pretty unusual, even for a Saturday.
I received a thank you card in the mail today from Norm and Vicky. It made me laugh because it was written in the first person. “I am sure we will…”, “I can’t wait…”, etc. I never realized Norm has such girlish handwriting.
All of the other mail I received was junk, except for something from Ameriprise, telling me that the company that handles my disability insurance has merged with another company. Earth-shattering news, clearly.
I received my W-2’s in the mail today, which seems earlier in January than usual. It means that I now have everything that I need to file my taxes, but as usual, I’ll wait until April Fools Day to do so.
I also got my social security statement; you know, that annual thing that tells me how much I’ll get each month if I retire at 65, 67, and 70 years of age respectively. I don’t expect that social security will be around when I am that age and so I plan my retirement as though I won’t have that money. It will therefore be a nice surprise if I turn out to be wrong.
I said I’d have my passport no later than Friday, December 29. It arrived today–only, I wasn’t home to sign for it and since was sent Express Mail, I need to be here, or pick it up at the Post Office. Since I won’t be home tomorrow, either, I will likely have to pick it up at the Post Office on Saturday. Even so, I will have my passport in hand before the end of the year!
I started a new story this evening. I couldn’t resist, even though I am in the middle of another story. All afternoon, the beginning of the story was running through my head, clear as day, and all I had to do was sit down and dictate what was in my brain. The introductory section was only 250 words, but it sets the scene for the whole mystery that surrounds the story. The story has a working title of “The Snows of Olympus Mons” but that title will likely change when the story is complete. I have no idea how long it will be at this point, but I have a good idea of the ending of the story and I am very excited about it. A lot more action and adventure in this story than in the last few I’ve written, and I also think I have a great character for my protagonist. This could definitely be an ANALOG-type story. We’ll see how it goes…
I received my driver’s license renewal request in the mail today, which means I’ve been in Maryland long enough to have to renew my driver’s license. My license expires on my birthday but you can renew by mail here in Maryland and it looks pretty straight-forward.
Lunch and stuff is all packed for tomorrow; I’m actually having lunch with Todd and Karl, but I’m bringing the rest of my snacks for the day. I’m getting into bed now (8:34 PM) and going to read for a little while before turning out the light. I’m 134 pages through Chindi
and it has gotten really good…
This last week or so I’ve been flooded with more “real” mail than I normally get. Yesterday was no different. I received two packages yesterday. One was a gift from Bonnie & Tom: a biography of Charles Lindbergh that they found in a used bookstore. The other one surprised me because I completely forgot about it:
More than I month ago, I donated some money to Comic Relief 2006 which was held to raise money for Katrina victims. I donated enough to warrant receiving both a Comic Relief 2006 sweatshirt and T-shirt. And I completely forgot about it. Normally, you get a “thank you” letter or email, but I never got anything to remind me that I had even done this–until yesterday. The second package contained my sweatshirt and t-shirt.
There was also a very nice “Christmas” letter from Tricia’s mom. And, suspiciously, no bills.
Speaking of which, I got paid a day early this week (today!) because of the holidays this week and next week. This marks my last paycheck of 2006 and so I can start to prepare all my paperwork for the accountant and get that out of the way. I won’t get my W-2’s until January, but at least I can get everything else together.
I had a holiday letter from Rich and Tricia when I got home this evening. Also, there was a large box from Amazon which is the package that Mom admonished I not open until we are able to do a video chat and the folks can watch me open it. We’ve scheduled the video chat for tomorrow night. This is one place, certainly, where science fiction got it right. I remember watching The Jetsons as a kid, with their video phones. Three decades later, here I am, able to allow Mom and Dad to watch me open my gift live, even though I’m 2288 United miles away!
Night’s where I work out in the evening are tough. I got home from work after 6:30 and by the time I’d finished my dinner and packed my lunch, it was already 8 PM. I’m supposed to be off to bed now because I’ve got to get up at 4:30 but I haven’t even had time to unwind yet, let alone to anything else. Yet another reason to avoid evening workouts when I can.
Lots of mail today when I got home from work. First, the March issue of ANALOG, which had a great essay by Stanley Schmidt on “New Writers”. (Also mentioned in the “In Times to Come” section is a new story by mabfan in the April 2007 issue.) Then there were holiday cards. From Brittany, Meagan and Lesa. From Jon, Hollie and William. From Bonnie and Tom. From my financial adviser and his assistants. And one from vickyandnorm who signed their names “Norman and Victoria” which sounded incredibly formal to me. If I didn’t know any better, every one of these folks conspired to send their cards on the same day in an attempt to flood me with holiday cheer. (I should mention that I also received a card from strausmouse and Ryane last week, lest they feel left out.) I am always touched that people take the time to send out holiday cards. I also feel properly guilty about not sending cards out myself, but the fact is that I don’t. I’m too lazy.
There was a bill from T-Mobile. A newsletter from my alumni association, and another letter asking for money from said association. Finally, there were a few pieces of junk.
No package yet from Mom and Dad. I had a curious message from Mom over the weekend telling me that she’d sent a package, and I was not to open it until we could do a video iChat and then could watch me open it. How’s that for making one curious? And the pressure!
When I got home this evening, among the several catalogs for expensive stuff I don’t need, and a copy of the 30th anniversary issue of ASIMOV’S was a small brochure entitled, “The End of False Religion Is Near!” Curious, I sat down and read all three pages. As it turns out, I am being recruited by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. In the very brief 3 pages, arguments were made why I should become a Jehovah’s Witness, and the Bible was cited 23 times. That’s 23 times in what I estimate to be 600 words total.
The tract appears to be designed to people who are fed up with how all other religions have gone soft. It attacks people who use religion to support war (both inside and outside of the U.S.) It attacks religions that “exploit their members by charging them money to pray for departed souls.” It attacks Western religions where church groups “ordain gay and lesbian members of the clergy” and even goes on to attack religions in which “religious leaders have sexually abused children.”
It was interesting and it got me thinking about religions and religious recruiting and I came up with what I think is a fairly novel idea. There should be a company that specializes in “religious recruiting”, a kind of religion broker, if you will, that you would use the same way in which you might use a job recruiter. You would give the recruiter your requirements (e.g. must allow bacon consumption, eternal salvation, and have cool uniforms) and he or she would then put you up to the highest bidder. The religions would reply with an “offer letter” which would detail for you what you would get if you picked them. Naturally, you would take the best offer, so the religions would have to compete for you. And the recruiter would get a percentage from whatever religion you ended up picking.
It would be interesting to sit in a room with a Jehovah’s Witness, Roman Catholic Priest, and an evangelical, and listen to them outline the respective good qualities of their religions, while de-emphasizes the bad qualities. Think of the muted arguments that would take place among such holy men? Threats of eternal damnation and what have you, each trying to one-up the other.
In the end of course, I would have to reject every offer, as none of them would be able to meet my requirements: strict believe in the scientific method, reason and logic, and what can be proved by observable phenomenon. Well, either that or the one where I am all-powerful and everyone worships me.
I left the office half an hour later than usual and had to stop at the grocery store on the way home to pick up a few things. I was trying to figure out what to do tonight (Wednesday evening is the one week night evening where there is nothing good on TV). I arrived home to find that today was a good mail day.
First, my autographed copy of Visions arrived, personally signed by strausmouse right beneath the article he wrote on his recent skydiving experience. Believe it or not, I have a small collection on my bookshelves, of items signed by my friends. I have a Master’s thesis signed by Tawnya. I have a signed copy of Healthy Pet magazine, which Lisa edits. I have a signed copy of an article in the San Luis Obispo Tribune featuring Dan. I have a signed copy from an Oxnard newspaper mentioned Grandpa. I have a signed copy of an article from the UCLA Law Review, “On Regulating the Internet: Usenet, A Case Study” by Paul. I have a guest editorial in the Rockland County Journal written by none other than Doug many years ago. (That one, alas, is not signed. I’ll have to bring it to Seattle with me next time I go.) And now, I can add Eric’s article to my collection. I swear, the day I finally publish something, I’m going to sign 50 copies of it, personalize each one of them (“To Jamie, a really swell guy!”) and stuff my shelves with them!
Second, I received a letter from Trevor and Andrea (aka, thepopeswife). Actually, it was two-and-a-half letters, as Trevor wrote one letter, Andrea wrote another letter, and then she included an addendum to tell me that she agrees with my spelling thoughts! And so our mutual snail-mail, letter-writing pen-palism continues.
I now know what I am going to do tonight. I am going to compose a letter back to Trevor and Andrea. I may even autograph it for them so that they can start a collection on their bookshelf (if Trevor clears away some of the Lord of the Rings DVDs to make some room). Those autographs will be worth something, someday!
My new business cards, which I ordered a week or two ago, finally arrived today. I had run out of my last batch of 250, but it took 2 years. I don’t work with outside vendors very much so I don’t have too much of an opportunity to use my business cards, but I don’t like them sitting there going to waste either. So I use them as bookmarks when reading my books. One card per book, and then a fresh card when I start a new one.
And of course, if someone asks me for a card, I now have one handy.
In this evening’s mail were exactly 3 items of interest and 10 items of junk. I’ve gotten into the routine of sorting through my mail as soon as I get into the house, lest it linger in a coma-like state for all eternity and I miss paying another bill. The junk was weeded out quickly. The three items of interest, were, in order of importance:
- A hand-written note from Trevor and thepopeswife with an accompanying photo of our last dinner together before they moved off to Minneapolis. No one writes hand written notes anymore (heck, people hardly write letters anymore) and so it is very cool to get them because they are so personal. I’m trying to come up with an appropriate way to reciprocate. Pen pals, perhaps?
- The December 2006 issue of
ASTOUNDING ANALOG (whoa there, what was I thinking!) This is the issue I have been waiting for because it contains part 3 of Robert J. Sawyer’s 4-part serial Rollback. The timing could not be worse. I am very eager to read the story, but I am totally and completely loving Andy Rooney’s Out of My Mind and at the present moment, the book is winning the battle over the serial. (On the other hand, I’ll finish the book quickly and perhaps be able to read the serial sometime this weekend.)
- Notice from the state of Maryland that it’s time for another emissions check. And before strausmouse can make the joke, they are referring to my car.
Once the junk was weeded out, it was a good mail day. One piece of good mail makes it worthwhile, but two pieces of good mail is something special.