Very Loud Very Rude Noises
I suppose the day really went to the dogs when my typing was interrupted by the inordinately grating blat of the Everett Tower fire alarm. It wasn't one of those quick little burps they do during testing -- no, this one was going on and on and on... right outside by office and so vibrating the very inner fabric of my inner sanctum.
Of course if there's a bloody fire alarm going on you get the hell out of Dodge, for one thing, but given the "quiet time" on campus, it would've been just like someone to hold a timed fire drill and observe if we all got out in good form. They are also winding up a renovation project in the adjacent (and connected) building, Rood Hall, and the two buildings' fire alarms are connected, so there are lots of ways the alarm could've been tripped.
Since it was on my way out the door, I grabbed my tote bag of paperwork and tossed in my reading glasses. "No time for backing up the computer." (grin) But I was through the door to the stairwell when I turned back to get my "technology bag" which has all my crap in it. Then down the stairs and out. When I got onto the plaza, the secretaries were wondering if anyone had a cellphone. It's 2005 and we're surrounded by geeks and everyone left their cellphones in their offices or labs? Except for one -- the guy who'd grabbed his technology bag. So I called Public Safety and said we had a fire alarm in Everett Tower -- the alarms are local, you have to call it in. Public Safety said they had word of an alarm tripped accidentally by a contractor in Rood Hall. "They're connected," I said. Well, someone was coming to check it out and turn the alarm off. It took twenty minutes and some back-and-forth with the Public Safety officer on his cellphone. We suspected that they weren't sure what key it was for the master panel.
Finally we got back in.
Late in the day WMU's Office of Information Technology sent out a broadcast email warning everyone to run Windows Update to deal with this latest worm, especially Windows 2000 SP4 and Windows XP SP1/SP2 users. So I fired up the new laptop and went ahead and updated Norton Anti-Virus and ran the critical updates for XP Pro SP2. That kept me going until after my usual departure time.
I don't think I've made this comment before -- but is there a BMW Mini-Cooper in the state of Michigan which doesn't have a vanity plate? (grin)
As I stepped in from the garage at home, my wife was on the phone with my parents. Back on Sunday, they'd told me the sad tale of the demise of their VCR. They'd thought it was a problem with the digital cable where they live in North Carolina and finally a service guy came out and he diagnosed the problem. My mother commented that for some time she'd wondered about getting one of those VCR+DVD combination players, which would fit in their cabinet. Their service guy said if you want a VCR+DVD, buy a Sony. (good choice) But with unexpected expenses, they probably wouldn't go look for a while.
Ah-ha! I thought and on Monday I went over to Circuit City's website and found a Sony VCR+DVD (not DVD-R) on sale with free shipping and had one sent to them. On Thursday it got there. Apparently my mother heard a knocking sound and checked the backdoor, found no one, checked the front door only to see "Brown" driving away. Not expecting any UPS deliveries, she opened the door to see a blue and white Sony box sitting there. While carrying it into the kitchen, she saw the little note on the label which ended with "Happy 60th Anniversary" -- she told my father she was about to cry.
I did good, methinks.
See, for over a year-and-a-half we've been wracking our brains trying to figure out what the hell would make a good 60th Anniversary present in November. Ten years ago, my wife made them a spectacular Golden Anniversary quilt, but that project took most of a year and anyway, they have a quilt now. They don't travel any more, they don't need more stuff -- what does one get? So it may not seem like much, but zipping the VCR+DVD to them before they even got around to looking for one -- hey, it's something they can use and there was no reason to wait til November.
And I got two stories shipped -- one yesterday and one for today. I had realized the other day that sometime Real Soon Now I should get the check for my first paid SF story sale -- and that would render me ineligible for The 25th Annual Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Story Contest Sponsored By The Science Fiction Writers of Earth (SFWoE). This is a cool little competition, which closes on October 30th every year and if you've never had a paid sale, you should check them out. They get quite an international cast of entries -- and have a special address for Australian and other Pacific nations to save on postage. More than once I've seen them include letters on their website from long-time contestants who are sending their last entry in early, since the check "isn't here yet so I haven't yet been paid." (grin) Oh -- you can submit multiple entries if you like.
In the 2004 contest they had 144 entries from 101 contestants from the U.S., Australia, Canada, U.K., Greece, Germany and Japan. In 2003, 158 stories from 94 writers came from 6 nations. SF author Edward Bryant is the final judge.
So I whipped "Life on the One-Three-Seven", a sort of brand-new officer coming of age story on a real backwater space station, in final shape and sent that on to SFWoE. And last night I finished revisions for Yet Another Rejection submission to Gordon at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Gordon Van Gelder was our guest editor at the 2004 Clarion, and he's got about the fastest by-mail turnaround in the SF industry.
I guess Thursday wasn't a complete lose.