I rant on occasion. Not as much as I used to, but I do. I don’t always rant about the world of publishing either. I could seriously rant about the state of the economy in Southern California where middle class people like me make double the minimum wage per hour, haven’t had a significant raise in years and can’t even get an apartment because the price is so high and the main requirement is to have 2 to 3 times the rent in income. Yeah, that’s a huge rant with me. Being homeless because of the economy sucks ass. No one will help you because you have a job.

DSC_0099Despite how much and how long I could go on about the homeless situation in Orange County, I have something else on my mind. Like being homeless, it’s on my mind daily or almost daily anyway. It’s on my mind the five days a week I venture out into traffic in the Catmobile to go to work.

Drexting. Driving while texting.

At first, it only happened once in a while. I’d glance into my rear view mirror while approaching a red light or stop sign and find the person behind me not slowing down, their head tipped down. It dawned on me that they were texting or checking their email on their smartphone and not paying attention to the road in front of them. So I started keeping a little bigger gap between me and the person in front of me in case the person behind me with their face in their phone didn’t stop.

TrafficOptimistically, I thought this sort of thing would stop happening as the police started ticketing people for using their phones while driving. Not so. Now, when I look in the rear view mirror or at the cars on either side of me, it’s the exception rather than the rule to find the drivers paying attention to the road. It seems like everyone around me has their face tipped down to their phone.

I’m an excellent driver. I’ve been to racing school twice. I know about mechanical things in my vehicle because I worked in a repair shop in college. I understand my car and the ones around me. And yet, it’s scary to drive out there with all the people who don’t get it.

Obviously, they are not thinking. They are texting. And texting while driving is not what an intelligent person does. I look at these people and many of them don’t LOOK stupid, but they are sure ACTING stupid. It reminds me of the saying “Stupid is as Stupid does.” And boy, do they does.

So many rear ender accidents from this and so many people who see the accidents, know it’s against the law to be holding your phone and using it in any manner while driving, and yet they still do it. I wonder how many times they’ve looked up from their email or text and had to slam on the brakes. Yet close calls to no deter them.

greenlightWe wonder why the traffic is so much worse these days. Think about it for a moment. How many times have you been behind a slow car and passed them only to find the driver either talking, texting or doing email on their phone? Same thing for drivers who don’t go when the light turns green. And the drivers who drift over the line? Them too. They are all part of the traffic problem because they are impeding traffic.

It’s rampant. I know it’s not just here in SoCal. It’s everywhere. And it’s also causing accidents which cause our insurance rates to go up. I wonder why the people doing this don’t realize this, especially if they’ve gotten into an accident. Rott tells me that these people know what they are doing. They know and they don’t care or think it will never happen to them because they’re such a good driver. Such utter bullshit.

I find myself using my horn far more than I ever did before. I honk at people at lights almost daily. They, of course, are busy with their phones. Many times it takes two honks to get them to go.  Rott yells at them a lot. “GO STUPID!” is probably his most frequently spoken phrase, followed by “It’s the big pedal on the right!” Nice.

DrextingAnd I can see how road rage would increase from all this drexting. I know I’m a lot more angry than I use to be when I’m driving and it’s all because of these inconsiderate drivers. I try to find a station on my satellite radio that engages me and makes me sing along so I care less about these idiots. And the one thing that keeps going through my head as I look in my rear view mirror and deal with these morons day in and day out is…don’t you want to get where you’re going? Don’t you want to get home? Because someday you’re going to be paying more attention to your phone and you’re going to run into something big in front of you and you may never go home again.

Much love to you all out there. Drive safely.



The Power of the Tweet

I’ve been on Twitter a long time. You wouldn’t know it to look at either of my usernames and how many tweets there are attached to them or by checking my Tweet-Karma, but I really have been on Twitter since early 2008.  In the last couple of years, I’d gotten away from it because writing really consumed me and I just didn’t have time for Twitter and Yahoo IM. I rarely turned on either of those things. They were a distraction most of the time. So the number of tweets I have is rather low for someone who’s been on it as long as me.

However, one of the things I re-discovered while at RT was the joy of a tweet or two or ten. I found myself constantly turning on the Seesmic app on my Android phone. If I was waiting for someone, I turned it on and checked it. If I couldn’t sleep, I checked it. Standing in the elevator, I checked it. The RT tweets were a hoot which helped reestablish the whole thing for me. Some very funny stuff happened at that convention.

Used in conjunction with Facebook (my tweets post to my FB account) I managed to gently tease author Desiree Holt. I posted that I was sitting behind her in the lobby court of the hotel, buying her 100th book. And I was. Grinning with every click of the touch pad on my netbook as I made my purchase.  When Desiree saw what I’d posted, she got up and turned around and came over to hug me. The look on her face was priceless. I got such a kick out of using social media in such a way.

The power of the tweet came into play again when I got home from the convention on Sunday. I was sitting in my recliner, glad to be home, and I decided to look at Seesmic. What I found was a tweet from Jane of Dear Author about losing her Kindle and color Nook at RT. By coincidence, the “gang” (aka Z.A. Maxfield, Lynn Lorenz, Belinda McBride, Tara Lain, Stephani Hecht and Cherise Sinclair) and I found a Kindle in a green cover and a color Nook in a gray cover at the table where we sat down in the lobby court. When we turned on the Kindle it said the owner’s name was Jane.  A name like Jane could be anybody and neither ereader gave up any other information to us. Plus, I think we felt kind of bad poking around in them for information on the owner(s). So we called the lobby court manager over and turned in the Kindle and Nook to her.

Seeing Jane’s lamenting tweets about her lost ereaders reminded me that we’d found two and that one had said it belonged to Jane. Seemed like way too much of a coincidence to me, so I tweeted to Jane about our find and where we’d turned in the two ereaders. I was happy to see them find their way back to their owner. Especially since I now know what it’s like to be ereaderless. (I gave Nikki my Nook 3G to use with etextbooks and bought a color Nook, but when we had the chance to buy a mobile home a week later, I returned the color one in order to put the money to better use. Now, I’m without an ereader and I’m so lost!)

So I’ve renewed my acquaintance with Twitter a little and I’m glad that my doing so led to a good deed.  Hopefully, I won’t go back to being a stranger because I’ve got a bunch of new followers and even *gasp* Yasmine Galenorn is following me! (Hi, Yazza!) And I do miss the tweets of my friends Marty, Dave, Karl and Hilly. I need to turn on my original Twitter account and not just the Lex Valentine one.

Not to change the subject, although I am, the house situation is nearing a close literally. The house is being inspected on Tuesday and we expect to close escrow possibly the following day.  So very soon I’ll be changing my address and will no longer have a landlord. Rott and I are both looking forward to that despite how much money (and a Nook!) it has cost us.

Now, it’s time for my Monday Marcus. I can’t believe I’ve been posting this beautiful man for years now. Ah, well. It’s a good thing he’s so good looking or I’d tire of him, wouldn’t I? LOL

Before I go, if you don’t follow me on Twitter, I invite you to in the hopes that you’ll all encourage me to use it more than I have in the past two years. My author Twitter name is lexvalentine and my original account is winterheart. See you there!

Have a great Monday!

Construction Zone

So I was tired of the Lex Valentine website. I put up a temporary one for release day this past Friday. If you have a new book out you often get lots of hits on your website. I’m not a stat checker so I don’t know for sure. But I did know that I wanted something new. I wanted something sleeker and more code-modern. I couldn’t find anything that I liked that I could tweak. I put up a really simple template, slapped my pen name on it and let release day happen.

Late last night, I got an idea. Like a dog with a bone I couldn’t let it go. So I tweaked on this thing and messed with it and studied it and messed with it some more and tweaked on it some more. And then, I really started to like it.

Now, I’m no code whore. I know enough to make me dangerous with a template so I always have backups of backups because God knows no one can render a template useless faster than me. But for some reason, last night I looked at that CSS and the logic of it just fell into place in my head. At least where color is concerned. I may not know CSS very well, but I know a hex code when I see one! So I figured out how to customize the color.

It still has issues that I haven’t been able to wrap my brain around yet, like this whole featured article stuff and how to make a static header, and how to make it start on my welcome page and not my blog. (No, it’s not the standard WordPress setting, it has it’s own specialized settings just for this template.) But I’ll figure it out and if I don’t and I get stuck and frustrated, well, I’ll throw some money at someone and let them fix it for me. I know I’m more than halfway there now so that’s very satisfying.

The funny thing is that I used the same template I used for Jason Edding’s site. If you look at his and you look at mine, you’ll do a double take. They don’t look very alike at all. That’s the beauty of a template that has customizations built in and then gives you the option of changing it even more.

Now, my reason for wanting the site in better shape than the temp template I had up? I got a release date for Where There’s Smoke. Yep, May 3 – Rott’s birthday. Although, I have to admit, when I told him about it, he put his hands over his ears and said, “I can’t hear you!” when I said it’s a gay book. For another, he said he doesn’t have birthdays anymore and he’s still 21. (He’ll be 44. LOL) But yeah, I’m excited to have this book come out. And eventually, the construction zone will move here, but I’m just not there yet with ideas. And yes, the bats stay.

So this morning, tired as I am from a lack of sleep (I have a cut on my leg and it throbbed so badly I couldn’t really sleep) I’m feeling jazzed about some things. So I need a very nice Marcus today.

I wish I had a bigger image but it’s kinda cool anyway.

I was gonna talk about my trials and tribulations with a very cool tribal cut out aluminum computer case by Raidmax, but I’m too disgusted to even put the facts on paper as it were. Just UGH. BIG UGH.  Suffice to say, I’m not ever buying an aluminum case again no matter how cool it is or how many features it has that I want. It’s steel or nothing baby. Okay, maybe I could be talked into a plexiglass case…*eyeroll*

Here’s hoping you all have a simply awesome Monday!

Bad Database!

For three weeks now, I’ve been trying to move The Bar to a new domain.  For three weeks I’ve been beyond frustrated. First the upgrade from phpbb2 to phpbb3 sucked ass. Oh, everything converted. Everything is there. But one post, just one, ended up split from a thread. I have tried everything to merge it back, but the merge feature refuses to work. I tried copying the post and changing it’s permissions. That didn’t work and in fact spawned a new issue. It wouldn’t let me delete the damn post either! HELLO! Database creator here! Still… it refuses.

I finally gave up trying to fix it and settled down to move the database. Well, not really move it but copy it to the new domain. I tried the backup/restore function within the database itself. No dice.  I googled for some tips and tricks and came across a php board where some techie guy said, yanno the backup/restore doesn’t work very well. Go into phpMyAdmin and do an export/import.

Ooooh, I thought. This sounds right! Did it work? NO. Okay, it sorta worked. In the admin panel it showed me all the threads. I thought wooo hooo! I went to the forum itself… empty. Whaaaa? Massive headache ensued. So I gave up and pondered the damn thing for a few days. My conclusion? I needed someone else to look at the damn thing. I had to be missing something.

So I sent Marty an email. He’s smart and resourceful… the kind of guy who would know about databases right? Well, he’d never moved one before, but offered to poke around in mine to see what might be wrong.  Marty’s next email shocked me. The two boards have different versions of php. Woah. I never even thought to look at that! So I deleted the new board uninstalled phpbb and went into the configuration to upgrade my php from 4 to 5.  Then I reinstalled phpbb3. Now, it’s ready for another try.

I’m not sure that I can still make this work but it was nice to have another set of eyes look at the problem. Instead of it being a bad database that needed a timeout, it just needed someone else to tame it. Or so I hope anyway. I really appreciated Marty looking at it. If anyone out there knows php board admin rights stuff, email me. I still can’t merge that effing thread. *sigh*

It’s Monday so I’ve got a nice Marcus here to drool over.  I kinda like the scruffy face look on him.


Now, for the first time, I think I’ll put a naughty female behind the fold. After all, I really did appreciate Marty’s help.

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Cruising & Guesting

I know I’ve been MIA. I’m sorry. The power supply went out on my desktop and apparently it had been shorting out for awhile unnoticed. It tweaked a lot of stuff on its way out and I ended up having to reformat my hard drive AGAIN. This has been the 3rd time in 2 years. I’m so not happy. I do have Mozy backups of stuff so I mostly didn’t lose things, but I’m having issues restoring my email and I think I’ve lost it all which is really a serious thing because I’ve got fulls and partials of submissions for Freya’s Bower and Wild Child Publishing there.

I need some kind of new system with email I think. Or I need to reassess how I’m doing my Mozy backups. I should have been able to restore the folders and emails. No dice so far. Anyone who is good with Outlook (an old version) care to try? I could use the help. I’m at wits end here.

Anyway, I’m not really here today. I’m guest blogging at my pal Selena’s talking about length. Click the link and come by. You’re more than welcome to disagree with me about length. Hee hee.

Selena Illyria’s Blog

Rott and I went on a late night run for Mexican food last night. Ahh. Cruising in the SUV. Ten pm on a Saturday night, the county is clogged with traffic because the fair is going on. We went all the way to Alberto’s in Fountain Valley and found… a line out the parking lot onto the street. Seems Alberto’s is very popular late on a Saturday night. Rott got a little turned around going home. I can’t say I blame him. I never go there so I didn’t think he was doing wrong either. We weren’t lost or anything. We just took the wrong freeway exit – south instead of north.

I gotta say, I wasn’t all that unhappy with the wrong turn despite the fact that it frazzled Rott’s nerves. (He doesn’t like to do stuff wrong. And like me, he never gets lost. So the wrong exit thing kinda upset him.) The wrong turn meant we got to drive longer. For me it had a twofold plus, one I got to spend more time with Rott. I love watching him drive. Always have. I love his hands and forearms so watching him steer and shift has always been a secret pleasure of mine.

The second thing that was cool was getting to ride in the truck. It’s a really nice SUV. Infiniti Q45. It’s not a stick so no shifting like in his Prelude, but it’s a seriously nice ride. He was finding it to be a pain in the ass because he couldn’t just zip around the freeway and change lanes like he used to. It bothered him that the blind spot was so huge and you have to rely on your mirrors a lot more and be more cautious changing lanes. It’s an adjustment and last night it added to his frazzled nerves. Still, for me anyway, it was a nice outing. Upped my hope level that maybe things can be worked out.

Hopefully, I can find my Marcus photos and get a Monday Marcus up. At the very least, he’ll back the following week. I think I know where the images are. Meanwhile, have a great Sunday!