Day 531

Saturday, June 28, 2014

I'm home this morning and afternoon while Alice is at St. Mary's with Austin for orientation.  It's a day to relax and unwind, get some stuff done that I haven't had any time to finish.  Time is tight and it's only getting tighter.

Wrote an email to Ella Marie, Sharon's partner, re True Colors.  We'll speak this week about direction etc on first novel.  I'm looking forward to our conversation.  Should take 6-8 weeks for the first book to be finished.  It will be 150-175 double-spaced pages long.  All three books will be 30k-words longer than the first book as a stand alone.  If this flies, it will be so nice to have three books outlined for the price of one.  

Day 530

Friday, June 27, 2014

I spent all day in San Francisco at a focus group conducting a mock jury for Howard.  It was interesting.  I was allowed to watch one of the finest attorneys in the country present his case.  He's a great storyteller.  That's really what a great trial lawyer does.  He told a simple, clear story that was so much more effective than the other junior attorney, who had no focus and visual image to work with.  The partner told his story a few times using different scenarios.  They were all simple and easy to follow.  That's the challenge, telling a simple story and taking out all the hard work for the jurors.  It's no different in the writing world where all the tangled ideas and difficult concepts are made clear and simple.  The best stories do that.  I'm not a fan of complicated stories that force readers to work out all the problems on their own.  Some readers may like that, but I don't.  If I don't understand something, I blame it on the writer.

I came home at 7 and went to bed at 8:30.  I was so tired at the end of the day.

Day 529

Thursday, June 26, 2014

This was a very busy working day.  I'm working all next week as well, so I won't get much done.  I worked from 9-3:30 at Varinsky, then 4:00-6:30 at Wendel.  I came home and crashed on the couch.  Tomorrow is a focus group I'm attending in San Francisco.  Should be very interesting.  

Day 528

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Played Brian Rigney in singles this morning, which was fun.  Worked from noon-5.  Wrote emails, caught up, etc.  Finally catching up from being gone a week earlier in the month.  

Day 527

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Woke up at 6, took care of to-do list items, then went to work from 9-12:30.  Came home and had a one-hour conversation with Sharon about True Colors Detective Agency.  She and her partner Ella Marie want the book divided into three novels that targets early readers (8-12-year-olds).  Because the protagonists are 5th graders, that's where the audience needs to be.  She had excellent notes and suggestions for me and said I could probably keep most of what I already have, or save some of the rougher, more questionable stuff for later in the series if the book takes off.  She liked all the Lani Shengxiao imagery and had never seen that before.  It was a productive conversation and had already gotten me thinking about the next draft.  Instead of having Mrs. Strauss die, they'd like Mrs. Strauss to go missing and the girls end up finding her in the end. That's fine.  I'll do whatever they want to get things going.

Sharon's colleague is Ella Marie, who's the creative force behind Sharon's agency.  I'll send Julia Milan to her and get her thoughts so that we can sent that manuscript out to Yolanda.  After a wonderful rest this month, I'm ready to hit the ground running in July with lots of projects.

After our conversation, I went back to work for 90 minutes, then came home and read.  It's been such a great month doing nothing but reading.  I wish I could read for an entire year without doing anything else.

Day 526

Monday, June 23, 2014

Up at 4:04, at the gym around 5:15.  With Steve gone, mornings are not competitive and somewhat dull.  I played singles and then doubles with Brian, Jack and Tiger.  Out at 7:45.

I took care of some chores from 8-11:30, then went to work at noon-5.  I came home and watched a couple of documentaries on Syria.  Syria has been on my mind lately.  It's heartbreaking what has happened to that country.  It's ruined and the people will suffer the affects for generations.  It seems the entire region is cracking into a empty pit deep inside the earth, bubbling and fulminating without end.  I asked later in the evening if the world was more extreme and dangerous now than it was 20 or 30 years ago.  He said no.  It's been like this forever.  I guess he's right.

Day 525

Sunday, June 25, 2014

I spent the day reading at Alice's.  I found a great book at the library called Hothouse, about the gossip, great writers and large egos inside the most prestigious publishing house in America, Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Day 524

Saturday, June 21, 2014

I rested at Alice's this weekend.  And read.  I plowed through a graphic novel called Boxers.

It's the story of the Boxer Rebellion in China from 1898 to 1900.  There's a second book called Spirts which I plan to read later.

I also read another book on my ipad called Paper Covers Rock, a young adult book that was well written but not that memorable.

Alice and I went to the movies Saturday night and saw The Edge of Tomorrow, which was Groundhog Day for a futuristic D-Day invasion.  The storyline was inventive and Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt worked well together.  I enjoyed it.

Day 523

Friday, June 20, 2014

Woke up at 5, hit the gym at 5:30, ran around the track for 10 minutes to wake up, then played a couple of easy games with the guys from the B court until Tiger waltzed in at 6:45.  We played one game to 7 before I hit the showers and went home.

I had a two-hour meeting with my racquetball partner Dorian about putting down on paper his memoir and experiences of racism as an entrepreneur in the professional sports world and construction world.  He's a larger than life personality with lots of good stories.  We've been meaning to get his story down for a couple years now.  It seems this is the right time to get the research done and a draft written.  I'm anticipating a 40-50k-word manuscript that captures Dorian's experiences in Louisiana when he was trying to building a community center with federal funds but was stopped by the corrupt power brokers in the parish where the projects was planned.  It's quite a tale and mirrors the obstructionist reaction Obama has experienced while in the White House.

We spent our first meeting talking about Dorian's childhood.  Very interesting.  After our meeting I came home and planned to sleep for only 30 minutes, but I ended up sleeping two hours.  I'm still recovering from the whirlwind D.C. weekend.

I'm doing chores from 1-4, then heading to the city and staying with Alice all weekend.  We have nothing planned so it should be very relaxing.  I'm looking forward to a weekend of nothing!

Day 522

Thursday, June 19, 2014

I woke up at 6:45, got ready for work, then put in five hours at Varinsky Associates from 9-2.  I came home, did a few more chores, talked to Laura for an hour or so about the D.C. weekend, then went over to Richard and Lisa's for dinner.  We talked about True Colors and life in general.  I stayed over until 10:30, then called it a night.  I went right to sleep.  

Day 521

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

There was no on at the club this morning, so I practiced for an hour until some of the B players came in.  I played Danny two games and Juan two games.  In four games they scored two points.  I made them run!  After racquetball, I came home, got ready for work, then worked from 9-2.  I talked to Chris on FaceTime for an hour, then went to Mariner Square for their singles league and played six games, winning all six, which was surprising because I'm still feeling sluggish.

I had a burrito at 9:30 and watched a documentary on Bobby Fischer before going to bed at 11.

Day 520

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Little energy today.  I did what I could but didn't do a lot.  

Day 519

Monday, June 16, 2014

I woke up at 7 and left Alice's at 7:30.  We took MUNI to Montgomery Street Station and I took BART and 58L home.  I was so tired I didn't even unpack.  I had to string a racquet for my finals match that night, so I took care of that, then got ready for work.  I left the apartment at 1:20 and worked at Wendel from 2-6.

My Club One Finals Match was at 6:30 against Carlos Mansilla, a strong player who hits the ball harder than anyone else in the league.  I was tired and not mentally prepared at the beginning of our match and it showed.  I lost the first game badly 4-15.  I was sluggish and still felt the weight of all those Oasis of the Seas desserts around my midsection.  I changed shirts, gathered up whatever energy I had, and did everything I could to play better in game 2.  I did play better and we were even throughout most of the second game.  I was up 9-7 when he took his first timeout.  I felt better but was still making a lot of mistakes and mental errors.  Carlos was slowly beginning to wear down, so I decided to continue sticking it to him with drive serves and cross-court passing shots.  I ended up winning the second game 15-12.  In the tiebreaker, Carlos imploded, making lots of mistakes and missing key shots.  He was tired.  I won the tiebreaker 11-1 and took the title for the first time in two years.  It was particularly satisfying because most of the players in the league are ten years younger than I am.  It was an ugly win, but a win nonetheless.

Reclaiming the title after a two-year absence
I went home totally exhausted.  I spoke with Alice on FaceTime for 20 minutes, then went right to bed.  

Day 518

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Woke up at 8:15, had breakfast with the wedding party, then took cabs back to Laura's where we decided to visit the Washington Mall and see two memorials I hadn't seen before, the FDR Memorial and the MLK Memorial.

It was a beautiful day in our nation's capital.  I enjoyed spending the whole afternoon catching up with everyone.  The FDR Memorable is large and impressive.  It's a statement monument, acknowledging the accomplishments of each Roosevelt term. It's beautiful.

The MLK Memorial looks better in person than online.  It's not as bad as the critics make it sound.  I enjoyed it.

Kevin and I flew out of Dulles that evening.  We each bought Hillary's new book, which I'm reading now:

I arrived back in San Francisco at 10 p.m.  Alice picked me up at Daly City and I stayed with her for the night.  A whirlwind weekend but totally worth it!

Day 517

Saturday, June 14, 2014

This was a memorable day.  I hope to post pictures from Jeff & Cheryl's wedding soon.  This was the first day in many years that the Bellingham gang was together in one place.  Jeff & Cheryl's wedding was at 4.  I flew into Dulles at 6:30 or so.  Laura, Jeff's ex-wife, picked me up and drove me to her house where Kevin and Susan were still sleeping.  Neal & Karin, Steve, Amanda & Lindsay were coming over later.  We had a great breakfast and hung out all morning.  It was wonderful.  We went to the Tabard Inn around 1 or so and checked into the hotel.  Kevin and I had a spacious room on the second floor which ended up being the after party room later that night.  I found an iron and got ready for the wedding.  I met Ron & Jeni and Kathryn & Tom at the hotel. It was great seeing everyone.

We took cabs to the church about ten minutes away.  The wedding was at 4.  It was short, sweet and poignant.  I enjoyed it.  Everyone asked when Alice and I were getting married.  We're in no hurry, but one day I'd love to throw a huge party for Alice with everyone around.  I'd enjoy that.

The reception was held at the Tabard Inn where everyone was staying.  It turned out to be a great location.  We partied from 5-11.  I took a break from 8-9:30 and went to sleep (I was so tired).  Kevin got me up and I found my second wind.  We all ended up staying up until 3:30.  We ordered pizza at 2:30.  Jeff came over at 1.  We played cards and had an absolute blast.  It's nice to know nothing's changed with these folks.  We're still the same silly gang we always were.

Day 516

Friday, June 13, 2014

I worked at Wendel today until 6, then took a red-eye flight at 10:45 p.m. to Washington D.C. for Jeff & Cheryl's wedding the next day.  I tried to sleep a few hours and maybe caught 45 minutes or so, but other than that I was up the whole flight.  I have trouble sleeping on planes, which is too bad because red-eye flights save time.

Day 515

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Alice is already on the hunt for our next cruise.  She wants us to go to Northern Europe next April, so she asked me to get my United Airline Miles together so she can buy the tickets to Copenhagen.  I usually don't think about trips so far ahead, but she's ready to make plans now.  She wants to go on the Regal Princess on the 11-day route from Copenhagen to Oslo, Stockholm, St. Petersburg, Estonia, Helsinki, and a German border town 3 hours from Berlin.  Sounds like a dream trip  I'm in!

Day 514

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Steve and I battled it out this morning and we each won a game before he forfeited the tiebreaker because he had to go to work and didn't feel right about forcing me to play so quickly after my cruise.  He leaves for Europe on Saturday, so he had to accelerate the schedule.  I'll play in the finals against Carlos on Monday night.

I worked from 9-2, then played more racquetball at Mariner's Square that evening in their singles league.  I'll play there Wednesday nights through the summer.  

Day 513

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

I read the entire day.  That's all I did.  How wonderful!  Still reading Hard Choices along with books on my kindle and iPad.

Day 512

Monday, June 9, 2014

Nothing but chores and rest.  It was a challenge to get motivated and do anything other than sleep.  I did pop into Varinsky's office to see what the week looked like.

I did find out that I had to play my semi-final match against Steve this coming Wednesday.  That's almost two weeks ahead of the schedule prior to my cruise.  It seemed brutal to have to play him just a few days after my cruise, but whatever.  I'll do what I can.  

Day 511

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Alice drove me to my place in the morning.  I unpacked and started cleaning up, doing a load of wash and shopping for the week.  I had little energy to do anything.  It was a total day of rest.

Day 510

Saturday, June 7, 2014

We arrived back in Fort Lauderdale by 6 a.m.  We had breakfast, then loaded up our stuff and left the ship around 10.  We had our bags valeted to the airport, which was really nice.

Our flight wasn't until 7 p.m. so we had several hours to kill. We decided to go to a large mall outside Fort Lauderdale.  I hung out at the Starbuck's and went through all my emails.  Everyone was tired and ready to go home.

Our flight was uneventful and smooth.  We arrived in SF around 9 and Alice's around 10.  What a great great great week!

Day 509

Friday, June 6, 2014

Day 7 of our 7-day cruise on The Oasis of the Seas.

After 7 days of non-stop eating, I was definitely feeling the effects of all those cupcakes!  I relaxed all day and enjoyed every moment of our time on the ship.  It was heaven aboard The Oasis of the Seas!

Red Velvet Heaven!

Total Cruiser!
Yummy key lime pie!
Stop the madness!
Please make them stop!

Day 508

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Day 6 of our 7-day cruise on The Oasis of the Seas.

Today was a sea day and very relaxing.  We just relaxed, and ate, and watched a wonderful ice show on the 4th deck.  Afterward, we caught the first game of the NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs.  After halftime, Alice and I headed back to our cabin to change, but I was so tired I went to sleep.  Tonight was our last formal dining night.  We all had lobster and Baked Alaskan for dessert.  Yum!

Day 507

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Day 5 of our 7-day cruise on The Oasis of the Seas.

We spent the day in St. Maarten, a beautiful Caribbean island in which the Dutch own half and the French own half.  We were docked near Philipsburg on the Dutch side.

Here's our entire crew:

At St. Maarten

The boys went jet skiing while the adults rested under sun umbrellas.  I walked along the town's main street, looking inside shops and walking along the beach.  There were some interesting places in St. Maarten.

After our day on the beach, we headed back on the ship for more eating and more ice cream!

Day 506

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Day 4 of our 7-day cruise on the Oasis of the Seas.

Today we went to St. Thomas.  I'd been there before back in the late-70s and didn't remember liking it all that much.  It's still not my favorite island.  Alice and I took a bus downtown to Main Street and walked around for an hour.

Inside St. Peter & Paul's Cathedral on Main Street

We also walked along Veterans Drive.

St. Thomas

Facing the other side

After our day in St. Thomas, we had dinner at 150 Park Central, the best restaurant on the ship.  It was delicious!

Day 505

Monday, June 2, 2014

Day 3 of our 7-day cruise

Today was a sea day.  We continued to explore the ship, ate, ate some more, and watched the Oasis of Dreams Aqua show, which was very good.

Yesterday was formal night, so we all dressed up for dinner.

First Formal Night

Ben, Alex, Andrew, Austin, Hoi

This was so good!
Today, we truly relaxed.

Day 504

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Day 2 of our 7-day cruise on The Oasis of the Seas

We arrived in Nassau, Bahamas this morning.

Nassau, Bahamas
It rained most of the morning, but Alice and I set out closer to noon when the rain stopped.  We walked along Bay Street, taking in all the sights and shops.

In front of our ship
After 90 minutes of sightseeing, it was time to eat!

Rum cake with coffee ice cream
The Cupcake Shop
We had dinner at six and saw a comedy performance that night, which was hilarious.  Very funny!