Monthly Archives: October 2003

Capitol Dome

Two days touring DC, via bus and lots of walking; National Cathedral, Washington Monument, Arlington Cemetery, several museums. I didn’t plan the trip well enough to have requested White House tour tickets. Regular checks of the fire news back home, while Y made regular cellphone calls to his lab, where urgent retests were in progress in response to FDA findings a couple weeks ago. Circumstances made for some stress; it isn’t the best time for either of us to be across the country from home.

At the convention hotel, well-dressed attendees to a children’s safety conference earlier in the week gave way to familiar fantasy folk by last night. Had a nice chat with the always cheerful Jonathan Strahan.

I hadn’t intended this blog to be merely a record of my daily activities — which couldn’t possibly interest more than 3 or 4 people — much less a reaction to fire news (see David Gerrold’s blog for that), but rather a place to chat about books, discuss reading, etc. Maybe after this trip is over. And I should set up a way to accept comments.. or port this whole thing over to Movable Type. Advice welcome. Gotta go.

Transit to DC

Long day of cancelled and delayed flights from LA to Boston to DC, while nervously listening and phoning for news of the fires back home in LA. An area of Simi Valley where my sister lives was under voluntary evacuation, and though she had plenty of time to pack the family cars, they did not have to leave. Arriving late at the hotel, our reservation apparently lost until a manager is summoned, and discovering, as seems to happen more often these days, that travelers from the west coast are out of luck trying to get food from east coast hotels after 11p.m…. We did manage to scrounge a deli plate in the bar.

Orange Glow

From the balcony at my neighbor’s pre-Halloween party last night we could see an orange glow, with occasional pinpricks of direct orange light, above the mountain ridges to the east from the fires burning fully 50 miles away. By the 11 p.m. news, 200 homes were reported burned. It’s up to 300 this afternoon; certainly the most destructive series of fires in SoCal in many years, recalling those in Laguna Hills and Calabasas/Malibu 10 years ago–almost 10 years to the day.

I happen to have been exchanging emails the past couple days with Gary Westfahl, occasional Locus Online contributor, who lives in Claremont, not far from Rancho Cucamonga. He reports today that his neighborhood was in fact evacuated last night at 2 a.m., that nothing has been damaged so far, but that they’ll not be allowed to return to their homes until tomorrow.

The Santa Anas continue to gust today, bleaching the air except for the fuzzy smear of fire smoke on the southern horizon. Despite the anxiety they cause–more so to me since my move a couple months ago than before–I enjoy their effect. The hot dry clear air recalls to me the summers I spent as a teen on the high Mojave Desert, staying with relatives, reading a book a day, hiking the rocky hills, and writing those voluminous journals.

Leaving early tomorrow morning on a flight to DC; I intend to maintain daily posts to this blog, but we’ll see how it goes.

UPDATE 10 p.m.: Alas, mundane circumstances interfered; I didn’t manage to complete a New Books page today after all, much less edit the couple submissions that came in today. I should know better than to promise anything, even in the informal context of this blog. You get what you pay for. What did I just hear, 850 homes burned so far??! Next update from DC.

Dangerous Blue Sky

I have 2 or 3 items in work that I’m formating for posting this weekend, but will not actually post until sometime over the next week, from my hotel room in DC; this will give the impression to those who do not follow the website closely enough to be reading this blog, that even while I’m away, there is still a busy staff back at Locus Online HQ preparing and posting new material. These items include the interview excerpts from the November issue, and 1 or 2 or possibly even 3 reviews and/or essays. Before leaving, though, I do plan another New Books page, to go up Sunday afternoon. Not to mention the weekly bestsellers.

Today dawned bright and clear, all signs of wind-blown brush-fire smoke gone. This was not a good sign; it was a sign that the Santa Ana winds had kicked in, for the first time this season, blowing the Rancho Cucamonga smoke south rather than west. It means hot dry winds from the north, clearing the skies but parching the air, whirling spirals of fallen leaves along the city streets, setting the stage for additional threatening fires. Sure enough, by afternoon another huge pall of smoke arose to the north of here, from Simi Valley or Santa Clarita, though apparently not destructive enough to have made any of the major news reports.

Off now to a pre-Halloween neighborhood party; time to be neighborly.


Work today, three meetings, meaning not enough time between them to accomplish much of anything except respond to email and shuffle papers. I’ll be at work tomorrow too, in anticipation of taking all of next week off as vacation for the trip to DC and World Fantasy Con.

Pink sunlight today through the smoke from brush fires 50 miles to the east of here–as commented on by David Gerrold; homes burned in Rancho Cucamonga.

Traffic at Locus Online has been rising steadily the past few weeks–as I’ve been able to manage regular updates more reliably, following the disruption of my move over the summer. Over 8000 unique visitors every day this week so far. I’ll expect a Friday dip, and a bigger dip on Saturday, always the slowest day of the week.

Am thinking much about what kind of content to post here. I wrote voluminous journals for 20 years, beginning in my teens, so it’s not that I can’t think of anything to write about, just trying to think what I can write about that would make someone bother to check on yet another blog. Further thoughts on this soon. I think Y and I will check out another local restaurant this evening.

More design tweaks today–fonts.

A Different View

Alrightie, here’s one more overhaul of the design, after browsing yet more blogs and deciding to free myself from the boxy layouts of my other sites. To see the earlier design, look at the archive page; I’ve only updated the current page, not the entire site. (I started, in my design effort, with the template for Steven Johnson’s blog. And I changed my mind about a non-fixed-width site.) Still not quite ready to link this to the Locus Online site so that anyone but me can see this; though when I do, I can easily edit these earlier entries to remove or edit comments such as these. [*Not to mention the remarks removed HERE!*] And, still need to work on link colors, unvisited and visited.

–Well, no, I seem to have overwritten the template for archive entries after all. Oh well. Still tweaking settings; back to the drawing board. Perhaps I’ll link this to the Locus Online site before I leave for DC in a few days. Or perhaps I’ll change my mind and ditch the whole idea. Who would miss it?

Near Term Plans

Here’s what to expect on the Locus Online website in the next week or so.

I’m leaving Monday morning October 27 for Washington DC, to play tourist for a few days with my partner Yeong and then attend the World Fantasy Convention. I’ll be there only until Sunday afternoon, after the banquet–returning Sunday evening. (Back to work Monday morning.)

By this weekend, therefore, I’m planning to post the sample pages from the new issue of Locus Magazine that just went to the printer–the November issue. Already posted bestsellers today. That leaves the ‘profile’ page, the TOC page, the New & Notable Books page, and 2 pages of interview excerpts.

In addition, I’ll have at least another New Books page, and perhaps a Magazines page update, plus one or two reviews, depending on which contributors get their pieces to me by this weekend.

I’ve reduced my Inbox backlog to a bare dozen or two emails, mostly from would-be contributors pitching ideas or even finished articles. If any of you are reading this, I haven’t forgotten.

Fresh Face

I’ve spent 2 or 3 hours over the past 2 or 3 days, when I should have been doing other things, examining the template style tags of other blogs and building up a template of my own from pieces that I liked, completely overwriting the 2 or 3 Blogger-provided templates I’d tried out (such as, for example, the one Kim Antieau is using). So now I have a webpage designed completely without table tags, not to mention without a fixed width; both firsts for me. The cost however of using style tags for formatting is that this page must look like mincemeat in any browser more than 2 or 3 years old. (Such as Netscape 4.73, still the default browser in new PC installations at the otherwise high-tech firm where I spend my weekdays.)

This blog will serve as an editorial space for me in my capacity as editor/publisher/advertising director of Locus Online, though I expect it will be as much a personal journal as a running editorial, more along the lines of Jonathan Strahan’s blog, or even Tim Pratt’s journal, linked at right. I’ve offered to set up a blog for the editors of Locus Magazine, but they’ve been too busy getting the latest issue to the publisher to have yet responded. Considering the names of Jonathan’s blog and mine, my suggested title for a Locus Mag blog is “Secrets from Ridgewood Lane”. Perhaps I’ll hear from them in the next 2 or 3 days.

Inbox Watch

About 200 emails today, from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. I installed new Windows updates as prompted. Does this have anything to do with the sudden spate of new emails of the SoBig variety?– with subject lines such as ‘Details’, ‘That movie’, and ‘Wicked Screensaver’?

This is only a test. In the event of a real blog…

Here we are still playing around with Blogger to see what it will do. It will do for the moment, I suppose. A good technique for building anything (especially something coded) is to start out small, make sure that works, then keep adding functionality (as they say) incrementally, each time verifying the result. Someday this blog might mature into something with comment threads and other such bells and whistles. For the moment it’s intended to serve as any easy-to-manage periodic editorial space for the Locus Online website.

Now, if I hit Enter twice, as I just did, does the resulting html get two break tags? One para tag? Or does all the text collapse into one big blob? Let’s see.

Answer: 2 break tags. Now let’s see what we can do about the clumsily large post title. Back to the template.

That’s a little better. I’m used to hand-editing all my html (with liberal use of copy and paste) and I’m still decoding the Blogger template’s style tags.

Mm, I guess I don’t like all this heavy color. Let’s try a different template. Or maybe I’ll build a new template that mimics the Locus Online standard page.. though not just now.