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April 30, 2007
I like riding my bicycle to work. By the time I arrive at the office, my body is flooded with my three favorite substances: adrenaline, endorphins, and self-righteousness.
Tricks of the Trade
For those of you wondering why Tricks of the Trade was AWOL for much of last year, here's the story in a nutshell.
When the original Tricks of the Trade article ran in August of 2004, I was immediately contacted by an editor from a well-known publisher, wanting to know if I had enough tricks to fill a book. Not even close, I told him. My original call for tricks had netted about 100 responses, from which had culled the 30 best. That left me with only 70 more, most of which were too specific, not specific enough, redundant, or otherwise unusable.
"Well," he said, "do you think you could get more? Because I think this would make a great book." I said I would try.
So the following week I started tradetricks.org. By my reckoning, doling out tricks on a regular basis would slowly build up a following, while making it easy to submit tricks would increase my accumulated store of tips.
Both of these prediction proved to be more-or-less true. By spring of 2005, I had amassed a couple hundred tricks--not nearly enough for a book, and sufficient to serve as proof of concept. I spent a week or two writing a book proposal and sent it to the editor. His response, while more subdued that his original zeal, was still positive and enthusiastic. He said that they were having a planning meeting later that week, and he would see about getting the book onto the 2007 slate.
Anyway, long story short. We corresponded for a few weeks thereafter, and at no point did I receive any indication that he was losing interest in the project. Then, one day, and every day thereafter, all my emails to him apparently disappeared into the ether. No responses from the guy whatsoever. No bounces, either, so presumably he hadn't been 86'ed or anything.
I keep the site going because ... well, because why not? It's pretty easy to maintain and people like it.
A year later I get another email from another editor at another fairly large publishing house. I tell her the above story, and she says, what hey? No one is currently looking at your proposal? Send it over! I do so, warning her that it's the first proposal I have ever written and therefore probably subpar; she replies with "no, this is perfect, and I totally want to take this to the next level." (Most of this is paraphrase, but she honestly said "take it to the next level." In 2006.)
So this goes on for a few weeks, and eventually she and I wind up on the phone together. And I say, "well, all this sounds great, but, you know, I'm kind of wary. Because the last editor just stopped returning my emails."
To which she chuckles knowingly and says, "well, I can assure you that's not going to happen here!"
So: any guesses as to what subsequently "happened here"?
Maybe this is just how editors at big publishing houses routinely end communications of all kinds: one minute you are chatting amicably with them around a water cooler, the next they dash off in mid-sentence and hide in a broom closet so you can no longer speak to them. At any rate, the experience(s) soured me on the whole Tricks of the Trade thing, as well as publishers, editors, books, words, and literacy.
Why, then, did I restart the site last month? Mostly because I got a surprising amount of email from people saying it was missed. Also, the tricks continue to flow in even while the site was inactive, and I had to do something with 'em.
A few notes. The old tricks have been removed, but will presumably resurface in this chimeric "book," assuming that ever happens. Some people asked for a full XML feed; I implemented that suggestion this morning. And the submit form is currently off-line--I hope to give this place a modest facelift in the coming weeks, and will re-add it then. (In the meantime, you can send tricks to email@example.com if you are so inclined.)
And I still have this book proposal, sitting on the thumb drive in front of me. If you interested in it, and have an attention span of four weeks or greater, feel free to drop me a line.
April 25, 2007
Last Friday I got email from my friend Phyllis Fletcher:
To: MatthewUpdate: I just sent this as well:
Scott McClellan announced yesterday that he is writing a memoir, to be published next spring. In the book--which covers the former press secretary's childhood, entry into politics, and prominent position in the Bush Administration--McClellan will insist that he already addressed these topics in earlier statements, refuse to answer hypotheticals, and reiterate his longstanding policy of not commenting on his life while it is currently in progress.Can't really take credit for that one, pretty much wrote itself.
April 23, 2007
April 19, 2007
The Queen: Do you want to watch America's Next Top Model with me.
Me: Ah, no. I did that once in my lifetime, so I'm good, thanks.
The Queen: Oh, come on.
Me: Sorry, but I just don't understand the appeal of a bunch of stupid people prancing around like idiots and blurting out whatever damned-fool thing flitters through their heads.
The Queen: ... says the guy who reads political blogs.
April 18, 2007
The Adventure of the Missing Stocking
The writers of the hit TV series LOST (with my, um, help) take time out their busy schedule to write a a new Sherlock Holmes mystery.
April 17, 2007
U.S. Capitols Cities, Had All States Followed North Dakota's Example and Named Them After Types of Donuts
April 16, 2007
My Aunt V., creator of the word "Rovenge," has come up with another neologism:
e-social: A subset of asocial, where someone is so distracted by electronic devices that he ignores the people around him.If the e-social person is focusing exclusively on his phone, I would also suggest the term "cell-centered."
Purgegate Primer: Supplimental Reading
Alberto Gonzales testifies before Congress tomorrow. Oh my goodness, I'm giddy as a schoolgirl. That crescendo of rumbling you hear is a train wreck a-comin'.
If you'd like to get up to speed before the spectacle, I would refer you to my The Purgegate Primer.
The latest twist in the tale, revealed after I wrote my cheatsheet, is that the Justice Department has been stacked with graduates from the "tier-four" (i.e., "pisspoor") legal school founded by religious-right zealot Pat Robertson. Read all about it here, or have it explained to you by Bill Maher there (video). Expect Gonzales to field a few questions about that.
Also, a group of longtime conservatives called for his resignation earlier today. (That is, they made their request earlier today--they are not requesting that he travel back in time and resign four hours ago.)
Spider-Man 3 will hafta be pretty goddamned good to beat this.
April 13, 2007
Of course, the best thing about getting a scanner:
Now I can go mano a mano with xkcd. WATCH YOUR BACK HYPER-INTELLIGENT STICK-FIGURE-DRAWING GEEK MAN!
April 12, 2007
I Got A Scanner!
Further cementing my reputation as a "tardy-adopter," today I bought a scanner, only a single decade after they became mandatory for any self-respecting geek.
First picture scanned:
My father and I, October, 1971.
Not only is Pa Baldwin an all-around great guy, but he's also a regular reader of this site. Hi dad!
Update: "Don't you have a similar picture of you and the Squiggle? I think a side-by-side comparison would be nice here."
Extrapolations: every generation of Baldwin will have shorter hair, a higher BMI, and more ridiculous headgear.
April 11, 2007
The vending machine at my work contains Hershey's Ultimate Soft-Baked Cookies.
From a marketing standpoint, I guess the name "Soft-Baked Cookies" is catchier than "Undercooked Pastries." Though not as clever as "Salmo-Nilla Wafers."
Apparently defective yeti was name-checked in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer today.
April 09, 2007
Job Titles You Could Put in the "Occupation" Field of Your Tax Return to Exact Some Small Measure of Revenge on a Random IRS Employee by Getting an Irritating Song Stuck in His or Her Head
April 06, 2007
Lowest Form of Humor
Q: What does a copy editor do when she's not feeling well?
A: Calls inn [sic].
April 05, 2007
Encounter at the Intersection of Maudlin and Geek
Squiggle and I are strolling through a park, and I am singing Daisy Bell to him. As I near the end of the song, we approach a middle-aged woman, who is walking briskly in the opposite direction. She suddenly stops dead in her tracks and stares, dumbfounded, as I belt out the last few words.
Woman: Were ... were you just singing "Bicycle Built For Two?"
April 04, 2007
A Modest Proposal
Note: If the proposal is accepted, this will likely be my last post.
My friend The Other Matthew also talked to me for a class project. That interview can be found here. I did not actually verify that the perl code would compile before I sent it; if you discover that it does not, I don't want to hear about it.
April 03, 2007
Received: Mon, 2 Apr 2007 03:55:41 +0100Man, I kind of feel sorry for this guy. It must be like trying to sell rotary phones.
April 02, 2007