News: IT'S THE 2ND ANNUAL GUATEMALA LIBRARY PROJECT BOOK DRIVE!    LOOKING FOR DONATIONS OF SCIENCE BOOKS THIS YEAR.    Check it out in the "Extending the Hand of Kindness" folder or here:   

  • April 27, 2017, 06:34:00 AM

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Work issue driving me up the wall: people who don't understand that insurance is a legal contract, nothing more. It doesn't have a heart, there is no sentimentality and it's not supposed to be fair. It's supposed to be just.

Even more crazy: the people who are the first to cry that an insurance company should pay for something are also the first to whine when their premiums increase. I need a head exploding emoticon
Time For a Coffee Break! / Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Last post by Slartibartfast on Yesterday at 04:47:13 PM »
The problem is there are blind spots in everyone's knowledge, and if you don't know it exists, you can't easily defend against it. The medieval Irish potatoes are an example - if you haven't specifically learned that potatoes are a New World plant, and you know about the Irish Potato Famine, you may automatically assume that potatoes have been in Ireland, well, forever. And if you think it's an established fact, you probably won't fact-check it.

Maybe I'm overly paranoid, but if I'm writing something set in the real world I spot check myself on pretty much everything.  If only from encountering similar issues in other things I've read. I know authors are only human, but it doesn't hurt to check.

The thing is, your average fiction book is around 80,000 words. (It varies by genre - some are longer and some are shorter - but go with it here.) In that book is probably somewhere around forty scenes - again, varies by genre and scene, but that's a pretty good average. Some of those scenes will be duplicate settings, obviously, but that's already anywhere up to a dozen physical locations to map out and/or research. Is the orange tree in the front yard blooming? What time of year would your book have to be set, and at what latitude? If your cowboy is riding off into the sunset, what time of day is that? If you're writing anything other than contemporary fiction set in the same place you live featuring characters just like you, there will be things you don't know and *can't* know unless you have a native beta read for you. Even then, they may miss it.

Then there's the terminology - does your Regency heroine "jump the gun?" Not before 1920 she doesn't, even though guns weren't anachronistic. Does your Michigan detective drink soda? It should be pop. If he goes to Atlanta, he's going to have to clarify what kind of Coke he wants to order. Maybe your British protagonist uses a washcloth - except it should be a flannel. Especially with historical books, you'd have to check every single word, idiom, and turn of phrase to make sure the etymology is consistent. Keep in mind, meanings change - "old hat" meant something a lot different in Regency England than it does today in the US - so even if the terms exist they might be wrong.

On top of that is the etiquette of interactions among your characters. How are women treated? If they're complete equals, then gendered insults (sissy, slut, etc.) won't fit. What racial/ethnic make-up do your secondary characters have, and what's society's view on that? Black Africans would have a totally different life experience than African-Americans, which would be different than Black people living in France. Do your characters shake hands when they meet? Burp after they finish a meal to compliment the chef? Take the last slice of cake, or leave it for the table fairies? Would your 20-something hero call his buddy "chico" if they're Peruvian instead of Mexican, but both grew up in Miami?

My point is, even in a contemporary novel, there are a LOT of details to get right. Having a beta reader and/or sensitivity reader (someone from a marginalized group who can tell you if you stick your foot in your mouth or did something offensive, and how to fix it) is really helpful, but even then there will be things every author gets wrong. It's simply not reasonable to expect a book to be 100% accurate in every detail.

There's a reason so many of us make up our own towns to set our books in  :P
Time For a Coffee Break! / Re: S/O Beggars, Moochers and Scammers
« Last post by VorFemme on Yesterday at 04:47:01 PM »
I was paying for an airport shuttle ride "home" last week and ended up having to read the number on the card over & over because the person on the phone just could not understand me (reading it back wrong - a 2 where a 4 should have been).  By the sixth go around, I was speaking quite loudly and enunciating in an exaggerated fashion so that I could get on the shuttle in front of me instead of waiting for the next one... 

After that phone call, I called up the issuing company and requested a replacement card - immediately.   

Online entry was not an option for the shuttle going to where I needed to go - I tried.  That office & that location - you have to make a phone call or buy the ticket in person...I was at the airport about a two hour drive person was not going to get me on that shuttle (the one in front of me with three empty seats).

Vendors / Re: Cake maker stress
« Last post by bloo on Yesterday at 04:45:31 PM »
I think you'll have to pick up the phone to talk to her so you can get a sense of her level of information comprehension/retention. You've sent detailed messages and she's ignoring that? I'd call her. If you get the sense from talkng to her that you just don't want to trust her with it then cut in and tell her that you've got someone that really wants to make the cake for you (she doesn't need to know it's another vendor) that has already made exactly what you want. Thank her for trying to help.
I'm so sorry about your mom and I hope your wedding is exactly what you want.
Time For a Coffee Break! / Re: Special Snowflakes Redux - play nice!
« Last post by VorFemme on Yesterday at 04:32:30 PM »

My mom is being forced to weld rebar on the bottom of her fences in the front yard, because kids are crawling underneath the fence to cut across to the elementary school.  She sat in her car one day and watched four groups of kids do this in the space of an hour!

Also, mom needs to call the school and let them know what is going on, post no trespassing signs on the fence. Contact the police dept, as well, and let them know this is going on. There will be at least one parent that will say "Well, they didn't know any better." 

If one of them gets hurt on her property, she can be held liable. One has to cover ones own behind.

DH and I did that when the walkway adjacent to our house was gated off due to it needing to be fixed (the pedestrians started hopping the fence which runs along our front yard since the gate was a lot taller and harder to scale).  We had success calling the school the first few times when we saw it was always a bunch of kids on the weekday mornings and afternoons but, after about a week or so of that, we were told they weren't responsible.  We tried calling the sheriff, also, but had no luck.  We knew we'd be held liable in one of them got hurt on our property but really couldn't do anything to stop them.  A few times, someone (not one of the kids, I suspect) used something to cut through the lock and chain on the gate.  DH reported it a few times.  I finally asked him to stop because 1) he got yelled at by the dispatcher for bothering them on the non-emergency line and 2) with the gate open, the pedestrians would stop scaling the fence and trespassing on our yard.  I certainly didn't care if someone cut off the lock if the sheriff's office and DoT weren't going to do anything about it (it took them about a year before they finally fixed the walkway that was blocked off).

Each area varies. I'd still go with the sign and the call. Calls are recorded, so take down date and time, even if they say nothing can be done. If it comes out that you get a "You should have called the police," you can respond by saying, "I did, on this day at X time, and was told, xyz."

 Maybe start calling the kids out, when she sees them, "You're not invited, stay off my property." Install security cams. All it takes is one SSF parent to think their child can do what ever said child wants, despite what said child is doing.

She has tried calling the kids out.  They look confused, like "why can't I do this?" and the excuse is "but my friends are over there". 

She grew huge spiny climbing roses over that fence for years, until the fence fell down and the roses died.  Then she pulled everything out and put in a nice new wrought iron fence.  Now she's on the lookout for new spiny evil bushes to put in front of the fence, in addition to the rebar.  I believe she's considering pyracantha bushes, which would definitely put a stop to anyone trying to get through!

Prickly Pear cactus - the fruits make a wonderfully tasty and exotic jelly, if she likes making jelly...

Unless the climate seriously disagrees with cactus...
Vendors / Re: Cake maker stress
« Last post by forsythia on Yesterday at 04:30:23 PM »
Thanks, @HannahGrace.

I have been strongly considering and wanting to do this. My only hold-back is that I fear it would come across as a slap in the face to her. I do feel between a rock and hard place with this.

If it were someone closer and I could talk to them normally, and say, "Maybe this was a bit too much? I will let you off the hook." I would not feel this hesitation.
Vendors / Re: Cake maker stress
« Last post by HannahGrace on Yesterday at 04:19:42 PM »
I would order a cake from a regular vendor and thank her for the kind offer and move on. I don't see any other way to salvage the situation at this point.

I want lamb now! I've been wanting it ever since you posted about it.

Any left over? In my house there always is.

LOL! There was, but I planned it that way. Enough for DD#1 and BFsam to take home another meal's worth and DD#2 and BFbob packed a goodly portion for their lunch on Monday. After that, very little left. I'm eating the last of it for dinner tonight.

If you show up in the next 1/2 hour or so, I'll be happy to share! ;D
Vendors / Cake maker stress
« Last post by forsythia on Yesterday at 04:11:18 PM »

I have gotten myself into a tricky situation with the wife of my DF's best man.

We are having a very small intimate wedding in less than two weeks. We are foregoing many of the extra trappings of a formal wedding as this is a second for both of us. However, I have still planned to be slightly formal, even though it is in our home. It is an afternoon ceremony officiated by a minister in our living room, followed with a sit-down catered dinner.

During preparation and planning which began in February of this year, I have also been dealing with finding out suddenly just a month ago of my mother's deteriorating health and have been quite focused on caretaking with my mom's sudden extra health needs. Thus, I was not exactly up on my game when it came to not making judgment errors.

The wife of the best man, (given our age and the type of ceremony, he is in fact a witness and support mainly as opposed to the traditional best man with extra responsibilities) during all of this, spontaneously offered to make the cake. She does do cake baking as a side hobby - mainly the occasional children's birthday cake. I took her up on the offer.

Now, Houston, we have a problem. WOBM has been nothing but a nuisance ever since. To be clear, she is not a close friend. I would say she is a social acquaintance by way of DF. Nonetheless, I must tread carefully so as not to offend her and possibly cause a rift with my DF's best friend.


I provided her with the exact type of cake I would like, with some example recipes that I put much time and effort into sourcing. I gave her exact exterior design icing instructions. I provided her with the topping detail - fresh flowers that I would source and provide.

What I have to deal with:

Unending Combobulations, off-tangent questions, not reading clearly nor looking at what I sent, going "off-script" to "what about this's", not to mention completely irrelevant and nosy questions about the rest of the wedding including, "What caterer did you hire?" and "What's for dinner?"  ::)

These communications, and I use that term loosely, have all been via her Facebook messaging me,  which is not my preferred method, while she is at work and quite obviously distracted.

The situation is as of this past Monday, at a stalemate when WOBM wrote, "Well, let me know what you decide!" after I had made it abundantly clear exactly what I wanted. How does one proceed with this level of incompetence? I do realize I got myself into this mess. If this were a professional, I could and would simply walk out of their door and go elsewhere.

My situation:

I am stuck now. I am fed up and annoyed at having to deal with her. I also do not want to cause hurt feelings. On the other hand, I do care about having a quality cake present and accounted for at our wedding ceremony. Is there a way to salvage this fiasco?

My one option that I have come up with so far is to print out the cake recipe, the icing, and the full instructions as well as one single picture of the end result and clear instructions that I will provide the topper. I have already done this. My DF can go have a friend visit with best man and pass them on with a friendly "From the bride-to-be for your kind wife".

Would this be okay or seem passive-aggressive and cause more problems? At this point, I cannot bring myself to talk to her, as I am too annoyed.

Any other win-win solutions in keeping with etiquette would be gratefully appreciated.

Thanks so much for everyone's help regarding knife-buying.  It's been such a big help!  I really appreciate it.
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