A Building on a Street

16 August 2001

I dressed up for work today: I managed to get clothes on, rather than sitting here in my pajamas.

(And again, it's absolute nonsense that freelancers who work from home need to dress in business attire. Total nonsense, and if someone needs to put on nylons to make herself work, she needs to get a different job.)

Well. No students showed up yesterday, of course, although one webtester did. Evidently the function of this webtester was to sit there and make sure the room didn't break. Almost as tough a job as mine, to be sure. I anticipate no students today, either, but I could get lucky. I need to have one sometime, or the company will no longer be able to pay me.

In some parts of writing this book, I've been deliberately vague. I put things in boldface so that I notice that I need to change them later -- for example, "The Ambassador said, 'Oh, please call me XXXX.'" Which means, of course, that I need to find out the Ambassador's name if at all possible. (I won't be doing that, just an example.) Yesterday I almost just went with, "The British Embassy was a building on a street." And then I thought, hmm, we live in an information age. So I went to Google's image search and typed in "British Embassy Helsinki." And got some lovely images of the British Embassy and the Ambassador's home, complete with a little historical sketch of when it was built and when renovated and so on. I love the internet. Can you imagine how long it would have taken me to get that information otherwise? If I could have gotten it at all? And the British Embassy in Helsinki is (was -- it's now the Ambassador's Home) quite, quite distinct. I could not have just faked it with generic institutional building details. Oh no. The Brits and the Finns, two of the most restrained nationalities in Europe, got together to have a bright pink British Embassy in Helsinki. Bright, Pepto-Bismol pink.

I am thoroughly disturbed that my spell-checker recognizes Pepto-Bismol as a word.

I also learned, from the design of a Finnish tourism site, that if you want to get Americans to visit your country, you must use very many exclamation points. The French require lots of emphasis on food; the Norwegians want to bring their children everywhere, and they've all read the Finn Family Moomintroll books. (Please, oh please, one of you write to tell me that you, too, have read the Moomintroll books. Please?) And as for the Swedes? They want information and only information. Everybody else got paragraphs of narrative. The Swedes got a list of links: "Food. Transportation options. Lodging. Concerts. Events." Etc. I thought that was cute.

Oh yes, and the founders of Nokia, between them, have a proper set of head and facial hair. Their balding and shaving patterns were precise opposites. I found that a little disturbing, frankly. Though not as disturbing as the fact that I'm reading The Nokia Revolution, which is (shudder) a business book. It starts with "The Diversification Strategy." I howled when I read that last night: "Nooooo! How can this be? I'm reading a book about Diversification Strategy, nooooo!"

What was worse is that Timprov got home and I read the section headings of this book to him, and he thought they sounded amusingly appropriate for section headings for my book: The Diversification Strategy, The Global Focus Strategy, and Toward the Mobile Information Society. One would have to twist them significantly to make it work -- and I don't intend to do so -- but it was somewhat frighteningly appropriate.

The ways writing a book will twist my brain.

So I also read The Second Mrs. Giaconda. Ugh. Horrible book. I'd gotten it from the library; it was by the same author as From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, which I remember loving as a kid. So I figured it would be a quick, light children's book read for when I had finished some particularly nasty bit of research, and the big ol' spy book qualified. Oof. It was all premise and research, no plot and character. Very, very sad. I also read Tim Powers' Night Moves and Other Stories, which was good, but not so much so as his novels. I think Powers needs a novel length to build his freaky-weirdness; he's not bad at short stories, he's just not a short story writer. And I'm very glad he knows this.

I've been getting "Come back! We like you!" e-mails from people on the rebel Lutheran mailing list. I am touched but not swayed. Also amused. Still not swayed. I'm going to tutor and work and read and eat chicken scampi leftovers and then go to the BNL concert. And enjoy not hearing every five minutes from people who would rather fight with each other than do something.

My characters are off to find a musician to help their skald with her spell. Unless, of course, I get a student. Sure, it could happen. Have a good day, all of you.

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