nonBlog: November 2006

Click here for a possibly gratuitous explanation of why my blog is called "nonBlog" and my site is titled "Ceci n'est pas un blog."

Treated Like Royalty-Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Today I received my fall royalty check for the book I wrote back in 1997 for Camille Lavington, You've Only Got Three Seconds: How to Make the Right Impression in Your Business and Social Life. The check comes twice a year. This one was for about a hundred bucks, which is the typical amount.

The funny thing is that this book came out nearly a decade ago and somehow manages to continue to exist and generate these itty checks. Just for the heck of it I searched on Camille's name on and found out that she's gotten us quoted in no fewer than 20 current titles ranging from The Power of Persuasion: How We're Bought and Sold to Get Along With Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere , and, inexplicably, Golden Men: The Power of Gay Midlife. Clearly Camille has spent the last ten years flogging this book verily to death. But as successful as the book was, midlist-wise, as fancy a publisher as it had, as long as it has generated these biannual checks and as many other authors have quoted it, I doubt I've made $40,000 for writing it.

It's amazing what qualifies as success for all but the most prominent best-selling authors. Given the competition, getting paid to write at all must be considered a victory. But I remember when Camille's and my agent made the initial deal and she was very pleased that Doubleday had bought it and that they had ponied up for the advance, which Camille and I split (less her 15%). She said the book would have a shelf life of at least ten years and would pay to send one of my kids through college. She was right about the former, but given the fact that a degree from my alma mater now costs over $200,000, the college she had in mind must have been Midstate College in Peoria, Illinois. On scholarship.


What Lies Beneath, Part Dos-Friday, November 17, 2006

The Sunrisers, the group of swimmers at the South End Rowing Club who gather each morning to swim at dawn, have nicknamed the marauding sea lion Bitey (see November 14th, below). As in, Bitey the Sea Lion. I am humbled. The Fish & Game Service has closed Aquatic Park, emails are swirling about with descriptions of pinninped-spread diseases like leptospirosis and Seal Finger (which used to require amputation but thankfully no longer does). This beastie has snacked on no fewer than 14 people but these folks are still getting in the water and swimming as if nothing is wrong.

One new member of SERC who happens to wear a wetsuit (this is not the norm) has even offered to dip herself in eggs, then a flour mixture containing salmon and other fish bits and be dragged about in the cove until Bitey appears. She suggested we then pull her along to the Golden Gate Bridge to usher the creature well out of our swimming zone. "Human Tempura," she said, "I will take one for the team." I do not think she is kidding.

I, on the other hand, have canceled my Thanksgiving morning Alcatraz swim. I am going nowhere near Aquatic Park. I may even avoid tonight's happy hour at the South End Rowing Club, which was scheduled to have an 80's theme but is now being referred to as the Death Cove Happy Hour.

It's official. I am a wuss.


What Lies Beneath-Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I pride myself on being more intrepid than is perhaps advisable (see any previous entry pertaining to mountaineering), but I think I have met my match. It is a sea lion who is currently swimming in and around Aquatic Cove and biting swimmers-one of them five times. Since I am ever-so-slightly training to swim from Alcatraz on Thanksgiving morning, this development is troubling to me.

I should tell you that I am alone in this emotion. I receive messages from a listserve called Sunrisers which is comprised of the swimmers at the South End Rowing Club who meet daily at 6am and swim outside the cove with the guidance of a boat pilot. They are not too bothered. One said, "This sounds like a job for El Sharko! [The handle of one of the swimmers who has swum across the English Channel.] Don't sea lions always end up on the losing end of your rock/paper/scissors food chain analysis?" Another greeted the news with, "I need to even the score from 1989. I hold a grudge! Where is he/she?"

It feels strange to stand apart from the cries of Let me at 'im! coming from the Sunrisers, but one of my greatest fears is of a beastie that outweighs me to come out of the depths and chew on my flesh. I am thinking that instead of spending Thanksgiving morning thrashing about in the chop with said beastie, I will be anticipating the next day's weight gain just like all the other couch potatoes in this great sendentary nation of ours.


The Future As We Know It-Wednesday, November 8, 2006

What's all this hooey about the future being a mystery? Nonsense. Given yesterday's developments, here's what will happen somewhere between five minutes and two years from now:

    1. Republicans are going to start complaining about hanging chads in Montana.
    2. Dick Cheney will be unmasked as a devil worshiper.
    3. After he is removed from office it will come out that he's been having an affair with Mark Foley.
    4. Lewis Black will host the Academy Awards.
    5. George Bush is going to say that Iraq was the Democrats' crummy idea.

Now that wasn't so hard. I should hang a sign out front. "Tell your fortune, $20. Tell the Republicans' fortune, no charge."






  • Story in the San Francisco Chronicle Magazine about English Channel swimmers who train in the Bay area.
  • KQED Radio Perspective about how Florida has gone into the bumper-sticker business with "Choose Life" license plates.
  • Eat the Press piece in The Huffington Post about Jon Krakauer's curious absence from Outside Magazine's 10th anniversary issue on the 1996 Everest disaster.
  • Double top secret book due out fall
    2007 from Adams Media.
  • Fame and fortune; date TBA

2006 Archives






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