Tag Archives: vacation

Release the pressure, be calm

It's fairly well documented that I put pressure on myself, then I stress when things don't go according to plan. Today I did something about it.

I asked for vacation time all next week, and it got approved. I feel like the clouds have parted, and the pressures all disappeared. Of course, I set the stage for a good week by finishing my beta edits over the weekend. After a couple of read throughs, I can send The Enhanced League to the formatter. I'm toying with the idea of including all the Lisa Burton posters at the end. Maybe someone will like them as cool freebies.

Once I get Enhanced League to the formatter, I need to start on edits for The Yak Guy Project. I also need to write tour posts for Enhanced League. Once I have everything, I'll put out a call for hosts, and try to figure out if they want me or Lisa to visit their sites.

If I can do all that, and get Yak Guy ready for beta readers, it will have been a good vacation. I don't feel like it's a huge, unreasonable goal. I don't have to go back until July third, and then I get the fourth off.

I have my critique group in there somewhere, so I'll have to work up their pages. I sent my own submission off this evening… while enjoying a glass of Talisker.

For those who are waiting, we took Otto back to the vet this afternoon. This whole pain thing has nothing to do with pecans. It's a neurological thing, involving his spine somewhere around his tail. He is in incredible pain, and we now have even more medication to try.

What really bothers me about this is that on Friday he was the happiest dog in the world. Today he can barely walk. We can't think of anything that happened to him, beyond the pecan debacle, and the vet says it has nothing to do with that. He didn't fall, nobody was physically abusive to him, the puppies certainly didn't hurt him. We're supposed to give him his medication and stand by. We were told to keep him calm for about ten days even after he starts feeling better. I guess in baseball terms, he's on the ten day DL list.

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A travel day

I'm writing this from aisle 28 on a Boeing 757. These are wonderful planes, but the difference between two identical twins is amazing.

This morning, we got onto a brand new plane. The seats were comfy and reasonably sized. The monitor in the seatback had a USB port to charge my cell phone. Even the seatbelt was too big, if you can imagine such a thing.

Our plan was simple enough. We are using our daughter's benefits to fly on standby. The idea was to fly from NOLA to Atlanta, then on to SLC and Boise. We chose this route because it put us home earlier.

When we got to Atlanta, others decided to fly on standby as well, and we were about a dozen people beyond those who would get a seat. Our daughter came to the rescue, routed us to Seattle, and said from there it's a breeze to get home. We will get home later, but that's the joy of standby.

This gave us a bit of airport time. Time to observe the old man in the funny hat, one that looks like a cross between a newsboy and a baseball cap. I've never seen anything like it before. There are the women with big hair. I've written about them before, but in Atlanta the black girls win the day. Huge heads of hair that actually look pretty darned good. If these things are weaves or extensions, don't tell me – I don't want to know. I'm basking in the illusion.

There was the lady with her little dog on a leash, and a mom with her child on a leash. All of this is minutia, but even small observations can help me create a character.

It wasn't until we met the second 757 that I realized I'd forgotten to look at the NOLA phone book. This may not seem like an attraction to most of you, but I struggle to name my characters. I am completely convinced that the NOLA phone book is the holy grail of names now, simply because I missed it.

Oh, this second 757 is the evil twin of the first plane. Our morning flight was all clean and comfy, with wifi that actually seemed to work. This plane has hard seats, archaic monitors without USB ports, and short seat belts. I had five inches of seat belt to spare this morning. Now I need a come-along to ratchet down my stomach just to buckle the damned thing. It's so tight my right leg died about five-hundred miles ago, and my wallet feels like a lump in my throat.

This 757 has an old three-pronged electrical plug for my devices. It's down by the seat of the guy in front of me. This requires me to fold in half like a jackknife to recharge my phone. Also what device in the history of devices ever had a three-pronged plug? I'll give credit though, my little lightning bolt lit right up to indicate my phone was actually charging… right before gravity took over and my cord fell to the floor. The female connection is so loose it won't hold my cable in place without holding it where it needs to be. I'll leave it at that before I get too metaphoric and say something too graphic for kids to read.

I wasn't supposed to start reading again so soon, but what do you do on a five hour flight? I had a children's book all downloaded, but can't get it off the cloud and onto my Kindle app. You see, this 757 has wifi, and it connects fast, you just can't do anything with it after you connect. It seems custom designed to make the spinny thing go around, but nothing else. This is a friend's book, and a short enough read to help me make my RRBC reading goals without more added stress.

Buuuut, the wifi won't let me read it, so I started a craft book that I've held onto for “Someday.” I managed about half of it so far, but my eyes are tired. (And my right leg, and my bladder, and my attitude, etc.) Right now, I'm watching the monitor while a graphic of a 757 moves across the country at the speed of a glacier. I'm typing this by only peripherally glancing at my fingers. Since I can't do anything with the wifi, I'll load this post to my blog later.

Our daughter warned us to take an extra day when flying standby. This sounded like good counsel to us, and we are both off tomorrow. In fact, with my flex day, and a federal holiday, I only had to take one day of vacation time for this mini-vacation. Even I get lucky sometimes.

One hour and five minutes before we get to Seattle. Oh how I miss that first 757.

***

Update: We're home. I wound up stashing my wallet in my suitcase so I didn't have to sit on it any longer. That helped, but what really helped was our first class accommodations for the last leg of our trip. It was a Delta flight, and since our daughter is a Delta employee we were ahead of everyone else on the list. Seats one A and B. It was only an hour flight, but I appreciated it. I even got to charge my phone back up along the way.

On our last day we wound up stopping at Lafitte's, and I had a drink there. There isn't much made of the place beyond the historical registry stuff. I kind of expected more of a pirate theme to everything, or even a blacksmith's theme. I suppose hammers on the walls isn't a good idea where alcohol is served.

We walked to Cafe Du Monde and had more beignets. These are the most famous ones, but weren't our favorites. We both preferred the Royal place where we started, and I even preferred the ones at the Hotel Monteleone, because of the praline sauce.

Old What's Her Face and I have been married for twenty four years, and lived together for two years prior to that. This trip is the first time we've flown out together anywhere. I hope we don't have to wait that long to do it again.

If you spot me a hundred miles or so, I was on three coasts today. NOLA to Atlanta to Seattle before we got home.

I'm going to catch my breath, then I need to get to work. I have a couple of critique group things to work up for our meeting on the 31st. I'm out of ink too, so I wonder if I can trick my printer into spitting out a couple of pages in navy blue.

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More vacation stuff, plus research

Vacation posts are kind of hit and miss in my experience. Since it's all I have right now, I'm going to go for it.

We went on the walking voodoo tour last night. Turns out this was a very PC kind of presentation. They drew the obvious connections to Catholicism, and discussed the ways it came from Africa and evolved after it arrived. Everyone worships the same god, and while the Catholics have saints, voodoo has other names for lesser deities that will sometimes intercede on our behalf.

All the shops seem to have two active altars, and shoppers are forbidden from photographing them. However; those on the tour are invited to photograph them. I have no idea about the difference, but I have a theory money is involved. I wanted to explain that, because of the sign in my photograph. I'm not one of those tourists who fails to follow the rules.

This altar is for a goddess who is also in charge of inspiration. Think of her like a Muse among her other responsibilities. She's also fond of very high quality things. Notice the champaign offerings.

Of course, everything is very benign even good. Questions from the crowd about voodoo dolls and zombies were casually poo pooed. Some dumb ass had to ask the difference between voodoo and hoodoo. (It was me.) They distanced themselves from hoodoo, explaining it isn't a religion but more of a practice. Then they explained all the things Hollywood comes up with make better fiction. (Kind of a please ask questions, but not you buddy response. I'm sure John Howell could make a ten things list about this.)

They noted that John Paul II held mass here, and met with a group of voodoo priests. Once he understood the similarities, he declared voodoo a companion religion to Catholicism. At least that's what our guide Daphne said. (My wife didn't like all my Scooby Doo jokes after learning the guide's name, so I'll keep them to myself.)

On the better fiction point we are in agreement. Voodoo, or hoodoo, are better when they're fantastic and dangerous. I will continue to step up my fictional game on this basis. In fact, Lorelei my Muse visited me and gave me an outstanding character. He is a supporting character in my mind, but I already have about six vignette ideas for him. I just need to find a hero and a plot to go with him. This is much more difficult than when the plot comes first. In fact, I'm already struggling with an old concept of how to keep magic from being the cure for everything. Any paranormal or fantasy authors will know what I mean.

We've eaten a ton, and that doesn't seem likely to stop. Last night we went to Acme Oyster Bar. (I expected Wile E. Coyote to make an appearance, but he didn't.) We did the old people thing and shared a couple of dishes. The charbroiled oysters were fantastic, and so were the red beans and rice, rounded out by fried stone crab claws and fried crawfish tails. (In Idaho we call them crawdads, but since we're here…)

Today we're being lazy. We had room service breakfast, with beignets (And praline sauce). Then Old What's Her Face booked a pedicure. I think I'll just hang here until she's ready to go out. I'm kind of tired, and we walked about a thousand miles in the last few days. New Orleans makes me glad I never rented a car.

Drivers here are aggressive and impatient. I've heard more car horns in a long weekend than in a year in Boise. Boise drivers are crazy too, but they don't ride on their horn like they do here.

This is a town for walkers, at least this part of town. The humidity and heat make this difficult, but we did it anyway. Since we were walking so much, I decided to play Pokemon Go while doing so. I missed the first one of these I saw, but the second one is mine.

This guy is regional, and does not appear in Idaho. I'm sure not everyone is into this game, but it's kind of fun to find something you just can't get everywhere.

It's a long ways, but I'd like to go to Jean Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop today. It's a bar, and Lafitte is a genuine part of NOLA history, as well as American History. Again, we have no agenda and we may, or may not get there. Old What's Her Face refuses to try the bicycle rickshaw taxi things, and it's a long way to walk.

Tomorrow we fly out early, and it looks like we have three legs to get home. (The joys of flying on standby, but you can't argue with the price.)

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Some vacation snaps

While we're here, I snapped some photos. This is a fun place, and we only have a few days. It's kind of fun to bounce around without much of an agenda. I did book a walking voodoo tour tonight, but that's about all we have scheduled. The rest involves strolling around and taking it all in.

There is music everywhere.

The occasional feathered person shows up. Makes me wish I'd snapped the girl in the body stocking. They're either over dressed or underdressed.

The view out my dirty window this morning. A steamship along the shore, and a giant barge passing behind it.

So much wrought iron.

Long time readers will remember I used to keep an alligator snapping turtle. He passed away at about twelve years old. This shell is about three feet long and decorates a shelf where we had lunch. I like oysters, but only certain ways. Turns out a fried oyster poboy is pretty darned good. Bonus points for the bourbon milkshake thingie I washed it down with.

On a smaller scale this two inch cockroach was already stomped when I found him in the men's room. File it under, “Things we don't have in Idaho.”

We're about done drying out under the air conditioner. (Humidity is also something foreign to westerners.) I've been to humid places before, but it's kind of a new experience for my wife.

Before we head back out, I want to remind you to go visit my Sally Cronin post. It's the first peek at the new cover for The Yak Guy Project, and I'm sharing an excerpt.

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Silly Willie, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Welcome to this week’s edition of Lisa Burton Radio. The only show that interviews the characters from books you love. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and today, my special guest is Cautious Craig, who recently took a vacation to Cape Town, South Africa. “Welcome to the show, Craig. You look so smart in your suit and tie but what is that funny noise and what are you sitting on?”

“Hi Lisa, thank you for having me over for a visit. I chose this tie myself. Dad said I shouldn’t get the one with aeroplanes all over it but I really like aeroplanes, especially after our holiday to Cape Town. Mom made me bring Willy with me for the interview. Willy is only three years old and he is very naughty and spoils everything. I am sitting on him and have my hand over his mouth so that he can’t spoil this interview.”

“Maybe you should let him sit up. Our listeners won’t like that funny snuffling noise and Willy might suffocate.”

“Oh, I didn’t think of that. Willy has asthma so I better let him up. Mom is waiting outside the door and I don’t want her to come in and shout at me.”

“BWAAAAAA! Craig sat on me. BWAAAAAA!”

“Please don’t cry Willy. It makes terrible feedback over my microphone. I’ll give you a sweet if you stop.”

“Okay fanks. I have my own biscuits. Can I eat one on your chair?”

“Sure. Okay guys, let’s get on with this interview, shall we? You said you went on a vacation to Cape Town, Craig? Tell me about it.”

“We went on a holiday to Cape Town and it was wonderful. Cape Town is in South Africa.”

“We went to another country.”

“No, Willy, Cape Town is in South Africa. We live in Johannesburg. It isn’t another country.”

“It is too. We went on an aeroplane. So it must be another country. BWAAAAAA! Craig kicked me!”

“Craig, please don’t kick your brother. Willy, have another biscuit. So, you went on an airplane. Was that fun?”

“Oh yes, it was great. Do you know they have funny toilets with no water on an aeroplane? There are also little tiny basins with taps that you press to make the water come. We went to the toilet five times and Willy made a big mess.”

“Did not. I was just washing my hands.”

“He did too. He used up all the soap and lots of it went on the floor and all over the basin. He also splashed water everywhere. Mom got so cross that she made Dad take us to the toilet the last time. We also had lunch on the aeroplane. It was disgusting.”

“Yucky! I didn’t eat mine. I put it in Mom’s handbag.”

“Um, yeah, how did your mother like that little surprise?”

“Mom was very cross. The sandwich was all squashy and butter went all over her keys, hairbrush and make-up. She is never going to let us have the aeroplane lunch again. Luckily, Mom had packed biltong and biscuits so we didn’t starve. Willy, spilled his juice all over the place. Willy is so silly. Mom made me give him some of mine. It is so unfair. I always have to share.”

“It’s good to share, Craig. Willy is just a baby.”

“BWAAAAAA!!!! Lisa called me a baby!”

“Um, I mean a big boy of three years old. Have another biscuit. Right, let’s move this interview along. Where did you stay in Cape Town, Craig?”

“We stayed in an apartment in Camps Bay. Dad loves it there. It is very windy. The wind almost knocked Willy and me off our feet. I didn’t like that. It whistles all around the windows and the trees in the garden are all bent over. Granddad says that when you go to Cape Town you have to put extra lead in the car’s tyres so it doesn’t blow away. I looked at the tyres but they looked the same as the ones on our Joburg car.”

“That sounds really nice. Did the apartment have a nice view?”

“Oh yes, the view was lovely. We could see the ocean stretching right out to the sky. Did you know there is a dark line where they meet? We saw lots of huge ships waiting to go into the harbour and also paragliders and surfers. It was very nice at the apartment even if the pictures were weird blue and silver blobs. Dad says we can never go there again.”

“Never! You just said it was a nice apartment. Why won’t you go there again?”

“Dad said Willy and I are hooligans. He said that we damaged stuff in the apartment. It is very unfair. I get blamed for everything. Willy pulled the curtains down by trying to climb up them like a monkey. I did burst the cushions in the bedroom, but jumping onto them from the top bunk bed was so much fun. Oh, and we also broke the string on the blinds and Willy sawed a hole in the balcony wall. That wasn’t my fault though. It was Mom’s.”

“Ummm, I can see why your Dad was a bit upset. Why was it your Mom’s fault that Willy sawed a hole in the balcony wall? Actually, how on earth did a three year old manage to do that?”

“It was Mom’s fault because she let Willy bring his tools. He has a whole collection of plastic tools.”

“I have a saw and a hammer.”

“It was the saw that caused the damage. While Mom was unpacking, Willy sat the whole time sawing at the same place in the wall with his plastic saw. I was really surprised when I saw he had made a hole and Mom was horrified.”

“Yeah, I can believe you two causing a little trouble. We’re running out of time and you haven’t told me anything about your vacation yet. What did you enjoy the most in Cape Town?”

“I like the beach. It was really awesome but the water at Camps Bay is really cold. It is the Atlantic Ocean. I learned that at school. I did get dumped by the sea and I nearly drowned but I liked everything else. The sea in Cape Town is very powerful. Mom also helped us to build a pirate island in the sand. It was very good and the other children on the beach all came to help. Mom also showed us how to make an aeroplane out of sand. It was so big we could sit in it and pretend to fly it.”

“I love aeroplanes. My ice cream fell in the sand and I cried.”

“You know, I can believe that. What did you like about Cape Town, Willy?”

“There was a fire on the mountain… and a helicopter came… it had a big bucket underneath it… it dumped sea water on the fire.”

“That was amazing! There were lots of firemen all trying to stop the fire from spreading. We were traveling in the car when we saw the fire. It was a big fire and it was jumping from tree to tree and all the small plants and grass were burning.”

“I want a fireman’s hat!”

“You always want everything, Willy. You are so spoilt!”

“BWAAAAA! Craig called me spoilt!”

“Okay boys, that about wraps it up. I’ll call in your Mom to take you both away. Thanks for listening folks. I’m just going to start wiping up these cookie crumbs and fingerprints.

“If you’d like to read more about Cautious Craig and Willie, check out the books by Robbie Cheadle. I’ll post all the details on the website. Don’t forget, the books have recipes in them too.

“Don’t forget to hit those sharing buttons on your way out. Robbie and Craig will both appreciate it, and they’d do it for you when your character appears on the next Lisa burton Radio.”

***

Blurb: When the George family go on holiday to Cape Town, Cautious Craig cannot believe what he has to endure at the hands of his naughty and wilful younger brother, Silly Willy.

 

Willy throws tantrums at the most embarrassing and inappropriate times, causes a commotion on the aeroplane and tries to steal a chameleon from Butterfly World. What is a poor older brother expected to do in these situations?

 

Silly Willy goes to Cape Town – available in early July 2017

 

***

 

Robbie Cheadle was born in London in the United Kingdom. Her father died when she was three months old and her mother immigrated to South Africa with her tiny baby girl. Robbie has lived in Johannesburg, George and Cape Town in South Africa and attended fourteen different schools. This gave her lots of opportunities to meet new people and learn lots of social skills as she was frequently “the new girl”.

Robbie is a qualified Chartered Accountant and specialises in corporate finance with a specific interest in listed entities and stock markets. Robbie has written a number of publications on listing equities and debt instruments in Africa and foreign direct investment into Africa.

Robbie is married to Terence Cheadle and they have two lovely boys, Gregory and Michael. Michael (aged 11) is the co-author of the Sir Chocolate series of books and attends school in Johannesburg. Gregory (aged 14) is an avid reader and assists Robbie and Michael with filming and editing their YouTube videos and editing their books.

Robbie is also the author of the new Silly Willy series the first of which, Silly Willy goes to Cape Town, will be available in early July 2017.

You can connect with Robbie at the following locations:

Blog

Goodreads

Google+

Facebook

Twitter

Purchase Robbie and Michael Cheadle’s Books from:

https://www.amazon.com/author/robbiecheadle

***

Sir Chocolate and the strawberry cream berries story and cookbook:

Sir Chocolate and Lady Sweet live in Chocolate land where you can eat absolutely everything. Join them on a fantastic adventure to find the amazing strawberry cream berry and learn how to make some of their scrumptious recipes at the same time.

Sir Chocolate and the baby cookie monster story and cookbook:

Sir Chocolate and Lady Sweet find a lost baby cookie monster. Join them on an adventure to return the baby to its mother and learn how to make some of their delicious recipes at the same time.

Sir Chocolate and the sugar dough bees story and cookbook:

A greedy snail damages the flower fields and the fondant bees are in danger of starving. Join Sir Chocolate on an adventure to find the fruit drop fairies who have magic healing powers and discover how to make some of his favourite foods on the way.

Purchase Link The first three Sir Chocolate Books are currently available at a discounted price in hard copy and as ebooks.

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An old reminder, enhanced by puppies

It's one of my favorite old sayings, and it came back to me in the comments of my last post. I've been whining about having too much to do. While blogland appreciates a good rant, they don't like it when it drifts into whiny territory.

I've been at this point before, and I will be there again no doubt. How do you eat an elephant?

Task lists are the elephant. I'll do what I can, when I can, and it will all get finished. It's a constant effort to remind myself there is no supervisor that's going to be upset with my progress. That's the paycheck world.

Even puppies know that a bunch of small efforts can add up. It took two weeks, but they slew the giant.

Note: Otto is fine. He is regressing to puppy mode and plays with the girls constantly now.

My wife and I are taking our mini vacation, and I'm not going to worry about this stuff. When I return, my tasks will still be waiting, and the elephant should be properly aged to make for fine dining.

I never mentioned it, because I thought I might play the “Where is Craig” game with you. It didn't work out so well when we went to Jackson, Wyoming, so I'll skip it. We are spending our holiday weekend in New Orleans. Neither of us have ever been there, and we're both pretty excited.

We don't have an agenda, but we are booked into the walking tour of New Orleans Voodoo one night. I hope to take some cool photos and maybe buy some fun stuff. We will no doubt find some beignets and some good seafood. I want to sneak a peek at their telephone book too. I constantly struggle to come up with decent character names, and this could be a great resource.

We're going to be staying relatively close to a site where a big shootout went down in The Playground. I'm tempted to take a cab and see how wrong I got it, but that might encroach onto my wife's plans. Some of the sites in Panama burned down years ago, but I might do a quick search for them too.

Come back tomorrow for Lisa Burton Radio. I'll get to play in the comments, and share it everywhere. After that, I'll update from the road, but it might be sporadic.

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Why I’m not moving ahead

I read a post by one of my fellow Story Empire authors about things being seasonal, and it certainly reflects my writing career. I do most of my writing in the winter. I try to do book releases in the Fall, particularly if they have a paranormal angle. I’ve also released some in the Spring. Summer is for family things, and now they’re starting to clash.

This year, the seasons got away from me. Part of this has to do with taking on two books at once. I’ll own that. I need to tackle those beta edits and ship everything to my formatter. I just got the cover art for Yak Guy, and need to start working on it too. I’m trying to finish an ARC read for a friend, but there hasn’t been a lot of time. I’m also falling behind on my RRBC reading obligations.

This weekend, Old What’s Her Face and I are taking a mini vacation. This may seem contradictory to my predicament, but we kind of need this. I can do some research while I’m there, even if it’s just people watching. I’ll update you guys from the road if something cool comes along. I do okay with reading on airplanes, so maybe I can finish that book, and even write a review during a layover. (Optimistic, no?) There are some decent novellas and short story collections on RRBC, and two of my Story Empire friends have some I haven’t read yet. It’s kind of a cheat code, but a shorter work might help me meet my reading obligation.

As soon as we return from our mini vacation, my critique group meets. I only have one submission so far, but maybe I can work it up tonight. I can’t print on an airplane, so I hope the others show up soon.

The following weekend, my parents are coming to visit the puppies. Let’s be honest, that’s the real attraction. We always have a good time, and I understand the appeal of little puppies. The chance to get anything else done is almost nonexistent here.

One weekend after that, I learned yesterday, we have a campground reserved in the heart of morel mushroom territory. That weekend may have some hope, because I could do some things after dark. I don’t need wifi to read, or even to edit. Then again, I may go for a drink beside the campfire and just bag it.

Every spare second is pretty hectic right now. There was a line something like this over the weekend: “You watch the puppies, and I’ll go to the mall and get a second suitcase.”

“It’s only a couple of days. Do we really need a second one?”

“Ours will be packed, and we might want to buy something and need room to bring it home.”

Yeah, it seemed like a good way to avoid spending a bunch of cash on trinkets, but I lost that debate. Then there are all the mundane things that we would normally save for the weekend, picking up enough food so kids and dogs can eat while we’re absent, dry cleaning, choir performances by grandchildren, etc. It’s also medical season. I just had one checkup, and tomorrow I have an eye appointment. I’m going to try to cobble some of those “weekend” errands onto my trip to the eye doctor.

Besides all of this going on, there is sleep deprivation. Frankie and Nyx seem to want to sing the song of their people about 11:30 to midnight every night. They want up in the bed with us, but what they need is to go outside and potty. This requires me to pull on shorts and rush them outside before we have a failure on the carpet. Sometimes I win, sometimes I don’t.

After all these events pass, I hope to be close on The Enhanced League release. Yak Guy will take the next priority. After that, I need to get hopping on a short story for an anthology I was invited to contribute to. Then I need to start thinking about Macabre Macaroni stories for October. They don’t write themselves either, and I enjoy doing them.

So my theory is to do some reading on airplanes, with luck I can get caught up there. When I go camping, I might be able to work on some edits at night. I may have to take some vacation just to work myself out of this hole.

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