Tuesday, November 30, 2004

1st of the Month

Yay! I'm back! Time for a second cup...

But first, it's the 1st.

The 1st of the month is when I pay my bills, specifically my credit card bills. For some reason, most of my credit cards don't have the option to pay themselves from my checking account. WHY? Do they WANT me to miss a payment? It's as if they WANT an excuse to assign extra late charges and increase my default interest rate. Why would they want to do that?

Theoretically, I should be able to start paying them off now, since I am gainfully employed and all. The problem is that I pay so much in taxes (which I should be exempt from, lucky me, if ONLY THE PAPERWORK WOULD GO THROUGH!) and sundry that I don't really have much left over. I can barely afford to pay the interest every month, and when those nice introductory rates wear off in the near future, I'm basically screwed. Of course, my Bank of America account (which I use to pay my credit card bills in America, because I can't really afford the currency conversion charges of sending yen over, yet) will run out of money in about two months anyway, so it's pretty much a moot point. [UPDATE: Scratch that, I forgot to account for this month's bills, so I will run out of money in about one month] [UPDATE AGAIN: Also, I forgot to budget in the fact that I will have to actually start paying off my student loans now, which will take another $600+ out of my paycheck, which is $600+ more than I already can't afford. I have a feeling it's going to hit the fan in the very near future.]

I'm on such a tight budget right now that it affects nearly every aspect of my life. Need new clothes? Well, maybe a shirt this month, I'll get more next month. Need food? Well, what gives me the most for my yen? Too bad there's no CostCo in Asahi. Want to go out? Maybe once a week with my girlfriend (but that means cutting back the rest of the week on things like food). Want to go on a trip like all the other ALTs? Too bad, get used to disappointment. Have to use the bathroom? Better hold it until you get to school; you didn't have enough money to purchase toilet paper this week. It sounds bad, but really, it's worse than it sounds.

Right now, my budget is around $100 a week for food and sundry. It sounds like a lot, unless you live in Japan (example: milk is $8 a gallon). I can get by, but just barely. Of course, I wouldn't be in this situation in the first place if I had stayed in America and gotten a job in the Computer Science field (average take-home for a new graduate is about twice what I make here). I have a low-paying job in a high-cost-of-living country. Not a good combination. I don't regret my decision, I'm just saying it was the harder of these two paths (but since when was life supposed to be EASY?).

So, I can afford the minimum payments on my credit cards, but not much more, which is extremely unfortunate. I'll end up paying MORE in the long run. Credit is a trap to keep people poor, and I fell in. :'(

Worse than my credit cards, though, are my student loans. I'm having a real problem with my loan managing company.

See, since I'm in grace (since I only recently graduated), my interest rate is lower than normal. I'm trying to consolidate my loans now, to lock in that lower rate. Well, it takes time to consolidate, and even though ALL my loans are through one company, it hasn't consolidated yet. Part of this problem is because I didn't include my phone number on my loan application.

Keep in mind, it does not list "phone number" among the REQUIRED information, but there you go. My number is for Japan, so I put my mom's number, but then had to change it because I couldn't have the same number twice (once for me and once for my 'family member' reference). So I put "N/A" as the instructions tell me to. But, don't let the actual instructions get in the way of bureaucracy.

Also, there is no way to submit the application either electronically or by fax. OTHER loan applications can be submitted by fax, why not consolidation loans? I had to physically mail it there. Ridiculous! I paid extra to rush it (time is money, especially in this case). What's worse is that I didn't include my Perkins loan, which would have lowered my interest rate overall, but would have taken longer to process, thereby putting me AFTER the deadline where my Stafford rate increases, which would defeat the whole purpose.

Anyway, after submitting my consolidation application and waiting, I decided to check on it by going to the company website. It told me that there was a problem with my application. This was about a WEEK after they received it (close to TWO WEEKS since I sent it, snail mail being what it is).

Just so you know, part of the required information was an E-mail address. Why didn't they E-MAIL ME to let me know that there was a problem with my application?

I called them up and asked them that. They said they don't do that; what they do is send the application back with a cover letter explaining the missing information.

Keep in mind, my interest rate GOES UP December 11th. Not a lot, but enough to take it above the line of inflation, so that time will no longer pay off my loan. This is a critical difference to me. This is thousands of dollars to my wallet.

Here's the timeline so far:

Nov 6th: I Sent application.
Nov 11th: They received my application.
Nov 19th: I discovered that they found a problem with my application.
Nov 23rd: I finally manage to get them on the phone to correct it (time zones...oy).
Dec 1st: Today. Nothing to report. Still waiting for loan application to be approved. STILL waiting for previously mentioned cover letter to arrive.

Now, if I weren't so computer literate, I might still be totally unaware that my application was on hold. If I hadn't checked the website, I wouldn't have known there were any problems. Like I said, the letter from them still hasn't arrived. I wonder how they sent it such that, three weeks later, it's still not here.

My question is: WHY DID THEY ASK FOR MY E-MAIL ADDRESS? Clearly, that would have been the obvious method, if what they wanted to do was notify me in a timely fashion. That, however, does not seem to be their goal at all.

I wonder if, as a loan management company, they make more money from higher-interest loans. In which case, it would be to their benefit to try and delay my consolidation loan until the interest goes up (10 more days). If that happens, I wonder if I have any legal recourse?

I hate to sound like a typical litigious American, but can I sue them? If their policies are such that it biases them toward higher interest loans, that sounds like an unfair business practice. Since it is a federally guaranteed loan, I can't refuse to pay it or declare bankruptcy (I don't have enough money to declare bankruptcy anyway, my net-worth is around -$50,000).

Sigh. I wonder if my money problems are the real reason my hair is suddenly falling out. I like to think that I'm a stress-free sort of person, but upon reflection, I think I'm just in denial of how bad the situation actually is.

Does anyone know a good lawyer?


So, it's test day here in Japan. Finals, today and tomorrow. Which means I have no classes. However, I still have to go to work (it's all about presence).

So far, I've read all my e-mail and all the blogs I regularly frequent (that are work safe). That's one hour down....

Besides studying Japanese (which, it turns out, you CAN do too much, after which your brain asplode), I brought a few books to pass the time, but I'm not in the mood to leave the computer just yet. However, with NaNoWriMo over (weep), I suddenly find myself with much more free time.

So, just now, I decided to start drinking coffee again, something I've been trying to cut down at work (and instead, I've been going to sleep at reasonable hours, which works much better). But...tragedy...or is it?

There was no ready-made coffee just now, so I resorted to instant. However, whomever opened the coffee this time didn't just poke a hole in the seal (as is usual), but tore the seal off entirely. Normally, I shake the can over my cup, and it trickles out slowly...slowly. This time, I applied the same motion and WOAH! Too much! Seriously, it filled maybe close to half the cup (and this is a big cup). Even for me, this was too much, and I thought about pouring some back, but...well...it was ALREADY in my cup. What could I do?

I went ahead.

I added some sugar (more than usual, to go with the more-than-usual amount of coffee), and hot water. It took a while for the coffee to dissolve; I think it was close to the saturation point for the water.

At this time, it resembled....chocolate syrup.

I added milk. It didn't lighten the coffee as much as I expected. The coffee became slightly less ink-black and more of a dark charcoal black.

And I'm drinking it now. The sugar...cannot be tasted. The milk...I don't know. The coffee...the coffee is definitely detectable. The image of chewing the grinds in my mouth comes to mind.

I wonder if this will affect me in any way...

Work It

I think the coffee is making my body vibrate so much that I'm actually traveling backward through time. Oh well; I'll take advantage of the situation and post to the blog.

Here's a repost from a comment I made on Cyberdave's blog.

The problem with not programming very often, I've found, is that your brain has all these excess cycles to spend on other things. Mine keeps songs playing in my head. Several. Simultaneously.

So far, it hasn't driven me mad, or if it has, the change wasn't noticeable.

Right now I've got [Barenaked Ladies' "When You Dream"] going, and the OutKast "Hey Ya!" (Shake it like a Polaroid picture) song, and of course Daft Punk's "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" which has been playing nearly non-stop in my head since I saw a flash video with it, several months ago. I even figured out how to play mp3s on my phone (which, technically, won't do that [but it can play SD-Audio; one Panasonic-made SD-Card-Reader from Amazon and a slightly-hacked SD-Jukebox later, and voilà!]), and so far the only song I've put on there is Daft Punk's. Seriously, that song is like...my anthem. I love it on several levels.

Wait...ok. Better now. Thinking about it, I had to load up Winamp and put that song on repeat. Ah...sweet, sweet repeat. Winamp needs a new feature: I'd like to only listen to the center of the song. If you've heard the song, you know what I mean. If you haven't...well, it starts with a sort of puzzle (part of the reason I love the song so much). If, the first time you hear the song, you can figure out what it's trying to say before it tells you...there is a joy. But I know the answer, having heard the song before, so I'd rather just listen to the middle. Anyway...

Wait...ok. Better now. I had to turn up the volume, to help drive all other thought from my brain. Ah...bliss. I wonder if there's something subliminal in this song.


Even farther back now. I've finished that cup of coffee...I wonder if I'll stop going back now or if momentum will carry me even farther. Anyway...

Well, THAT was fun. :)

Sometimes, to alleviate the boredom of being a Human Tape Player, I'll do voices. As in, when I read the sentences from the book, if the speaker is a female, I'll do a high-pitched voice. If the speaker is a female CHILD, I'll do a high-pitched squeaky voice. Today was one of those days, but a bit different from before.

See, usually when I read aloud from the book, the students repeat after me. Today, when I did the voice, ALL THE MALE STUDENTS DID IT TOO! Every single one of them, spontaneously, simultaneously, decided to do the same squeaky voice as I. It was impossible to keep from laughing at the unexpectedness of the situation.

Later, in a different class for the same level (first grade) (so, same teaching plan), the JTE picked one part for the class and one part for me (it was a dialog). Of COURSE the part chosen for me was the girl. I think the class enjoyed that, although it was a bit embarrassing for me.

In other, less happy, news, I did something today that I regret. At the other end of the spectrum from the first graders, the third graders have a pretty good beginning grasp of English. Today I graded pair-work, where each pair composed a dialog taking place in a shop. One student was the customer, one the clerk. I had to grade them on a scale of my own choosing.

It went like this:

If you fulfilled the assignment as expected, you got "Good". That was the baseline grade.

If your pronunciation was too far off, or you made too many grammar mistakes, you got marked down to "Fine" (or theoretically worse "Poor" if you were completely incomprehensible). No one scored lower than "Fine".

If your pronunciation was really good, AND you made no grammar mistakes, AND your situation was very creative, AND your volume was loud enough, etc, you got marked up to "Pretty Good" or "Very Good". No one scored higher than "Very Good".

However, I wrote the scale on the board. And I included the theoretical limits above and below, like "Excellent" and "Fantastic", and "OK" and "Fair".

This was a mistake.

See, once the students knew about "Fantastic" (the highest theoretically possible mark), they were disappointed with anything less. I tried to explain that, so far, no one had scored higher than "Very Good" and that "Good" was, by definition, not 'Bad', and was what most people got. But each was convinced that they were "Fantastic", and heartbroken to only get "Good".

Whats worse was that it was kind of arbitrary. If the people before them were "Very Good" it was hard to measure up. If both were "Good" but one was better, the other might be marked "Fine". It's how they were in comparison to whomever came before them, which sucked.

Afterward, I was reminded of a teacher of mine at University that I resented. In a course that I thought I was going to score a 4.0 in, I scored a 2.5! How? Hadn't I done all the required work?

Well, of course I had! But, compared to other groups in the same course, I had done JUST the required work, and no more. So, I scored a 'C'. I had so become accustomed to scoring 4.0s by doing exactly what was required that I had thought that was the norm, but of course it didn't used to be that way.

And I ended up doing the same thing to my students. Live and learn, of course, and these students can't resent me too long, as the school year ends in a couple of weeks, but still I regret not being more clear.

The WORST part was, I stayed after school to do this. Since tomorrow is a test day, I won't have any classes, so I fit as many as I could in today (technically against my contract, but hey, "Welcome to Japan"). On finals week, the days leading up to the tests are extended by one class period, so I stayed after for that period to fit in one more class.

I spent my private free time doing something I regret to my students, because I was trying to help them. Sigh. And I'll probably stay after tomorrow, too, to help grade papers.

NaNoWriMo Final Update

Well, still going backward, but at least I'm slowing down. Hopefully this will be my last post before I spring forward again.

It's the last day of NaNoWriMo. 1 hour, 35 minutes remain...

I did not finish my novel. I'm only short by a few words, too. (By 'a few', I mean, 'a few hundred'. Of course, any large number can be 'a few hundred' if your definition of 'a few' is large enough. Ten hundred (1000) is technically made up of hundreds (ten of them). To be more accurate, I could say that I'm short closer to a hundred hundred (10,000), or to be even MORE accurate, closer to a hundred-and-fourteen hundred (14,000)).

I thought about posting what I DID finish, but it's crap. I was re-reading it, and I thought "If you weren't YOU, would you care what happened at church camp when you were 12?" I barely care NOW, and it was ME.

Sigh. I think I've reached the limits that coffee can take me back. I thought about writing, and then drinking more coffee to take me back this far, to continue writing, but of course that would undo what I had written last time, so it would be futile. That's a disadvantage of a Groundhog Day style time loop: anything you create will be undone by the start of the next cycle. Sigh.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

My Sister Is Famous!

So, I was wandering around the Internet Movie Database, and lo! My sister Lila's name is actually on there now.

Quick link: http://us.imdb.com/Name?Vlavianos,+Lila
Direct link: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm1748845/

She doesn't have any biography information yet, but it's a start. :)


So far, her name hasn't made it to The Oracle of Bacon at Virginia which calculates someone's degree of seperation from Kevin Bacon. So, we don't know her Bacon Number yet, but it will likely be very high (that's rare). It should make it over in a few weeks...

Now she has a picture on her IMDB page.

Also, check out the trailer for the film (she's the one in the chair).

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Blogging Monday

There's only five (instead of six) classes on Monday, so I'm taking an hour to blog, so everyone knows that I'm not dead yet. I wish I had been doing this before, because I find that I didn't actually write down (or type down) any of the things I've been meaning to blog about in recent days and weeks. Sigh.

The times will be all wacky because when a topic occurs to me, I'll draft a stub on my blog, and fill it in later when I have time, but the time-stamp will be for whenever I first drafted the stub. For example, it's almost five pm now, but the time-stamp for this post is four pm.

Anyway, I think the posts themselves are wackier than the timestamps, as I'm having heavy coffee withdrawal* symptoms today, and I'm not sound of mind enough to reasonably edit my own posts.

*I've been misspelling withdrawal (as "withdrawl") for as long as I can remember, and after the "dieing" debacle of the other day, I looked it up. Turns out I've been wrong this whole time. Bummer.

Comic Books

There's a lot of manga in Japan (collective gasp!), so it's on my mind recently.

I recalled a conversation in college about a comic book series called The Watchmen. I managed to get my hands on the entire series (twelve comics), and read them all the other day.

Suddenly, I feel the urge to write comic books. I've been feeling a lot of creative urges recently (anything to avoid actually finishing one of my stories, I guess). Unfortunately, I never learned to draw well (and probably couldn't with my palsy hands now, anyway).

Also, I never learned how to emphasize the wrong words in a sentence, so that pretty much leaves me out of the running, ne?


I love coffee. If you're doing something as crazy as NaNoWriMo, coffee is your friend. If you're lucky enough to work in an office that provides free coffee, you can stay late and write and drink coffee. It's like Starbucks, where you have to make the coffee yourself, and there's no pleasant background music, or even necessarily other people; so, it's not like Starbucks at all.

I've taken to adding instant coffee to my coffee. Is that a bad sign?

The coffee in this office....makes me want to bring my own from home. Which I might do. As it is, I pour myself a cup (my cup is a bit larger than average [maybe 2x normal size], so I guess I use up more coffee than my officemates), and then add about as much instant coffee as I would have if I were using hot water instead of coffee. Coffee is supposed to be fizzy, right?

Then I add milk and sugar, and anyone who doesn't is a FOOL! Sugar is another stimulant! Caffeine and Sugar! TWO GREAT THINGS THAT GO GREAT TOGETHER! Adding milk removes bitterness (from the coffee, not from me), and cools it, so I can drink MORE, FASTER!

That being said, we're out of instant today, so I'm forced to drink plain, ordinary, unenhanced, drip coffee. Sigh. :(

The reason I mention all this is because I just poured myself a cup, so it's fresh on my mind. And in the time it took to write this, I finished my cup, but that's more a comment on how slow I type with shaking hands than it is a comment on how much coffee I drink, right?

NaNoWriMo update

So, as I previously mentioned, I keep having ideas for stories, and each one whispers write me...write me...

I realize why, of course. I feel quite silly that I didn't see it before.

My brain is trying (successfully, so far) to avoid the WEEK TWO WALL! Every time I get to week two in a story, my brain comes up with what looks like a BETTER story, and says WORK ON THIS ONE!

It's hard to argue against your brain.

Right now, we're in negotiations. We may end up doing four short stories that all end abruptly for no reason. But hey, NaNoWriMo isn't about the QUALITY of the stories, it's about the QUANTITY of the words! To be specific: 50,000 of them. So, I may let it slide this time; but next year, it's ONE STORY ONLY! And I'm posting that here so that my brain can complain next year and claim that I never said that.

Baby steps, baby steps. This year I'll do 50,000 words. Next year I'll do 50,000 words and CLIMB OVER THE WALL.

Hair Loss the Easy Way!

I previously mentioned that I've noticed a lot of hair loss recently. While my girlfriend assures me that A: she doesn't want to marry a bald guy, and B: I've been losing hair for a while, I've recently discovered some interesting facts.

I was researching information on Propecia and Rogaine. Propecia was my first choice, because it's just a pill you take (one more pill along with my vitamin supplement and allergy medication would probably go unnoticed in the morning) and because it causes some men to experience certain side effects that I don't know how well I can describe considering that my younger brother reads my blog. Let's just say that, as time goes by, a particular appetite of mine hasn't been decreasing as I was led to believe it would, and is in fact getting stronger every year. If I thought this particular appetite was intense when I was, say, 18 years old, I had know idea how bad it would become 12 years later. It's supposed to be declining! And it's not as if I can find any medication that would serve, intentionally, as ... well, as an "appetite" suppressant. There's not enough money in this particular niche market (it's the same with reduction surgery; nobody offers it). Pfizer makes an appetite ENHANCER, of course. What a world we live in.

Anyway, now that I've shared far too much and everyone reading is cringing and asking WHY? WHY?, it turns out that Propecia ideally works on baldness that forms on the back of the head, which I don't have (yet...?). Rogaine (called Regaine, here, which I thought was a knock-off marketing strategy, but it turns out that I'm just ignorant) is the same way. Neither works for baldness that starts above the temples.

So, in researching these drugs, and their availability here in Japan, I found a site that talked about hair loss in Japan. It's actually very common, and so far no one I've found knows why.

Is it the water? There's definitely SOMETHING in the water. I wouldn't want to drink it un-boiled, and there is a tendency for crusts to form on anything that is exposed to water on a regular basis (you should see my toothbrush...) (Note to self: buy whole-house water filter)

Is it the shampoo? The Japanese have much thicker hair than westerners, that's for sure. However, I have the word of a native Japanese who traveled abroad to America that American shampoos are stronger. Maybe it's just a chemical incompatibility between the two.

Is it the food? The climate? The stress of living abroad? Lots of hypotheses, few answers, and no word on whether it will grow back if I leave the country. Hmm...

Darth William

Here's an excerpt from an e-mail I recently sent to my good friend George! (See link at right)

So, I have a problem. Well, yes, I have many problems, thank you for pointing that out. This particular new problem....I don't know how to handle. I've been whiling away my many excess hours I don't spend working playing Half Life 2. Whoops, I meant to type that I've been reading up on people that work in the software industry; sometimes it seems as if my fingers have a life of their own. NO IT DOESN'T EVERYTHING IS FINE MOVE ALONG NOTHING TO SEE HERE.

Anyway, here's the problem (and I'm sure it will be as shocking to you as it was for me): I want to work at Microsoft.

I'm not sure when it happened. One day, I was a happy-go-lucky programmer hell-bent on staying independent and blazing my own trail. I was going to move to Alberta, Canada and start my own software company. That was the plan.

And then, my brain took me aside one day and told me it had changed its mind.
Brain: I don't want to start my own company.
Me: You don't?
Brain: I want to work for Microsoft.
Me: What? Are you kidding me?
Brain: No. I'm dead sexy.
Me: ...
Brain: ...
Me: Did you mean to say that you're dead serious?
Brain: Yeah, what did I say?
Me: You said you were dead sexy.
Brain: Really? Like that guy from that movie?
Me: Yeah, 'Austin Powers'.
Brain: Oh.
Me: Yeah.
Brain: Hm.
Me: Anyway, what brought about this change of heart?
Brain: (Pauses for a moment in thought)....I think....yeah, I'm pretty sure...that it was 'Austin Powers 2'.
OK, I admit, my brain is pretty slow. EVENTUALLY, it told me its reasons, including security (steady paycheck vs unpredictability of owning a business) and the superior treatment programmers receive vs just about anywhere else in the business.

But, but, but....isn't Microsoft .... _EVIL_?

Is it? I don't know. On one hand, I disagree with a lot of their business practices. On the other hand, they have remained profitable every year for far longer than it would seem possible (see also: every other software company in existance). And the business side has a responsibility to remain profitable. And technically, they always follow the letter of the law (if not the spirit). So...evil? Can I go to the dark side? Work for the evil empire?

Apparently so. Oh, sure, I'll tell myself that it's because I want to help change the company from the inside; work to make a superior product; make the world a better place; etc, etc, etc. In reality, it's simply because the other Microsoft programmers I've talked to speak of Microsoft as this...I don't know, holy place or something. Not something that should be avoided, something that should be strived for.

Sigh. I don't know. What do I do? I feel I'm setting myself up for a fall now. The worst part is, it'll be, like, four or five years before I'm even ready for a programming job. I'll be in Japan likely for the next three years (well, two years, 8 months), then one or two years getting my masters (I first thought "Hey, I can get my masters in one year!" And then I thought "Why would I want to rush it? There's so many courses I haven't taken yet!"). So, I'll be 35, and just starting out in the field. Kind of a hard sell.

Ideally, I'd like to live in Canada, and work for Microsoft, programming games. However, as far as I know, there are no Microsoft programming jobs in Canada, and gaming jobs are with subsidiaries of Microsoft (which may not have their philosophy re: coder comforts). So that's not going to work. So, here's what I'll have to do: Move to Canada, start my own software company, and hope to be bought out by Microsoft! Sounds like a plan, ne?

I need coffee so bad right now, it's not even funny.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

What could it hurt?

So, you may have noticed a distinct drop-off in the number of my posts, starting this month. That is to say, I haven't posted at all this month. That darn NaNoWriMo!

I'm taking a break from writing stories to write a post, so you know I'm still alive and well. Who knew I had so many stories inside me? I may have to switch my novel to a collection of shorts. See, I was under the impression that creativity dwindles as one ages. I'm already in my 30s; I shouldn't be having so many creative thoughts that I can't type fast enough to jot them down. Of course, I'm re-learning the DVORÁK keyboard, so I'm typing slow anyway...

This morning, I wanted to start my novel over. Again. I already did once, because I realized my previous story (about super-genetically-engineered humans, vampires, cyborgs, nanites, World War III, time travel, evolution, tribal society, big business, AI, love and loss, possibly aliens...) would take too long to finish (more of a 15-book serial than a novella). So, as I was biking to work, up a hill, in the rain, on a windy mountain road with no sidewalks and plenty of blind corners, with a cliff on one side of me and a wall on the other, and traffic whizzing by - barely missing me, I thought a story about a guy biking to work, up a hill, in the rain, on a windy mountain road with no sidewalks and plenty of blind corners, with a cliff on one side of him and a wall on the other, and traffic whizzing by, who gets HIT BY A CAR AND DIES would be an interesting story. And I could keep the first page of my previous story:

Phoenix, can you hear me?


Well, at least your sense of sarcasm is still intact. Try to relax; there may be some discomfort during this process. How do you feel?

I feel...nothing.

Mm. Can you remember where you are?


Can you remember your name?

You called me Phoenix.

So I did, and so your reasoning skills and short term memory seem to be functioning as well. Is there anything else you can remember?

...I have the most exquisite memory of my death.


That was a bit melodramatic, don't you think?
The idea was of a guy, as he lay dying, revisiting his life and his memories, the good and the bad, the mysteries he never solved, guided by two opposing spirits (angels and demons) who were in reality just aspects of his own personality. Sort of Illusions, but with death (or more death). Illusions is a great little book by Richard Bach (of Jonathon Livingston Seagull fame, not Richard Bachman of Turner Overdrive fame [or was that Stephen King?]).

Unfortunately, I overslept this morning. In the sense that, if I can remember what I dreamed, I've had too much sleep. I knew it was going to happen, too. Last night, when I went to bed (at around 1am, because I was playing a game my younger brother told me about, called schiffbruch, which is German for Shipwreck, which tells you pretty much everything about the game) I figured that I wouldn't be able to get up at 5am like I normally do. So, I reset my clocks for 6:30.

Big mistake.

My body knows when it wants to get up. I woke up briefly at 6am, having already, in my mind, overslept by an hour. Unfortunately (and here's where I made my mistake), I didn't get out of bed immediately. I went back to sleep.

The problem is, my brain sleeps dyslexically. This is true. I have REM sleep before deep sleep. Usually, it's the other way around. So, I was dreaming when my alarm went off, and it stuck in my mind. I was dreaming of a murder-mystery. I hit snooze [TABOO!], so I could finish the dream.

By the time I came fully awake, I had already worked out the victim (a woman, disguised as a man), the location (a theatre [for plays, not movies]), the suspects (a star (male) and another man, possibly the director?), and the detective (myself!). In the shower I worked out who the killer was, and the motivation (she committed suicide, because of depression over her lover's infidelity (the director), and tries to frame him for her murder; he then tries to pin it on the actor).

Anyway. Now I have THREE stories going on simultaneously in my brain. And I haven't even touched all my notebooks that I brought from America, which are crammed full of other plot ideas and story points. Sigh. What to do?