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Archive for January 4th, 2009

Not Quite the Discriminating One

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I wrote A Guide to Nondiscrimination Requirements for Qualified Pension and Profit-Sharing Plans in 30 days.

While reading the 600 pages of new government regulations on which the book was focused, which were published on the first day of that 30-day period. Along with reviewing over a hundred additional pages of separately proposed regulations that were not finalized until a week after the book was published. And revisiting previously published regulations on related topics needed for rounding out the book. And all the statutory references and other related source material. All of which needed to be read at least in triplicate to make sure nothing was missed, most of which needed to be studied very closely and cross-referenced with other readings, and none of which was the sort of reading one can just breeze through.

Without taking a day off from work – no holidays in that period, no vacation days taken, and no sick days. And while carrying a workload that included heavy duties unrelated to the book. Yes, given my position as my company’s research actuary, it was my job to read those regulations and develop internal materials. So yes, the entire night after the regulations came out, I was giving the entire package its first pass so I could give a speech the very next day on the highlights. And throughout the next month, I did continue producing internal materials on the regulations for my employer and sharing in conference calls and working directly with clients on matters related to the regulations. Yet not only were none of those reg-related efforts directly focused on the book itself, but I also devoted over 30 hours per week to work that was completely unrelated to the regulations whatsoever.

So, no family life, right? Well, the family might argue that my mind was completely elsewhere during that month, but at least I did make the attempt. Sundays were off-limits to the book entirely: no reading of the regulations, no computer files open, not even a scribbled note on the many scraps of paper I carried around that month. And one entire Saturday during that month was devoted to taking the family down to King’s Dominion amusement park – again, an entire day off-limits to the book. So technically, I wrote the book in 25 days. And not all of those 25 days stolen from the family either. I never missed a dinner that month, reserved at least an hour each and every evening to spend with the children, and left other time open every day, no exceptions.

And the writing itself. Not only did I strive at every turn to steer clear of simply regurgitating the regulations, but I set myself the goal of attempting to have at least one unique point on every single one of the book’s 350+ pages, at least one insight per page that would not be obvious from a simple recitation of the rules themselves. And typed out the entire manuscript myself, hunt-and-peck style. And managed to make only one error in the entire book (an extra zero on page 70, a blunder subsequently rendered irrelevant by legislation that repealed the rule that page dealt with).

All of that an equation that can be solved only by including only about 20 hours of sleep for the entire month. Or, since I slept about 6 hours the night we stayed at the hotel after our day at King’s Dominion, call it 14 hours of sleep spread over the remaining 29 days of that month. Yes, your math is as good as an actuary’s there: that’s less than half an hour per night. For an entire month.

Which explains why I landed myself in the hospital on the 31st day, the morning after I had sent the final chapters of the manuscript off to the publisher. Which is something we are now dedicated at avoiding as I take up my pen to work on another book.

bumper sticker [] - DRAM

Written by macheide

4 January 2009 at 10:29 am

Posted in DRAM


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Very late last night I remembered that I had not yet remembered my evening meds. Pulled them out of the drawer and set them on the nightstand so I would remember them. Found myself staring at them twenty minutes later, unsure why I had not yet just taken the meds when I first pulled them out. Ah, the empty glass would explain that. Found myself staring at the empty glass twenty minutes later, unsure why I had not yet refilled my glass so I could take my meds, even more unsure when the last time was that I had drank anything before it went empty. Which got me wondering, when was the last time I had eaten? I couldn’t remember. (A small bag of popcorn, for a snack, it was; but I had to be reminded that I’d had that.)

I could have gone the day with nothing else to eat. Quite easily, even, if I had turned back to working on the book. And would only have filled the glass and taken my meds just before finally turning it all off to go to sleep. Which would have happened god only knows when.

The pace on this book won’t be near so intense as I did for the nondiscrimination book, I do swear. But my head doesn’t have an off switch, and doesn’t tend to recognize any gears or brakes. It just floors the accelerator and doesn’t let up. And doesn’t look to either side to take into mind such incidentals as eating or drinking or sleeping or meds. Even a good cup of coffee can sit undisturbed within reach, go cold and still be sitting there full hours after I took the time to brew it.

I’ll have to work on controlling that. If my brain will allow for me to.

bumper sticker [] - littérateur

Written by macheide

4 January 2009 at 9:19 am

Posted in littérateur