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O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Tyranny of Memory

Thanks everybody for your condolences with Isis. It does mean a lot to me.

Bette called a few minutes ago to let me know Isis was gone. I woke up early to have some extra time with her this morning, normally I only get in a few strokes and then have to leave, which gets the "where did you go" look. This morning I was able to scratch her butt, while rubbing her head (a newer twist this past year) until we reached overstimulation (at which she swats and bites playfully, and gives you the "why did you stop" look at the same time). Then we went to sniff the wild winds, where she sits in front of the open patio door. This is normal for her when it gets cold. If it's warm she'll just go out. I also picked her up twice and hummed to her. And then finally, we petted her, including speed petting (two hands, always one moving on her) until she was annoyed. This is announced when any attempt to touch her is met with a bite or swat with claws, usually while still purring. There was lots of purring this morning from my little broken engine (Isis purred in a two stroke manner). IT may have been me, but her purring this morning sounded different in some way (tonal qualities).

She didn't eat any of her breakfast, only licked up the juice.

I remember bringing her home. We found her in Chagrin South (a local park), trying to catch insects and being generally adorable. There were people at the picnic area near bye and we asked if she was theirs. Nobody knew who she belonged to. The parking area we were near was pretty far from the road. But here was a skinny little black cat, being very friendly. So we took her home and put ads in the papers (nobody ever called). She was so malnourished the vet though she was only a year old when we first took her. Four months later when we had her fixed, the vet adjusted that to two years, but still felt she was born in the fall. So we choose Halloween as her official birthday.

The first few months we us, she would have nightmares and would need to be calmed down. We played with her a lot. For some reason she liked it when I threw her on the bed, and then she'd come back and ask for more. I was about the only one she would let pick her up and carry her. With Bette she would squirm after a minute or two, and except for vets, she didn't let anybody else pick her up.

We lived on the sixth floor in our apartment complex, but we had a balcony and bird feeder. Our little huntress would grab a bird about every week or so. Some days we would come home to find the entire living room strewn with feathers, and a content cat snoozing on the bed. One day when Bette was working in southern Ohio, I decided to sleep late. After several pouncings, Isis decided drastic measures were needed. I heard her come into the room and walk around the bed. I was sleeping close to the edge of the bed, so she was able to release the mourning dove she had captured right in my face. There are few things that will wake you up faster than a somewhat large bird taking off into your face. That was a fun half hour to finally get a blanket over the bird and take it outside.

When we got the house, the first day she was scared. The second day she was running around. And the third day she jumped off the deck and walked around to the front door. A few days after that the presents started. A few chipmunks or mice every day. It was only after about eight years of her being with us that she would sit on our laps, although she preferred Bette's lap, she wouldn't immediately leave mine if I place her there (and petted he). I only got her to eat from my hand once. She never really misbehaved, at least not like other cats do. She only had a few litter box accidents (mostly peeing over the box edge), and we never came home to surprises.

She was a good cat to us. I wish she would have let another kitty into our lives, because I'd want that cat to learn from her, but she was very jealous of us. Even of other humans who came to visit.

I already feel that hole in me where she was. I'll miss her a lot.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Nothing but a good time

So, a non-political blog post. Spending time with Isis, but since she's not a big talker I have time to think of things.

With History of Lighting I can see two places I need to fix things. Then I need to re-examine if I need all four old guys, or if I should cut it down to three (need four to play Euchre).

See, I can talk about writing things.

Not surprising they're giving none away

Okay, so some plans for this mortgage deal have been floated (well, leaked is what they call it, but it's floating the ballon) from this morning. So, they want to refinance people into new ARMs, starting around 3.5%, but then adjusting in 5 years. Because, in 5 years they'll be able to sell or refinance. Um, wait, isn't that what got us into this in the first place. This is the same fargin' mentality that got us here, only now we're delaying it another five years. Yeah, really good plan. I don't like this concept, but at least refinance people into 30 or 40 year fixed rate loans, maybe at 4 or 5%, but then their rates won't change.

If we're going to do this, let's do it right.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Isis update

Our little kitty has lost interest in eating. We were hoping her appetite would pick back up with giving her straight tuna. She nibbles a little, and she is hungry. This is cat that we would give her a quarter bowl of tuna juice (the water it ships in) and she would drink it at one sitting. Actual tuna pieces were as good as catnip. What she's able to keep down isn't close to what she needs. She is slowing down a lot. And she is very boney now. Most of you know while we didn't have a fat cat, she was a little chubber. So this Friday we'll be putting her to sleep, before her starvation becomes too great. We don't think she's in any pain at the moment, but we're getting close.

One of the signs the vet told us to watch out for is frequent vomiting. At that point her internal organs are shutting down. Well, we think she's not eating because she can't keep it down. Last week when she did try to eat, she would vomit. She still begs us for food while we're eating dinner. She sniffs our plates and the little pieces we give her, licks her lips, but then doesn't eat them.

So the last days we've been paying as much attention to her as we can. She hasn't asked to go outside in weeks.

It seems strange to think that she won't be with us next week.

We know that there's always tomorrow

Over on Whatever (you are reading Whatever, aren't you?) John Scalzi makes the best argument for going the regular publishing route I've seen yet. The joy of foreign sales.

Not all agents do foreign sales. And yes, they'll take a portion off the top. Okay, so your agent gets you a contract to sell your book to Botswanna, and you get $2000. The agent takes 15%, or $300, maybe a little more. So you go home with $1700. No agent, and you're probably not getting that sale. So, is it worth it? Hmm, $300 to get $1700, or nothing. Yeah, I'll take the $1700, thank you.

This is like some people who have said they don't want to play the lottery, or take a chance on winning a house, because if they win they don't want to pay the taxes. Hello? What? And the political argument about making more than $250,000 and paying more taxes. Really, you're going to take a paper hat job because you want to keep your tax liability less than 20%. You know, I've gone between tax brackets before. And just hitting above the current one sucks. It really does. But really, $250,000 a year and you think that's middle class? Um, nah. That isn't the richest, but that's pretty damn rich right there.

Sorry, got off track there.

But yeah, it's the agent's job to find markets for your work. They only get paid when they get you money. And then it's a percentage, they have a vested interest in your career and your income now and in the future. Really, better than sliced bread.

There are times when you should go a different route, many very legitimate. However, if you can go the other way, you should try it.

Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash

Okay, so Congress will probably be discussing a new economic stimulous plan in their lame duck session coming up.

First I'll say, this is a really bad idea. We have a lame duck President, and a lame duck session of Congress, and they're going to decide an immensely expensive plan. I don't expect good results.

Second, there are some good ideas out there.

One plan is to extend unemployment insurance. I wholeheartedly endorse this plan. While the official unemployment figures are around 5.6%, the secondary unemployment figure (which includes those who have run out of unemployment, and those who have stopped seeking employment without having a new job in the past year) is running around 11%. True unemployment (which measures how many people are of age and could be employed, but aren't, either in jail, intentional stay at home parents, and a few other factors) runs in the twenty percentile range. So helping out 5.6-11% of people out there, Good Idea(tm).

Another plan is to create a new WPA type program, or to fund infrastructure rehabilitation and expansion. Again, I wholeheartedly support such a plan (although avoiding unnecessary expansion should be an essential part of that, and the bill should focus heavily on the rehabilitation part). This provides jobs, good paying jobs. Those jobs will have a trickle out affect to other jobs. This gets people to work, and gooses the economy directly in a positive way.

There's also a plan being floated, and pushed by a certain Presidential candidate, to buyout troubled loans and refinance them to where they're affordable (fixed rate long-term loans geared to income of the occupants). You may be shocked to hear I'm against this plan. One, well, it pisses me off. I live in a smaller home, a home much farther out than I wanted to be, all to live within my means and get some of what we wanted in a home (mostly being at least .5 an acre of land). I made those trade offs to start in a home that I could afford, and one I hope to be paying off early. It would have been nice to have a 2000 square foot home, with all the fun things like a great room, a separate dinning room, larger bedrooms, a full deck, fireplace, a master bath like one that people think of when they think master bath, etc. I qualified for a $250,000 mortgage (well, actually $450,000 but that was just ridiculous), but didn't feel I could make the monthly payments without being very house poor (right now we're mostly house poor).

I agree that giving money to banks rewarded them for the same behavior, and it is perfectly correct. I believe the $700m bailout law was very weak in enforcement. It should have included stronger provisions for executive pay and stripping "golden parachutes" from most of the employment contracts as a stipulation for accepting money. However, as I've stated before, credit is the spice to the financial market's navigators. The spice must flow.

There's also talk of another direct to tax payer stimulus. Most of the last one went to debt relief (another stimulus to the banks!). Help people get jobs, help them last until they can get a job, help create jobs, and the economy will turn. It won't do it on a dime (well, none of the plans really will). But it will last. And with rebuilding our infrastructure we solve two problems with one bill.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Other things just make you swear and curse

My thoughts on the "White Supremacists" who wanted to kill 88 black people, decapitate 14 more, and then try to kill Obama?

I guess they never saw this on YouTube (video starts on page load, somewhat loud music). It's very Hollywood, which makes me roll my eyes, but you get the point. Yeah, approach the candidate in a speeding car? You ain't gonna get close.

Just as a point here, I strongly disagree with giving the Secret Service this kind of firepower to use domestically. Why? Because in stopping that speeding car with this, a lot of collateral damage is going to happen. As I remember, a minigun is not a very precise weapon, it's just meant to spew a curtain of lead in the general direction you point the gun. The Service tends to operate in close environments, especially domestically.

Also, considering the various rhetorical flourishes by the right which condemn many things as "domestic terrorism" I'm not hearing that being thrown about it this case. Why? No, really, I want to know. Instead we get this.

And because I'm in a dark mood, I present this joke. "The one good thing about skinheads? They show up really well in infrared scopes."

Revved up like a deuce

I've had a few off line comments about my post a while back stating that as we approach the election and the inevitable fall-out and law suits afterward, especially since Obama is gaining in the polls, that we will begin to experience advanced wing-nuttery.

Some thought I was talking about McCain's apparent forgetfulness that he was a part of Washington while all these horrible things happened that he's now decrying. Myself, I keep waiting for the speech where he says his current campaign motto out loud, "You idiots voted for the wrong guy back in 2000. Now dontcha wish you had elected me?" Well, no, that's not what I was talking about.

This is what I was talking about. (link goes to the Nielsen Hayden's Making Light blog and Teresa's dissection of the letter) (here is the letter without the commentary and referential links) I used to receive such chain letters from friends, until I would get all explodey on them (with references) about how they were accepting something that makes absolutely no sense and could easily be disproven with a simple google search. If you don't want to taint your mind with such wingnuttery, I can sum up by saying that there are those "strong christians" who can't believe that a black man would be popular, so Obama's rise to power has to be due to "Kenyan/Islamic witchcraft" which can only be defeated by "spiritual warfare." No, I couldn't make that up (but I will eventually use it in a story). Both the "curses" and the "cures", to me, smack heavily of Hoodoo and Santeria (which are both, strangely enough, examples of "christianized" African animalism practices).

So this isn't an example of someone "way out there." There is a strong undercurrent in American culture that accepts this form of advanced wingnuttery as truth. I've experienced people saying such things to me in person. At first I thought they were jokes. Then I was flabbergasted to see how such things gain traction in people's minds. Now I tend to be very vocal against it, which I believe is the right course of action.

Having your worldview demolished is a tough thing on the psyche. A large minority of our fellow USians are experiencing this right at this moment as Obama goes from a "couldn't happen" to a "very well could happen" (they aren't at full acceptance yet). If you listen closely you can hear the crashing of paradigms and the crumbling of perceptions. It sounds like sugar glass shattering.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Weekend Wrapup and Other Thoughts

I didn't get what I wanted done, but I did finish up "History of Lightning" and did one round of edits. There's two things I need to fix with it, but they're doable. And I think they'll add interest in the story. Took a poem to finish and submitted it. Wrote and submitted two blog entries for the Miskatonic University blog contest.

Was way too distracted by life and work to get into the flow. Didn't sleep well, still tired.

Since I didn't have my standard stations available in Michigan (yeah, I know about satellite radio, but I really object to paying for it, heck, I hate paying for cable TV - but then I have crappy cable TV) I went channel surfing. There is a radio station in Michigan that is already playing Xmas Music, 24/7. OMG. Surely, this is a "the year has been so crappy, you all need a little Christmas right now," marketing thought. I wonder what year it will be when we have the Christmas shopping/music season start in April?

Took me 7.5 hours to get there because of the late start which made me hit traffic at the wrong times. The drive home was only 5.5 hours, and that includes going an extra 45 minutes eastward to home.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Wictory!

Okay, so instead of wallowing in my own wretchedness, I downshifted into poetry, knowing I could finish one of the several starts I have.

And I did so. I took a little sound poem and pushed it out to (what I hope is) publishable status. A poem of twelve lines, two stanzas, mixing a little Bradbury and eastern Buddhist tradition with a dash of sorrow and baked well.

And it's off to Goblin Fruit (one of the better designed online markets). They gave me a good rejection letter to my last submission there. Hopefully they'll find this more fully realized.

So here's to small victories. I can have my beer tonight with a (somewhat) clearer conscious.

Writing Fail

Okay, so, I built myself up for this weekend, and piled on the expectations, and now that I'm having difficulty becoming engaged in my novel again, I'm experiencing massive fail feelings. I think I set myself up for that.

The company is fun, the place excellent, the conversation good, but I feel like I'm avoiding writing. Now, I have produced some 3000 words so far this weekend, but that feels so small. I'm looking for distraction when I should be linking back into writing. I'm doing a lot of butt-in-chair-hands-on-keyboard time, but not a lot of typing out fiction.

I've done other things. Heck, I even took a nap. I don't take naps (although I haven't sleep well the past three nights). Distraction seeking, it's the new cat waxing.

I think what I really need is a more calm day-to-day life. But that isn't going to happen. I haven't done much work in the back yard this year, and I need to get stuff done. I tried cutting out the freelance and now I'm having the most work of any year to date. Council continues to be a struggle and is taking way too much energy.

And here I am complaining again.

Lighting Strikes Twice

Rewrote/edited Lightning. It's now 4041 words, and I cut about 100 to 250 words out of the original, and changed a parcel load of the sentences around, mixed up paragraphs, and restructured the end.

Story Bone

Some days you need to let the world burn. If I need be that match, thy will be done.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Break on through

So, I'm getting stuck at a little over a thousand words, racking my brain on how to fit this joke I loved to tell (called the Earworm Bandit), but can't figure out how to pull off. How do you deal with this when writing? Why, you kill your darlings and skip right past it.

Or you get blocked for half an hour trying to force it in and so come to writer a blog post about not being able to get the joke to work and pray when you go back into Word that you're able to move on without including the joke.

Okay, so maybe that's how I handle it.

edited or maybe I should give up and be sociable.

Advancing to the Rear

I'm rewriting the first chapter of "The Novel." 682 words in, with about twenty new words, and cutting 500 or so. Current opening line, "When the Rapture came, Steve Goodlie's life went to hell. "

Progress, such as it is

The crappy draft zero of History of Lightning is done. I started at 3443 words and now it's 3995 words, with some rewriting in the beginning (about 50-100 words rewritten). The ending isn't strong, and it'll need to be fixed. The front needs some reworking.

But it's done.

Now I can fix it later, or start something else. I think I should work on something else.

We're soon to break for dinner. I have that after story blah feeling. Need to get over that quickly and get "inspired" (read, put my ass in gear instead of feeling burnt out from the past few weeks).

PSA on the Wampyr

Okay, so have you read Rick Moore's posts about vampires (and here) and werewolves (and here)?

Like I said, I agree with most of what he has to say, although I think he's coming at it from inside a western culture/christian viewpoint. I've done a lot of thinking about how these things work without those constructs and viewpoints.

Okay, so, we should have example of Western Culture viewpoint. Okay, ask the person next to you to name four countries in Africa. How well did they do? And do they know that Indonesia is the largest country in the world (surface area)? Example of Christian worldview? Okay do you see the basic Christ plot line in stories (Lord of the Rings, etc?)? And I'm just going to say it here, Satanists, yeah, they pick the Christian milieu, and then choose the wrong side. Seriously locked into Christian worldview. Dudes, time to re-evaluate that strategy.

So, most of the cannon we read about in the West is seriously locked into these viewpoints, sort of like Grimms' Fairy Tales. Now, if you work hard enough, you can see the echoes of the older versions of the stories, especially if you compare european tellings with other world (and isn't that a "locked into the West" phrase) tellings. It's sort of like the comparative mythology thing Joseph Campbell did with religions.

So, here are some things I disagree with Rick on (because, he really does a good job of summing everything else up, you should read his posts).

Vampires are not exactly dead, they are un-dead. It's sort of like Abdul Alhazred's (created by Lovecraft) "That is not dead which can eternal lie. And with strange ├Žons even death may die." Not being dead, the vampyr does not rot. Although with longevity comes other decrepitudes. Older vampyrs carry ages of diseases with them, and while they heal from most wounds (which is how you know they're not rotting, there must be cellular processes for this healing to occur), the healing point is not as strong as the original, and those build up as well. Also, not having life within them (which is why they must drink blood, consume souls, steal breath, etc), they basically exist on a starvation diet. Which eventually leads to them becoming wraith like if they are slightly less successful at finding food.

Now, the biggie, crosses. Matheson (at least he's the earliest I've seen of this) is wrong we he makes the claim that crosses (and other religious symbols) only work on those vampires that in their living life ascribed to those religious tenants. Matheson continues to explain the psychology of this (if you want to know the full reasoning, read I am Legend, which I do recommend) is that the vampire is ashamed and fearful of the afterlife judgement (which fails because not all religions have such things). This is all wrong. (Also, see Barbara Hambly's take on them, of course Ann Rice's works, and if I go on I could list many more)

Crosses (and here I'm specifically excluding crucifixes which are a different/combined symbol) work on all vampires because the cross is a very old symbol for the quartering of the universe into it's active and passive components (and here, universe means physical space and spiritual space). Christianity appropriated the cross from the Romans (who knew what it meant, actually the early Christians also knew what it meant which is why they came up with the combined symbol of the crucifix which appears in the 5th century, earlier symbols include the fish, cup, and lamb, which are still used by the Church). The cross (and many symbols we still use/revere/abhore, most of which no longer portray their original meanings because of appropriation) appears in art (jewelry, textiles, litho paintings, architecture, etc) long before even Judaism came on the scene. What vampires are responding to is the original symbol which is a curse to them (as they represent only the far passive qualities, and hate being reminded of the active universe). The christian mumblings of devotees has no effect, it's the symbol itself which repels them. Strangely enough, the crucifix, being a combined symbol of the God sacrificed on the wheel of the Universe to redeem it, and free you from it if you believe.

Holy water does work, but only because it is "blessed/purified" water. Water is the gift of life (you can go without food longer than you can without water), and "spiritually purified" water is the exact opposite of what a vampire is. Think matter meeting anti-matter. This is also why running water affects them so much, as the water is alive (unlike contained water, which is dead). Most religions (except modern Christianity) have many taboos and legends concerning running waters (rivers, drainage, flood waters, shoreline waves, etc). Most ascribe "spirits" to these waters, but fewer do this to contained waters, although there are many beings which dwell in stilled waters. To show the difference in these, consider the naiads of the Greek Mythology, or the washer-women of Celtic origin. Both contain the powers of the waters they inhabit, they're closer to elementals and command the energy and flow of those waters. Now consider the Lady of the Lake or the rusalka of Slavic mythology. These are beings that merely dwell in waters, but don't wield it's powers. Most religions have rituals to purify water (it is the spring of life), and all of these would be effective on the vampire. This is also how Dracula could traverse the seas to arrive in England with his full powers during the journey (as oceans and seas are considered contained).

So here I take another exception to Rick. Vampires don't stink as they are able to bath (but not shower). Also, the running/flowing water must be open to the sky. Flowing water that isn't is exposed to the sky is considered dark magic (such as rivers in caves), and isn't harmful to the vampire. Water has it's own whole universe of issues considering the paranormal from dark water giving power to magics/sorcery and ghosts. Open water, and crossing such water, has extreme power on the paranormal in almost all mythos. In Japan, for example, most ghosts and demons can only cross water in straight lines (and then only some can cross water at all, the exceptions to these concern ghost and demons created by the water, and then they are mostly tied directly to the local). In Hindi, running waters are considered aspects of Vishnu, the Ganges being the River of the Universe (Vishnu sleeps in the headwaters of the river, from his navel grows the lotus that the Brahmin sits in, the Brahmin opens his eye and the world exists).

And here comes the fun thought experiment. Much of our modern landscape is crisscrossed by covered water (water feed lines, sewer lines, covered ditches and storm water drainage, and covered streams, in Orwell we have several streams which go through pipe for much of their journey though our village). Now, if only running water were an anathema to the vampire, they would be trapped and unable to move. This is where dark water comes into play. Dark water is dead, and gives power to the vampire. So our modern life has emboldened the wampyr. Ain't that just kick in the pants.

And then we come to the stake. As Rick points out the stake through the heart does not kill the vampire (and here is where most modern media portrayals of the vampire fail, and in doing so threaten all our lives), it merely immobilizes them. And, I'll say it here before getting to far away, the wood of the stake is very important. Not any wood will do, it must be Holly or Ash (I think it's different in Asian folklore, but I can't remember what they use, I think it's silver). The reason for this again predates Christianity. There are the Holy Woods of the World (at least in Europe) which recognize twelve trees as the living embodiment of the Universe. Holly is the only evergreen, the tree that doesn't die. It is the representative of life everlasting and it's wood, again, is the direct opposite of what the vampire represents. Ash is the king of trees, and therefore embodies properties of all trees. Also, it's good to be the king (and Ash is a much stronger wood than Holly, which helps when you find an exceptionally tough vampire and have to pound harder).

As a PSA, to repeat the stake does not kill the vampire, only holds it in stasis. If the stake is removed, the vampire will recover. A vampire will drown in running water, so throwing one into a river works. Sunlight also works (as after humans made the switch from following the cycles of the moon to the cycles of the Sun) as sunlight is life (things grow in it, it's warm, you feel much more invigorated) and again is the exact opposite of the vampire. However, being short of running water or a handy sun, cutting off the head and stuffing the mouth with garlic will work, but not immediately, and both needs to happen as cutting off the head keeps the vampire from feeding, and the garlic keeps the vampire from healing (garlic heals the living). Garlic was also considered to be a symbol of life for the slavic peoples (which is why we use so much and bulbs will repeal a vampire). So the vampire eventually starves into real death.

Okay, so, having written almost 1600 words on the subject without getting any fiction written, it's time to start writing fiction. I'll leave the effects of night bane, silver (which does work, as silver can be purified, where as other metals can't), salt (spice of life), etc, for a later date, if I get back to it. Also, Dr. Van Helsing reminds us that the vampire is a creature, a wild animal. They are not human (at least not anymore). Also, we could discuss the origins of the embodiment of the ancient fear of that which feeds on us, but that would be another few thousand words.

In conclusion, vampires don't exist solely in the western world, yet they embody the same principle throughout the world (a living death, feeding on the living). The weapons we use, and their behaviors, then need to be explained without the underlying western culture/christian mythologies.

Hope that helps you all. Remember, eat goulash and good italian food as we approach the cross-quarter day of Halloween, where the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead becomes permeable. Carry some holly stakes around with you. And don't forget your symbols of the active universe. (insert music here) The more you know.

Forward he cried from the rear

Okay, so, we are now nine, we are the Fellowship of the Retreat. And I did escape being Boromir, so win there. Anybody know where we can get a kayak on short notice?

Right now we're all checking blogs, etc, and I'm really enjoying bandwidth for once. Oh, the shackles of dial-up, how I curse your name!

It's rainy here at the lake. A gray day as we sit around the long table, discussing everything under the sun. The cell phone is on, just in case work calls. Yeah, I'm sick. But I only have two bars (at the best of times) so, at least I can say I tried. :)

I'm sure the vampyr post will come out sometime today, or I'll work on it. If to just (audio:effect="reverb") get it out of my mind.(/audio) I also have to keep in mind it's just Friday. Already thought/typed Saturday.

Now, on to the writing.

Oh, to amuse you all (and yes, I'm probably the last person to find it) (and groked from Dave) the Fail Blog.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Brother I brought you some silver, I brought a little gold

HERE! Yes, I made it here to Gun Lake for the Feral Writers Retreat. Didn't look like it would happen, and I got lots of 'slaining to do on Monday (that's okay, just thinking about it pisses me off again, and that was seven hours ago).

Yes, after a week of saying, "I'm taking Friday off, and Thursday is only eight hours," work tried to swallow me up. All these important projects (because they're all important) including four rush jobs for a "major client" (hellooo, if we could have combined them we might have made money, as we did it I'm sure we bled cash on each one), an automated project (ha!) that had Epic Failure issues (my quote of the day, "We're correcting in the wrong direction"), finishing up the project I explained earlier, another client gone wacky (not the client's fault, we have to pretend we work in their business instead of saying we're on outside group, so everybody there thinks they can put the finger one us), plus the project I alluded to earlier. I'm sure there were other things in there. Basically, as the one project had Epic Fail happen, another rush job went pear-shaped, after having a large order (we think it's a small order, because there are fewer individual pieces, but those pieces weren't on the business cards that we print 20 up, so yeah, 75 plates later, 3 minutes a plate, that's a huge chunk 'o time) to finish up I was approaching eight hours. I called the CSR to say, "ain't going to happen."

"Is there anybody else that know how to do this?"

"First time this happened. They'll have to build all new forms and be familiar with the project, and nobody has that, because this is new."

"OMG, wez all gonna die!"

So, to cut to the chase, I tell the person who was in control of the Epic Fail part, and they say, "Instruct someone how to do it." Yeah, hello, already ten minutes late. Okay, so I start, enter the briar patch of explanations, and say, "fuck it, it's faster to do it myself." So, yeah, after saying "8 hours and out," I worked .6 hours of overtime.

Which then lead me into Cleveland Downtown Rush Hour Traffic, now with bonus car accident! Then came the Sun In Your Eyes drive to Toledo. Followed by the inevitable delays around Ypsilanti, again with bonus car accident! Then twisty back roads all in the dark, about 2 hours later than I wanted to be there, deer running everywhere (hey, it's rutting season), and finally I'm here, which some of the people did wait up so I didn't have to bang on the door and cry, "Let me in!" and then go sleep in the car. So, hey, something went well today.

But, I left four jobs due this past afternoon undone (yeah, like I had the time, hello, interrupt my normally heavy load workday, add in FOUR rushes for a client, complete inability to understand how we get work done on two other jobs, and the "but we'll all DIE if you leave now," and it was a bad day all around). Which will lead to a bad Monday (where I'm sure I'll have to explain it all back to them, hopefully my mood will have lightened in the mean time because as I left, if someone would have said something to me, I might not have a job from my rebuttal).

So, here's to a productive weekend! Hurrah, writing retreat. Now it's midnight, I was up past midnight last night, and up at 5:30am today (well, yesterday). Time to crash.

Always with the questions

The incomparable Justine Larbalestier asks some rhetorical questions on her blog. Now, rhetorical questions are my specialty, and since I have to update and re-certify my credentials at the Smart Ass Credentialing Agency, here's my take on making it a meme. To the questions!

Why does Pat Buchanan yell all the time?
You have to yell to be heard from being so far to the right.

Also where does he find his ties?
Funerals.

How come the majority of people are incapable of replacing an empty toilet roll with a full one?
Well, I can't speak for everybody, just the males. See, if we get to the end of the roll just as we're finish we think this qualifies us for the Bonus Round and are therefor exempted from replacing it as we need to gather as many points as possible before the three minutes are up.

Is there anyone more charming than Rachel Maddow?
Well, sure, but they're mostly kittens.

Is this election ever going to end?
Not before the next one begins.

And, um, what am I going to do with myself when it’s over?
One word, NaWriMo. (Well not for me, like I have the time).

Am I the only one who doesn’t think the money spent on Palin and family’s clothes, hair, and make up is that big a deal?
No, but when one is running on being "just like 'Joe the Plumber'" (not "helping 'Joe the Plumber'" but the mantra "we are 'Joe'") the parts of your life that don't match up to that ideal are certainly fodder for exposure and ridicule. Personally, I think clowns (of the sacred kind) are what's needed here.

I’ve been living in NYC too long, haven’t I?
If you have to ask the question...

Run silent, run deep.

Oh, are we having fun yet? Oh, I always love starting out between the rock and a hard place because someone else dropped the ball. And, to add spice, it's only, you know, responsible for the continued financial health of the company, and it's for the person who signs my paycheck. So, you know, no pressure.

Love starting projects with the comments of, "We pulled this project from our outside designer because they took too long to get back to us and we're not happy with the proof they gave us." Um, one, gee, love to help and do a complete Hail Mary and hole-in-one all together because that's all I have time for, and for a tough client. And two, hellloooo, 19 years of experience, BFA, you're already paying me, was sitting on my thumbs when you farmed this out. WTF?

For the past two days I've been working like a mad dog to pull our collective arses form the fryer (screw the frying pan, we're beyond that). Good news, it means overtime (yeah money!). Bad news, that's time I didn't have to give this week. Was up till midnight getting things squared away at home so I can light out of here for Western Michigan and the writers retreat.

Didn't get "History of Lighting" in the bag, so that's what I'll probably be working on first. Rick Moore has been posting about Vampyr (and here) and Lycanthropes (and here) over on his site (haven't been able to check in days, he might have moved on). I've been working on a rebuttal post that includes much of my thoughts and research on the matters. I think Rick has it right for most of it, but there's somethings I disagree on (such as I don't accept Matheson's reworking of vampires only being afraid of the cross if they were Christians, it's a common misconception, I'll explain later, but the Cliff's Notes, they're afraid of crosses, not crucifixes for a reason). His posts (and I do recommend reading them) are based on mostly a European/Western Culture/Christian worldview basis. Really, if you're looking to write in this vein, Rick sums up a lot of it, and helps retake these creatures from modern, popular media views and displays them as they should be done. So probably sometime this weekend that will also come pouring forth (I wanted to get it out on Tuesday, but see above being busier than a beaver on crack).

So, sorry I've been the bad blogger friend lately (unread posts back over 350). Hope your weeks are going better.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Write me up at 125

Eyeballs.

Alligators.

Up to.

Hope your week is going better. Today we had a lot dumped on me and from the start we were two days late and behind the eight-ball. You know, I've had too many jobs where I was considered the miracle worker, I really was trying to avoid it now.

Although, I have to say, we're this far behind because the day job tried to use a design firm and just wasn't liking what they were getting (I think it was communication issues). So now they come to their in-house designer. Yeah, not very much liking that.

I reminded them that I'm off Friday. I'll remind them on Thursday, eight hours and I'm out the door.

Edit Edited title for homonym typo. Sheesh. Me writer better now. Tells ya what kind of week I'm having

Monday, October 20, 2008

'Cause these hard times will drive you from door to door

So, I'm watching a PBS show on Lyndon Johnson while catching up on things. And then comes his first run for Governor of Texas where re ran against Pappy O'Daniel. And yep, he used folksy music in his campaign.

Story Bone

Bestest Dad Dan (and he has the trophies to prove it) sends along this Story Bone from the category of overheard, out of context lines which are just so interesting they have to be used.

"If I was in charge, we would be up to our necks in box turtles."

Context was a discussion about predator-prey balance. But feel free to wing it. You could go with the "It's turtles all the way down" concept, or (another favorite quote) "thundering herd of turtles."

What Is This?

This week all three NPR stations I can listen to are having their fall fund drive. And the station I stream at work has also just started their drive. I'm in my own private little hell.

On the plus side, the Merry Christmas ride through the skies as the flack guns try and bring me down part, is on Thursday night I'm off to the other side of Michigan for the Feral Writers Retreat. Cool people, cool place, cool water, cool time. I have been so looking forward to this. At last year's retreat I push out an obscene amount of wordage for being their for so short a time. This year I'll have an extra day of writing. Yippie! I was hoping to have "History of Lightning" at draft zero before going, but I don't think that's going to happen (but I'm going to try, all depends on the extra stuff happening at home). So, I guess I'll probably finish that out there and then start on the next thing.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Isis, the Cat

Some of you know the pet my wife and I have shared our lives with, and you ask about her often, so I figured I would post here and let you all know.

She's nearing the end now. Since July we've known she was having kidney problems. In the past three months she's lost a lot of weight and her eating is erratic. She's slowing down and napping a lot more. She really hasn't wanted to go outside (except on the balcony/deck) for a few weeks. This week we'll have her blood tested and see how far she has come along. We don't expect good news.

Isis has been a good kitty to us. She never ran away, she never sprayed the furniture, and she always came home when we called her. The only bad thing about her was we were her family and she never did accept anyone else. We tried having more cats and she never wanted them around. When she first would met our friends she would either hide, or if they tried to pet her she would swipe at them. Isis was always protective of us. It was only after several meeting that she would warm up to our friends.

Isis is pretty old for a kitty, she's been with us for 18 years, and we think we found her when she was a year old (the vet couldn't tell us her exact age). We don't know what her first year was like, although we think her previous owners weren't very good to her. She still sometimes will startle at the oddest things. We found her roaming Chagrin South Reservation, and she came to us, ignoring all the other people there. At the time we lived in an apartment, so she didn't have much room. When we bought the house she got to go out more and hunt. She really liked that, although it's been over a year since she's brought us presents. It took her nearly five years before she would sit on our laps, and even then she never stayed long, and at least for me, it was very rare anyway.

Of the two of us, she likes Bette the most. Although I'm the only one Isis will let pick her up without a struggle. I'm the only one she's allowed to pet her stomach or chin.

We don't want her to suffer or be in pain. And we will miss her terribly when she's gone. She was our little cat.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Story Bone

Okay, so one of the things about going to Mars is the very thin atmosphere which, 1) difficult to breathe and move, and 2) temperature inclines at human size (feet could be boiling, but your head is freezing). Well, here's a possible solution, at least to overnight stays. The atmosphere inside those holes would be denser, which would even out the temperature inclines. It might make it possible to roam inside using just a breather instead of a full suit.

Hmm, those things to go ask a physicist.

Secret Language of Birds

So, I'm trolling for images, and end up checking iTunes and what podcasts it has downloaded. And lookie there on PodCastle, another story from Mer Haskell. w00t!

Dead Languages is Rated PG (so all the kiddies can enjoy it) and "contains vampires, ass-kicking, and hijinx." Ooo, vamps, ass-kicking (hey, is that PG now?), and hijinx.

Oh, we are so going to listen to this next.

Story Bone - Take me to your leader

This isn't so much of a bone as it is a thought process. In all the movies (and most stories) when the aliens come down and immediately go to Washington DC or New York City (either for a treaty or to blow it up). Why? It seems awfully American-centric to believe that.

Just what would an alien species value, what is their world view, and how would that direct their first contact with Earth. Would they even come to see the humans? That's not really a given. We aren't the most successful or numerous species on the planet (I believe ants fill that role). We aren't the largest animals. We aren't the only social animals. Is there much difference (from an alien view) between cities and ant hills, or gopher warrens? Would they choose us because of our broadcast media? Would aliens even bother to watch or listen to our media? Would they even see there were signals on those wavelengths. Radio and TV broadcast signals are based on the radiation windows in our atmosphere. If you're a space based community, there are frequencies (for lack of better term) that have the capacity for more bandwidth than our puny signals, and in space they wouldn't have propagation issues that have on Earth. So it's not a given that aliens would be listening to us.

Okay, so let us say that aliens are interested in humans. Why Washington or NYC? Jakarta has a greater population density, Beijing as well. Heck, much of SE Asia has greater population density in their cities. Why not the Hague? Would aliens even care about our political divisions? Probably not.

And then there are the questions of why a species would be space faring in the first place? Economics? Adventure? Conquest? Would they even value the same things we do? Probably not. Our world is economics based. A far flung space empire wouldn't be because being in space is a huge drain on any economy. So what would drive them to be space faring?

Just some things to think about.

Deep Thoughts - Friday Edition

Random thought on crappiness, "Well, at least it was only $500 worth of crappiness, not $20,000." (latest crappiness was needing a new radiator for car, at least it wasn't a cracked block and the engine didn't seize)

Random thought from this morning's commute, "I'm getting paced by a Cintas van, WTF?"

Random designer's thoughts. This video is frickin' hilarious. Even more so because I've been in those meetings. That look in the designer's eye near the end, yeah, that's called "Murderous Intent." Just saying. It may look like, "Oh, WTF now?" But it really is, "It'd be cheaper to just off these idiots."

Random political thought, as we approach the election date, and McCain continues to drop in the polls, expect random acts of extreme wingnuttery.

Second random political thought, McCain brings up "Joe the Plumber" during the debate, but fails to have him vetted properly. Turns out, "Joe" (not his real name, BTW, it's Samuel) and the company he wants to buy, aren't properly licensed in the State of Ohio. Oppsie. Not a big thing legally (in Ohio), but you know, you'd think before bringing "Joe" up you'd do a little research. "Joe" also owes back property taxes. And, as the analysts all agree, "Joe" would do better under Obama's economic and tax plan than he would under McCain's plans. But, see, it's becoming apparent (to me at least) that "Joe" is an intentional political prop of the McCain campaign.

Last random political thought for today, David Zucker, director of "An American Carol" is blaming poor box-office numbers not on a bad film, one that has little appeal, from lack of actual marketing campaign, few actual screens showing the movie, Vivendi (the distributor) ignoring doing a "critics screening", or basically just not making a funny film. Nope, he's blaming the poor box-office on "ticket fraud." (Steve falls over laughing) I wonder if he'll blame ACORN next week?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Also sprach Slushgod

John Joseph Adams is doing it again. This time (well, okay, I'm still behind in my bloggeroll, but hey, I've got a lot in there) he reprints Editorial Roundtable: A Discussion with Three of the Top Editors in Science Fiction and Fantasy with some good advice on how to get out of the slush (always a rip roaring topic that boils down to "write a damn good story they want to publish"). Haven't read it through yet, but John's good at getting to the topic, so I'll be it's the bomb (noted here for me to read later).

On top of that, he has 21 Blogs Writers Should be Reading. I have many of these, although there's some new ones (to me). Oh man, at this rate I'll never reach the end of the internets.

And not John Joseph Adams, but an interesting raconteur (I love that word BTW) himself, now becoming frequent commentator Ferrel "Rick" Moore's blog, the Writer and the White Cat, has been jazzing my creative juices since I discovered him doing research for ConClave. You all should check him out. He's been posting some good advice for killing vampires, and we can all use that.

Bad Flash, no Cookie

Fab-dad and techno-wizard Dan sends me word about how Flash has cookies. Here's the /. article. And here's a control panel to adjust security settings.

So, Macromedia, just WTF is Flash doing being able to access my built-in camera and microphone without asking me? Why do you need your own cookie file that really isn't accessible through the software? Are you really ignorant about the security and privacy concerns this "functionality" endangers?

For too long corporations have felt they have a freedom to run over their customer's rights and then only have to present a mea culpa for redemption. Much of modern internet functions rely on the use of Flash technology, so dumping the code isn't an option. Hauling the programmers and executives out into the streets to tar and feather them (not verbally, I mean real boiling tar and chicken feathers) should be the remedy. It's far better than the treatment they would have received just 200 years ago and we would only need to do it a few times before the situation rectifies itself.

Don't like that idea, Mr. Big Business Suit? The other option is to impose actual fines that would cripple your business and help the deficit. Say 50% of revenues (not profits, gross revenues). That should do it. Tar and feathering of a few key executives doesn't sound so bad anymore, does it? And yes, your violation of my privacy does rise to the level of your company being put out of business.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It's the Tinseltown scandal, the Robin Hood vandal

(Well, glad I didn't miss the window for this) Jim Hines, who looks awesome in his leather-author's-coat, is having an auction to benefit the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The auction is to win an ARC of his latest Book, The Stepsister Scheme. One, Jim is a wickedly funny author and he writes slightly twisted fairy tales. Also, if you tickle Jim just right he does sound a little like Edward Everett Horton (weekly obligatory obscure reference, it's a Union thing). I won a cover flat of this book, and we also discussed the cover in our ConClave Panel on "What do you mean you don't get to choose your own cover?" It's awesome as well.



So with one post I get to support three things I encourage others to support (being Against Domestic Violence in all it's forms, a cool sounding book that has strong, clever, women heros, and Jim, who does look awesome in that leather coat of his). It's a trifecta of goodness.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Rejection Mondays

Fiction Editor Jed Hartman over at Strange Horizons sends word they're passing on Prince Wanted. Letter is short and to the point, not sure if it's a form or not. It just says they're not going to accept it for publication. Fair cop.

I know where I'm going to send it to next. So I'll give it another once over and send it back out (hopefully tonight).

edit I wrote this earlier today, but as you can tell by the time stamp, the day went down the crapper (too much to explain why, and it's not at all pleasant). I haven't had a chance to re-read Prince Wanted. I want to before I send it in to Abyss & Apex. Tomorrow is meeting night, so might not happen then. Hopefully by Wednesday.

edit the duece Ah, it appears that A&A is closed for submissions. :( And the crappy day just keeps rolling.

I should say that the crappiness of the day does not relate to the rejection. It has everything to do with the day and first night job.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

ConClave, the Photo Edition

Ah, the photos from ConClave. I really didn't take many.

Here's the very cool bridge on I-280 I get to cross on my way to Detroit. It looks much nicer at night, which I would have been able to get a shot, if I hadn't left my camera in my room. D'oh!


After finding out about the sale, I was so happy I couldn't keep it inside, so I told the people attending the next panel, before we started. This caused the all around great guy Dave Kletcha to do a one man wave.


And, thanks to Mer's wicked label-making-fu, here's my adjusted badge claiming me to be the "Newest Neopro." Sniff me I'm like a new car. BTW, taking this photo helped me claim my camera, I told the assistant manager to check the last image on the camera, and it has my name.

Sniff 'em, it's like a new car smell

Finally getting caught up with work at home, so time to dish with the photos. You all like photos, don't you?

The pride of the house, our new dishwasher. Ah, no more towels on the floor. When we got it installed there was a distinct sound reduction, but now I can hear it like normal. The on/off cycles are still a little jarring, but I'm getting used to them. I don't think we've had it long enough to see a difference in our water bill.


And here is the new heart of the house, our furnace. Where you see the line in the sheet metal over the furnace is where the last one rose to. This one is small. Very small, and it pushes much more air. And lookee at that tag. 95.5 AFUE. I really hope to see some small difference in gas usage this year.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I scare myself

Yes, sometimes doing design work things just come together. So I share with you my latest in freelance (and in this case, it's very free, but that also means I get to do what I want).

The Grand Valley Ruritans Halloween Party Poster

Friday, October 10, 2008

You've got to be taught before it's too late

Okay, like I said, I'm trying not to post politics, but I just can't stand it. The McCain campaign, and the Republican Party has gone over the edge IMHO.

If you don't want to see political ranting, just skip this post. I'll try and get most of it out in one post. Sort of like taking off a bandage, do it quick and it won't hurt as much (or as long).

First up, the longer we continue in the Bush Administration the clearer it becomes that Karl Rove attempted to use the machinery of government to intimidate, skew, and fix elections. He wrote papers on how to do this and engineered using the Justice Department to do this, taking a non-polical body and making it intentionally political. He created mechanisms to disenfranchise voters of the right to the ballot. He used fear and a cynical corruption of religion in this nation to push his agenda of political dominance. Karl Rove is a traitor to his country and the ideals of its founding. And yes, I do mean that word; high crimes against society have been committed. He attempted a political coup d'etat to install his own political hegemony. Some of them will see people going to jail, but Karl will skate away free. And when I say treason, I do believe he should be put in jeopardy of the full punishment for that crime. His crimes rise to that level. He is a pirate of the political system. And not the warm fuzzy "Dread Pirate Roberts" kind, he's the stick 'em like a pig kind.

While I'm thinking about duplicity, you know those McCain ads that have been recycling the disproved charges of Obama championing teaching kindergartners sex education, like they're handing out condoms at milk time? Well, one, it was disproved back when it first came up as Obama was running for US Senate, but why let actual facts disrupt an ideological charge? (one of the reasons I'm incredibly pissed) The law actually included the text "age appropriate sex education." For kids that young it means telling them that nobody should be touching them in inappropriate ways. So, what McCain is actually saying with these ads is that he and the republican party do not approve of protecting kids from sexual predators (keep in mind the vast majority of sexual abuse occurs within a family). Given the current level of logic being used by the conservative side of things (logic, ur doing it wrong), this means that McCain and the Republican Party approves of sexually abusing kids.

About the financial crisis and this whole, "the Democrats didn't do anything to fix these problems," line of arguments, it is just infuriating. Yes, the Democrats didn't fix the errors introduced into the system by the Free Market Republicans. And when they did try to fix them, the Republicans blocked them. It's like shouting, "Look, Rome is burning while Nero fiddles," while holding the still burning match.

And finally we come to the questions of race. This is the part that drives me up a wall, and one that McCain and his supporters are pushing to the point of having people yelling out at his rallies how Obama is a "Traitor" and "should be shoot." Really. People, it's time to take your meds. There are costs to this kind of demagoguery, usually someone ends up hurt (either the intended victim or the instigator) by those that are being riled up. On the other side I've heard of people who won't vote for Obama because, "He'll have their agenda and needs in mine, and not our own (read, white people)." One, exceptionally stupid for a politician, and two this means these people have been thinking they've voted people in to help protect white class society from all "them other people." And they think they've been right in thinking this all this time (no, I'm not going to rewrite that).

Where are we going and just WTF am I doing in this hand-basket?

Friday Writing Linkee-poo

Writing a political rant I'm really trying to not inflict upon you all.

So instead I point you to Reesa posting on Words Words Words about some ruminations on viral marketing techniques. Certainly interesting food for thought. Have to masticate a little on them.

Jim Hines gives some notes to himself which is a good meta argument for us all about writing. It was repeated a few times on ConClave, so I'll do another iteration here. See points 2 and 4 for more clarification, but it's all right to write a sucky first draft (or draft zero as some say). Just get it out so you can fix it later. Also, for me, this year has been an ongoing live example of his point 3. I was prepared to talk about this on ConClave, but wasn't afforded the opportunity, so let me inflict you all with this wisdom. You must carve out time to write, you'll never "find" it. And if you only get out 300 words a week, that's 300 more than no words. It's all okay. The more you write the more you'll find ways to carve out more time (unless your life is completely out of control like mine, that is full time day job, part time night job with lots of stress and responsibility, second job as freelancer, need to spend more time with wife and cat, and then you get to the writing - sometimes these priorities change positions).

Todd Wheeler does it by the numbers. And reaches the inevitable conclusion on the last line (no, I'm not spoiling it here). It's good to know I'm not the only metrics/mathmatics freak in the crowd.

Mer Haskell has another story you should go read. No, really, go read it.

And I'm sure there's more out there that I just haven't gotten to yet.

Got my camera back yesterday, so I want to make a shout out to Assistant Manager Carlos and all the other good people at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Detroit Metro. Thanks for finding it and sending it back home. And just a hint, always a good idea to take a picture of your name tag (because I couldn't remember the color or model number as I drove back home, which is when I realized it was not in the briefcase).

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

We have to shout above the din of our Rice Crispies

Wow. Okay, so this probably doesn't mean anything to anybody, but this weekend, on a panel concerning "Dialog," I made the comment about studying stand-up comedians for style, pacing, etc. This is because each comedian has their own distinct voice, and to make character development though dialog your character's voice must come through in that dialog. Either that or all your characters sound like they're auditioning for a Noel Coward play.

So I'm listening to the podcast "Writing Excuses, Episode 35: Voice, Tone and Style" (10-06-08) and they make the same argument. Even using one of the comedians I used. (insert Twilight Zone Theme here)

You say potato and I say potahto

Random thoughts on the debate last night.

Yes, I know you're all sick of the political posts. I'm really trying to not let it all out at you all (hmm, let me diagram that sentence, better yet I shouldn't try it).

Boy, McCain is going for the low road.

Nuclear power is environmentally friendly? Really? Sure, you tell that to the residents around Yucca Mountain, NV. They have nothing to worry about. It's environmentally friendly. We'll be burying the equivalent of daffodils and forget-me-nots deep in the ground, under a mountain that has been reinforced, and lined. Nothing to worry about. I know some of my friends are very pro-nuclear power, and I am a little bit, but I don't condone lying about it. Nuclear power emits fewer (in quantity and types of) greenhouse gases, much less and fewer. However the hot water effluent causes problems. The chemicals used in the process cause problems (and are highly toxic). And the radioactive waste (spent fuel, coolant, contaminated metals and materials, by processes of the refining of the fuel, etc) spans the gamut of "slightly worrying" to "wear a lead suit" (some radiation is worse than other radiation, ie. gamma and beta emiters, also things vary in RADs).

Obama told his own whoopers. I think on balance though, McCain takes the award for slinging the BS. Here's FactCheck.org's take on it.

Also, McCain likes to tout how he's been tested, a direct reference to his being a POW. You all have caught on to the fact that McCain was a POW in Vietnam, right? How could you miss it? So, let's look at that. McCain broke. He offered to tape a confession. To be fair, he wasn't in the best physical condition. But if that's what you're pointing to as the shining example of service, it doesn't measure up all that far.

Also, whenever any of the candidates (although it's mostly McCain and Palin) talk about sending so much money to "countries that don't like us very much" (as a dis against Saudi Arabia and other Middle East places) I normally shout out, "Damn those Canadians" in my best "Kahn!" voice. This is not as a dis to my Canadian friends ::waves to those of you above the border:: but more as a counter to the fact that we receive very little oil form "those that don't like us." If you start removing "those that hate the current administration but love America" the number gets even smaller. I haven't done the math from the latest figures, but from what I remember, only one quarter (or less) goes to the Middle East. Unless we want to talk about how the UK and Russia don't like us all that much any more. Also, we are nominally allies with all the countries that import oil (the most notable "exception" being Venezuela and Hugo Chavez, who BTW for the past six years has been giving some US families free heating oil. Certainly an insidious attempt to foment radicals and revolution).

Less than a month to go. I wonder if we'll make it? Or my head might explode.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Monday Monday, (not) so good to me

Well, today sucked. Yesterday was busy also. Tomorrow doesn't look much better. Here's hoping your weeks are going better.

I could kvetch, but it would take too long to explain. Lets just say things went pear-shaped and it's been up to me to save everybody's arses. But the problem is, the problems they created (which I tried to help avoid, but nobody listens) are going to bite us all tomorrow. Yeah. It's going to be another fun day.

On the plus side, 2+ hours of OT. And we're busy again. Go figure.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

You and me Sunday driving

Flew back from Detroit and man my arms are tired. Actually my whole body is tired. I didn't sleep well at this con, and there weren't many breaks. And with all the meeting people and panels I'm suffering from being ON! for too long. Like a live wire going bzzzt bzzt bzzt.

Well, I got a later start from the Con that I thought. First rule of convention going for the writer, 1) If an editor asks you to have a meal/drink/jacuzzi with them, say, "Yes." I almost forgot that rule, but fortunately the voices in my head brought me back and I had a wonderful late lunch/early dinner with William Jones, Deb Jones, Rick Moore, and Jeff Kevin (I think, I'm terribly sucky with names, especially since he bought lunch, thanks again). Had a frickin' good time and enjoyed myself.

But having a late start I drove like a maniac to get back at a reasonable hour (10:15 in case you cared).

Fun seeing all my friends there, but way too tired to list you all right at the moment (because I know I'll forget someone and that would make the end of this month hellish). Met a bunch of new people that we seemed to get along. I actually have homework from the Con (Michelle West wants to know what typeface they set her one book in, so she can request it later, I think it was Stemple Garamond, or it could have been Humanist. I took notes and will look it up tomorrow with my font books). And I think I got roped into being a panelist at another con. What's the reward for good work? More work. :) Thanks, Anne Zanoni, for inviting me.

So, this isn't the roundup post, but I realized I hadn't posted as often as I thought and wanted to say I'm home, safe, and only slightly warped (but you all knew that, didn't you?).

Saturday, October 4, 2008

My future is so bright, I gotta wear shades

We now interrupt this blog for this important message.

This afternoon at 3:55pm I was waylaid on my journey to a panel to discuss "Why didn't I think of that? Where authors get their ideas," and was thunderstruck. I was told I could now announce it publicly, I am (going to be) a published author.

And the villagers rejoice (pictures to follow).

OMG! OMG! OMG! For a year that I haven't produced many new words, this is sure my year for writing. Writetober is full of awesome.

Okay, some of you know this story, and some of it has leaked out here and there, but I didn't explain what I was talking about. Way back in July, William Jones invited me to submit to an anthology of near future Cthulhu stories (second very cool thing this year, after being invited as a panelist, but I didn't feel I could announce it here just then) (cool cover art here). You may remember me talking about rewriting War Stories back in August. That was related to this. William sent back good words to begin with, which had me doing the geek victory dance, but in private (I'm dancing on the inside). He told me today that I can announce that he's buying my story and he'll send me edits when he can.

Hurray! I'm so psyched I'm blogging during my friends' panel, which I should go back to paying attention.

For the past three months I've been thinking about how to write this post, and this is nothing like anything I had in mind. I had six different music quotes I was going to use as the title, and I can't think of a single one now (remembered one). I thought of how I wanted to introduce the text, which I can't remember. Sorry, I was going to be much funnier, looking toward the future, lay out the whole "it's the first step on my uber-plan to conquer the universe," plan, etc. But I'm flying high right now.

Come Saturday Morning

Well, my virgin panel is done. I preferred to think of all the people attending as my virgins (ha, ha, ha). So, in the panel before the one I was on I furiously reconstructed my notes I left at home (and more ideas). This was good because for my first panel I ended up being moderator. Yeah me! I was told I did a good job, but I only got to go through about 6 bullet points out of 24+.

Way too tired to be coherent. Was up till 4am working (yeah cheap design!) and being a spaz.

Well, people are arriving for the next panel so I need to stop being non-sociable. And it hit me last night that without planning it, I'm having another Writetober this month. More later.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Friday Arrives Without a Suitcase

Here at ConClave. Made it in one piece. Welcomed by Jody Harrow, who is a nice guy. Had dinner with Mer, Julie, and Mary Lou at the Big Boy next door. Realized I forgot notes for 8pm panel Mythology and Fantasy (the one I'll need notes for). Cramming.

Need to remember all those authors who have written in other mythologies than the traditional English/Northern European as well as the Hero's Journey steps. Will make point about how mythology gives us structure and form, also informs us how to tell a story.

Now I need to find that Scientific American article on the power of story, and why it works. One of the things I forgot and didn't make a bookmark for (me, what can I do with myself).

Hope your day is going better.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Sherman set the Wayback Machine to 1984

Holy frack. I'm listening to the VP debate. I don't even know where to begin except to say Sarah Palin certainly knows the poll questions and positive words. Unfortunately she also is a walking example of doublethink in action. So many contradictory points held at the same time (which happens when all you study are the positive poll words without understanding the trade offs). And she still thinks that being gay is a choice, even with having friends who are gay. Plus, wow, just so clueless about Afghanistan. And a minor point, she says "nuc-ular".

Over all she is doing better than I expected. But at least for me I can see the training and see on her face the replaying of her handlers' instructions (including looking directly at the camera).

More Bloggeroll Ketchup

Down to 215 unread messages. But then I'm going to ConClave tomorrow. It was a valiant attempt.

Matt Jarpe, who is a cool dude even if he did single-handledly cause the collapse of our modern economic system and the ensuing chaos beyond that, talks about his ideas for finishing a novel. Definitely worth the read.

Joshua Palmatier, also a cool dude, talks about books signings. Josh has the reported ability to sell books by simply being in a bookstore, a rare talent indeed. I say "reported ability" because while we've all heard tales, very few have claimed to actually see it happen. Oh, and his main points of advice work for much more than signings (something I hope to be able to do someday). "Go with no expectations. Be yourself. Have fun."

Also sprach the Slush God

One, having met John Joseph Adams in person, let me say he is one hoopy frood. Two, having submitted to both Fantasy & Science Fiction and some of the special issues of magazines he's edited, he's always treated me well. When he sent back my reply postcard for Daddy's Little Girl and marked it that he passed it up to Gordon, I think I was on a natural high for a week.

Now he's letting the cat out of the bag with his post Beyond the Guidelines, 25 Ways You Might Be Annoying Editors Without Even Knowing It. If you submit through the regular mail, you should read, also good tips for e-subs.

I still use reply cards, but I've been thinking of dropping them, for the very reason John says. Sometimes I have received the rejection letter before the reply card. Sometimes I never get the reply card at all. One of the reasons I like e-submissions (of which F&SF doesn't accept, yet) is when the editors couple them with automatic response emails, and in some markets, trackers. Takes a lot of the anxiousness out of the process, not to mention less cost and not waiting in the PO Line (average wait for me is about 15-20 minutes).

I feel happy, I think I go for a walk

I'm in that weird weight area between belt notches. Where I have had it for the past six months is too loose, and my pants fall down causing me to do a reverse Picard Maneuver every few minutes. Setting it down one notch is too tight and I feel like I'm wearing a 1" wide corset. But, good problem to have as I'm still losing weight. Although most of it has been from my ass, not my stomach.

Plus I've had my shirts long enough that they've shrunk a little, so the combination mid-drift and butt-crack just isn't appealing, you know. What to do. What to do. Fortunately I have some long t-shirts for this weekend. T-shirt and blue jeans are my writer's armor.

The big-d is still there, although it's not a constant. I can feel the edge when I go over. Sometimes when it's getting stressful I almost want it, big-d is the absence of feeling that can be easier than the gut-wrenching turmoil of other stresses. But I can fight it. Don't think I'm ready to go off the drugs just yet. Maybe in January when I see my doctor again.

The intestinal tract, though, is causing some problems. They're mostly side effects from the metformin. I certainly hope they abate for the weekend.

I haven't had pop here at work for two weeks. Some days I go without caffeine until
I get home and there have been days I've gone without that. In total for the past two months I think I've had 8 liters of pop in total (includes the 2 liters last weekend from Mom's). Go me. This weekend, though, promises to see me go off the plan.

Are You Ready to Rumble?!

Just reiterating my advice to Joe Biden. No matter what you do, how careful you are not to talk down to Palin, to be a "nice guy" you're going to come off this debate looking like the "bad guy." If you you try and give her the best option out of questions, you will appear condescending (and will be vilified for it). Seriously. So my advice is to embrace that and show exactly how unprepared she is for national office. Demonstrate what a light weight she is. All she has is attack. That pit bull mentality. It's easy to counter that.

Oh and this whole kerfluffle about Gwen Ifill? One, shows the ignorance of the right about real news people and professionalism (seems strange that much of the business class not having a clue about how to be professional, but as someone who worked in business consulting for five years, yeah, it's true). Two, is an attempt to place the bar so low for Palin that even if she tripped and slid across the floor as she tried to shake Biden's hand, she'd still cross over the expectations bar.

Also (via Jay Lake's Link Salad) a right wing blogger is shocked that her party is full of vicious hate mongers. As someone who has argued against the whole ploy of "liberals are the ones filled with hate" crap, I find this very funny, myself. But then I have a dark sense of humor.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Oh Great Internet Brain

So, any good sites that show connections between world mythologies and fantasy writing? Any good mythology resource sites you know about ? Do you know of an online repository for Katharine Brigg's Encyclopedia of Fairies?

Here's my preliminary list:
Endicott's Journal of Mythic Arts (the archive is still online, and excellent)
Surlalune Fairy Tales
God Checker
Encyclopedia Mythica
Bulfinches Mythology
Andrew Lang's Fairy Tale Books
Cabinet des Fees
Mythic Passage

Also, does anybody remember the Scandinavia Mythic Cycle that Tolkien based the mythology of Middle Earth on? All I can think of (and find quickly, my google-fu sometimes fails me) is Scaldlings? Never mind, I remembered, the Kalevala. How could I forget?

My Own Lake Wobegon

Catching up with my bloggeroll.

The friendly Mer has Duotrope tell here things we already new (that she's above average). Also, some nice statistical data for new writers (although I think Mer is well on her way to escape velocity out of Neopro status). If you don't go to her website (and why aren't you?) the statistic that many of you writers should know is 11%. That's her acceptance rate. Duotrope rates that as above average.

Camille Alexa shares some publishing an acceptance news. I'm just generally in admiration of her. Although she hasn't told us of her "sekrit projekt" yet, my guess is a novel in the works, she still does her editorial duties and gets the writing out.

All around hoopy frood Jim Hines celebrates his 40th short story sale. For someone who has three books published and two more in the pipeline (look for Stepsister's Scheme coming out soon), you wouldn't think a short story sale would be such a big thing. I have a feeling that celebrating a sale never gets old. BTW, I also received my cover flat of Stepsister Scheme and it's kickin'. I don't think Bette quite understood what made me so happy about it, but she liked the cover as well.

Raconteur extraordinary Nathan is out of work, but generally happy about it. More power to Nathan. Being out of work are those moments of sheer terror for me (although this last time, only 2 unplanned, I had offers within a month and was rehired shortly there after). It's the part of freelancing that drives me nuts. But then Nathan also have some things on the string for the future and he's obviously wickedly talented (need locations scouted and managed in NYC, you could do a lost worse than hiring him).

There's been good news all around with all my blogging friends, and that makes me happy. It's my own Lake Wobegon, where the women are strong, the men good looking, and they're all above average.

I'm burning, I'm burning, I'm burning for you

Well, since it hasn't been made a big deal of it, I'll point it out. It's Banned Books Week. Go out and read a good book, one that challenges some parts of society.

It's not something we hear about these days, but the push to ban books form libraries and books stores still continues apace. What seems most strange to me is that typically it's a challenge form the conservative side of the demographic, the same side that believes in market forces. If a book says something you don't agree with or find objectionable, don't buy it (which leads to another conversation about soft banning of books where libraries, bookstores, and distributors don't purchase books for distribution because of their content, without having a challenge being made). Don't want to read it at your library, don't check it out. Market forces, sometimes they work.

Which then leads to The Da Vinci Code. A book so wildly disapproved of and condemned that it sold something close to a gazillon copies world wide. Same with the Harry Potter and the (insert plot device here), and The Satanic Verses. All were railed against vociferously, death threats posed, boycotts formed, and spittle-flinging anti-book people getting screen time on national (and international) TV. All of which helped make these books the runaway successes they all were.

Looking over the list of most challenged books in 2007 (there a list on the website linked above), the most common reason cited for banning is still "homosexuality" and "sexually explicit." Good thing to know we've all were aware, listened and learned during the 70s and 80s and were able to get past our irrational fear of sex. Or not.

So, go out, find a good book, and read. Read in public if you're daring. Read one of these challenged books in public. And if someone challenges you tell them to get their damn dirty ape's stinking paws off your mind.