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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.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Well, one thing accomplished

The two papers are done. Brain is feeling kind of mushy right at the moment. So we'll be off to bed.

To sleep, perhaps to dream. It's raining and thundering just at the moment. We've had the electricity go out twice today.

Yesterday I over seeded some areas with grass. I'm glad I timed that well with all the free watering they've gotten today. Maybe some day I'll have a lawn that's more grass than anything else. Someday.

Tomorrow is back to the grind. We have class and reading. A test. And probably some things I haven't planned on. Those always crop up.

Hope you all had a great weekend.

A Mixed Bag Monday

One paper down, one more to go. First one was on "CT Shielding Methods." That when imaging areas close to radiosensative organs (breasts, gonads, thyroid, and eyes) an in-plan bismuth shielding should be used. While the shielding can cause some image problems, the benefits on reducing dosage are well worth it. For example, a CT scan of the chest can expose the breasts to three times the radiation recommended for mammography. The second paper will be on "Hopeful Monsters" (a genetics and evolution paper in Nature). Hopeful monsters are the name given to large evolutionary steps made by organisms. For much of the time that evolution and genetics have been studied, "hopeful monsters" have been considered untenable (the changes are too far, too fast, and wouldn't be "optimal"). Slow and steady would win the race. However, new research is showing that small changes in certain genomes will create large morphic changes, and that these changes aren't necessarily a disadvantage. This is one of the "controversies" in evolution that the whackaloons like to talk about (without explaining what they are).

And if you need a writing prompt (as if you'd need a writing prompt) you could do much worse than this. I can't explain. Just go. Okay, maybe I could explain a little. See, with all the bruhaha over fanfic this past week (you missed it, didn't know), the Scalzi and Wheaton have combined into a single unholy force to actually increase the amount of fanfic and get you paid for it. Yes, paid for fanfic. But you must see and be guided. Come on, click it. The Bear Foot, Clown Shirt and Hotpant wearing Valkyrie Wheaton is worth it. Ignore the unicorn/kitten/pegasus beast he rides or wicked spear he holds pointing at the Orc/Goblin Scalzi, and the Mt. Doomish background. No, the clown shirt is enough. And all this silliness is to benefit the Lupus Alliance of America. The next person to cast aspersions on the Scalzi and his take on fanfic, writing community, and being an all around good sport, you get pointed to this and woo be unto you. Yes, and the doom that befalls you has befallen us all.

Next up is getting ahead in the reading for class. Right now I'm experiencing the same problem I had back when I was in college originally. Namely, when I read text books, I fall asleep. Just never was able to read the things. But now I have to as I am way out of my expertise. On the plus side, we have had three 10 point quizzes and I've racked up 33 points so far (1 bonus point on each quiz). Tomorrow is the first test, so we'll see how we do.

I've fortunately missed the rending of garments over the President not going to Arlington today. In recent history, only one President has gone to Arlington every year of their administration. That President was Bill Clinton. Ronald Reagan, the political saint of the conservative hordes, missed several years. While Arlington is the most notable national cemetery, there are plenty of them scattered across the union. Including Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery outside Chicago, where the President did go today. Even the cemetery in my local town has veterans. The cemetery up the road includes a Revolutionary War veteran's grave. It's just the latest chapter in how this President is being held to a different standard than presidents before him.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day

War was once thought of as glorious. The young proving their worth in the crucible of events that will shape their lives. War brings out the finest in people. There are still those who live with us who believe in those old lies. Those who believe that war is preferable to peace.

"No one is so foolish as to prefer war to peace, in which, instead of sons burying their fathers, fathers bury their sons." — Herodotus

War is sometimes a necessity. It is never to be celebrated. War will shape the next generation. It will anger, warp, scare, obsess, enliven, still, become the touchstone of lives, it will be a time some will look back and think of it as when they were most alive, and not leave our social consciousness for another two generations. The wounds they carry, we carry together. They fight because we ask them to.

"For he to-day that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile," as Shakespeare said though Henry V.

Our soldiers are us. We do not have a warrior caste. For any war, even the unpopular ones, it is our brothers and sisters, daughters and sons, fathers and mothers, neighbors, friends, who go and fight because we ask them do. They are not disposable. No matter their condition, their proclivities. Some are great, some are base, they are all types of people, because they are just like us.

And now it seems we need to be reminded of Abraham Lincoln's words during his second inaugural.

"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."

To those who have gone before, and were asked to give that which is most precious so that we may live in the land of the free, we salute you. May we never forget your sacrifice. May we never forget you wished to be with us. May we never hold the gift you bequeathed to us so cheap as to squander it foolishly.

The Things You Learn When You Listen

Yesterday we went to Mom's place and talked. Mom was in a talkative mood. And so we talked about the past, and family.

Now, I should point out that in all families, there are secrets. The range from the benign to the revelatory. There are secrets well guarded and never explained as well as secrets that can be deduced. There are secrets meant to be discovered and those that are detrimental to not knowing.

A secret that I knew about, one I had deduced, came out yesterday. See, while many people know their histories, some of us don't. Some people claim to be "Heinz 57" as their race (no, really, they do), and some of us really are.

My ancestry contains many lines. Mostly Germanic and Slavic, I'm also part French, Italian, Irish, Russian, and a modicum of a few others. The Russian, however, is where things get interesting. It's Russian Shtetl heritage. See, for a long time my Mom would talk about a person who stayed with my great grandparents. A man named Klas. For a long time, this old man was just that, someone my great grandparents knew who they let live with them. Klas was Russian, a merchant. A Russian who fled the Czar's purges. He gambled and loved strong garlic pickles. And, he was my great grandmother's father.

My great grandmother who married a man with the last name Grosenbaugh. My great grandfather who had these tumors that grew at the ends of his nerve endings and that eventually filled his lungs with fluids, drowning him on dry land. A disease with genetic traces back to southern Russia. Shtetl country. Who had children who fought in WWII, were captured by the Germans, and the family was very worried about them being transfered out of the POW camps to the concentration camps (one of them was, the camp was liberated within the week he had been transfered, saving his life). Who had my grandmother, who married a man with the last name Marpe. The Marpe's were silversmiths in Alsace who fled the old country as the Nazis came to power, literally ripping the photos off the wall of their shop. Who then had my mother, who bore me.

Now, I had fairly well pieced most of this together on my own from family habits and traits, the connection to the shtetl that is, the silversmiths fleeing Nazi persecution, the lineage of Grosebaugh. Last night Mom confirmed that Klas was my great, great grandfather.

Many families that came from the old country hid their past. I'm by far not the only person who is the product of families that converted from Judaism when they left the old world. Or even those families that pretended to convert. Or those families that didn't convert, but simply hid their religion as they made a new start, attempting to leave behind the prejudice and hatred, and adapted their lives as best they could. And hid their past from their own children. Whose kids figured it out anyway, and kept with other families with the same dynamic.

My great, great grandfather's name was Klas. He was a Russian Jew who either fled his homeland to escape persecution, or was forcibly ejected by Cossacks. I am descended from him through my mother, her mother, and my grandmother's mother. I am a Grosenbaugh through my mother and her mother. I am a Marpe through my mother.

My family has secrets. This was one they didn't hide very well. And it's one less than we had two days ago.

Friday, May 28, 2010

So, should we call it PoliFAIL or InternetFAIL?

Okay, so I've had my brain elsewhere and missed the launch of America Speaking Out. Seems the Republicans are asking for average Americans to give their input to help drive policy and make a closer connection "with the people."

Now, I could make the jokes about how they're a little bit late to the game, how their first "idea" site failed (in a whoosh of vaporware and actual ideas), or that they just have no ideas of their own so are trolling for anything to latch on to. But the site is enough of a joke already that no other jokes need to be made. A Washington Post article on some of the good quotes.

And now, it seems as if the "liberals" have taken over the space (from looking at the recent posts). Welcome to the internets, guys. Here's an idea, you might want to look at the term "moderated." I give this idea freely, because I know you 1) don't know how to find links to the site so won't see this and 2) probably wouldn't be able to institute it properly anyway.

Grokked from Jay Lake who nailed it, "You can’t even tell if this stuff is mockery or the real thing. The Right has grown so crazy that there isn’t a difference anymore."

Boring Steve is just my mild mannered disguise

So, for the past month I've been boring on these here internets. That was do to a confluence of several events.

First, a "temporary part-time job, intermittent schedule" basically means, you have no life. Expect to work at all hours and everywhere. Don't forget to keep your cell phone close. And the stress is enormous. You're basically running until you run out. I had the largest district in NE Ohio, and had one of the smallest crews. I had to re-jigger the logistics no less than four times to meet the continuingly evolving requirements and mandates.

Yeah, that was fun. The people were good, that is the ones I worked with. Most people in the field were nice. The minority of problems, though, made the rest of it difficult. Seriously people, "I'm angry with the government" is not an excuse for failing to follow the Constitution. And here's the kicker, the major problem people were the ones who are "patriotic" and "want a constitutional government." Really, Sparkey, how about reading the Constitution first before you say that you support the Constitution. I guess I shouldn't expect any better. they're cut from the same cloth as the "Read the Bible" and "Read the Bill" people. None of which actually do what they say they want others to.

However, and here's the sekret, I have a full time job offer. So, goodbye Census. Took the drug test today. They're working on the background check. I've signed the letter of intent. Unless something big shows up on the background check (which it shouldn't), I'll be working at a new full-time job in a week or two (it's still being negotiated). I'll be working in-house for a defense contractor. The interview with the person who will be my boss went excellently. We clicked. I just hope that continues with the working relationship.

Now, with the full-time job I'll be heading back into a regular schedule, which should be good. It should also mean I can get back to being more interesting. Like talking about the classes I'm taking. Or about the writing.

Which I had great critiques last weekend. My reviewers pointed out some of the critical faults and how I could correct them. All things I had been pondering, and now know I need to do. The one thing that came up that I hadn't been thinking about was to expose the main character's emotions and drivers. I thought I had a little, in line with noir heros, but I guess more is wanted so readers can make an emotional attachment to the protag. Also that the protag should protag even more. Oh, and fix all the damn comma splices and homophone mixups. Yeah, I do that.

So there's some non-boring things going on, but I'm probably still telling them in a boring manner. Hopefully that will change back as well. Here's to not being boring for very much longer.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I haven't slept a wink...

So tired. Running like a mad lunatic. Whose idea was this anyway? Oh yeah, mine. Never mind. Some disjointed thoughts as I fall over into a comatose stupor.

Soon I will be able to post more and be less boring. For all two of you still reading this, that should be a relief.

Semi-part-of-big-news: tomorrow is my last day at the Census. Hurray! And the villagers rejoice. The NRFU isn't over, but I'm done with it.

To the company that posted the "New Position! Communications Manager -Entry Level Sales/Marketing" job. A manager is an "entry level" job? You're doing it wrong.

And, because I can, and it's feeling like Summer has decided to move in, one last picture of the snowpocalypse.

Feel a little cooler now?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lost Monday - Wait, it's Tuesday?

Whose idea was it to do these night classes while working? Oh, wait, yeah, that was me. Darn it.

But on the flip side, I do have good news. More when I can let it out in public (some people, mostly who don't read this blog, already know, I just don't know what I can say on the blog about it yet, and that's just me over thinking things).

So, for now just think that I get to get up at about 6:30am tomorrow, and I won't get out of class until 10pm. And it's all running around in between.

On the plus side, got an 11 out of 10 (bonus point) on the first quiz. Yeah me. Hopefully that statistic will hold up as we go forward into more complex subjects.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday Workshop Wrap Up

Busy weekend at the workshop. Didn't get much else done besides reading, critiquing, and general being a human being with other human beings. Other than not getting both novels I was to critique finished before coming here, as well as not being able to read everybody else's novel (which I try to), it was a good time. If you have the chance as a writer to spend time with other writers at the same stage in their careers (or slightly advanced of yours), it's worth moving mountains to be there.

In other news, whatever is giving me hives is still working on me. I'm seeing if it's the metformin, so I've stopped taking it this weekend. Right after the methyl prednisone ran out the itching returned. Now I have these bumps along my thumbs and the ends of my fingers. They're slightly painful, but itching them feels wonderful. Last night I took a super dose of benadryl to see if that would help knock them back. Well, at least it let me sleep through the night. This morning the itching is worse. However, since I'm driving back home today, I have to be careful how much of that I take. I think my last dose was at 7am, so it's going to be a few hours before I can take another. And my hands are driving me batty with the itching.

Tomorrow I get back into the Census stuff. There's been plenty of policy changes since I've been gone. This week we'll be wrapping up operations. So good news is that it'll be over soon. Bad news is that means no more paychecks and we're back on unemployment. Sigh. Haven't heard from the job opportunity, yet. I did drive to cell reception on Thursday to see if they had called. Hopefully they'll call on Monday with an offer.

So, how was your weekend?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Cat Blogging Friday


Cats and sunshine. Go figure.

About time for my manuscript to be critiqued. Woohoo! Also, not itching so much anymore, which is a good thing. I think this break may have been worth it or more than just the help with the writing.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Lazy Summer Days

Woohoo! Broadband! Oh, how we've missed ya. Downloading all the podcasts I've missed so.

Here at the cabin in the woods by the lake. You know. So way not prepared for this, but will fake it the best I can.

It's been a long day. Up and to an early meeting at 7:15, then racing to get around the job things, and then off on the road. On the way here some poetry occurred, which I may or may not traumatize you all with. We'll see.

So. Here. Not itching all that much, which is good. I can even see my knuckles, which I haven't seen since this allergy stuff started. I'll take that as a good sign.

Still haven' heard about the interview. Okay. I will not panic. They said they would let us all know what the status is. Really tired of not having a regular full time job.

Was thinking I would be able to read tonight to catch up. That's not going to happen as the brain is nearly fried. Will need to sleep, then feed, before continuing to have some mental capacity. You may think that I would have the mental capacity for the mere reason that I could come up with the phrase "mental capacity," but you would be mistaken.

So there. I finally was able to post. Just wanted to let you all I'm not dead.

Yet.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Hey, look, a contest - for Books!

Jim Hines is giving away books for the next eight weeks. Can't beat that with a stick.

It must be big in Japan

So, from today's Amazon "Gee, won't you buy this" email.

"With six specialists and six gameplay types Trauma Team delivers thrills and drama. Play as a general surgeon, diagnostician, EMT, orthopedic surgeon, endoscope technician, or medical examiner."

Endoscope technician? Worst. Game. Evar.

Did I mention it's a Wii game? Yeah. Worst. Game. Evar.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Lost Days

Another reason why I think we need major health reform. Starting yesterday I had some problems. My hands itched and were swollen. They felt just like two ballons, as the song goes. Then this morning I was swollen all over, my hands were red and the redness had spread to my face, back of legs and back. My energy rollercoastered, with the crashes low enough that I could have fallen back to sleep standing on my feet. There were also the sweats. I worked through the meetings as best I could. The rollercoaster kept going, although the lows weren't as low.

So I had Bette take me to an urgent care facility in Chardon. The doctor checked me out and said, well, yes, I was having some allergic reaction to something. He prescribed methyl prednisone and benadryl. We had to pay $50 before we left, and they'll bill us for the rest. With no insurance, we have no idea how much it'll be. Fortunately he didn't run any tests, so hopefully it won't be more than a few hundred.

I let it go too long. Of course because without insurance the costs could be astronomical. While not really poor these days, I'll quote John Scalzi, "Being poor means hoping the pain goes away."

On other news, the second interview was more like a first interview with a different person. I'm not sure exactly how it went. It was right as my hands were swelling to balloons, and I was running like a madman. Glad I had pushed it back as far as I could. So I have no idea where I stand. I guess they were second interviewing four people, and I was second to go through. Well, I guess we'll see.

With going to sleep early yesterday (75mg of benadryl will do that to you), and sleeping most of this afternoon away I'm way, very far, can't see the light in the tunnel I'm so far behind in critiquing I don't know if I'll make it.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Running at the speed of sound

I know, boring Steve is being boring lately. Sorry about that. The craze that is the Census operation tends to soak up either all the time or all the brain space. To give you a glimpse of what I'm talking about, two days ago we had three new procedures. These were actually beneficial changes to help us get the job done. Before I could even let my people know about then, two were rolled back. The third was rolled back today. For those who want to talk about how the "guberment" knows all about them (and so, won't answer our questions), rest assured, your government is just not together enough to really get a good conspiracy going that involves more than three people.

Over all, sometimes I don't have a moment to even go pee.

On the plus side, for those of you who know, I have a second interview tomorrow. It's late on Friday. Not my ideal time, but what could be scheduled. Feeling nervous. Very not prepared.

Also, way, way behind on the critiques which are due next week. Been staying up late to make progress on them.

And then in two weeks we start classes.

Run, rabbit, run!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Post Interview "Did I Suck" feelings

So, another picture. This is the best moon shot I've made so far. Was hoping to get better images of the moon with the new phone.


Thought I did good, but now thinking that I flubbed a few things. Sigh. Been so long since I've done this. On the plus side I think I hit it off with the interviewer. Our discussion ranged all over. Hopefully will get a call back. At least I should remember it for next time.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sure, I've had it in the ear before

A bulleted list cribbed from Michael Moorcock on how to write a novel in three days. For certain definitions of "write" and "in three days." Hint, there's a lot of prework, and well, Moorcock is somewhat a freak of nature. Keep in mind that the Elric "novels", brilliant as they are, are really more like novellas. Several of them have been collected to make slim volumes. But good for pure "getting out of your own way" there some good stuff. And, as per the previous linked writing advice ala William Jones, YMMV. Take what you can use, leave what blocks you. (grokked from the marvelous eBear)

Sunday too busy

Well, there went three hours I didn't expect to have disappear. But when the courier doesn't actually coury, someone must get the time sheets through to be processed. Add in the waiting time to see if the courier will arrive to coury.

So now behind in everything. And there are more rumors of changes in the wind. Great.

In honor of being behind the times, here's a photo I should have shared earlier.


One of our night visitors this past winter. That's my backyard looking out through the bathroom window (the screen is difficult to move, so you get the grid pattern). She had a few friends, but they didn't come close enough to get on camera.

And in general I'm trying not to complain, but I'm getting tired of not even getting a call to interview. Not even a pre-screening call. It keeps me wondering what I'm doing wrong. Is it just people don't know where I live, that they can figure out I'm not a spring chicken, is there something in my past driving them away, what?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Windy Saturday

If I had installed a wind turbine on my house, and had a decent battery system, I think I would be storing up energy for a couple of weeks. So I'm reading and critiquing today. In the background is Dirty Jobs, which makes me feel better about my current day thing.

William Jones is talking about writing. Mostly observation rather than didactics, he makes the point that should be made with any writing advice given. YMMV.

Over at SF Novelists Mindy Klasky is talking about missing deadlines. While not very good for those who miss deadlines looking for tips on how to avoid that ("I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by"), it's a good insight into the schedule of a working novelist.

Political linkeree:
Do "Family Values" Weaken Families. Of course, as you read it, it all depends on what you actually value. Also discussed the "Bristol Palin" issue with an explanation of both sides. (Grokked from SC Butler).

And in general, no, I'm not happy President Obama's Justice Dept. is using the "safety exemption" in reading Miranda Rights.

And then there is this, a story about craziness and stupid that burns.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Palliative Cleanser

To clear the air of the evil goatee picture below, here is the reason why our heating bills were lower this past winter.


For two semi-wild cats they sure seem to have adjusted to their new lives fairly well.

And since it's in the picture, our new (as of January) couch.



Ahhh.

A Year in the Face

Well, it's been a long year. I was about to apply for a job when I realized that I hadn't updated my profile photos (linkedin.com, blogger, where ever). We went to the big computer and fixed that. And then I noticed, why yes, I do look different. And since I got a lot of flak for not posting the "goatee" image, I thought I'd do a comparison.

For your edification and enjoyment, me, last year, with a goatee.


Can you hear the neighbors commenting on the nightly news, "We always knew he was up to no good"? Yes. This is why I don't wear a goatee. Pure evil looking. Be glad I didn't post the grinning goatee photo. You can practically smell the brimstone.

And now, here is today (my new profile photo).


I can see the difference. How about you?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Someone else's links

Elizabeth is going crazy with the writing links.

This is sort of a bookmark post for me, but feel free to share.

Still neck deep in the workerages. Maybe next week we'll see sunshine.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Game Over

No, I can't tell you what brought this on.

To those who push the "you can't trust government" and "the census is evil" mentality (yep, looking at the Tea Party again), thanks. Seriously. You want "a government by the Constitution," well, you oughta actually, you know, read it sometime (here and here). You are making it hard to get the work done (I know you're also all about the "government spending less", you are actually costing the government more because you don't really have a clue as to history or reality).

For my friends in the Tea Party, you need to get this straight and chastise your leaders who have fanned the flames of this stupidity (Bachmann and King to name the most prominent ones). I know you all want to tell me how well thought out and principled the stances are. No, being a part of those causing grief and problems puts you on the losing end of this argument. I don't want to hear about "the fringe." These are your bread and butter people. You want to point out how may people support your cause, then you've got to accept these people as a part of that and that you embrace them into the fold.

So, game over.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Saturday Lull

Yeah. Like that would happen.

Took me most of the day, but I found places to apply to. And since I'm an easily distracted puppy, read a lot of other stuff. Sigh. It would be worse if I had broadband. Or maybe better, I'd get it out of my system faster. Who know.

Some interesting political articles read today. Again, the difference is on the left the major kooks aren't given the main stage and microphone. Yeah, repealing the 14th Amendment, that's not a radical view I guess. Although I should mention sometimes they're called on it. Although, you know, it's when they're running against each other. (Tip of the hat to Eric and Random MichelleK).

More work to do. Need to fill out more forms. It's just paperwork, paperwork, paperwork.