There's battle lines being drawn.
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong.
Young people speaking their minds
getting so much resistance from behind

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

Things that are scary:

1. Received an email from Sears that yesterday was the new "Black Friday" (the day after Thanksgiving). AYIIEE!

2. Having more candy than trick or treaters. Oh No!

3. The Weather Channel using the theme from Jaws as it's background music for your "Local on the 8's" forecast. Brains!

4. Nothing good on TV. ARGH!

5. Not sure if my LJ syndication site is updating. Bwahahaha!

Happy Halloween. Boo!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Scary and Writerly Linkee-poo

In case I'm not on the internets this weekend (I'm trying to limit myself as part of a "stop rewarding the procrastination and get more work done" plan, seriously, I haven't even posted pictures from VP yet), have a good Halloween everybody.

For the scary link tip of the hat to Halloween, The Danger of Celebrating Halloween. The danger here is that people still believe we live in 1692 and buy into this. Boo!

eBear (matociquala) discusses the progress of novel writing. Yeah, and all that.

Ken McConnell is having a book release party tonight. Good luck with the book, Ken.

Stewart Sternberg just sent off his novel to the editor. He also talks a little about how writers in movies end their novels and how writers in the real world do it.

Agent Kristin talks about some changes to contracts regarding e-royalties. Macmillan isn't a publisher one can sneeze at, so if they're trying to push something it might become "standard" across the board. Yet another argument of why you want an agent.

Eric over at Pimp My Novel talks about chasing trends. Sigh. And I really wanted to work on that Zombie Apocalypse Averted by Christian Vampires novel next. (Actually I'm wondering if the Post Rapture Industries novel may fall in there somewhere). Anyway, Eric's post is why you should write the novel you want to write and not worry about what's hot and what's not. Write the best damn novel you can. Of course this is contrary to John Scalzi's story of how he got into writing military sci-fi. I think the difference here, though, is one is theme and the other is gimick.

No ranting link about design, and healthcare

Okay, so a mixed bag. The subtitle of this could be, "What I read on my lunch break." Yeah, I'm weird that way.

I know I complain about those who practice my profession who have no idea just WTF they're doing. And then there are time when the clouds open and angels sing (visual map/informational graphic of manned and unmanned space missions - National Geographic). Those times remind me that not all graphic designers/visual communicators are skanks or weasels. (Grokked from Jay Lake and Dark Roasted Blend)

Some more Gallup polls on healthcare. A poll on the healthcare system and proposed bills which shows some interesting breakdowns (this report give statistics for all questions asked, including ratings of degree). Really interesting results including how people use their own healthcare, what they think the problems are, etc and includes historical data through the past decade and even questions from the expansion of CHIP two years ago. And another one entitled Five Key Realities. This one has an interesting mix showing how we view healthcare and what people are looking for. The overall sense of these reports (the second one links to many other reports) is that most people are happy with their own coverage, think that changes may impact them negatively, but also believe it is the government's job to make sure healthcare is provided to everybody. The money shot?
"Emphasizing the most popular aspects of healthcare reform -- of which there are several -- could potentially help reform proponents... assumes Americans are not already fully cognizant that healthcare reform would achieve these objectives. Alternatively, Americans... have overriding reservations about other aspects of the bill, such as the cost."

The general quibbling has less to do with the "Public Option" than it does over other aspects of the bill. If I were advising Congress in favor of reform, I would tell them to move the conversation off the Public Option (which we only seem to hear about) and focus on the other parts of the bill. Considering a majority will support a bill with the Public Option, they should solidify that support by emphasizing the other things these bills would do (remove limits and pre-existing conditions, expand coverage, expand and increase medicare payments, etc). And then say, "plus, we have a Public Option" (Medicare +5 works better than fee negotiation, although plain Medicare doesn't poll as well).

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Finally got my butt in gear. Prince Wanted is off to Weird Tales where Ann VanderMeer is a GoH at World Fantasy this year (and this weekend). A History of Lightning is off to Ideomancer. Good luck little stories. Make papa proud.

This weekend I should take a look at those other short stories and send out query letters.

More linkages on Healthcare

Since I haven't discussed healthcare in awhile, and since it's back in the news, here's some quick healthcare links.

Seems that tort reform could save more money that originally projected, but not as much as half of what the proponents of tort reform like to say ( article on new CBO analysis).

However, don't forget to read until the end and the section labels "Health Effects?" So for saving .5% (actually .45%, but that's just a rounding quibble) we would get a .2% higher mortality rate (they don't have a number for morbidity and while we could expect that to grow as well, it's at this point undefined). I also dispute the "Tax and Save" economic theory that what companies save in healthcare costs they would actually pass on in higher salaries (which would lead to higher taxes). While I have no hard data (and don't have time for research), we have heard many stories of companies completely dropping their healthcare plans, but I've never heard them (the employers or employes) say that their pay increased to cover the employe's increased healthcare costs (since they would either have to buy private or go without).

Another article on the new Patients First "Medicare is going broke" ad. And I believe we've already talked about Patients First ( article, also don't miss the article on Americans for Prosperity their parent organization - and their links to the Koch Family Foundation).

An interesting Gallup poll on who the country trusts on healthcare. Also, in case I forgot to post it here, the Gallup poll on people's views of healthcare depending on the details. Now that we have more concrete details on the plan (which could all change in the floor debates), it'll be interesting to see where those 39% go.

And a TPM article on Rep. Buyer, his Frontier Foundation and big PhRMA. Really, when I was a kid this kind of stuff was done with a little bit of style and aplomb. It's like they no longer give a crap. Dudes, it's called the "internet." You all might want to look into it as I'm told it's the bee's knees.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Rachelle Gardner discusses the process of getting and agent from the agent side. Knowing both sides of the board can certainly help your chances of success.

Agents do more than sell books, a post form the BookEnds agency. Yes, and this is why you want an agent. Sure, there are some authors who do the whole thing themselves. And there's the occasional author who doubles as their own agent (sometimes with a fake name, sometimes not). But, just like I really don't want to negotiate distribution contracts, an agent earns their 15% by doing a great many things, both what is spelled out in the blog post and much more.

Since this seems to be an agent linkage post, here's Agent Kristin with some author behavior that doesn't normally get mentioned. And then she has a follow-up here. What she said. If your agent isn't working out, definitely find another route. I've seen getting an agent compared to marriage, and it's close. You and your agent are relying on each other. If either side isn't carrying their water then cut your loses and move on. However, just because you have an agent, this doesn't mean you can stop paying attention to the markets and the business end of publishing. As she says, things are tough all over.

Justine Larbalestier talks about hopes and goals. What she said. Yes, most writers have two fantasies in their heads (and here I'll speak for you all, you're welcome). The first fantasy has to do with being so incredibly successful that media outlets contact you for interviews instead of having to beg for them. The second fantasy has to do with being so incredibly successful that you ask people who come to your signings if they want your to supersize that order, or would they like an apple pie.

And this may seem like a random interjection, but it's about a book, so I think it's good.

Glenn Beck's website (yes, I know, but it's good to keep tabs on the person who may go postal, just saying) is now promoting his new book "The Christmas Sweater: A return to redemption." There's now a landing page on his site that is basically a big ad for it. I guess we're all going to get mind control sweaters this Xmas and suddenly we'll all be conservatives again. Or a few good sweaters will end the "War on Xmas." Or something like that. I guess "Xmas Shoes" were all ready spoken for.

WIP werx

Chapter 30 is out at about 1800 words. I don't have it formated yet, I'll update the side bar. I'll also have to change the end of Chapter 29 to make this fit. Also the first part of 31 came out at the same time. It still feels like I'm shoving crap, and I see much of what I need to fix in the rewrite, but I think I need to go forward before doing the major changes.

Ares is away!

Good job NASA. We have a new launch vehicle!

Now if I get to see video of it, that would be fantastic.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Three, it's a magic number

An NPR "Opinion" piece by Sandip Roy that is a basic primer for Indian Ghosts. This short piece is full of story bones. As you know, Bob, Eastern Cultures have a different relationship to their ghosts, who behave in strange ways to our Western ears. Not so much of you got back a hundred years or so, but still who remembers the ghosts of past years? Their relationship is closer and more basic. If you know about Dia de los Muertos you can see parallels where ghosts aren't only the tortured spirits of the dead, but some just are and they are still connected to the living. "... The homeless ghosts of Calcutta." Now, if that doesn't get your juices flowing, I don't know what will.

Ares has it's test flight today. Launch was supposed to have been 8:30, at this point we're looking at 9:24 (their window extends to noon Eastern Time) (edit now 9:44am 10:54am Launch is scrubbed, next launch window is tomorrow). Godspeed Ares.

Gallup Polls with an interesting breakdown of depression. While the report has a quandary over their data about minorities, you could also relate this to polls about minorities who have 1) medical insurance and 2) see a doctor regularly (the question is specifically stated "Have you ever been told by a physician or nurse that you have... Depression?").

Monday, October 26, 2009

Home again

Well, at work now, but back in Ohio and I slept in my own bed last night. Dead tired. Back up in weight (drank a lot of pop over the weekend). Just not looking forward to the week even though it ends in Halloween, perhaps my favoritest holiday. Just so tired.

Moment of panic earlier, the "I'm losing the book and I suck as a writer and nobody will want to read this drivel" part has arrived. Even though I knew it would happen, it still disappointing to be here. Sigh.

Started reading "Tough Guide to Fantasyland" last night. Laughed and laughed. And then fell asleep. Did I mention I was tired?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Soon to be on the road

Yep, no more wordage. Car is mostly packed, I'm carbed to the gills, and about to head on out into the Autumnal Afternoon. Yellow maples and brown oaks as far as the eye can see. Would like to get home at a descent time since sleep wasn't all that much in the coming this weekend and next week is a long week (back into meetings and training and then Halloween!).

So, did you all have a good weekend?

WIP III - the Search for Absolution

Finished up Chapter 29 last night. Came in at 2155 words very late last night. So late I didn't have enough mental power to format it and get a word count. That brings me to 50946 words to far. It's officially a novel now! Woohoo! Still have some 20,000 words to go for the crappy first draft goal. And then we rewrite.
We were now in the middle of the street far enough away from the SUVs that we could have a proper dual. I saw that the fourth gunboy already lay bleeding in the street. Santana and one of our gunboys rounded the front bumper of the farthest SUV. The gunboy raised his rifle taking aim at the back of Xiang and Santana grabbed his elbow forcing the gun down.

Family honor. Fan Xiang was a bladesman, who knew? And I had a commission from Mr. Hernandez to kill him. Santana would let me do my job and wait to see the outcome not interfering, the bastard.

So, a successful retreat so far. I don't know if or how many more I'll get today before leaving, but I think that brings me to about 5000 words or so for this weekend (I did go back and add some detail to earlier chapters, but I didn't update their wordcount in the chart or tally, well get those as a jump start for the rewrite where my goal will be 80-90000, a respectable sized first novel).

On the flip side I didn't get any reading, submitting or critiquing done while here. So still, bad writer, no cookie. But there is chocolate. Oh yes, we will have chocolate.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

I seem to be having Donald Duck moments of outburst this weekend

WTF. Not only did we have a massive brainfail on 30 senators not voting to add the Franken Amendment, it now maybe stripped from the bill anyway?

"(Inouye's office) is being targeted by defense contractors. Their lobbyists have reportedly flooded Inouye's office, worried they may lose contracts or open themselves up to lawsuits."

Ya think? See, this is where we have AdamSmithFail. The free market, left to it's own devices, would include total bullshit like this. No, really, talk to the hand. This is American Business. This is "tort reform." This shit happens. No, really, the world would be a fucking cesspool with total free open markets. Don't make me roll out the manufacturing problems of adding known carcinogens to the food stream. No, really, this is why we can't have nice things. This is what business would do if there were absolutely no regulation. And this is not an isolated case (or I'll roll out the ongoing sexual harassment cases two decades after the rest of us had to sit in conference rooms and have someone lecture us about what some of us figured out in third grade).

"In a letter to the Senate, however, the (Pentagon) said 'it may be more effective' to seek a law that would prohibit the clauses in any business contracts within U.S. jurisdiction."

No. Absolutely fucking no. You want our tax dollars you will not have this in your contracts. Period. No matter where you do the work we pay for. This is weasel clause. See, the original case that brought this to light wouldn't have been covered with an amendment worded that way.

Fire up the emails and phones. Time to storm the castle once again.


Chapter 28 done while being somewhat sociable. It came in at 1540 words bringing our total to 48791. A can of whoop-ass has been opened. It's just down to who will be whacked and who will be standing.
"That's not so much what I want at this moment."

"Trust me," Doru said. "This is exactly what you need."

After another two glasses and a memory rainfall through which Doru stoically waded, he helped me to bed. I know I dreamed, but like leaves through the rain I only remembered the blackness of sleep. Glorious deep velvet temporary forgetfulness.

I woke to Doru's knocking on my door. The sun hadn't risen. A moment of disorientation as the dream faded across the synapses and then I became shocklingly awake. "Are you alive?" he asked through the door. "It's six o'clock."

Yeah, I use "rain" twice to close together. I'll get that in the rewrite.

Friday, October 23, 2009


Chapter 27 in at 1150 words. At the end we find one of the main characters has died. Now we have some reasons to get all medieval on the bad guys asses. Counter updated.

Last night had a line come to me, didn't write it down. Can't remember it now. Damn. Don't do that.

Links and a mini-rant

The new Mac ad in response to the infliction release of Windows 7 yesterday. (Grokked from Dr. Phil).

The hilarious 42 essential 3rd act twists from Dresden Codak. (Grokked from Jay Lake). Just hilarious.

And here begins the rant.

Because it's everywhere, the Boing Boing article on the new Ralph Lauren ad. Short: what they said. Longer: Truly, WTF is wrong with some fashion people? No, seriously. In a world where obesity is becoming a greater factor, it's like you all feel you need to go farther toward the anorexic to correct for some cosmic balance. No, don't protest, fuck you. I remember the 70's "killed model" ads. I remember the "meth model" controversy.

No, really, just fucking stop it. This isn't fashion, this isn't "art." You've gone over the deep end and live in a bubble so rarified and ossified that Fox News is jealous of your abilities. And I say this as a genuine lover of fashion photography (and here I out myself, it's a result of photography classes and working in advertising for so long). It can be incredibly beautiful and moving. It truly is a highly skilled art form.

But lately, you've been pissing me off and skirting the line into porn. Fuck it, you've crossed that line. There's this whitewashing of women, your target market. Forget naked objectifying body parts into fetishes, you buff them all out until they're interchangeable pegs fetishizing the very image of "feminine". It's disgusting and unappetizing. It's the concept of the "ideal" gone amok. The revival of the Kouros (google it if you don't know) but now your attempting by sculpting living flesh. And since flesh is only malleable so far, you've gone digital. As the song goes, "but their beauty and their style wear kind of smooth after a while." The Greek culture that created the Kouros was long dead before the Romans assimilated what was left of the once mighty Greek State.

Ralph, I don't think it's because you hate women. I think you do it because you're afraid of them. You're afraid they'll be more than objects and decoration. They might challenge you. Sure, you accept those who have made it so far up the ladder into your cultural circle as peers, but, as evidenced by the imagery that has come out of your studio for more than two decades (of which you may not have made yourself, you are responsible for it's direction) you hold "common" women in contempt. It's time for you to be called on it.

Whatever happened to women who have personality greater than wet dishrags. Seriously, competence and strong personality are very sexy. Bette Davis knew this. Not exceptionally physically attractive, but add that personality and you get one damn sexy woman. And then this. STFU Ralph Lauren, and get therapy. When I have to have conversations telling young(er) women that they'll never get rid of that little paunch because it's their uterus (and yes, I've had that conversation, more than once) it's gone too far. And yes, Ralph, you are part of the problem. You have been so for more than three decades.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Going Feral

Here at the cabin (broadband, oh how we've missed you). Didn't take me all day to travel this time (only about six hours, missed the major tie ups in downtown Cleveland by only half an hour - yeah!). Toodled on down the road, driving through Fall at 70mph (or thereabouts). Didn't really get into the rain until Battlecreek, which I caused me to miss my exit (by turning early, quick Michigan left and I was back on).

So, now to be witty and all with my fellow peeps!

And not that it belongs anywhere, but it's good enough to write here. A few months ago I picked up one of those iPod radio broadcasters. And I just got to use it these past two weeks. And frankly, is sort of sucks. And this is one of the better name brands (coughBelkincough). Now, tonight on the way up here to the cabin I was able to find an open bandwidth and got fairly good reception with some fidelity. But back in the Cleveland market there is no such thing as "open bandwidth" on the radio. At nearly every stop on the digital radio (odd number decimal frequencies) there is at least a faint reception of some station.

So last week when I drove back from the Hamsters and I was listening to Hammett's The Long Goodbye and getting interference as well as some weird scalular whine tied to the engine revving. And at first I was very annoyed. A very annoyed Steve. Then after about ten minutes it was nostalgic and I started reliving sitting up nights as a kid listening to AM radio plays. AM was where it was at when I was a kid. Sure, FM was growing and all the cool kids were getting sucked up. But AM radio still did things the old way. And they had actual radio plays. Listening to AM is not like FM. AM has all that funky static noise, even if your receiver is stationary. You get lots of atmospheric effects coming through the speakers. It's something I remember fondly, of having to "dial in" the station (before digital tuners). It was an art. And I lost myself into the story as a young kid listening to the radio in my darkened bedroom in my grandparents' house. The light of the radio dial glowing, throwing shadows on the walls. The house settling beneath me. My grandparents, Mom, and brother watching TV in the living room downstairs.

Good memories.

And now I must post to please the Mer Goddess.


The bags and laptop are packed and I'm ready to go. I did get some overtime work yesterday, so I'll be able to leave a little earlier today. Still won't make Gunn Lake until after 9 or so. Since I've been doing this I keep finding shorter ways to go. Michigan, however, is a big state. So is Ohio for that matter. Was hoping to get more sleep last night, but didn't make it. Good thing caffeine works so well.

Lately I've been making simple mistakes at the day thing. That's another indicator that I'm approaching exhaustion. Unfortunately is doesn't look like I'll be able to rest a lot until the weekend after this one. Woohoo! Okay, well, it's not like the Feral Writer's Retreat is all that high-pressure or anything. I don't find I can sleep in while I'm there, though. An internal pressure to be sure. Something about wanting to maximize the time spent there. It's a beautiful place and all the fellow writers there are engaging, witty, and intelligent.

The day thing continues to have issues. I guess they asked the union employees for a 10% give-back on salaries. No word if that halts the revolving furloughs. Thing is, at least for the metrics I can watch, we seem to be getting busier. Of course we may just be getting more work at lower margins, or even negative margins (for cash flow), or just fewer impressions per piece. I've overheard various conversations that give me hope. I think there's finally a watch on what we make profit on and what we don't and decisions being made accordingly.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Heathcare Links and story

A US Today/Gallup poll on support for Heathcare Reform Bills. While the first numbers look disheartening (33% opposed to 25% supporting it), when you dig down in the numbers at how the 39% "Depends" split make a more nuanced argument. The end result is, if I read these numbers correctly, if the bill includes a "Public Option" the support for such a bill get around 60% approval (as many who said "Depends" are waiting to see if the bill includes a Public Option). If the bill doesn't, that number drops to around 50% (and probably below). The one thing that will kill either option is "Reducing Medicare Payments to Doctors." If that's included, if the bill includes a "Public Option" or not, it doesn't rise above 50% approval. However, in the Senate, a Public Option bill may not get 60 votes. Some of that could be jockeying for favors, but I still think it may be less than 60 (Lieberman and Nelson).

Here's a NPR Report on the war between Big Pharma and Big Insurance. They detail lots of the thrusts each are making against each other. And while the report ends with the thought that the consumers and consumer behavior are the real issue in this battle, I'll also point out that we're the real loser as well. No matter who wins.

Here's another NPR story on how age and gender affects group health care rates. Really, NPR has been doing a bang up job of reporting on this issue. I really wish that this time was also the same as my local NPR Fall Fund raisers (which now seem coordinated between all 3 NPR stations I can receive - ARGH!), so I'm missing a lot of these.

And at this point let me give another personal example of why we need healthcare reform, and not just health insurance reform. My wife takes thyroid replacement pills to adjust for the nuking of her thyroid back in '91 (which is a whole other argument). Now, when you tell a doctor, or someone in the know about these things, the immediate response and drug of (marketing induced) choice is Synthroid. And Bette took this for years. And we didn't know why she was having so many problems and complications. Then, because Bette is the good scientist, she found alternatives and eventually landed on a thryoid pill than didn't make her want to kill herself, Thyrolar. But, and you knew that was coming, Thyrolar and some other thyroid drugs are nearing the end of their patents (which means that generics are possibly right around the corner). So, can you guess what is happening? See, for the past several years the company that makes Thyrolar has only produced the drug in October/November. Usually sometime around August that left us requesting pills from pharmacies other than our usual one. It typically was a scramble to get enough to hold over until the newly minted pills hit the market. So when this happened earlier this year we were ready, and so was the pharmacists.

But, see, something was different this year. The company that produced the drug announced that they wouldn't be producing it this year. Understand, this is a product that sold out every single year. And they were dropping it. Officially their website states that they have to go through new specifications on a component used to make Thyrolar and that's what's causing the delay. So we looked at alternatives, not wanting to go back on Synthroid again (see note above where it didn't work well for her and left her feeling like crap, drugs are like this, for some people they just don't work well). Many of those drugs are also ending their patent protection time and, well, what do you know about that they also aren't being produced (I haven't checked them all, but how much do you want to be they also have the same, "new standards" problem). Only Synthroid continues strong in the market. Now, Synthroid lost it's patent protection a while ago, but if you start googling around for it you'll discover they've been fighting any drug's claim of "bioequivalence." Leaving Sythroid as the number one drug prescribed for thyroid replacement and the number two drug prescribed in the US (over all). And, strangely enough, they don't seem to have the same "new standards" problem. Can you say "monopoly power"?

This is the kind of thing that has me thinking about "structural integrity" and "support points" longingly and wistfully.

Happy Happy

Today is Ursula K. Le Guin's 80th. Happy happy.

Story Bone

So I woke up this morning with this phrase in my head. I don't think it belongs to one of my stories. Does it belong to yours?

"The pretty girls don't have to put up with your bullshit."

I wish I could remember the dream that came from.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Long Awaited VP Posts - What I learned on my Fall Vacation

The earlier post shouldn't be construed that I didn't learn anything. I learned a held of a lot. Plot now makes a whole lot more sense to me. I'm sure once I complete some of the requested reading it'll ingrain even more.

Much of the information can be found elsewhere in some form. The workshop condensed the info, put it all together in one place and pointed out the connections. Somethings were learned by experiencing, that's a little harder to quantify. If you don't follow writer blogs or go to conventions and attend the writer/literary tracks, much of it might have been new. Most important to me was hearing the concepts and ideas in person (I learn best through lecture and hands on experience) and seeing the connections made between them.

One of the most important things I learned will seem a little like I'm blowing my own horn. I am better than I give myself credit for. That was the ego boost I wasn't looking for or expecting. It certainly felt good though. There were enough other comments to keep my head from exploding with the internal pressure.

That's not to say I don't need to work more on the story, though. That was the most common refrain. The writing and the voice are good, but the story/world building needs some help. And once I go through my notes from Teresa I'm sure I'll have a much better handle on editing. I have a to read list that's nice and long. It includes several books I knew I should read, like Red Harvest by Dashiel Hammet (I now have a copy from the library).

So there you have it. I did learn a lot, I continued to relearn things (sometimes hearing the same information in different ways and in different contexts can help, it solidifies the information). I don't think I would have taken over 50 pages of notes it there wasn't something to learn. I wouldn't be missing it if I didn't get anything out of it.

Now that I think about it, maybe that was the difference of my experience. What was there wasn't new to me, or at least not in the grand bold strokes of the information. Some of the detail stuff was new. So since I had already heard or read a lot of the info, and much of what I was learning were the connections and the details, I didn't have to process as much as the usual workshopper so I could keep my head about me and not get overwhelmed.

I think, as Mer pointed out, I already had the conviction and the work attitude (of working when I can and getting as much as I can when I can, not so much the "at this time I do this" way) so those also weren't big surprises and I had that part down. I've also worked with working writers, or seen them at work, how they think, and a lot of what's involved. I've been critiqued by them (as well as four years of constant critiques in school and dealing with it on a daily basis at work from people who don't know how to do it well).

Story Bone

Wait, the SIMs isn't a first-person shooter? I've been playing it all wrong then.

He was the kind of guy who played the SIMs as a first person shooter.

He was the kind of guy who played the SIMs like like he played Doom.

The SIMs played him like Grand Theft Auto.

Take you pick. (tip of the hat to Mer for her blog entry which sparked this particular flavor of lunacy)


Elmore Leonard spills his rules of writing. The subtitle sums it up, "Easy on the adverbs, exclamation points and especially hooptedoodle." (Grokked from Astrid)

Justine Larbalestier muses on hating female characters. That's an interesting ponderable.

And then there were two (Cat Valente sells Fairlyand for publication as a YA book). Two do not a trend make, but it's interesting. And no, I don't think I'm going to put Bladesman on the blog anytime soon.

I'm trying to post less of politics, but this was too good to pass on. Yes, it seems that liberals are all about crushing the conservatives and Rush's attempt to be a part of the group making a bid on the Rams is just the latest affront. That's irony, BTW. The link goes to an article that reminds people that the conservatives in 2005 threatened to revoke Baseball's exemption from anti-trust laws if George Soros (as a part of a group) would buy into the Washington Nationals. As the articles state, the liberals in Congress haven't even made a peep about Rush and any actions to remove Football's exemption. Just a bunch of individuals who said "it's a bad idea" and then his own partners dumped him out of the group. Crow, it's what's for dinner. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Long awaited VP Posts - emotional side up

I'm just getting back to normalcy, so I'm almost ready to start talking about it.

First rule of VP, what happens at VP stays at VP. It's just like Vegas, but without the strippers. Or at least I didn't see any strippers, I was working a lot. I did get to see jellyfish though. Glowing jellyfish to boot.

So first thing is the emotional issues. When I received my acceptance notice nobody was more surprised than I was. This started the roller-coaster. One moment up, the "damn I'm good" feeling, and the next down, "I'm not worthy." Although I should say, it was more up than down. Then at the end of August I started to try and think of questions I should ask. I went over the materials online to strategize how the workshop would go, and trying to map a successful strategy. And, I'll add here that this attempt was full of fail. Nothing came to mind. The page remained blank.

I was very glad of the flight deals I scored. It reduced my money worries by being able to fly all three of us there for the cost I expected for one of us. Then the offer of a ride from Todd not only gave me the opportunity to meet him, but also pushed down the costs to the point I wasn't hyperventilating whenever I thought about it.

For the month before VP I tried to get enough sleep, however that didn't work. Between issues at the day thing and the fun-fest of the night job that didn't happen. Mix in my own apprehensiveness of making the most out of the situation and it was a brew of incomplete sleep cycles. So instead of getting to VP rested and ready, I arrived exhausted and spent.

When I'm fully rested I can go days at a time with very little sleep. While at VP I got about 5 hours of mostly blackout time a night and I downed as much caffeine as I could. There was an early morning walk I wanted to participate in, but I woke to late to go. When I arrived on the island I should have probably slept as long as I could on Sunday, but that was going to be the only day I felt I would have a chance to see the island, so I didn't sleep in.

From then on it was work work work. I'm a slow reader (especially when I am being critical). I'm not the slowest I've ever encountered, but I'm not near the fastest by any measure. Neither am I the fastest writer, so the work load put me seriously behind and I would stay up until I couldn't see straight. It was only on the last few days that I could socialize at night. That added to my stress that I was missing something important (and I probably was).

When we left I was very near the breakdown limit. That's the point that I know that I need serious sleep time and by myself time. So I wasn't up to my usual level of alertness on the way home.

The final emotional thing is happening now. Several of my fellow VPXIIIers (the Fightin' 13th) have talked about what a transformative experience it was. How they're newly remade and fired up. I'm not feeling it, at least not yet. Although the week was mostly a blur (and reviewing my notes to find a link for a fellow Fightin' 13ther, I saw many things that I remember I was there for, but there's a haze between me and the full memory). So maybe when I get a chance to review all my notes I'll get the full effect. I think, though, that the experience I brought into the workshop blunted a little of the "epiphany" moment. I've been critiqued by professionals before (although I would have been willing to pay more for more time with Teresa), I've met professional writers and have studied their habits, I wasn't the student the farthest along the writer path (if there is a path) (and we were all writers at the workshop) but I also have some success. Am I different? Yes, I think so. I have more confidence, my research is slightly more focused, and some other little things, but I don't feel transformed. More like that extra quarter twist of the wrench on a nut you're setting.

So for not feeling transformed I'm feeling guilty and a little confused. Did I miss something? Was I half asleep at the wrong moment? I'm still not feeling all here so is the transformative moment a comin'? WIll it happen when I process it all? Was I so blasted for lack of sleep that I missed my opportunity? Or was this a jump start for some people and what they've experienced I already had made it through, or see, or felt? I don't know. The guilt comes in from spending all that money and time and maybe taking the spot of someone who could have used the workshop more. Confused from thinking I'm missing something, when I'm normally quicker on the uptake.

One thing that did happen is that I drank way too much pop. I tried to keep with tea. Most times though I only had a moment so I grabbed a pop instead. When I weighed myself I was up 9 pounds (now some of that might by the natural 2lb variance, but still). I'm now down about 4lbs from that.

Hard Frost

This dawn a hard frost covered the world in sprinkles and cream. Another nail in the coffin of summer and a final eviction notice to all those animals who migrate. She came on soft feet in the twilight dripping her magic. Flowers closed at her approach, fruits withered, crickets silenced their harping and trees longed for the deep, splintering slumber of February. The only animal voice heard in protest was crow's. There is more corn on the stalk he seemed to squawk. More pumpkin on the vine. Surely more time for the pleasures of sunshine. Crows are her favorite, so she'll indulge them for another week or two. Let them grow fat before the lean time. Let the geese travel at some ease. Let the ground be prepared to freeze. Dawn came hard this morning, covered in the crisp frost of eager winter. She dances on ice, whirling the airs. Her voice soft along the breezes. I am coming, she sings. I am coming.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rejection amongst my fellow Hamsters

So, I'm at the wonderful home of a fellow hamster and we start asking about who was coming. I decided to check email to see who had said they were coming.

And that's when I get the email from Weird Tales that they're passing on A History of Lightning. Plus I realized I haven't sent out Prince Wanted from two weeks ago. Bad writer, no cookie. But it feels strange to receive a rejection just as we're about to start critiques. Kinda like wanting to say, "Why are you harshing my mellow?" I haven't had that feeling before. But, hey, timing is not the editor's responsibility. Plus, Ann was nice in her rejection and apologized for holding it for so long. At least in my own little mind I think she held it longer because she almost bough it. It's my delusion and I'm sticking to it.

But now I have to get back to the meeting.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Things are still mixed up. Just downed some NyQuil to hopefully kick this crud in the butt. Trying to be focused.

First random thing. To my Democratic brethren, you caved on everything important in the Finance Committee and garnered one reluctant Republican Vote. Even by adopting many of their amendments, they couldn't and wouldn't vote for it. And now they're whining outside the conference rooms wanting to be let in to make a bipartisan bill, to not be locked out. They will saddle the Democratic Party with this bill no matter what. Sometimes you have to say, "Fuck it." Build the best bill you can, including a strong Public Option. The Blue Dogs won't want it, fine, cut them off from DNC funds for their re-election. Look them straight in the eyes and tell them it's worth it to lose the majority if you can't get this past. See how fast they come around to sensibility. And when it comes to the floor, look across the aisle and tell them it's the Democratic Party's Bill. We're willing to accept it. And then tell them that every time the bill saves a life, saves a business from collapsing, you will go on the talking head shows and say, "The Republicans would have let that person die, let that business collapse, because they don't give a crap about anybody else." Or at the very least frame the future debate of if the bill fails or is modified to much, it's all the Republicans bill.

It's the middle of Write-tober and I haven't been writing all that much. It is to sigh. Still have about a hundred pages to critique for Sunday. Plus the novel. And that's all before/along with the writing.

On the evening news they had a story where people are in their re-enrollment periods already and having to make the tough choices. Go on the talk shows and say, "That increase in your rates (or the change over to higher deductibles, lower coverage plans) and say that's the plan the Republicans have for your future health care. Oh, and the report said rates would be going up on average 10%. My immediate response was, "Damn, that's low." See, for the past five years I've been at the current job, the average increase was 14%. There are people who would love only a 10% increase. They would consider that a victory.

Somebody stole one of my tombstones. WTF? Dudes, the pumpkins are worth more. Was going to replace it tonight on the way home, but when I left work I just wanted to come home (that whole sick part). Need to put out the flying ghosts tomorrow (as long as it's not raining). Set up the black light. Some other things.

It looks like the banking businesses just didn't get the message. We're tired of your mega bonuses, the salaries of making as much in a year as we may make in a lifetime, and your sense of entitlement. No, stopping the bonuses won't affect you, where are your employees going to go? And it is the sense of entitlement we resent.

The nyquil is kicking in now, so I better log off before I start just typing "la la la la la la."

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I'm thick! Thiss after conferenth germith thing hath finally taken hold. Posth nathal dwip, change of thesesans allergies, lack of thleep and in general poor nutrition (although not for lack of trying on the part of the staff) for the path two weeks hath knocked me forth a loop.

Still at work, though. Oh yes. I'm not tossing my cookies, nor am I in severe pain, so to work I am.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Middling Updatery

Sorry about being so slow on getting a post up about what Viable Paradise is like.

One word, excellent. More words, not what I expected, exhausting, somewhat of an ego boost (as I complained, "these critiques are supposed to make me cry, but I'm not crying, I'm not getting my money's worth"), but still worth while. Hopefully more words will come later.

Right now struggling to get the photos off the camera. Something somewhere is throwing out errors. Looking at workarounds (will probably get a low cost card reader on the way home tonight).

Lots of story stuff, including the "OMG I'm blowing it, I'll lose my voice before I finish it all up" fear. Sigh. I've given myself permission not to write this week, but of course I have a few words down (not many, but about 50 or so so far). The weekend after this coming on is the Feral Writers Retreat where we feast upon the crackling hazelnuts and write until our brains fall out into our lap. So I'm allowing my mind to relax from VP and gear up for FWR.

Hopefully I'll be able to get those photos. I have a special one for one of you (::waves as Cassie:: - thanks, BTW).

Gained about 9 pounds from all the pop consumption, so we'll be Wii-ing it real soon now. Did get most of the outside decorations up on Sunday (still need to add the flying ghosts). Need to do yardwork this weekend to bring in the water-barrels. And I have about 45000 words to critique before Sunday afternoon. Also trying to catch up with blogs (somewhere near 700 posts since I was gone). Did I forget to mention the Village meeting tonight and important election coming up (don't forget to vote this year, many people are counting on you not voting). Busy, busy, boy Steve is.

Story Bone

Part of GM's downsizing means selling off thousands of out of date industrial robots. I imagine one working for a carnival as the engine for a wicked cool ride. But, as the lyrics go, how does it feel? Things to play with include rudimentary intelligence, a high level of strength and danger, working for carnies, giving joy to kids, and missing all the other robots it used to work with at the factory.

Also, could be a parable of retrained, out of work, union employees. Or a general midlife crisis moment for the robot.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Bleary Eyed Linkee-poo

Here are some reasons I listen to NPR (and why some wish to kill it off). I don't always agree with the reports, but you know, it's not about what we "believe" but about the facts.

Racism, it isn't just for whites against everybody else. Vigilantes Patrol for Jewish Women Dating Arab Men. Change "Jewish" to white and "Arab" to black and you pretty much got some of the discrimination flavor up until quite recently. And it all uses the same language. (Hopefully they'll have the transcript up soon) The main guy they interview is just one step away from the "mud people" concept. So, here's racism at it's finest. It's often easier to point and criticize others.

And speaking of "same words, same story, different players" we have the No War Crime Trials for Israelis story.

Yes, Virginia, those were Xmas Decorations for sale at the mall. Or, what we need is a little Christmas, right this very minute. Of course, in my head I'm singing, "Father Christmas, give us your money, we've got no time for your silly toys." I also expect a whole wave of "oh noes" stories this holiday season and that we'll hear the "Shoes" song over, and over, and over, and over, and over (bang!).

And because Healthcare is still my bugaboo, a story about who is to blame for some of the healthcare cost increases. As Pogo says, "We have met the enemy and he is us." Smart Pogo.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

It's good to warm my bones beside the fire

Home again. Alive.

But only barely and for certain values of "alive."

House is still standing, cats are still here, nothing major changed (except the weather, who ordered the Winter Plate at this table?). Will need to crank on getting Halloween decorations out today, prepare for Village Council on Tuesday, get clothes washed, get working on the Wii (I've gained almost 10 pounds because of all the high fructose corn syrup -pop- consumption last week). Then get backs to the writing and critiquing (40,000+ words by Sunday). Oh, and maybe take a shower.

So, anything I missed, and how was your week?

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Okay, just checking in this morning before heading out to the ferry. Looks like the world hasn't exploded while we were here. I take that as a good sign.

Had a fabulous time. Will attempt to sum up later when I get home. I recommend the VP experience to anybody wanting to write genre. Time to finish packing, check out, and get on the road.

Last night we went to the beach after dark to return shells we weren't taking. On the shore line some of the glowing jellyfish had washed up. So while the stars overhead were blocked by clouds, there were plenty of stars on the shore. Pretty interesting. The sands would glow as we walked.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Almost there

Okay, tomorrow is the last day and I'm about to fall over. Well, tonight should be an early night, for certain values of early (not 3am, which is good).

Lots of things. I use those Composition Books you can get to take notes at during conventions, etc. Normally I'll go through a page or four for a full convention. For the last World Fantasy I think I filled eight pages. I'll keep track of ideas, take notes of things I want to remember, people I want to remember, things I promised I do, expenses, stuff like that. I decided to bring a new book to VP, which is good. We still have three lectures or collegiums to do tomorrow and I'm already at 50 pages (and that doesn't include the writing assignments).

For our one writing assignment we had to help fill a whole in the "Steam Velocipede" magazine. Our groups assignment included "if we use zeppelins they better be damn good ones because they're are already 15 stories with zeppelins in them." Implied that we shouldn't use them. I took it as a "just what can you come up with as zeppelins that'll rock our socks off."

How's this? Using whale carcasses as zeppelins? Shave down the ribcage and other bones for lightness and sew the tanned whale-skin over the frame and inflate with gas. Add steering mechanisms to the pectoral flippers and tale as an aileron you've got a pretty interesting zeppelin, I think.
I had shaved down the whales ribs myself to make the Bag-of-Bones lighter. I didn't have the expertise to scrape and then sew the dried skin back together and make it gastight and light enough to achieve positive buoyancy. The skinners had made excellent work of it though, as they had all the others. When they had finished reassembling the pieces it looked like the humpback whale we had killed a week ago, only with a smaller tail. One more ranking higher and I would have rated the blue-whale Bag-o-Bones. After this excursion to the Spanish Philippines , I should rate moving up to either the sperm-whale or even the dirigibles.
Patrick, or gearsman had begun to install the lifting and steerage mechanism on the bags-of-bones. Once outfitted it would carry myself and Hoyle into battle. Patrick had crawled out of the stomach of the beast, a modern Jonah. He grabbed another brass gear set and went back in.

How's that for pumping me full of carbonated sugar water (I've gained width this week, can't wait to use the wii again) and making me stay up late?

So, if you see this appear in other stories coming up, you know where it got started. Frickin' whale zeppelins. Whale zeppelins with lasers! (not really). So, hopefully I'll start normal blogging on Monday (or something like that). Hope you're all having fun. I have no idea what's happening in the real world, so it'll be interesting catching up.

This morning's epiphany

Thanks to Laura Mixon, if you reward yourself before the action, you are actually rewarding the procrastination.

ie. If you say, because I'm about to write, I'll just check my emails or read this blog, you're not rewarding the writing, you're rewarding the procrastination. There are actual brain and behavioral studies to prove this.

As a writer who writes in a highly distracted state, I think I'll need to adjust that behavior.

Ding ding ding. Thanks Laura.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The things you find

Found John Belushi's grave. I didn't even know it was there.

Vacation Day

Woohoo. I've got until 4:30-5:00 to see the island and have my vacation before the work part of it begins (tomorrow starts the critiques, and I don't have my reading yet). So, I think we'll go to the cliffs, and then see what we see on the way back. Anybody been to the Vineyard before and you have suggestions for what to visit, just let me know.

Vacation, it's almost like a foreign language to me.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Slightly longer post

Okay, so we're on Martha's Vineyard and at the Island Inn after much adventuring. Went up to the staff room and met lots of people, some I know, some I knew from the internets, some were new to me. Lots of cool people. There's at least two guitars in the group (not present, but talked about). Messed up Elizabeth Bear's name (confusing her with Elizabeth Moon).

The flight out from Akron was very good. I like Air Tran, they're real people. Talked with the checkin guy, who is a bit world weary for being so young, but then in the past four years he's been to 6 other countries and 35 of the states. So travel isn't a big thing for him and isn't doing it for him anymore. The only downturn was the wifi at the airport blocks my blog. Ha! I'm censored. Look at me. Anyway, the plane was nice. We upgraded to first class which turned out to be a good thing as the plane was fully booked (how 3 people could upgrade an hour before the flight, and the plane was completely booked is beyond me, but hey, some people are last minute kinds of people. The flight was so easy we arrived half an hour early.

Met Todd Wheeler who was eminently a nice guy. I probably bored him to tears with all my off topic talk (politics, etc). But he stoically keep a good face, even trudging through 2" of water in several parking lots. We had lunch in a little coffee shop/sandwich place while we waited for the ferry. If was very cool meeting Todd in person and getting to know each other as real people. Thanks again, Todd. See you next Saturday.

The ferry ride over was also smooth. It had stopped raining (mostly) by the time we made it to the island. You know, right after we were soaked to the bone. I had forgotten how much I love moving on the water. I can't say we really went out to the ocean, as the water ways are pretty well sheltered, but I loved feeling the ship move under me and watching the slight chop move by. I started feeling very happy at that point. There's something about it, something about the air and the wind that puts me in a good mood. Even when the rain is pelting in my face. The clouds look different over water. Thinner, longing to rejoin the water below.

As I told Todd, the past days has been full of synchronicity. This is why I'm worried about hitting the deer (which it turned out there was some damage, he crumpled the top of my hood a little, nothing on the bumper). On the way home from work, at about the very point where I hit a deer, I was scanning radio stations to find something good to listed to (the NPR stations were on Classical Music or World Your Say). And that's when I landed at the very beginning of Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry, Be Happy." I don't think I've heard that song in a decade. On the flight I opened up the book I'm reading, In the Land of Time by Lord Dunsany, I'm in the first part about his stories of Pegana. And I left off at the beginning of the chapter entitled, "Of Roon, the God of Going" ("Roon, which sayeth, 'Go! Go! Go!'" - actual quote). And there's a hundred little things.

Just spent the last two hours hanging out in the staff room talking with people. I'd say more, but I haven't asked what the policy is yet, so until I know, mums the word on actual doings.

So, we're here. We made it alive. Hopefully we'll end the week in the same condition.


More when I find the dryers, the conference room, a cell signal, and some brain cells to devote to the effort.


Oh, and Todd Wheeler is the greatest. No only did he pick us up, and drive us to Woods Hole, he also did it in the pouring rain and put up with our silliness for several hours. Thanks, Todd. You rock!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Hopefully it's not an omen

So, nice and rainy morning for the commute in. Cars in front of me going slow, so I pass. About another mile down the road, deer decided to cross the road right in front of me.

I saw the first three go across and I slowed down tapping the brakes to warn the drivers behind me. I could see at least one more deer looking to make the trip. So I tried the ancient Jedi mind trick of looking at the deer and thinking very hard, "Don't do it, don't do it, don't do it." Normally that works. Who knew I'd get a Sith deer this morning.

So the deer came out onto the road, I started braking harder and moved into the center (there was no oncoming traffic, and hopefully the cars behind me will spot the deer and realize why I'm slowing down). It looks like I'm going to be okay, the deer is hesitating again in the right lane. I continue to break.

And then the deer makes a run for it.

Squealing tires and car moves farther into left lane starting to go out of control, deer continues to bolt... and Slam! Deer comes up and is thrown into the ditch. I'm at a stop. I have no idea where the cars behind me are.

The deer struggles to it's feet, which it seems a little unsteady on. The cars that were trailing me don't even seem to have slowed down as they pass on the right (I'm fully in the left lane now, that they were so far behind me is a reason why I passed, they were doing 40 in a 55, although they did speed up when I passed, nice people that they are). When I look back for the deer, it's gone. The brush is pretty thick along this stretch. There's nothing crumpled on the car that I can see, no marks, although it's still pretty dark there is one street light ahead of me. I check for the deer again and they are long gone. It's still raining. I don't think getting out and tracking it is going to help, and I don't have anything to put the deer down with even if I could find it and it was in need (and wrestling with a adult deer that can stand and move to try and help isn't in the cards this morning).

Accelerating I don't hear anything dragging and I drive to the closest parking lot I can pull into and has some light. I can't see any damage, no scrapes, nothing. Considering it's a 5mph bumper, I take that as a good sign. When it gets light enough I'll check closer (hopefully it won't be raining). I'm some what confident that I hit it at less than 5mph. Still not good for a deer (the car being the larger mass), especially being thrown like that. But I'm hopeful it only has some bruising and that we'll both go away from this shook up, wiser, and with the attitude of "not going to do that again."

And that made me late to get stuck for the flu shot this morning. Yeah, so I got to finally get to work, only to have a needle stuck in my arm. Turns out the nurse lives along the road I travel to come into work. We talked for a little about some major changes they're going to do to the road. I'm hopeful that's the only synchronicity that's going to be in play this morning.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Breathe in, breathe out

So I get home today and there's a strange envelope in our mailbox. I open it up to find a brown-paper bag with instructions and well wishes from frequent commentator Cassie! (making good on her comment) Thanks, Cassie. I'll take it with me just in case.

And let me say, Cassie, you rock!

(photos to come after the trip - the camera is already packed)

Raced to get the lawn mowed. Mowing also served as raking, which the yard needed it badly. Since we've finally got a little water the trees are taking advantage of it to drop leaves (most of them are either brown or green, not a lot of color). Normally I don't have to rake until late October. Not this year. The trees were highly stressed this year and they're going dormant just as fast as they can.

The neighbors who will be watching our place came over to do the run through for the cats. Right now the cats are sleeping, taking up the other half of the couch. Little fur paperweights.

Packing up tonight. My new suitcase isn't nearly large enough. Of course I'm taking a lot more than I normally do, including a heavy cotton pullover and a sweatshirt, chargers, and laundry soap (in a plastic tub, no, I'm not taking the whole box). Have to remember all the other little stuff. Hope I don't forget anything big.

Hmm, might have to use that bag early.

Writerly Linkee-poo

The Staffordshire Hoard Flickr set. I love stuff like this. It gets my hack and slash geekery on. Of course, this year's gift of choice for the little curtain pee-ers? Metal detectors! I expect to see a few hundred of those things in garage sales next year. (link grokked from Making Light).

Justine Larbalestier pontificates on excuses white writers use for not writing non-white characters. As someone whose stories are filled with hispanic surnames and latest novel has Chinese dropping from the skies (not in a "real" sense but in a "that's easy, they're all around us" kind of thing), and I'm not either, that I also struggle with. The best I can do is make them real people. Sure, many are fodder for the sword, but the other people do all the interesting things people do (one Chinese side character speaks perfect English, but when confronted by obnoxious police conveniently forgets they know how, many are shop owners). But it does require knowing "something" about the people you're writing about (name conventions are especially important, not just picking appropriate names but knowing how to put them together, such as the daughter is Kasandra Bonita, not just Kansandra or Kassie).

New stalker meat writer I'm following on blogs (Harry Connolly) writes something I've also dealt with. Hope is the mind-killer. I had a whole different commentary for this, but then I had some work to do, and my brain engaged. For me, this reaction is a defense (and therefore a part) of the big D. When you're raised to judge yourself harshly, say by someone who is a perfectionist or abusive, you try to eliminate all possible avenues of criticism (differing from writing critiques, this is self-destructive criticism I'm talking about). If I'm hopeful, if I succumb to the siren song only to have that hope swallowed by the Charybdis, the gremlin voices grow louder. It's better to skirt the rocks of the Scylla accepting there will be losses. It part of what I struggle with to live a somewhat happier life.

McSweeney's with their comments written by actual students extracted from workshopped manuscripts at a major university. "Apes, aliens, then dead vampire family = too much Sci-Fi." ha ha ha ha (grokked from Jay Lake, I think)