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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Answers the Fifth and Final!

And on the last day of the month, we wrap up with Ask Me Anything! August 2014. Fun round, as always; and equally "as always", I hope to get more nifty questions next time out!

Quince asks: How do you feel about the series Dr. Who?

I haven't really seen enough of the newer version to have a solid opinion, but what I have seen is fun, and sometimes spooky, and sometimes downright creepy, and often funny, and sometimes deeply emotional. The Daughter is quite the fan, although her enthusiasm seems to have waned a bit because she loved David Tennant and didn't care much for Matt Smith. The new guy? Jury's out, I suppose.

My main familiarity with the Doctor comes from when I watched the show on PBS, way back in the 1980s. Doctor Who is kind of like James Bond, in that the first one you see tends to be your favorite, or at least heavily shapes your expectations for the rest. My first Doctor was Peter Davison, the Fifth Doctor. Loved that guy. I also liked Tom Baker a lot, but Davison was first -- I liked his blend of Doctorish alien weirdness and human compassion.

Of the current crop, I suppose Tennant's my favorite, because I like the balancing act he does in portraying the fact that even for a being like The Doctor, who has seen just about everything, there's still a lot of very strange stuff that can make him cock his head a bit and say, "What?!" in that wonderful Brit way of his.

Doctor Who is generally best approached as a show about normal people being taken on a guided tour of the weirdest parts of the Universe. At least, that's my take on it.

The rest are from Roger:

Hey, new homeowner: what's the best thing about owning your own place? The worst? Any buyers' remorse yet?

Buyer's remorse? No. None. After living in apartments for 17 years, we're still basking in the glory. The worst thing is simply the fact that we can't just pick up the phone and call the rental office when there's an issue of some sort -- we have to think it all through ourselves. But that's fine. Having space to live and breathe, privacy, and a room for the books? That outweighs everything. I also think it's good for us as a family, since we're now no longer forced to spend all our leisure time together in the same room.

What thing do you do that you KNOW drives The Wife and/or The Daughter crazy, but find that you do it anyway?

Knuckle-cracking. I like to think that I'm not a terribly anal person, but there are things I get anal about, and I can really fly off the handle sometimes if I'm not paying attention. My tendency to underestimate the time it takes me to cook some meals by significant amounts. And my very weak sense of smell makes me a bit more tolerant, shall we say, of less-than-acceptable conditions regarding the cat box.

Do you think of yourself as sensitive? What meaning of sensitive do you think of when hearing the word?

I try to be. To me, "sensitive" means "takes consideration of the feelings of others before acting". I really try to do this. I don't want to be the person people dread having to deal with. Sometimes I fall short, but when I do, I almost always try to atone later.

Bats, the mammal variety: have you had them at the abode or at The Store? If so, how do you deal with them?

We haven't had bats yet, that I can recall! The boring answer is that we have a pest control service with whom we are contracted. If we observe unwelcome beasties, we call the pest control folks and they show up and do their thing. Luckily, our pest control problems are very sporadic, and always of the "How did that thing get in here?!" variety.

Are you going to register your books with the Copyright Office? Why or why not?

Ummm...am I supposed to? Seriously, I need to research this. Do I need to register them? Anybody know?

When you read something, or listen to something, how often does it bring you to some totally unrelated song, or story?

Quite often. My brain is always making connections between things I'm doing now and stuff I've read or seen or heard someplace else. This doesn't bother me. I like being able to make connections like that. It helps me find meanings in things, and I think it gives me a better background from which I can say things of my own. I make connections between unrelated things all the time. It's how I'm wired.

OK, I think that does it for this round of Ask Me Anything! Thanks for all the questions, and start drafting some for February 2015! (And really, you don't even have to wait, if you don't want. Questions are always welcome.)

Sunday Burst

Just a couple of things this week:

:: A fascinating GIF breaks down how we've been paying for music over the last 30 years. You can see formats rise and fall, and in the case of the CD, the fall is pretty spectacular. I was a long digital media holdout myself, and yet, I haven't bought a CD in at least four years.

:: A couple falls in love and marries, sixty years after they met one summer as teenagers.

More next week!

Instaweeks!

Time for another photographic grab-bag from the last few weeks!





It's always sad when you reach the bottom of the coffee cup.


Fortune cookies tell all, don't they?




Yeah, that was a fun Monday:


I continue to recharge by frequently rewatching Neil Gaiman's commencement speech from a year ago:


When the storms come in:


It's mint harvest time! (For making mojitos.)



Leaving work under a sky like this is always nice.


Our attempts to teach Lester how to use a leash are not going well.


Single malt to celebrate the completion of major book edits!


Our "sensitive plant" develops these little flowers:


Once in a while at work I have to hang a neon beer sign.



Recent dinners include banana peppers which I stuffed with sausage and cheese and then roasted:


There's always pizza at some point or other:


Smores. I can generally eat about two of these before I get that "OMG I just ate an entire hippopotamus" feeling.



Cranberry kisses are delicious!



(It's a drink with spiced rum, Collins mix, and cranberry juice.)

Along Erie County's back roads:



Cat-related stuff happens a lot.





In that last one, Lester is on my lap, watching Cosmos with me. Note his eyes reflected in my laptop screen, via the flash! I don't think he understood the show's scientific content, though. Oh well, even Carl Sagan can't reach everyone.

Sometimes I offer great wisdom at rock-bottom prices.


Book production continues.



And here, from the comic strip Blondie, is my new favorite sentence:


And finally, for all who had good wishes and kind words on Little Quinn's tenth birthday, thank you!


More to come in a couple weeks!


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Why I Am Terrible Today


My careful monitoring of essential fluid levels in the home had a misfire this morning. Luckily it's Grocery Day!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Buckets, the Bills, Stadiums, Pies, Sharkheaded girls: Some random opinions on some random stuff

Just a grab-bag of some thoughts on stuff going on....

:: I posted the following on a Facebook exchange debating the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. This wasn't really in response to anything anyone specifically said, but more in response to some more general negativity I've seen about it. (As such, it was probably out-of-place on that particular friend's feed, for which I feel a tad guilty.)

Here's my thing: fundraising of every kind, everywhere, is more successful when there's something "fun" involved. It's why charities have big galas and parties. It's why churches and small town organization have chicken barbecues. It's they the Jerry Lewis Telethon isn't twelve hours of scrolling text with telephone numbers. It's why people trying to raise money to help individuals with massive medical bills have events with basket raffles and Chinese auctions. It's why PBS stations air their really popular shows and specials at pledge time. I can't remember where I read it, but the other day I read an article where some charity in some city had an annual gala which was their BIG fundraising event each year, but one year they decided to not hold it and simply ask for the donations anyway, and their fundraising fell through the floor. We may not necessarily LIKE this aspect of things, but it's simply the way things are. All the ALS people did was figure out a way to tap into one of the newer avenues people are having fun with, and frankly, if it hadn't been this, it would have been something else.

That said, I cannot for the life of me have any problem with this whole endeavor. It's a horrible disease (my wife's grandfather died of it, just a few weeks after we started dating), but really -- they ALL are. If we approach fundraising with the solemnity of the disease itself, nothing would ever get funded much at all.

I stand by all that, even if my posting was rather badly misplaced.

:: As I write this I'm basking in the afterglow of my first-ever Buffalo Bills preseason game. Oh wait, did I say "basking in the afterglow"? I meant to say, "waiting for the stench cloud to dissipate". I know, it's just preseason and it's the last preseason game, so it's not like either team was really trying all that hard, but boy howdy, the Bills just looked fundamentally awful. They attempted no long pass plays, they were bumbling and mistake-prone, the backup quarterback hit exactly one guy on the numbers, and I saw four punts in the single half of football we bothered watching. (The tickets were free; no way do we pay to get in there.)

That said, I am obviously no expert, but I still do not see why it's taken for absolute faith around here that Ralph Wilson Stadium is an awful place that needs to be retired in favor of a spectacular new facility that's "easier to get to". RWS is plenty easy to get to, and I found it perfectly nice and structurally fine. Maybe some significant work to the exterior, like they did in Green Bay with Lambeau? Anyway, for my money, RWS is fine, and anyway, I'm loath to spend upwards of a billion bucks of public money on a facility just to help a collection of billionaires rake in even more cash. As for the current renovations to the Ralph, I like the place, although there could be some more signage directing where to go in the area between the ticketed entry queue and the actual concourses.

Oh, my prediction for the Bills this season? Well, they've gone 6-10 in four of the last five seasons, so why stop now? 6-10, it is!

:: Nobody ever gets to bitch about Presidents and their vacations again. I'm done listening to that shit. It's just plain dumb, seeing as how in this day and age, with the technology we have, a President could run things from the Unabomber's shack if he or she wanted to. Enough.

::  Speaking of vacations and such: it's Labor Day Weekend, which reminds me of something I read once: three day weekends are better when the extra day off is on Friday, rather than Monday, because that way it feels like two Saturdays followed by a Sunday, as opposed to a Saturday followed by two Sundays. I kind of agree with that -- July 4 weekend this year broke that way, simply because the 4th was on Friday -- but I also rather like having the long weekend and then a shortened work week on the other side. Short weeks are nice, which is why I always try to schedule my vacations to straddle two different work weeks, essentially taking a six- or seven-day weekend, bracketed by two two or three-day work weeks.

:: The other day, Buffalo's new-and-improving waterfront area became home to a sculpture originally from Cincinnati, called "Shark Girl". It's a little girl with the head of a shark. I am not making this up. Behold:



As art, I kinda like it. It's not really my cup of tea, but it is a whimsical thing and definitely unusual enough that it will have people going to see it and talking about it and so on. My only complaint, such as it is, was that such a high-profile art installation here wasn't seen as an opportunity to feature a local artist. However, I'm told that this is only the beginning, and that local artists will be featured at Canalside. Good.

Head of a shark. What will they think of next.

:: I'm not sure who I want to win MasterChef this year. I'm leaning toward Leslie, because he's really gonzo, but he's also best taken, I think, in small doses. Who I do not want to see win is Courtney, who has the single most annoying "Fake perfect Good Housekeeping wife" thing going on, along with incredibly annoying arrogance regarding her own kitchen skills. True, she has yet to screw up in any way at all, but land sakes alive, is she annoying.

:: A new law: If you have any kind of special request as regards bagging your groceries at all, then I don't care if you're only buying five things, go through the other line. Your "I want this item in double paper, double plastic and then roll it up and put it in a third bag" bullshit forfeits your right to use the express lane.

:: Finally, on a topic near and dear to my heart, I posted the following on Tumblr earlier:

Squirty whipped cream on a paper plate ain't gonna cut it, folks.

So I’m seeing that on the heels of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, some folks are trying to make pie-in-the-face challenges the next thing. As you might expect I am TOTALLY on board with this, but I fear the well may be somewhat tapped, and folks are trying to do this in “honor” of several different diseases, such as depression and Huntington’s Disease. Again, this is great, but I suspect this might have the effect of diluting things.

More to the point, though, is that the “pie” is often a bit of whipped cream from a spray can on a paper plate. This is well below the standards we should be willing to accept as Americans, folks! If you’re going to experience the joy that is a pie in the face, make it happen with a REAL pie and not just a dollop of canned stuff! A thing worth doing is a thing worth doing RIGHT. Come on, America! We invented the pie-in-the-face routine! Let’s show the world how it’s done!

[Insert picture of Sam the Eagle here. Or something suitably pompous.]

Remember, folks, don't do this:



Do this instead:



Or follow the instructions in the "A Pie in the Face is a Wonderful Thing" page to do this:



That's all that's running through my head right now, folks. Have a great Labor Day weekend! (I'm not taking off from posting, though.)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Something for Thursday

I'm feeling slightly piratical today, so here's some appropriate music for it: the closing scene and end credits suite from Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Random Wednesday Conversation Starter

A friend of mine posted this article about diagramming sentences to Facebook the other day, so here's the simple question: did any of you enjoy diagramming sentences or think it a worthwhile thing to learn? For my part, I hated it with an utter passion. I thought it a complete waste of time that didn't do a single thing to teach what good writing is. I am, however, also prepared to grant that my loathing of diagramming may be influenced by the fact that the teacher I had in seventh grade, who did the most with diagramming in my school career, happened to be one of my least-favorite teachers of my entire grade-school career. It's interesting to me how perceptions of entire subjects can be shaped by our reaction to the teachers who taught them. Sentence diagramming? Bleecccch. And trigonomery -- now there's a teacher I couldn't abide!

So, did any of you enjoy diagramming sentences?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Come all without, come all within.... (How can it possibly have been ten years?)












Little Quinn was born ten years ago today. He'll never know, alas, what he has taught me about who I am and what kind of person I need to be. Likewise, I'll never know, alas, what kind of person he might have been.





Monday, August 25, 2014

Answers the Forth! (or, Gonzo Time With Andy!)

Continuing the cavalcade of questions that need answering, as usual, my friend Andy McBride brings the goofy!

In the tv show ‘Airwolf’, Michael Coldsmith Briggs III is hiding the advanced helicopter from the CIA as leverage for them to look HARDER for Stringfellow Hawke’s brother in Vietnam. Now granted, we are dealing with the CIA here, one of the most powerful organizations in the world. Wouldn’t they use every resource they had to find the chopper that cost then more than $1billion to design and produce? I could sooooooooooooooooooooo see them finding where it was and no one EVER hearing from Hawke, Briggs and everyone involved EVVVVVVVVVVVVER again….. THOUGHTS?

I confess, I never watched that show when it was on. So, he stole this nifty helicopter from the government but then, while holding it hostage to get the government to look for someone, the government never just came along and took it back? Really? Well, I guess this is the same kind of logic that had the US government utterly unable to track down and recapture the fugitive A-Team, even though anyone who was trying to save their little family business in the face of threats by some rich bully could track them down. Strange! But with the A-Team, we're talking a handful of fugitives, not a billion-dollar piece of military hardware. (And was that the only one they made?)

This is the same kind of logic that always had me wondering why SPECTRE, in the James Bond movies, launched such outlandish plots. I mean, this is an organization that can literally build a facility to launch space rockets inside a dead volcano! Didn't it occur to anyone to just say to Blofeld, "You know, we can pretty much use our money to rule the world anyway."

-OKIE DOKIE, this MIGHT get long but hear me out…….. Battlestar Galatica, the recent version, brought up a great thought. It showed the weakness of ALL MALES, Baltar, when it comes to getting it on with a REALLY HOT female, SIX. HELLO! He gave her the codes to ALL the nuclear weapons on the planet!! MEN have caused many sorrows on the human race throughout time for women….. Can you justify his actions in anyway??? I must admit, as a heterosexual male, I can kinda see him justifying it in his mind.

I think it was partly a man, well, thinking with his "Johnson". I also think it was Baltar wanting to be powerful, wanting to show off that power. Baltar comes off as a man who is extremely intelligent, but also deeply insecure, so it probably didn't take much for Number Six to appeal to his vanity and prop up his ego. He probably shared the information not because he thought it would get him sex, but because...well, actually, that's probably a bigger part of it than I had thought. He was showing off. It never occurred to him that this woman might be someone he probably shouldn't give that information to, and why would it? He's the great genius Baltar!

No, I can't justify it. That's really what it is, and by the time he realizes what he's done, he is simply in too deep and can't get himself out in any way. He has to keep playing along with her, continually betraying his people, even as he is horrified at what he's doing and clearly views himself as superior to everyone else while at the same time loathing himself for betraying them. Gaius Baltar is really a fantastic villain!

-Do you have an ‘OUT’ or two with the new ownership of the Bills? I have two, if that CLOWN Trump, everyone that would call him a savior just watch the 30 for 30 about the USFL and how he destroyed it, buys them or if the new owner moves the team after the lease at ‘RICH’ yeah I still call it that, comes up. Then I am OUT!!! I will NOT root for them…….

Heh! I honestly don't care all that much. People who have enough money to buy an NFL team tend to be people so far removed from any kind of life that I conceive that there really isn't much of a "likability" factor at all. It's interesting to watch, though, isn't it? Terry Pegula came out of nowhere a few years ago to buy the Sabres and "save" them, and then he started building stuff downtown to further cement this city's hockey fever, and he was a hero around here. But then the Sabres fell apart as a team, and people decided that Pegula had allowed the poor management to stick around too long, so his star got tarnished a bit...but if he buys the Bills and pretty much establishes them as being here for many years to come, then I wonder how many more years of missing the playoffs they can turn in before Pegula starts dropping again in local esteem!

I do hope the team stays, I really do. It would devastate an awful lot of people if they left. But I really cannot get behind using any kind of public money to build a new stadium; I don't understand why the team needs a stadium with all those bells and whistles and luxury boxes when there is virtually no big wealthy corporate presence around here; and I reject the idea that even if we do have to have a new stadium, it needs to be someplace other than where Ralph Wilson Stadium is. I live here and I can tell you, the current place is not hard to get to. But anyway, if disaster happens and the Bills do leave, my "fandom", such as it is, will not travel with them. I will not root for the Toronto Bills, or the LA Bills, or the San Antonio Whatevers.

And if the team does leave, well, life will go on. There are a lot of fine cities out there that are doing great without professional sports. Being Austin or Tulsa or Providence wouldn't be the worst fates I could imagine!

-What was the moment when you said to yourself, “You know, self publishing my novel is the way to go.”?????

Well, I queried and/or submitted Princesses for the better part of a year or so before I finally decided to go independent. I always kept going indie in the back of my mind as the way to go if I didn't break through in the traditional way, and I think I'm fortunate to live in a time when that's possible. Indie film and indie music (and, to a lesser degree, indie comics) have long had their own infrastructures and their own ways of getting the work distributed, but indie book publishing has been slower to take off, for various reasons. (One is that it took a while for tech companies to figure out how to make e-readers that people would want to use, and another is that print-on-demand technology seems to have taken longer to become a real thing than it had once been mentioned.) So I knew that Princesses would not have to endure its round of rejections and then sit in a drawer, either to be revisited later on when I wrote something "better" or just for me to fondly remember as one of my "practice" novels.

See, here's the thing: there is no question in my mind that I wrote a good book. None. Likewise, there is no question in my mind that there's a market for it. When I started writing it, three years or so ago, I figured that "grimdark" trend in storytelling and popular culture, what I call "Awful People At Work And Play", had to wind itself down at some point, and that there would be a place again for storytelling that was not lighter, exactly, but...geez, how to put this...infused with light. (I'm sure that reads horribly, but I'm going with it.)

I submitted to the major publishers who still accept unagented submissions (and there are only a handful of these), and I queried every agent I could find who represented fantasy and science fiction. Why didn't it get picked up anywhere? Well, I'm going to rule out the most obvious answer, "Because it's not good enough". Now, maybe I'm wrong and it really isn't good enough, but...well, I just don't think that's the case. Sorry if that sounds arrogant, but it's simply true that a lot of books that are good enough get rejected all the time. Hang out in writers' groups online or read writers' blogs or that sort of thing, and you will see article after article after article listing books that are now beloved which got rejected dozens of times prior to publication. Harry Potter is a perfect example -- everybody rejected it, and it was only dumb luck that some editor happened to take the manuscript home and leave it out for his or her kid to find and read and come out later asking, "Is there more to this?", prompting that editor to take a closer look. Good books get rejected, and bad ones get published. It happens, all the time.

Well, my book is on the long side. As an unpublished author, turning in a long book is a strike. So is the fact that its genre isn't totally carved in stone -- I call it space opera, because that's what it is, but space opera isn't a section at Barnes&Noble. It's science fiction, sure...but given the style and the characters, it could be Young Adult...but again, it's maybe too long for Young Adult. I make no bones about the fact that I wrote the book I intended to write, and no other. I didn't set out to write a Young Adult space opera and then keep it to 80000 words or whatever. This is the book I wanted to write, and if I'm going to put myself out there, it's going to be with the book that I wanted to write. As Jean-Luc Picard once said, "If we're going to be damned, let's be damned for what we really are." But again, that may constitute a problem from the industry's point of view.

(And in all honesty, "length" is relative, anyway. Princesses is long for the kind of book it is, but it's still shorter than four of the Harry Potter books, and it's way shorter than anything George RR Martin's been writing of late.)

Even if I refuse to admit the possibility that my book stinks, however, there's another that I do grant: Maybe my query letter sucked. There's just no way to know, other than to have a successful query. Reading up on query letter advice was maddening when I did it: some agents said "Never include any of the writing from the book itself!"; others said, "Give me your first few lines, if you think it helps." Some said "Never mention any other books at all!"; others said, "Feel free to namecheck books that inspire you, as long as you don't compare your book to those." And so on.

The problem there is again one of numbers. Just getting publishers to bite, whether you're submitting or using an agent, is hard enough, but the query letter is tough as well. What you're literally writing, in query letter, is a direct mail sales pitch, and professional copywriters will tell you that a really good rate of response to a sales pitch -- not even leading to a sale, just to a request for more information -- is about ten percent. Think of that: if you're selling by direct mail, if you have a good letter, only ten out of every one hundred recipients will respond. That's why direct mail companies send out thousands of mailings...but there aren't thousands of agents handling books like I wrote.

And the numbers get harder! Consider this: I used a site called QueryTracker (which I strongly recommend, by the way -- it's an outstanding resource) to organize this stuff. QT offers lists of agents that you can sort and exclude on the basis of genre, so I was able to just whittle their database down to agents repping F&SF. Useful, yes...but there's a wrinkle. You might end up with a list of 200 agents in your genre, but you'll find that a lot of them work at the same agencies, and many, if not most, agencies have a policy where a rejection from one of their agents is to be taken as a rejection by the entire agency. If a dozen agents are listed from a single agency, and one of them rejects you, you're not allowed to query the other eleven.

So, basically, getting back to the original question...after about a year, I decided to stop that process and proceed a different way. Did I pull the plug on my submission and querying too early? It's entirely possible...but you know what? I'm tired of waiting. I'm confident that I'm not jumping the gun as far as the book is concerned, and life's just too short. Get busy livin', or get busy dyin'. Or as my Mom says, "Shit, or get off the pot!"

(By the way, here's an announcement, for you folks who have read this far: October 1 will see some strategic leaking of details on the Princesses front!)

Sentential Links!

Time for linkage! These are from blogs of fellow writer type people.

:: Sometimes life imitates art, but more often it's the other way around. As strange as it sounds, what happens to Sara in this chapter happened to me when I was visiting my best friend's grave. Darbi died in a car accident when we were only seventeen, and I thought of her often while I was writing this book. Her death hit me really hard, but I believe what happened that day at her gravesite was her way of letting me know she was okay. (I haven't been reading this story, but I do believe in our writing and our art being shaped by the things that have happened to us along the way.)

:: Something incredible happened to me this weekend. It was an unexpected, monumental moment in my life, one that I have dreamed about for so long but part of me actually doubted if it would ever happen. But it did happen. It definitely did and I have the proof here on my computer.

I started to write my novel again.


:: Do you ever read a book and one of the main characters, or a beloved character, dies? Do you get upset with the story itself or do you actually get upset at the writer? (It depends, I suppose. A death has to make some semblance of sense within the story. It needs to be set up; it can't be arbitrary. Yes, in life, death is often insanely arbitrary, but I don't read or write in order to reflect the real world. Arbitrary death always feels false to me. So does excessive death. George RR Martin comes close to being excessive at times, although frankly, the degree to which his stories are bloodbaths isn't really among my complaints about his books. Nicholas Sparks, though? There's a guy who is so reliant on death as a narrative device that it really lessens the impact his books have, the more you read. And then there are movies where the villains do so much killing that it's not a moment of triumph when they are defeated, but one of relief. I'm thinking of The Patriot, with that awful scene in which a villain whose villainy is already well established decides to lock a bunch of colonists in a church and set the church afire. Another example is Air Force One, which has Gary Oldman kill a couple of people in taking over the plane...and then, a bit later on, has a gratuitously depressing scene where he holds a gun to some poor woman's head as he gives the Action Hero President until the count of ten to surrender. The President doesn't, and Oldman kills the woman. For me, in my writing, death is the Big Gun. I know that I will have to kill a few characters off over the long haul, but I don't look forward to it. You know who handled death really well in her books? JK Rowling. The deaths in the Harry Potter books get to both mean something and be arbitrary. I'm kind of starting to think that Rowling is underrated as a writer.)

:: Have you planned a writing retreat or attended one? (I never have, and I'm not sure I'd want to...let me put that differently, I'd be nervous about attending one. I tend to be wary of sharing my work or talking about writing at all, which is my introvert self taking over. Maybe I need to start getting over it....)

:: So far, so good.

I have a place for all the Elements.

But the problem I have here, is that the mythology of these Elemental directions is then out of whack.

This causes me problems, because I like the idea of endings in the West, where the sun sets, and begins in the East, with the rising sun, and the many stories that go with these associations.

Placing my Elements as I have, doesn’t fit this.

So what is one to do?


:: Parker is almost six, though she will correct you immediately that she is “five and three-quarters” if she hears you say that because she is precise, and detail-oriented, and very much her father’s daughter in that way.

But she is my daughter too.

A daughter that I was petrified of having, and then elated that I was having – all because of a very tumultuous past I have with my own mother.


:: Sometimes when I'm reading a novel or watching a show, the writer throws an empty threat into it. In a novel I was recently reading, a love triangle develops, but I knew from day one that the protagonist was going to stay with her first love. Yet, the author dragged me about this awkward love triangle for the majority of the book. It was still interesting, but it lacked stakes, it lacked intensity because I knew nothing big would come out of it.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Of buckets and the dumping of the water therein



If you've lived beneath a rock of late, you may have missed a viral fundraising activity that's going around the social media sites. I'm not even sure of the exact "rules", but it's all voluntary anyway, so it's not like the rules matter all that much. It involves dumping, or having someone else dump, a bucket full of ice water over your head, after which you challenge a few other folks to do the same, whilst making a small donation to the ALS Assocation. ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) is a particularly awful way to go, and like all awful diseases, its defeat is a worthy goal. There's been an awful lot of tut-tutting over the thing, and to my way of thinking (along with Roger, who as always has some good links), that all pretty much misses the point. Donations are way up, and people are having fun doing it, so what's the problem? Why be such a Muggle? Fuhgeddaboudit!

Anyway, I received my challenge/nomination last week, and I finally got 'round to doing the deed. Aside from the efficacy of this as a fundraiser (yes, I did kick in a few Quatloos!), what are my thoughts on up-ending a bucket of water over my head? Well, it actually felt good! Luckily I got a fairly warm day. This particular summer hasn't been all that hot in my neck o' the woods, but I imagine this would have felt awesome on a 90-degree scorcher in July. It was over quickly, and if it had been really hot, maybe I wouldn't have even bothered changing afterward -- I could just hang out outside and air-dry. Alas, it wasn't quite that warm.

So yeah, I got my challenge done. I'm not challenging anyone else, seeing as how I think I'm coming to this bit at the tail end of its potency (most folks I know have already done it, anyway). But my friends should be warned: if a similar fundraising challenge starts making the rounds that involves a pie in the face, oh, there will be some challenging going on!


A Feline Love Story

Yesterday morning I brought my computer down to the dining room table, where I did some work whilst enjoying my coffee. At one point I looked down, to my left, and saw that my parents' Persian cat was hanging out on our porch, right outside our sliding glass door. (They live next door now.) Along came Lester, and the following transpired:

First, a meeting. Shared looks and stares. He's looking eager, while she, ever the Lady, is playing it cool. She's avoiding eye-contact, and doesn't want to seem eager. But she isn't going away, either.


At last the eye contact comes...but alas! The infernal glass door is still there, forever separating the two feline lovers!


The intensity of Lester's smoldering stare becomes too much. She must look away, lest she be drawn into his web of kitty passion!


Finally Lester decides it's time for a dramatic gesture, displaying what he thinks is his best feature, his enormous gray belly. Sadly, it is, in reality, far from his best feature.


Her reaction to this? "Um...yeah. I gotta go do something now." And away she went, seconds later, to return to her own porch. But see, she loves our porch, likely because of the chipmonks who live beneath it. She'll be back. And next time, it may be Julio!

She's a vixen, that one.