Saturday, December 18, 2004

We had been letting Pike out on the second story balcony. It seemed to give him a taste of the outdoors without giving him a chance to get into another cat fight. All good, right?

Guess not. The other night, we let him out, and he went into his defensive posture when Doug opened the door to call him back in. Doug tried to talk him down, but Pike had seen another cat. Pike shot into the yard, squeezing between the rails and stretching down the wall, to land with a yowl and chase the other cat to the fence.

I said, "Bet he got an intimidation bonus for that."

Doug replied, "Initiative, too. Stupid beloved maniac cat."

Just goes to show, Tycho's not the only one framing his life in gaming terms. See this strip from Penny Arcade. Even though I haven't played a live game in years, I still think in gaming metaphors.

And I'm glad about it. Whether you get your initial skills by roll of the dice, as in Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, or by allocating points, as in GURPS or Call of Cthulhu, you learn something useful. Not everyone has the same strengths and weakness, and a party of mixed skills is the best road to success.

And then there's experience and leveling up -- always my favorite part of gaming. As you accept challenges, you gain abilities, becoming stronger and stronger. What a great way to look at life!

Anyway, Pike didn't take any injuries. Maybe the threat of 13 pounds of cat falling from heaven like a meteor will get around the neighborhood and discourage trespassing into our yard. Not that we really need our yard defended, Pike!

And he's not going on the balcony after dark any more.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Last night, I added an episode to my long running dream epic about defending the family home. My real family home was demolished in the late 80's. In my dreams, Dad has built another house there, but the city, motivated by avaricious neighbors, has condemned it. Every couple of weeks, I dream I visit Dad back in the town where I grew up, and find some demolition crew preparing to tear the house down, or actually prying boards off of it, or flattening our fence with a bulldozer, and with derring do or clever rhetoric, I fend off the attack, and delay the demolition -- at least until the next time I dream the whole story again.

At least it's an improvement on the series of "I didn't really graduate from high school" dreams. Attend your graduation ceremony! Reassure your subconscious before it's too late!

The houses are interesting in these dreams. Generally two stories, with rich wood, and slightly slapdash. There's a large dining room near the front where we all have a family dinner once the developers are thwarted for another day. And we can sleep in unfinished bedrooms upstairs.

Nanowrimo has ended, and I produced only about 4000 of the desired 50,000 words. Besieged. Maybe next year. They are interesting words, and I'm happy to have written them. Now, I expect I'll drop back to earlier in my heroine's life, and finish the first book in her series.

Take care all,

Monday, November 15, 2004

More of my Nanowrimo novel can be seen here: Oh No! Not Again!
Put on some music and immediately felt better today. That's something to remember.

I have an earbug -- the words "Don't have to feel like a refugee" have been reappearing in my mind for multiple days, maybe weeks now. I remember nothing else of the song that line comes from. And if I'm trying to send myself some sort of message, it's garbled. I'm pretty unclear on what application that lyric might have to my life.

Passed the 4000 word mark on my Nanowrimo novel. Wow, one-twelfth done on the halfway time mark. Oh, well. I'm just not able to shut off my internal critic and write large quantities of iffy words. I seem also to be unable to disregard my to do list and place myself in front of the page enough hours a day. These are very important lessons. I intend to keep adding to the novel to the end of the month, regardless of the daunting distance to the finish line. That, also, I want to learn from.

So, on it goes.

May all your projects reach fruition,

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Here's a cause we could surely all agree on: an election system above suspicion. See A Stolen Election? from The Nation for a balanced view of possible voting irregularities.

This site: On The Third Hand : For those in anguish over election results. offers links to both conservative and liberal commenters pleading for more tolerance after this election. Worth reading.

It has been hard to go on. Even my normally sanguine and much-beloved husband has found this election a heavy weight. It doesn't help that there are some irregularities: See this article. Do we find ways to resist? What could we if the system has been stolen?

David Brin, as usual, has some worthwhile advice here.


I'm up to what I'm usually up to. Trying to run my small patch of ground for as low an environmental impact as possible, cultivate my own garden, run my relationships with respect and integrity. There's a reason so many turned their attention to local action.

And, I remind myself, we still have progress. Private groups build spaceships now. It's still illegal to deny work on the basis of color. We have the marvelously democratic, flexible and ungovernable internet.

And maybe, just maybe, we will rise to the challenge. We can remember and press for non-partisan virtues. How about integrity -- carrying through on what you say you will do. Accountability and transparency -- allowing the light of public scrutiny to fall on the actions of both government and business. Respect -- the true belief that all people, even one's opponents, act for reasons that are worthwhile to them. And compassion, even compassion -- true action to relieve the suffering of others.

Please, let's find what we can agree on, and act on that. Too long have we pushed our differences instead of our many, human common causes.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Wow! I am getting a lot done!

Too bad so little of it is writing.

My Nanowrimo novel is progressing very slowly. This year, I've decided to "Never give up, never surrender" and not quit until the final day, no matter how bleak my prospects of finishing look. After all, I recently won a 127 entrant online poker tournament when I hit a lucky hand, only 3 away from the blinds, with scarcely enough to cover them. So I may yet prevail.

The election results were frankly depressing. It's hard to believe that more than half the voters think W. is doing a good job. They have what they wanted -- the remainder of us will muddle through as best we can.

Then my cat Pike took a wound in a cat fight. I was very leary of taking him to the vet -- last time, he had a panic attack and developed a heart murmur. He took it a little better in stride this time. We've been engaged in a battle of wits and wills, since he wants to go out and I want him to stay in. It was close for a while -- I controlled the doors and windows, but he was gaining ground on sleep attrition. He's started letting me sleep through the night now, and I think my victory is assured.

The organizational meeting for our book club went well yesterday. We have a small and interesting group of readers. Doug and I sold three of the four books we offered well enough to have them voted into the year's reading list, and the other choices are broad and appealing. We have meeting places chosen for the first 6 months. This will be an adventure.

Also getting lots of housecleaning done. That happens a lot when I have a writing deadline.

Take care, all.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

I'm creating a separate blog in which to write the novel. Like sausage-making, novel writing may be one of those activities best not observed by those who wish to enjoy the end product. However, if you have a strong stomache, you can watch me flail at Oh No! Not Again!.
Suddenly, writing a novel in a month sounds like a really good idea. It's probably temporary insanity. If you'd like to join the madcap fun, point your browser at National Novel Writing Month. And hurry! the follies start tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I've spent most of October feeling overwhelmed. September's 4 fundraising events really took it out of me. Everywhere I look around the house, I see something I haven't done. There's the magazines piled by my bed, the laundry overflowing the baskets, the mail overflowing my in-box, the dishes on the counter ever since I made full press beef broth 13 days ago. But hey, I promised the writer's group I'd have something to read Thursday. My invention muscles need the workout. Why not write a novel in a month?

Hey! I just had an idea about what to write, too! Too cool!

It's far too bleak a prospect to spend all my waking hours on maintenance, and none on creation. I'm overdue for a deadline, time to treat fiction as an urgency. I may write something cool. I may flame out dramatically. Either one sounds a heck of a lot more fun than not even trying.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Time does go slipping by. I ran four fundraisers in September. I hope I never try to do that again. It's really good to have time to myself again.

I really care about this election. I don't really care about John Kerry. There's a good essay by John Perry Barlow about that here. For those of you consulting this site later, it's the Oct. 3, 2004 entry.


I keep considering a complete update of this website. A reorganization would do it a lot of good. As the most active page, this should be the homepage. Better indexing, more design. But as I also have small avalanches of reading material to catch up on, that may be long delayed. Priorities, priorities.

Am I fooling myself as I hope that good attention to my daily routine will lead to better health and an hour or two daily of energy for tasks beyond that routine?

Well, it remains to be seen.

Friday, August 20, 2004

I'm currently reading The Progress Paradox. It is in some ways a sloppy book. I'd rather he had only included the strong, well supported arguments, instead of a kitchen sink collection of strong and weak arguments. Still, he has massive data to support his thesis, and a few weak examples do not disprove the rest of the material.

See the excellent review at David Brin's site. David Brin is my favorite futurist. He sees problems, and believes optimism can best take us to the rich, diverse, peaceful and fascinating future we'd like.

In a nutshell, The Progress Paradox argues that things are getting better -- in fact, much better -- and we don't notice it. I was startled at much of the evidence he mustered for improvement in the world. Successes remain unreported. Who knew war, hunger, poverty, crime and pollution were down? Can this be true?

I'll report more when I finish it. Happy world, all.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Monday morning, my friend Catherine called to say
her son's apartment burned down.   Could I go to
Portland and help him salvage what they could?   So I
made a couple calls, and freed myself up to go.  

As it turns out, the fire was two stories above them.  
They had smoke damage and water damage, but
nothing in their apartment had burned.   They needed
to move, and we needed to see what we could save.  

Moving is a lot of work.   Moving suddenly, with most
of your stuff soaking wet, covered with soot, or both,
is huge.   Chris and Stephanie had a two bedroom
apartment they'd been living in for two and a half
years.   She's an artist, and he runs a computer based
business from home as well as working in another
location.   They had a lot of stuff.  

Fortunately, a lot of their friends pitched in.   And
Chris and Steff got out safely with their cats.   Most of
Steff's art seemed to have made it.   They were still
waiting on the computers to dry before testing them.  

Catherine and I arrived a little after noon Monday,
and worked until 8:30, packing and moving.  
Tuesday, we finished out emptying the old
apartment.   The complex rented them another unit,
a little ways up the hill.   We moved everything into it.  
Catherine washed the dishes we had to move dirty.  
Their was no water or electricity at the old place.   The
firemen told them to throw away all the food,
because the smoke would be toxic.   So I took Steff to
Costco and Winco to refill their pantry and fridge.  

Then they went to buy a new bedspring and

Then we started on the laundry.   Everything they
owned made of cloth needed washing.   We found a
quiet laundromat, and the owner kindly agreed to
stay open late so we could wash.   We had wet clothes
and blankets and linens all in big black garbage bags,
filling the back of Catherine's van and Chris's X-terra
SUV.   They threw away two bags full as they sorted,
and found another bag of smoky but dry clothes to
send to Goodwill.   We kept 7 washers running, and 8
dryers, for the next five hours, and left the
laundromat about 11:30 pm.  

Doug's parents, Mo and Lois, let us stay with them.  
With everything moved, the house starting to be in
order, and all the laundry done, the worst was over.  
Catherine and I drove back to Bend yesterday.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Last night, Doug and I saw Fahrenheit 9/11. My eloquent and amazing husband has posted his responses over at his site, Learn Something.

I am so fortunate to share my life with a man of such sensitivity and intelligence. His experiences as the son of a service man living overseas add extra relevance to his response. Go read it.

Friday, July 02, 2004

I have discovered the secret.

OK, one secret. A secret. Just a small one, really.


I have discovered the secret to maximizing the beauty of a Crazy Eyeball firework.

And, well, yes, ok, I really should give part of the credit to Doug.

I am the happy codiscoverer of the secret to -- ah, you know.

Oh, yes, what is the secret. I suppose I really should get on to that. Yes, well, it's simple, really...

Set the Crazy Eyeball on the bottom of a tuna can. Choose one of the ones with a slight rim around the edge. Light the fuse, and get away.

Instead of a sputtering, not-quite-spin, or an off and on spin, you get a beautiful, fast, even spin, a glorious wheel of light around the center. It keeps the firework neatly in one place, too.

Doesn't work on Crazy Groundhogs. They're too energetic to be contained by the mild restraint of an inverted tuna can.

Do use an empty tuna can, too.

And now you know.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Painted the door to the garage. Katie and I put on two coats yesterday, and one today. Funny how a little thing like that can make you feel better.

Of course, the previous occupants left the door a completely hideous mustard yellow, with cottage stencils in red and green, and the word welcome. Hmm.... welcome to our garage? Well, ok.

That door was a continuous small irritant. Now it's a dark brown, a neutral, pleasant color to me. Maybe one day, the next occupants will find it totally unbearable, but hey, it's my house. I expect to be here a while. So for a few years, anyway, it might as well reflect my taste.

Beginning to get things back in order after our vacation. Next Wednesday, the Amaranth fireworks sale begins, and it's already claiming planning time. It's our main fundraiser, letting us pay rent for our meetings, make donations to diabetes research, and otherwise continue our existence. It's my favorite of our fundraisers, too -- I enjoy working at the stand. It's well shaded and airy, and people who buy fireworks are happy and excited. We have a good time.

This year, I'm responsible for organizing it. I keep thinking of more details I need to attend to. It's coming along.

So, in my own way, I go on, cultivating my own garden, doing what good I can locally.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

It's possible someone might interpret the previous entry as saying I'd argue with Wil Wheaton's politics if I had the energy. Not so. As further clarification, I offer the following, written back when I had the energy.

A sparrow trilled at sunrise you had gone to spank the sea
Gone to force your praises from the wild and foaming sea
Fooling half the people made you king from sea to sea
But you’ll never pull false praises from the wide unblinking sea
You let more filth into the air -- don’t we breathe the same as you?
Two million lost their jobs, but that’s no concern to you
While our soldiers die in Baghdad for stories told by you
America is strong enough to go alone, says you
For the smoke and the ashes are the price of being free
While your friends get tax breaks to drive SUVs for free
The Patriot Act steals rights away -- a strange way to be free
It’s becoming ever clearer, it’s from you I would be free
For the piper is totalling the price of what you do
And there’s none but you to pay it when the final check comes due.
Catching up on some blogs this morning. I feel like such a poser. A lame inconsistent low energy irresponsible slacking poser.

And there I go, breaking my resolution to be kinder to myself, too.

Listened to one of Wil Wheaton's audio blogs today. His voice has changed much more than his face since ST:TNG. I wouldn't have recognized it. Followed the link to the interview here, where he expresses so much political passion that the web mag put a disclaimer on it. I can't summon enough energy to make an argument out of it. Just drowning in -- what is it, anyway? Fatigue? Politesse? Despair? Not quite apathy. A complete disbelief that I can make any difference. Maybe tomorrow.

Or maybe it's work I'm drowning in. Massive housework, Amaranth drudge, stacks and stacks of papers and reading material that sounded like a good idea in some petrified past, the complete impossibility of exercise and good food and getting enough sleep.

Generally not good. So.

Another day, another day, another day.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Here is a Neil Gaiman essay about cities. It's lovely.

It seems strangely topical. Grandma died on Sunday. I imagine her, like a patient and suddenly mobile city, deciding to take a walk, and leaving us on a bereft, blank plain. She gave shelter to my life. She was there with a kind word, a listening ear, and time -- always time to be with me. I will miss her.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

One garbage day, I woke to the sound of the truck in our cul-de-sac, and the illuminating realization that the crab shells sitting in the garage were getting pretty ripe. I threw on a sweat shirt, a pair of pants, and my shoes, dashed to the garage, twisted closed the can liner, hit the garage door opener, and wheeled the can out the door, still a little stunned from the fumes of crab and cat litter.

Too late. The truck had already departed our block.

The air outside was a fresh antidote to the previous olfactory assault. The sun lightened the sky from behind the horizon, leaving the world still crisp and new. I heard the truck in the distance.

I wheeled the roll can down to the end of our block, around the corner and up the street with a quick step. Good fortune! None of my neighbors were up to see I still had my hair in the sloppy topknot I sleep in. And I spotted the truck at the end of the next cul de sac.

I crossed the street, and stood with my garbage in the brightening day. The east began to turn pink. The truck made its way toward me, its mechanical arm seizing each can in turn and emptying it into the back as the top of the cargo area opened like a ladybug spreading her wings.

What engineering marvels these new garbage trucks are! No longer do men have to hop from the truck at each stop, exposing themselves to stink and dirt. We do make progress.

I stepped away from the can, to give the mechanical arm plenty of room to work. As the driver came by, I called, "I was too late this morning. I live on the next street."

He leaned out and said, "You could have just called! You didn't have to chase me down!"

I smiled.

The mechanical arm lifted and emptied my trash can. I rolled it home, and put out the recycling. That's always collected later. Mission accomplished. The sunrise bloomed magnificently, and I admired it.

Any day that starts like that is going to be a good day.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Today, I'm working on a spread sheet to add up my total poker wins, losses, and net win. The IRS apparently wants wins and losses totalled separately. The good news is, I won more than I thought I did. The bad news is, I've spent 8 hours entering session data and I still have three months of 2003 to go. Whew!

Meanwhile, this article gives good clues as to why poker players gain weight. There have already been studies that show that a poker loss reduces endorphins and other pleasurable brain chemistry. So it's no wonder a poker player who has just suffered a loss feels particularly attracted to eating something sweet and greasy. Add the stimulant effect of caffeine, and chocolate is practically a specific remedy for poker loss.

I put on some weight after the car accident mentioned at the beginning of this blog. Haven't been able to put it off again, but haven't gained more either. So it looks like I'm managing my poker related medical calories well enough.

Back to data entry. Take care, all.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Suppose you need to make a sandwich of balloon bread and lunch meat. Say, you're temporarily short of French bread and paté de foie gras. Or, maybe you're on one of those survival shows, and have to get by on what you can buy at 7-11. Here's the way to make the best of a grim situation.

Start by toasting the bread. Then coat each slice with a thin layer of mayonnaise. Add mustard to taste. Layer on the lunch meat, and cheese if you care to. Then assemble the sandwich. Take the assembled sandwich and press it. I like to lay it between two small cutting boards and lean into it, but the palm of your hand will do. Flatten that puppy out. Then slice into quarters and eat.

A sandwich like this improves remarkably over the untoasted, unpressed variety. I had several people at our poker party last Saturday asking if there was a secret ingredient or something. Very simple secrets like this should be spread as far as possible.

I'm hand-writing three pages a day in a journal for that class I'm currently taking. It takes a little wind out of my sails as far as blogging goes. When you've already written three pages of personal non-fiction, there's often not much more to say. In fact, I sometimes find myself writing nonsense syllables to fill a paragraph. It all works.

And now I need another sandwich.