Pride and Joy.

Ray has pooped on the poopin' chair. Last Saturday, also today.

She was just kind of hanging out, when all of a sudden there was a...plop!

Lee and I stared at her in stunned silence. Then we broke out in cheers. Praise and praise!

So if I effuse at anyone, it's just that we've got the happy cheering thing (and the poop song) going on at our house.

As expected and probably best enjoyed all around, Ray made out with the majority of the swag.

Some details:

The Giant Tickle Me Elmo monster of doom has had the honor of sharing primo stuffed toy award with the Cat in the Hat; however, Elmo wins the tiebreaker of having his eyeballs thoroughly licked. What Cat in the Hat can claim that?

While the Powerpuff Girls are a favorite of child and parents alike, it was the CareBears Movie that was selected for first viewing pleasure. Jackie, I'd just like to say that you can go #$*& yourself the next time you have a bright idea like that again.

Everyone at his job thinks we're obsessed about sex because of the Christmas gift I got him. I mean us :) Anyway, none of them have the gumption to tease me about it to my face, so all is well.

Once again, my parents managed to find a present for Lee that was perfect: coffee and a new-age Native American CD that he thinks is "okay." One of the things I'm proud to have inherited from my parents--a good sense of gifts.

Speaking of, the gift that I sent them was the Far Side collection. To buff my nails and understate, they liked it. --Oh! Mailing it, the woman at the counter asked me what it was, because it was so heavy (22 lbs.). I told her it was the Far Side collection, a book. She said, "Ah've heard of coffee table books, but ah've never heard of a fire side book." I laughed, because I thought she was making some kind of joke about how big the book was. Then I realized... "The cartoons..." I made a frame with my hands. "You know, the little ones, The Faaaaaaaaaar Side, with the bugs with glasses and stuff."

She laughed and said she hadn't meant to make a joke...but that she was from Texas, so that was joke enough.


Time to catch up on the blog...


Brothers. Lee's brothers Mike and Dale drove up from SD for to hand out with us for a day. Dale's back from boot camp in Georgia!

A good time was had by all, especially Ray, who said, "uncle" over and over again after they left. Maybe that was her way of saying "no more tickling!" but I doubt it.
Return of the King

I sat next to a little girl (4-5 years old) at the movie. For the first ten minutes, she pet the arm of my fuzzy shirt and told me it was very soft and that she'd gone to ballet lessons today already.

I think her review of the movie would go like this:

  • Gollum is scary.
  • Brothers fighting is sad.
  • Lots of scary stuff happens, and there's a big spider.
  • But if your daddy holds you in his lap when it's scary, then it's okay.
  • You should say "Yay!" when everyone says "Yay!"
  • And clap at the good parts.
  • It's okay to take a nap.
  • Make sure to tell daddy when it's time to go pee.
  • There's a boat at the end but daddy didn't know what kind.
  • The movie was pretty good.

I didn't fall asleep or have to go pee, but I pretty much agreed with her.



A pun:

What's the opposite of appetite?


--via A.Word.A.Day
Playground Slang:

"Ever been called a "shreddie", felt like a quick "wallace and gromit", shown your "spider's legs" or been given a "hitler"? If you have, well, so sorry. If you haven't the slightest idea what the terms mean, then Chris Lewis has the very book for you."
--from an online article about playground slang.

The book? The Dictionary of Playground Slang.
The website? Online Dictionary of Playground Slang.

Not for anybody subject to junior high flashbacks.


Like a Virus:

It's been going around.

Top 5 things wrong in my field of vision right now ::
-calendar page still on November
-paint chips, scratches on the wall
-most of a page of Halloween stickers stuck to my pants
-torn book jacket on the collected works of Rudyard Kipling
-a sippy cup of milk drunk down to the point where you can see the last ounce of milk, but you can't drink it. Who the @#$% designed these things?

Name four things you wished you had ::
-a good contract to write novels
-magic kisses to make it all better
-more time for s-e-x (i.e., the bebe sleeps earlier?)
-a longer attention span

Name four smells you love ::
-lavender, lavender, lavender! esp. on boys.
-garlic sauteed in butter, as a prelude to other items also sizzling away

Name four things you are thinking about:
-how am I going to mail that @#$^ing book?
-does that string theory thing really mean there's a yoyo universe, or did I read into that wrong?
-novel editing
-lovey-dovey thoughts. sort of.

Name four things you did today ::
-made my daughter laugh
-stood up in front of people to get complimented, and blushed
-started picking apart the novel scenes
-snuggled with Lee

Last thing you ::
• Did :: blew on a party favor so loud it made my ears hurt
• Read :: Big, Little by John Crowly. So gooooood...
• Watched on TV :: The PowerPuff Girls

Who do you want to ::
Kill :: Er?
Hear from :: Mur
Look like :: someone with a better haircut. I hate getting my hair cut.
Be like :: myself, with a purple hat

Last time ::
Last song you heard :: David Bowie, The Wedding Song
Last movie you saw :: Austin Powers
Last movie you saw on the big screen :: The Matrix Revolutions
Last thing you had to drink :: water
Last thing you ate :: tortellini with creamy tomato sauce
Last time you cried :: over a printer at the end of a bad day
Last time you smiled :: just now
Last time you laughed :: just now
Last time you danced :: just now!
Last person you hugged ::Ray
Last thing you said :: Wooo! WooooooOOOOoooooo!
Last person you talked to online :: er, don't
Last thing you smelled ::baby shampoo
Last car ride ::home again, home again, jiggety jig!
Last CD played :: David Bowie, Black Tie White Noise
Last item bought :: chocolate covered cherries with clear filling

Albums playing on the regular right now ::
Bjork, Homogenic
Cool World soundtrack
Until the End of the World soundtrack
Disturbed, Believe
Static X, Shadow Zone
NIN, Fragile

The Chronicles of Riddick

Not a trailer...a teaser?

Strange. Looks like a sci-fi end of the world thing. Neaaaaat.

Via Xkot
Bork! Bork! Bork!

Via ***Dave:

chef jpeg
You are the the Swedish Chef.
You are a talented individual, nobody understands
you. Perhaps it's because you talk funny.

"Brk! Brk! Brk!"
Kokin' der yummee-yummers

"Wild Strawberries...and Creme"

"Der Swedish Chef Kokin' Bokin'"

"Vergoofin der flicke stoobin mit der brk-brk

What Muppet are you?
brought to you by Quizilla



Mental survival due to Lee, Ray, hot chocolate, and loud music over the headphones at work.


Word Count.

Finally finished typing in the last pages of the book.

Final count for first draft is 483 pages, with a true word-count of 93,641 words and an estimated word count (manuscript-formatted pages * 250) of 120,750 words.

And so, so much work to do.


Book Review. Watching My Language, by William Safire.

William Safire writes a column for the New York Times on language. This is a collection of them.

The main thing that I'm taking away from this book is the idea that grammar isn't fixed, constant, or even consistent from expert to expert. Yes, it's possible to be picky about your grammar, but once you get so deep into it, you start finding inconsistencies, arguements, etc.

For example, what is "fall over" as in "The tree fell over"? Over isn't a preposition; the tree didn't fall over anything. The column on the subject rambled on for about a thousand words; following were about six thousand words of readers' letters. None of them agreed on what it was.

--Another funny-odd thing: He could give citations for "the Beltway crowd," tracing what year it had first been used, when it started moving into (more) common usage, and so on, but he didn't know what "in the moment" meant--Alan Alda had to write in to tell him what it meant and assure him that it was a common phrase used in California.

Anyway. Good book. He's a good, entertaining writer. He prints readers' letters, so you can see 1) just how wrong he is, and 2) just how easy it is to mistake error for opinon.
I killed my bonsai tree.

Not on purpose.

Maybe that's all that needs to be said.


Zen and Sex.

You may want to skip this post.

I've been reading a zen book to de-stress; more on that later.

Some thoughts:

The author talks about light and darkness. Light is a metaphor for the things we see with our intellect--the example he uses is a meal. We prepare separate dishes with separate techniques. Salad. Soup. Entree. That's light. Darkness is a metaphor for the source of all things. He explains this as the fact that food isn't food until we eat it, mix up all the separate ingredients and dishes into proteins, etc. That's darkness.

It's important to see the light in the darkness and the darkness in the light, because they aren't separate. They're parts of the same thing. It's important to understand things intellectually as well as beyond or before intellect.

So. It's important to see your lover as a separate person, but your lover is also you (and you are him). There are the techniques of sex, and then there is Sex.


The Court Jester.

"Those who try to tangle with my derring-do, wind up at the angle that herring do. They hold their heads like very dead herring do."

I love that movie.

PBS Saturday and Sunday afternoons, spent watching black and white movies. The Court Jester. Ivanhoe.

And we knew when pledge week was on, because Anne of Green Gables would play. And Sherlock Holmes would be on Mystery! For some reason, we never really got into any of the other episodes...

Oh! We'd watch Dr. Who on Saturdays, right before church. We couldn't leave until we'd finished, and then we'd rush screaming out the door...
O Mi-Mi Tee!

We put up our little Christmas tree on Friday. I love Target. In a world of ritzy glass tree ornaments, they had shiny, tinted, plastic snowflakes and ball ornaments on sale, so we could decorate the tree together and leave it where Ray could touch it and not get yelled at (too much).

We had some discussion about not putting the lights in our mouths, but after the tears dried on that one, it's been a pretty good deal. Ray's even practicing her colors. "Pink" still comes out as either "green" or "pig oink-oink," but she's working on it.



Don't take a nap just before sunset, no matter how full and lazy you are. You'll be so disoriented when you wake up.

Bleah. And your mouth tastes funny.

I know a good cure for nap-overs, though.


You don't know nap-overs? Rachael and I know nap-overs. There are times when we wake up from naps and just whine at each other. Until you get some chocolate in the system, life is no good.



Not a major epiphany. Not enlightenment.

But a victory!

Making dense cheesecase, you don't really need a full crust to hold everything together--you just need some way of easing the thing out of the pan.

So: Brush the pan with melted butter. Scatter graham cracker crumbs on the butter, about 3-4 Tbs. or so, and shake loose anything that doesn't stick.

Pour in your cheesecake batter, bake as normal.

You can barely tell the crumbs are there. Tra la! No more sticky cheesecake!


Book Reviews. Summer of the Dragon, Elizabeth Peters, Monstrous Regiment, Terry Pratchett

Elizabeth Peters is a mystery writer. She writes "perfect" novels--beginning, middle, end, all items neatly resolved at the end of the last page. The world extends just as far as the front and back covers.

So, as far as it went, Summer of the Dragon was good. Perfection isn't bad.

Oy, give me Agatha Christie, who tucks in little things that you may or may not notice, let alone figure out. Give me Sherlock Holmes. Even give me Janet Evanovich, almost as perfect, but not quite.

Maybe I was just annoyed because the main character's first name was Deanna, and she hated it so much she went by DJ. Thbbbbt.


After I put down Monstrous Regiment, I didn't care for it. I'd though it was about one thing (sexism), and the ending seemed cheesy because of it. Then I though about it. It isn't about sexism; it's about doing what you're going to do. Sexism was just a vehicle for it. I'm rereading it, and I like it much, much better now.

Knowing the ending makes each line echo. Bittersweet.


Ray's first complete sentence.

I want chocolate!

The first draft of The Gods of Grey Hill is done.

Done! Done! I tell you, Done!

Now I have 67 pages to type in :)


I feel sad. I went to a coffee shop to drink chai and write the last few pages and I cried on the way home.

It's done. It was wonderful to write, to really live there, and now it's done.


Ray Updates.

Damn. She's getting so tall.

We have good days and bad days, which seem to follow a correlation with my patience level. What's the word? Heterodyne?

Yeah, that's the word.

We're definitely already two women living in the same house, which means, yes, that we have to hold hands going to the bathroom (which never made sense before, but there you go). And other things. If you've ever lived in a house with more than one female, you know what I mean.

Insight of the millenium: destructive tendencies can be a way of expressing intelligence, curiosity. Guided destruction (i.e., experimenting) is one of the most useful ways to entertain a toddler.

Insight of the next five minutes: food coloring, used in moderation, can repair many problem days.

Insight of the next five minutes after that: it's good to wash the grapes. After you wash the grapes, it's good to squash the grapes.

I tried to take her for a haircut on Sunday. The first place didn't open until eleven (we were there at ten thirty--I figured that anything that was going to be open on a Sunday would be open by then, but no) and the second place was being remodled. I took it as a sign and took her to the zoo instead. Nobody commented on the fact that she has to tilt her head up to see anything over two feet off the ground.

Oh, well.
Neener neener neener.

I found the perfect Christmas present for my folks and siblings.

And I'm not going to tell them what it is!
Thank you.

Lee's mom (in South Dakota) sent me a jar of chokecherry jelly.

Thank you.

I haven't opened it yet; I swore to myself I'd finish the open jar of jelly in the fridge (blackberry) before I did. Sure enough, every time I look at it, I think, "I could be having chokecherry jelly instead."

Yeah. It's still in there.
Working. Almost done with Saturday. Scary.

As it turns out, things fit together better than I would have predicted. Do you know how scary that is? The story put itself together out of random items that I didn't originally include in the plot, but suggested themselves.

It's like watching a movie in someone else's mind.

Well, maybe I've overstresed the terror factor. I'm pleased with the way it's going; don't get me wrong.

End of the month. End of the month.
Cracked me up.

Now, maybe this is just too obscure, but I thought it ought to be immortalized in more than one place:

Quote from Randy Timmer, in a comment of ***Dave's blog (you'll just have to read the full entry to get the context):

"If you sign up to be the main attraction in a geek show you deserve whatever happens to you."


Lee Quote:

"Sometimes you you have to switch the gerbil over to decaf."

--On having waaaaay too many 'brilliant' ideas.


Clone Wars. The Clone Wars Micro-Series is online at Cartoon Network here.

Psycho-logical test.

My brother Matt sent me this:

This is an authentic psychological test:

It is a story about a girl--While at the funeral of her mother, she met a
man whom she did not know. She thought he was amazing, her dream guy, and
she fell in love with him but never asked for his number and could not find
him after the funeral. A few days later the girl killed her sister.

Question: What is her motive in killing her sister?

(To be continued in comments.)



Taking showers is supposed to be good for having ideas because, according to whatever source Doyce heard it from, ios are released into the air, exciting your brain.

Neat idea, but sleeping in always works better for me...I lay in bed (I'm always the first one up) and wait for everyone else to wake up...things come to me then. Showers are for things that you forgot to do the other day, or last-minute inspirations. Sleeping in is for longer things.
Spirited Away.

Lee dug this out the other day for Ray.

The first time she watched it, he said, he kept having to rescue her. Yubaba would come on, or Haku would get hurt, and that would be it.

But she kept insisting on watching it.

She sat snuggled in my arms the whole time a couple of days ago, and we sang to the song at the end while she "played" the lyre on my arm.
...has been survived.

I managed to get all the errands done in the afternoon with time still for Ray and me to take a shower. It's difficult to convince her to get out of there before the water turns cold, but I did it. And even then there was time to do some yoga, so I didn't kill anyone or end up spraining something while dragging Ray around.

We waited. And waited.

The other little girl didn't show up. Phone constantly busy--ah, dialup.

Six thirty. I put a dish of candy outside the front door, buttoned Ray up, and heard voices outside the door. Kids. Big ones, about fifteen-sixteen. As I opened the door, one of them was stuffing the dish--the entire dish--into a bag large enough to hold an adult body of average height and weight.

"She's standing right here," one of the other said. "You better put that back."

F------ kids. I bet these are the same ones that keep knocking the rocks off the retaining wall.

Anyway, left another bowlful of candy outside the door, got out of the house, vroom vroom, and drove down the road to the mall.

By the time we got there, most of the candy was gone.

No, this was a good thing. Even though they were finishing up, we still had to wait a couple of minutes just to walk around a corner. So many kids! Ray didn't take trick or treating well until I convinced her that the plastic pumpkin filled with candy was hers, and she could put the candy into it instead of holding it all in one sweaty little fist and staring painfully at people when they offered her candy, because she'd run out of hands. She even let me hold the candy while she talked to Scooby Doo.

Nobody else had such a cute little elephant. A zombie dressed in blood, wig, bustier, transparant skirt, and g-string, pushing a stroller with a baby dressed as a duck, gushed: Oh izzu a ne'ffant den?

We wandered the mall and everyone else went to happier hunting grounds, places with more candy and fewer trick or treaters. It was fun. I don't know when the transition was made, but Ray's more fun to take windowshopping now. I don't know...she seems to understand that we're just looking at stuff, possibly poking it or cooing at it here and there. I don't have to carry her the whole way, and she'll hold my hand whenever there are just too many people.

We left about eight thirty, came home, rescued the empty candy bowl (which had not been stolen), listened to phone messages: the weather outside town had been so bad that the other girl's mom had turned around halfway out, stopped at the store for candy, and had gone home. As it turns out, the age of two may be the last time before post-adolescence that it's possible to do this without a screaming fit. --Well, you're at risk for screaming fits at any moment with a two year-old, but there you go.

We picked up Lee from work early, but Ray fell asleep in the car, so I lay her down, still dressed in her elephant suit (but without the hat, so no ears or trunk). Zonkzilla, as Lee likes to say.

And that was Halloween.


I remember my father driving us around in a blizzard to go trick or treating out in the country one year. At best, we'd hit about nine or ten places: I think we made it three that year, and shouldn't have gone to any, but dad was too stubborn to take us back before then (or unwilling to face the consequences of two kids with loooooong faces).

Lee laughs when I tell him about it, and says, "I always knew I liked your dad. He knows his priorities."


Chapter Four. Done with "Friday." I don't know what the page count is; I have to type it all in.

Woo Hoo!

Just Saturday left, with a little finishing up for Sunday.

And I don't mean this weekend :)

Pages typed in, at 413, 80,220 words. Phew.


A Good Day to Think.

Today is a good day to think. There are days when you follow time through one thing to the next, days when you let go of time, and days when you just worry.

Too bad I have nothing that needs thinking about.

Only ideas to play with.

So the other thing that went wrong last weekend was the sewer.

As it turns out, it wasn't just the mass of toilet paper, it was the tree roots.

All better now.



The Tattoo Murder Case, by Akimitsu Takagi
Lost in a Good Book, by Jasper Fforde
The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody, by Will Cuppy

The Tattoo Murder Case is a...murder mystery novel, of all things, which I suppose you never would have guessed based on the title.

Seeing as my basis for comparison in reading mysteries is much smaller than fantasy or SF, here's all I can come up with:

  • Not as clever as Agatha Christie.
  • A locked-room mystery where the locked-room aspect was downplayed, even mocked.
  • Prose (admittedly in translation) inelegant and unappealing, but functional and readable.
  • Compared in the reviews to John Dickson Carr, whom I haven't read.

I figured out something, though. I don't like mysteries that I can figure out before the denoument. There were a lot of details that I'd missed, but the central twist I had even before the murder occurred. I've talked to people that like to read a lot of mysteries, and most of them sound happy that they were able to figure out such-and-such by the end of the first chapter. Is that analagous to being the kind of SF reader that spends the entire time bitching about how explosions can't be heard in space? Which always struck me as being a waste of time, too. Oh, well. I spend the first chapter of a fantasy novel figuring out which country or myth the main country was based on. "Oh," I'll tell myself with smug satisfaction. "That's supposed to be France."

Lost in a Good Book is a good book for people that like to read. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's metafiction, but it takes some of the elements therefrom and turns them into insider jokes. No...this is more of a cross between Alice in Wonderland and the farce (dramatically) that was made out of the partial novel of The Mystery of Edwin Drooooooooooooo-duh. For example, two of the guys that are assigned to tail the main character early on in the book are called "Cannon" and "Fodder." They die, of course. One of the main villains is called "Jack Schitt."

The premise is that our Heroine, Thursday Next, is able to move into and out of books. That's right--in the first book of this series, The Eyre Affair, Thursday is transported into the original copy of Jane Eyre and changes the ending from the lame-ass "Jane goes off to South America"* and gets her married to Rochester. All other copies of the book change to reflect the new ending.

I'm not going to give away any more of the plot; it's too funny and I'd be here all night. Elements of note: Mycroft Next, Thursday's mad-scientist uncle invents Nextian geometry, which allows circular scones to be punched out of dough without any scraps left over; a Kafka-esque trial that makes fun of Kafka, Alice in Wonderland, and existing legal systems with one fell swoop; and nevermind, just read the book.

The Decline and Fall is really only summed up one way, by quotes.

On Alexander the Great:
"Alexander's empire fell to pieces at once, and nothing remained of his work except that the people he had killed were still dead."

On Attila the Hun:
"Attila the Hun was an awful pest, but there are plenty of others. You mustn't blame him for all your troubles, because most of them are your own fault, and the sooner you realize it the better.1

1Attila's name does not rhyme with vanilla, as it used to in my day. It is now believed that, if children can be taught to accent Attila on the first syllable, things may take a turn for the better."

On Louis XIV:
"Things went from bad to worse until just anybody could defeat the French."

On Catherine the Great:
"...but in 1754 Catherine had a baby boy who looked a lot like Sergei Saltykov, a young man with whom Catherine often discussed current events. Some historians thing Peter may have been the father because the child grea up to resemble him in character and general uselessness."

I have another book by Will Cuppy from the library that I haven't read yet, How to Be a Hermit.

"Coffee! With the first nip of the godlike brew I decide not to jump off the roof until things get worse--I'll give them another week or so. With the second I think I see a way of meeting my monthly insurance premium, and I simultaneously forgive the person I heard saying I was not half as funny as I thought I was."

--I can see Dave Barry and Terry Pratchett in here. Especially in the footnotes.

*Or wherever. I'm not going to look it up at this moment. Muahahahah!
Ray's Birthday:

Her actual birthday was on Friday. Lee worked until after bedtime.

We were going to go to the Boo at the Zoo, at the Cheyenne Moutain Zoo, last night but:

  • I dropped the e'fant head back at the house on the way out the door.
  • Military types turned us back at the pass.
  • By the time we reached the shuttle bus, it was 7:30 (and the event finishes up at 8:30).
  • We arrived at the Sears parking lot at the Boadmoor Town Centre, only to find a line of hundreds of people waiting for the frikkin' shuttle bus. Hundreds.

Crap, man.

I still have the tickets, and I'm going to try taking Ray again later, but trying to get everyone in and out and up and down in under an hour wasn't going to happen.

Today we're having cake and little squealing girls with party noisemakers.

That's the good news. The bad news, well, will be left for another day.



We went out to "Pirates of the Carribean" finally last night.

You know what I'm thinking?

Will Turner's dad has been rotting away as a living skeleton at the bottom of the ocean for years now, and suddenly he's just been crushed to death.

--The pirates sent him to the bottom of Davy Jones's locker with a weight attached to his bootstraps.
--He had to have taken one of the gold pieces, in order to pass it to his son.
--His blood was necessary to release the curse.
--Thus he was one of the undead.



Weekend. Lee's taking this weekend off; we're going to celebrate our fifth anniversary (actually Sept 26) by dropping off Ray at a friends' house and taking the night off tomorrow.

Leave a message...not that you don't always have to leave a message, come to think of it.
Harlan Ellison on Schwartzenegger's Election:

To all the other 49 states — with the exception of Minnesota, whose election of a mountebank transcends even ours — the coronation of Ahnuld seems phantasmagoric. But not to us. We've done it at least twice before: George Murphy to the Senate, and Reagan to the White House. So, been there, seen that, done that. I thought, early on, that it was a great slate with Gary Coleman and Schwarzenegger both running: remember in MAD MAX: BEYOND THUNDERDOME, the behemoth called "Master Blaster" — this seven-foot-tall brain-damaged, muscle-bound giant, with the midget strapped to his shoulders? Wow, what a terrific Governor we'd have if we just cranked Gary Coleman down onto Ahnuld's shoulders!! As long as nobody blew a high-pitched dog whistle, we'd be in sweet milk an' honey. So what do I actually think about all this foofaraw? To quote Thomas Jefferson, who was rewording le Comte de Maistre: "People get pretty much the kind of government they deserve."

(via ***Dave)

See what I mean?
Hm... Lee reports that comments are saving, but no number is appearing for them. And I just though I wasn't getting any...

I don't know how to fix it, but I'll see what I can find out.


Must have said something amiss.

From "Bob Marley" :

[The following concludes an email of 250 words or so.]

"For the most part, I'm usually against this sort of thing, going with a
"well, whatever suits you" approach, but for some reason your utter crap has
rubbed me the wrong way and I just had to share my dissatisfaction of you,
with you. I don't suppose that any of this really matters, though, since
I'll never be reading any of this shit you post again, but maybe you'll do
others a favor and stop writing altogether. I know you would have saved me a
lot of time if you had never started at all."

He also states that the stuff of mine he's read is annoying, seemingly "tripe-ish" and that I insist that "whatever you say must simply be so, just becuase *you* say it is."

Admittedly, I'm a pompous ass at times, both in person and on paper, but I wonder what it was that made him bother with writing to me at all if he didn't care for it. Or spending any amount of time reading anything I'd written, for that matter!


Since this guy won't be reading anything I have to post, I'll just leave a comment for future reference: specific examples of my tripe, shit, crap, etc., are requested. This is called "constructive criticism," although it isn't necessary to give suggestions for improvement.

Aha. I've figured out the professional way to handle this unless you're Harlan Ellison:
"Your comments have been received and noted. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy what you read. Better luck next time." If you're Harlan Ellison, people will pay you to rip into the guy, so have fun.


Laywoman's Physics. Here's me rambling. Don't expect a) math or b) accuracy. Just jazzing around.

Question: If the second law of thermodynamics means that entropy (not chaos) will increase, balancing an ordered state against an entropic state, what is life?

Growing a cell is not a purely ordered process. We can't guarantee what we're going to get when a cell grows. All sorts of things can happen in between DNA and expression. DNA can be ordered, but it's influenced by chaos (non-linear order) as well as entropy. On a larger scale, we can't predict, given sexual reproduction, which gametes will develop. Will baby have grandma's eyes? Or uncle's temper?

So. It's not pure order. And life, since it's able to make order, isn't pure entropy.

Just reading A Brief History of Time, and I'm wondering about this because Stephen Hawking notes that if you remember all the information in the book, you've increased the order in the universe by about two millions units of information, but you would have consumed about twenty million million million million units of energy while doing it. But what about all the other order that's created when we live?

Heh. And if you write a book, and enough people read it to pay off your energy-debt, are you ahead of the game?


"The poor astronaut who falls into a black hole will still come to a sticky end; only if he lived in imaginary time would encounter no singularities."

Stephen Hawking

I could use that for a quote at the beginning of the novel. Dude.



We got Ray a Halloween costume last night--an elephant.

Heh. Ray's watching Scooby-Doo.

I walked into the kitchen and heard: "Jinkies!"



I realized that as complicated as the setup of the novel is, someone else has pulled something like it off before: The Neverending Story.

The Empress is dying, and unless something is done, existence will stop.

--That's not the focus of the story, but I think it'll help me feeling so lost when it comes to thinking, "How the hell am I going to explain this so it makes sense?"



You know what I want? Chokecherry jelly. Dark and tannic and sweet, like a wine that speaks of the open prairie, the hot sun, the shade of the elm trees under which the brambles grow, instead of some stupid vinyard in California.


I wonder what this portends.

My horoscope for the week, via Rob Brezney in the Indy:


During my recent visit to the Burning Man festival, I faced a dicey dilemma: what to do with my eyes as I talked with the many women who wore no clothes above the waist? At first I steadfastly kept my gaze from dipping below their necks. Then I decided that was silly; if they were strongly opposed to me looking at their breasts, they wouldn't be naked. On the other hand, I didn't want to be sneaky, stealing furtive glances when they were momentarily distracted. Ultimately, I asked each woman for permission to indulge in a brief ogle. That way we could get the issue out of the way and conduct our conversations in peace. They all thought this was a sensible approach. I hope this tale will inspire you, Taurus, to deal expeditiously with the 900-pound gorilla in the corner of your world.

Love. Today is our five-year anniversary.

Pretty amazing. Of course, we joked:

"What's five years?"


"Heh. I got your wood."

"I would if I could."

"I wonder why we don't get enough wood."

We both looked at Ray. She grinned.
Excellent. There's a good story online at The Third Alternative by Martin Simpson:

Last Rites and Resurrections.

Brief, maybe five minutes' reading time.



Do not click here. Especially if you're a guy.


Okay. You may not see much here for a while; I'm going to be working on putting together a website of my dang-fangled programming own. So any advice is welcome....

It won't be pretty. I think I can promise that much.

But at least it won't be on Blogger.


No news is good news, right?

Sorry. I haven't been gone, just...well. You know.

I'm finally feeling better about Jonathan. I still tear up whenever I let my self think about him, but I'm balancing out the feeling that the world has changed into something I don't like anymore. I don't sit and dwell.

I finally said to myself, "Only you can have a crappy day."

So. Enjoy the people I love, keep on writing, let go of the suffering. I went so far as to read a Zen book called Sweeping Changes. About sweeping. It helped.

I've been writing love-notes to Lee and playing with Ray in the park, and spending less time worrying about all the things I don't get done.

Novel: page 330. Lee's birthday: was September first. Spring cleaning: finally complete. Calandars: Still on August. Tomorrow's the 911 anniversary. I made chicken salad for the first time today. I made it deviled-style, because the chicken had been grilled, and I didn't want to overwhelm a delicate mayonnaise with char.

Good Dijon Mustard (Don't get me started about mustard. I get embarrassed about it long after I should have shut up.)
Cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Worchestershire sauce

Serve on rye with slices of red onion and sharp cheddar.


I also got a fondue cookbook, since Lee bought a fondue pot. Hmmm de hmmmmmmmmmmmm, hm hmmmm de hmmmmm. First, you have to pick a recipe.

Crap, man.


Dag Nabbit.

First, it rained and fogged all weekend. I had been planning to take Ray to the Balloon Classic, which runs for three days over Labor Day weekend in the Springs.

Nope. For the first time in twenty-seven years, no balloons made it up.

Second, Dale was going to come out next weekend before he schlepped it off to the Army, but no dice.


Via ***Dave.

From an online test by Nestle's of all people:

Your fantasy man is a Rebel with a Cause
You just can’t help it. Bad boys just get your heart pounding. Maybe it’s because you know deep down your fantasy man isn’t trying to be bad, he’s just trying to express himself in his own way. For him, some rules were meant to be broken, and that’s exactly what makes him so darn sexy. He walks on the wild side of life, calling his own shots and stirring up trouble as he cruises down the highway of life. Since inhibitions are not in his vocabulary, he knows how to let loose and throw caution to the wind.

Whether he fully fits the image of Harley, tattoos, and leather jacket, or he creates his own image, he’s the poster boy for cool and confident — possibly even cocky. He may not be the kind of guy you bring home to Mom, but he is the type of guy who’ll show you a good time and help you let your hair down. That’s exactly what fantasies are for. And in this fantasy, it’s a rebel who gets your motor running.

--You know what I thought the first time I saw Lee? "There's trouble."



Whenever I've been getting frustrated at the world lately, just dwelling on it and digging in to it, I've been thinking, "Is this more important than Lee? Is it more important than Ray?"

Obviously not.
Balloons. Wow. This week has flown by.

This morning, going out to do laundry while Lee slept, Ray and I saw balloons.

Of course we had to follow them. We managed to get right underneath them, pull over, and wave at them. I waved. Ray said, "Badoo! Badoo!" over and over. We picked the little sunflowers that grow on the side of the road, and did laundry later.


How it went.

We're back from the memorial, and my parents have gone home.


Every summer, my family would go out to the Black Hills to visit two sets of cousins, one set from each side of the family. They both had kids around our ages. The Knippling side was my Uncle Howard and Aunt Claire, with five kids. The Bouzek side was my Uncle Dan and Aunt Margaret.

Jonathan was one of the Bouzek kids. He was the same age (a little younger, eighteen months or so) as my younger brother Matt. (The cousin my age, Heather, and I were the Evil Older Sisters, and there's another one, Jennifer, that's quite a bit younger.) Most of my memories of him involve someone getting in trouble. More on that later.

As he grew up, he got lost. He started doing drugs, went to jail for a year for it, and decided to clean up. He went back to college, but it didn't work out--trying to make too many other people happy, I guess. All in all, he finally put his life back together about two years ago. He was engaged to be married this fall. He had a job. He taught Sunday school.

From what anybody can tell, his doctor proscribed a powerful narcotic for back pain. Jon ended up having to get back in contact with one of his old suppliers for a resume situation, and got some heroin from him. He went back to his parents' house with his dad and his fiancee, his dad left to drop of the fiancee, and when he got back, Jon was dead. His mother was at an Episcopalian convention at the time.

On Monday, they had him creamated and his ashes scattered over Pyramid Lake. He didn't want a funeral, thought it was dumb to have people standing around and crying over someone that wasn't there. He'd had a talk with his dad a while ago and had said, "When I go, I'm going to be sitting with Jesus in Heaven, drinking a beer. I think I'll like him."

We got together in Rapid City for the memorial. In the afternoon, my family went to Storybook Island. I can't tell you how many times we'd been there as kids. (If you don't know, it's a free park, filled with slides and kids' rides based on fairytales and Mother Goose rhymes. And this unholy statue of Barney. Wonderful, even though they don't have the petting zoo any more. They still have the castle front entrance, and free plays that run through the summer season.)

We took Ray; it was the first time she'd been inside.

I could see Jon everywhere.

That evening, we had the gathering at Canyon Lake. I don't know if Jon had ever seen it; it's just been rebuilt. It's gorgeous.

There's an island in the middle of the lake with a gazebo on it and a bridge leading out. From the island is a long curl of rock and dirt packed with gravel. There are duck turds all over it, dead fish and fishing line, little crawly things in the cracks of the rocks. It's just about the only place on the lake that isn't immaculately cared for.

I could just see Jon and Matt out there, with sticks, poking at everything, coming back with mud up to their armpits.

Mom led the gathering, did a great job. "The thing about Jon was that he had this twinkle in his eye. Whenever he got an idea, whenever he was up to something, you'd see his eyes light up. The last time I saw him was when I picked him up from the airport to drop him off at college. I wasn't sure I'd recognize him, because I hadn't seen him for a while. But when I saw him, he got that look in his eyes, and I knew it was him. Of course, he was over six feet tall then."

They played the "I will survive" song by the Grateful Dead (I don't know the actual title, if that isn't it); it was one of his favorite songs.


The plan.

Last week, my cousin Jonathan died. I'll talk about it later; I can't do it now.

The itinerary:
Monday: leave after Lee gets back from work, drive to Rapid City, SD.
Tuesday: arrive early in the morning, sleep. Memorial gathering.
Wednesday: leave at some point, return to Colo. Spgs. My folks will either follow us back on Wed or Thurs.
Saturday: folks heading back to SD, at what point I do not know.

More when we get back, esp. for the Nobilis folks.


Those D--- Friesian Horses!

cheval-de-frise (shuh-VAL duh FREEZ) noun
plural chevaux-de-frise (shuh-VOH duh FREEZ)

1. An obstacle, typically made of wood, covered with barbed wire
or spikes, used to block the advancing enemy.

2. A line of nails, spikes, or broken glass set on top of a wall
or railing to deter intruders.

[From French, literally horse of Friesland, so named because it was first
used by Frisians who lacked cavalry.]

"Fold back the leaves of an artichoke and you discover ... more artichoke
leaves, at least until you come to the succulent, secret heart hidden
beneath a chevaux-de-frise of thistle-like bristle."
David Nelson; Gastronomic Adventure Unfolds Like an Artichoke;
The Los Angeles Times; Jun 21, 1991.

"On the land side, outside the battlements, are acres of chevaux-de-frise:
sharp rock slabs set vertically into the ground, making it virtually
impossible for a person to pass, let alone a horse."
Denise Fainberg; On Foot In Inishmore; The New York Times; Aug 1, 1999.

--From A.Word.A.Day

Is this what those rows of spikes in parking lots that puncture your tires if you're going the wrong way are called, too?



We finished up the first section of the game last night. Many thanks to Doyce, Jackie, and especially Justin, who's been watching Ray and Kitten (the other little girl)--we couldn't have done it without him, and them.

And thanks also to a great group of players. I don't think I've ever rolled my eyes this much in my entire life...no, they're not tards. Just punsters.

I'm not sure where things are going from here, either on a practical or storytelling level, so I just had to get that out.

Creativity. I've been packing in too many things lately.

Funny, how that stifles creativity. So the better part of this week, I've been crossing things off the to-do list with glee. Haven't written, just brainstorming plot for the next big section that's coming up--and doing most of that subconsciously.

It's been a week of vivid action dreams, the kind that last a couple of hours in between the slaps to the snooze alarm. And last night I had more fun gaming than I've had in about a month--a font of ideas and witty sayings.


Creativity: taking what you've learned and turning it into something else. This takes more time than you'd think, more empty time. --I've gone the other way, too, losing creativity because of too much empty time, but I hadn't realized there was this balance. The best creativity isn't for yourself, or isn't solely for yourself, but shared. You can do anything creatively--like zen with sparkle, mindfully done.

You know, I think I got tired of logical sentences somewhere in the middle of this post :)
Car. Nope. I didn't mention it. We donated the old car to Big Brothers/Sisters a couple of weeks ago. They're to send us a receipt, but haven't yet, and haven't contacted us. Time to start bothering the overburdened, I guess.



Synopsis of a good book, titled Revision, by David Michael Kaplan.

The steps of revision:

  • Revise before you write: make guesstimates of your plot, find out what it is that's valuable, and try to find ways to revise your ideas of plot based on where you think you're going to go. I.e., don't just start writing with your first idea.

  • Revise while writing your first draft: first drafts don't have to be in any particular order (unless you're posting as you write). Think of a scene you missed? Write it, add notes as to where it should go, move on. Can't figure out how to write a scene? Skip it. Make whatever notes you think you'll need and go on. Don't feel guilty about it. Change your mind about adding or removing a character, etc.? Just do it, and don't worry about how you're going to add or remove the character--just write as if it had always been done. Don't back up and rewrite. Revising means changing your vision of the story. Rewriting means a waste of time during the first draft.

Now you've written your first draft.

  • Revise for meaning: decide what it is that your story's about. Is it about love? Is it about fathers? Is it about aliens with cucumbers being driven into the universe by their cruel masters? The first thing you should do is decide what's important.

  • Revise for a weak opening: Delayed openings, overly detailed/repetitious openings, unnecessary history/background openings, and unnecessary flashbacks.

  • Cut what's not essential: philosophic ramble, repetitions, tangents, useless amplifications, dreams, stagey dialogue (the kind where the dialogue tells you an unnatural amount of backstory), unnecessary characters and events.

  • Add what's essential. Something's missing when: characters don't talk or talk indirectly, characters don't do anything, ghost characters (characters not described), scenes in limbo (scenes not described), characters without thoughts, missing crucial scenes (or crucial scenes described indirectly), "tell" scenes that need to be "show" scenes, full scenes used for things that could be done as transition or bridge scenes.

  • Rearranging plot: check for scenes that are chronologically out of order, psychologically out of order (make sure the character really would feel A before doing B), dramatically out of order (generally moving the most important items to the end of the series to build tension), putting complex dramatic shifts into a clear order, elements that are out of order in terms of meaning (an old flame that appears when a couple is having doubts, rather than an old flame that appears after everything is resolved).

  • Revising endings: Make your endings "unexpected, but believable." Don't use message endings, deus ex machina endings, trick endings, smoky (unresolved) endings, confusing endings, or unearned endings.

Finally, save the prose for last.


Book of Shadows.

I'm doing some more research for the book, which has hit a bit of the doldrums due to me not knowing how I'm going to pull off what I'm doing next.

So...more witchcraft books. One on Celtic Faery magic, "Elemental Power," by Amber Wolf, and "Witch Crafting," by Phillis Curott. Per the advice at the front of the Curott book, I've started a Book of Shadows, a place to collect spells, cosmologies, etc.

I have mixed feelings.

Pagans lately have been cheesing me off. As it turns out, they're as hypocritical as everyone else; turns out that such is a human trait belonging to no particular dogma. (Hint: If you can do anything thou wilt, don't whine about all the things you can't do. Cast a f@#$%^&* spell and get over it, okay?) There are things in the religion that I can't relate to, for instance, all the ritual. On the other hand, there are things I can relate to, like casting spells. I always believed in magic as a kid, and even as an adult I've done a few, after my own fashion. Some worked, some didn't, and the success rate seemed relative to focus and desire rather than chance. Not the kind of thing where you make pencils levitate or summon demons, but the kind where you affect your life in a positive way.

If I were Christian, I'd say that I prayed. There are similarities.

Anyway, the act of writing things down helps put them into my long-term memory (from a certain perspective you can say that, anyway). I'm still skeptical...not so much as to the practicality of magic per se (except on the levitating pencil level) as the necessity of all the setting-up exercises. Okay. It's symbolic. It's poetic. But if you have the focus and desire, you have it, and if you don't, a sprig of mistletoe isn't going to give it to you, and maybe you shouldn't be doing it.

More wonder.

We caught dust mites this morning.
Harmonica. The harmonica has seen much use as of late. Brenna (Ray's bestest friend) came over, and Ray taught her how to play. They sat on the kitchen floor. Ray played the harmonica for a couple of minutes, then held it out to Brenna. Brenna picked it up and inspected it. Ray enouraged her: "Too! Too! Too!" she said. Brenna played the harmonica. Ray got up and ran around her in circles.

That was yesterday. This morning, I found a recorder at a garage sale.

This, too, is a good thing.



I played flute for Ray yesterday. She said, "Wow."

So when I ran across Lee's harmonica, I just pulled it out of the case and gave it to her. When I asked him it that was all right, he said, "What's the worst that could happen? It's a thirty-dollar harmonica."
Actual Quote.

Phyllis Curott, author of Witch Crafting, , in an interview:

"As far as being a witch and a lawyer is concerned, I like to joke that the lawyer is the dark side."


Brenna. We got to watch Brenna, Ray's toddler friend, today.

Well, it was during nap time. Ray decided to wig out while Lee and I tried to do yoga, so I ended up holding Ray and providing moral support. Ray cried and cried...finally, Brenna had had enough of the sadness, said, "Where's mommie?" and started crying, too. So I had two bebes weeping in my arms...

They got over it and ran around in circles, squealing.

They played with this Eeyore bubble blower, which Lee got for Ray after an attack of the cutes in the Disney store. Man, but that was adorable, except the part when they ran around trying to catch the bubbles and ran--smack!--into each other. No, wait, that was cute, too.
More potty training. My life doesn't revolve around potty training the way it must seem like it does. I swear.

Yesterday, Ray climbed up on the closed toilet while I ran water for her bath. She'd stripped off her diaper already.

"Day," she said. This could mean any number of things, like "Daddy," or "There."

Then she peed all over the toilet lid.

Before cracking up, I managed to praise her thoroughly and catch it all before it dripped onto the floor.

Am I a good mother, or what?


Potty training update.
I don't think I mentioned this earlier...

We have moved the potty chair into the bathroom.

Ray likes to practice. She'll follow me in, sit down, and pretend to go. This is somewhat embarrassing when she starts making grunting noises, but I get over it. Then I hand her a piece of toilet paper, she wipes herself (over her diaper and clothes if necessary), and puts it in the "big" toilet.

Whew. I finished the first draft of the project today.

FYI: I'll have the game logs up tomorrow or Wednesday.


Project. The thing that's sucking up my brain power this week is a big project for work: voila, give a training session for the QC department on how to give feedback. Coaching.

Step one: What?

Step two: But I suck at coaching. And I know nothing about giving presentations.

Step three: F--- learning experiences, man!

I have no idea what I'm doing. Fortunately, I scheduled myself a first draft a week before the thing is due, so I have time to contact one of the corporate trainers that I've put together training materials with (aha! you say...you do so have some tiny modicrum of experience. I reply: Big dif between writing procedures training materials and giving a soft-skills presentation. Shaddap, you, I'm looking for empathy here, not deductive logic) and get her to go over them with me.

Small group, all of whom I know reasonably well except the new supervisor, who is the type to ask questions for which she is not ready for the answer (but would be in thirty seconds if she just wouldn't f---ing interrupt).

Yeah, all of you trainers out there, laugh. Laugh where I can hear you, and you just earned yourself a session with the baby and a dirty diaper.
The Fourth. My brother-in-law, Mike, came up over the weekend of the fourth. We had Stacy over for a barbecue...I took Ray (by myself, those lazy bastards) to see the fireworks.


Unfortunately, she got bored with the fireworks about five minutes from the finale, and started flirting with a big puppy-dog instead. Fell asleep on the way home, no surprise there...

The fifth Mike and I went up to Denver to the Nobilis game at Doyce's: I hadn't known, but Doyce and Mike had known each other before Doyce and Lee had met. Weird thought. It was kind of funny talking to Mike about the game afterwards. He's never played in a diceless RPG before, so he had sunk so far into the analytical that when I asked what he thought about the people, he said, "Oh, fine," and discussed Nobilis and other possible games based off religion all the way back from Denver. Lee ended up missing the game (apart from a phone-in session) due to some right bastard quitting abruptly and the departing Lead pulling a don't-give-a-shit.

And on Sunday, mostly we just hung out.
Reviews. Princess Mononoke, God Save the Mark/The Hot Rock.

Princess Mononoke. From what I understand, the same director did this and Spirited Away. My apologies to Neil Gaiman, who did the English version of the script (and damn! did he do a good job. Yes, Doyce, it does look like the characters are mouthing the words that Gaiman puts in their mouths), I liked Spirited Away so much better that I was unsatisfied with this.

Don't get me wrong--this is a fine movie.

But you don't look at each and every individual frame and say, "Wooooow."

Donald E. Westlake.

The more of this guy I read, the more I like him. I have to say the Dortmunder novels make me happiest, though. Comedy is truly difficult to pull off, and to pull it off in a mystery/crime novel without getting cheesy is an achievement the likes of which you will probably never appreciate. I do, because I tried to do it...with a little success, but it's still beyond me yet. Ouch, I say, ouch.

God Save the Mark. The main character gets stiffed out of about fifty dollars a week--he is the world's easiest, most trusting mark. His best friend is a cop on the bunko squad...and his uncle is a semi-millionare, and dead. Guess what happens...

The Hot Rock. This is the first Dortmunder novel, which has just been re-released. Yay! The plot summary doesn't give anything away: Dortmunder gets out of jail and ends up with a job to steal an emerald. Six times.

The cool part is seeing Dortmunder wander through the first three capers, do ta do, and then...something clicks: for the first time, Dortmunder gets his panties in a wad and goes for revenge. (If you know Dortmunder, you know revenge makes him leap the gap between brilliance and genius.)

Cool! It's like seeing Batman put on the cape for the first time.

And yeah, I read the latest Harry Potter book, and yeah, I was happy. More than that I need not say.


Tappity tappity tappity. Over 200 pages on the novel. Nyaah.

Not anywhere near done. I'd say this is going to go to about 600 pages or so--not book pages, but standard manuscript format pages. I'm still in the beginning stages of the plot, the part where things get more and more complex, and the stakes increase. The movers and shakers behind the plot have not yet been revealed.

True to form, though: another character just died off.

I doubt she'll stay dead, but there you go.
New Stuff.

So there I was, sitting on the couch with the ones I love watching the cartoon Oswald on the Noggin, when Lee spouts up: "This show is all about trying new things."

Hm...is there more to a cartoon than just fighting evil?


Palmer Park. There's a street that I pass nearly daily, called Palmer Park. Weee-eeell. Until Sunday I did't know that there's also a park called Palmer Park.

I had intended to take Ray to a playground on the corner of Academy and Maizeland, when I noticed a road leading to the north from the turnoff into the park.


It's almost like having a state park in the middle of town...you can't hear, let alone see, traffic. Hiking trails, picnic tables, rocks suitable for jumping on...

Of course, balancing out the day was the time when Ray got carsick on the way back from Woodland Park on Hwy. 24. Ewwww.


Buffy. Just a though on something Doyce said the other day...I'm working my way through the fourth season DVDs. He was talking about how the creator, Joss Whedon, wasn't willing to pull punches, even though it might make people uncomfortable, "make for bad TV."

Now, I haven't felt uncomfortable watching any of the fourth season episodes.

For me, the times that were hard to watch were when Buffy was fighting with her mother. The "Ted" episod--the one where her mom falls for this authoritarian guy that turns out to be a psychotic robot--was the most painful episode I've ever had to watch.

Watching her mom, I kept thinking, "I never want to do this."

Watching the Ted episode, I just wanted to leave...

Update: Okay, I take that back. The last half of the Faith episodes gave me the creeps.

I feel more sympathy for Faith as a character than Lee does.



Ray's talking.

You have to pay very close attention, because she isn't very clear, but it's there. Mixed about forty-sixty with babble.

Also, she's about the most obliging toddler I've met. Any request she understands (that doesn't involve walking away from a cartoon, mind you, but that's almost too much to ask for at this stage), she will happily do.

Unless she's teasing you, in which case she may run around in circles and squeak for a while first.

Ray went over to her friend Brenna's house. Brenna is a month and a half older than Ray and can talk very clearly, in complete sentences. I'm a jealous but supportive mother.

Brenna was playing with a toy broom when Ray decided she wanted the broom. Rather than taking the broom, she picked up a big ball and played with it until Brenna decided she wanted to play with the broom.

Ray dropped the ball. Brenna picked it up, and Ray went straight for the broom.

Brenna played with the ball for a few seconds before realizing she'd been had.

"Mine!" she said.

Brenna's mom, Kirsten, had missed this. "Be nice, Brenna," she said. "You need to share."

I told her what Ray'd done. We laughed.

Ray dropped the broom, and Brenna picked it up. Then Brenna offered to give her back the broom. They dropped everything and chased each other through the halls, squealing happily.

All is well in toddler land.

P.S. I remember my best friend when I was little, a cousin of mine. We'd play and play and play, and then there would be a couple of hours when we hated each other. I don't remember trying to trick her out of stuff (that was for my brother, Matt), but there you go.
Iron Fist, Velvet Glove.


Jewel wrote!

Er? You say.


She started a writing/poetry list called "Darkwaves and Larkwings." Know where I learned to be (somewhat) brave enough to share what I write? Ta daaaaa! She put together a book, an actual book, and I had poetry published in it. You should see it--it's a better edition than I'll hope to be published in for my first novel, let me tell you. And she published a 'zine called iMPS iN THe iNKWeLL, with all kinds of saucy tidbits.

She is, as Lee says, one of the three poets he can stand to read...Bukowski and me, we're the other two, see?



Spirit. I'm thinking about this today because I'm doing the writeup tonight for the Nobilis game at Doyce's tomorrow. If that doesn't make sense, never mind.

I see a lot of things in the terms of their spirits. For one random thing, it summarizes the reason I'd rather live in Colorado Springs than Denver.

It isn't just the natural place itself, although that's part of it. Sure, there are mountains and trees. The weather is just so (and just so without mosquitoes). Sunshine, prairie to the east...all of these things are important. But Tesla lived here. Heinlein lived here. NORAD is here. There are military types and mystical freaks. The contentious Independent. Some good colleges. The battle of local coffeeshops with Starbucks...a million different details. None of the roads go where they're supposed to go.

It's a place here.

--I've done it with people, too. I close my eyes, and I can see them as children. Not necessarily the children they were, bu the children they have inside themselves now. (The child I have inside myself now is happier, for example, than the one I had then.)

Well, it sounds fruity, but there you go. Some of my best writing--the stuff that non-writers remember--comes from translating what I perceive as spirit into something other people can read. The novel comes from that...the image of the prairie as an ocean, and wondering if my parents, out working the fields while I'd been left with my little brother in the back of a pickup truck with a stack of books, were going to just vanish one day and never come back.

Where would they go? What lies underneath the illusion of all the flatness?

Something fun that I've done in the past is imagine what types of monsters go with what places--now there's a good way to find the darkest parts of the spirit of a place.

I could go pick up the new Harry Potter book at midnight tonight.


Let me check my planner.
Appointment. We had the one-stop shop doctor's appointment the other day: Ray had her 18-month checkup (quite late, but acceptable) and I had the birth control shot.

My shots hurt a lot less than Ray's. More fact in my butt cheeks than her thighs...and the needle's proportionately shorter. They tag-teamed her this time, two shots at the same time, with the third just seconds later. Quick and...

Organization. I took a class for work on time management. The instructor, of course, made a point to point out that we don't manage time itself.

I decided not to go all quantum on the boy.

Anyway, I'm carrying around a month's worth of planner, which contains my values in life, weekly goals, daily to-do lists, and a schedule for answering my email at work. And quotes. A quote every day! It's like a gold mine. This week's quotes for the newsletter came totally from the planner...not quite in itself a sound investment, but there you go.

I literally feel like there's more time in the day. Of course, this isn't such a good thing at work, where I'm looking at the clock, going, "Could this day get any longer?" But at home I feel...busier, but satisfied.

Hm...If only they'd put in that quote about spending long hours doing something you love.

Nearly a whole week since the last post.


Ramble, ramble, ramble.

I'm sure anybody with programming knowledge (or a mind delighted by trivia) will have come up with this already. I was watching Ray take a bath the other day (see below), and this happened to wander across my mind...

How do people make decisions? It isn't as simple as setting priorities and following them. If that were the case, people wouldn't change, and wouldn't adapt to changing situations.

Here's what I came up with:

1. Priorities: These are the things you value, either consciously or unconsciously. For the sake of the ramble, let's say they fall into if-then patterns. If you see a chance to do something nice for someone else at a cost relative to the person's worth to you personally, then do it. If you have to choose among things you would otherwise find equally desireable, then chose the most stylish item. If you don't want to be held responsible for something, then blame someone else. *If 1, then A. If 2, then B. If 3, then not A. If 4, then not B.

2. Metapriorities: These are the ideas that set the relative weight of your priorities. Let's say they fall into "vision statement" patterns or what people call their "philosophy of life." The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Know thyself. The one who dies with the most toys, wins. *A is better than B. In case of A, not A conflict, choose A. In case of B, not B conflict, choose not B.

3. Feedback: This is how we know our priorities aren't fulfilling the rules set by our metapriorities. This is harder to give pat examples for. It's easier to say *If more B than A, change priorities to If 3, then A and If 2, then A. So if A is generosity and B is ice cream, and you find out you're pretty selfish with your ice cream, then you'll start changing the specific instances in which you'd give away your ice cream so you'd be a more generous person.

4. Metafeedback: This is how we know our metapriorities aren't fulfilling the rules set by our priorities. *If more than X priorities much be changed to satisfy metapriority Y must be modified so less than or equal to X priorities must be changed. So if you find yourself having changed your priorities so you always give away your ice cream, you start telling yourself that maybe generosity isn't that great, and maybe you need to change your ideas about generosity instead of giving away all your damn ice cream. Metafeedback also applies to feedback and metafeedback: if the pot can't contain itself, what does contain the pot?

5. Choice: This is how conscious we are of all of the above.
Good news, bad news.

The good news is that Ray's starting to become aware of the "pee" function of her genetalia, which means that down the road, hypothecially speaking, we should be able to potty-train her.

The bad news is that she decided to demonstrate her awareness by standing up in the bathtup, squirting water out of the drip area of one of her toys (which happened to be on the belly area of a lion), holding said toy to her crotch, yelling "whee!" and pissing all over it.

Oh well.


Talk. Okay, I think we can declare Ray officially talking now. She's been talking for a couple of weeks. I got her, Sunday, to say "Daddy, where are you?" It comes out as "Daee wah-you?" The catchall word that means everthing has been "Go!"

"Let's change your diaper."


"Are you tired of sitting in your carseat?"


"I'm going to tickle you!"


And..."Is it time to go?"



Watch! Oh, yeah! The watch arrived. Ooh, you got to see this watch. It's a gift for Lee: a pocket watch.

You can see the movement through the case--front and back. It's spring-wind, gold-colored, and, well, you can see all the little pieces moving inside.



Terrorism update.

Did you hear about the math teacher that was arrested on a flight to New York lately? His TI calculators looked suspicious, and the guy threw a fit when security opened up the cases.

Well, what did he expect? They were instruments of math destruction.

Via Lee, who stinks.

Today, Lee and Ray went to some friends of ours to hang out and let our kids play together.

I stayed home.

I'm feeling sorry for myself already, but if I'd gone, I'd be bitching about all the work I had to get done. Erkle.

Update: Most of the newsletter is done, with just the editorial, the joke of the week, and some quotes to go.


The good news and the bad news.

The good news is that Ray has conquered the McDonaldland play area. She disappeared around a corner, and the next time I saw her was through one of the little window areas at the very top. She said, "Ooooh." Then...she slid down the slide.

I just kept thinking that if it came down to a battle of nerves, I think she'd win. It's not like she doesn't have fear. She fears the obvious things, like falling off tall objects that my younger brother Andy never did. It's just that she observes the situation, determines just how far she thinks she can safely go, and does it.

The bad news is that she's learning how not to bite mom and dad, the hard way.

The other good news is that the '98 to 2000 pro has been successfully completes, with a 0% data loss.

The other bad news is that it was, in Lee's words, "interesting." I managed to set up an unintentional but perfectly-functioning dual boot system before discovering that it would take a new CD-ROM drive and video card to perfect the transition. And some more RAM. But--this is one of Lee's systems. It's a learning experience; that's the way it works.

The other other good news is that I'm done with day two, Wednesday. I don't have a page count yet, as the info is entered on two different systems (see above) and 6 pages in a notebook. I'm so hyped about it that I want to show people my first draft. Maybe I'll show Lee. Dunno.

The other other bad news is that my Grandfather's in the hospital. They had to put in a permanent pacemaker. He's feeling a lot better...but...whew. Anyway, if you pray, prayers would be good; if you don't, send him some karma. This is the guy that tried to get me to quit sucking my thumb by showing me his hand (the one with the thumb the combine had snipped off decades ago) and telling me that he'd sucked it off, because his mother let him suck it after he turned five. He's one of those quiet South Dakota types that likes to play horseshoes and tell bad Bohemian jokes, because he's Bohemian. I have a scrollwork angel on my wall he sent us to commemorate our wedding...I guess I'm just trying to explain how precious he is.

Pretty precious.

And...the other other other bad news is that two of my younger sibs are off to New York for a band trip soon. My mother says they lowered they lowered the alert level too soon. If there is a god, please spare New York from my brother Andy's sense of humor. He doesn't deserve to die for those jokes...well, okay, he almost does, but spare him anyway. Amen, I hope.


Ouch. Stacey (Matt's wife) just got back from vacation to discover that...the gent that had been watching their house had flushed an upstairs toilet, and the toilet had clogged. Fine. Well, it was the toilet that kept on running 'till you jiggle the handle.

Everything is mostly OK. Nevertheless, she's had a bad friggin' week.

She was over to see if Lee could rescue their computer; it turns out the water hadn't hit it, but the new video card had outstripped the system's power, and the system was forcing itself to shut down. Lee said it was something that he knew as theorhetically possible, but it was the first time he'd ever seen it happen.

Ach. Well, at least she'll have her email back now.
Well. As it turns out, with the determined additude that you needn't accomplish diddly squat, many things can be done without much skull sweat.

So far:

Wednesday. Did the remaining twelves pages of data entry on the novel; I've been writing it longhand and typing it into the computer. Why? I have a toddler. It's easier to be focused on the computer, typing in words (mostly) as they appear on the page, for a couple of hours, than it is to stare at the screen and brainstorm with a toddler vying for your attention. Picked an area for an herb garden, put in a smallish stone demarcation/path. Not a professional job, but it'll do the trick of letting me know where I can walk while the seedlings sprout. Looks OK. Finished hauling dangerous wood and steel-bar crap out of a corner of the yard, scared off all the centipedes, and raked up the moldery mulch.

Thursday. Spaded, broke up, and raked about half the herb garden, put in basil and anaheim peppers, which count as an herb to me, as I use them for flavoring. Nyaa. Spent way too much time getting stuff read for Nobilis, doing the writeup, figuring out the character sheet, filling out questionaires, etc. Nevertheless, deeply satisfying. Cool. Went to the Matrix (Lee decided not to go). Non-spoiling review: first half was dull, with good moments. As a fledgling novelist, I can say, "Hey! That's a stupid plot trick to distract me from the fact that very little is happening right now, and we're just covering pertinent information in a semi-interesting way!" The first half wasn't as mythic as I had hoped. The second half had its flaws, but I completely lost track of time and was shocked when the movie ended, so any criticism I have is nitpicking and nevermind.

Friday. Did laundry. Farted around, bought a couple of used books (What's the Worst that Could Happen? by Donald E. Westlake, a Dortmunder novel*, and The Lives of Christopher Chant, by Diana Wynne Jones.) Worked past a couple of plot problems on the novel, which means I avoided using the stupid plot trick mentioned above by changing the plot. It'll work, and I won't have to find excuses to make exposition exciting. For the most part, it'll all just come out as a part of the plot. Nyaa, Matrix. Cranked out nine thouroughly enjoyable pages, which should get me caught up to the page-a-day goal. Cool. I may even watch an episode of Angel.

*Dortmunder. Ah, if you do not know Dortmunder, you should. Some books belong in the genre in which they were born, like Star Trek novels. Some books belong not to a genre, but to the entirety of people who like to snigger. The Dortmunder novels are ostensible mysteries, but really they're about a genius with no luck--until it comes to revenge. Hey. The Dortmunder novels are the kind of thing Spider Robinson either has or would recommend.


Time. I have five days off.

Five days in which to accomplish everything on my plate. Five days to get caught up. Five days to...

Finish watching the first season of Angel and continue to allow the ants to crawl over my bookshelf.

Game. Lee and I have finally gotten together with the Doyce and Jackie House of Pain to start gaming again. Cool.

It's a game called Nobilis, which, as the desc says, "lies between Sandman and Amber, but there's no game like it."

Lee is Death. I'm Reality.

We discussed this on the way to Denver. We both decided that each other's characters would be too complicated to play, if we switched them.

And that, my friends, is marriage.


Twice. Ray will now bring you her shoes if you ask her nicely.

"Will you bring me your shoes? We're going to go outside."

"Eeee!" She runs squealing around the room, leaps on the couch, and hides.

"Shoe? Can you bring me your shoe?"

"Oh, no!" She looks around, crawls off the couch, looks around some more.

"It's over there. Your shoes."

"Shoe!" She spots her shoes, grabs one, and runs around in circles, dancing.

"Can you bring me your shoes? We're going to go outside."

"Shoe? Shoe? Shoooooooooooooooooe!"

She brings me her shoe.

"Thank you," I say. "Where's the other shoe? We need two shoes."

She claps her hands together and runs around screaming.

"Where's your shoe?" I point. "Bring me your shoe!"

"Shoe! Shh! Shh!" She picks up the shoe, leaps on the couch again, and hides the shoe under the cushions.

"Where's your shoe? Let's go outside!"

"Shoe!" She pulls back the pillow to reveal the shoe, then throws it on the floor. After a little shoe-dance, she picks it up and brings it to me. She looks at the other shoe. "Shoe!" she says, and sits in my lap so I can put them on.



Today is a day to blow off.
Today is a chocolate day.
Today is a my-tv-the-babysitter-and-source-of-cheap-entertainment day.

Yesterday was a spring-cleaning day. Funny how that all seems to work out...
Book Rack. This is a CS used bookstore-slash-computer place, the place where Lee got the laptop. I stopped in to look around--very cool. The owner stopped to talk to me; he remembered the laptop.

He also commented, "There's a girl's side of the store, and boy's side of the store."

The romance takes fully half of the shelf space. Feh! I told him I didn't go over on the girl's half very often.

"Sci fi?" he said. "Bring me some books."

"Nooooooo! Those are my books!"

"You sci fi readers," he said. "You keep books."


Mother's Day, part II. We went to the circus.

Neener neener neener.

Lions, elephants, ponies, horses, boa constrictor, baby white tiger, Florida panther. Clowns, jugglers, contortionists, acrobats, riders, and a human cannonball.

Everything larger than life and twice as expensive.

We had a wonderful time!


Mother's Day. Lee said "Happy Mother's Day" this morning. Hey. I'd forgotten.

Something happened this morning that reminded me why I like Colorado. Grocery shopping. A woman started flirting with my daughter, asked me how old she was. They played while I picked out pork chops. She told me about her granddaughter, two: a very big kid. I remarked that most of the little kids out here were huge. She agreed. Then she said, "Happy Mother's Day."

I love the fact that people will just start talking to you here.

Iowa, the conversation would have gone something like, "Your daughter has a dirty face. I have a granddaughter about that age. But she's taller."
Computer. I don't remember if I mentioned it. Lee bought me a 386 laptop for $20 at this place called the "Book Rack." --Actually, it sounded like the perfect idea for a business. Used books and computer shit. Throw in an espresso machine and I'm buying stock, OK? And all the computer equipment is guaranteed to work. Anyway. This is the greatest $20 laptop ever, because, among other things, it allowed Lee to save the hard drive off the $50 486 laptop he got me--four?--years ago, and every means of getting info off the thing died.

But the battery loses power.

I checked everything out; working perfectly if slow; took it to a coffee shop to write; powered it up; opened MSWorks; the battery warning beeper beeped.


So I need to get a new battery...but let me just say that the data recovery feature was definitely worth the $20 investment. Already a kick-ass gift.


Poppies. Speaking of flowers, it turns out some beautiful soul left us some poppies in the front yard off to the side. Hey. Even if it snows tonight (and it might), three of them have bloomed so far.

Georgia O'Keefe fan. Well, you might have guessed.
Banshee Stud-lios. The new issue of Banshee's is up. It's gorgeous. I have yet to start reading anything (other than [ahem] the review I put in), but every time I've pulled it up I've had to take a moment to goggle at the lillies.



Joe. Many thanks to Joe, who pulled together when I had serious doubts that he intended to do so.

Birthday. My twenty-ninth birthday, on May 1st, was a particularly miserable day. Nobody remembered, except Lee, and he didn't even say "Happy Birthday" until I told him to. I was upset. Twenty-nine. No "Happy Birthday." Well, maybe depressed is a better word, except when you get depressed, you don't get snippy. So I was upset: let's not whitewash this, here. Some people might think this is understandable, but we reserved types get annoyed at getting upset over something so insignificant as the date of a day. When Lee came home, I cried on his shoulder (we reserved types do this on occaision, but it's embarrassing) and felt much better. Lee spent the next day spoiling me, and suddenly everyone remembered: "Say, wasn't it supposed to be your birthday around about now?"

We even went on a date on Tuesday, got tipsy and watched X-men 2. There were difficulties with post-last-minute backout of the original babysitter, but post-post-last minute rearrangements succeeded, and we were able to go. It felt so good to just be on a date.

By the time we picked up Ray, I was definitely ready for a bebe snuggle, though. I spend longer away from her ever day at work, but for some reason, this was different.

Man, have I been slacking on the blog. I'll try to remedy that.


Updates. Briefly, Ray's teething. She's had a 101F axillary fever since Saturday; we took her to the doc today. --Oh yeah, she might also have a viral infection.

She has a a ring of drool around her neck. And two new teeth so far. She's at 26 pounds and 32 and 3/4 inches.

So that was our weekend :P


Road Trip. We've all safely returned from the SD road trip. We missed Mike (sorry, Mike!) but caught everyone else.

The family gathering for my side of the family was too big for my tastes; I have a hard time dealing with that many people at once, unless I can ride herd on a basement full of kids somewhere. That's different. I did have fun with my immediate family and grandparents, but by then I was so sick of driving and dealing with the kind of questions that only a big group of relatives that don't see you very often can ask, I'm afraid any charm I possess had been sucked dry.

Ray tolerated the ride well but was damn glad to get out of that carseat last night, let me tell you. It got to the point where we were throwing things on the floor just so we could cheer as they hit bottom. I think of the three of us, she had the most fun. Probably because she was the most spoiled :)

Funny. None of the things that I didn't or couldn't get to before we left did themselves.


Tax day. It might help to kick the cat. If you have a cat.

Seriously, though, when payday and tax day fall on the same day, it's hard to be as bitter as you could be. The little accountant on my shoulder (no, I don't listen too often) releases his breath. Phew. I don't think he really believes in the money fairy until he sees the paystub.

Hm...now I have to wonder what sits on the other shoulder.


Mmmm...Chocolate. We may have to go out on a chocolate outing.
Curious George: as Ray continues to read books, I discover that curious George receives much more cooing, chattering, and pseudo-counting (she can count up to one real well) than any other book she's read so far today.
Road Trip. Going to SD (various locations) over Easter, Thursday through Monday. Hm...where is that old box of Mindtrap cards?
Taxes. While I sit here, finishing up the taxes Lee completed for the most part this morning, Ray sits beside me in her Ray-sized chair and reads books. She doesn't have a big enough lap for the larger books to sit steadily, so turning pages is a process: hang onto the page you're going to turn, lift the corner of that page, pick up the fingers supporting the book and the page, flip the page over, grab back onto the page. Exclaim, "Yeah!" every time you see a cat.

Sure doesn't look like a deductable to me.


Tea. Amazing how a good cup of decaf green tea can perk you right up when you're not a caffeine addict. In a non-perky way, of course.
Dream. I dreamed that I had just finished spring-cleaining the house we're in when we moved. Ugh. Well, it was a cool house, the kind of house with a floorplan that allows you to get lost the first time you're in it. A wandering house. I was mad at everyone else (because I was just mad, I guess, now that I'm awake enough to think about it), and there was something about a Goddess hiding in the attic. Lots of stairs, a good kitchen, for some reason it reminded me of a house that my Uncle Johnny used to live in, but my uncle never lived in such a house.
Blame it on tax day. This morning I took a paintball gun and shot the little old ladies selling subscriptions to The Gazette in the lobby of the grocery store. Then I picked up a copy of the Indy. No, I didn't. But I wanted to. Cutting letters to make them look idiotic so they can write sarcastic replies, ignoring news that doesn't fit their bias, firing local Life-section writers in order to use national sources. And using little old ladies to hawk subscriptions in the lobbies of the grocery store. No, I don't want a copy of The Gazette. I already have enough toilet paper.
Foul mood. Man, I'm in a foul mood today. Man, my foul moods just ain't what they used to be. Ah, for those angst-ridden years of yore...

Many thanks to my spouse and daughter, who make having a foul mood an enjoyable change of pace.


Rule # This one. Dripping sarcasm is a handy rhetorical device used to trick your audience into thinking that which you mock is worthy of being mocked. It's useful in preventing 1) honest discussion, 2) open-mindedness, and 3) discovery of a shaky opinion, as well as for other worthy purposes. Of course your oponent is a f#$@@ idiot, and so is any member of your audience that disagrees. Often used by the self-righteous as well as the overt con-man. Mmm. Warblogging.
My book. I've hit writer's sludge, a slow period in which you're not sure if what you're written is honey or crap. Nevertheless, still grinding along.
Unfortunately, the daily poop occurances have drifted into my shift. For the logest time I enjoyed both relative poop freedom and ghastly stories of The Poop You Missed This Morning. Oh, well...
Inhumane. Lee thinks it's disturbing to watch our daughter do inhumane things to a baby doll.
When encouraging artistic skills... you must also remember to promote critical thinking.

Ray has come into that fine age in which she has begun to see all surfaces as canvases for her pen. She also has come into that fine age where she doesn't take criticism well. I told her her cubism looked more like scribblism, and she tried to stab me with her crayon. Fortunately, they don't make crayons like they used to.
Reviews. Boo!

Crooked, Laura and Tom McNeal.

A good book of the adolescents' realism variety, well-written enough to make up for the depressing realism (why is it that "realistic" books are usually so depressing? Life isn't always depressing, unless you're the kind of person that should be on Prozac anyway) and "literary" (unresolved) ending. Humor's tucked into everything, but it's a quiet kind of humor that does not gain Victory Over All.


Faked to Death by Dean James.

The writing in this murder-mystery-farce is bad, but I think it's purposfully bad. The main character is a gay vampire (and bestselling pennamed romace/mystery/adventure writers) who's been invited to a posh writer's conference (in his guise as a writer of historical fiction), only to confront an insufferable woman who's posing as...one of his pseudonyms. His secretary has the hots for him, but he can't tell the charming chap the real reason their relationship must be strictly business (if you count catty remarks as such). His editor is unethical. His peers are being blackmailed. His hostess is a tyrant. He has the hots...erm, the colds...for the investigator on the case...

The Coffee Trader, by David Liss.

Oh, God. I just don't care. This isn't a bad book, but after all the trivialities, I can't bring myself to care how it comes out. Does the hero get his brother's wife? Does the brother's wife's maid betray her? Has the Dutchwoman betrayed our hero? Has our hero knocked up the brother's wife's maid? Or has the brother done it? Can the brother even get it up? Is the brother's wife addicted to eating roasted coffee beans whole? What a little tart! Will the Jewish community kick out our hero, as it has our hero's confidante, for unjust reasons? I don't know how this all works out, and I could care less. Blah, blah, blah. Sure, there are many individual sentences that can be read with pleasure, but when you start stacking them up against each other, you have a story that only an All My Children addict could love. This is a historical work crossed with enough backstabbing to make it "readable." Not my cup of tea.

Howl's Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones

Ah. The reason I read books is for books like this. I hadn't read any Diana Wynne Jones before. Why this woman isn't famous is beyond me--well, that's a lie. She isn't famous because she's too good. You can't make easy movies out of her stuff, like you can Harry Potter. Too many twists, none of which could be left out. All of it's surreal, like a dream, only better. The ending can't be predicted by the beginning, except it can. It's not catchy, except it is. It's not realistic, it's a fairytale--but not a fairytale for adults.