New Job Schedule Requires Purchase of Automobile.

De's Bug.

Lee got Serenity the day it came out. I haven't watched it on DVD yet. Tonight the plan was for him to spoil me by giving me a backrub while I watched the movie. I was looking at Whednoesque and read that the Sci-Fi Channel is hosting a Firefly marathon.

"We're not going to watch Serenity tonight," I say. "We're going to watch Firefly episodes." I explain to him what made me change my mind.

He quips: "...and Wash doesn't have to die."

I had to laugh.



You know, this is the fourth time I've started to write this paragraph, and I'm done messing around. I keep trying to say something uplifting, edifying, or at least amusing about the benefits of having a relaxed, laid-back, unworried Christmas, but it isn't working. We had a hermit's Christmas, which was A-OK with me. Having Lee out until 11:30 p.m. working at Best Buy, then suddenly having him get the new job and trying to work out all the bugs of making a change from a one-car, no-daycare home to a two-car, day-care home has worn out my ability to fuss with Christmas stuff, or even to worry that I might not be doing a good enough job.

Who cares?

Lee and I celebrated in our delight of being able to give each other stuff (which, because we'd been broke for such a long time, actually does make me happy), and Ray was overjoyed with all the stuff she got. (Mom, she loved the Barbie clothes, and Mary, she has dressed and undressed that thing pretty much continuously.) I was flat-out relieved to have Lee home with me at last. This is the first time that we'll have the same schedule since we met ten years ago. He's here.

One of the chicas at work said, "This job is the best Christmas present you'll get this year, isn't it?" Oh, yeah.

So there we were, staring at each other.

"What?" I said.

Lee looks at his computer screen. Something's loading. He looks at me. I look at my computer screen. Something's loading. I look at him.

"Are we just staring at each other while our stuff is loading?" I ask.

In his best hillbilly drawl, he says: "Ah gotta look at somethin'. I guess Ahl just look at mah wife."



Lee got the job!



Here's a childhood photo that my future sister-in-law posted. Not one of her childhood photos, no...

I'm the one with the long hair.
Cute Overload.

The name of the website says it all:

Cute Overload.

Although they could have gone with cute overlord, I guess.
I didn't find this recipe on purpose.

Spam Primavera:

* Exported from MasterCook *


Recipe By :
Serving Size : 8 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories : Misc

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
1 cn Spam, cut in strips
2 Carrots, thinly sliced
1 Zucchini, thinly sliced
1/4 c Finely chopped onion
1 Garlic clove, minced
6 tb Olive oil, divided
1 9 oz package linguini-cooked
1/2 c Grated parmesan cheese
2 tb Lemon juice
1/4 ts White pepper

1. In a large skillet, cook Spam, carrots, zucchini, onion and garlic in 3
Tbsps olive oil until vegetables are crisp and tender.

2. Toss together linguini, vegetable mixture, parmesan cheese, 3T olive
oil, and lemon juice until well coated. Serve immediately.

Source: Geo. A Hormel Co, 1992


More Murderous Trivia.

"In certain plant foods, including almonds, millet sprouts, lima beans, soy, spinach, bamboo shoots, and cassava roots (which are a major source of food in tropical countries), cyanides occur naturally as part of sugars or other naturally-occurring compounds. However, the edible parts of plants that are eaten in the United States, including tapioca which is made from cassava roots, contain relatively low amounts of cyanide."

I'm working on something really fun right now...


We Can Remember It for You Wholesale.

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When you choose an AAI Abduction Experience our doctors, hypnotists, and memory implant technicians work with you in pre-abduction orientation sessions to customize one of our hundreds of stock abductions to suit your personal taste. You can even pick one of our fetishist's specials--interspecies breeding, medical experimentation--it's all up to you. Whether you select a solo abduction or one of our special Group Abduction packages (great for corporate retreats, school groups, and theme parties), AAI gives you the best abduction for the lowest price.

And here is one of their tesimonials.


Murder and Mayhem
A Doctor Answers Medical and Forensic Questions for Mystery Writers
By D. P. Lyle, M.D.

I picked this up at the library. I was looking for the answer to a question, "Is there a poison that fakes death, kind of like the one in Romeo and Juliet?" Imagine my surprise when I flipped through the book and found the section heading, "Is there a drug or poison that mimics death but allows the vitim to survive?"

No, wait. It gets better:

"You're going to love this. Zombie Powder. Yes, Zombie Powder. It is the toxin of the puffer fish, also called the blowfish. The toxin is called tetradontoxin or tetradotoxin (I've seen it written as either and also abbreviated as TTX), and it is found in the ovaries of the blowfish. The toxin is not destroyed by cooking, but if the entrails are removed before preparation, the fish itself is harmless.

"In Japan the dish is prepared in a manner that leaves little of the toxin behind. It is called fugu and is a delicacy. The residual toxin, in small doses, gives the diner a flushed and tingly feeling..."


The rest of the book is like that. A few other sections: "Could Death by Bleeding Be Delayed by Several Days?" "How Long Can Someone Survive in a Freezer?" "How Dangerous Is It to Transport Heroin in a Swallowed Condom?" "How Long Does It Take for an Unburied Body to Skeletonize?" "How Is Body Weight Determined in a Quadruple Amputee?"

Each section is written thoroughly (as far as I can tell--Lyle goes beyond the literal question and looks at it from a plot perspective, adding extra detail) and entertainingly. The original questions appeared in a mystery-writers' newsletter, rather than in a medical journal and are nicely pitched to the audience. Highly recommended for the torture and abuse of one's characters.



November is National Novel Writing Month. I decided not to participate in the big project, but it was still an interesting month. I took a month off from my novel. I realized about mid-month that work wasn't going to get any better, and started to work on starting up a part-time freelance writing business. I participated in a surprisingly good shared novel-length collection of stories called Stories from the Land's End Hotel and Resort--ten writers and a lovely lurker--and wrote six short stories (over 10K words). I wrote two more stories, including the first of the Beauregard PI stories. I worked on a newsletter for my folks.

In a month.



Andy Warhol at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.

When there's an Andy Warhol exhibition in town, you go. Or maybe you don't go, I don't know. I went. I'd always thought of him as a big put-on, one of those people who babble on about the meaning of what they're doing. An earnest guy, who, in all seriousness, could claim to be celebrating the icons of our culture. Yadda yadda yadda.

I get to the museum at the same time as two buses full of kids, one group of high-school students and one group of second-graders. I rolled my eyes and went in anyway: I'm brave. I went to the other exhibit first, a collection of modern- and pop-art prints and sculpture from a local collector. I saw Dali, I saw Magritte, I saw Picasso, I saw Liechtenstein.

I saw a room full of adolescents trying to find meaning in everything:

"I saw a face in the stained-glass one."

"He saw a face! Come see!"

"See? It's right there. The head's kind of tilted to the side..."

They all tilted their heads to the side.

"I see it!"

"You do not. There's nothing there."

"No, there is. Right there. You're just not looking at it right."

I saw a room full of delight and nonsense: the irreverence of one picture fed into and off of another. A room with only one of those would have been a lonely, lonely room, the class clown forced to sit alone and think.

After that, I went over to the Andy Warhol exhibit. It started out with other people's pictures of him: the white hair all askew, dark jacket. The same seriousness of expression you'd see on one of William Wegman's dog photographs. And then there was a TV screen playing snippets of interviews.

"Does it bother you that the American public has misinterpreted Pop Art?"

"Uh, no."

"Do you think Pop Art is dying out?"

"Uh, yes."

"Is it time for Pop Art to move on?"

"Uh, no."

"Are you going to continue to create Pop Art?"

"Uh, yes."

Quotes are printed directly onto the walls, and the windows have been covered with translucent film. It's a graphic designer's world, big blocks of color and simple shapes everywhere. You find out that Warhol was born to Czech immigrant parents, that he was a lifelong Catholic and churchgoer, that Warhol first decorated the canvas and only then silkscreened the photographic image on top, that the fabulous shock of white hair was eventually replaced by a series of wigs.

Then, and only then, was I allowed to wander around his art. I saw Campbell's Soup cans (one of them sported the soup type "PEPPER POT"). I saw Marilyn, at first cartoonish with yellow hair and pink lips, become progressively more disfunctional, her skin lurid shades of blue or green, the color swatches and outlines more and more out of alignment with the silkscreened photograph. I saw Chairman Mao: were we afraid of this man with the button-up collar and the effeminate lips? Or was he only the bogeyman that Warhol turned him into? I saw JFK (today is the anniversary of his assassination) through a printbook that retroactively orchestrated his assassination.

The series that cut closest to home was called "Cowboys and Indians." He didn't show Russell Means; he didn't show poverty; he didn't show Wounded Knee. He turned John Wayne, Custer, Crazy Horse (was it Crazy Horse?), a Squaw carrying an infant in a papoose, an Indian-head nickel with the word "Liberty" on it. Here are our myths: what a crock of shit. We believed in Custer with his shiny buttons. We believed in John Wayne and his manly drawl.

Near the end of the exhibit was a room, painted matte black, set with track lighting and a curtain of silver ribbon across the door. Inside were four fans and about fifty silver mylar balloons the size of body pillows. And a room full of teenagers.

At first I was angry at them. Most of them were lying on the floor, face-down, taking a nap, or picking on each other. One was trying to collect as many balloons as he could, holding them by the corners. And so on. One kid was watching the reflections the balloons were throwing on the walls--that was it. One kid out of twenty. And then it clicked: a room full of balloons, even that room, could only be interesting for a little while. It wasn't about the balloons. It was the people. I watched them: some of them, when brushed by a balloon, didn't noticed. Some brushed them away. Some shoved them, flung them away. Some of them invested all their attention into making sure they wouldn't get touched. Some of them tried to control the balloons. And so on. I wonder if Warhol did that: went to his own exhibitions just to watch people, because they were so much more interesting than the art.

After a while, I left. The docent said, "Every house needs a room like that."

I said, "For at fifteen minutes a day, at least."
Harry Potter 4 Review.

Oh, man. What a disappointment. You've probably already seen the movie--or else you're the kind of person who's going to go no matter what I say.

Nevertheless. Don't go! Don't gooooooooo!

Ray and I tried to go on Saturday. We got to the theater at 10 a.m. Everything up to 9:45 p.m. was SOLD OUT. We went back on Sunday at noon and got tickets for a 6:05 showing. Lucky us!

The theater attendants led us in the wave. We watched ten minutes of ads and previews...and then, the movie. How do I describe it? This is the kind of book adaptation where a complicated plot, rich characters, and heavyweight themes are reduced to a few mis-timed facial flickers and sideways glances, while the bulk of the movie has been given over to SPECIAL EFFECTS!!! and COVER BANDS!!!

Ugh. Case in point: Alan Rickman, i.e., Snape, has maybe ten lines in the entire movie--and he doesn't bother to piss anybody off.

All right. That being said, there was some excellent acting: Michael Gambon as Dumbledore shows all the care and fear that will lead him into keeping secrets from Harry in the next movie; Shirley Henderson* as Moaning Myrtle captures all the ickiness of teenage ghost lust you could ever want to avoid; Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort moves so smoothly his gauze cape looks like CGI--and manages to show all the fear and pride that could drive a human being into becoming just his sort of monster. The three main characters could have done better, but I don't think they had the direction they needed to be up to their Harry Potter 3 standard.

To sum up: a generally clumsy adaptation of a difficult book. Poor script and bad direction. Good acting from some seasoned pros. Motto: special effects still don't justify themselves, even if they are top-of-the-line CGI.

*Who is older than I am.


Seafood Allergies a Punishment from Above.

God Hates Shrimp.

Because Leviticus 11:9-12 and Deuteronomy 14:9-10 can't be wrong.

Update: Oops! Via Randy.


Geoff Ryman's Air.

You know, I'd been bitching about not having read any good SF lately, and then I read this:

"Mae thought:

"I am trapped ina car with a madman who happens to tell the truth. I am trapped in a car with someone driven so crazy by a big opinion of himself that he thinks he will live forever. He thinks he will shake God's hand by machines. The truly awful thing is that he just might do it...

"The only thing she could do that would not help him would be to stay silent. Staying silent would prevent him from wanting to know anything more about her. If he felt there was more Info to be derived, he would imprison her again until he had it.

"Mae pretended to go asleep."

Air is the story of how the internet is beamed into the minds of the villagers of a tiny Asian country using equipment based in the "other" dimensions of the string-theory cosmos. Because these "other" dimensions are outside time and space, it turns out that the 'net is, too.

Mae is the "fashion expert" of a small village where some people still keep pigs in the kitchen; when the new "Air" system is tested in their country, thousands of people are so disoriented that they have fatal accidents. Mae is with an old woman, Mrs. Tung at the time of the Air test; Mrs. Tung has an accident and dies while both are connected to each other through Air, downloading a copy of Mrs. Tung's personality at the time of her death into Mae's mind.

It gets weirder from there. In fact, it gets as weird as anything I could come up with, but Ryman never loses control. The ending is inexplicable--but by the time you turn the last page, it doesn't really need to be explained. Coooool.

Forget about having a computer implanted in your head, man. Go for Air.


Over a hundred years later, I get the joke.

In Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carrol writes:

"Then you should say what you mean." the March Hare went on.

"I do," Alice hastily replied; "at least -- at least I mean what I say -- that's the same thing, you know."

"Not the same thing a bit!" said the Hatter, "Why, you might just as well say that 'I see what I eat' is the same thing as 'I eat what I see'!"

It's an alimentary course in logic.


Sex Ed.

Scarleteen. Mostly teen girls. Funny at times.

Sex, Etc. Mostly for teens.

Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States All grown up and professional-sounding.


Bruce Willis and that other guy in Colorado Springs.

This last Wednesday, I took Ray down to the cheap theatre to see Valiant. I had been planning to get a cup of coffee from the Bear Rock Cafe and wander around for an hour or so before the movie -- but BRC was closed:

Movie crew. Bruce Willis. Pst. Did you hear?

I didn't see nothin, man.



"That was also the year I stopped because I realized I was a dork for still going..."

My future sister-in-law, Erica, writes about Halloween.


Fortune cookie.

"He that does not understand the bitter does not understand the sweet. Lucky numbers 2, 15, 21, 47."

--That one's been sitting on my desk at work for a while. The weirdest fortune cookie I ever got said, "You like apples." That was it, no lucky numbers, no LEARN TO SPEAK CHINESE on the back. I kept asking myself, "You like apples in bed? How does that work? Do I want to know?"

Other ones that I keep at work:

"The best years of your life have not yet been lived."

"Always advance, never surrender."

Which I need to be reminded of at work from time to time...Someone reminded me about the bitter and the sweet the other day, inadvertantly. I needed it. Things haven't been delighting me as much as they used to; I'd been running away from the bitter and thus eluding the sweet.

What's the point of wearing your favorite rocketship underpants if nobody ever asks to see 'em?

I'm not dumb. I just have a command of thoroughly useless information.

Calvin : You can't just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood.
Hobbes : What mood is that?
Calvin : Last-minute panic.

"Since September it's just gotten colder and colder. There's less daylight now, I've noticed too. This can only mean one thing - the sun is going out. In a few more months the Earth will be a dark and lifeless ball of ice. Dad says the sun isnt going out. He says its colder because the earth's orbit is taking us farther from the sun. He says winter will be here soon.
Isn't it sad how some people's grip on their lives is so precarious that they'll embrace any preposterous delusion rather than face an occasional bleak truth?"

Girls are like slugs - they probably serve some purpose, but it's hard to imagine what.

"(10:16) Forgot what debate was about. Medals of bravery awarded to all parties."

Who was the first guy that look at a cow and said, "I think that I'll drink whatever comes out of those things when I squeeze them?"

"County library? Reference desk, please. Hello? Yes, I need a word definition. Well, that's the problem. I don't know how to spell it and I'm not allowed to say it. Could you just rattle off all the swear words you know and I'll stop you when...Hello?"

FLUSSH! Whee! Ha Ha Ha. -Mom, I'm done with my bath now.

I asked Mom if I was a gifted child...she said they certainly wouldn't have paid for me.

I realized that the purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas.

Obscure poor reasoning, and inhibit clarity.

"But Calvin is no kind and loving god! He's one of the old gods! He demands sacrifice!"

"I try to make everyone's day a little more surreal."

There's never enough time to do all the nothing you want.

Well, remember what you said, because in a day or two, I'll have a witty and blistering retort! You'll be devastated THEN!

When birds burp, it must taste like bugs.

Calvin and Hobbes stips.

The Complete Calvin and Hobbes.


The Grandiloquent Dictionary.

Some vocabulary words are interesting. Some are amusing. Some would make good villain names on City Of Villains when it comes out.

deiparous -
Giving birth to a god or a goddess

deisidaimonia -
The fear of supernatural powers

dentiloquent -
Pertaining to someone who talks through their teeth

deoppilate -
To remove an obstruction

deuterogamist -
A widow who chooses to remarry

dextrosinistral -
A left handed person who is trained to use their right hand

dharna -
A method of collecting a debt in which the person who is owed money sits on the debtors doorstep until payment is made, or the debtor starves to death

dippoldism -
The act of beating or whipping school children

divigate -
To stray, as in the opposite of navigate

doytin -
To walk about stupidly

dysnomy -
The creation of flawed laws which cause more problems

I especially like "divigate." My method of driving through a new town is fortuitous divigation, that is, I get to the right place but I'm often not sure how.
An example of how NOT to blog?

I'm a bad, bad blogger. This article by Jakob Nielson details 10 guidelines for having a good blog. I, uh, don't follow any of them.

(Via boingboing.)


The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana.
By Umberto Eco.

I've just started the novel. Like Silverlock (thanks, Randy), it's one of those books that contain a kind of map to a bajillion others. Unlike Silverlock, there probably won't be a happy ending. Some kind of tragedy will cap it off; it's Umberto Eco.

In the Eco-ian universe, books aren't merely stand-alone islands to be traversed in linear fashion; they are nodes in an exponentially expanding extranet. To read one book, you sometimes have to pass through several others, accumulating countless references and subtexts along the way. "We've been reading books in a hypertextual way ever since Homer," Eco says. "We read a page and then we jump, especially when we're rereading it. Think of the Bible. When people read it, they're always jumping here and there, constantly connecting various quotations."
-- Village Voice article.

Further quote:

Eco says he structured Mysterious Flame to mimic the free-associative behavior of electronic navigation. (Indeed, his latest nonfiction book to be published stateside, The History of Beauty, was originally conceived as a CD-ROM.) But Eco stops short when asked about the all too real physical convergence of books and online matter. "I'm very skeptical about that," he says. "The real function of a novel is to give the reader the impression that destiny can't be altered. With electronic material, you can change it whenever you want. But a novel tells you that life can't be changed. That's its power."

Link to a wiki-style annotation site added to the toolbar, so I don't forget where I put it.
Haunted Colorado.

A listing of haunted spots in Colorado. Of course the Stanley is listed (Estes Park).


Sasquatch in El Paso County, Colorado.


Jesus of the Pierogi.

An article on how people turn random information into things that seem like something else -- the process is called paredolia. Includes links to examples--the face of Jesus on a pierogi, among other things.

Babies, at birth, will respond to faces. They'll even respond to the picture of a smiley face -- two dots and a curve.

The message here is: don't base your faith on a dumpling.



Odd train of thought.

I'm going to share a somewhat nutty train of thought.

I was jotting down ideas for stories and letting my mind ramble before doing some editing, and I found myself thinking about Freddie Krueger. Now, I haven't watched all the movies, and the ones I have watched I don't recall fully.

I was wondering what would happen if Freddie met, in dreams, someone who had no fears or guilt. Not someone brave or noble, not someone innocent, but someone who had truly looked at all the demons inside, spat them up, and ate them. Someone at peace. Could there be a person like that, and if so, could you make a story about it? Or would it be meaningless?

From there I started thinking about horror. How do you deal with perfection from a horror-story perspective? Aha. Vampires cannot face crosses: a symbol of horror and a symbol of perfection.

Back to Freddie. If Freddie drew back and hissed away from a "perfect" character, that would suck. A "perfect" character would have no conflicts, wouldn't really be a part of the story.

Next tangent. What would the dreams of a perfect person be like? They'd probably never have nightmares. It must be night after night of bliss, or night after night of adventures in which nobody ever suffers anything horrible.

Next tangent. One of the characters in Sandman, Barbie, has night after night of harmless adventures for most of her life, but it doesn't make her a perfect person; contrariwise, it allows her to remain shallow and unable to cope with the more painful aspect of her life. It isn't until she has a terrible nightmare and then stops dreaming that she starts to face her problems.

Next tangent. A continuous diet of dreams without nightmares must be terrible. Imagine if you never woke in a sweat, never were relieved when you woke up. There have been quite a few points in my life where having nightmares--and learning how to conquer them--has made a big difference.

Next tangent. One of the things that Carlos Castaneda talks about in his books is the power you derive from learning how to control your dreams. I thought the idea was fascinating for a time years ago, but abandoned it because it's a little sad: if you have control over your dreams, what's to make you face up to your nightmares? What's to make you learn the things you don't want to learn? With that kind of power over yourself, what's to keep you from turning into something horrible?

Next tangent. One of the things that Zen Buddhists say is "Kill the Buddha." What if, in this context, you read nightmares as the Buddha? "Kill the Buddha." Does that mean destroy the things you use to teach yourself what you wouldn't otherwise learn? Destroy your nightmares?

So. Being a writer, I think, "What if some guy went out there to learn the truth about everything and went slightly awry, so now he has this huge amount of power, is englightened on top of that (because you can be enlightenend without meaning anything good for anybody else) and therefore has this key into other people's psyches, and has nothing to keep him in check?"

Wait. That sounds like Freddie Krueger. My theory is that he's some kind of dark Buddha, having killed his own conscience in an effort in order to better control it, and now he's going through this mockery of "enlightening" others because some kinds of understanding are like a virus, but that's another tangent.



The story I was so nervous about has had four crits. There's a "thing" in the story, and I didn't explain what it was or where it came from, because I want people to read into it -- to come up with their own explanations, put their own pasts into it.

Everyone has called it creepy and well-written. Three people seem to have found the ending frustrating, because of the lack of information. One person didn't. Two people decided that the thing was cancer -- which wasn't the story I'd come up for it in my own head, but that was okay.

What a roller-coaster, though. It's been painful to read the reviews, both good and bad. One minute I'm brilliant; the next I'm an egotistical @#$%-up who's never going to pull this off.

I'm going to screw around with it a bit more today, beg Lee to read it, and send it off in the next week or so. I'm going to shoot for The Third Alternative first, I think.



I'm screwing around with stuff...

Fat Ducks



I joined the Online Writing Workshop for SF, F, and Horror a while back, intending to get feedback on my novel, Gods of Gray Hill. As they say, "you get what you ask for." Most of it has been really good, but I have to brace myself every time I see a message in my inbox letting me know I have a new review.

I've had only one "I don't get it" review; the rest have all been painfully helpful. The story really is coming out of my head and forming on paper, finally. I've still bitten off more than I can chew, but if I can pull this off, I should be able to do pretty much whatever I want to.

Anyway. I finished a particularly agonizing revision of an early chapter and decided to reward myself by going over an old short story and posting that to get feedback.

The story is called "Things you don't want but have to take." I wrote it one day while sitting in a systems class for work, because the instructors have to repeat everything they say six times and then answer questions. I originally submitted it to Weird Tales. The guy that read it sent a short note, stating in no uncertain terms that he didn't get it and that it was too weird. No strong language, no gore. Go figure.

I reread the story, and it gave me the creeps, so I decided to do a little editing and send it off. A week later, I just posted it.

Tell me why I'm positively twitchy about this story, having spent all of maybe ten hours on it both then and now, when I've spent years on GH but only need a little bucking up to face crits on it.



I was reading a book of Tom Waits interviews the other day when I saw that he did the voice of Tommy the Cat on the eponymous song by Primus. Looked it up on the credits. TW's there, as "voices."


A P.S. of Duh.

Tommy the Cat. O-kay. It took a while, but I put it together. Tom Waits. Tommy the Cat. How often is it you get to sing on your own hommage song?
The Scientist.

I had just banished Ray to her room, and "The Scientist" by Coldplay came on. She'd been eating the covers off her books, after everything else she'd been doing for the last hour.

A line from the chorus:

Nobody said it was easy/but no one ever said it would be so hard.

--So I let her come out.


Zen monks shave their heads, don't they?

The new Disturbed album, "Ten Thousand Fists" is out.

A quote from "The Gateless Gate," a very old Zen text:

'Joshu went to a hermit's and asked, "What's up? What's up?"(="Have you any Zen?") The hermit lifted up his fist. Joshu said, "The water is too shallow to anchor here," and went away. Joshu visited the hermit once again a few days later and said, "What's up? What's up?" The hermit raised his fist again. Then Joshu said, "Well given, well taken, well killed, well saved." And he bowed to the hermit. '

All this and lots of guitars, too!

P.S. I thought I should mention that I went to Borders to buy the album with what I had left on a gift card, but then I saw the Strangers in Paradise 3rd pocket book. Zen Schmen.

P.P.S. Lee, the sweetie, bought me a copy of "Ten Thousand Fists." There's an excellent cover of "Land of Confusion" by Genesis. Ironically, there's a verse in the song:
"I won’t be coming home tonight
My generation will put it right
We’re not just making promises
That we know, we’ll never keep."

P.P.P.S. Because I took the new album to work and telling the story of how Lee found out I wanted it, I ended up trying to explain to someone what a koan was, and what this koan in particular meant. This did not go so well.

"My brain hurts," she said. "Thank you."


D--- it.

I finally got to see Kaylee.

I brought my camera.

I took 0 pictures.

This speaks volumes of my ability to focus on anything except the cuteness that is Kaylee's little head, which still smells like baby head.



Every time I see one of those ubiquitous "W" stickers, I ask, "Did you get what you wanted yet? Or are you just getting what you asked for?"

Commentary on Katrina by the wise and wonderful Marn.

It's going to be Bugs Bunny in the carrot patch. Again.


Fictional Truth.

Just as when a character says "the plan is..." it indicates that things will not go according to plan, when a characters says, "we know that..." whatever follows is wrong, wrong, wrong.

This goes double (for six wrongs) if anyone agrees.


Steven Wright.

I hurt myself at work today, laughing so hard:

Ambition is a poor excuse for not having enough sense to be lazy.

Everyone has a photographic memory. Some just don't have film.

Join the Army, meet interesting people, kill them.

If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends?

What happens if you get scared half to death twice?

If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving definitely isn't for you.

A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism.

You never really learn to swear until you learn to drive.

A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.

I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Half the people you know are below average.

On the other hand, you have different fingers.

Someone sent me a postcard picture of the earth.
On the back it said, "Wish you were here."

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

You can't have everything. Where would you put it?

I planted some bird seed. A bird came up. Now I don't know what to feed it.

I plugged my phone in where the blender used to be. I called someone. They
went "Aaaaahhhh..."

I still have my Christmas Tree. I looked at it today. Sure enough, I couldn't
see any forests.

The sky is falling...no, I'm tipping over backwards.

Is "tired old cliche" one?

I had my coathangers spayed.

I took lessons in bicycle riding. But I could only afford half of them. Now I
can ride a unicycle.

I put my air conditioner in backwards. It got cold outside. The weatherman on
TV was confused. "It was supposed to be hot today."

When I turned two I was really anxious, because I'd doubled my age in a year.
I thought, if this keeps up, by the time I'm six I'll be ninety.

Sponges grow in the ocean. That just kills me. I wonder how much deeper the
ocean would be if that didn't happen.

I put instant coffee in a microwave oven and almost went back in time.

In my house there's this light switch that doesn't do anything. Every so often
I would flick it on and off just to check. Yesterday, I got a call from a
woman in Madagascar. She said, "Cut it out."

I got up one morning, couldn't find my socks, so I called Information. She
said, "Hello, Information." I said, "I can't find my socks." She said,
"They're behind the couch." And they were!

When I was a little kid we had a sand box. It was a quicksand box.
I was an only child....eventually.

I saw a bank that said "24 Hour Banking", but I don't have that much time.

I love to go shopping. I love to freak out salespeople. They ask me if they
can help me, and I say, "Have you got anything I'd like?" Then they ask me
what size I need, and I say, "Extra medium."

I bought my brother some gift-wrap for Christmas. I took it to the Gift Wrap
department and told them to wrap it, but in a different print so he would know
when to stop unwrapping.

All of the people in my building are insane. The guy above me designs
synthetic hairballs for ceramic cats. The lady across the hall tried to rob a
department store...with a pricing gun. She said, "Give me all of the money in
the vault, or I'm marking down everything in the store."

A cop stopped me for speeding. He said, "Why were you going so fast?" I said,
"See this thing my foot is on? It's called an accelerator. When you push down
on it, it sends more gas to the engine. The whole car just takes right off.
And see this thing? This steers it."

I can remember the first time I had to go to sleep. Mom said, "Steven, time to
go to sleep." I said, "But I don't know how." She said, "It's real easy.
Just go down to the end of tired and hang a left." So I went down to the end
of tired, and just out of curiosity I hung a right. My mother was there, and
she said "I thought I told you to go to sleep."

Last year I went fishing with Salvador Dali. He was using a dotted line. He
caught every other fish.

I put contact lenses in my dog's eyes. They had little pictures of cats on
them. Then I took one out and he ran around in circles.
Shark Boy and Lava Girl:

Children's movies should be rated on a scale of one to five based on the number of times you can stand to sit through the movie in a theater. Second-run theaters count.

The parental survival rate after three viewings of SBLG is 100%. Three stars.
Would you like a baguette?

I'm at Panera Bread, trying to order a cup of chai. There's nobody at the bakery counter, so I stand in line at the cafe counter. Someone comes out from the back of the house and starts sweeping the bakery, so I ask her if I can get a cup of coffee from her. She doesn't look up, so I laugh and say, "Can you hear me? Can you hear me?"

She jumps. "Oh!"

"Can I order coffee over here, or should I wait in the line?"

"Oh, no," she says, and starts punching things into a register. "Just a cup of coffee?"

"No, actually," I say. "A cup of chai."

"A chai latte or an iced chai?"

Now, the menu doesn't say chai latte, but Hot Spiced Chai. "Not a latte, no coffee in it," I say. "But still hot."

"That's a latte," she says.

"But I don't want the coffee," I repeat, because I quit drinking large amounts of caffeine over four years ago and I am afraid.

"There's no coffee. A latte just means, just means it's--" she holds out her hands in some kind of gesture I recognize as "Good-God-what-is-the-word-I'm-looking-for"-- "hot!"

"That's what I want. Just a hot chai. No coffee."

She rings me up and makes me a big mug of chai. "Here you go," she says.

"Thanks," I say. "I'm sorry. I'm just easily confused."

"Me too," she says.

"We should be careful around each other," I say.

She looks at me like I'm an idiot, or maybe that's just self-defense, because I think she's confused. But that's okay, because she just walked over to my table and offered me a baguette, because they had too many baguettes. She has been passing out baguettes to various people. Not everyone, though. I'm not sure why.

And I noticed that most of the people, when they accepted their baguettes, got this look on their faces, like she was an idiot.

One man said, "Do I want this huge loaf of bread? Do I look like I'm an idiot?"


From Scientific American,
September 2004:

In an article about how nitrates may actually be beneficial:

"The story of nitrate's positive side began ni 1994, when Jon Lundberg of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and Nigel Benjamin of Peninsula Medical School of Exeter, Englind, independently observed that the human stomach harbos large amounts of the gas nitric oxide (NO)."

Unfortunately, on further research I have found that laughing gas is nitrous oxide.

Oh, well.

Good news! Nitric acid is found in automobile exhaust, mediates the erection of the penis, and aids in killing pathogens in the body. Amazing what you can find wandering around the web.



I hate autumn.

Lee's discussed this with me, telling me about all the good things that autumn brings. Cooler temperatures, the crispness in the air, the turning of the leaves, etc.

I concede that autumn itself isn't so bad.

But I still hate autumn, because of what happens to me every frikkin' year.

I get sick. I get depressed. I get irritable for no good reason. I'm tired all the time. I have to start wearing socks and shoes when I'm not at work. I hear all the little plants squeaking "save me!" "save me!" and there isn't a damn thing I can do.


Because of the cooler temperatures (and the grey skies), it's already started happening this year. It'll get better by the time I hit October. I like October. The air really is crisp. Nights are dark without being ridiculously long. It's quit raining. There are not yet any holidays to worry excessively over...but October's a ways to go, yet.

Why, oh why, did autumn have to start so early?


Ray, Lee, and I did indeed catch a cold, one that has prevented us from going up to see Kaylee. F*!@ing autumn.



moveable feast

n : a religious holiday that falls on different dates in different years

from Dictionary.com.

That is, Easter and the like. Now I know.



Over the weekend of the first, Ray and I drove out to Rapid City to see my Grandparents and other family, some of whom I hadn't seen for...ten years? More than that?

Uncle Dan and Aunt Mararet were there from Reno. Surprisingly, they hadn't changed much. Dan has gray hair. They both sound the same as I remember when they laugh, which, to my mind, is more important than anything else. Uncle Dave was there, my folks were there with all the sibs except Matt, and we caught up to Uncle Doyle and Sarah later on.

I think everybody that was older than I am got called "grandma" or "grandpa." I don't think we ever did convince Ray that my grandmother was my mother's mother. And, of course, I had to hear old DeAnna stories about how similar I'd been at the age to the way Ray is now.

Here's my favorite:

My uncle Larry (married to my dad's sister Carol, the other side of my family), one day when I was three or four, told me that he had a key that, if inserted into my belly button, would cause my arms and legs to fall off. I said, "Do I look like I'm stupid?" and he replied, "Well, I'll never make that mistake again."

There's another one, from about the same time, when my grandfather told me that if I didn't quit sucking his thumb, it would fall off. Then he showed me his hand, missing a thumb. I don't know what I said (the story doesn't go so far), but apparently it didn't work. My mother had to tell me that I couldn't go to school if I didn't quit sucking my thumb, and that was the only thing that worked.

Below is a picture that demonstrates a fundamental difference between Rachael and her mother:

My grandfather (the missing thumb is on the other hand) is using his cane to strech Ray to make her grow faster. Afterwards, she will walk around the deck on tippietoe, her chest stuck out and her eyes as wide as those of a Pekinese, showing everyone how tall she is. "Wook! I gwowing and gwowing!"

I know that she doesn't believe him, but she enjoys playing out the game, both the attention and making people happy, too much to call him out on it.

My daughter is a wonderful creature.



So I'm finally reading Jasper Fforde's* Thursday Next book, Something Rotten when I realize that it's a silly book. Not a big jump, there. But then I think, "What is silly?

Dictionary.com says this:

adj. sil·li·er, sil·li·est

  • Exhibiting a lack of wisdom or good sense; foolish. See Synonyms at foolish.
  • Lacking seriousness or responsibleness; frivolous: indulged in silly word play; silly pet names for each other.
  • Semiconscious; dazed: knocked silly by the impact.

[Middle English seli, silli, blessed, innocent, hapless, from Old English gesælig, blessed.]
silli·ly (sl-l) adv.
silli·ness n.

Nah. That's not right.

So how do you define silliness? It has something to do with a gap between an ordinary, commonsense, expected meaning and a meaning that uses a normally commonsense, ordinary pattern inappropriately.

For example. The name "Thursday Next": You could name your kid Thursday, and it would be odd, but not silly. "Thursday Smith." "Thursday Jones." But "Thursday Next" means "next week on Thursday." It's a commonsense, ordinary pattern used inappropriately, because a person's name is meant to identify a person, not to indicate a period of time.

More examples. If you had a conversation in which you expected someone to respond rationally, and they did, but their responses had a pattern to them that did not add to the meaning of the responses, that would be silly. That is, if all the responses began with the letter B, that would be silly. If every statement was phrased as a question, that would be silly. If the responses rhymed, that would be silly.

Puns are silly. The joke, "A man walked into a bar. He said to the bartender, 'Ouch!'" is silly. Lewis Carroll is silly -- most of the details of his books are formed from a mathematical pattern, or in response to a current saying or poem of his day. Sexual innuendo is silly. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is silly. Blonde jokes are silly -- the epitome of using an inappropriate pattern to responsd to a commonsense situation.

I treat silliness not as foolishness, but as a subset of humor. You have to see the underlying pattern to the inappropriate responses in order to find it funny, and the pattern has to be something that you haven't tired of, but there you go.

More thoughts later...




Sent to customer service at Thrifty.com 08/02/05:

To whom it may concern,

I had a negative experience with the North Academy location of Thrifty in Colorado Springs, Colorado. This is my first experience with Thrifty. If I ever choose this company again, it will not be at this location.

I rented a car from Friday, July 29th to Monday, August 1st. I had originally scheduled pickup of the rental for the afternoon. I called about 11 a.m. that day to ask whether it would be possible to pick up the rental early; I was told that when I would be arriving, half an hour later, the rental would be ready. When I arrived, the woman at the front desk was unaware that I would be arriving early -- the car was not ready. I only had to wait for ten minutes, not an unreasonable amount of time, but not was was said over the phone. While waiting for the car to arrive, the woman who had been working at the desk complained about the lack of communication to her manager, using sarcastic language and tone in front of me. When the woman at the desk started entering my information, she interrupted me to take a personal phone call, which did not sound like an emergency.

When I dropped off the car, the gentleman at the desk seemed very impatient to have to stop doing what he was doing (I did not see what it was) to help me. Later, after I had left the office, I heard him swearing loudly across the parking lot, using the f-word.

A few hours later, when I had returned home, I had received several calls from this same gentleman asking me to call back to the office. When I returned the call, he said that there had been damage to the car, that the rear windshield had been damaged. I told him that I hadn't noticed any damage to the windshield. He became very sarcastic and said something to the effect that he didn't know how I hadn't noticed the damage to the windshield -- I felt like he was accusing me of lying to him. (I wonder now, that if the damage to the windshield were so obvious, why he did not see the damage when he went out to take the mileage. I had thought that at that point he had inspected the car.) He demanded that I return to the office to sign an accident report. I told him that I would be unavailable that evening, and he demanded that I come in first thing in the morning. I told him that I would be at work. He then asked me when I would be available, and I told him that I would come in as soon as I had finished work, at approximately 3:30 on Tuesday afternoon. I told him that I would like to see the damage to the car.

When I arrived at the office, the woman at the desk had not been informed that there had been any issues with my rental and was not expecting me. The car had been rented out again; I was informed that I would not be able to see the car until Friday, when it was scheduled to be returned. When I reviewed the accident report, the information was that the front windshield on the passenger's side, rather than the rear window, had been damaged. I signed and dated the form, provided my policy number with Geico, and added a note that not only had I been unaware of any damage, the information that I had been provided on the phone call was different than the information on the report.

Again, I did not observe any damage to the car when I returned the car; I do not believe there was any damage to the car when I dropped it off. I find the gentleman's behavior, both in not informing me of the damage to the car while I was in the office and in swearing in the parking lot, very suspicious.

When I spoke to the manager, I told her that I was uncomfortable about this situation, and uncomfortable with the way the gentleman had treated me. She told me that she had been standing next to the gentleman during our phone call and that he had told me that the damage had been to the front windshield, which was not what I recall from the conversation. In no way did she acknowledge or apologize that the gentleman used an inappropriate tone with me on the phone.

I feel very frustrated with this situation. I do not feel that I could expect -- or that anyone else could expect -- good service from this location because of the pattern of behavior that I saw. I do not trust the ability of this office to handle communication effectively. I do not trust the ability of this office to handle themselves courteously with their customers. I do not trust the ability of this office to salvage a negative situation. I do not trust the ability of this office to ensure the integrity of its employees.

I have contacted my insurance company, Geico, about this issue. I am not looking for any kind of recompense or resitution; I trust Geico to handle this situation equitably and fairly. If they pay a claim to your company, it is because they have assessed the situation and chosen to do so. I wanted to let you know about the behavior of the employees in this office because I cannot believe that such a systematic disregard for customer service is part of your company values.

Please let me know if you need additional information. I did not take the names of the people in the office. I would prefer to be contacted via email, if necessary.

Thank you for your time,
DeAnna Knippling



For those of you who have read Stephen Brust, it sounds like the Enron collapse followed the plot of the book Orca. Minus the assassination.

I was listening to NPR today...
Christmas in July.


No crowds. No cards. No snow. No turkey.

It was a lovely day. I think we'll do this again. Pictures when I feel like it.


Alison Krauss.

I finally got around to listening to Alison Krauss and the Union Station's New Favorite last night. Wow.

Alison Krauss sounds like Dolly Parton without all the bad producers. She was one of the female vocalists from the O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack -- that's how I'd heard of her -- and the man who does the singing voice for George Clooney is part of the band.

I do not recommend this album for anyone who genuinely likes most of the contemporary country music on the radio, but for people who like bluegrass, folk, blues, and old country. Listen to the samples here.


Woo Hoo!
Blogger now allows pictures...

Christmas in July Approacheth.

You better be good, or the tiki gods will EAT you!




No plot details will be revealed. Please skip if you want no hints.

I tell myself from time to time that I should slow down when I'm reading. The problem is, I usually ignore myself. I picked up HP yesterday at Borders (I've decided that this is the most constructive place to write; therefore, I buy most of my books there out of loyalty) at ten, continued to function as a responsible adult, and still finished the book by eight thirty last night. So I really didn't get anything out of the book as a writer. But I had to know what happened.

Afterwards, I lay in the bathtub. I didn't feel anything. I got out of the bathtub. Everything was annoying. I ate something and told myself that my daughter was not being annoying. I asked Lee to give me a hug. "I thought you might need one," he said. I took Ray to Target and picked up some cookies. We came home and ate cookies. By the time I went to bed, I felt sad, heavy and sad, heavy and angry and sad. I don't remember my dreams.


A good way to say something bad about someone you don't like:

Pindakaashoofd (PIN-da-kaw-show-ft)

This is Dutch for "peanut butter head."
Greek salad.

I've made greek salad vinagrette before, but I've never been happy with it. Last night, I tried a different technique. Very good.

First, assemble your salad in a bowl sufficient to hold it, adding ingredients as desired.

Next, crush a clove of garlic using a garlic press or smash with the side of a knife into a paste. Flick garlic onto the salad -- I'd say, about a quarter of a clove for an entree salad, or half that for a side salad. At any rate, if you find yourself reaching for more than a single clove of garlic, you're probably going too far. Use less rather than more.

Finally, add a teaspoon each of good, extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice per entree salad (half that for a side salad) and toss. Shake some salt and freshly-ground black pepper over the salad, toss again.

If the salad is bland, you need more lemon juice and a little more salt.
Fact or myth?

Smoothies are good for you.


Chocolate cherry smoothies:

1 pt. high-quality chocolate ice cream
1 c. pitted ripe cherries (slice down the middle, twist open, pick out pit)
1 c. milk (or less)
6 ice cubes
whipped cream (do not use fake whipped cream)

Blenderize. If the smoothie doesn't turn purple, add more cherries. Top with whipped cream. I'd say three servings, but I'd be wrong.

I suppose you could add some good chocolate syrup or hot fudge (unheated) to it.



I'm tired of my blog. Revamping as inspiration hits, within the squashed confines of my HTML talents.
He knows more than you do!

Visit the Dr. Science website!



Theme song from Babe:

If I had words to make a day for you,
I'd sing you a morning golden and new.
I would make this day last for all time,
Give you a night deep with moonshine.
--Nigel Westlake, "If I Had Words"
Bumper Sticker.

The flying hamster of DOOM rains coconuts on your pitiful city.



I still don't think this is going to come out right.

Batman Begins is a great movie, but I was disappointed. They even used my theory about Batman, that his motive is fear rather than revenge. I was still disappointed.

The movie wasn't mythic. It was a realistic movie explaining how a human being could end up acting like Batman, but I didn't leave the theater feeling like I'd actually seen BATMAN. I haven't figured out whether it was the writing, the acting, the directing, etc., but it wasn't really BATMAN. Too realistic? I don't think so. Lame female lead? She wasn't so much lame as realistic... I don't know how to explain it.

But five minutes of Serenity, for me, was more thrilling than the whole Batman Begins movie.
Oh, that reminds me.

I made creme brulee
for Father's Day.
It turned out OK!

Also, I made barbecued chicken and the Best Beans Ever:

1 lb bacon.
1 large can of baked beans, not institutional-size, but pretty large (we used maple-flavored).
1 red onion, chopped in small but non-dainty chunks.
1/4 c. blackstrap molasses or more to taste.
Worchestershire sauce, salt, and pepper to taste.

Fry bacon until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and drain on paper towels. STOP!!! Do not drain the grease. This recipe is meant for guys. Pour the beans in the pan with the grease and warm gently. Add molasses and stir. Add worchestershire sauce, salt, and pepper to taste. Just before serving, stir in the red onion.

After eating, leave the room.

*If you bitched to yourself that my haiku had the wrong number of syllables, you're a dork.


Amusing and delicious.

Seeing as Ray was asleep on my shoulder, Lee ordered Chinese last night from the Swan Palace. On a whim, I ordered pineapple chicken.

"You ordered pineapple chicken, right?" he asked.


"Well, you got pineapple chicken."

And then he brought me half a hollowed-out pineapple with stir fry in the middle. It was the same kind of taste on the tongue as good wine. Not the same taste, but the same type of taste, that makes your mouth swim just thinking about it.


Online Writer's Workshop.

I've been checking out the Online Writer's Workshop. I've submitted the first section of the Gray Hill novel, received four reviews, and been very happy with them. Many good suggestions. I'm still on my free month, but I'm going to keep going with it.

This means, mind you, I will have even less time to play on COH, but there you go.



Did not suck. And did not wuss out on the question, "What do you do when you have a carnivore and an herbavore stuck on a desert island?"

The more kids' movies that don't suck, the better.

I'm going to make this brief, because I've told the story and told it:

My daughter learned how to escape the apartment. She ended up at the front office of our apartment complex, naked except for her jacket and the keys to the apartment. We cut off her escape route using chicken wire. She took a different route involving a five-foot drop over a fence. I think we've cut that one off, too.

Here's something I've learned:

She got spanked, talked to, and grounded all day. This did not work. The last time, I sent her to her room for a few minutes and told her all she had to do if she really wanted to go outside was ask. "Please momma, let's go outside." Then she asked me, and we went outside. The next time she asked me, we went outside. I asked her today if she wanted to go outside, but she was too busy cutting up unwanted coupons. "No, thank you."

Punishing her a lot didn't work. Punishing her a little and helping her work out how to do what she wanted to do in a way we could both deal with seems to have worked. And maybe this will help teach her that she doesn't have to wait for us to do the things she wants us to do or do them all alone--she can tell us what she wants to do. She can ask.



I'm having problems coming up with a good beginning. I'm going to have to think it out for a while.

Note that beginnings are often a combination of things.

Opening Stasis: Shows things as they are before something significant changes. (As common as boy-meets-girl. LOTR. The Hobbit. Star Wars. If the characters are happy with their setting, the goal of the story is to return to the opening stasis (which may or may not happen). If the characters are not happy with their setting, the goal of the story is to escape the opening stasis and achieve transformation.)

In media res: Shows things in the middle of the action and events.
--Orientation: Shows action that introduces the characters and action. (James Bond movies. The goals are similar to that of the opening stasis beginning.)
--Disorientation: Shows action that introduces the mood. The characters and action are not explained. (Serenity. The goal of the story is to come to grips with reality. Either the reality is as complex for the characters as it is to the audience, or something about the assumed reality is not what it seems. The characters either accept or reject reality.)

Frame Story: Surrounds the main story with a second story.
--Inside: The main story and the frame story are in the same reality. (Harry Potter series. The main story undercuts the assumptions of the frame story.)
--Outside: The main story and the frame story are in two different realities. Story within a story. (The Princess Bride. The main story reinforces or enriches the assumptions of the frame story.)

Simple Story: The story begins with a simple plot which is undercut, reversed, or complicated. (The Dark Tower series. The Sixth Sense. Stories with a twist. The simple plot may or may not have anything to do with the main plot.)

Story-Pattern: The pattern of the introduction shows the pattern of the story as a whole.
--Self-similar: The beginning of the story takes a pattern repeated by the story as a whole. (Scooby-Doo, TV and movies. Spirited Away. Two approaches. In one, the audience loves the familiarity of the story. Often used in TV shows. The story before the first commerical break is something the main characters do all the time, with variations. In the other, a lesson is presented to the characters, which they do not learn. The rest of the story is the repetition of the lesson, with higher stakes.)
--Cyclic: The beginning of the story ties to the end. (The Lion King. American Beauty. The beginning reveals the end of the story, either directly or indirectly. The story often feels mythic.)

Backstory: The story is introduced by a past event. (X-men. An easy way to focus the story on the action of the plot rather than the idea of discovery of the truth. Can be a self-similar story.)

Squishy Intro: The story is introduced by an event that happens to a minor character. (Horror movies. Works in the same type of way as the backstory, but focuses on events where the backstory focuses more on character.)

Flash Forward: The story is introduced by an event that happens in the middle or end of the story but is not the ending of the story itself. (Fight Club. Swordfish. Clever action movies. Challenges the audience to try to guess the plot. Differs from a cyclic plot in that the events do not feel inevitable, and unpredictable things often happen after the story catches up to the first scene again.)

Things Which Will Be Revealed to the POV Characters Later: The story is introduced by an event that will not be revealed to the main characters until later. (Murder mysteries. Sometimes unusual events are disguised with normalcy. Easy way to introduce "mystery" to the audience. Often combined with a lie.)

Lie: The events in the beginning of the story are a lie or red herring.

Metafiction: The story is introduced by commentary on the story itself. (The Princess Bride. A Series of Unfortunate Events. A story about stories. Metafiction is like a frame story, but one in which the audience is to consider the events of the story other than they otherwise would.)

Cosmological: The story begins with an introduction to the universe itself. Discworld. Dune. Either I barely notice this kind of beginning or I hate it.)

Insight is when the obvious becomes the really obvious.



I don't know the name of the song. I have no idea what any of the lyrics are. The part that got stuck in my head was the piano in the beginning, a mountain-stream waterfall of piano. There's a backbeat in there somewhere. The singer sounds like someone I should know, but not really. Like a song you imagined in your dreams, woke up, and forgot.
David Sedaris:

"My father has always placed a great deal of importance on his daughters' physical beauty. It is, to him, their greatest asset, and he monitors their appearance with the intensity of a pimp. What can I say? He was born a long time ago and is convinced that marriage is a woman's only real shot at happiness. Because it was always assumed that we would lead professional lives, my brother and I were free to grow as plump and ugly as we liked. Our bodies were viewed as mere vehicles, pasty, potbellied machines designed to transport our thoughts from one place to another. I might wander freely through the house drinking pancake batter from a plastic bucket, but the moment one of my sisters overspilled her bikini, my father was right there to mix his metaphors. 'Jesus, Flossie, what are we running here, a dairy farm? Look at you, you're the size of a house. Two more pounds, and you won't be able to cross state lines without a trucking license.'"

--From Me Talk Pretty One Day.



From Jackie:

"She has more issues that Mad magazine."

I am easily amused.




Lee started a blog. It's called Thoughtful Gibberish.
The Dark Tower.

I finished reading Stephen King's Dark Tower series on the way back from South Dakota. He's said he's going to retire, at least from writing fiction, and now I understand. Maybe he won't be able to do it this time, but I can hope for him.

I love talking to Lee about this kind of stuff. He hasn't read the books, so I didn't tell him any of the plot, but I still worked out something by talking to him that I couldn't have worked out on my own.

The actual books that Stephen King wrote are like a story that Jorge Luis Borges would write about. For instance the one where the guy tries to rewrite Don Quixote, exactly as it already is, without reading the book himself.

Anyway, my thought:

There are two series of books going by the name The Dark Tower and using the same text. The first series of books is the series you read when you read the books the first time. The second series of books is the series you read after you've read the ending. These two series are congruent but not equivalent. After you see the ending of The Sixth Sense, the movie isn't the same. Like that, only better.

I think I've figured out the point where the ending didn't have to come out the way it did. It had to end the way it did--I get that--but I can see where it might have turned.

Here's to Stephen King's retirement!

We drove back to South Dakota last week to see my brother Matt graduate from college.

We stopped in Vermillion on the way to Sioux Falls and tried to eat lunch at Marge's, but she's dead. It sounds like she must have died just after the last time we ate there. The world's best tater tots have gone west. They've put in a bike path by that little river you cross as you come down the big hill. Classy.

We went to the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls, saw work by a neat local artist, Carl Grupp, and the guy that took stop-motion pictures of the bullet going through cards and apples and whatnot, Harold Edgerton. The kids' science center is well worth the admission. My goodness, how did we get Ray out of there? Lee's brother Mike drove up from Pierre while we were staying at their mom's place. It's always nice to talk to someone who operates on the some of the same basic assumptions that you do. Always thinking, that guy.

Here's Matt: he got to graduation late, saw his line of people leaving for the floor, tried to join them but was shooed back by someone beaurocrat, ended up somehow in front of his supposed place in line, tripped on a cord in the back of the house, and ended up limping to the stage on a twisted ankle far too early for us to have our cameras out. He went back to his apartment and watched the rest of graduation on TV. Former Senator Tom Daschle spoke. My mother hates the guy. It's hard to understand hate for someone so...homey. Maybe it's just protective politician covering. I'm proud of him, anyway: someone from SD was the guy that would have been president if Clinton and Gore had been assassinated, anyway.

I'd met Matt's girlfriend when they came out for Easter. I still think she's all that and a bag of chips. I met her parents at the reception, though, and they were interesting, funny, and witty, too. Weird. Maybe they're all aliens.

After graduation, Lee convinced me that we could ditch everyone ("Face it. You're not the main attraction."), leave Ray with my folks, and drive back from Flandreau to Sioux Falls for a night out. We went to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy,* which I liked and Lee hated.

The next day, May 1st, my birthday, was the day of the relatives. About 10 too many people showed up for me to handle. I had to leave the room at one point, because my mouth would have otherwise said something beyond the edge of consensus. Can't have that. It could have been worse. I did get to hear the story of how Matt and Erica met. Did you know that my brother was the Mystery Hottie Guy? I hadn't laughed so hard for weeks, and I laugh a lot.

On the way back to Colorado, we stopped at the Omaha Zoo. I love zoos. They've added stuff since the last time I've been there, a geodesic dome with a desert exhibit on top and "Kingdoms of the Night" underneath. (Kingdoms of the Night was cool and spooky. The first thing you see is this open pool, deeper than I am tall, with nothing to stop you from falling in. Lee stuck his foot in to see if there was glass. There wasn't. And the swamp with the gators and piped-in sound effects. One little girl had to be carried out.) They'd build a gorilla exhibit that looked wonderful, but they were all inside that day. They're working on an orangutan forest, too, which looks enjoyable. We stayed in Lincoln (HoJo's not recommended) and went home the next day.

Home. The place with the wonderful bed.

*If the guys had claimed to be from the BBC instead of MTV, people would have reacted better. It's like Midsummer Night's Dream. Nobody will make the perfect version.

I saw the screening on Thursday in Denver. Doyce got ten tickets and included Lee and myself on his guest list.

Again, thank you.

No spoilers will follow. I'm going to assume you've seen the series.

With a cool eye, this is the best thing Joss Whedon has written. Don't worry about being disappointed with the movie. It isn't going to go down in history as one of the Star Trek sequels--something you remember as being good to great, but see later with this sickening feeling of loss.

The beginning doesn't really bother to be an introduction so much as a disorientation. It's clever and effective--you understand the basics of what's going on without the Dune introduction scene. I remember something my mother said when we watched the movie for the first time: "I don't think I like movies that need an introduction."

After watching the filmed introduction that Joss Whedon made at the beginning of the screening, I have decided that I'd do him in a heartbeat. Lee says he'll forgive me for saying that.

"Melancholy Elephants," though.



I was talking to someone today about the new pope--he seems like a politico to me, whereas JPII seemed like a spiritual man who had to do some politics--when she started talking to me about how there will be no peace on earth this side of the final judgement, because of the power of Satan on earth to cause war, which is always evil, except that sometimes you have to do it anyway.


I told her I didn't know about all that, only that the new pope didn't measure up to JPII.

Bad thing: When people use religious doctrine irrelevantly to justify an opinion, i.e., that Pope Benedict is a good guy. I'm oversimplifying the train of thought, but I think that was the intent.

Good thing: That I'm no longer a recovering Catholic. I'm not Catholic. I'm not Christian. (To me, it'd be like saying I believe in ratchets and nothing but ratchets when I have a whole box of tools.) But I'm not bitter about it anymore; I don't need to defend myself from conversations that become illogical when religion is mentioned. I don't have to get angry about it anymore.

Now, Focus on the Family is a different story. They're hateful jerks, and if I were Christian, they'd probably make me even more angry than they do now.


Matt! Maaaaattttt!

Ben Edlund to write more Tick.

(via Whedonesque.)



One of the things I miss about drinking strong coffe is the caffeine buzz. It seemed to make life just a little bit easier, at times. Like today, when I have no inspiration to do anything. I could sit down, drink a pot of coffee, and the world would have sparkly edges. Everything would inspire me to something.

I'd never finish that stuff, though. Because I'd travel back to the land of after-coffee, and it'd be boring. Utterly boring.

Anyway, I've had a long run of uninspiring days. Stuff happens, but it does't feel important enough to write about. Made a new kind of chicken noodle soup, a pistou without the vegetables, I guess, and accidentally received an indoor grilling book from my cookbook club, which Lee was excited about, so I'll keep it. (Yes, I belong to a cookbook club. I don't usually cook using recipes, either.) I'm introducing Ray to the idea that letters make sounds, which make words. Lee's brother Mike stopped by on his way to see their brother Dale in Tucson; Mike wanted to know what tricks Ray could do. Heard about Dale being Dale; it sounds like he's dating someone who can relate to--not just laugh at--his stories. She only has one eye. I went to a potluck/open house celebrating the adoption of my boss's two new kids from the Ukraine. I finally read Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. I'm roasting chicken with homemade yakitori sauce. I read Song of Susannah yesterday, and I found it lacking compared to the other books in the series, probably because so much of it was a writerly trick to set up the last book. Did laundry. Survived another sinus infection. Changed the batteries in 20 cheap watches and only lost one screw.

But I did sit down today and promise myself that I'd write in my blog. I don't know why, but even the dull entries make me feel better, at heart, than drinking a pot of coffee. And not as twitchy, either.



Since this is what I've been doing for most of my free time this week, I'd better post one.

*A Short History of Nearly Everything
By Bill Bryson.

It's time to scrap our science textbooks. Not only are they wrong--and they know they're wrong--but they're bad. Electrons do not swirl around the nucleus of an atom like planets, but it'll take you until you're in college or the hands of a subversive high-school physics teacher to find out. Formulas considered too complex for a teenager to learn are dumbed down. Facts are left out, distorted, glossed over: theories are presented as laws, despite any contrary facts. Mostly what you learn from science classes until you hit college is to sit down and shut up.

It's an exciting time to learn science; the only problem is, you have to learn it in spite of your education.

Well, here you go. Bill Bryson won't tell you the real formulas, won't give you the true truth as concealed by highschool textbooks everywhere, but he will tell you how complex the situation is. And he'll put in the little, human details about scientific history that will make you laugh and shudder with how little we know, and how lucky we are to know what we do know.

I recommend this book to anyone who won't be angry about it, that is, the people who already know so much about science that this stuff will be old hat. Most of this stuff was old hat for me, but it was so well written and so well questioned that I enjoyed it anyway. Especially it seems like a good (if long!) idea for anyone in high school that's struggling with science. Why? They ask. Because, their teachers answer. Bill Bryson isn't a science writer--he mostly writes travel books--and makes things interesting and easy to grasp for the layman.


Gravity's Angel.

By Laurie Anderson.

...Well he was an ugly guy. With an ugly face.
An also ran in the human race.
And even God got sad just looking at him. And at his funeral
all his friends stood around looking sad. But they were really
thinking of all the ham and cheese sandwiches in the next room.
And everybody used to hang around him. And I know why.
They said: There but for the grace of the angels go I.
Why these mountains? Why this sky?...

...Why these mountains? Why this sky? This long road? This empty room?

(sample at Amazon.com)

Given that I've never installed a tile floor and there are probably practical reasons for this, still, bleah. I can't find M C Escher floor tiles anywhere.


Another Ray Story.

We took Ray to the mall last week because she was DRIVING US MAD. One of the you're-not-being-bad-it's-just-too-much-now-stop-it-stop-it-I-said-stop-it-now-go-to-your-room days. So we took her to the play area.

First, a note: the two other kids she was playing with ended up lying on the floor panting, too tired to play any more, while Ray danced around them and dared them to chase her some more, more, more.

For some reason, while they were playing hide and seek, the other two kids would hide in the same spot over and over again. Not much of a challenge, even for a preschooler.

Ray walked by their hiding spot. "Where are you? Where are you?"

"In here! In here!" they giggled.

Ray walked backwards past them. "I can't find yoooo-ooooou...where are you?"

"Come here! Come find us!"

She walked by them again. "Where are yooooooooou?"

Then she clambered over their hiding spot and waited.

"Where is she? Where are you? We're in heeeeee-eeeeere!"

Ray jumped down in front of them: "Boo!"


When we took her home, she still wasn't all that tired.
I got a present for you...!

On occaision, especially before asking for reciprocation, Ray will bring me gifts.

"Momma, I got a present for yooo-ooooou!"

"What is it?" I'll ask.

And she'll give me something, like a doll or a truck or a DVD. Today it started out with a picture of a head. No eyes or anything, just a head with a red spot in the middle.

"It's beautiful! Is it a head?"

"And a brain." She points to the center of her head. "For thinking."

"That's wonderful! Thank you!"

Then she brings me a glass with the dregs of her milk. I thank her and tell her she can keep it.

"Momma! I got a present for you!"

"What is it?"


And then she gives me an enormous hug.

What a wonderful girl.


Captain 11.

"Wave one hand. Wave both hands. Wave both hands and one foot. Wave both hands and both feet!"

Dave Dedrick, Captain 11, was the first voice heard on television in South Dakota, in 1953. He worked as a news announcer, weatherman, and host of a children's show, "Captain 11!"

You can't hear the echoes in my head, so you'll have to imagine them.

The show would start with the following mantra: "One man in each century is given the power to control time. The man chosen to receive this power is carefully selected. He must be kind. He must be fair. He must be brave. You have fulfilled these requirements; and, we of the Outer Galaxies designate to you the wisdom of Solomon and the strength of Atlas. YOU are CAPTAIN 11!"

4 o'clock would find me, my brother, and at least a pint of Schwann's ice cream in front of the TV every weekday. Captain 11 ran from 1955 to 1996. And no, Dave Dedrick isn't dead, as far as I know. I was just thinking.

For more information...



Here is the story of my boss's adoption trip to the Ukraine.

He and his wife adopted two children, a boy and a girl, two years ago, and decided to return for two of the girl's friends this year. They left just after the recent re-election in Ukraine.

They're returning with one of the girls, Leeza, and her brother Zhenya -- and leaving the other girl, Katya, behind because of a paperwork issue. They're going to return for Katya as soon as they can. They have to wait a year.

There have been days when I'd read the updates and cheer -- and days when I'd sit in front of the computer at work and try not to cry.

Last week we were telling Leeza and Katya that we wanted to adopt them, but that we had some paperwork problems and Katya couldn't come home with us now and it would have to be later. Katya became upset and Leeza said to Katya " you go, I will stay". This is coming from a girl that wants a family more than breath. They are too good.

Leeza is now like the kid in the back seat on the way to Disneyland that keeps saying, "are we there yet?" She wants to know when we are going to America. It is really hard to be excited for Leeza and so depressed about Katya at the same time. Katya is doing much better than we are. She has a Mama and Papa now and she can't hide her excitement about that, although we are sure there is some fear inside her that we won't come back. Living your life without a family, and especially a Mom or Dad would probably create doubt like that no matter what we did. Zhenya has his own profile on Papa's windows XP on the family laptop now and you would think that he just won the lottery. The techie Papa has already learned some things about his computer that he never knew before. Zhenya is still attending his Physics and Math classes at the University this weekend despite knowing he is going to America in a week. He is one driven kid. He said that it doesn't matter if he is leaving in a week. He says Physics and Mathematics are the same in Ukraine and America. He could skip the class and play with Papa's laptop all day, but he would rather take a bus across town and sit in a class. We are so proud :)
The Five Irregular Men.

My cousin Heather taught me this song. Her parents gave her THE LOOK and said it was INAPPROPRIATE.


There were five, five constipated men in the Bible, in the Bible.
There were five, five constipated men In the holy books of Moses.

Oh, the first, first constipated man Was Cain, he was not able.
Oh, the first, first constipated man Was Cain, he was not able.

Oh, the next, next constipated man Was Moses, he took two tablets.
Oh, the next, next constipated man Was Moses, he took two tablets.

Oh, the third, third constipated man Was Solomon, he sat for forty years.
Oh, the third, third constipated man Was Solomon, he sat for forty years.

Oh, the fourth, fourth constipated man Was Balam, he couldn't move his ass.
Oh, the fourth, fourth constipated man Was Balam, he couldn't move his ass.

Oh, the last, last constipated man
Was Sampson, he brought the house down...

via ScoutsCan.Com.



I have completed Ulysses, by James Joyce.


Plot: A day in the life of Leopold Bloom, in such detail as to make you realize -- with as many things that he must have done, said, or thought, or things that affected his actions, thoughts, or words, in addition to the material included in the nearly 1000-page book -- as to make one realize that every day is just as much a miraculous journey as Ulysses's original fictional voyage.

Opinion: As literature, bemusing but amazing. The more I understand the more I'm impressed. It's more than something to read, it's an experience (some might say TORTURE and they wouldn't be half wrong). I might read it again if I ever find an annotated version, just to find out what U.P.: UP means.

Caveat: I didn't get most of it. Took me much longer than 24 hours of reading time.


Da Law.

I happened to look up Murphy's Law the other day. Interesting stuff. Here's the origin of Murphy's Laws:

[Murphy's Law] was named after Capt. Edward A. Murphy, an engineer working on Air Force Project MX981, designed to see how much sudden deceleration a person can stand in a crash.

This website has a complete listing of Murphy's Laws. My favorite is #6:
If you perceive that there are four possible ways in which a procedure can go wrong, and circumvent these, then a fifth way, unprepared for, will promptly develop.

And... if you scroll down the site, you will find other laws. For example:

Allen's Axiom
When all else fails, follow instructions.

Barrett's Laws of Driving:
You can get ANYWHERE in ten minutes if you go fast enough.
Speed bumps are of negligible effect when the vehicle exceeds triple the desired restraining speed.
The vehicle in front of you is traveling slower than you are.
This lane ends in 500 feet.

Cohn's Law:
The more time you spend in reporting on what you are doing, the less time you have to do anything. Stability is achieved when you spend all your time doing nothing but reporting on the nothing you are doing.

Fett's Law of the Lab:
Never replicate a successful experiment.

Ginsberg's Theorem (Generalized Laws of Thermodynamics):
You can't win.
You can't break even.
You can't even quit the game.

Herblock's Law:
If it's good, they'll stop making it.
***The Testerman Corollary: ...but not until after you've started watching the first season.

Issawi's Law of Frustration:
One cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs -- but it is amazing how many eggs one can break without making a decent omelette.

Laura's Law
No child throws up in the bathroom.

Lawyer's Rule
When the law is against you, argue the facts. When the facts are against you, argue the law. When both are against you, call the other lawyer names.

Martha's Maxim (and see Olum's Observation and Farrow's Finding):
If God had meant for us to travel tourist class, He would have made us narrower.

Margaret Mead's Law of Human Migration:
At least fifty percent of the human race doesn't want their mother-in-law within walking distance.

Ozian Option:
I can't give you brains, but I can give you a diploma.

Let me try some:

If the milk has gone bad, someone will ask you to taste it to make sure.

Rules of Colorado Driving:
1. It's always a good time to change lanes.
1a. Use as many lanes as necessary.
2. It's not running a red light if you gun your engine first.
3. If one lane is full of cars and the other is empty, take the full one.
3a. See Rule 1.
Black History Month

February is Black History Month. At work this month, we've been getting daily emails about great black inventors:

Those Who Dared

Friday, February 11

Lonnie Johnson - Mechanical and Nuclear Engineer

Company Profile:

"We at Johnson Research & Development Company, Inc. (Johnson Research)
specialize in the proprietary development of high technology environmental
and energy related products in the areas of:

Heat Transfer
Fluid Dynamics
Thermal Hydraulics
Energy and Power Generation
Mechanics of Materials
Fatigue Analysis
Digital Circuit Design
Control Systems."

From Johnson Research and Development website.

Lonnie Johnson tinkered with appliances when he was just a kid. At 18, as
a senior in high school, he won first place in a national competition. All
the tinkering he did when he was younger allowed him to build a
remote-controlled robot he named "Linex."

After high school, Lonnie went on to Tuskeegee University in Alabama on a
mathematics scholarship. While there, he earned a Bachelor of Science in
Mechanical Engineering in 1972. Two years later, he earned a Master of
Science in Nuclear Engineering. After finishing his M.S., Lonnie became a
captain in the US Air Force, serving as an Advanced Space Systems
Requirements Officer at Strategic Air Command in Omaha, Nebraska. From
there, he moved on to work with NASA at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in
California. While with NASA, Lonnie worked on the Galileo Jupiter probe
and the Mars Observer project. The Johnson Tube, a CFC-free refrigeration
system, was invented while he worked with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
his seventh patent.

Happiest when he was tinkering, Lonnie continued creating things on his
own time. One of his over 40 patents included the Super Soaker ®, patented
in 1991.

Lonnie started his company in 1985, now named Johnson Research and
Development. The company provides services to government and private
industries, and even improving the Super Soaker ®.

Visit here for more stories about contemporary Black scientists and

Johnson Research and Development

Lemelson-MIT Program Inventor of the Week

Tuskeegee University

Researched and written by Lisa-Marie Jones