Monday, October 31, 2005

A (temporary) Fare Well Letter

Tomorrow is November First. This is important for three reasons.

1) It means 30 days until the end of Hurricane Season. This year, I'm saying it ain't over 'til it's over.

2) It means 25 days until I have to cook a turkey and cart it over the river and through the woods (ok, ok, over Leesburg and up 441). Oh, and sides.

3) NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow.

Yeah, I'm gonna make my stand here and now, 50,000 words of useless drivel or...or...or not. But if I'm rare here, I'll be at my OTHER site keeping up with the word count and things. If I'm not posting here, it isn't for lack of love for each and every one of you, but because I'm being all literary and shit. Or playing a lot of solitaire while trying to be literary and shit because, you know, in addition to drinking, all writers play Solitaire. I might even break out that bottle of vodka I've got stashed...

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Don't Taste the Bathroom, Please

Working at Necronomicon again. New hotel, new layout, but mostly the same people. Not really happy about the layout of the dealer's room -- as a matter of record, neither is the person in charge of the room. But it's a first year and so far, sales are good.

Of course, we don't actually see anything that doesn't happen in the dealer's room, but I've made a few observations.

1) This hotel has fruit flavored bathrooms, at least for women. I walked into the bathroom outside the dealer's room and almost had strawberry air freshener poisoning. It's not a pleasant thing.
2) Too many geeks don't understand the bathing concept. The dealer's room is very tight and crowded this year, so it's REALLY noticeable. I've been floating the idea of a Super Soaker water gun filled with soapy water and food coloring, so severe offenders can be marked and others warned.
3) There are far too many sports and news channels on the hotel's cable options. Feh.
4) It's costing me $10 a day to be online here. Oh, and the WiFi doesn't extend to the dealer's room, because no one at a conference or meeting would want to use the internet, right? But you can get it in the lobby area just before all the conference rooms. We walk out there every few hours to run our credit card slips.
5) There isn't a hell of a lot I want in an SF/Fantasy/Horror convention dealer's room anymore. I've bought 1 book (an impulse buy present for someone who wasn't going to get one before). I got 3 books from Evil Book woman in trade for massage, and we will probably buy a few of the colored printed "tapestry" sheets. We use them for everything and most of ours are worn out, ripped, or faded.

Right now we are trying to find new shows we can get into, and we have to make the jump into regular art shows at some point -- maybe next year. We've tried it before and it's such a pain, what with getting photos, having slides made (lots are going to digital, oh glory), filling out applications, etc. But we are starting to make money at it now. Oh, yeah, have to FINISH THE DAMN WEBSITE one of these days. I hardly have anything that I've got a picture of left in my boxes.

Oh yeah, need new boxes. LaGuz peed on some of the boxes I store jewelry in. If she wasn't 14 yrs old and a cuddly old lady, she'd be bedroom slippers by now. Oh, who am I kidding? She will pee where she wants until she dies, and she knows it. I'm a wuss.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Whose Right?

N.J. Students Ordered to Take Down Blogs

Not that I think the INTENT is necessarily wrong headed here -- protecting kids from the nut cases that do wander our world -- but I think this is a case of "protecting" a child by keeping him or her ignorant and unprepared. I also think it steps all over the rights and reponsibilities of parents, who are the ones to make these kinds of decisions.

If you want to protect a child from something, you TEACH them about it and how to handle it. You cannot put a child in a nice cotton padded box and then dump them out of it at 18 or 21 and expect them to go it alone.

Somehow, I think this has much deeper implications that simply protecting teens. I think this is a way of preventing a teen from publishing online anything the school (and the religious organization that runs the school) doesn't like or approve.

As for the kids, there are lots and lots of ways around this particular form of censorship that pop into my mind, and I'm positive they will pop into those kids' minds even faster. What a waste of effort.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Am I a Conservative?

Bill's Author Says Some Bloggers Would be Protected by Shield Law

I'm not so much attracted to this tidbit by the idea of blogger protection as by a few lines from one of the representatives supporting it.

"As a conservative, I believe the only real check on government is a free press," Pence said. "And as someone who believes in limited government, I believe nothing is more conservative than promoting and protecting the principle of a free press."

I agree that transparancy is the only way to monitor the goings-on of government (which is made up of people, most of whom are fallable, few of whom are saintly, and all of whom are quite capable of rationalizing anything they do). Historically, the press (again, made up of the same kind of people) has been the instrument for providing that close-inspection lens.

I also believe in limited government. In my mind, governments exist as a way for people to do collectively what they cannot do individually, and to respond with as much neutrality as possible in deciding what things should be done. I know it gets more complicated than that, especially since any two groups of people may have quite different ideas about what should be done, but for the moment let's stick with the simple idea.

I just realized, upon reading this, that I'd no idea "conservatives" felt this way. Over the last 10 years or so, I've come to believe that conservativism meant "You should live the way I want you to live." and that a conservative government would be large so that it could poke deeply into the lives of every citizen and control what they did and did not see, do, think, or say. Somewhere I'd become convinced (and I don't think I'm alone in this) that conservatives sought to conserve a single particular way of living, a single set of beliefs, and a single world view -- one, of course, most comfortable to a group of people with a distinct and specific comfort zone that they want to convince everyone else is "The Best Way" -- as if even they all live and believe exactly the same.

You see, I thought that wanting small government involved only in matters that couldn't be handled by individuals or small groups made me a liberal. I thought requiring those given the freedoms and priveledges of our society to act with personal responsibility and culpability, leaving people to otherwise live their own lives in their own way, to mind my own business, to offer help to others and not judgement, made me a liberal. It certainly didn't sound like anything I heard from conservatives, and in these days where everyone has to be on one of two teams, there wasn't much other choice. Since I thought government was created to help us do as a large group those things not otherwise manageble, and not to give one group control over the lives of other groups, I figured liberal was where it was at.

Who'da thunk? Now what am I?

Things you Don't Expect

There are certain things that come with being female and 40. You know, you have a particular set of expectations. By 40 you've either settled into a career or you are in your mid-life crisis and moving toward another career. You either have a mortgage or you are moving cross-country for that new career and a new mortgage. You've probably been married at least once. You've had your kids or you've decided not to have kids. You're looking more seriously at the mysterious world of retirement planning. You know a lot more about medicine than you ever expected to know, and you'll discuss it at the drop of a hat. You hate your weight, your hair, your inability to find THE perfect dress, but you're, you know, kind of over it. Things don't bother you quite the way they once did. Entirely new things you never knew could bother you now bother you, but not so much you do more than notice they bother you.

I have a Very Best Friend in the Whole World. We were born a month apart, met in 7th grade, had a fight (she made an unflattering use of me in a short story read for class, I pulled her hair), bonded over a love of words and individual yet complementary senses of humor, but didn't really become the Cosmic Twinkies we are until a week after highschool graduation. Since then we have been Very Best Friends in the Whole World, so much so that years can go by and when we meet again, we just pick up where we left off. I love her, adore her, and think she's wonderful. People don't know it, but when I say someone reminds me of my VBFWO, it's a huge compliment.

I talked with her yesterday, a post hurricane check, since she lives south of me and got more whacked by the storm than I did. She's fine -- she's teaching, her career is going well, her daughter is starting her 3rd year in college, her son is getting through highschool, her husband is good and life is pretty much where she expected it. Except one thing.

She's pregnant.

This is not one of the things one expects when one is female and 40.

She was nervous about telling me because of my miscarriages and my whole "whelp, no kids" thing, that I'd be upset because, damn it, whenever something happens to one of us, the other gets a different version of the EXACT SAME THING. She had appendicitis one year and just after her surgery she came up to visit. The NEXT DAY I was in the emergency room with the gallbladder. We get nervous about things like this. She's nervous about the baby's condition, the changes it will bring in her life, the things she will get and give up. She was looking forward to the whole empty nest thing, yet she's cautiously excited.

All I keep thinking is "well, this wasn't expected." I'm kind of going through it in my head, all my reasons for not doing the adoption thing or the incredibly expensive various other methods I know people are doing to have a child. A lot of them come down to "I'm 40". I'm excited for her, nervous for her, and once again wishing we didn't live an hour+ away from each other.

Still, I might have to steal the baby. For long weekends.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Hey, Look -- Autumn!

Wilma is hurrying on past with nary a scratch nor scrape on yours truly. There are other regions of the state not so lucky. I was listening to tornado reports in the wee hours this morning -- they were giving locations by major intersections. Several were familiar to me. That was ookie. Lots and lots of rain, hours and hours and hours of it.

So we went to work. Work was open (surprise, surprise) and most people showed up except those with kids not in school (because they are closed today) with no one to watch them. The roof of the main office has a long history of being leaky. It was leaky again today. It was leaky in my office. Not terribly leaky, just "oh that ceiling tile is unhappy" leaky. Those acoustical ceiling tiles soak water like a sponge, and then fall in splattery chunks onto the floor.

Of course, Bennie the Kitten Wonder decided that today was THE day to make his great escape. He got as far as the bushes next to the house and realized it was WET and CHILLY and DARK out here. This was, of course, all part of the great Human Conspiracy to keep him from killing lizards and rolling in dirt. He had just turned around to head back to the door when he realized that would be capitulating. SO, he was frozen in indecision, getting wet and trying to make a bold strike for Housecat Independence (he's the only member in our household. The other cats regard the Great Outdoors with indifference or outright disgust.) when Husband reached in and grabbed him by the scruff, hauled him out of the bushes and tossed him into the house.

The indignation, you can imagine, was immense, requiring that he run into the back room and meow a lot about the injustices of his life. I picked him up, kissed his head (which just adds to the indignities he suffers) and dropped him on the bed. He's recovering on the back of the chair.

In other news, it is actually sorta COOL out there. After weeks of muggy high 80's and low 90's, it's actually dipping into the 60's and 70's today. It's almost like Autumn or something. This is what October is SUPPOSED to be like here. Only without the hurricane part.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Very Wet

Hurricanes make everything complicated. We are not in the direct path of the storm (so far) and we aren't on the coast, so we aren't under evacuation orders or even boarding up windows. However, there are still tornadoes and high winds, heavy rains and power outages to consider. So we are having to decide

- do we go to work in the morning? (yes, and if the building is closed, we come home. If not, we work until either closing time or until the power goes out/roof comes off/boss gets nervous. Don't know how many people will show up. They've announced public school closure for our county, so that will cut down how many people show for work.

- do we drive down for Husband to teach Yoga/me to rehearse with ensemble? ( No. Heavy rains for an hour each way just isn't a good idea.)

I don't expect much more than a lot of rain, but there is nothing predictable about storms. We got through the last 3 with nary a power flicker, most power lines in our area being under ground, but there's nothing certain, except that it will be very wet tomorrow.

My big fat cat, Ophelia is already stationed under my chair, a place she only goes when she's upset. There's been a little thunder, which usually sends her under the bed. The "under the chair" thing bothers me.

Friday, October 21, 2005

How Clean

Experts Refute Anti-Bacterial Soap Claims

This interests me because 1) I don't believe in a bacteria-free life. As one scientist quoted in the article says "Bacteria are not going to be destroyed," he said. "They've seen dinosaurs come and go. They will be happy to see us come and go. Any attempt to sterilize our home is fraught with failure." 2) I think there's enough marketing and money-making based on creating new problems for new products to solve. 3) Fear based marketing gets on my nerves.

There was a brief flirtation with the anti-bacterial stuff around our house -- I think it was a freebie or something like that. After years of presriptions to kill everything, I avoid anti-biotics as much as possible (I was once prescribed them for a viral infection, which was a complete waste, but my doctor operates under the idea that if he doesn't give you a pill, you won't feel like he did anything).

First, I gotta accept that SOMETHING, one day, is going to kill me. I'm going to die. Fact. End of story. Second, I've got enough stuff to be paranoid about. Third, I think there's something to this idea of "That which does not kill us makes us stronger" as applied both to humans and to the little bacteria everywhere.

Seriously, how clean does a person have to be?

Girly Girl

I just noticed that all my fingernails are not only rather long, but mostly the same length. This realization made me think about giving myself a manicure and maybe painting them an unnatural color.

I go through phases of "girly girl" stuff. Most of the time I can't be bothered -- curling irons, make-up, things like that just take up time I could spend running around bashing evildoers in virtual spandex. I'ce got ugly feet so the whole idea of a pedicure is right up there with getting multiple lip piercings with bouganvilla thorns. Yet once in a while my lifelong exposure to American Culture and Glamor Magazine gets to me, and I gotta do something girly.

Of course, it always ends in disaster. If I ignore my fingernailes except to trim them, they will grow rather long and be sturdy as steel. If I pay them attention, every nail I have will break down to the second knuckle and I will type with painful little stubs. Nature's little way of protecting me from the straitjacket of cultural stereotypes, I guess, except that there is still a stereotype left that I slide into -- you know which one. The one that always uses the wrong laundry detergent in a side-by-side comparison.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

And I'm Awake Why?

Came in to work today because 1) someone has to empty the dehumidifior in the boss's office while he's traveling and 2) there's a lunch meeting I'm supposed to attend. It's an odd factor of my odd job. I really only have work to do when my boss is in the office. I have "busy work" I can do other times, but I'm just producing paper to go to people who are going to ignore it as long as they can, so it hardly seems worthwhile. Occasionally I have a project I can work on, but, like most everything I do, in the end they get ignored because they will inconvenience someone else. I have very good reasons to only work part time here. It's all to save my self-worth.

Speaking of saving my self-worth, a sort of crisis has arisen in the Chorus. I don't know who (if anyone) from the Chorus reads this site, so paranoia has kept me silent up to this moment. I don't know if the crisis in particular was a long time building or just arose from the particular set of conditions currently in place, but it sits on my mind a lot.

First, we have a new director, whom I think is fantastic. He's not everyone's cup of tea -- the chorus has, in my opinion, taken a very casual approach to music up to now. Many people attend for the social aspect, with some singing on the side, which is fun and fine, but is more "glee club" than "chorus". We are something of a "pop" chorus, which I think has bred a "musicality doesn't really matter" attitude. Our new director comes from a very classical training background -- more what I'm used to in directors, really -- and there is a great deal of adjustment to be made all around. In any case, there are a variety of opinions about all of this.

My part came up when, once more, I ran straight into the fact I'm not a tenor and I can't easily sing a tenor part. The rule was, under the former director, that women could sing "up the octave" on whatever songs they couldn't sing in the tenor range. This worked halfway for me, since I have a middle range voice. I could usually reach all but the lowest notes (or, highest if I was up) which meant I switched around a lot during songs. This was never particularly easy, but it worked ok. It also didn't make for the most beautiful blended, "one voice" sound. the new director certainly didn't care for it. I don't really blame him, considering his goals and his background.

Now, I've always had some problems feeling like I was singing well with the chorus (one reason I love the ensembles) because nothing was in my key. I've had a lot of interior battles about it, because if I'm given an opportunity to beat myself up on something, I certainly will. With the rule now to sing everything in the proper octave, I literally was mouthing whole sections of songs, and not necessarily singing well through other parts, and in general I either had to sing very softly to maintain blend and balance, or just not sing at all. The idea of standing on stage pretending to sing was too disheartening, so I decided that I'd take a concert off. We're allowed to do that and still sing with the ensembles for one concert per season. I figured it would give the new director a chance to settle in without having to deal with me and my set of problems, and next concert we'd see what happened to make life better.

What has come out of this and what I realize I've always felt is that the chorus, despite its declaration of being a mixed group, has had trouble recruiting and keeping women because it has no place for women. Few women sing tenor. Most are altos and sopranos (as are some men). But the chorus has maintained a TTBB structure, which allows women to sing only if they are able to sing tenor or are willing to sing in less comfortable keys. Although the chorus welcomes women and men, it doesn't REALLY welcome women. It sort of lets them in if they will pretend to be boys for the duration. I hadn't actually formed that into words until two days ago.

It's a very peculiar kind of thought to have about this organization, that this is another "boy's club" situation with a group that is supposed to be all about diversity and acceptance. And it underlines something of which I've become more aware as I've grown older -- accepting anyone different from one's self, no matter what that difference is, requires attention, effort, an ability to deal with discomfort, and constant vigilence. It is so very easy to slip into habits of clustering only with people like one's self. Opposites may attract (on some levels) but birds of a feather flock together on much deeper levels (to shove some cliches into work here). It really doesn't matter what kind of feathers one has. Animals tend to stick with others of their kind. When a dog and a cat get along well, it's a news feature. Well, that's the same with people. If we want to be just at our lowest level, we cluster with those just like us. If we want to rise above and use all our human potential, we must learn to live comfortably with those who are different from us.

That's a big lesson to get from this situation. And I really wish I could take a nap now. Thinking is just so exhausting.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells

For those of you who haven't even gotten the lights taken down from last year, most of my Christmas shopping arrived today. Oh my, only 8 weeks to wrap them!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sundry Sunday Considerations

The whole "righty tighty, lefty loosey" thing only works IF
1) you can identify right and left instantly and consistantly
2) The screws you are trying to remove were actually installed under that rule

Otherwise you go around and around for nothing. I prefer "clockwise, counter-clockwise" because, somehow, THAT always comes out the same way.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

The new Target opened up last week. It is about 1/4 of a mile closer to our house than the Wal-Mart that had previously been the center of the local universe. We, of course, checked it out yesterday. It is many steps above the usual mileau we experience at Wally-world. I bought two new clocks for the bathroom and and the living room and an assortment of fancy chocolates. They have a fancy chocolates aisle. This makes Target Superior. Dark Chocolate Espresso Hazelnuts do, indeed, make the world go 'round. Clockwise.

-------------------------------------------------------------------

I never needed the phrase "man-cooter" in my life. I still don't. However, it is now permanently engraved on my word collecting brain, seared into the grey matter with a smell not unlike burnt toast, thanks to Michael. I will take revenge as I may.

It's right there with "hootchie" and "hoo hoo". Words I just don't need, but I'm stuck with.

-------------------------------------------------------------------

I have officially given up any pretence at having a life in order to get my City of Heroes character to level 50, preferably before the rollout of City of Villains. They made us an offer we couldn't refuse and we are sucked into the maelstrom of virtual goodies. Hell, I've finally made a website for my screenshots.

It's really very, very sad.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Um

English actor Craig named as first blond Bond

I'm thinking....no...just not interested. Brosnan was my favorite, then Connery, then Dalton. None of the others did it for me. And I'm looking at this guy and saying...nope.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

October Round Up

Lotsa little things.

1) They finally did the teeth grinding thing.

If you've read my nonsense for some time, you know I Have Braces On My Teeth. And one of the things looming in my future for the last year is the moment when they (those orthodontical types) will take some manner of weird isntrument to my lower front teeth to make them skinnier so they will all live in peaceful coexistance in my jaw.

Well, they did that. They used what looked like a cross between a nail file and a toothbrush, they did it so suddenly I didn't have a chance to be nervous, it felt really weird and sounded worse but didn't actually HURT. Well anyone making your teeth move around is making you uncomfortable, but I didn't have to suppress urges to belt others in a random fashion. And it's done. Now there is just the final straightening up process. I'm hoping to be out of these wires by Christmas.

However, my lower front teeth now look a little like nibblet corn, only not as yellow.

2) I have completed my Christmas Shopping.

Yes, yes, I have. I look for little stuff all year, but about October I drag out the piles of catalogs that have been stuffing my mail box since August and put sticky notes next to those things which are giftable. I make my list, grab my card and catalogs, sit on the bed and fire up the laptop. A few hours and websites later, I'm done. Today was the day and I was finished by, oh, 3:30 pm. Everybody and their brother has a catalog website these days. This is my 10th year of shopping this way.

We have a cute UPS guy, too. It's all upside for me. I figure I might, possibly, wander through a mall some time in December, just to look at the crazy peoplesuccumbing to the impulse buying of tacky Christmas schlock displayed under "30% Off" banners and laugh quietly to myself while eating my Cinnabon roll in the food court. I might even count people wearing Holiday Sweaters (yes, even in Florida they were those things, although Holiday T-shirts and Holiday Tank Tops and even the occasional Holiday Tube Top do occasionally appear. Reindeer and elves do nothing to improve the average Tube Top.)

You may hate me all you like, you jealous bitches, but it's only the middle of October. You could get your butts in gear and be almost as superior as I am within a week.

3) I signed up for NaNoWriMo.

November has been cancelled.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Bush says more sacrifice needed in war on terror

I"m trying to think up a list of things I'd like Ol Prez Bush to sacrifice for this war he's gotten us into.... anyone have some suggestions?

He could give up his vacation ranch. Sell it and use the money toward armor or something. That would be a nice start.

*I* don't want this war on terror. I think the war on terror just begets more terrorism. I don't feel any safer than I did 4 years ago -- in fact, now I feel more vulnerable because more people on this planet hate me simpy because I was born in this country, and not for anything in particular I've done other than being born here. If I don't support this war, do I still have to sacrifice because someone I didn't vote for, and whom 49% of the people in the country he runs didn't vite for, says I should?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Last Box

I'm going through the last unsorted box of stuff removed from my Dad's house after his death. It's just odd stuff -- my father, like me, was a pack rat and collected just all kinds of things. Some were mine left behind -- refrigerator magnets shaped like chocolates, a metal "Tinker"bell from a trip to Disney. Some are his -- disposable cameras with film he never had developed, his iron, some shoe-shine cloths still in the packaging from the store, some scissors, a nice staple gun. Odd things, things that I know my dad touched, perhaps even on the day before he died.

I've often comforted myself with knowing my Dad died as he wanted to. He'd taken care of his business, settled things with family, put his finances in order, and in general tidied up. His 70th birthday was closing in and I know he didn't really want to retire. Oh, he'd talk about it, talk about traveling and taking it easy, or opening a bar of his own, but he enjoyed his job. Maybe not the work itself, but the getting out and seeing people, talking, meeting and greeting. He liked that. He wasn't really looking forward to retiring, which is why he put it off and put it off every time it was suggested. He wanted to go quietly, simply, peacefully, with no fuss and no bother.

But right now, looking at these bits and pieces, I know deep down that when my dad went to bed that night in August, he really was planning on waking up the next morning.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Books Have Value

I caught this story on Yahoo yesterday and followed it back to the LA Times. I just found it rather moving and thrilling.

This Illiterate Brazilian's Home Speaks Volumes - Los Angeles Times

I'm attempting to contact the writer on the story to find a contact name for donations. While there are a lot of pressing problems in the world, this strikes me as most worthy -- people doing their best to help themselves, working hard at it, and making a difference. I think I should support that.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Bush Chooses Miers for Supreme Court - Yahoo! News

Remember about 10-12 years ago when everyone was talking about "Friends of Bill". There were a lot of jokes. It was funny.

Why doesn't anyone make the same jokes about
Friends of George?

I'll tell you why. It's just not funny anymore.