Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Having Myself a Little Christmas

No huge news for Christmas this year. Highly subdued on the home front, and as we were driving back to Florida for time with MIL, who has just moved into a new "assisted living" condo, highly subdued there. On the very morning, we spent about 30 minutes opening presents (Star Trek:The Original Series with the newly spiffed up graphics is MINE. I'm not so wound about spiffed up graphics as the old klutzy ones are endearing, but I'm quite pleased none the less.). My big gift this year was tires for my car. Otherwise, I got a new bathrobe because I don't own a bathrobe and I now live where bathrobes are really an important item of clothing, and a couple of very pretty dust catchers for my collectible dust catcher shelf. Also, good smelly stuff in delicious quantities. Oh, there's also a B&N gift card waiting to be plundered and an Amazon certificate to my credit. Really, not so bad.

Florida isn't "home" anymore, but it is familiar. It should be after some 43 years of living there. My first announcement upon crossing the state line was "Hey! Look! A Palm Tree that isn't on the back of someone's car!" The Upstate is very much lacking in live palm trees, but as the palm tree with the little moon is SC's symbol, stickers are everywhere.

The second thing to impress me is the wide sky. Now, sky is sky -- it's always up there. But, geography affects the appearance, and when one is used to a mostly flat geographical location, moving to hills and mountains and folds in the land changes the appearance of the sky. I hadn't noticed how small the sky in SC is until we went back to Florida. Upstate is not known for dramatic sunrises and sunsets. In fact, I can't recall a single one since I've been here. Sunrise means when the sun gets above the block of buildings and the trees and the hill on our east side. Sunset is hidden behind a fence and some trees and a bunch of buildings on a higher elevation. That seems true where ever we are. Things are oddly close in here.

Florida felt quite wide open by comparison. From MIL's 4th floor condo window, I saw a bit of the sunrise.

Third thing -- Spanish Moss. Again, not a common item in the Upstate. I hadn't thought about it since I can't remember when, but it's thick and heavy this year everywhere we went. Long grey tresses, bushy beards, huge masses of it dripping curtain-like from treelimbs and power wires.

The last big thing I noticed was related to that wide open sky. I can see weather coming in Florida. Clouds moved in rolls and billows. Long striated clouds welted like beach sand after a wave, piling up on one side and stretching out on another. It is possible to see the weather coming, to watch it progress, to time when it arrives and when it goes. In SC it seems that weather is always what's directly above my head. It comes in, featureless and concentrated. It stays for too long, whatever it is, and then it is gone suddenly. Also, it works backwards from what I knew -- in Florida in winter, rain means cold weather coming. Here, it means warm weather is likely to show.

We caught up with a few friends and spent hours in conversation, reciting the story of our time here, discussing again how open and uncertain our future is, hearing the news of a year we didn't see. I've never before left so completely my own past. My past has always hung close to me, memories painted onto places and locations and people. Now, the past is somewhere I go to visit.

Obviously, I stayed longer in Florida that I should have done, but that's what I have.

So, it wasn't the merriest and happiest of Christmases, but neither was it particularly sad. It was just a slightly noisier day than the rest.

Which, I suppose, means I'm an adult now. I do not like that part. Next Christmas I plan for something better.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Hey, Another Post!

Still not much going on, but rather than my usual whining, I thought I'd just report on my life.

I'm on hiatus from Goodreads, the place online that centered my life for the last 2 years. I don't know why. I have good friends there, people about whom I care, but right now I can't work up any interest in being there. I feel like I'm repeating myself, just trodding a circular rut . Oh, I'm not shutting down my account (this time!) but I don't feel anything pulling me there. I don't know why. It happened suddenly. I suspect it will go away just as suddenly.

I've been enjoying the wonders of Netflix lately, especially streaming video. The Husband and I watched the first episode of Dead Like Me last night. I'm debating watching the Dexter series, although the first 15 minutes of the first episode did bother me a bit. I've read the first three books. I can read stuff in a book that will bother me like hell in a movie or TV show. I guess it's that I can control stuff in translating it from text to imagination -- sometimes I don't let myself picture things. I just read words. I saw the latest book in the series a the store today. It was a hardback -- a sign of success for Lindsey, although, really, I thought the third book was pretty weak -- so I skipped it. I traded away the earlier books, so I'll look for an e-version. I did pick up a couple of other books (Hey, I was at B&N -- that story later) -- an autobiography on Leslie Caron, and a bio on Ayn Rand that I read about a few weeks ago.

I haven't read a book in weeks, so feeling like reading something is positive.

Anyway, this week started with adventures. The therapy for my back has taken a back slide. Last Friday I tripped or slipped or stepped funny and my hip and back started stabbing me at odd moments. I went to the chiropractor on Monday (three times a week for a bit) and told him. He did his thing. I left and drove The Husband to GSP (airport) for his trip to Florida to work for Bosszilla for a few days. I dropped him off and started back.

I'd left my purse with my cell in the back seat and the phone rang. I won't answer my cell in the car while I'm driving if I don't have my headset, and I didn't have my headset. It kept ringing and ringing, so I found a place to pull off the highway. It was The Husband. His flight was canceled. Come get him. I had to drive him to Charlotte to pick up his connection. Yay.

I went back. Oh, no, he said, Charlotte was the place socked in with fog. No flights at all going in or out. So, we went home. Not a big deal, he moved his flights to Tuesday, it would be fine.

I was sitting down on the couch as I often do, with one leg tucked under me (I seem to be always sitting with one or both legs tucked up somewhere). My back/hip slammed me with pain so hard that I actually got dizzy -- I mean, the whole ear buzzing, vision swimming thing. It dialed down after a few minutes, and after an hour with the heating pad had mellowed considerably. I still could feel it at bedtime, though, and had to be careful how I turned over.

So, this morning, we hauled ourselves out of bed early (for us) and got on the road to GSP again. On the way, The Husband called to check his flight. First, they said "delayed". Well, it takes about an hour to drive to GSP, and between the time we left and the time we got near Greenville, the flight went from "delayed" to "canceled". However, Charlotte expected to have the connecting flight to be on time.

We drove to Charlotte. After some roaming around trying to find the airport (no sign! I swear, no sign at all!) I dropped him off and drove back. After 4 hours in the car, I wanted to stop at B&N. I needed some more Christmas cards, you see. No, really, I did. And I even remembered to get them after I'd bought my books and started for the door.

So, now I'm settling down for a couple of days on my own. The Husband will be home on Friday. Next Wednesday we drive back to Florida to spend Christmas with MIL. I haven't been to Florida in over a year now. We come back on Sunday, and the following week will be The Great Paper Chase -- clearing files, shredding, cleaning things, and preparing for the new year.

Friday, December 04, 2009

I'm Alive

But I think this blog is dead. Or maybe it's just resting. Or I'm going through another of my phases. I can never tell until it's over.

Ok, the bullet list of Things Happening To Me:

1) Found a chiropractor at last. Xrays demonstrate my spine is basically sliding off my pelvis. This hurts. We are fixing. Not being in pain is nice.

2) Same day, chiropractor discovers my blood pressure is sky high. Also, I suspect I have a sinus infection. Make appointment at the university clinic.

3) University clinic - yes, hypertension. Why? We don't know. Testing. Also, yes on the sinus infection, although I do indeed have sinuses that look all allergic. They had a picture so I'd know what allergic sinuses look like. Meds.

4) Same day. My car needs a 30,000 mile service. Oh, and two new tires. Oh, and two more new tires.

5) Next day. The credit card we were planning to use to buy the tires has had the credit limit cut by 75%. Without notice. We scramble.

6) I'm behind on my whole editing/proofing gig. Reading bad fiction saps my will to live.

7) The townhome we are renting, that is on the verge of foreclosure and on which we have made a shortsale offer, is still up in the air. We wait. Week after week we wait.

8) Trip to West Virginia for Thanksgiving. Fun time, long drive. Long, long drive.

9)Improving back. Blood pressure is weight related -- heart is good, cholesterol good (can be better, but is not horrible). Being (expensively) tested for allergies.

10) Head is everywhere and no where. Concentration is for shit (like that is so unusual). Don't feel like doing what I did, don't feel like talking to people, don't feel like much of anything.

Friends around me are in various dire straits, I am bothered that I can't help, and I feel like I'm swimming hard to keep my head above water, but at least I am swimming. Husband is coming to the end of the semester and as much as he complains about how stressed he is and how short his time is, it doesn't stop him from making more commitments and spending even more time at school. In general, I feel very done with things right now. The great experiment has almost run its course. Can it be over soon?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Not Angry

Thanks for the encouraging words, one and all. Time to push the anger in the past.

After a little running around and screaming, my wonderful group of women settled down. The site where we hosted our group jumped on fixing the programming problem. By the end of the day, it was repaired and we decided to regroup.

RAT is has also expressed a desire to *ahem* move on from the incident. There was much eye rolling. I suspect RAT had a chance to review things and perhaps consider the RAT component in the event.

Regardless, we are once again happy in our little club house -- a bit scared, a bit scarred, but determined to continue as we were with one small change -- code names for people about whom we wish to bitch. Seems a reasonable precaution.

In other news, The Husband is in Chicago and I am very jealous. Of course, he's attending/working a show for school, but he's still had hours to roam the city and visit with a friend. He has a LOAD of photos (I've seen some and they are great), plus a book for me and some goodies from Vosges. Sometimes we toy with the idea of living around the Chicago area, but we are both from The South and have a hard time imagining the kind of money we'd have to make to afford it, much less how we would survive the Arctic cold of winter. Still, it makes for a nice day dream.

I have to get off the computer somehow, but it feels like cutting off an air line. I have things I must do that can't get done with a laptop.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Angry

Pissed off. Ranting. Frustrated. UNHAPPY.

It goes like this. Somewhere on the web, I was part of a small group of women. We had a little area, supposedly private, where we talked. We advised. We made jokes. We discussed things. When one of us was angry, we went there and vented -- privately -- until we could feel reasonable again. It was great.

Then, through what we think was a programming error, a person not a member of this group got access to a group member's account. We shall call this person RAT. RAT was supposedly a friend of said group member, but RAT decided having access to someone else's account was too tempting. RAT went into the little group and read stuff. Some of what RAT read was some members being frustrated with RAT over some issue -- you know, venting. RAT was hardly the main topic of discussion, I should point out, just part of a recent one that was over.

RAT made this public -- well, the part about people being frustrated. Nastily. Group member is very upset, but (in the way of many women) is coming up with a variety of excuses like "Oh, curiosity is natural" and "Oh, RAT didn't necessarily know it was private."

Now, I know perfectly well that nothing is really private on the great Interwebinet. And, really, nothing was said that was 1) untrue 2) particularly cruel 3) couldn't have been said in public. However, it was NOT said in public because it would have done no good. The point was to vent out the anger and return to a more sensible frame of mind.

What angers me is RAT's behavior and the choices RAT made. If someone you say is a friend comes to your house and accidentally leaves behind a wallet, a diary, a suitcase, a box, a pile of mail, an open email account -- in short, anything personal -- it IS NOT RIGHT to go through it. Opportunity does NOT create entitlement. And, if in the perusing of said friend's private property, you discover something you don't like, whose fault is that? People are allowed their private thoughts. People often have bursts of emotion that pass, thoughts that pass. Just as in the heat of a fight any of us might say something we later wish we hadn't said, in private we may think and express things not for general consumption.

That's why they are PRIVATE.

This isn't a case of "say one thing, think another". I don't believe in saintly people who are never angry at a spouse or family member, who are never frustrated by a boss, co-worker, or employee, who don't feel a rise of heat when they perceive themselves as mistreated. Then those feelings pass, or we express them privately to friends and we get a little perspective. If we are smart, that is, and don't blurt it all out on the spouse or family member or person at work. Once we have that emotion out where we can look at it, we can get our brain engaged and handle the situation properly. We can avoid being hurtful without tearing ourselves up inside suppressing all those feelings. Sometimes, once we spew out the poison, we can get back to liking or loving or at least working peacefully. Sometimes we can get to a place where we can talk to the person in question. Sometimes we even realize we are the ones at fault and need to apologize. But we can't get there until we work it through, and sometimes we need someone else to help there.

That's why these things should be PRIVATE.

RAT invaded, yet RAT claims victim status. RAT now proclaims that everything should be HONEST and OPEN and PUBLIC -- and we all know how well that works. Oh yes, RAT is being honest and open and public and causing as much pain and frustration as RAT can manage. Very good tactic, isn't it?

So, the little group has imploded and something wonderful destroyed. While I throw some blame on the software, I lay most of it at RAT'S nasty little feet. Again -- opportunity does not create entitlement. Friends do not snoop in each other's private lives. Friends respect boundaries. Friends realize that if ever once they've spouted off -- in private -- about someone else, they are certainly someone else's inspiration to spout.

So, I'm angry. I'm angry for my friend who is going through all this. I'm angry that the group has disintegrated out of fear (we discussed some very personal and painful things in that group). I'm angry that one RAT chewed through the wall.

RAT BASTARD!

Monday, September 07, 2009

DragonCon 2009 Post-con report

Returned once more from a short DragonCon visit. I need to go into training for next year. I am tired. And sore -- many many stairs.

I did even less than last year. We did dress up in costumes for a few hours on Saturday, but it was just too warm. We met up with friends, but the whirl of activity makes it hard to really have good conversation.

Highlights of the weekend --

  • getting Ruth Thompson to sign my computer (the Mini, with a skin based on one of her pieces). She was tickled to see it, as she had not seen any of the skins 'in the wild'. Best of all, she remembers us! I get such a kick when someone I admire remembers who the hell I am. We sat in her booth talking to her, her sister, and her assistant for a good hour.
  • Getting my very own Richard the Necromancer USB drive. I geeked out happily for a good two hours. Looking for Group is a comic that has taken me some time to really enjoy -- I'm still working my way through the archives -- but now that I get it, I love it. I also like the guys at BlindFerret -- they were great fun to talk to at the booth. The Husband got a stuffie plush Richard AND got it signed.
  • Meeting Laura Anne Gilman and getting three books signed. I'd had occasional chances to chat with her via Twitter, and I read her Live journal, both of which were big reasons I wanted to meet her and why I bought her books. I am now addicted to the Retrievers. She herself is a lovely goofball, and I mean that in the best, most complimentary way.
No celebrity sightings, despite the fact that Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner, Patrick Stewart and Adam Savage were all there. The lines to even get into the room were daunting, and as it's very hard to get The Husband to go to any panels or talks (despite the fact that he usually enjoys them when he's there, he's convinced it's much more fun to run around, struggling through the crowds, taking half-baked phone photos of costumes. We differ on this markedly, but since I tire so fast (and didn't have car keys with me, in case I wanted to ditch him and go back to the hotel) I did what he wanted, or I sat somewhere while he did his thing. Time was when I would search the schedule and map out a plan of action. I need to do that if we go next year. It was much more fun. The costumes are great and all, but they just aren't that big a thrill.

Also caught up with a few friends not seen in some years, which was surprising and good. Last year we had trouble catching up with anyone, much less people we didn't know would be there.

Also, next year I will wear better shoes and remember my knee braces.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Shoulda Got the Year's Supply of Popcorn

Costco is a dangerous place, especially for two people with weak wills and a love of movies. Along with garbage bags and cat litter, The Husband and I picked up a handful of DVDs -- all temptingly priced.

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves Extended Edition -- Morgan Freeman does one of the commentaries. This I gotta hear.

Whisper of the Heart, The Cat Returns, & Porco Rosso -- all early Miyazaki films. We picked up Laputa, Castle in the Sky last week. Yeah, we have a thing for Miyazaki. I want to see Ponyo, but I may wait for the DVD. I have to watch Princess Mononoke again -- I didn't like it when I saw it the first time, but I love Spirited Away, Naussica of the Valley of the Winds, and Howl's Moving Castle so much, I should give it a second chance. Kiki's Delivery Service, on the other hand, is just not coming into the house.

The Bourne Trilogy -- ok, fine, I like stupid violent movies with impossible action sequences. It was cheaper than buying 1 of the DVDs at Wal*mart.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Because it's Tuesday and I Might as Well

My blouse is almost finished -- four buttons and two button loops to attack and it's done. Then I start on the pants for The Husband's outfit. It has the fewest pieces. His jacket is cut out and waiting, too, then my vest.

We have been playing the If game here -- if he gets an offer from the university (a thing hinted at) and we stay in SC, where would we want to live? And because we are like that, we started looking at houses. Of course, we found one. We went to drive by it and ended up calling the realtor to look through the place. The house was built in the 1910s or about then, Craftsman in style, very southern. It's been through a few variations -- for a while, it was a halfway house for recovering drug addicts, which we sort of like (the idea that it was a place of new beginnings and hope). It's HUGE. Wood floors all over. A half-wrap porch. A nice back yard. A portico over the drive. We are told the attic area is huge and just needs better access and maybe finishing.

It also needs much roof work, new electrical, probably new plumbing, a complete kitchen redo and bathroom remodels, not to mention exerior wood replacement and repair and possibly several new windows. After that, it just needs the usual TLC. The floors are beautiful. The layout is wonderful. The price is incredible! It is just blocks from a medium sized downtown, walking distance from cafes and shops and even an art museum. The area is at the edge of a gentrification effort and the owners want to sell to residential, not commercial.

Of course, we are dreaming about it. I'm watching home improvement shows again. We talk about it. I think about what I want to do with it, and what it would be like to live there.

I wish I wasn't dreaming, really. We are a good 8 months from any chance of buying a house, by which time it will certainly be sold to someone else. We don't know if we will be staying in SC. Even if we stay, we don't know how long it would be, and a house purchase would require at minimum 5 years. If, if, if -- the bunnies keep popping up. I've already had three 'dream houses' in my life -- houses we planned on, talked about, but which never materialized. Our timing is always off, or our situations change, or it just doesn't happen.

I'm reluctant to dream because the disappointment of failed dreams is heavy. I try not to day dream about anything. I try hard not to anticipate or look forward to things. I've been doing this for -- what? 5 years now? 6? I'm getting quite accomplished. Of course, it is having negative effects otherwise. How can I balance looking forward to things with being realistic and not building up my hopes?

Maybe the answer is to stop fearing the disappointment. Maybe the pain of that is not nearly so terrible as the vast and spreading heavy numbness that takes up the place of dreaming, that is the result of being realistic, not hoping, not daydreaming. I don't know. I'm thinking it over.

Monday, August 24, 2009

DragonCon 2009

Is coming up and we are going and I'm making costumes. We have EXTREMELY COOL HATS. So far, I've accomplished 1 vest for The Husband and a skirt for me. I have to finish a blouse and vest for me, a jacket and pants for him, and possibly a shirt (maybe, I hope not), and then I must decorate my hat.

I'm having a hard time being motivated, though. As usual.

More Caffeine.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Wherefor Twitter?

I'm having a pretty good time with Twitter. It's not quite addictive -- no games or anything. It is fun. I will tell you about it in bullet points because I'm feeling bullet pointy today.

  • It's a nice way to get bits of news if you follow CNN, NPR, or any number of other news sites with Twitter feeds. I'm very fond of Mental Floss.
  • I can pretend I'm talking to celebrities like @BrentSpiner @Don'ttrythis (Adam Savage from Mythbusters) or @RedHourBen (Ben Stiller). Authors I admire, like @MargaretAtwood, @Scalzi (John Scalzi) and @lilithsaintcrow are there -- I've even had conversations with Lilith, which is absolutely thrilling to me. Brent Spiner retweeted something I'd said with an answer and I grinned all day. So, cheap thrills.
  • I've gotten into conversations with various other interesting but more or less mundane souls like myself. Conversation is good.
  • I've discovered nifty little tools like Tweetdeck and NestUnclutterer to make my experience better and spammers miserable.
  • I can turn it off, walk away, and not worry about it for as long as 24 hours, but am still interested in reading things when I turn it back on.
  • I can get to it from my cell phone when I'm sitting somewhere being bored.
  • I can post pictures and links on it.
Like anything on the Internet, it has its own little code language -- RT (to retweet aka to repeat someone else's message, with or without editing for length or adding your own comment), DM (to send a private message to someone in mutual follow) and hashtag (the little # with words, used to tag comments for searches.) There are also the consessions made to fit thoughts into 140 characters, although I prefer not to chew up full words like You and Too if I can avoid it. I find it is a good place to practice consision.

It has downsides, of course -- what doesn't? Spammers are annoying. Fake celebrities can be entertaining, and certainly some celebrity tweeters are really staff members, but the big bother there is 1) upsetting the actual celebrity and 2) the crazy stupid uproar when it happens. I'm more in the "If you don't like it, stop following" camp. Seriously, it's a couple of mouse clicks to clear the annoyance from your life forever. Stop working yourself up to a dramallama moment.

Also, some days there isn't much going on. Some days are very active. What else is new?

I keep in mind that, even if I have friends (or "friends") on Twitter, I'm still mostly talking to myself. If I hear an answer from the depths, that's just an extra, a cherry, a wonderful thing.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Consistantly Talking To Myself

Feeling reflective this morning.

I started an online journal in 1998 (yes, I did!), first as a piece of The Husband's domain, then under my own domain name. When Blogger appeared (long ago, in the dark mists of time) I moved over there, taking down the original journal (I have it backed up somewhere. It might even still be online). I had that weblog for a while, then took it down, too, in 2003. By the end of that year, I was back at it, with this weblog.

Then I got a Live Journal, but it's sooper sekrit, so don't ask (trust me, you don't want to know, and if you already do, you know that.) After that, Facebook appeared and I got onto that, left, and returned. Did the same with Goodreads -- got on, left, returned. And now? Now I am being eaten by Twitter. Yes, Twitter. I didn't see a reason for Twitter for a long while, but the temptations kept appearing, and finally some innocent friend sent me an invitation. So, I now have Twittering. I don't think I have to leave it to get perspective on it.

You see, that's what all the leaving is about. I dive in, get over my head, get a little scared, back all the way out, take a good look, and go back in with more control. I didn't realize that, of course, until I'd done it a few times (it is called Learning By Experience), but now I see it for what it is.

And what is it all about? As best I can tell, it's one big bid for attention. I am here, waving my arms around, jumping up and down, pretending to tap dance -- you name it -- to get someone to look my direction and maybe come over to talk. Sometimes it works. Sometimes I'm talking to myself in public (always a worrying activity).

However, the more I go into this weird, virtual world and watch it form in waves and troughs, the more I find myself listening to others, and tossing out the occasional line that says "Yeah, I hear you." Other people are waving their arms, too, with greater or lesser success.

I think about it a lot, this need for attention. Is it a lack of self sufficiency or some other awful, nasty, self critical failure I can ascribe to myself? Should I be ashamed? That will prompt occasional withdrawel, too, the whole downward swirl of "why should anyone pay attention to me" and the crowding demons attacking my self worth. Need I see myself reflected in the eyes of others to know I exist? Heavy question for something as simple and lightweight as blogging, Facebook, and Twitter.

Or maybe it is enough to talk to myself until I can't do it anymore, listening to my own voice echo and answering back "Yeah, I hear you."

It's working so far.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Movie Connections Part 1

The Husband and I are playing a little game with our DVD collection. The goal is to get through our entire movie collection one connection at a time. Can you trace the links?

We started with

Singing in the Rain
Tammy and the Bachelor
Forbidden Planet
The Glass Slipper
Gigi
Love in the Afternoon
Charade

We plan to continue with

Holiday
My Man Godfrey
Another Thin Man
Philadelphia Story
The Women
Auntie Mame
Daddy Long Legs
Easter Parade
The Harvey Girls
Nanny McPhee
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Die Hard
Fifth Element
The Professional
Ronin
Tomorrow Never Dies
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Anna and the King of Siam
Contact
Steel Magnolias
Roxanne
Earth Girls are Easy
Independence Day
Ruthless People
First Wives Club
Practical Magic


That's as far as we've planned, but we have more movies. We are trying not to repeat any particular link, and looking for chances to have more than one link to move us. There are a lot of branches we could have taken, and there are some dead ends we are trying to avoid, but this will keep us busy for the rest of the year.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Jammiesfest 09 with special guest Michael Guy!

I've been trying to write about the Ohio/Chicago trip all week, and I wanted pictures, but they are mostly on The Husband's computer and I can't seem to arrange to get them. So, oh well.

It was a quiet, fun trip. Jammiesfest is always fun. We drove up on Friday with Ophelia in the back seat. She seemed to enjoy it(once she realized she wasn't going to the vet) and made occasional trips to sit in whomever's lap was available and gopher around at the scenery. Once we got there, the Husband set up the old dog crate with a shelf he'd made in Jammies little foyer, and we put up a pet gate. Littlefoot and Miss Underfoot, Jammies dogs, gave it a few sniffs, but only Underfoot really had interest. Littlefoot is interested in food, being pet, and taking naps. At night, since we were sleeping on the air mattress in the living room, we moved the pet gate and she slept with us -- or on the couch. Jammies has a superior couch.

The weekend with Jammies, Imp, Rob and Dampie went far too quickly. Imp had to return home early due to impending visitors, so we barely had time to really chat, much less do anything like we did last year and the year before. Still, we got to spend some time together, and there is Gobblefest yet.

Tuesday, The Husband and I drove to Chicago, leaving Ophelia in Jammies' guest room. Ohio is interesting until it starts flattening out into Indiana. Then, it looks a bit like Florida. Getting in to Chicago was also a touch tricky. We got to our hotel in one of the suburbs and met up with our friend Tommy, who moved there about 2 years ago. We had dinner at a little Greek restaurant in Oak Park, I think -- everything on that side is Park something or Forest something or River something).

The next day was the real Chicago experience. We met up with the Fabulous Michael Guy for a pizza lunch. We exchanged the code phrases ("Bring me a Bromide," he said. "And put some gin in it," I answered, and thereupon we hugged.) and went into Ginos to explore the menu. Everything about him is true. He even eats his fingerfood appetizer with a knife and fork. And, of course, he sparkled. He had to return to his glamorous day job -- something about a consultation, I think. I don't know for sure, as it was all in Italian and involved a lot of hand waving -- so we walked down the Miracle Mile to the Art Institute.

The few hours we had there were NOT enough. Seeing Night Hawks and American Gothic face to face were big enough events in my little life, but there was so much more we missed. We had barely reached the Thorne room where the miniature rooms were kept when guards announced the museum was closing. Damn! We had not covered even 1/2 the museum.

However. Tommy had a picnic dinner awaiting us in Millenium Park, right across the street, for some Symphony under the stars. The odd metal cage structure is really an incredible sound system. Music, wine, strawberries and cheese, and the sun sinking behind the buildings as the orchestra serenaded us. It was just like civilization.

When the music was over, we met up with Mr. Guy once again for a real treat -- cocktails in the Ritz Carlton Tea Room. When he talks about how they know him at the tea room, he is NOT KIDDING. It is so quiet and upscale and glorious. We talked and laughed and had to leave much too soon. I'll admit, Michael (he says I can call him Michael) has the most descreet entourage ever -- while his hair was perfectly coifed the whole time and his skin impeccably smooth with nary a shine, I never saw his make up and hair people dash in for those touch ups. Amazing! It was over all too soon.

The single negative of the little whirlwind trip was the bed in the hotel. An otherwise perfectly nice hotel room had the Bed with the Black Hole -- a soft, comfortable mattress that had, apparently, been hollowed out dead center. The Husband and I had to cling to the sides or end up uncomfortably tangled and squished together .

In fact, beds were a problem the whole trip. There is an undetectable leak in our air mattress, which means at about 3 am each night, The Husband (who is more sensitive to these things) awoke to reinflate the thing. It didn't prevent us from sleeping as much as we could, but it did put an interesting rhythm to the nights.

Thursday, we returned to Casa de Jammies and Friday we made a drive into Cleveland to visit more friends and see Loganberry Books. Incredible used bookstore, managed by Otis, the grey and white kitty. He supervises from his chair near the front door and all who enter must pet Otis. In fact, when The Husband ran out and returned, Otis INFORMED him that pet tax was required for EACH use of the door. Of course I bought books -- although not as many as tempted me. We met up with even more friends that evening and spent it eating and playing Apples to Apples, a cool little party game that has us all laughing. We stayed much too late. Saturday was really the only 'chill out' day of the trip, and Sunday we drove home.

It took me three days to recover from the vacation!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Tra veling

Ohio is lovely. We got here last Friday, Ophelia along with us (and riding like the Diva she is, on either a pillow in the passenger's lap or on her own little bed in the back seat. Since then, it seems like a constant state of motion (well, there was one day spent entirely in PJs). Drove to Chicago Tuesday night, met with the Fabulous Michael Guy on Wednesday, drove back Thursday, and today is with more friends in the Cleveland area.

I'll detail this more (with much gossip about the Fabulous Mr. Guy) later. Right now I'm enjoying a couple of hours of downtime before the next social whirl. Tomorrow will be a Just with Jammies day and we leave on Sunday for the drive back. It's been so much fun -- so much to see, so much to talk about -- that I will need some time to sort and digest.

Monday, July 13, 2009

More from the Department of Uncovering the Bloody Obvious

Oh, this is just such shocking and surprising news to me.

If you've ever wondered who's in control, you or your cat, a new study points to the obvious. It's your cat.


Is anyone else hearing that world wide "Duh!"?

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Yeah, I'm still here

But not for long :) Tomorrow morning, The Husband, Ophelia and I head to Ohio for Jammiesfest. Ophelia is going because it's easier for us to take her than to put her in the vet's kennel -- I don't really like how they board cats. We've converted Calico's old crate into a Kitty apartment.

We are also swinging through Chicago Tues/Wed, so if any of you fine Chicagoans have a social impulse and want to do something about it, lemme kn0w.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Purely Mortal

Last night we learned a friend of The Husband was in hospice. Friend was best man at our wedding, The Husband's college room mate and his best friend for some years. Of course, as it often happens, distance and choices meant less and less contact, until there really was none. The Husband found out via Facebook, of course.

This morning, we learned the friend died.

The part that goes against the norm is that this friend, in essence, committed suicide, very, very slowly. He was diabetic. It developed when he was in college. He never would treat it properly. Someone else told us she saw him last October, sick and in decline -- and eating Pixie Sticks one after the other. He might as well have been eating strychnine. He'd already undergone amputations, but still couldn't be persuaded to eat a vegetable. I remember 16 years ago, out to dinner, watching him pick the lettuce and tomato off his hamburger.

He made a long series of choices that resulted in this -- dead at 40 from preventable causes.

I'm slightly angry, slightly disgusted, and mostly resigned. The Husband gave up trying to change this friend years ago. He'd intervened before to help this person, but you cannot help someone who does not want to take responsibility for himself.

It makes me think about my own choices, though. I have no place to stand holy above anyone else. I'm not doing the things I should do (well, I do eat vegetables, but I also eat too much cheese, too much sugar, and I don't exercise nearly enough). I'm in line for heart disease and diabetes if I don't make changes. I wonder if he was too caught up in the pains of each day to take a longer view, to even attempt change. Maybe he was resigned to what he thought was his fate. Death is inevitable, after all. No matter how well we live, we will die.

It still feels like he killed himself.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Old Movies

I’ve had the treat recently of introducing much younger friends to the glories of old movies. When I talk about “old movies”, I use Leonard Maltin’s definition – movies made before 1960, movies made under the old studio system, movies in black and white or Technicolor, Todd AO or Cinamascope, movies made when people watched for dialog and acting, not technical tricks and over-the-top adrenal stimulation. Those old, boring, staid, slow, wonderful, intricate, marvelous movies are my cinematic passions. Happiness is a rainy afternoon and a DVD lineup including Cary Grant or Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn or Humphrey Bogart. I love the classics.

Don’t get me wrong. I sometimes enjoy multimillion dollar, explosion and CGI laden, mega-, ultra-blockbusters. They are fun in a flashy, ephemeral way, just a good time. Those old movies, though, are special. They don’t end up on the discount rack six months after release. They own a place in our culture. They last.

My young friends find a challenge reaching back to a way of seeing things their grandparents knew. I look up movie trivia and watch documentaries so I can explain subtext and innuendo. I tell them about the strict rules under which movies once were made and how movie directors worked to communicate “risqué” themes without invoking censors. I enjoy when these twenty-somethings catch on to a joke that doesn’t involve farting or masturbation or get teary over small, careful, subtle moments. They get involved. They are surprised.

I watched To Have and Have Not last night and wondered what a director would do to it now. In the sexy Bogey and Bacall drama, most of the big action takes place off-screen. Two scenes separate scenes show one man shot and killed and another man shot and injured. Neither scene is particularly bloody. They would not appeal to audiences inured to violence, who need bigger, more extreme displays to engage them. In fact, the movie ends before a much-discussed dramatic rescue. All we see are the three main characters packing up and leaving a hotel together. The movie isn’t about the dramatic rescue, or the guns and blood. It is about cynical people finding value in each other and believing they can make the world better. When they leave the hotel, that’s what they go to do. Today a director would need to add more bodies and film that daring rescue to Devil’s Island.

I like movies that leave a little to ponder. They include me. When a moviemaker can build complex visual illusions, there’s less pressure to build careful dialog, layered stories, and complex characters. Maybe modern movies are a backlash against earlier extremes of Bergman, Truffaut and Fellini that left perhaps too much for the average movie goer to figure out. Now we demand that movies provide us with an experience, not a story. The less we must think, the better we like the film.

So I go back to these old movies time and again, big ones and little ones. All About Eve, The Big Sleep, The Women, A Letter to Three Wives, Apartment for Peggy – even the original Japanese Godzilla – create something I don’t find often in more contemporary fare and nearly never see in modern remakes. Those classics make room for me, and I love them for it.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Counting the Years in My Archives

Good gravy, am I really in the middle of my 6th year of this weblog? (I've very slowly become reconciled to the word "blog", but I still don't like it.) What in hell have I been talking about all these years? And why would anyone be reading it?

Mysteries. I like 'em.

So, today is my second day of the miseries -- too tired to move, too achy to want to move. I dunno what's up with all that. Too much rain? Too much sugar? Too much lead in my ass? Don't know. Must do something about it, once I figure out what.

I've been playing around with the Artist's Way since April, doing morning pages and somesuch in an attempt to get back my magic writing skills. Yeah, they evaporated on me from about last August. Once upon a time, I wrote because stories just spooled out of my head. It was like taking dictation from a ghost, I coudn't write it down fast enough. Practically unconscious. Now, no such luck. If I get anything written at all, it's painful and difficult and requires much too much thinking, and once I start thinking about it I start wondering why I want to say anything at all and how badly I'm saying it and why don't I go find a cookie and watch a movie or something? Hey, what's going on in Goodreads? Anyone post to their blog or LJ today? Is that a split end? Did I hear a cat? I could go wash the dishes or match socks...

See what I mean? Just running from writing. And running from this, too -- not a lot of posts here for several months, certainly not the chatty garbage I spewed so easily for so long. Pure puzzlement.

Yeah yeah, I know -- moving is traumatic, being unemployeed is traumatic, no friends or family is traumatic, feeling out of place is traumatic, physical problems like tendinitis and bad knees are traumatic, sick cats are traumatic...blah blah blah de blah. Change, in esscense. Well, when does the trauma end? I'm tired of that. It bothers me that it bothers me. I would like to be done with it, if you please.

No answers, just questions.

Anyway (my all time favorite subject changer) the fishies are fine and there will not be any additions until we go up a tank size, which will not be until we are in a larger and more permenent establishment. Ophelia continues to give mixed signals -- she has some peeling skin and very heavy shedding, which are usually an indication of super high blood sugar, but we aren't sure what the time from cause to effect is on that, and while the shedding is all over, the skin peeling is (so far) localized, and she's still growing fur -- in fact, some bald patches she had have filled in, and the places thevet shaved to take blood are fuzzy with new fur. What's more, she's alert, she's eating and eliminating quite normally, and she even plays a bit. She's still having some problems climbing around, but it comes and goes. So, we continue on.

Right now, I'm thinking she will show signs of failure by August. I'm mentally penciling in August as her possible last month, if all the bad stuff is true. Right now, she's showing no signs of giving up, giving in, or waiting for anything to be over. She's acting like "Kitty who had a cold and a bloodsugar fluctuation".

I need to go upstairs, scrub myself and wash my hair, then get dressed and start dealing with this day. Not really enthused, but resigned.

Friday, June 05, 2009

More Fish Tales


Because, really, how can I resist that for a post title?

The new tank is set up and running -- two small filter pumps instead of a single larger one, so we can maintain environment between filter changes. Two aerators (bubbles! Fishies like bubbles!) We bought a base, too, because that's a lot of water (8lbs per gal x 20 gal = whoa that would be bad if the old baker's rack broke one day) Already the water is clearer than it was all of last week. The fish seem really excited, too -- they can swim without bumping the walls. Chemical balance improves at each check.

So, once we get the tank balanced, it's just feeding fishies twice a day (very little food, but goldfish are eternally hungry and eventually learn to spot you and start begging), change the filters every 2-3 weeks (takes almost 3 minutes!!) and clean the tank every month or so. Wee!

Still debating a forth fish, maybe another fantail. *sigh*

Ethel really likes the new tank, though.

Ophelia is back to about as normal as she ever was. She's stopped sneezing, is very interested in food, climbs onto what she wants to climb onto (or pulls the poor poor pitiful kitty act when she wants a free ride) and snores when she sleeps.


She's having problem with her right back leg but that's ongoing, and I'm really wondering if it COULD be that she damaged a muscle or six during one of her more graceless "Hey gravity, here I come!" episodes. In any case. she's fine and she really needs a bath, and she's gonna go on vacation with us instead of to the vet. If she's gonna live in a cage for 8 days, I'd rather it be a cage where I am. We have Calico's old crate, which is large for a cat, and we are planning to build a platform for it, so once we get to Jammies house, we will find a corner (Hey Jams, what about that little area by your front door? is that clear?) and set up a kitty house.

Aside from happy animal stories, I'm having an old lady day. I feel like someone kicked me all night. I need Aleve.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Fishy Story

Several weeks ago, we set up a little pond in our patio garden -- a large fiberglass pot, a $40 fountain pump hidden in a plastic "bamboo" spout, a water plant, and four gold fish -- two fantails, Fred and Ethel, a koi named George, and a Black Moor named Willy. They did pretty well for about 6 weeks, until the pond filled with Algae and I freaked out we were killing the fish. Also, we got worried about the water temp. What reading I'd done indicated that warm water would hurt the fish.

So we ran out, like idiots, and got a 10 gallon tank and filter, and moved the fish. Within a day, the fish were Not Happy. We were confused -- everything we'd seen so far said goldfish were easy and we had the right size tank and filter.

Oh, but goldfish are different. We lost Fred, and we put George back in the pond. He died the next day. We mourned. And we worked hard to keep Willy and Ethel. The tank stabilized and we decided we had room for one more fish -- another tiny Black Moor we named Milly. We also got a Betta to keep mosquitos out of the pond, but it died within 3 days. No more fish in the pond. The guilt is overwhelming. I really liked George, too.

Now we've done a lot more research and figured out that Goldfish are really pretty hard to keep (whodathunk?). We are stepping up to either a 16 or a 20 gallon tank tonight. Depending on the size, we are thinking about eventually adding another fantail and maybe a redcap.

The weird parts? We are not only enjoying having a fish tank, the cats are NOT all over it. Oh, they will watch for a bit. Caliban will climb into a chair and stare for about 5 minutes, the others will give less attention, but it's not a big deal. The Husband and I, though, we can stare for a good half hour at a time. I sort of knew I wanted a tank for several years, but never did it. The Husband had fish years ago, but hadn't thought about it in a long while. Once the tank is set up, they are pretty low maintenance (compared to the cats! even compared to the bird.) Bea is barely interested at all.


So, back to Petsmart tonight, to compare and contrast tanks and set ups. The old 10 gal will be donated, unless someone wants it for guppies or turtles...

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Postponing the Inevitable

Ophelia is eating. She's drinking. She's sleeping a lot. She's climbing up on what she wants to climb up on. In other words, she's acting pretty much the way she has for the last 8-10 months.

We feel better.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Inevitable

My big baby, Ophelia, is not doing well. She will be 16 this month. She was running a fever on Saturday, but bloodtests came back good - except for one marker. The marker could mean she has cancer. It could mean she's had a muscle trauma or accident. The vet leans toward cancer. Further testing is expensive and we can't afford it. Even if we find out she has cancer, she's too old and it's too expensive to treat it.

Or she might just be old and diabetic and strained a muscle. She's not the most coordinated cat anymore and has slid down the stairs and fallen off of cat perches. We just don't know.

So, for now, we keep her comfortable and watch her. She's been eating very little, but she's always eager to try some food. She had potty problems but has recovered if she's helped into the box. She drinks lots of water, sleeps sprawled out, cleans herself (more or less) and snores when she sleeps. She purrs when we are near her, and makes the most horrible cry when she wants us. When she wants to be somewhere, she will tromp her way to the spot, be it up or downstairs, or she will meow until I take her somewhere (It's very odd, but I nearly always know what her meows mean and have since she was a kitten. I'm a very, very crazy cat lady, but damn it, I understand my cat.)

We have to make some decisions, somehow, some time. Have her put down now? Wait to see if she gets better or worse? She might have weeks, she might have months, she might have a good year or so left. I just don't know. I want to do right by her, and I don't want to lose my baby cat, my little hard luck case who has slept on my pillow nearly every night for 16 years. I bottle fed her and hauled her with me on vacation and tended her and fussed over her. She's much loved.

Still, she's growing old. And she's diabetic. How much do I put her through because I don't want to live without her? It's not like she -- or any of us -- will live forever. It's going to happen, and all I can control is the when and the how.

Yeah, I can go from zero to bawling mess in 10 seconds or less.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Do I Even Exist Anymore?

Funny how this thing is working out. Once upon a time I could not wait to come here and talk to the world, or at least the 6 people in it I knew. I could write about nothing much at all, but I simply had to talk about it. Be it something I saw on the road, or a random thought, or something I'd done, I had to come here and tell everyone.

Not so much anymore. Oh, things still go on -- The Husband is in Florida this week; I tried putting a leash on Caliban, since Ben is enjoying his outside-on-a-leash time; my garden is fantastically beautiful and the back patio a little oasis; I'm taking a writing class online; I've just finished a bio of 18th century novelist Fanny Burney and am now reading one about Jane Austen; I watched Katharine Hepburn movies most of Tuesday; my kitchen is really disgusting and I have to clean it; same with the living room.

See? Same things I used to talk about for lines and lines. Now, I don't really think they are interesting to anyone but me. So, silence.

No, I'm not going to take the weblog down. Not even a consideration. I don't really feel like disappearing, or demonstrating my relative unimportance in the world, or a virtual suicide, or anything like that. Not really interested there, either. There's not much to complain about. I'm not angry or frustrated. It's just everything would be like this:

There is a pair of morning doves hanging around lately. They like my bird feeder, but the smaller birds chase them off. Must refill it. Lynn will probably want to walk today -- I've walked with her twice this week. Then again, it looks cloudy and might rain.

And, really, what's up with that?

And it isn't like I'm silent. I'm busy on Goodreads. I'm keeping up a lively email conversation with someone. I'm posting in my online classroom. I'm writing at least three pages of something every day.

There's just not much to be said here. Not much that can be said to whatever image I have in my head of who I am talking to. In part, it's the unspoken gag rule of The Husband's university career. I don't speak plainly because I shouldn't. That means I have little to say, because who knows what will be taken in what way and right now it matters.

I did find out yesterday that Bosszilla has bought himself a race horse.

Monday, May 04, 2009

One Year

One year ago today, I was up to my neck in cardboard boxes and stressed out cats, trying to settle into this new life. I had no idea what was ahead.

Still don't, but I'm getting a clearer picture.

I am much, MUCH overweight now -- knee problems, arm problems, attitude problems, and assorted other things have contributed. I haven't talked here about so much of it, really, but let us say this year has had its problems.

However, we celebrated the first of May on Friday by driving back to Issaqueena Falls. You can look at the pictures we took last year here. Rain has improved things a bit.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Stepping Up or Down

The Husband's computer -- an emergency replacement when the twin to my current Acer custom job bellied up all sudden and scary one day -- is beginning to clatter and make scary noises, so he's ordered himself up a shiny new Dell with his nifty student discount. What will we do with the old one? We aren't sure yet. The last old computers we had found homes overseas and in the recycling bin, respectively, but this one is a refurbished behemoth of a laptop that seems to be developing some serious problems. Probably gift it to some struggling student to see him or her through until a new computer can be found.

The shiny side for me is that, since my lovely laptop is now nearing computer middle age (three years old! Oh no!) and has developed several keyboard peculiarities (the right side 'alt' key no longer sits correctly, for one, and I've a number of keys that require a very centered and strong tap to activate) and it has no battery power to speak of, I'm getting a little Netbook Dell Inspiron Mini. We debated the idea of just getting a new battery for Chaos (my laptop) but it is also a pain to lug around the way I am currently lugging it around. It gets REALLY hot, so I need either a lapdesk or a table for it at all times, and I'd rather just park it on its cooling pad full time. So, a fancy new Netbook is in my future. I took a look at several models, mostly for screen size and keyboard layout/size issues -- no point in buying one that I hate to type on.

It will be cherry red (wee!), with a bigger hard drive than I currently have (also !) and an external r/w CD/DVD drive and I'm thinking of names for it. In keeping with my usual computer naming scheme, it has to be either cat or disaster related (being as cats and disaster go together). The Husband's old computer was Mayhem and we've already picked a name for his new baby (Havoc).

I'm leaning toward Storm, kinda sorta.

Monday, April 27, 2009

For All Ye Swordfighters

Tonight I went to see Reclaiming the Blade, a documentary about the loss, recreation and revival of the Western Martial arts centered on swordfighting. It was really quite good. Not as in depth as perhaps the more knowledgeable among you might like, but it covers a good bit of ground, including movie and stage fight choreography. The DVD (of course I bought it) has 4 extra hours of footage and information.

It was premiered here because the producer is a Clemson graduate and several portions were filmed in and around Clemson University.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Since You Asked

The Day of Silence on Friday was interesting. Since I don't talk a lot (except to cats) at home, I figured it would be more significant if I were silent online, so I didn't post to any of my usual haunts. I did go READ, however, since that would be the most like remaining mute in a more normal social surrounding.

I got angry a lot. Just being forbidden to respond to anything was enough to make me very angry most of the day. I didn't need much reason to be angry at anything or anyone. Just knowing I could not respond, that I was silenced and would not be heard, was enough.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Silence

Tomorrow I will be observing the Day of Silence by not posting to any of my usual blogs, forums, or social sites.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

AmazonFail continues


The pieces are still drifting.

http://tech.yahoo.com/news/pcworld/20090414/tc_pcworld/amazonsayslistingproblemwasanerrornotahack

I've come to a conclusion for my own actions. I'm not going to give Amazon my business.

Why? The way I see this, it's a huge gaping hole of customer service.

I've have relatively few problems over the years with Amazon. Oh, a couple of bumps -- an item sent to me incorrectly that I wanted to return to them, but that they would never arrange for me to return, items shipped incorrectly or late, things like that. Over some 14 years of dealing with them, nothing ever happened to completely discourage me. In general, I could get what I wanted from them without much trouble. Friends didn't have such luck, or were more sensitive to the errors -- I dunno -- but I heard more stories about what amounted to lack of customer service.

Then, as Amazon became THE online e-retailer, I started hearing more and more from writers I follow or knew about the importance of being on Amazon. It made sense -- giant online retailer, you want to be there. Brick and Mortar stores had buyers and limited shelf space, but Amazon didn't have those limitations. They sold everything, right? If you looked, you could find it.

And we had the Kindle appear and things got a little more complicated. Not every book would be converted for the Kindle, you know. Amazon could pick and chose what would be available to Kindle users. That bothered me. Amazon now had more influence over what could be published than a seller really should.

Now, this "ham handed and embarrassing catalog error" takes place, threatening many authors and setting both authors and customers on edge. Did we hear anything from Amazon? Not much. No "We realize there's a problem and we are looking into it" or "Amazon has no intention of removing LGBTQ authors from searches as a policy; we are having a problem on our end and we will correct it." So many things they could have said on Sunday would have headed off this fuss.

They didn't say one of them.

They didn't apologize. They didn't explain. They didn't speak about valuing the customers who buy or the authors who sell.

And that is "fuck you, gimme your money" customer service. I don't want any of it. Amazon still has some competition out there. There are other booksellers, online and local, who will offer to do more than sell me a book. They will treat me with some respect, and TALK TO ME when there is a problem. They realize that I have choices and can take my money elsewhere.

So, byebye, Amazon. I'll be clearing out as much of my personal information from you as I can today. You don't deserve my business. I'll let you know when you do.

Monday, April 13, 2009

AmazonFail


Hubpages has probably the best over view of the situation I've seen yet. I've been collecting other links all day, and waiting for Amazon to finally speak about it. However, the longer they stay silent, the less inclined I am to believe the least horrible possibility -- that Amazon's ranking system was exploited and trolled. Here's a list of the links I've read and collected today.

http://lilithsaintcrow.livejournal.com/325099.html

http://community.livejournal.com/meta_writer/11992.html

http://tehdely.livejournal.com/88823.html

http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10217715-93.html#addcomm

http://www.salon.com/mwt/broadsheet/feature/2009/04/13/amazon_fail/index.html

http://jezebel.com/5209088/why-is-amazon-removing-the-sales-rankings-from-gay-lesbian-books?skyline=true&s=x

http://markprobst.livejournal.com/15507.html (update from the author who started it all)

http://www.itworld.com/business/66295/amazonfail-hot-new-trend-weekend

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2345158,00.asp?kc=PCRSS03069TX1K0001121

http://tech.yahoo.com/news/pcworld/20090413/tc_pcworld/amazonglitchyankssalesrankofhundredsoflgbtbooks_1

http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/Bloggers-Accuse-Amazon-of-Anti-Gay-Tactics.html

http://u.tv/News/Amazon-feels-the-webs-wrath/56bce660-402e-42d3-aa68-363777344812

http://www.churchofcustomer.com/2009/04/customers-revolt-over-amazon-gay-book-deranking-aka-amazonfail-.html

http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/bookselling/amazonfail_a_personal_perspective_113835.asp

http://www.informationweek.com/blog/main/archives/2009/04/dont_jump_to_co.html

http://twitter.com/RonHogan

http://www.craigbellamy.net/2009/04/12/amazonfail/#more-1327

http://hubpages.com/hub/Amazon-Rank


Most people are going with the idea that this is an Amazon policy targeting the LGBTQQI communities. A few are offering other suggestions, and some are recommending waiting to find out more. Almost all, though, suggest Amazon is shooting itself in the foot by not making any statements, apologies or explanations. Even if in the end Amazon is demonstrated not to be making such a huge policy mistake, their system has caused injury to many many people and they need to apologize.

Waiting. Waiting.


Update: Now someone is backing up tehdaly's theory with a 'confession' of epically asshole proportions.

http://community.livejournal.com/brutal_honesty/3168992.html


And now, that the claim is so much narcissistic bullshit.

http://lilithsaintcrow.livejournal.com/325429.html

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Amazon Deranking -- censorship or protection?

Have you caught the weekend furor over Amazon's "new policy" of "deranking" publications it deems "adult content"? It seems this is now Amazon policy, but it is not administered in an even handed manner (as discussed by some of the posts below). Deranking means a publication does not show up in general topic searches nor comes up at the top (ranking shows how many copies of a publication have sold compared to all others, basically popularity). Titles for GBLT publications, with or without explicit sexual content, seem disproportionately 'deranked' compared to other forms of 'adult content'.

Read these links for more information.

The original post: http://markprobst.livejournal.com/15293....

http://rydra-wong.livejournal.com/174790...

Dear Author post 1 http://dearauthor.com/wordpress/2009/04/...

Dear Author post 2 http://dearauthor.com/wordpress/2009/04/...

The LA Times book blog http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/jacketco...

There are more and more posts popping up everywhere.

I believe that a retail organization has the right to sell or not sell whatever it likes. What bothers me about this particular move is that Amazon is still selling these publications (and making profit from it) while at the same time refusing to treat the books as it does any other publication. It has not taken the option of, say, marking publications as "adult" and giving consumers the option of not SEEING these in their search results (giving consumers the choice) but has done this rather arbitrary thing to, supposedly, protect the consumer.

I really didn't know I needed protection like this, myself. Does it really protect anyone, or just penalize authors? Is it censorship or a response to customer demands?

I've canceled my advance orders . I had some feedback to send to an Amazon vendor, in which I indicated I was no longer looking for books via Amazon. I sent an email expressing my thoughts on the matter.
I am very disappointed in Amazon's recent "de-ranking" policy for supposed 'adult content' publications.It is ill conceived at best.Even the intimation that a retail outlet of Amazon's status and influence is indulging in any kind of censorship is heinous.If you do not wish to sell such publications, do not sell them, but do not attempt to profit from them while at the same time refusing to treat them as any other publication, creating a sort of 'ghetto'. Such "protection" is mere pandering and hypocrisy, shameful in what was once a respected Internet business.

I have not yet canceled my account, but I am considering it seriously.The loss of just my business is meaningless, but I shall do my best to encourage others via my blogs and contacts on reader-friendly sites.

I'm not sure about the source of this -- is it policy or a very selective 'glitch'? Either way, I think it's very questionable behavior from Amazon. Barns & Noble, here I come!

Springy!



Friday, April 10, 2009

It's Like Exercise

Well, if I'm going to maintain my ability to walk, I have to go to physical therapy and DO something about my knees. I have to talk with this tiny, sweet faced 20 something with off-blonde hair and blue eyes. Bless her, she didn't once call me either "Ma'am" or "Honey". She's going to make me exercise.

So, twice a week for the next few weeks, a variety of simple yet tiring exercises, and news that my kneecap tries to head for my hip when I walk. Well. Wandering Kneecaps.

If this works well and my kneecaps straighten out, good. I won't be in braces for ever. If it all works and my knees still hurt, the next step is surgery. Ok, we can deal with that. Otherwise, I'd better start looking at a stair lift or get butt bumpers, because that will be the only way I travel.

Also today, we are getting another cold front, complete with thunder storms and a chance of tornadoes. Wee! Must be spring in the Carolinas.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

I'm All Out of Nice

Life is fine, spring is trying its best. 41 this morning which is plenty cold as far as I'm concerned, what with all my winter stuff packed up. I wore shorts one day this week.

Trees and flowers are blooming everywhere. It's sunny and windy, then it's grey and cool, then it's rainy and cold, then...well, you get the idea.

Other than that, nothing much is new. How about you?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fug Madness Rules

We are down to picking the final 8.

No no, not Basketball. I wouldn't waste my time on basketball.

I'm talking FUG MADNESS.

I'm really hoping for a Swinton/Bai Ling match up in the final round. That would be EPIC.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I feel so Justified in having ignored them so long

SciFi becomes SyFy


They might as well. They've shown damned little science fiction in the last few years. It's always a pleasant experience to know a commercial concern that started out saying it was aiming for a particular audience of which you are a member has now decided you are a social reprobate, an unbathed basement living mouthbreather with the IQ of stale Doritos.

Maybe if they'd ever bothered to, I dunno, develop and nurture worthwhile shows instead of rerunning C movie fare...

Good bye and good riddance. The Geek nation will find somewhere else.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I can't help it. I want one of these for my display shelf.


(swiped from the marvelous Go Fug Yourself)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Why I Back Up My Computre

Monday, I opened up the laptop as usual to make my rounds and so forth. I kept getting this popup that insisted it was from Microsoft and was a Spyware protection software. It looked just like an annoying MS spyware thing I dealt with at Tokyo because the ITiot was paranoid. I kept telling it no, go away, I don't like you. It kept insisting I was in danger and my only choice was to hand it my credit card and let it protect me.

I set about deleting it. It took vengeance upon me. Oh, nothing significant -- I was just no longer able to communicate with anyone via the Internet. I could visit sites and all, but I could not send any information. You see, I was being protected by being rendered MUTE.

Several hours of diagnostics and bad guesses followed, ending with one conclusion -- I would need to lobotomize my computer and start all over again. So, last night, I found the disks and started the process.

And now, 24 hours later, I'm halfway through restoring everything. Wee. I am so happy that I back up with paranoid regularity now.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

I Wanna Rock

Well, a Samsung Pebble

Ok, so it's $40 for a 2 gig player -- I can buy larger flashdrives cheaper. But it looks like a ROCK. That plays MUSIC. And it has an LED. The geek factor is pretty high on this thing.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Ponderings

It is a cool 31 degrees here tonight -- nothing, I know, to you frozen tundra folks, but enough here to prompt turning on the heat. And I am pondering particular things.

Things I am pondering are that in a few short months we will have been in this place for a year. It feels reasonably like home, in that it is never really neat, we still don't file things, and there is lots of cat hair. It doesn't quite feel like home because so much stuff is still backed up in boxes in the storage units.

Which brings me to my next pondering. In May, I will only have about a year to pack up stuff in preparation for our next move, which will theoretically be in 2010. Considering how long it took me to pack up stuff LAST time, I'm wondering when I should start. The positive spin on this is 1) this is a rental so I don't have to leave the place "show ready" 2) I only have about 1/2 as much stuff to pack.

Every time I look around, I start thinking about what things I should be packing NOW, just so I can ease the burden THEN. Of course, not knowing where we will be going makes this a little complicated, as I'm not sure if we will jettison certain things (one set of book cases aren't going to survive another move, we are already certain.)

At least I have a year to think about it.

Friday, February 20, 2009

And the Knee News Is...

The beginnings of arthritis, in a nutshell. The cartilage under my kneecap is 'frayed and worn'. The left knee is going the way of the right knee. It's a part of aging, oh joy, o rapture.

Solution? It's sort of a "try this and see" with stages. For now, new knee braces and physical therapy. In 6-8 weeks, we see what's going on -- if good, then good. If not so good, we move on to an outpatient surgery to smooth the cartilage. If that works, great. If not, injections. If that works, great. If not, more surgery.

Really, it's good news. The braces fit well and I already feel a difference when I move around. I wanted to exercise anyway, so the therapy (which will be mostly exercise) is in line with that. The first surgery is scope/outpatient so not too bad, if it comes at all. The doctor was pretty optimistic. He doesn't see surgery as being too near.

Now -- new yoga pants!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Knee News

I don't keep up with where I've whined about what, but I'm sure at some point since last summer I've whined about my knees. I have two of them, you know. They do the standard knee things -- bending, unbending, getting whacked on table edges -- only for the last 6-8 months, they've been telling me how unhappy they are about it, at least when I climb stairs, or go down stairs, or walk on an incline, or have to do anything similar. Sometimes just stepping 'wrong' is enough to send one of those attention getting knee messages to my nerve center. There are days I have to think about going upstairs very carefully so that I don't have to do it more than once.

Insurance nonsense prevented having tests last year when the problem started (I had knees before we started this insurance! Pre-existing condition! Even though the problem started 6 months AFTER we changed insurance. Oi!) So, Monday I went to the local orthopedic specialist center for X-rays.

The good news is I do not appear to have arthritis or a similar joint disease. So, Tuesday I went in for an MRI. This will determine if I have mechanical problems -- torn cartilage, loss of joint fluid, stuff like that. Depending on what is found, I may have knee surgery.

Weee. I am not exactly excited about this prospect, but if it means I can use my knees a little more rigorously (like riding my bike), I'll deal.

We find out on Friday.

Of course, now I've developed a painful problem with my left elbow -- it gets unhappy if I do extreme things like, oh, straighten my arm while I'm sleeping. It makes a "pop" noise and screams at me for a while.

I'm thinking of it as a 44th birthday present.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Home, home, home

Got in last night after a time warped day (traveling from west to east does that). Cats are all still here, but Ben has apparently injured an eye that, if it doesn't improve post haste, will have him at the vet. Caliban is terrorizing the others as not-quite-kittens will do, and he greeted me with purring, a snuggle, and a bite on the hand.

I slept far too long.

Now to remember how to live here again. Might take a few minutes.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Last Day in Vegas

I thought I was done with the fake cities in Las Vegas, but, no. Today we wandered in Caesar's, which is a big mall that pretends it is Rome.


Yep, ancient Rome as a shopping destination. Note, another fake sky. All the big designer stores were there -- Jimmy Choo, Louis Vuitton -- and I think I counted 3 different Coach bag stores. The only really GOOD things we found was a Vosges store and a Sony store where I got an AC adapter for my E-book. As for the chocolate store, we spent far too much money on the most delicious stuff. Ahhh...

But, yeah, I am ready to go home. Didn't gamble so much as a penny. Casinos are, too me, nothing but noisy, gaudy, disgustingly smokey places for people to sit around looking really ugly. Yeah, something about a casino just brings out the ugly in people. Not my thing.

Quite ready to be leaving Las Vegas.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Vegas Day 4 -- The Miracle Mile

No photos this time. Oh, we took some, but really -- do you need pictures of a mall? Even a mall with a fake sky and fake looking buildings?

Yeah, that's what we did. We walked the Miracle Mile and we looked at a lot of stuff, because that's what malls have. We found out that you can't take pictures of the weird shoes, either -- they come out to stop you. I guess someone might want to make knockoffs of those weird shoes. Hoochymama shoes, pimp shoes, shoes of impossibility, shoes of pure strangeness -- this mall has them all.

I did get some new charms for my travel charms bracelet. One store was nothing but charms.

Lots of art gallery stores, all grouped together. Jewelry stores, clothing stores (for the very skinny and the very trendy), make you stinky stores, and more shoe stores. We stopped at a place that took Jimmy Buffet's "Cheeseburger in Paradise" rather literally, but the food was good and we all got drinks with little umbrellas in them. I saved the umbrellas.

Then we came back to just rest. Ahh, sitting down. I like sitting down.

Oh, also, I am 44 now. No particular deep thoughts about this. I am fatter than I've ever been, I appear to have permanent black eyes, and things hurt that I never thought about hurting, but all in all it's not so bad. I find myself now looking at those 20 years younger than me and remembering what I was like at that age, and shaking my head with a smile, knowing what I know now that would have made life easier then, and also knowing there is no way to tell that 20 something person any of it. They aren't going to listen. I know I didn't. I do sometimes wish i knew as much now as I thought I did then.

Vegas Day 3 -- The Strip

Today we wandered in faked World Cities, starting with Venice.

The Venetian Hotel's shopping area had a beautiful fake sky, which always looked like just before sunset. The clouds seemed to be moving, but it was just a trick of the lighting (I spent enough time staring to prove it to myself). There was a canal and gondolas and wonderful Italian food -- it was very nice. I understand that the real Venice doesn't smell nearly as nice.
When we walked outside, I had to check the actual sky. Seriously, they did a good job on it.

Then we went to New York, New York to wander around a fake New York City. That's where Zumanity is. We saw that show -- the "adult themed" Cirque du Soleil show. Lots of raunchy humor, lots of flesh (real and illusory -- excellent body stockings used), lots of dance and suggestive activity, tons of thrills and laughs -- but not really "sexy" or "sensual". It was too scripted and the performers going through routines too familiar for that Sexy and sensual implies to me pleasure, and whatever pleasure the performers got came from doing their job and not hurting themselves, not in each other. Still, a most excellent show. I laughed until my eyes watered.

But I think I have had my fill of fake cities.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Vegas Day 2 -- The Bellagio

Wind, cloudy weather, and some unforeseen business prevented us from going to the Valley of Fire, so we decided to wander the Bellagio instead.

The Casino looked like...a casino. Yawn.

However, the Chinese garden was pretty spectacular. Tons of orchids.

And I loved the Chihuly ceiling fixture.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Vegas Day 1 -- Hoover Dam

Everything in Vegas is a smaller version of something somewhere else.

Except for this.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Goin' to Vegas, Baby!


Yep. Leaving in the morning, there for a week. Planning to take a lot of photos and see Hoover Dam. NOT planning to gamble, although I might put $5 of nickles out. Maybe.

More later. Must pack and panic a bit.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Is It Wrong...

That I completely love this balloon dress and the groom's red wedding pajamas? Because I totally do.





































However, this Camo Hunter/Ren Faire shit is ooking me out all over the place.





All this joy brought to you via Tacky Weddings. And all this time I thought buttbows were bad.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Recycling

I did this thing on Facebook today because, damn, I'm such a zombie. Might as well post it here, too.

25 random things about me

1. I am a study in contradictions, which (of course) both pleases and frustrates me.

2. I have two birthdays -- a legal one on my birth certificate, and the day I was actually born. I don't know how my mom accomplished this, as neither she nor my dad ever explained. I have both worried about it and taken advantage of it.

3. I've published two short stories now. I am at one time very proud and fairly ashamed (see a pattern here?) of the stories.

4. I love to sing. I loved to sing on stage to people. I don't do it anymore because my voice is severely out of condition and it's easier to be shy than risk not doing it well anymore.

5. I love to travel but I hate leaving the house. I carry this little fear that something awful will happen while I'm not looking.

6. I worry. It gets ridiculous sometimes, but I've had just enough bad things happen out of the blue that I feel justified in it.

7. I'm not really crazy about my long hair, but I've never managed a short hairstyle that didn't require lots of maintenance, annoy me with hair in my face, or make my head look teeny. The pinhead look is not flattering.

8. I've managed to forget most of highschool because most of it was crazed, deeply humiliating, or terribly painful.

9. You could not pay me enough to go back to my 20s, but I'd really like to start at 30 and do-over.

10. I'm sometimes stunned by how scared I've been all my life.

11. I empathize too much with tv and movie characters to enjoy a lot of comedies. 'I Love Lucy' episodes are painful. Most clowns make me want to cry.

12. While I've never actually gone up in flames when exposed to sunlight, I still think it is a possibility.

13. Writing is my passion, but the older I get, the less I find I want to talk to anyone through my writing. Writing for myself no longer has appeal, and others seem not to listen, so I stay silent quite a bit.

14. Nothing is quite so hard for me as to ask for attention and regard. I crave it, and I think I deserve it, but asking for it seems to devalue it.

15. I am sometimes amazed I've been married so long. Sometimes it feels like I've always had this other person as part of my life. I don't think I could live happily any other way.

16. I refuse to outgrow my gamer geek, SF loving, con going ways, but I prefer to take advantage of the adult comforts when I do it (bathing, sleeping, moderate drinking).

17. I really love driving fast, but I'm a damn safe driver.

18. I refused to read Jane Austen for years, thinking it was all Girls School English Major Twin set and Pearls garbage. I am now an Austen addict. I do not own a twin set.

19. The Internet has brought me incredible opportunity and too many wasted hours of distraction.

20. I love gadgets! My e-book, my laptop, my Blackberry, my MP3 player, my laser pointer -- all that stuff thrills me. I also love my fountain and dip ink pens, bottles of ink, thick old fashioned creamy paper, and sealing wax.

21. I've worked hard to overcome my blithering idiot tendencies when meeting someone I admire who is well known. I just can't forget that even though I've spent hours thinking about this person, I am just one of so many, and will be forgotten quickly -- and that feels unfair.

22. I sometimes regret not having children, even though I think I would have been a lousy mom. I feel like I've failed my parents, especially my mom, by not carrying any piece of them forward.

23. While I've never thought myself pretty and certainly was not told I was good looking very often (I was 'smart'), I stil managed to be a life study model for a few years. One artist loved my big hips. I have two pictures for which I modeled.

24. Lindt Cherry-Chili dark chocolate is the most perfect form of chocolate. Spiced orange is second, and dark chocolate marzipan is third.

25. I can't quite imagine anyone finding any of this either surprising or interesting, and yet I don't think I'm all that bad. Conflict and contradiction! I wonder who those voices in my head are!