Tuesday, August 31, 2004

In Case You Didn't Catch It...

In case you didn't catch it, Michael Moore is covering the Republican National Convention for USA Today. Entertaining stuff.

Hanging out around the convention, I've encountered a number of the Republican faithful who aren't delegates. They warm up to me when they don't find horns or a tail. Talking to them, I discover they're like many people who call themselves Republicans but aren't really Republicans. At least not in the radical-right way that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft and Co. have defined Republicans.

I asked one man who told me he was a "proud Republican," "Do you think we need strong laws to protect our air and water?"

"Well, sure," he said. "Who doesn't?"

I asked whether women should have equal rights, including the same pay as men.

"Absolutely," he replied.

"Would you discriminate against someone because he or she is gay?"

"Um, no." The pause — I get that a lot when I ask this question — is usually because the average good-hearted person instantly thinks about a gay family member or friend.

The World of the Book Review

Well, uh, at least he reviewed it:

"This book shows every sign of being a hasty first draft; it does its author no credit at all and is a significant disappointment."


For the record, I actually do enjoy Adam Roberts' work in a purely entertaining way. I do, however, like Priest's work far more. Different expectations for different works, I suppose.

Vegas, Baby

Back from Vegas. Had a great time catching up with my writing buddies, most of whom I hadn't seen in several years. The funny thing about meeting back up with people in person who you talk to all the time online via e-mail and messageboards is that you've already caught up on the smalltalk by the time you meet up. "I was going to ask you what's going on," my buddy Patrick said at dinner the first night, "but, well..."


I think the most amusing part of the trip was watching our buddy Greg (who had never been to Vegas) staring, stunned, at the cocktail waitresses and birdwomen (alas, he missed the Sirens of TI! show).

This was the first time I'd been to Vegas when I was old enough to drink and gamble, and I gotta say: it's much more enjoyable that way. I lost $10 at the slots and bought several $8 drinks. The highlight "event" of the trip was trekking over to the Bellagio and seeing Cirque Du Soleil's latest show, "O". It was worth the exorbitant price, and I'm glad I went. This was one of those, "Let's do everything we usually do, only more of it, in water, with bigger costumes, and a ship hanging off the ceiling. Can you bend that way and then *dive* off the trapeze?" Amazing shit. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.

I arrive home poorer in pocket, but richer in experience. Most of our time was actually taken up lingering over our meals. We often spent two hours eating, talking, and playing keno.

It was just what I needed.

And now: back to work.

Thursday, August 26, 2004


Just about to head to Vegas, and stumbled on a "breaking news" headline at CNN.

Federal judge finds Partial Birth Abortion Act unconstitutional. Details soon.


Corporate Socializing

So, it turned out a couple people didn't show for our corporate golf outing, so I got shut out of chauffering the boys around in the Beer Cart - fine with me. I hung out at Borders for a couple hours, then met up with the Boys at the steakhouse.

The Boys arrived an hour late (I was liason with the steakhouse), drunk and in highly good spirits. It doesn't get much more surreally interesting than hanging out with a bunch of drunken executives (the least senior of which makes just over 90K a year) at a posh steakhouse while running up an exorbitant bill on a corporate card.

I was worried that this would be one of those staid, fake roundabouts with smily, boring people. I need not have worried. Only about fourteen people showed for dinner, which ended up being a perfect batch. Blaine was in high form, drunk and expositing football stories. Ned, the Big Cheese from our group, was just as sloshed and fun (and everyone was very careful with their hands - nobody put a hand on me anywhere but my arm or shoulder, though Yellow ended up sitting next to me, and had his arm on the back of my chair for some minutes, which nearly set off my "pissed off" radar. But all in all, I appreciated being treated like a real person).

As they all arrived drunk (lots of cigar smoking and beer drinking on those golf courses), I had to do a lot of catching up. Pete, who works with the firm we're partnering with, ordered the wine. I sniffed and sipped the first glass and was surprised at how good it was. These are a bunch of blue-collar background types who've worked their asses off and done well. Very few of them actually came from old money, so I wasn't expecting fireworks when Pete ordered.

Turns out the wine was $85 a bottle.

It *better* have been damn good.

The damn good wine flowed all night. We took out at least a case and a half, and wiped out the restaurant's whole supply of the stuff.

I got a great table, Ned on one side, Yellow on the other, sitting across from Sarah, who's one of our on-the-ground construction managers, and Bettie and Pete, who both work with our partner company. Everybody was damn fun. Yellow took the opportunity to announce to the table that I was selling a book -- I knew I should have shut my mouth in the car during our three and a half hour drive down to the golf course. He kept prodding me for more information about my books. After admitting that I had wall maps, languages, and had, in fact, written eight previous books before trying to sell this one, he announced:

"You're a Trekkie!"

"No, Yellow. No. Some kids had ballet lessons or football practice. I wrote books. We all have our things. What the hell do you do every night?"

"Probably fuck around with my motorcycle."

"See," I said. "We're all weirdos."

After Yellow's speech about my writing at the table (we'd pushed the round table between two longer ones, so we were all at one big table), he sat back to watch the conversation fly.

Ferdinand, a big mucky-muck from our corporate offices, was very interested in what I was doing.

"He wants to know how the company's computers are actually being used all day," Yellow said.

I think my biggest gaffe of the night was saying to Ferdinand, "So, you grew up in Switzerland --"

"Sweden," he said.

Blah. I knew that. But hell, if that's the biggest gaffe of the night... I didn't even hit on anybody. A night when I don't hit on anyone present is generally considered a successful one (though Yellow was looking damn fine the next morning in tight, long sleeved white shirt and baggy gray cargo pants. But my twinges of attraction for Yellow are few and far between. Most days, I just think he's damn funny).

After dinner, we migrated to the bar and drank still more wine, and smoked cigars.

"I've got to see Kameron smoking a cigar," Ned said, doling them out.

So I smoked cigars (god only knows how expensive they were) and ended up talking with Bettie and Rhea. Rhea's also working with our partner company. She and Ned have known each other for something like 20 years. You can't throw a rock around this business without hitting someone you've worked with before.

I think Rhea's damn cool. She's gotta be over fifty, has bleached short hair, a deep tan, and wears skimpy shirts that show off her bellybutton ring. And she's wildly successful. She apparently got her engineering degree in 1978, and was the only woman in her class.

"I wasn't trying to make a statement or anything," she said, "I just really wanted to be an engineer. My dad was an engineer. I never really wanted to do anything else."

She also imparted a valuable bit of information to me - when I told her and Bettie that I didn't make enough money to afford a cell phone, Rhea leaned into me and said, "You'll be all right. Blaine *adores* you."

I had suspected I had a pretty secure job place, so long as Blaine could afford me. Now we just have to sign another contract, and I'll be taking advantage of this liking to get myself a frickin' reasonable wage (like, say, *double* what I'm making now).

After we wiped out the last of the restaurant's case of our chosen wine, we migrated back to the hotel. I tried to flick the ashes of my cigar out the window of the car and ended up losing the whole damn cigar. That was one of those stealthy, "Gosh, I hope no one noticed that" moments.

By this time, it's after midnight, and we're all plastered. Those of us staying at the same hotel congregated in the lobby's bar, and I had another cigar, and part of a glass of cheap wine which then made me sick. Blaine was in fine form, likely talking more football stories, though honestly, I don't remember actual conversation topics from that point in the night. He and Ned finally bowed out, as they had an earlier flight back to Chicago, and the rest of us said goodnight.

The next day, at breakfast, Yellow said, "Kameron, you must have talked the most of *anyone* all night. I knew you were going to have a good time."

I've found that the older I am, the more I know, and the more I've done, the easier these social bullshit things are. And, let's be honest: I really liked the people. I thought Bettie and Rhea were awesome, Ned treated me with total respect, Yellow kicked up conversation about my writing and his motorcycles, Blaine was just a big sweetheart puppydog drunk (which I suspect is his default form), Pete and Bettie had great stories, Sarah and Garret (our construction managers) spent an hour before the dinner talking shop with me while we waited for the drunken golfers (I really need to know more about the actual groundwork than I do), Rhea was just a frickin' powerhouse, and everybody was really easy going and cool. I had a great time.

At the end of the night, Ned handed me the bill so I could add on a little extra tip to the automatic one and write the new total before he signed it (he was toast, and had forgotten his glasses). I was a little dumbstruck at the sight of the bill total. I've never seen a dinner bill with that many digits. I was also pretty drunk by this point, and my math was off. I undertipped by at least $40, but seeing the "automatic" tip added in ($400), the thought of writing more hundreds underneath it made me vaguely nauseous.

When we moved to the bar and I caught site of the bar tab as I handed it off to Yellow (almost $300), I realized how addictive this sort of life could become for people. I mean, I was sure as hell fired up about it. Wouldn't it be great to be like Blaine or Ned, and do these things all the time? Order $85 bottles of wine and sign off on dinner bills that cost more than most undergraduates' first cars? Hob-nob all night with movers and shakers in companies worth billions of dollars?

It's gotta be addictive.

Me, Yellow, and Dee (our lead architect for the project) drove back the long drive to the office, and then I went straight home, packed for my Vegas trip where I'll be meeting up with my writing buddies (let's talk about my real addiction), and slept for 12 hours. Seriously. I was so exhausted and hung over I thought I was going to fall over.

That was damn good wine.

And, surprisingly, damn good company.

Monday, August 23, 2004


Yellow just took off for the day (it's, um, 10:30am). I love working for these guys.

Anyway, I've got about 3 short stories I need to finish up and get out Cheira-Cheira, Heros, and Locust Dreams - today's gotta be a pure working day. So, for your amusement:

I've finally picked up Nick Mamatas' book, Move Undergound, largely because I'm enjoying his blog, and have given into the "buy my book," "have you bought a copy of my book" comments. We'll see if he's worth all his posturing. Of course, he's got a great review from Matt Cheney, which also helped push me over. The book is Cthulu meets Jack Kerouac, apparently. Not exactly up my alley, but I like the internet personae behind it, so we'll see.

I've also got a couple more book orders coming in: Christopher Priest's Fugue for a Darkening Island, Iain Banks' A Song of Stone. Very much looking forward to this set of books. These last two are absolutely brilliant writers (I may have mentioned that I've read Priest's The Affirmation about five times. It's a brilliant, brilliant book about a man creating and living in his own fantasy world. A great making and breaking of the world book).

OK. No ranting today. I really need to be working. Really.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

On the Morbidity of Flora

I live with a lot of plants.

I managed to kill about four batches of basil and cilantro through lack of light before I got a potting table and tossed it out on the enclosed balcony at the back of the house. This'll be fine until, say, late September, when I'll need to buy a heat lamp and move everything inside. I'm adept at slaughtering plants. I went out the back today and realized I missed a watering day on my basil - it was deathly ill. I repotted and rewatered. Another batch bites the dust...

In other news, I got a very nice personal reject from Sheila Williams at Asimov's for my story, The Women of Our Occupation, (my first personal rejection from Asimov's in, what, 8 years of sending stories to them? This new editor switch over there is a damn good thing for shaking things up) and I'm going to go ahead and slip it off to Datlow and see what happens. It's the last of my latest batch of Brutal Women stories I finished up a few months ago that Datlow has yet to see. Invariably, she appears to end up liking them, and I get personal rejects every time - they just aren't "Sci-Fiction" types of stories. I won't go on a rant about what that means. This is a public forum, afterall.

Anyway, I've got hours of weekly prep stuff to do today. I've got a crappy corportate golf outing on Tuesday, and I'm off to Vegas Thursday to hang out with my Clarion peeps. I also really should go jogging today. Blah. Blah.


Friday, August 20, 2004


I'm drowning in RFPs.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Random Blog Slices

I think that what I like best about trolling through strangers' blogs is that you get these really random snapshots of people's lives:

Are You A Zombie?

The Tyler Durden Beauty Standard

My buddy Jeff was nice enough to give me permission to include his comments on my recent "Worklife" rant. He says:

...I don't think that the remaking selves for the opposite gender thing is as one-sided as you describe. Plenty of women talk quite brazenly about ideal men, and I think perhaps the most universal male experience (judging from milennia of literature anyway) is inadequacy. Plenty of men are intimidated by Brad Pitt. I know I am. Check out Chuck Pahlaniuk's books sometime. (He's the writer of Fight Club) He went through a phase of working out obsessively, taking steroids, and even having plastic surgery to get Brad Pitt-like beesting lips. This is why when the book made it big and Fox wanted to make it into a movie he insisted that Brad Pitt play Tyler Durden.

I'm a big fan of Palahniuk - I've budgeted in his latest nonfiction collection into this week's paycheck. He's doing some really edgy, visceral work: not a literary genius, but somebody's who's really tapped into the dark places in the social landscape (particularly relationships among men and men who find themselves unable to connect with others, including women) that nobody really wants to talk about. The ravaged, mad, bizarre stuff. "Inspiration," writes Palahniuk, "needs disease, injury, madness."

I would, in fact, argue that a lot of the failure of sexual equality has been the conception of "equality." Women have fought (and continue to fight) long and hard for the rights to be accepted as whole, strong, independent individuals. You can wave the flag of feminism all you want and say, "Now women are just like men," but you know what, maybe they shouldn't be. Maybe the social roles are the problem. I don't know that I'd like to suck up the "Bash people around as affection and show emotion only through anger" role. There are certainly a lot of the role qualities that I like, and I'd like to be just as free to choose which ones I like and which I don't, and until men are given the same option without threat of death or dismemberment, I still think we're a long way off from that breezy hippie liberal "equality for everyone" ideal that sounds really good to me on paper but looks trickier and trickier the more I see people trying to put it into practice.

Anyway. If nothing else, I'm inspired to catch up on my Palahniuk reading. I recommend him to you all, too (though I must warn you - he's not Mormon-safe).

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Boxing Life

Had a great boxing class tonight. I had to wade through two months worth of classes and snag a yellow belt before Coach Fernando appeared to take me seriously, but hey... Coach made a point of partnering me with a great mitt partner tonight, Ray*, who's one of the two great female boxers I'd been watching jealously for the past two months. She's good, got great form, and snappy power.

Spent time getting my uppercuts and hooks down properly, and learning how to seguay between them. I've been having a shitload of trouble with these two moves, and snapping them together (right uppercut, right hook) was proving to be a problem of footwork (as most boxing trouble for me appears to be). I also worked on my doublejab.

Ray was a great partner. I got to the point where I felt comfortable enough with the forms at the end that I went ahead and started throwing with power - and hot damn, that's the best part of boxing. I get a kick out of it every damn time. Brutal women, indeed.

Ray confirmed what I'd suspected, "You've got the power," she said, "you just need to perfect the technique. You're really built for this."

Ah, yes.

I'm the boxer. Not the dancer.

And you know, I really like it this way. It's like I spent my whole life trying to be something I wasn't, and I'm starting to find the places I fit.

Really cool experience.


I was randomly trolling through blogs on blogger (there's not much to do at work today) and found this.

In another of the posts, these two buddies share food thoughts.

Why is it I'm still so amazed when I discover other people who are as paranoid about food as I am? This is America, people.

My New Sign Off Quote

Oh. I love this.

"Anyway, back to work. I have characters to kill and deadlines to beat."
-- John Rickards (crime novelist)

Yea. It's official. This guy is now on my list of "read every day" blogs... Thank you, Matt Cheney.

Alaska Burning

I've been so caught up in Chicago life, gory Iraq headlines, and the media circus of elections and doublespeak, that it came as a surprise to hear from my buddy Jeff in Fairbanks that Alaska has apparently been burning all summer: As of August 6, a total of 5,566,358 acres have burned in the United States in 2004. Of these, 1,345,764 acres are in Alaska. The only good news appears to be that summer is more pleasant than usual when the smoke clears, because most of the mosquitoes are dead, or can't smell anything because of the smoke, meaning sitting on the cabin porch in July and August would actually be bearable.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Tuesday Prep

Finished my Tuesday prep time for the week in a reasonable amount of time tonight (laundry, switching over daily items from regular bag to workout bag, packing bag for martial arts class, cooking dinner, prepping lunch for tomorrow, etc). Sitting back now, relaxing, wishing I had a beer, and infinitely enjoying watching another writer scream at his own creations.

In other news, I bought a new hat,which I quite like, and I've got a Thursday group climbing extracurricular sort of event with a bunch of people from my martial arts school.

Gonna be a busy(ier) week, but now that I'm certified on the climbing wall, my weekends are utterly free...

Anyway. I should be writing.


Snapshots from my Worklife 2

I'm sitting in a meeting with Blaine and Yellow*, who are basically the upper management guys I've supported the last few months. We're trying to put together a golf outing for some clients, and Yellow says, "Have you seen those Norweigans in the Olympics? The rowers? The women are all six feet tall and blond!"

I nodded, as I have a six foot tall blond second cousin who moved to Amsterdam and married a six foot tall blond guy. These things happen. A lot of people raised in Africa have dark skin. A lot of people raised in Russia don't.

"Did you know that only, like, 8% of females, you know, women, have real blond hair? I read that somewhere. Heard it somewhere."

"I expect so," I said.

"That's where all the blond people in the world come from," Yellow said, "Those Scandinavian countries."

It occurs to me, listening to him, that there are days when I find Yellow attractive.

And there are days when I really don't.

There's a funny thing that happens when men start to talk about women in front of me. At all other times, I love the company of most sorts of traditional guys, because you know, I'm kinda butch myself. I love all the swearing, the giving each other (and me) shit, the smart-ass comments, the weird random rambling and butch posturing... but when guys start in about the sorts of women they find attractive, I read it as Male Gospel: not just "I find X woman attractive" but "All Women Should Look This Way."

And if you don't, there's something wrong with you, because you haven't even entered into the realm of possibility.

Who gave guys this power?

When I was younger, I would subvert this by simply changing my mindset: I decided I wasn't a "real girl." I wasn't a woman, so they weren't talking about me. I was one of them, buddy-buddy. I wasn't fem. I didn't carry a purse. I was sexless. It was the only way I could hang out with guys whose company I enjoyed without feeling like I was always being measured on how big my breasts were (or weren't).

This is all bullshit, of course.

Not being 6ft tall and blond, I found myself irked at Yellow's comment, particulary because it came just before he oogled the mother/child pictures sent to Blaine by one of his friends. Yellow wasn't interested in the child's name, but the mother's.

She was an elegant, stately blond woman.

And I get that little twinge, that irked feeling: goddammit, *I* want to be attractive. Goddammit, what's *wrong* with me... a feeling I quickly squash by pressing my fist to my gut and sucking it up.

It's a totally irrational response. I have no interest in Yellow, nor Blaine (Blaine is an ex football player with that good-old-boy charisma, Yellow is the guy in the leather jacket who'd sulk in the back of class - and he doesn't read books), and yet here I was, stomach churning because of offhand comments about the elegance of blonds. Not neccessarily because the comments came from these guys, but because I've heard this litany so often that I feel sick.

Stately natural blonds that I'll never be.

I wonder how early that yearning for male approval is ground into us. Very, very, early, would be my guess. Dress a male child in female attire, and he gets far different sorts of attention, and vice versa.

My sister, who's raising a boy, often makes the offhand comment, "Yea, he was eating sand the other day, but I mean, who cares? He's a boy... He's always banging into things, but it's fine, he's a boy."

I wonder if men feel this way when women oogle over certain sorts of men. Do men find Brad Pitt intimidating? Or, because women don't often oogle men in front of other men, or even talk or compare men to one another in front of men, if men just don't feel this comparison as much or as often as women do. Is there a lessor standard of male beauty? (I'm not even going to touch on same-sex attraction/standards of beauty right now - let's start with heteropatriarchy, and move from there. I'm addressing my own American upbringing where I was pretty well institutionalized with a dominant standard of beauty from the start, promulgated through media and then defined by the household culture I was living in. I grew up learning that same-sex attraction was certainly possible, and suited a very few people, but "they" were always "they" and "us" was always "us." Remaining "us" and not "them" meant I was pretty well wired into the male-approval system early on, no matter what sort of body would turn out to catch my fancy)

I suspect that men's expectations of female beauty are higher than women's expectations of male beauty -

Because women will submit themselves to the male standard of beauty, and men will readily perform it... and women will look down on imperfect women even more vehemently than men do. Because that imperfect woman gets to eat her whole wheat pitas, and all you get this week is apples and milk.

I've been catching some really disturbing shows recently on TV. MTV's got "I Want a Famous Face" where a girl conspired to have plastic surgery to make her look more like the airbrushed form of Kate Winslet on the cover of GQ (Kate is usually a size 8, the GQ cover stretched and erased her into a size 2). I also just buzzed by what appears to be a reality show on E! about the life of a plastic surgeon and his pregnant wife, who adamently declared, "If I end up with stretch marks because of this pregnancy, I told him he has to fix me."


Talk about men molding what women should be (women should look like young girls, not mothers with stretchmarks). And I'm not even going to talk about the grotesquerie that was The Swan.

Keep telling women there's something wrong with them. Something only men can fix, with words or scalpels.

Keep that economy moving.

I've just recently gotten back to the point where I recognize myself in the mirror again:

"Oh, yes, you, that strong woman with the wild hair and broad shoulders. Of course. Where have you been?"

"Hiding from thin women," would be the answer.

This plastic surgery craze is really fucking tempting. You can get some gastic bypass surgery and suffer from malnutrition the rest of your life (but you'll be thin!), erase hair from "unnatural" areas where it, uh, naturally grew, get cosmetics tattooed to your face, cut out a slab of your stomach, remove excess skin and stretchmarks, change the very shape of your face by breaking your nose or getting some chin and cheek implants.

You can remake yourself into whatever standard of beauty suits you.

The freaks are going to be the people who choose not to, or can't afford to: the eccentric and the poor.

But Kameron! Wouldn't it be great if you could erase those worry lines on your forehead you first noticed when you were 19, that first year you were living in Alaska? Wouldn't it be great to erase the stretchmarks and take up that loose skin from when you were 270lbs living in a shitty hovel in Bellingham when you were 18? Don't you want to change the lips that gave all those kisses and smoked all those cigarettes; don't you want to carve out that glut of hip and thigh fat that kept your grandmothers birthing healthy babies? Don't you want to erase all those nasty scars: the one just above your left eyebrow from when you were 14 and got the chicken pox and thought you were going to die, the pain was so bad? What about those scars on your hands from sword fighting in the high school theatre department? The scar on your leg from when you were 9 and your cousin was throwing glass? Don't you want to irradiate those pesky sideburns that Ryan Nelson made fun of when you were thirteen, clean out all the fat that spurred his inquiries into what, exactly, was it you ate all day?

And the fat, the fat, the fat. Think of all the fat that can be sucked from your body! The fat from your cheeks that made everyone call you "chipmunk cheeks," the fat from everywhere that encouraged kids in the sixth grade to shout "earthquake" as you passed by? The fat that will keep you with a perpetual woman's curved belly for the rest of your life (all willing - unless you get cancer)?

Don't I just want to erase all that history stored on and in my body, purge it all and start over, have one of those sleek, healthy, shiny bodies enjoyed by those girls on the El train going through the Loop every night, those slack-faced, empty-eyed girls with the smooth skin and seemingly flawless breasts? Those girls with the uniform expressions who all look the same? The endless procession of footballers' girlfriends who wear their hair straight and highlighted, whose smiles are brilliant and cellphone chatter boring and incessant...

Gee whiz, I'd like to look like that.

And - looking like that - I would give up everything else.

I'm not yet 25 years old. I've done a lot of things. I've made a lot of mistakes. At every turn in my life, my body has boldy, sometimes awfully, sometimes wonderfully, given a perfect picture of this tumbling, uncertain, nuts, silly, crazy, stupid life.

I wear my life on my body. My body wears my life.

I will not look like those girls on the train, the poor girls whose own body-logic is probably even more skewed than mine, who probably look at my curly hair and think, "Fucking bitch. I bet her hair's naturally curly."

Here we go again, hating each other.

Who wins when we do this?

Not me.

*do I even need to tell you these aren't their real names?

Monday, August 16, 2004

Boning up on WiMax 802.16

As I'm sure I've mentioned somewhere, I'm a project support manager (read: Glorified Secretary) for a telecommunications firm (we build, design, and upgrade cell phone towers).

My boss recently told me to start in on some research for the WiMax 802.16 frequency band. WiMax is basically super Wifi. It allows for faster data transmission (up to 10 times faster than what phone towers in the US are pulling right now), and a greater signal strength, so towers have a range of 30 miles instead of 3 miles. This means good things for people in rural areas, like my parents, whose only option so far has been the exorbitantly expensive and finicky satellite internet. DSL *still* hasn't made its way out into the boonies where much of America lives (think: sprawling Midwest).

The proposal we're working on has to do with a small install of 802.16 (though, again, I can't say where or with who cause of all this confidentiality stuff). Hopefully, it'll get going September/October, with a finished project by December, so they'll be some operating WiMax by the New Year, albeit in a very narrow market (there are likely a number of other WiMax projects out there that my little firm/my little place in it doesn't have wind of: in fact, I'd bet there are already some towers upgraded for it, though again, I haven't read of them during my research).

So that's what I'm spending my work time doing right now: gearing up for the busy telecomm season. We've got talk of thousands of UMTS upgrades (upgrading from GSM), which means faster data for all, and, of course, the potential to get your own porn streamed right to your cell phone. Hey: I shoulda thought of that.

I'm interested in both projects, as they have the potential to get wireless internet hookups to just about everyone. I'm a big proponent of opening up the vast internet library to everyone. I recently switched from internet-cafe-ing in South Africa to wireless internet in my place in Chicago, and in the year since, I've discovered the blogosphere, got up my own webpage, and am probably better informed about weather, politics, and technology than I've ever been in my life. It's an incredible thing to be speaking to someone in your house and have them ask you something you don't know, and suddenly you're able to say, "I'll just look it up," without worrying about carting around 30 volumes of rapidly outdated encyclopedias.

It's a resource I think everyone should have. Unfortunately, the easier it is for everyone to use, the more the governement is making noise about internet regulation (all that Evil Porn... Frickin' Terrorists).

Friday, August 13, 2004

Happy 13th

Happy Friday the 13th.

Sorry. I just had to say that.

So, the higher courts have annulled all those Evil Gay Marriages performed in San Francisco earlier this year (cause we all know how Dangerous those Little Old Ladies are. Frickin' Terrorists). The closer it gets to election time, the more exhausted I'm getting with politics, so I'm not going to rant much except to say that Every God-Fearing Republican should *love* the idea of *more* people getting married. More people getting married means more people with combined household incomes, it means more children with more than one parent, it means a better economy (more wedding dresses, tuxedos, receptions, ceremonies, more work for flower shops, bridal shops, catering companies). It means more people are going to get sucked into the outwardly appearing monogamous pair-bonding ritual. The royal "we" can get that much bigger. On the other side, all of us hippies can rah-rah the great blanket of hetero instituitions now available to everyone, in a free and democratic sort of way. You know, the sort of way that includes, um, everybody.

To be honest, I didn't form a real stance about the issue of same-sex marriage (aside from: yea, whatever) until I thought of it this way: If I was born a man, and I wanted to marry a woman, I could. But because I'm born a woman, if I want to marry a woman, I can't.

And then, suddenly, my feminist lens clicked down over my vision, and lo and behold, I realized I - as a woman - was being denied one of the rights of citizenship. Regardless of whether or not I ever wanted to marry a woman (I do not personally believe in getting married, myself), society was telling me I couldn't because of the sex I was born with. Regardless of whether or not I want to be a lawyer, or graduate from Harvard, I want to have those rights. I want to be able to own my own property, earn my own income, and be financially independent of father/husband/son. In other words, I want to be considered a full human being and an American citizen.

One of my buddies got into a heated debate with a Mormon friend of hers about whether or not the Mormon church would ever perform same-sex marriages, if such unions became legal at the government level.

The Mormon vehemently replied, "The church would never do that!"

I'm sure they said the same thing about interracial marriages fifty years ago.

Institutions are not monolithic. There are no absolute truths.

And, on a final political note of news, this amuses me:


Thursday, August 12, 2004

Touching Base

It's been a busy week.

My buddy and roomie, Jenn, has been in New Orleans all week doing a big social psych conference. I've spent much of my time being delayed due to all the filming going on downtown for the new Batman movie. I got to sit on a train for fifteen minutes while Batman got to direct traffic - they didn't want our El train riding through their shot. Mostly, Batman being directly in downtown has meant some blocked-off streets, and a bunch of camera boom trucks, huge lighting trucks (which I mistook for firetrucks when I saw only their front end), trailors for crew (complete with aircon, of course), and a couple of "SWAT: City of Gotham Police" trucks.

It's been a surreal week heading through downtown for my kickboxing classes, to say the least.

I tallied up a couple more agent rejection letters ("We'll reject your manuscript without reading a page! Don't you love publishing!!?")and worked on some of the never-ending rewrites for book one, as I just can't seem to leave it alone.

In other news, gabe the agent poseur is imploding, which amuses me, the Columbine diaries are being released, idleness is one of the greatest virtues EVER, and (drumroll) my webpage is up.

Have fun.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

The Wall. Next Question?

"No, I don't have prom pictures, but I have pictures of me on the Great Wall of China."

- Mary Lou Retton (Olympic gold-winning gymnast)

I'll be posting less this week - doing some heavy rewriting on several projects.


Friday, August 06, 2004

Settling by the Sea


This is why I go to work everyday.

Thursday, August 05, 2004


Coming back to the US after a year and a half in South Africa, I made a startling discovery:

There really was a Starbucks on every corner.

I should have been tipped off when I came back to the parentals' abode for the holidays in Dec `03 to find my small, sleepy home town had acquired a Starbucks.

Here in Chicagoland, this is my local Starbucks that I visit on workdays. This is the Starbucks two streets over from the one above, which I go to on days off.

Want to add to the Starbucks on your corner photolibrary? Or just really geeky, like me? Check out Starbucks Everywhere.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004


Matt Taibbi cuts out all the bullshit from Kerry's acceptance speech...

"When I was done cutting, there were only two lines left.
I was born in Colorado.
America can do better."

In other news, this guy is fucked.

Too bad for him he's not a rich football player. Maybe he can blame Liberal Intolorence, or say he was Channeling God. That always works in those god-fearing states.

Changing Lanes

"Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still."
Chinese Proverb

It's after my strength training class on Monday, the day after my climbing class, and I've just lost about a gallon of water. Our MA school doesn't have air conditioning, just a bunch of big fans, and on a 95 degree day in Chicago, well, it feels like it doesn't have much of anything.

I'm sitting in the locker room, staring at the lockers while unwrapping my hand wraps, that slow, ritualistic unwinding that gives you time to space out or ruminate. I'm ruminating.

I hurt all over. Mondays are always the toughest, likely because they're coming just after my Sunday climbing class. And we did strength training today, meaning squats, weights, and martial arts stance drills (all of which still seem to baffle me), and then krav maga, which has more bag and mitt drills (which I bowed out of). I also managed my first jogging session last week, on Friday, which I'll be repeating again this week. It gives me four days of hard exercise a week, which contents me - for the time being.

And I'm sitting here thinking, "Fuck, this is hard."

My set point is "sedentary geek." I'll read a book a day and write you a couple academic papers a week while working on a novel and keeping track of US politics while teaching myself how to use PowerPoint, but ask me for a right front kick, left jab, right cross high, right cross low, front kick combo and I'm likely to spend most of my time during that drill trying to understand how all those things can go together and yet still find me upright at the end.

And I'm tired.

When I was a kid, I believed I was going to have a really interesting life. I believed I was destined for all sorts of adventures, that if I just sat around in my dusty little one-horse town and waited long enough, cool shit would happen to me. This is the "overlooked ordinary hero" syndrome common in just about every fantasy novel. That whole, "extraordinary events make ordinary people extraordinary" thing. So I sat around and waited.

At thirteen, I began to panic. I felt really old. A teenager all ready, and nobody had ridden up, tapped me on the head and said, "You are the One."

It was really depressing. What was the world waiting for?

I ran out of the house three days after turning 18 in a desperate attempt to make something *interesting* happen. Instead, the person I shacked up with turned out to be a flake, and I hit rock bottom at a really young age. I realized that no, despite all those mythological stories about "overnight" successes pervading the American media landscape, nothing was ever going to happen to me. I was going to work as a waitress my whole life.

Or not.

I keep trying to build up this life, this cool gift, with choices. Take the tough path. It usually hurts. And it's always hard. I've been making a life out of choosing the tougher, more interesting road for several years now, and I don't intend to cease doing it. My choices get me to interesting places.

Me. I do.

The people who help me along the way can only help me with my own choices.

So I'm staring at the lockers, my handwraps are on the floor, and I'm heading back to the showers. On Wednesday I'll be there again, wrapping up my hands, still sore from Monday, and bowing out on the floor before kicking my own ass in that lifelong pursuit: being better. Despite or because of the fact that it's hard, and it hurts.

I've decided on a place I want to be, a life I want to have, and these are the steps I need to take to get there. To be better than I was the day before.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Today's Quotes

From: Quotable Woman

"If you weigh well the strengths of our armies you will see that in this battle we must conquer or die. This is a woman's resolve. As for the men, they may live or be slaves."
- Boadaceia

"How many husbands have I had? You mean apart from my own?"
- Zsa Zsa Gabor

"A hundred years from now? All new people."
- Anne Lamott

"Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid."
- Hedy Lamarr

"When mom found my diaphragm, I told her it was a bathing cap for my cat."
- Liz Winston

"No more tears now; I will think about revenge."
- Mary, Queen of Scots

"People call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute."
- Rebecca West

"The lovely thing about being forty is that you can appreciate twenty-five-year-old men more."
- Colleen McCullough

"I have yet to hear a man ask for advice on how to combine marriage and a career."
- Gloria Steinem

"The vote means nothing to women. We should be armed."
- Edna O'Brien


"Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. Contrary to what you've just seen, war is neither glamorous nor fun. There are no winners, only losers. There are no good wars, with the following exceptions: The American Revolution, World War II, and the Star Wars Trilogy. If you'd like to learn more about war, there's lots of books in your local library, many of them with cool, gory pictures."

- Bart Simpson

From Alas, A Blog

and for something completely different...

I went to a local megastore to buy a computer hutch for my oldest daughter, and, while I was there, I ran into one of the most talented students I have ever known. She graduated a year ago with a major in English and a minor in information systems. Now she works as a cashier. She wore a red smock and a little plastic nametag with the word "Target"

And one more...

Who doesn't like Teresa? Oh. The ones who still think women should be seen and not heard...

According to the chattering class, Heinz Kerry is -- and I quote -- "too outspoken," "too opinionated," "slightly zany," "eccentric and unpredictable," "the queen of direct" and -- cover your ears, kids -- "says what she thinks, when she thinks it."

Monday, August 02, 2004

Where's Our Line?

I'll be fascinated to know where we'll draw the line. Concentration camps? Death squads?

"We caution people not to write about bombs because if they're going on vacation, their travel plans will be disrupted," she said.


Some random miscellany:

Plastic surgeons today warned people not to have cosmetic surgery to try to gain celebrity looks.

And, in case there was any further dissent about the reason there are still more dead people in the middle east: Saddam controlled a country at the centre of the Gulf, a region with a quarter of world oil production in 2003, and containing more than 60% of the world's known reserves. With 115bn barrels of oil reserves, and perhaps as much again in the 90% of the country not yet explored, Iraq has capacity second only to Saudi Arabia. The US, in contrast, is the world's largest net importer of oil. Last year the US Department of Energy forecast that imports will cover 70% of domestic demand by 2025.

Alternative energy source, anyone? Might be a lot cheaper than invading a desert country and killing thousands of people. Oh, right, but then all those US oil barons would be out of a job. Well, shit, then. There are some interesting predictions in this article. Maybe it's just too much to ask people to tell the truth before they start killing people. Maybe it would be a lot harder to kill people if we told each other the truth.

On a lighter, distracting note: I just can't stop laughing.

About Brutal Women

So, at some point, I should address the fact that brutalwomen.com is a rather bad porn site. That is, that's why I don't own that URL. Though I'd prefer to have it.

Of course, any configuration of URL that includes words like "women" or particularly "girl" are likely going to be porn sites. Porn sites jumped on this internet wave pretty quick and early (I wouldn't go so far as to say prematurely...).

I still stick by my decision to use brutalwomen.blogspot.com, and I apologize to those whose internet filters cull me. There's censorship for you.

Things I Can't Sell

Two Girls

Two girls, a he and a she, married along the far shores of the Shadow Sea. They were both very small, delicate in the wrists and ankles, light enough to fly. Frost kissed their eyelashes. They lay in the snow, dressed all in martyr's white. We stoned then to death at dawn. The blood was very beautiful.

The Women of Our Occupation

The drivers were big women with broad hands and faces smeared in mortar grit, reeking of the dead. Their eyes were filmed over with memories of dust. When we did not see them passing through the gate, ferrying truck loads of our dead, they came to us in dreams, the women of our occupation.

Wonder Maul Doll

We'd set down in Pekoi as part of the organics inquisition team, still stinking of the last city. We're all muscle. Not brains. The brains are out eating at the foreigners’ push downtown, and they don’t care if we whore around the tourist dregs half the night so long as somebody’s sober enough to haul them out come morning. When the brains aren’t eating, they’re pretending to give us directions in the field, telling us where to sniff out organics. They’re writing reports about how dangerous Pekoi is to the civilized world.


There was a boy in the snow. He was not beautiful.

He was left to me because I am an old person, a man by right of absence, not presence. I had all those organs removed years ago. The boy was carried and set down -- not gently -- in the gutter along my street, three doors from my stoop. The streets were bitter cold. If I left him where he lay, no doubt, the unbeautiful boy would become as the trees, coated in icy frosting and pushed into the sewers by the street sweepers in their growling machines.

I'm thinking it has... ahem... something to do with the themes...

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Gaping Void

I love this guy....