Thursday, August 30, 2007

Lego Does Monty Python

Monty Python with Legos.

Because really, why not?

Sunscreen & Letting Go

I was going through a certain common drive that has some songs available and listening to some old stuff. I happened across the old Baz Luhrman "Sunscreen" song that was all the rage 10 years ago. 10 years ago, yeah, man, 1997.

When I was 17.

I thought this song was hugely profound at 17.

I didn't realize it would hit so close at 27 that I would cry.

Yeah, the shit that matters is the shit that hits you at 4pm on a Tuesday. It's never the stuff you predict. Life, yeah. Stop overthinking.

I wonder what I'll think of it at 77.

The Sunscreen "song":

Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’97 -

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience…I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh nevermind; you will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded. But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked….You’re not as fat as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing everyday that scares you

Sing

Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Floss

Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium.

Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have children,maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary…what ever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s. Enjoy your body,
use it every way you can…don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own..

Dance…even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.

(Brother and sister together we'll make it through. Someday your spirit will take you and guide you there I know you've been hurting, and I know I've been waiting to be there for you. And I'll be there, just tell me now, whenever I can. Everybody's free.)

Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for good.

Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go,but for the precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.

Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, politicians will philander, you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you're 40, it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen…

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sugar: More Addictive Than Cocaine

"An astonishing 94 percent of rats who were allowed to choose mutually-exclusively between sugar water and cocaine, chose sugar."

Mmmmm... sugar sugar.

Black Desert (Excerpt)

Nyx didn’t touch the letters again until she and Eshe and Suha were back in Faleen, holed up in a little two-room rental with a terrace at the edge of the Chenjan district. The call to evening prayer rolled out over the city and was taken up by half a hundred muezzins out on their mud brick rooftops. The air vibrated with the sound of it; just another warm, close night in the desert. Warmer than the coast,
anyway.

She sat out on a rickety wicker chair on the terrace with a whiskey in one hand and the letters in the other. Her burnous was wrapped snugly around her. Winter warmth was a different sort of warmth than the summer kind that drove rich First Families out into the hills and the poorer sort up onto their rooftops. Winter meant sleeping with your clothes on.

She tugged a letter out of the bunch at random. Rhys’s neat, familiar scrawl curled across the front of the pale beige paper, but she saw no return address. She flicked the page open and found the address there at the bottom, next to his signature. Rhys Dax, he had written, his old nom de guerre.

Nyx didn’t know Tirhan very well, but she knew the city he’d listed: Shirazi. She’d been thinking she’d have to get a boat and deal with all that water, but Shirazi was an inland city. That meant she needed to find some way to get across the border through one of the mountain passes. During winter. She’d heard about snow up in the mountains, and seen some pictures, but never experienced it. Frozen water, all around. It sounded bloody awful.

“Bloody hell,” she muttered, and put the letter back down with the rest on the low stool next to her. She sipped her whiskey. Nothing about this note was easy.

Suha came out onto the terrace with her. “You hear what’s on the radio?” she asked.

Nyx shook her head. A few muezzin calls still sounded at the outer edges of the city, moving out into the desert. Now, though, she could hear a low, tinny murmur that must be the radio on inside.

“They’re opening up Mushtallah tomorrow,” Suha said.

“What’s the final count?"

“Eighty-four thousand dead. Already burned.”

“Any First Families?”

“Huh. Don’t know. I’ll look into it.”

“Do that. I want to know who lost a first born and who didn’t.”

“Sure thing.” Suha leaned up against the railing, looked out over the narrow street below, the flat rooftops. The dark sky had a hazy orange-lavender glow, a perpetual haze created by dead and dying bugs of a hundred thousand kinds and the ruddy light from glow globes and other forms of bug light. There were no gas lamps this far from the interior, just the constant piss and reek of the bugs.

“Quiet,” Suha said.

“Usually is, after the muezzin.”

“Eshe’s asleep. Been throwing up since we got in.”

“I know. He’s got a sensitive stomach. Don’t want to take him in if it’s nothing.”

“Yeah, he’s all right, seems like now. I gave him some soda and he nodded off pretty quick.”

“Yeah. You know I need to look up a guy in Tirhan?”

“The magician? Yeah, I figured. Boat?”

“Overland.”

Suha gave a slow nod. She continued to gaze out over the rooftops, eyes glassy, big mouth set. She worked her jaw for awhile. “I got a sister married to a gunrunner,” Suha said.

“I remember,” Nyx said.

Suha sighed. “They do a lot of work during the spring and summer running shit up through the mountains and into Tirhan, but I don’t know what they’re running this time of year. I’ll look into it. She can probably get us overland. Don’t know how long, though.”

“I’ve heard it’s a six or eight day trip.”

“I mean, how long til she can set us up.”

“Yeah, well, that part we can butter up. Tell her there’s a shitload of money in it if she wants to play guide.”

Suha clasped her hands. They were big hands, too, like her mouth, dark and bruised as wine-stained leather. “You want to take Eshe with us?

“Where else is he going to go?”

“Dangerous crossing for a boy.”

“He can shift it.”

“Long way to go and stay in that form.”

Nyx took another long pull of her whiskey. Steady burn, steady hand. “I’m not stupid, Suha.”

“Just wanted to say it out loud.”

“You think he’d stay behind if I asked?”

“No.”

“Then don’t nag at me.”

Nyx let the whiskey burn into her belly. She lifted her head and gazed out over the street again. A group of women passed below, talking in loud, drunk voices. They wore bloody burnouses and had the confident swagger of tax clerks or university students. These were smart, rich girls who would never know death or disfigurement at the front. If they had brothers, they had never met them, or they took the Book at its word and didn’t care so much for it.

Nyx let herself wish for a body like that, a future like that. Why not? She needed another drink.

As the girls passed by the dark recess of an arched doorway mounted with metal studs, Nyx saw a shadow there at the mouth of the doorway, something more substantial than gaping blackness. The door was already cast half in shadow, lingering at the edge of the halo of light cast across the street from the big bug lamps at the front of Nyx’s hotel.

Nyx turned her head away from the door, but kept watch out of the corner of her eye. The shadow moved again; a figure pulled in the edge of a dark burnous that had a sheen of the organic about it – far too new and expensive for this part of town. A bel dame might know better than to dress that way in this quarter, but she’d risk it if it meant wearing an organic burnous that could effectively shield her.

Nyx finished the whiskey and set the empty glass on the stool.

“We have spiders,” Nyx said.

“I saw her,” Suha said. “The door? I wasn’t sure.”

“Yeah, that’s the one.”

“I have us set up with a back exit.”

“If they wanted us, they would have moved already.” Why hadn’t they moved, then? It was a busy street this time of night, sure, but her place didn’t have great security; no filters and one lonely house guard who spent most of her time snickering in the kitchen with the cooks.

“We’ll need to get out discreet in the morning,” Nyx said. “They may be hanging out to see where we’re going.” Or, to see how much we know, she amended. But know from who? Alharazad? What did Alharazad have to tell them? Did they want the reel back?

“You think they’ll follow us into Tirhan?”

“I’m not looking to find out. Don’t talk destination with any of the Faleen magicians. You run into them, you tell them we’re headed back to Mushtallah now that it’s opening up.” Nyx picked up her glass again, remembered it was empty, and set it back down. “That includes Yah Reza.”

Yah Reza, perhaps, most of all.

Fandom

My Feminist SF wiki entry.

Come on, people, is that the best you can do? :)

Overthinking

One of the most annoying things about being a writer is the whole constant introspection thing. Blogs are largely selfish enterprises, and I, for one, write a lot of personal posts here because setting it down into some kind of narrative makes it all make sense for me.

But at some point, I think, you start to overthink things. You start overthinking your life and either second-guessing yourself, or basing decisions on what you think is perfect logic, only to discover that people aren’t ruled exclusively by logic, let alone perfect logic (you least of all). Just because a Shakespearean tragedy is easy to predict doesn’t mean life works that way, too.

The older I get, the more I realize I don’t have a fucking clue. I keep thinking I’m learning from all of my experiences, but the more you have, the more you realize that not every experience prepares you for the next one. You can’t apply all of your learning about one person/friendship/relationship to every person/friendship/relationship you have that shares one or two or ten of the same things the last one did, and no matter how much you work to align the stars and test for all the right traits and work toward understanding, at the end of the day, even the earth’s orbit wobbles, and our galaxy is continually spinning closer to oblivion. Nothing is constant. Nothing is absolute.

Nothing is terribly rational, either, and no matter how hard I try and work life into a narrative, I’m starting to think that narratives only work in fiction.

Which probably explains why I love writing fiction.

Monday, August 27, 2007

It's All What You Choose to Do With It....



"All we have to decide is what to do with the time given."

and

"Life is what you do with the things done to you."

Sitting around bitching about it never got anybody anywhere, and certainly never sent me on any interesting adventures.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

And Now, We Sleep

Note to self: the next time I suffer from these yearly sinus infection/allergy things, I need to get the right drug hookup from Stephanie's Old Man, who, of course, has the best lineup of allergy meds on the market.

I can BREATHE AGAIN!

More Stuff That Doesn't Surprise Me


Your Score: A Pirate Raider


You scored 5 Honor, 4 Justice, 7 Adventure, and 8 Individuality!



More than just the usual swabbie, you demand not only the life at sea, free from landlubbers and their rules, but also you require adventure and excitement. You're happiest when the guns are blazing, the risk high, the outcome uncertain, but the chance for reward substansial. Your kind are welcomed as allies and feared as enemies.

Put on your wooden leg and hook. You'll do just fine!


Link: The Cowboy-Ninja-Pirate-Knight Test

Message to My Future Self...

Friday, August 24, 2007

P.S.

For the record, I am also currently suffering from my twice-yearly sinus infection, and too groggy, muzzy-headed and miserable to write anything of any substance at any length. So things might be short, sharp or otherwise quiet for a while.

Also, I would KILL for some fruit juice right now. Like, a gallon.

Holy Hell

Went to the pharmacy to pick up testing strips for my new meter and a couple of glucagon kits.

I was nervous when I went to pick these up because they said they only had the testing strips in cases of 200.

Generally, testing strips cost a little less than a dollar a strip. One of the reasons I was using my other meter is because I could get the strips for a "deal" price of 50 for $29.99.

So I was ready, even with insurance, for a bill of at least $40-$60.

My bill, for all 200 strips, with insurance: $10

My bill, for all 200 strips, without insurance: $180.87

Sweet holy hell.

Two glucagon kits, with insurance: $30

Two glucogon kits, without insurance: $170.39

How do drug companies sleep at night? It's like, with insurance, you're paying the reasonable cost. There's this incredible assumption that drug companies make, that everybody's going to have insurance, that the people with insurance...

Yeah, it's just incredible to me, still. After the last year of paying crackpot prices for drugs, this is all just insanely surreal.

It's like, staying alive is actually affordable. Or something.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

My Diabetes Makeover

FIRST.

FIRST, YES:

MY A1c is 5.9!!!!!!!!!!

My A1c is 5.9!!!!!!!!!!!!

Let me write that again:

5.9!

5.9!

5.9!


I AM A SUGAR NINJA.

I fucking knew it. Those of you who know me or read this blog know that I work my ass off for these numbers (anything between 4.5 and 6 is what a "normal" person would have. Diabetics need to keep it under 7).

I have also never experienced that much Patient Love from any doctor.

We sat down for over an hour going over my whole history: how I learned I was diabetic, how often I saw the doctor, the insulins we'd tried.

Looking at my A1c she said, "Have you ever considered a pump?"

"Well, I said, they're sort of expensive and they keep upgrading them. I was thinking about insulin pens or something though."

She gave me one of those incredulous looks. "You're not using insulin pens?"

"Um. No."

"Oh wow, she said, you need a whole... you need a whole new.. you need a..."

"A diabetes makeover?" I suggested.

"Yes, EXACTLY!"

All of my numbers were good. Blood pressure, cholesterol, thyroid was good, A1c was great, all of my reflexes were great, everything was.... great.

So I kept waiting for the bomb, you know, kept waiting for the weight rant.

She gave me some free Novolog and Lantus pens (no more syringes and vials! Yay!) and prescriptions for more, prescription for a glucogen kit, and I got a new free meter, one that can actually download my information into my computer so I no longer have to enter the numbers manually.

"Did your other doctor recommend any diabetes education classes?"

"Um. No."

"So how did you figure out how to get numbers like this? And do carb counting?"

"Um... the internet?"

She was mostly speechless.

And you know, honestly, I can't express just how fucking good it felt for somebody to finally acknowledge all the fucking hard work I've been doing to get these numbers and to do it largely on my own (with massive support, of course, from friends and roommates who are willing to make diabetic-friendly meals and cook in diabetic-friendly ways and put up with my wackjob food preferences and don't pressure me or give me crap for not living on pizza).

Finally, after getting all these new goodies, and all this sugar-love, she's asking if I have any more questions for the second time as we're working over more than an hour of our little chat together, and finally, I blurt out, "I'm just really surprised you haven't said anything about my weight, because that's all my last doctor would talk about when he saw me, about how to lose weight."

She cocked her head, flipped through my file. "Is your weight a problem? All your numbers are great. This is all really impressive."

"I just keep gaining weight. It won't stop, and I'm so strict with what I eat and I exercise regularly..."

"Well, slow weight gain is just for the same reason we all gain weight. Sedentary jobs, immediate availability of high calorie food. But didn't you lose weight when you were sick?"

"Yes, about 60 lbs."

"And you've gained... "

"Um. 30 lbs."

"And you gained most of that the first six months?"

"Well... yes."

"That's completely expected. I know it's frustrating, but expected. Let's see, though... according to this you were 212 in January, and today you're.... 209."

"What?" I said.

"You've actually lost three pounds since January."

No fucking shit?

Wait.... I'm not gaining weight anymore????

Oh holy hell.

So I packed everything up and got a referral for a pre-pump class that they have at the hospital that covers different kinds of pumps and how to use them and gives recommendations. She said I'm an excellent candidate because my numbers are so good, and says insurance should pay most of it, but I'll need to do some research.

Overall:

Sugar Love, man. Sugar Love.

When you're looking for a new endo, ask other doctors. Stephanie works at a clinic, and asked two different doctors who the best endo in Dayton was, and she was it.

Yes, yes she was.

By the Numbers

I see my new endocrinologist today, so I was going through and updating my numbers spreadsheet. For shits and giggles, I created a chart of my sugar numbers. I don't know how useful it is, but it does look pretty.

This chart tracks my numbers from June 2nd to yesterday.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Note to Self:

Though I may, in fact, be sitting up listening to Chris Pureka songs on repeat, posting the lyrics of said songs, in this instance, might make this look like some kind of teenage angst blog, and I'm not particularly angsting tonight.

But man, sometimes songs feel so good. It's not just lyrics, just as fiction isn't just words. It's telling the story with emotion, with passion; it's drawing that all up out of me and making me feel it all over again.

Evoking those pent up emotions - anger, pain, love, joy, heartache, betrayal, hope, rage - somehow validates them, and when they're validated, you can channel them into something powerful. Instead of it being a weakness, all that passion becomes a strength. It drives you.

That's magic, I think. And power.

I love being a writer, yo. I want to be a writer this good, this passionate. I don't want to just tell you about it - I want you to feel it.

So anyway:

Driving North

Great album.

Black Desert: Excerpt

Rune was a coastal city, a loose collection of homesteads perched along the edge of a wooded isthmus that thrust itself into the sea at the far eastern edge of Nasheen. It was the sort of place that made Nyx’s belly ache and her palms sweat, being surrounded on three sides by all that water, only one road back to the desert; or maybe all that discomfort was just the sen and the whiskey. Too much of anything these days made Nyx feel old and skittish, like some dying piece of bug tech.

She stood over a munitions table on Anneke’s salt-battered porch with a dozen pieces of decaying tech spread out in front of her. She had her cane resting against the side of the table, and if she didn’t reach out her hands too far from the wide sleeves of her coat, she didn’t have to look at her two-toned skin.

Half of Anneke’s brood of children clustered around her, their dark little fingers clutching at the edge of the table. Their faces were smeared in mud and loam. Just beyond the sweeping eaves of the tiled porch, feathers of rain blew down from the leaden sky. The world smelled of pine and mud and the peculiar stink of the oak hybrids, a rosy tannin smell that got a lot worse when you burned it; not that anyone out here was burning wood. The fine was three hundred notes and a stint in prison. The only time Nyx had ever smelled burning wood was at the front.

The other half of Anneke’s thirteen were out in the yard squealing in the mud. They had a covered well out there, and a big covered bug bin for refuse. They’d gotten a permit to cut down some trees, and there were still three or four big bulbous stumps the color of honey rearing up from the black soil. The latrine was out back, swarming with dung beetles, and whenever the rain let up, the place was crawling with mosquitoes big as Nyx’s thumbnail. But it had been raining since Nyx arrived, and the wet got into everything. The wood and synthetics of the weather-blown house were warped and perpetually damp. Nyx could feel the wet through her shoes.

She’d left Eshe and Suha at a local dive in town. They’d gotten some coastal gear, including Nyx’s coat and proper shoes, at a secondhand store. She hadn’t planned on buying anything, but she forgot how cold the coast was. During the winter season in the desert, the days were shorter, and the winds were high. She forgot that winter on the coast meant something far more uncomfortable.

Anneke sat up on the porch railing smoking a pipe that smelled of marijuana more than sen, and in her lithe, calloused hands she held the barrel of a z1090 scattergun with a bulb of acid on the backend that turned the thing into a flamethrower for about forty seconds before burning itself out. They were good for burning out the nests of fire ants that took up residence at the edges of cleared land. Nyx and her mother had taken those out once a month back at the farm in Mushirah and stalked the property line, looking for the tell-tale heap of neatly cut grass and leaves.

Nyx was in the middle of taking apart a black beetle cutter mine. She’d already shown the kids how to diffuse it, but Anneke was looking to teach the little bastards all about how to defend themselves in a pinch. Her boys would be headed to the front, and the girls who didn’t become hired guns would probably end up there, too.

“This is a real easy one once you get it to this point,” Nyx explained to the children. Their eyes were big and black, like Anneke’s, but they were all pretty tall; six years old and most of them already reached Anneke’s shoulder. Not that that was saying much. Anneke had always been a little shit.

“What you’re probably never going to get intact is a good fuse, so you’ll need to use the trigger from the one you took apart or from something else you scrounged, yeah?”

A couple of the kids nodded. Nyx had once asked Anneke how she kept her children away from all the guns she had in the house. The place was crawling with munitions.

“I don’t,” Anneke had explained. “Most of `em are a better shot than me. Now let’s unload some mines. I don’t got anybody around who can teach them munitions. Glad you stopped by.”

It was as if Anneke had retired to the coast to build her own private army for the end of the war. If the end ever came.

Nyx looked out over the porch rail at the other six children playing in the mud. The mine was heavy as an avocado in her hand; but not nearly so tasty.

The kids, being kids, had formed ever-changing alliances. The ones out playing among the stumps wanted nothing to do with the ones dissecting mines on the porch. Not today, anyway. Tomorrow the alliances might change, and there would be two different groups, or three, and tonight they might all act like one big happy organism for a short time during dinner. But Nyx didn’t count on the latter. She’d had too much experience with her own siblings.

Anneke’s kids were more openly physical than Nyx and her lot had been, but maybe that was because Nyx’s mother had hated violence. She’d wanted them all to grow up to be farmers and tax clerks, however unrealistic an idea that might have been. When Nyx and her brothers started street fighting, they’d done it at a small mining town just south of Mushirah, in secret.

Eventually, they would all learn to fight in the state schools, and the boys would all die, because they were Nasheenian, and that’s what Nasheenian boys did. The girls fought too, of course, but they didn’t die as often. Not that way.

Instead, Nyx thought, looking over at Anneke, we grow old and bitter and fat and sit out on our porches by the sea, breeding more boys to feed to the desert. She remembered finding the eyeless body of her sister, one arm flung over the side of the tub, mouth gaping, bloody beetles lapping up the blood on the floor, a sheen of spidermites skating across the pinkish water. There were all sorts of other ways to die in Nasheen.

“So once you get the trigger,” Nyx continued, turning back to her attentive audience, “you’ll need to pair it back up with the cistern, here. Sometimes it’s not a great fit, but if you’re wearing repellent” - she showed them her greasy hand – “you can generally give it a good twist without a fatal reaction and bang it on there.”

She deftly pulled off the broken trigger and slipped on the new one. A couple taps with a smooth stone, and the thing was patched up enough to be workable. She held up the little mine, no bigger than her palm, with the round green trigger at the top. “You make sure that trigger’s flush with the ground. The organic mesh here at the top, that blends in to whatever you set it up flush with.”

“But how do you diffuse it if it’s already set?” one of the girls asked.

“You call in a pro,” Nyx said.

Anneke snorted. Nyx shot her a look, but Anneke ignored her and started pulling her gun apart and laying it all out on the other side of the big amber table.

The house behind them was empty; Anneke had left the compounds when her kids were three or four and bundled them all up to the south where there was still some homesteading to be done for people who didn’t mind the occasional Heidian raid or raft full of Mhorian refugees.

From the porch, Nyx couldn’t see the ocean, but she could hear it, and smell it, and that was almost as bad. The whole idea of that soupy-salt sea put her off dinner, but she needed to find Rhys, and this was a good place to start.

The kids on the porch asked her some questions about placement, about timing, about weight restrictions. It was like being back at school, only on the other side of the table. Nyx had hated school, but she didn’t mind it so much from this side.

When the kids started reaching out to play with the scattered tech on the table, Anneke lifted her head and barked at them. “All right, that’s enough! Ya’ll go get wet!”

The kids giggled and pounded down off the porch and into the rain. Nyx watched them go, the little mine still resting in her palm.

Anneke had four boys and nine girls; not a bad spread, really. Most of them ran in packs, but they had their black beetle, too, a solitary girl who’d been out there since Nyx arrived, building a little mud village at the edge of the woods.

The boys and two of the girls from the porch started playing a capture the hill sort of game on top of one of the tree stumps, shoving each other off and declaring themselves the victor. The other group continued to play at their stick fighting, and now that there was another group out there, they started stalking them, running to thump them before they went back to thumping each other.

Nyx started to clean up the gear and pack it away. She wondered how long it would take for one of the groups to decide it was time to stomp through the black beetle’s mud town out there on the edge. They would destroy everything, eventually, and beat themselves bruised by the end of the night. Nyx had done the same when she was a kid.

“I’m surprised you don’t have some old man here,” Nyx said to Anneke. She’d always imagined Anneke settling in with some man and deserting to Mhoria or Ras Tieg. Raising kids at the coast just didn’t seem to fit.

Anneke snorted. “Coastal men are sour as old piss. Just a bunch of ugly, bitter, bloody old soldiers. The good ones all had sweethearts long before. All those women wait.”

“You should take up with a woman, then. It’s lonely out here.” Nyx tugged at the collar of her coat. It was too cold here to rely on a burnous. The nights would be even colder. She listened to the low roar of the sea as she removed the trigger from the cutter mine.

“I got thirteen kids, Nyx. I ain’t lonely.”

“You know what I mean. Maybe you’re not too keen on the sex, but that’s a cold bed.”

“You’re one to talk of cold beds.”

“The desert’s warm enough.”

“Uh-huh,” Anneke said, and spit on the porch. She took the pipe out of her mouth and grinned. “You got lots of women in Mushtallah?”

Nyx shrugged and took up a seat on one of the porch chairs. She watched two of the girls with sticks stalk toward the girl playing in the mud, the solitary one. Here was the destruction Nyx had been waiting for. Nothing anybody created really lasted.

We’re all a bunch of bloody, brutal cowards, she thought, and grimaced.

“Come on, Nyx, I know you ain’t retired. Why the hell you come out here? You fucking hate the coast.”

“Yeah, well, wanted to make sure your kids were getting a good education.”

“That so?” Anneke grinned. “Don’t catshit me. You seen my kids.”

“Any of these kids shifters or magicians?” Yeah, she’d seen Anneke’s kids back in the compounds, back when they were just a brood of anonymous squalling babies. She hadn’t had any idea what to do with them back then. Now that they could shoot a gun, they were a lot more interesting.

“I sure fucking hope not.”

“Yeah, well, me too.” Nyx leaned back in the chair until the back of it touched the wall behind her, left her feet dangling. The girls were circling the town builder now. She had her back to them, hunched over the mud town, protective.

“I got a note,” Nyx said. “Another pretty fucked up one.”

“And you took it,” Anneke said, resigned.

“Yeah.”

“You get blown apart before or after?”

“During, actually.”

“Great portent, you know. Rhys would say it was.”

Nyx lost her words, then, and just nodded instead. Yes, he would have said that.

Anneke did not look up from her work. “You come out here for help? I can refer you to a good munitions girl.”

“I’m not looking for a great girl. I’ve got one of those back in town.”

“Who?”

“Suhaila Asad.”

“You’re fucking kidding me.”

“No joke. She’s worked with some good bel dames. Comes highly recommended.”

“Didn’t she help shut you up in a trunk once?”

“Didn’t you shoot me once?”

“Eh, totally different thing.” Anneke’s hands worked all the while on the gun, strong and sure. One piece, another, laying it all out. Like a poem or a song. “So you ain’t retired.”

“No.”

The two girls thumped their sticks next to the girls’ town. Splattered mud. The little builder started, then slowly reached out, picked up a glob of mud.

Fucking clobber them, Nyx thought. She palmed some sen and tucked it under her tongue.

“You get any letters?” Anneke asked. “From Tirhan, I mean.”

Nyx felt her gut go icy. It wasn’t because of the sea, this time. “No,” she said. Her voice sounded colder than the air. Much colder. Where had that voice come from? What did she care? She wasn’t any lonelier than Anneke. She had a whole team. She knew how to rebuild. Shit got fucked up. You just kept on rebuilding until they killed you.

The girl holding the mud said something to one of the girls with the stick.

“I been getting letters,” Anneke said.

Nyx tightened her hands into fists, relaxed. “How long?”

“Couple years.”

“You never said anything.”

“Naw. You never asked.”

“Because I don’t care,” Nyx said. “Whatever life they’re out there building, I want no part of it.”

“No?

“No.”

“Then why are you out here?”

Nyx firmed her jaw, watched the girl with the stick stared out over the mud town. Her stick-sister curled a lip.

They’ll mash it up any time now, Nyx thought. She saw it all as if it had already happened. The ruined town. The tears. The triumphant hoots of the destroyers. She had seen the same thing played out a hundred times at the front, a hundred more since then.

The little builder said something else.

The stick girl lowered her stick. She set it down next to her. She knelt in the mud, started digging some kind of moat around the town.

Their sister, the one still standing over them with the stick, glowered.

Nyx would have given a buck to know what that little builder had said.

“I need his address,” Nyx said. “I know they don’t want me out there, but he’s got some information from the last job that I need. I figured you might have an address for him.”

And then the girl with the stick brought down her stick over her sister’s head. Not the head of the builder, no, but the girl who’d defected.

All three girls started screaming, and the screaming made Anneke turn up her head.

“Hey now, fucking enough!” Anneke yelled. She jumped off the railing and into the mud and stalked over to the girls.

Blood was running down the defector’s face. The girls were tall, sure, but Anneke was still bigger, and she was mom. She smacked all three girls upside the head and sent them inside to clean up.

The girl stalked inside, the defector taking up the rear, the little builder in the middle.

Nyx watched all three of them go past. The only one with her head up was the one still carrying the stick. None of them looked at Nyx.

“You clean yourselves up and go get dinner ready. It’s not done when I get in, I put all three of you to digging out the latrine! You understand?” Anneke yelled after them.

Anneke swung back up onto the porch. She settled in and spit on her cleaning rag.

“Don’t ever fucking have kids,” Anneke said.

“I’m not planning on it,” Nyx said. She took a deep breath. “You give me the address?”

“You know I will, boss. I just don’t think he’ll be too happy to see you come around cause you need something from him.”

“It’s better than me poking around for no reason. I’ll get my shit and go.”

“You’re not looking for a magician?”

“I’ve got some magicians I can sign. I don’t need him.”

Anneke nodded. She slid off the porch rail. “I’ll be a minute,” she said. “You want some sugar soda?”

“No, thanks."

Anneke went inside, and Nyx watched the rest of the children play out in the drizzly yard. She was tired.

Anneke returned with a small, greasy bundle of folded organic paper in hand. She shoved it toward Nyx.

Nyx raised a brow. “I said I needed an address, not a dissertation.”

“Yeah, well, you might what to know what’s going on before you get there.”

Nyx took the letters. She wasn’t going to read any letters. Anneke should have known that. It would take her days to get through these, and she didn’t have days worth of time.

“Yeah, whatever,” Nyx said, and tucked the paper into her coat pocket. “These coded for you?”

“Sure, but they weren’t tailored to destruct. All the words are still intact.”

“Thanks.” Nyx righted herself in the chair and stood. “I should head out before it starts getting dark.”

“Where you spending the night? That bakkie leaks, I’ll wager.”

Nyx thought about a night in Anneke’s busy house. The stink of the ocean, and all those little feet, those thirteen anxious, spirited voices. You’d never get lonely.

“Naw, I’ll take off.” She reached forward and took her hat; another coastal affectation. She pulled the brim low. “I’ve got a place downtown with my team.”

“God, not that trashy hotel.”

“You and me stayed in worse.”

“Ain’t that the fucking truth.”

The sky opened up then, let out a tremendous gush of water that sent the remaining children shrieking.

“Come on in!” Anneke yelled at them, and the little groups disbanded and ran through the growing puddles. They pounded up onto the porch with mud splattered faces, the hems of their trousers dirty, faces bruised and scratched from rough and tumble fights for dominance.

Nyx watched them all clomp inside. The formerly quiet house lit up with the sound of them and the yard quieted. The kids were unshuttering the globes inside, spilling light. A warm orange glow slanted out onto the porch. Nyx stood on the edge of it.

Anneke crossed her little greasy arms. “You sure you want to drive in this?”

“Good practice.”

“For what, the Flood?”

Nyx grinned and touched the brim of her hat. “You take care out here.”

“Watch yourself, old woman.”

“You too, boss,” Nyx said. She stepped out into the swampy yard and made her way over the graveled walk, past the girl’s little mud village. She looked over and saw that the muddy rivulets of rain had cut through it, the river through Babylon, carving away the shoddy little mud globs and stick roofs of the world. The detritus of the mud town washed out over the graveled walk. Building the moat and the roads had just made it easier for the water to get in.

Nyx opened the bakkie door, drenched, and slid in. She shut the door, pulled off her wet coat and dripping hat.

For a moment, she gazed back at the porch, at Anneke standing in the orange glow of the doorway of her house, and she felt something like loss or regret or maybe the smoke from Anneke’s pipe had just made her nauseous.

A houseful of noisy children by the sea, a wet coastal city on the edge of winter. It was everything she’d never wanted.

So what do you want, then, Nyxnissa?

And the answer came, unexpected, stupid:

I don’t want to die alone.

Because out here on the edge of everything, in the cold, with her sick stomach and her pounding head, she felt it creeping up on her. Death, like birth. Inevitable. Close. The stuff that kept it all going. Slipping away. Sand.

It wasn’t the kids she longed for, or some brain-addled terrorized soldier or a woman who worshipped her like a minor god. It was less than that, and more: she didn’t want to die alone in some ditch somewhere, bloody and helpless, and get eaten by cats or slowly devoured by fire ants.

She wanted to die with a head full of white hair. She wanted that warm orange glow. She wanted to die warm. For the first time in her life, she wanted someone to hold her hand.

It was the worst sort of dream for somebody to have, in her line of work. It was the dream you could never make come true. It was or it wasn’t. All you had to decide was what to do with the time you had.

Anneke moved away from the light of the doorway and went back to cleaning her weapons.

Nyx started the bakkie and backed up down the drive.

She had a long way to go, and the rain wasn’t letting up.

What a Relief

In Which My Exhaustion Finally Catches Up With Me...

Boy, what a shitty time it's been.

But I will catch up on my sleep, at least. Sleeeeep.

Also, I have a mighty hankering for Chipotle. Me and the guys at work keep talking about the damn place nonstop and then don't go.

No, really, I have nothing else of interest to talk about. Me and one of my work buddies worked on SOPs all fucking day. Would you like me to ghost a machine for you? Cause I probably could, now. My head is full of technicalese.

Also, the scripting in .bat files reminds me of Neverwinter Nights.

Which reminds me: I have a frickin' job in Edmonton I need to reapply to. You gotta look on the brightside, yo. Work, work, work.

And....

Sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep (I better not dream about writing SOPs).

More on the Fabulous Writing Life!

Got my check last week for my Year's Best sale and cashed it yesterday. Yippeee!

Friends and relations, however, were rather horrified to learn that the going rate for a Year's Best anthology sale is... about $100.

I could say that nobody writes for the money, but actually, I now write for a living. So, let's say: nobody writes *fiction* for the money.

Except maybe Dan Brown and Stephen King. Maybe Danielle Steele. And I think JK Rowling has so much money now that money is just a moot point.

Pirate vs. Ninja

For Travis... (to clear up a terminology dispute)


Your Score: Modern, Cool Nerd


60 % Nerd, 56% Geek, 39% Dork



For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.
You scored better than half in Nerd and Geek, earning you the title of: Modern, Cool Nerd.

Nerds didn't use to be cool, but in the 90's that all changed. It used to be that, if you were a computer expert, you had to wear plaid or a pocket protector or suspenders or something that announced to the world that you couldn't quite fit in. Not anymore. Now, the intelligent and geeky have eked out for themselves a modicum of respect at the very least, and "geek is chic." The Modern, Cool Nerd is intelligent, knowledgable and always the person to call in a crisis (needing computer advice/an arcane bit of trivia knowledge). They are the one you want as your lifeline in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (or the one up there, winning the million bucks)!

Congratulations!


Thanks Again! -- THE NERD? GEEK? OR DORK? TEST

Link: The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test


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

See, I may be a nerd, but I scored NEARLY AS HIGH on geekery!

Monday, August 20, 2007

If Only the Rest of Life Were as Simple as This Label....


(Click here for more fun at the Asian market...)

The Mists of Avalon

No, I've never read the book. No idea why. Just never could get into it, which is sort of sad, you know, being a feminist SF/F writer who's never read it.

But I did manage to sit through the 3-hour miniseries, which I'd heard was really awful, so I wasn't expecting much.

All right, no, it's not a perfect movie. By any stretch. It's of the same calibur as any other just-more-than-B-budget SF/F movie. There's some cheesy lines and awkward pacing and a lot of plot holes and I think that over the years Angelica Houston has just started playing One Character (an interesting character, sure, but still just one character). And yes, the slow-mo INCEST and continual INCEST flashbacks (INCEST... Did you know there was INCEST??) get really annoying and creepy. But.

But when you actually sit down and watch a movie where everybody sitting around and talking is a woman, all the major characters are women, and all the people running the plot are women... it's one of those eye-opening experiences where you realize, once again, "Oh, hey, yeah, women don't actually *do* much in other movies, do they?"

Some people have issue with the whole "evil women" thing. Yes, there are some evil women in the show, and it's said that all the evil is cause of the women's own damn fault, but honestly, I'd rather these women were actors than passive victims, you know?

I was also really happy with the take on the whole Arthur/Guinevere/Lancelot triangle (why wasn't there more THREESOME slow-mo flashbacks? Mmmmmm THREESOME flashbacks. Sorry, where was I?). I've always like the idea that Arthur knew what was going on and was totally for it cause he loved them both.

I always thought that idea was pretty hot.

Sadly, like any other just-above-B-grade movie, there's a lot of cheese. I'll say that whoever played Morgaine fucking rocked. Arthur was OK and Lancelot was hot but in a boring way, and Guinevere was kind of sappy, but Mordred was cool, if slightly over the top.

I mean, you give this thing a better screenplay, switch out a couple of the actors, move the Merlin character to an even smaller bit part, and cut out all the slow-mo INCEST (and add in more slow-mo THREESOME sex! Umm... sorry) and it might have been about four times more entertaining.

As it was, some of the evil women were a bit one note, I would have liked less of the guys all together (I felt like they were trying to add more of them than the story actually needed in order to draw in a larger audience; could be wrong, but that's what it felt like), a mother Goddess figure who wasn't so much just one-note hippie-incest and a hotter lifemate for Morgaine, who rocked.

Did I mention that Morgaine rocked?

Must Be About That Time...

... time to print out the book again!

Wheeeeeeee!

Ya'll have no idea how great it'll be to get this fucker out the door.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

One for the Road

Unreal Tournament

The guys at work tend to get together for LAN parties on occasion, so I figured I'd pick up some first-person shooter games and try my hand at it so I could join in. This is definately one of those games that, after a certain point, you just have to play with other people, otherwise it starts to get real old real fast.

OK, that's not really fair. I'm having far too much fun, actually. This is the reason I do not, as a rule, play a lot of video games. They can eat my life. But you know, when you can't go out kickboxing for real, there's nothing better than blowing up your enemies into tiny bits.

Also, there are butch badass women to choose from; in fact, quite a few female characters to choose from, and I always appreciate that. Also, there are fun gaming lines in here, and it makes for good research. That's write, I'm doing *research* for game writing, yo.

Plus, blowing up my enemies into tiny bits.

Mmmm delicious.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Mod Workshop

Some people collect comic books. Some people collect GI Joes. Some people collect those little fake knights that you paint.

I collect.... well, MLPs. I also create pony mods, an art with a short but glorious history.

Steph and the Old Man have a big basement, and Stephanie has set up a nice little quilting corner on her side of the basement for herself:



And on my side of the basement... well, I set up my pony modding workshop and was finally able to display all the ponies (mods and standards) that I've had to keep boxed up because I didn't have any shelves for them (Friday was my first Real Money pay day since, you know, I was laid off in December).



Why yes, those are ponies in various states of disassembly there on the table:




I haven't been at this very long, so I'm not up to making stuff like this, this or this, but I'm working with what I've got, and I have a lot of fun with it. When you get really good, pony mods go for anywhere from $20-$110, but if you try and break it down in time and materials, believe me, it's not a real investment. It's like writing short fiction, actually.

A few where the pics actually turned out:

My Nyx Mod





Misc.:







In my actual collection, I have some goodies (flutters w/wings - $20 a pop if they're in good condition):



But I'd wager the whole collection isn't worth more than $600 or so, as I don't have a $500 collection of these (though I wouldn't mind one).


So if you were every burningly curious about what I do when I'm not working, writing, learning French, applying for jobs at the UN, watching Netflix movies, reading books about middle eastern history and violence, playing video games, or obsessively hitting my "Stumbleupon" button, well...

Wonder no more.

Fuller Hips = Fuller Life!

Peace Be With You

... Toward a Morality Based on Honesty and Consent

They hate themselves for wanting what they want and doing what they do . . . so they preach against it, and propose legislation against it, and do everything in their power to relocate their guilt out in the world instead of inside their own treacherous minds and bodies. They may even feel that, in fighting the scourge of homosexuality or whatever, they’re somehow making up for their own misdeeds. I even have some compassion for them, although I’d have a whole lot more if they weren’t screwing things up for the rest of us.

And this is just one more reason we need to work for a new sexual morality – to shift it away from a guilty freakout over which tab goes in what slot, and towards a morality based on honesty and consent.

State of the Gimp

"Wow, that's a really great hematoma you've got there!" my podiatrist exclaimed.

"Um, yeah."

"How did you do this? You did a really great job on this."

"Ummmm....." Scaling the Great Wall of China! Bungee Jumping! Saving a small kitten! "Running to catch the bus," I said.

"No kidding?"

Yeah. So, it'll be another 3 weeks in my air cast, which isn't so bad because I can walk in it and I don't need crutches anymore, and I'm hardly taking any Ibuprofen anymore. The bad news is, 3 more weeks (at LEAST) with no kickboxing classes or up-and-down step exercises like the elliptical here at home. She recommended I take up yoga and pilates in the meantime, which is great, but I pay $89 a month for frickin' kickboxing classes that I now can't take until after Switzerland.

Blast.

Basically, she said that I did some severe trauma to a couple of my tendons, and if I jumped back into anything too quickly - like kickboxing - that I'd end up snapping the tendon and have to do something really fun like, you know, tendon surgery.

And you know: I've had enough of hospitals, thanks.

In the meantime, I'm watching a lot of movies, working at learning some new video games, and getting my pony mod workshop in the basement set back up now that all the ceiling tiles have been ripped out.

It could have been a lot worse, I know. I'm just glad I didn't break anything and all my tendons are intact.

Also, all this time lying around the house means those fucking edits got done, and the latest version of the book will get out the door to the appropriate editor and agent by the 31st.

Sometimes it takes a kick in the ass.

P.S. It's also worth noting that, according to the podiatrist, my sprain was healing up "right on track." Being a diabetic means that stuff usually takes a lot longer to heal for us than other people, so it's a testament to my 1) great numbers 2) relative youth that it's healing up just like it's supposed to. Stuff like this is one of the reasons I strive to have really great numbers, and why I'm so strict about what I eat (people love to give me shit about all the stuff I avoid, but... well, this is why).

Friday, August 17, 2007

Better Than an iPhone

For me, anyway. And if they can make an iPhone, they can make one of these. It's not hard, yo.

(thanks, David)

And to Think I Loved Her

Bloody brilliant.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Writing Push

I've finished all the GW edits for this push, so now I get to start my week of writing vacation; things may be a little quiet here, too. My brain's pretty fried, but the book's better, and after a week to set, I'll read it over one last time and get it out the door just before I leave for Switzerland.

And now... a week-long writing break full of French lessons and Netflix movies and video games.

Mmmmmmm.

Mystery Solved

I ran out of vicoden, so I switched to the massive Ibuprofen prescription the doctor gave me. Sometime during my yawning and eye-rubbing sessions today after getting over 8 hours of sleep last night, I looked at the fine print on the prescription bottle and read that "may cause drowsiness" warning.

Man. You know, the vicoden didn't hit me this way; I guess my body has no love for high doses of Ibuprofen.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Rough Cut

OK, adding that war scene in Azam? Far too much fun, and might be just filler, but it means I can write things like this added excerpt from God's War:

------

Rhys heard a low whine start up from outside, too high for the muezzin. He cocked his head. He knew the sound, but couldn’t place it.

Anneke turned to look out the window, and Khos pushed himself away from the wall.

“Fucking incoming!” Nyx yelled, and before Rhys had time to understand what she was yelling about, he was on a pallet on the floor with Nyx on top of him.

A heavy thud and whump shook the whole house, and something rained against the unfiltered glass.

Anneke scrambled across the floor in front of him toward a gear bag stowed against the far wall. Nyx pulled herself off Rhys, and he realized his face was wet with her sweat. His whole body tingled. There was some bug in the air, something… He looked toward the window and saw centipedes crawling along the outside.

“Anneke!” Nyx said, and she had pulled off her burnous and pulled a duel-barreled acid rifle from one of the gear bags.

Anneke threw Rhys a scattergun.

Rhys shook his head. “I don’t –“

“They’re coming in ground!” Nyx said, her shoulder pressed against the gauzy window frame, one eye on the world outside.

“Ground?” Rhys said.

“Means Nasheenians are in the city,” Anneke said, scrambling past him, shotgun slung over her shoulder, sniper rifle in hand.

Khos said, “You see them?”

“I’ve got a scout in the alley,” Nyx said. “Cancel that. He’s waving his fucking squad through. Fuck.”

Khos pulled both pistols.

Rhys’s hands were shaking. He raised one arm, closed his eyes, looked for a swarm. Several responded. Four wild, and two locked and specialized. Whatever squad was coming down the alley, they had at least one magician with them.

“Don’t fire unless I call it,” Nyx said.

“Boss?” Anneke said.

“They’re Nasheenians. Don’t fire without my call.”

“Nyx – “ Khos said.

“Nyxnissa,” Rhys said, opening his eyes. He saw the sweat beading her forehead, her glistening bare arms. The gun was heavy, and as she stood against the window frame in her short tunic and knee-high trousers, baldric too tight, he saw the power in her arms, the muscle under her flesh. He had felt it when she pushed him to the floor, the weight of her.

She turned to them, outlined in the blue haze of the coming night, and in her face, the hard jaw and suddenly flat, fathomless eyes, he saw the woman who had burned at the front. He was suddenly breathless.

“I said you don’t fire without my call. Those are my boys,” Nyx said.

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

Sometimes I just can't help myself.

Conferring Status

Why do so many forms in Ohio ask for my "marital status"? Is this something I'm just noticing now because I've been to so many doctors the last year, or is this something you see more often in Ohio?

Maybe I'm just annoyed at the idea of describing myself based on a legal relationship. I mean, I'm not planning on getting married, so does that mean I'll be perpetually single my whole life? I don't mind this, of course, since I do live an effectively single life (minus some important bits, obviously), but I don't see what my marital status has to do with the current state of my health or the symptoms I'm suffering from.

When I went into the ER for my ankle, the admitting nurse asked me if I was "currently in a living situation with people I trust." This seems to be a better question to ask someone receiving care than whether or not they're single. Just because they're married doesn't mean they trust or live with their partner, and just because they're single doesn't mean they don't live with and/or don't trust their partner (and I have no idea what bearing "divorced" or "separated" would have, either and especially).

And no, it's not under the "insurance" heading, so I can't really see what the purpose is.

Dear Internets:

Why am I so bloody fucking tired?

Discuss.

Mmmm Corporate Porn!



(click for a readable version)

Fewer Things Make You Feel Like a Bigger Idiot...

... than spilling coffee all over yourself first thing in the morning.

I will now reek of coffee all damn day.

Monday, August 13, 2007

%^$#*&$^*##@!! Book

Why, yes, the line edits I actually *wrote down* are in for all 500 pages.

Is the latest rewrite "done"? No, no of course not, because I have about four notes still in my head and then another printing because there's extraneous infodumping that can now come out, somewhere, somehow, because this book should not be over 100K and it's topping out at nearly 108K.

And I am tired and my eyes want to bleed.

Oh, they BLEED.

BLEED, I TELL YOU.

(on the upside, I only paid $70 for meds today! It was a bloody fucking miracle. I gave them the card, and it was $70! I've never gotten out of there for under $150! Huzzah!)

BLEED, I TELL YOU.

Edit til Your Eyes Bleed

I don't actively HATE God's War yet, but I'm telling you, with 150 of 500 pages of line edits still to enter, it's starting to get to me.

I must be almost done.

Why I'm A Power Feminist

Because until the world is perfect, you sometimes still have to play dirty:

Armed with my new tips and tricks, I laced up my skates and headed out to face the jungle that is childhood. When the boys confronted me again, I dared them to mess with me. One ballsy kid lunged towards me with the intent of pushing me down. Quickly, I kicked that kid squarely between the legs with my skate. He crumpled to the ground as I hysterically screamed at his friends, “I’LL EAT YOUR EYES! I’LL EAT ALL OF YOUR EYES!” Terrified, those boys got up and ran like Hell. I’ve never felt so empowered in my entire life.

When You're Just Wasting My Time...

I am happy, or at the very least willing, to debate whether or not a certain act, behavior, word, or belief is inherently sexist or misogynistic. I am not, however, willing to debate the importance or necessity of feminism. Honestly, if you really truly think feminism is wrong, or that women just have it made these days and that we should suck it up and be grateful for the rights men have already granted us, then you’re a complete fucking tool. Period. No discussion necessary. I won’t ever entertain the notion, no matter how passionately you argue or how solid you think your points are. To try and argue with me about this would be like trying convince Neo that there is no Matrix....

Pretending to be open to the possibility that I’m a fool for believing what I do is wrong, dishonest, and disrespectful to everyone involved. Being polite and feigning interest, when I’m really thinking “Holy crap, what an indoctrinated, privileged prick he is. Where’s my beer?” is simply no good. Watching an ESPN poker game that I’ve already seen 3 times would be a far more productive, enjoyable, and and honest thing to do.

Visions of Leia




More here.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

What I Did Today

Aside from line edits.

Steph and I went over to the German Fest at the Dayton fairgrounds. It was a small crowd and not a big event or anything, but we ate schnitzel and german potato salad and got our faces painted and went on some rides and did a little shopping, and Stephanie won me a prize!



It is a FROG! I think I shall call him Dilbert.

Steph also very kindly bought me a lovely pendant as, she insists, a belated birthday gift. I reminded her I still owed her $100. She shrugged. And it really is a lovely pendant:



I picked up something else, too. The thing with living with Stephanie's Old Man is, of course, that he's allergic to almost everything with scent, which means no scented candles, and because so many candles come with scent these days, I just didn't bother getting any new ones, and I threw out a lot of my old candle holders when I moved here in March.

But for $5 at the German Fest, I picked up this little fake flickering candle holder:



And I even have a place for it right next to my bracelets from Durban:



You know, if you've got great friends and great food (and health insurance), Dayton's not so bad... Next fest (the fair is coming up in a couple weeks), we'll have proper festival pics.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

One for the Road

Today's Song, Stuck on Repeat

... as I finish up the last 20 pages of the latest round of GW line edits. Fitting song for the last push of this, I think.

Burning Bridges - Christ Pureka

This is a story of burning bridges
and allowing time to pass
this is a story of forgiveness
and breaking things in my hands
this is a story of understanding
you can't choose who you love
and this is a story of soft skin
and rats in the walls

well you can't just pass along
the pain that comes around
you'll go dizzy until you fall
and I know you didn't mean to let me down
but you let me down so hard

this is a story of loaded glances
and leaning in too far
this is a story of vague advances
and confessions in smoky bars
so now I am walking down the sidewalk
and I am singing to myself
and I'm going to leave it all behind me now
'cause I don't need this,
I just don't need this

and you can't...

these memories are talking and talking
and I'll do anything to shut 'em up
I've got the pillow over my head
but they won't stop
no, no they won't stop

some fantasies are never meant to be
realized at all
and some regrets could be prevented
if you read the writing on the wall
oh and sometimes you say "you know nothing can happen"
and then she leans over and lifts off your glasses
and the next thing you know you're just tangled and guilty
and you've got a head full of liquor and perfume
oh and when did you leave me
and when did you find her
and tell me is this just what you wanted...

Fats, Carbs, Sugar and Inflammation

My last day in the hospital last year, I spoke with a nutritionist about my new "diabetic diet."

For those of you unfamiliar with how diabetes works, a short general explanation: I have an autoimmune disease which was triggered by "who knows what" but likely some kind of virus that told my immune system that the cells in my pancreas that produce insulin were foreign cells and needed to be slaughtered ruthlessly. Insulin is the stuff that enables your cells to pull the sugar/glucose out of your blood and use it for energy. Everything you eat is converted by your body into some amount of glucose, but the amount of glucose depends on the type of food you eat. Vegetables, meat, eggs, cheese, any sort of protein, these foods all have a really, really low to 0 glucose conversion rate. I can eat cheese to my heart's content and not worry about my glucose levels.

I have to take a shot of insulin every time I eat a substantial meal (snacks like cheese, small amounts of nuts, some carrots, I usually don't bother, cause it doesn't affect my sugar by more than like 10 points or so). The insulin clears the glucose out of my blood by enabling the cells to process it; the cells sweep the glucose out of my bloodstream, and all is well. High blood sugar, or consistently having high blood sugar (particularly over 180/200 or so), means your body gets sluggish, you can't think properly, wounds take longer to heal, and your body slowly breaks down because it can't get enough energy from the food you're eating; all that sugar's still stuck in your blood, turning you into one big slushy. Being a slushy is very uncomfortable. Believe me, I know. Eventually, when you get over, say 700 or 800 or 900, you go into a coma and eventually die because your heart and brain can't get enough energy to survive.

Complex carbs like straight sugar, juice, donuts, bread, pasta, stuff like that, that's all pretty much pure glucose. Your body just immediately converts it all into sugar. Pizza is often the worst to deal with, because the absorbtion of glucose is slowed by the cheese, so by the time your insulin whot hits (30-90 minutes after you take the shot) and you think you've got it all covered, you get a slow spike overnight or during the day and end up with another high number. It's complicated and a pain in the ass. Anyway, high sugar foods tend to give me headaches for the hour or so I eat them before the insulin kicks in, so as a general rule, I avoid them. They also make my life miserable insofar as trying to calculate the right amount of insulin to take, cause I don't eat them all the time and so don't have a correct set amount (except for, say, pancakes, which I eat on weekends. Because I eat a pancake every weekend, I know the exactly right amount to take, and I use whole wheat flour, so the glucose is absorbed slowly, and doesn't give me that sugar-spike headache).

So, now, knowing all of this, you would think that the overwhelming recommendation for diabetics, then, would be to eat a low carb diet, right? I mean, that's what I do: it avoids sugar spikes and means I use less insulin and have less glucose in my blood at all times. Sure, there's the occasional splurge, but for the most part, living on tortillas instead of bread is a great idea if you don't want to feel like a sluggish lump all day. Surely, doctors recommend this kind of thig?

Wrong.

Well, wrong as of about 1940 or so. Prior to that, and especially prior to the advent of insulin in 1921, people realized that those t1 diabetics who ate a low carb diet and exercised vigorously lived longer than those who didn't.

What changed?

The food pyramid. Farm subsidies. Our American obsession with all things corn-related began, and we started ingesting high fructose corn syrup and filling stuff with carb-laden fillers. Suddenly, carbs were in and fat was out, and Americans started suffering from a lot of health problems like heart disease and diabetes that they hadn't seen much before. Some of that, of course, was due to the fact that we didn't use to live as long. But some of that was because high levels of glucose in your bloodstream will wear down your arteries over time; they create a higher level of inflammation in your arteries, which increases your body's resistance to insulin, which means your body pumps out more insulin, which means you become more resistant, and the more insulin you produce, the more weight you gain, the more insulin resistant you become, the more insulin you produce, the more weight you gain... and etc.

In this study out of Hamburg, Germany, researchers recently compared artery inflammation (which is correlated with the breakdown of said arteries) and how severe it was based on one of three kinds of fast food meals from McDonald's that they ate: high fat, medium fat, low fat.

They honestly thought that the low fat meal was going to have less of a damaging effect on arterial damage. I mean, less fat, less damage, right?

So there are big differences in the fat grams of each meal, but if you actually look at the carb count for all three meals: it's exactly the same.

The result?

All three meals damaged arteries in the same way.

As Jackie pointed out in the comments section to another post, inflammation and insulin resistance are linked. The more inflammed your arteries (which is what happens when they have to process a lot of glucose produced by ingesting lots of carbs), the more insulin resistant you are. I highly suspect that this is why taking a couple of vicoden for the past week has resulted in sugar numbers that have not once tested above 120. Even during a "good" week, I'll have a 130 or 150 number on occasion. The last number I saw that was over 120 (134) was on the 30th of July (have I also mentioned that that extreme hunger I've been experiencing all day has been totally nipped in the bud? I'm not hungry until lunch, am full before I finish eating lunch, and not hungry again until dinner: you know, like a normal person. I've been desperate to figure out why I was suffereing from this extreme hunger all the time, and living without it is... is... really nice).

As one response to the study says:

... eating is an inflammatory event just like breathing. We have to do both, but we pay the price. During inflammation the endothelial cells don’t function optimally. So getting rid of the huge load of carbohydrate and the accompanying inflammatory effect of the food (and, don’t forget, high glycemic carbs are the most inflammatory of all the macronutrients) inhibits the normal action of the endothelial cells. Anyone with half a brain and a rudimentary knowledge of the nutritional aspects of physiology would have predicted that the FMD would have declined about the same with all of these meals.

And another response to a wealth of other studies on inflammation:

What the nutritional research appears to conclude in the aggregate is that the processes involved in the things we worry about (e.g. cardiovascular disease etc.) are actually inflammation-based and linked to both existing levels of bodyfat (primarily visceral fat) along with insulin. Consumption of fats -- from plant sources, fish, and "good saturated" fats -- ameliorates much of these processes, and controlling carbohydrate intake does the rest. I even read a new study yesterday about the link between inflammation and cancer. Substances such as TNF-alpha and IL-6 are starting to look very nasty indeed, and these are definitely linked to visceral fat deposit and carbohydrate intake.

What I find stunning, then, is that 1) diabetics, like me, are still told to eat a high carb, low fat diet (what saved my numbers was reading Dr. Berstein's The Diabetes Solution, written by a t1 who's done a lot of study on the effects of low carb diets and diabetics) 2) never once told to, say, take a couple aspirin or ibuprofen every day to cut down on inflammation caused by eating and therefore even out my numbers cheaply.

Instead, my last endo wanted to give me blood pressure medication that made me dizzy (my blood pressure was already low to begin with), get me on metformin (which costs a shitload more than aspirin, let me tell you), and I've been searching desperately for some kind of anti-depressant cocktail that might in some way assuage my appetite.

Hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth of drugs....

You know how much I paid for my generic version of vicoden?

$4.96

Yeah.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Choose Your Own Adventures That Never Quite Made It...





Read the rest (be sure to click on the page numbers at the bottom - there's several pages of Choose Your Own Adventure goodness....)

The Civil War in 4 Minutes

I took a whole course on the Civil War, and being a history buff, it's something I have some passing knowledge about (that is, more than most, but it's not my interest or my specialty). That said, it didn't occur to me how the north had won that battle, strategy-wise, until I saw this visual representation of the war from Lincoln's election until the south surrendered.

For years, they just sort of hammered away at each other's edges until they either got the idea or just finally managed to carve the south in two by working thier way down the Mississippi river. Sherman's march to the sea was all about creating another line, cutting up the south once again, blocking off supplies and reinforcements from one part of the south to another. Once they got that Mississippi line down the middle, the south was screwed.

Great battle strategy stuff.

Christmas in August

My insulin has, technically, expired this week, and as we all know, I don't want to pull what I did a month ago and use expired insulin for 2 months and watch my health deteriorate because I was living on credit cards and too fucking poor to live adequately.

But I wanted to wait just a little bit longer because...

My health insurance card arrived in the mail today.

FUCKING CHRISTMAS.

Here's what I *was* paying out of pocket vs. what I will now be paying out of pocket each month:

Lantus - THEN: 76.70 NOW: $30.00
Novolog - THEN: $83.27 now: $30.00

Testing strips - THEN: $60 NOW: $20

Syringes - THEN: $26.50 NOW: $10

Total per-month cost (this is just drugs that keep me alive, not the bazillion doctor's visits I have a year):

THEN: $160.34

NOW: $70.34

The best part?

THIS INSURANCE IS FREE AND PAID 100% BY THE COMPANY.

Fucking CHRISTMAS I'M TELLING YOU.

Now I need to see how much they'll pay for monitors and pumps... Muwahaha aha haa aaa.

Geeky Passions

In a discussion about the origins of the word "geek," a coworker pointed me to the Wikipedia entry for the word, where, among the uncited definitions, I found this:

A definition common among self-identified geeks is: "one who is primarily motivated by passion," indicating somebody whose reasoning and decision making is always first and foremost based on her passions rather than things like financial reward or social acceptance. Geeks do not see the typical "geeky" interests as interesting, but as objects of passionate devotion. The idea that the pursuit of personal passions should be the fundamental driving force to all decisions could be considered the most basic shared tenet among geeks of all varieties. Geeks consider such pursuits to be their own defining characteristic.

Geeks are people who pursue things passionately?

Definately not a Webster's definition, but I'm fascinated by the idea that there are self-identified geeks who use the word that way. I wonder if it's total hooey or the wiki writer was speaking from personal experience.

I am also interested in the default "she" in that particular definition.

Just Call Me Tina

The IT boys have decided they should just call me Tina...

Tina the Tech Writer: She's the technical writer in Dilbert's engineering department. Tina believes any conversation within hearing distance is intended as an insult to her profession and her gender. She strives to maintain her dignity while surrounded by engineers who don't have a proper respect for her work.

I love everyone.

Though I must say, there's definitely a Dilbert character for everyone...

Seriously, I'm Rocking the House, Here

I'm wondering if this sugar-goodness is just the vicoden? Maybe I should take a couple aspirin regularly, cause this stuff is great for my numbers (for those late to the show, a "normal" person's blood sugar is 80. When I was in a coma in the hospital last year I was something closer to 860).

107
102
67

107
86
66

82
98
112

93
98
82

114
99

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Is it September Yet?

This whole hang-out-with-your-boyfriend-five-times-a-year thing?

Tough. Manageable, and works for us, but tough. Particularly the last couple weeks at the tail end of the three month stretches.

Tough.

Good thing I've got so much shit to do.

One for the Road



My life is one big loop of working writing and novel writing. I'm not complaining, mind, it's just that it means I'm far more prone to lose track of time these days.

Um

"Now, being a predominantly fantasy writer, I don’t often deal with race (as we know it, I mean) in my writing."

Ummmmm.

Um?

Are there any other fantasy writers out there who consciously write work that they believe "doesn't deal" with race? For serious?

I mean, SERIOUSLY?

Please Do Edify Me…

As to why it is that 80% of the time you read one of those “Americans are all so FAT!” articles that the only gender whose FATNESS is measured from one decade to the next is… women? You can't tell me that it's about "AMERICANS" who are getting fatter and nobody did any comparisons on male weight (I have fat rants in droves, but this particularly sexist thing about all the fat talk drives me even battier than all the gross assumptions about fat people).

But then, men are SUPPOSED to be bigger. The truly grotesque are the women, who are all supposed to be taking up less space. And it's the women who should feel really bad about it, because they'll pay more money to get rid of it, and fail. Because women gain weight even more easily than their male American counterparts.

Holier than thou.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

eXistenZ

Sorry, movie-makers, I already read the Chris Priest novel with the similiar name, and it was way better. It even got written a year earlier, minus the silly sexual "game pod" imagery and with actual characters.

Letting Go

One of the hardest parts about writing professionally; that is, writing in the corporate world, is letting go of things you know you could do better if you just had more time.

Deadlines come hard and fast. You often don’t have enough information to work with (and sometimes you’re just making up filler with no information at all), and you have to just do your best and get it out the door.

Fiction can feel like this sometimes, too (if only I held onto this book for another 5 years, it would be PERFECT because in 5 years I’ll be BRILLIANTER!), but the last couple of books I’ve worked on, I feel I’ve made them very nearly the best they could be, at the time, with what I had to work with and what my brain would actually parse and digest (GW gets better over time with more input and of course, there are so many months between edits that I tend to improve between drafts, but each time I finish it, I nearly always feel it’s the best I could do with what I had).

Corp writing has been more and less frustrating. More because, wow, you want everything you write to sparkle, but less because this isn’t your baby, your passion, your book. At the same time, I get off on taking crap and making it all make sense. I enjoy written communication; I fall in love with words. Reading can make for great foreplay (so can writing, for that matter), and good prose is terribly sexy.

But I know that I’m getting paid to produce something smart and legible on time to deadline, and Really Great whenever I possibly can. You do the best you can with what you’ve got, and move on and don’t dwell on it. You’re getting paid to produce, not to fall in love. You’re getting paid for product, not for passion.

But I confess that I often just can’t help slugging around a bit of both.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Buy Me "Love"

Fantastic documentary about Japanese "host bars" where women go to pay men to entertain them (and certainly, sometimes, more).

You really should watch the whole thing. I thought the film maker did a great job exploring a number of the complexities involved in this kind of work from the perspective of the hosts and clients (one of the more interesting tidbits: 70-80% of the women who pay extravegent sums for male attention in host bars make that money workingas prostitutes. Watch these sorts of industries perpetuate themselves).