Random things inside my head

6. It’s confirmed! I’ll be an Attending Professional at Dragon Con in 2019. Sweet, sweet validation. (It helps balance the relentless march of zeroes in the sales reports)  I’m hoping to participate in programming for Science Fiction Literature, Fantasy, & Urban Fantasy at the least. I would love to be super-busy all four days. 

One happy bright spot in a week I’ve spent being fiercely determined not to cry about, well, EVERYTHING AND NOTHING BECAUSE LIFE IS MADE OF STRESS. Ahem. Onward. Major tooth repairs tomorrow. 

5. Holidays mean I get to hang with friends more than usual. So much catching up to do. Being a hermit whose home no one ever visits, I always fall behind. What are all the many talented, hard-working people in my immediate circle doing these days? Incredible things. Getting degrees, playing games together, working at astonishing jobs, fighting for new jobs, traveling all over the country…loads of wow.  Me? I felt awkwardly tolerated, boring, and unintentionally ruse.  You know, the usual.

Someday I should write a post about all the specific communication tools my writerfrenz and artistfrenz use to help each other cope with gathering in groups. I miss those things a lot when I’m with others.

4. Working the weekend at the library is a big change than working weeknights. All the same tasks, but the rhythm is so different.  On weeknights, the last hour is the slowest by far. Weekends? Busy. Even on a slow day. Makes for a nice change of pace.

The latest in searches:

  • free home floor plan generator
  • 19th century attitudes toward exercise
  • under 18 population Illinois 2017 census

Media update:

  •  Read: Working my way through Ardulum trilogy by J.S. Fields. Seanan McGuire recommended it, and it’s worthy. Space opera that’s careful about its science? SIGN ME UP.  
  • View: Hurricane Heist. So bad it was almost good. Okay, not really. It was just plain bad. Bad science, bad writing, bad special effects…but it was fun. Molly’s Game:  Did not finish. Sorry. I wanted to be interested, but…poker+smug people being smug+YAWN. 

3. Scooter has figured out I’m worried about his mobility. Now he lies on his side and won’t move until I pick him up and put him down gain to make sure his back legs still work.  Then he stands there and purrs and strops my legs and looks smug. CATS, y’know?

Random cat pic

2. Our official house nickname for Thanksgiving is now “The Week-long Celebration of Leftovers” And I was chastised for eating too much (read: any) of the sage dressing. It came out really well. 

1. I saw a Great Horned Owl! Spouseman heard her hooting up a storm in the middle of the night, I went to the back window to see if I could spot her in one of the neighbor’s trees, and SWOOOOOOP, she went right past the window and caught an updraft to cruise over the neighbor’s roof. So. Cool

and that’s all the all there is.

Inside my head

5. Recently in learning experiences (1) I can use the space bar on my tablet to move the screen cursor instead of trying to tap the right spot with a fingertip. (2) I changed out several new application icon images using my updated desktop system. Yay, baby steps in tech advancement! 

4. Every time I see a TV commercial for Miracle Spring Water (about once a day, despite fast-forwarding through commercials) I worry a bit more about the future of humanity. I know people have been gullible forever, but…oy.

3. The basement may have floor space again soon. Maybe. I’m not holding my breath. Spouseman is a collector, and letting go of past collections is a hard, hard thing. But…being able to walk around furniture is nice too. He’s making an effort. That’s a start.

2. Next on the home improvement list: the water heater.  Not a dire need, but it will come sooner than later. (the installation of the house humidifier demonstrated some shortcomings.) 

I am much tempted by the idea of instant, endless hot water via a “tankless” system, so if anyone has opinions pro/con, toss ’em my way. I’m in research mode.

1. Random observation: when I fill the bird feeders, all the birds go from one feeder to the next together, even though more of them would get food if they split up. Recent sightings:  sparrows, goldfinches in winter coats, Mr. Cardinal, juncos, and one seriously cranky chickadee.

The latest in searches:

  • Grand Guignol
  • chaise lounge history

Media update:

  •  Read: re-reading Jo Beverley’s Rogues romance collection. Don’t judge. I enjoy fantasy. Regency-era romances totally count.
  • View: a memorial showing of Princess Bride.

Random cat pic:

He’s sitting here often.
Might have something to do with being directly above the heater.
Might.

No-Context-Snippet from a short story I’ll be submitting to the pro market before the end of the year. (When?  As soon as I verify that its tenses are all tidy. The darned thing insisted I re-write it in present tense. 

Pops holds claim over a huge stretch of wilderness beyond his castle, land given over to wild pigs, pygmy deer, albino peacocks, and one fat, lazy bear who used to be a gamekeeper. As I step onto his lands, magic kisses my skin in a cool, tingle of recognition. 

A pale, smooth roadway appears where my foot touches the earth, curving ahead into the gloomy woods.

And that’s all the all there is for this time.

Lately, inside my head

THIS IS MY 500th post!  Freakywild. The Big Blog Experts ™ recommend a celebration or using the event to promote something, but…it’s just another post about whatever has been running through my brain for the last little while, semi-organized because organizing helps me think. So. ONWARD!

1. The other big news: there’s a nice man named Dan drilling a hole through the wall of my house right behind me RIGHT NOW. He’s outside, but still. RIGHT THERE. The man named John is downstairs right underneath me, hammering and drilling and wrenching at metal things. Out with the old furnace, in with the new. New furnace is super-high-efficiency and needs a secondary vent. Hence, HOLES. And my office is smack in the middle.

It’s a bit stressful. I’m choosing to upgrade, efficiency=environmentally responsible etc, but change is stress. (I mean, what if I don’t like it?!?)2. Yay, me! I remembered to use my Prime Lending library again this month. (It’s my way of supporting indie author ebooks within my minimal buying budget.) This month’s entry: Crier’s Knife by Neal Litherland. Good solid fantasy adventure, check it out for yourself.

3. Went outside to toss something in the trash and heard the little brown birds who patronize our bird feeder peeping up a storm. So I stop to see what has them all excited. Nothing.  The birds are all hiding in the evergreen bushes, yelling away. Nothing to see.

I take a step closer, and a hawk launches out of the bushes, lugs herself over the hedge and flaps away.  Big girl, too. Not our usuall zippy l’il Sharp-Shinned lurker. Probably the same Cooper’s Hawk who was lurking here last winter.

4. The latest in searches:

  • deadly spider hoax 2018
  • election 2018 map update

5. Media consumption!

  • Books: Archangel’s Prophecy & Silver Silence by Nalini Singh. Urban fantasy/contemporary fantasy/whatevs.  I enjoy her characters in both settings immensely and admire the author’s ability to come up with two detailed, wildly differing worlds and keep expanding on each.
  • View: The Spy Who Dumped Me. Flawed but fun spy movie…not-quite-spoof, but not at all attempting realism either. Kinda like Hitman’s Bodyguard, but without the problematic elements. Friendship rules the day over romance in this one.

6. Must-share link of the moment: US Wildfire Activity map

Usually this shows me what parts of the country are on fire. For some reason the link sometimes takes me to maps of baseball  parks or floods or other things. Apparently ArcGIS is a program people can use to make their own maps. Which is pretty cool info all by itself.

Random cat pic:

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Judgmental Scooterboo is Not Happy and is judging everyone

And that’s all the all there is.

Inside my head

I have finally tried the iTunes “Genius” feature, the one that generates radio-channel-like mixes from my music collection. (It’s only been there for years…) Now I get”singer-songwriter” mixes, “party-dance” mixes etc. It’s fun to click and let it pick songs, but there is one huge downside; I’m long accustomed to timing my work sessions with music, and these mixes will go on forever, randomly repeating.  If I don’t watch myself I can keep going for “one more song…” for hours. Which is noy healthy.

A thing I realized recently: committees have distinct, recognizable personalities. It makes sense, right? Groups are made up of human beings, so it’s logical they reflect the personalities of their members, especially the leaders. Corollary: not all personality traits are healthy ones. Could I give real-world examples? Oh, yeah. I could. But I won’t.

“Reality” television, oy. It’s a thing that makes me sad for humanity. I have no problem with basically-real, transparent-about-the-scripted-parts documentary shows,  but the manipulative, harmfully-scripted creepy ones, like all the American “talent” competitions, DIY dramas, and voyeuristic surveillance shows? Brrrr.

The latest in searches:

puffball mushroom species, fairy ring mushroom species

etymology word history greenhorn

tomato, garlic, rice, feta recipe
(when I can’t decide what to cook, sometimes I query the internet with “list of what’s in the fridge” + “recipe” and the internet provides. )

Media update!

  • Book: The latest Archangel novel by Nalini Singh. I honestly cannot remember the names of any of them, and it isn’t important. It’s a long, lush, complex alternate world fantasy genre, and it’s fluffy goodness. Just what I needed.
  • View: Sorry To Bother You.  I cannot adequately review this…but I recommend it. Scathing social commentary AND a drama with a cutting sense of humor. Not an easy watch, but a really good one.
  • ViewSkyscraper. It had Dwayne Johnson, so I had to try it. Not as bad as I expected. Basic cartoonishly unbelievable action movie plot with another telegraphed occurrence of the tired Betrayal By Trusted Friend trope, but wow,  The Rock is great working with kid actors. I mean, seriously awesome.

Random cat pic:

img_8057
I should probably start calling these “random Scooter pics”

Last no-context WIP snippet for a while:

Bergen’s leering expression held steady until Deena pulled out the chair opposite him. Then his split lip curled off his teeth, turning the smirk into a grin. “Well, hell-oh, Chief Cheerleader. You taking me on?”

Deena kept her face locked in the don’t-screw-with-me expression she’d learned in the Army, but inside she wanted to burst out laughing. Chief Cheerleader? Seriously? “You don’t know me, Jack Bergen. You barely knew me, back in high school. A lot’s changed since then.”

And that’s all the all there is for this time.

Inside my head

I realized recently more than half of my meals consist of a fruit, a vegetable, a bread, and a cheese, plus tea. Cheese pizza & applesauce; crackers & veggies w/spread & berries; pickles, bread, sliced cheese & apple; lettuce salad w/almonds & cranberries and a pita…what can I say? I’m predictable.

Last con of 2018 for me this weekend. VERY much looking forward to it as I pack up my stickers, bookmarks, signs, and of course my books. I have “con boxes” now. the whole repping myself as an author feels…real and mostly comfortable. At least at small cons.

I haven’t mentioned this lately, but if you’ve ever wondered, any images on this blog I don’t take with my phone camera come from Pixabay. They’re all CC0 no-rights-reserved public domain images, but I believe in sourcing (and paying a bit when I can.) So if you like pretty pictures, Pixabay.com is a great place to find them.

Using a gate-keeper and a screen time tracker to keep my online distractions under control really works. I’m at 2 hours/day on the mobile side, including texting and my fitness tracker, with no social media access on the laptop. I’m a happier camper without it, and a much more productive one. Next goal: trim my TV/movie viewing down to 1 hour on non-library nights and nothing after midnight. That…will be a challenge.

The latest in searches:

  • LBJ programs Great America
  • evidence tape procedures
  • difference between gourds & squash

Must-share site of the moment: TIL Reddit. It’s a fountain of random trivia WITH CITATIONS for each entry. It might as well have been created for me. Writing research gold, and a great story idea generator too.

Random cat pic:

img_5645
cranky cat-dragon defends his turf

No Context WIP snippet:

The world of the living ceased to interest Fletcher Davis when his last great-great-grandson retired and moved away. Fletch had been dead a long time by then—a century or so—and without family in town to keep him entertained, the mortal world quickly grew boring.

And that’s all the all there is for this time.

Inside my head

  • You know  what happens when I am a Good Homeowner and schedule regular maintenance? I discover our heater has a cracked heat exchanger, that’s what. The old one lasted 26 years, so I have no complaints. And it explains the weird behavior of the CO detector last winter. (A couple of times on super-cold days it would beep once, then stop.  Now I know it was catching the exhaust seeping back from the exchanger and saying, “HEY, I SMELL CARBON MONOXIDE…no, wait,  it’s gone now, never mind.”)
  • So, anyway, we’re getting a new heater soon. (Apparently some people wait for the crack to get big and immediately dangerous. Yikes. Nope. Not me. I like breathing.) The AC unit is just as old and didn’t do a good job this summer, so we’re budgeting to replace that too. We could plug in electric heaters and not freeze but Spouseman will melt in a Chicagoland summer without cooling. So that’s the latest big deal.
  •  Anyone analyzing cable television shows by their advertising would conclude that the main audience is, “people with diabetes and/or cancer, people who care passionately about condiments, and people who need cheap car insurance and expensive security systems.”
  • The latest in searches:
    • bubble wrap invention date
    • single item narcissism
    • pumpkin size varieties
  •  Media update!
    • Book: Kingdom of Ash by Sarah Maas. It’s the big sprawly, conclusion to the long, long, looooong classic fantasy saga. It would be easy to list out a dozen things about the series that rub me entirely the wrong way, and a half dozen more that make me wince…but…I liked it anyhow.
    • View: Jurassic World. Um. I enjoyed the dinosaurs, but ugh. It’s one excuse after another for major CGI battle & chase scenes, with gratuitous gore. (Keep in mind I don’t mind gore qua gore. In this movie it was jarring in the wrong way.) Oh! OH!  And  “diversity characters” who are walking weak stereotypes? Awful. Worse than the ridiculously thin villains.  Did I mention I enjoyed the dinosaurs?
    • ViewOcean’s 8. Fun, basic, heist movie. The callbacks to Ocean’s 11 and 13 were super too. I kept thinking Cate Blanchett and Sandra Bullock were the same person in different wigs, but that’s not a flaw in the movie, that’s my brain’s little issue with face recognition.
  •  Random cat pic:

    DSCN0015.JPG
    This is the earliest pic of Scooter I have in the blog archive. Enjoy.
  • No Context WIP snippet:

    The tenth time the dog sprang to his feet and alerted to a blank spot on the wall, Deena lost her patience. “Seriously, Bazel? What is your issue?”

    And someone answered in a deep, pleasant drawl, “He has good instincts. So do you, grand-daughter.”

And that’s all the all there is for this time.

Inside my head

  • I heard an owl the night before last, and again last night. I was indoors. The owl (need I say?) was not. The call was clearly audible for several minutes. Creepy as hell, also pretty cool. It was a Great Horned Owl, for those wondering. Yes, I looked up the call online. I resisted the urge to play back the recording outside to see if the owl would answer.
  • I’m having more trouble than usual with mistaking words for other words containing the same/similar letters. With fantasy names and geography (Nirmana versus Rimarn, to make up an example) this is merely distracting.  With regular words in non-fiction reading, the results can bring reading progress to a screeching halt as  my brain tries to process what the word “pickle” is doing in an article about city planning. (not making that one up.) Brains are weird.
  • The latest in random searches:
    • blackberry plant genus
    • plot of Pericles
    • historical men’s sock styles
  • Dream geography: I visited the beach town for the first time in a while. There’s an old-fashioned park by the door motel, and a beach hidden behind huge dunes, with huge breakers and a permanent monstrous storm about to hit, and lots of little shops always boarding up their windows. This time there I got to pet lots of cats.
  • ::deep breath:: Did a second pass on reading the editorial letter and browsing line edits, still thinking through possible changes. I feel like a kitten rolling in a large ball of string. Happy, excited…and more than a little daunted by the task of untangling it all. I can do it.  The question is, can I do it in time to release in February? Here’s hoping.
  • Must-share site of the moment –>Gods In Color  This site is packed with amazing info about historical research into Greek & Roman sculpture. Discovered it in a New Yorker article, “The Myth of Whiteness In Classical Sculpture. SO COOL.
  •  Random cat pic:

    img_8225
    Scooter is still spending his days in this spot.
  • I watch Law & Order reruns as a kind of brain-free decompression It lets me keep police/legal fiction tropes and themes readily available for writing my cozy mystery while resting the wording part of my mind. It ran so long it’s a fascinating snapshot of American social development through pop culture. It’s  freaky and painful to see the evolution of so many harmful crime myths  over that twenty-year run.
  •  Speaking of pop culture…media update!
    • Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse. My only regret: I have to wait AGES for the next one to come out.  First-person present tense. Two things I do not usually enjoy, but which worked beautifully for the protagonist and the world.
    • At last I have finished the Inheritance trilogy by N. K. Jemisin. I started it ages ago, but had to set it aside until I could embrace new characters in the second book.  I was ready, and I gobbled down the remaining two books super-fast.
    •  Night and Silence by Seanan McGuire because I knew it would be delicious and crunchy and satisfying, and it was.
  • Miracle Water infomercials disturb me on so many, many levels. From its usurpation and warping of Christian faith into commercial product (far from a new thing, always horrific in every incarnation) to its reliance on magical thinking, survivorship bias and other logical fallacies, they are sad and scary.

That’s all the all there is for now.