Archive for April, 2011|Monthly archive page

My Furry Family

I recently upgraded my phone, and got a much better camera out of the deal. So I had to take photos of the furry family members, didn’t I?

Stuart "Stooby-Dooby-Doo" Roberts

Stuart "Stooby-Dooby-Doo" Roberts

This is our cat Stuart, who was abandoned at the tender age of 1 or 2 weeks when dogs chased away his feral mama before she could move the last of her litter out of harm’s way. He was originally named Stuart Little (yes, after a mouse—the indignity), and was bottle fed at Conrad Strays by the superhuman duo Dave and Teresa Conrad. He now weighs almost 20 pounds and loves sleeping on me.

Hank the Rott-Pei

Hank "I'd-Be-Happy-To" Roberts

This is Hank, who is half Rottweiler and half Chinese Shar-Pei (according to the Wood River Valley Animal Shelter, his dam was an AKC-registered Rottie, and his sire was a Shar-Pei who could jump a six-foot fence). Spooky Man would like to make this the next designer breed, but I think Hank is one of a kind. He came to us neutered, so cloning would have to be involved, anyway.

Gizmo "The Many-Toed" Roberts

Gizmo "The Many-Toed" Roberts

This is Gizmo, who looked like a Gremlin for about two weeks when she first came home with us from the Idaho Humane Society. Actually, she looked like Stripe, but Stripe was evil and I didn’t want to encourage evil-cat-ness so she got a Magwai name. Gizmo has six toes on both of her front paws (complete with functional claws) and five toes on both back paws, both considered good luck for her humans in, I think, Thailand. Spooky Man has mentioned changing her name to Gizmeaux, but she wouldn’t have the patience for all those extra letters. Too silly.

Then there’s Tuffi (short for fluffy tabby with ear-tufts), the Main Coon-type cat that showed up at our house last July 4th, half-grown, tattered-furred, and much, much too skinny. Tuffi decided the regular meals were enough to put up with being forced into the warm house at night during the winter. He’s still not sure about litter boxes (why can’t they just go outside like civilized cats?), but he likes pillows and fleece blankets. Tuffi’s camera shy; either he wouldn’t hold still or it was just the wrong light level, and I haven’t gotten a good photo yet.

And the last member of the fur-bearing family is Serena, who is almost twenty and…not ready for her closeup. Serena is going into kidney failure, so she looks like we starve her (we don’t, of course; the rest of the cats are getting fat off the food she can’t/won’t eat) and she stopped grooming herself with any regularity about nine months ago. This is her home as long as she chooses to stay with us, but I’m not going to embarrass her with a photo where she looks less than her best (the horror!). That means there’s going to be a fight over a bath this weekend. I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m going to win, and she’ll feel much better afterward. Then we’ll take her picture.

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

One of my critique partners is moving away. To Tampa. Next weekend. Well, actually I think she and the dog are boarding the plane on May 1st, but it’s close enough.

We’re having our last In Real Life (IRL) meeting on Good Friday. Somehow it’s appropriate. Endings and beginnings.

She’s beginning her new life with her old husband (they’ve been separated since January) and can’t wait to see him again.

And now the Moxie Quartet (our informal name for our critique group) is down to two. But life goes on and there is Skype.

It makes me think of Ecclesiastes, as interpreted by The Byrds. They called it Turn Turn Turn: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odj2kNn3_v0&NR=1

I’m just not a Luddite, I guess

Five years ago, I didn’t have a cell phone. Then Spooky Man and I went on a cruise to Alaska, which meant the dog had to have a babysitter. Said babysitter required the ability to get ahold of us at any time. So I grimaced and bought a Tracfone.

Then the economy went off a cliff in 2008 and the phone billl crossed the $75-a-month mark for basic service plus voicemail. Yup, it was cheaper to get cell phones and get rid of the regular phone.

I hedged, though. I bought a MagicJack, just in case. We’re not using it right now, because the computer it plugs into needs a new fan, but that’s on my to-do list.

Then there was the DVD crisis. I bought a copy of Red (Retired, Extremely Dangerous) for Spooky Man’s birthday, and the DVD player locked up during the shipping-container firefight. I had to do, well, something. It was his birthday present.

I bought a blu-ray player with wireless Netflix streaming. It was cheaper than a Wii and will allow us to cut back our cable bill. I know, I know, but the DVD player *died.* And it will be less expensive to get movies from Netflix.

Now, the battery in my LG phone won’t hold a charge and we’re eligible for an upgrade. Yes, I went there. I bought Droid Xs. They should be delivered tomorrow.

I would hang my head in shame, except they’re so dratted useful; MP3 player, GPS receiver, internet access, camera/vidcam, Angry Birds and you can make phonecalls.

Spooky Man approved the purchase because, he said, there’s an app to make the camera work with night vision (see why I call him Spooky Man?).

Now that I have a VOIP home phone, a Droid smartphone and a wireless blu-ray player, I think I have to get a geek card.

Just don’t ask me to program C#. Please.

Emerald City Writers Conference 2011

I have napped and recovered from my two 60-hour weeks, so there’s a good chance this post will make more sense than the last one. (I knew my brain wasn’t firing on all cylinders yesterday, but there had been two weeks of radio silence from Valworld. Oy.)

My workshop proposal “This Is Your Brain On Love” was accepted by the 2011 Emerald City Writers Conference, being held at the Bellevue Westin October 28-30. Luckily, they sent me the e-mail on March 31, or I would have thought it was an April Fool’s joke.

It’s kind of funny. I submitted a workshop proposal on craft, a workshop proposal on publishing business, and a workshop on brain chemistry. They picked the one on brain chemistry, which I figured would be the least useful for writers.

After all, who cares if infatuation is triggered by a dopamine cascade in the midbrain, as long as it works for the characters?

Maybe it was the short description I sent:

“Covers the biochemistry of love, from initial attraction to infatuation and on to long-term attachment, including the major hormone cascades: phenylethylamine, dopamine, norepinephrine, endorphins, oxytocin, vasopressin. Includes functional MRI and PET studies as well as differences in the hypothalamus of monogamous and promiscuous voles. There are also side trips to waist-to-hip geometry, pheromone theory, sniffing dirty t-shirts, and…did I mention the voles?

“Plus, because deep down I’m a mad scientist, I figured out ways of faking each of the stages through available medicinal compounds. You know, just for fun. Because we all have dopamine agonists lying around the house, right?”

Just for the record, I don’t have dopamine agonists lying around my house. They’re only available by prescription, for Parkinsons disease and Restless Leg Syndrome. Neither Spooky Man nor I have either of those maladies, for which I’m thankful.

If you’re going to ECWC 2011, feel free to stop into the workshop and heckle. I haven’t had to sound like an expert in front of strangers for several years, so friendly faces will be welcome.

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