Archive for the ‘life’ Tag

RWA National Conference

I had planned to go — purchased a plane ticket, paid for the conference, reserved a hotel room, the whole thing. I even went shoe shopping (shudder). Then Spooky Man’s new medication didn’t show up.

Spooky Man is one of the world’s youngest Vietnam veterans — he turned 17 in early February 1975 and enlisted the next Monday. He was barely out of boot camp and training to be a tank gunner when the conflict ended. He has a service-connected disability rating of 60%, some of which is due to PTSD (I’d say why, but it’s classified), for which he takes antidepressants.

His VA psychiatrist recently changed his medication because it was becoming less effective, and then upped the dose the week before the RWA national conference. And then the new medication didn’t show up. It still hasn’t shown up and I am not amused (for god’s sake, the regional VA medical center is across town; it’s not like it had to come from Seattle or something).

I wasn’t about to leave town with him in this state. So I canceled what reservations I could and ate the other costs, because my husband, my life partner, having a crisis is more important than an event that will happen again next year. It’s sad that I wasn’t able to meet and connect with people I follow on Twitter or know via e-mail listservs, but I think they would understand that my family’s health comes first.

For what it’s worth, I cheered all the Golden Heart and Rita winners as they were announced on the RWA tweet stream and even teared up a little when Brenda Jackson received her lifetime achievement award (which was much deserved).

And while I was on the computer that night, I wrote rough cuts for the Newtonian, Einsteinian and Quantum Mechanics lectures for the online class I’m supposed to teach (Modern Physics for Writers), starting August 6th.

Luckily, the new shoes will still fit next year.


Not the best birthday gift

Spooky Man took away my laptop. Actually, he sent it to the shop to have the hard drive replaced with a solid-state drive. SSDs are quieter, faster, require less power and generate less heat, so it’s a thoughtful gift.

Except it requires me to spend five days without a computer at home. During vacation days when I was planning to do a lot of writing. Insert frustrated noise here.

I did get a few thousand words written with a pen and a notepad (I tried writing on an Ipad, too, and it was awful — virtual keyboards are ridiculously inaccurate for real typing), but it wasn’t the 7-10K I was hoping for.

So I’m currently behind where I want to be on the works in progress. What else is new?

I think I’m going to be spending a few extra hours at the day job this week, borrowing the keyboard for a — ahem — side project, at least until I get my New! Improved! laptop back.

Shar-Pei Tidbit

Spooky Man reminded me today that Chinese Shar-Pei’s are not a breed the Idaho prison system uses for its guard dog program.

One of the K9 folks once told him, circa 1994, “They’re great barkers. They sound ferocious.” (heavy sigh) “But they’re just too damned happy to actually bite anyone, even with training.”

I like that in a companion dog.

Copy Edits

I’m in the midst of copy edits for The Valmont Contingency. It’s amazing; they take away my semicolons and then go after me for comma splices. Snort.

Hopefully I’ll have time to put together a real post this week.

The day job might have gotten me some help

Keep your fingers crossed, because I might have found a new technical writer for the California office of my day job. If so, it means traveling to train him, but it also means I’m not trying to keep up with two offices’ worth of projects.

While doing developmental edits for a new editor I’ve never worked with before. And plotting/starting the second book in the Galactic Republic/Stern Reich/ Nippon Empire universe.

No wonder I freaked out about the zombie battle. I was out of coping beans. Ha!

Onward, to The Nobinata Gambit (or whatever title it turns into). No more zombies, but there is a Samurai/Ninja duel during an Imperial Tea ceremony. Really, how could I not?

Breaking Valradio silence for a moment

Carina Press wants to publish “The Valmont Contingency” (formerly known as “The Valois Contngency” if you want to read an excerpt of the first draft). The one day in the last year I forgot to take my cell phone with me to work and I missed The Call. I had to settle for The Voicemail and The Follow-Up E-Mail.

It’s an aggressive production schedule, too; they want an October 2012 go-live date. Good thing I’ve started the opening scene of the sequel, workingly titled “The Nobinata Gambit.” Grin.

In other news, I came down with a cold the day after I got back from the business trip. Drove home from work, dropped into a coma for a couple of hours, and woke up with stuffy nose and scratchy throat. Joy.

Missed my local romance writers’ meeting in the spirit of “let’s not infect everyone.” Some things are better when they’re not shared.

Thank you, exotic California rhinovirus (or else I caught it before I went there; in that case, sorry about the exotic Idaho rhinovirus, California).

However, now I can personally vouch for the effectiveness of zinc gluconate lozenges. I used them as often as I was allowed, and every time I finished one, I felt as if the symptoms had been knocked back several steps.

I’m almost over it after five days — and I’m normally a 10-day cold person with a fight to keep it from turning into bronchitis, the legacy of walking pneumonia in high school.

Maybe I should buy stock in Cold-Eeze or Zicam.

Stuart the IT Cat

Stuart somehow reformatted Spooky Man’s shiny-new-laptop solid-state hard drive RAID on Tuesday. He (Spooky Man, not Stuart) had downloaded a rather large file and wanted to copy it onto a flash drive. Stepping into another room for a moment, he returned to find him (Stuart, not Spooky Man) standing on the keyboard, trying to remove the flash drive (bad kitty! you have to unmount it first!).

Upon rebooting, the computer couldn’t find Windows. Spooky man spent most of Wednesday reinstalling and reconfiguring the computer. But even after all that, it still wasn’t right. The third drive was missing, somehow — I say “somehow” because when I asked “so what’s wrong with it?” he made a face, then mumbled something along the lines of “Damned cat, I should have skinned him.”

So this morning, on the way home from the last doctor appointment for the month, we stopped at Best Buy and he asked a Geek Squad person for a second opinion.

The drives are all fine. They’re just uncoupled, and the third one, which I understand is some kind of hybrid hard drive that is half-solid state and half-normal, is empty. Somehow, Stuart managed to reformat that hard drive, says Spooky Man.

I say, he’s quite an intelligent cat — by nine months of age, he had figured out how to open drawers and understood that the doorknob opens a door — but I don’t think he’s quite that intelligent. Perhaps Spooky Man did something (or failed to do some other thing) while reinstalling Windows yesterday that changed his RAID from all three drives to only the fully solid-state drives and reformatted the hybrid. I didn’t say that in the store, because then he would have looked stupid in front of a Geek Squad Geek. Because of a cat. And he’s an A+ certified nerd (Spooky Man, not Stuart).

Not acceptable.

However, the final answer is that the computer is fine, the cat is fine, the hard drive is fine, and Spooky Man didn’t look stupid in front of the Geek Squad. They didn’t even charge us for looking at it.


At some point, Spooky Man will have to accept that a highly intelligent cat is far more dangerous than a normal cat and treat Stuart accordingly. You cannot stick something interesting and different looking into the edge of the thing that you put on your lap (instead of a cat, the horror) and not expect him to investigate as soon as you’re not looking.

Well, you can, but you might end up looking stupid in front of a Geek.

‘Twas a week before the feast of St. Valentine

Love is in the stores, but things are low-key at my house. Finally.

Spooky man has successfully had a birthday, his nose’s inner workings are healing nicely, the Year of the Dragon has begun, chocolate-covered macadamia nuts have been ordered. This is how we’re celebrating Valentine’s Day 2012–good coffee, dark chocolate, and maybe some flowers because they’re pretty. Ahhhh.

One nice thing about loving the same person for 20 years is that you don’t have to make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day.

Spooky Man knows I love him because I made sure he had a new leather recliner, a full refrigerator and fresh books before his nose was remodeled. I know he loves me because he spent his VA-disability backpay on home improvements to keep us and the furbabies safe and dry. It’s all good.

Now that Things Have Settled Down, maybe I can get back to some serious word count on my works in progress.

Doomsday Is Coming

We are all going to die. Seriously. Nobody gets out of this life without dying.

According to various religious persons and the Ancient Maya (as opposed to the Modern Maya — yes, the Maya still exist, they just don’t have an empire anymore; kind of like the British), Doomsday is December 21, 2012! Except….

Okay, first there’s the problem of the missing 10 days in 1585 when Western Civilization transferred to the Gregorian calendar; how do those fit into the calculation? I’m a calendar geek, which is a side effect of having been a Y2K consultant. Yes, I was one of the brave project managers who averted the last great Doomsday, Y2K. But that’s another post.

Then there’s the fact that the Mayans aren’t worried about it. They consider their nicely accurate calendar perpetual. You get to the end? Okay, go back to the beginning and run through it again. And you have a big party, because you watched the calendar roll over to, which is always a good time.

But the Hopi agree — there’s a big blue star/planet/thingie coming to smack us hard! Except maybe there isn’t, if you actually talk to Hopi Indians/Native Americans/tribe members. Sirius is the blue star of the Hopi, and the blue star kachina dancing in the plaza and taking off his mask doesn’t sound like planet smacking to me. It actually sounds like a wonderful party. Again, pointing to a party instead of an apocalypse. Those first Americans know how to have a good time. Just sayin’.

Harold Camping thought Rapture was last May, no, October, no — I guess we stopped paying attention when he got it wrong twice four times (he started with sometime in 1994). Jesus said, straight up, “Look, nobody is going to be able to figure out when The End is coming, so don’t even try it.” Or words to that effect; he was speaking Aramaic, after all. And yet, all these people (including Isaac Newton, which is just bizarre) have tried to calculate when the end of time is going to be, disobeying the Son of God. A fallible human knows better than God, because…?

Then there’s the I Ching thing…which is so conspiracy-theory weird I don’t even get how it’s supposed to predict Doomsday. I think you have to put the long lines over the short lines and divide by 23, then look at it through the color blue (or was that Zaphod Beeblebrox in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?). I know the theory was developed under the influence of psilocybin mushrooms, and the author changed his date from one edition to the next to match the Mayan calendar. Bad form, changing the date. Regarding the mushrooms, well, I’m neutral. 🙂

I think what it all boils down to is this: Humans somehow need a doomsday threat. We’re just not happy without some horrible thing hanging over our heads sometime in the future, whether it’s a calendar rollover, a galactic lineup (what is the dark rift, anyway. other than a bunch of dust?), a blue star/rogue planet/comet leading a UFO, or a radio announcer calculating “the date.” Or any of the other Doomsday causes floating around out there — magnetic pole reversal, crustal slippage, the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole, giant coronal mass ejections, the Yellowstone supervolcano’s overdue eruption, the list goes on. We just need something to look forward to, in a bad way.

Don’t like any of the above? Well, the Flying Spaghetti Monster could withhold his noodly appendage from the world, and then where would we all be?

If you’re not a Spaghettarian, the next computer doomsday is January 19, 2038, when 32-bit Unix runs out of time.

And, for the win, Nostradamus didn’t say a darned thing about 2012.

Urban Wildlife

I spotted a red fox (carrying toast) and two raccoons (waiting for a cross walk to empty of traffic) in downtown Boise last Friday morning during rush hour.

Spooky Man had an 8 a.m. appointment with a rehab doctor (in my opinion an idiot, but that’s just my opinion based on his best medical advice to “push through” 30 years of chronic debilitating pain and “be an athlete”), so we were driving downtown at 7:30 in the morning.

The raccoons were at the intersection of Fort and Robbins Rd, which is where traffic is being diverted to get to the VA medical center while the main entrance is being dug up, re-somethinged, and generally closed to traffic with large trucks parked in it.

They (the raccoons, not the trucks) looked like a mother and a teenager, coming down out of a maple tree on the corner to wait for the light to change and let them legally cross. In my experience, raccoons don’t obey pedestrian traffic regulations, but I haven’t lived in that neighborhood for twenty years.

The fox was in the VA medical center parking lot closest to the outpatient entrance. I swear he (or she) looked like one more federal employee on the way to work, finishing breakfast on the go.

A friendly staffer coming off night shift told us the fox lives in the area and frequently can be seen trotting through the parking lot at that time of day.

First we had the federal squirrels who behave like Secret Service agents (“I’ll have to inspect that bag of roasted almonds, Ma’am.”), then there was the wild bunny that apparently spoke squirrel, because it hopped over when Spooky Man chittered at it, and now a fox munching toast while walking through the parking lot.

I know this is because Boise has a somewhat unique geography, in that we have this large pocket of wild-ish land poking far into the northeast part of the city.

The VA medical center is only a few blocks from the largest hospital in the valley, St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center. The state capitol building, supreme court building and Health & Welfare building are a few blocks in another direction. Likewise the Catholic and Episcopal cathedrals, built in the 19th century, and Boise High School.

The VA medical center also backs onto federal reserve lands from the original Fort Boise — hence, the main entrance opening onto Fort Street — so wild creatures venture down out of the foothills and find themselves abruptly in a city (Surprise! Traffic!).

In fact, part of the medical center campus is actually built up onto a foothill that forms the first rank of the Boise range. There are even two tiers of parking lot. So it’s not all that bizarre to spot furry critters going about their business while going about your own.

Much more baffling was the recent case of an adolescent mountain lion shot on the grounds of St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center. To get there from any wildlife-friendly areas, the cat would have had to cross a freeway or walk miles on fairly busy roads. It was obviously a (very) lost teenager; I could still see kitten spots in its fur in the TV footage.

I didn’t think they needed to kill it, but I have a soft spot for big cats, particularly mountain lions. A domesticated mountain lion helps the heroine escape in Blade’s Edge (remember, this happens far in the future on another planet; our mountain lions are Not Domesticated).

But still, raccoons using a cross walk. A red fox with toast in the VA lower parking lot. Squirrels with mirrored sunglasses and earpieces (okay, I made that part up, but they have the attitude).

Such urbane wildlife could only happen in Boise.

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