Archive for the ‘real life’ Tag

If You Don’t Have Your Health

My friend Chris is getting his final leukemia diagnosis today. He ran a 10K October 6th, and went to the doctor a few days later for a possible infection. I have no idea what caused the lab to check his blood for leukemia cells, but thank god they did.

It’s been caught ridiculously early (before he had a single symptom), which means he might be able to get away with only one round of chemotherapy to get rid of it, putting it in the realm of pain-in-the-[bleep] cancer rather than just-might-kill-me cancer.

Having been through something a bit similar in 2009 (my debut novel was published in between pain-in-the-[bleep] cancer diagnoses that year), I’m sending all the good vibes to Chris that I can muster. He’s a lovely person, so I can muster quite a few good vibes for him.

And I’m impatiently waiting for the final diagnosis (the subtype determines the chemo cocktail to use), so he can get started on fighting it off, and I can get started on supporting him in his fight.

Go, Chris! [Bleep] cancer! (This is actually a John Scalzi, Wil Wheaton, and xkcd quote, so I’m sure you can figure out what the [Bleep] is replacing.)

News from Real Life

Last Friday I bought a new car.

I did my homework to figure out exactly which model I wanted, I was pre-approved for a loan from my credit union, I had detailed my trade-in and removed all personal possessions from it, I knew what price point I wanted. I was ready.

It still took four hours to go through the negotiation and buying process (paperwork). It might have taken longer because I didn’t use the dealership for financing, even though all the financial gurus say not to.

It took another half-day to get the new car registered and the insurance switched over. I don’t remember all this extra work when I bought the Subaru, but that was fourteen and a half years ago.

The new car is a slightly used 2012 Ford Escape XLT, with more freaking buttons in the dashboard and steering wheel than some airplanes I’ve flown in.

I think I have to know Morse code to reset the trip odometer, but it locks/unlocks by itself and nags you when the oil needs to be changed. The first time it locked the doors while it was moving, it startled me to the point of almost driving off the road.

It also has an automatic transmission, my first ever. I don’t really like the automatic transmission, but I guess 99.5 percent of humanity is too busy texting, shaving, eating and/or putting on makeup to learn how to control their vehicle by properly using a clutch.

Yes, that was a slam at people who can’t drive a car with a manual transmission. You will not survive the coming apocalypse, as zombie hordes can manage automatics. So there. Ha! (Yes, we still have a car with a five-speed, so we’ll be able to get away.)

Spooky Man has accused me of being twitterpated with the new car. If I am, it’s his fault; he chose the car, because it has the most comfortable passenger seat of all the models on my short list. I am happy with the purchase, even if the process can be exhausting.

God willing, I won’t have to do this again for a decade.

Follow-up note 9/17/2012: I figured out why it took so long to write up the purchase agreement. A credit union I used to belong to 15+ years ago sent me a letter explaining why they turned me down for a loan. I called them, because I didn’t apply for a loan with them. Turns out the dealership did — after I had told them I had my own financing. Sigh.

I Survived the Business Trip

SFO hates me.

Getting there on Tuesday wasn’t bad, although the pilot wanted the wings de-iced before we left (it seemed awfully warm to have frost on the wings, but whatever). In spite of taking off 15 minutes later, we arrived half an hour early, and had to wait for our gate.

Then the jetway broke. Yup. San Francisco International Airport had to push a portable ramp up to the airplane and we walked down the stairs like it was 1975. Ohhhhhkay.

Then there was the trip back. My “11:17” flight took off at 2:10, during a small break in the heavy fog. And by heavy, I mean a smallish jet that had its nose up fairly close to the terminal windows appeared to have no tail at all.

The California office was nice (much bigger than the Boise outpost), the people were lovely, the job candidates I interviewed were personable and highly qualified, the hotel was serene, and the airport either hates me or was having a really bad week..

That is all.

Busy, Busy, Busy

The other tech writer at my day job quit last week. Personal reasons, emergency trip to London, etc. So, in a four-day week (Monday was the Presidents’ Day holiday in the US), I’ve been doing the work of two technical writers. Plus reviewing resumes for hiring a new technical writer…in another state.

In addition, I’m updating graphics for customer portals so that 12 business units can migrate to our new! improved! software-as-a-service in the next few weeks. And I’m going to the main office in California for two days next week. Translated from Geekspeak to English: Work is really busy and I’m doing some stuff I’ve not done before. Oy!

So don’t be surprised if there’s a couple of weeks of Valradio silence. I’m here. I’m just working.

Spooky Man’s Nose Surgery

It went well, and now he’s back home recuperating.

True to form, he had an unusual case, in that the septum deviation went “all the way up.” Of course. Biological weirdness is just how Spooky man rolls; I love him, but he is a freak of nature.

I’m slightly disappointed, because he doesn’t have any external scars, sutures or bandaging. Other than a little swelling around the nose, he doesn’t look like he had surgery. No blackmail photo opportunity, alas.

On the other hand, I get the bed to myself for the next few days — he has to keep his head elevated, which means he has to sleep in his new leather recliner (poor thing, she typed sarcastically).

And now he’s going to be able to breathe out of both sides of his nose, hopefully in time for his birthday in a week or so. and rock

I am delighted with these two charities, because they give people a hand up, not a handout.

My grandparents were sharecroppers on my father’s side and homesteaders on my mother’s side. Kiva and Heifer allow other people to make something better for their families without sacrificing dignity; my grandparents would approve.

Kiva is a clearing-house for investors who want to micro-lend to entrepreneurs, usually in developing countries. Last spring I invested $100, and more than half of it has already been paid back (and reinvested). There haven’t been any defaults, either. Investments are in $25 increments, so you don’t need to jump in with both feet. gives people livestock with the provision that at least one of the offspring of the original critter gets passed on to someone else. They also teach local communities how to care for their animals to maximize the food and income produced.

Spooky Man and I bought a llama for my brothers’ Christmas presents (because the last thing they need is more stuff, LOL). You don’t have to donate a whole animal, though; they have shares for as little as $10.

If you find yourself with some extra cash this year — after saving for a rainy day, retirement, and the kids’ college funds — I can recommend both of these organizations as a good place to put it.

Ancient Aliens 2012 Doomsday Episode

Oh, my giddy aunt. The History Channel aired an episode of Ancient Aliens about the 2012 apocalypse. Finally, a guilty-pleasure fake-history pseudo-documentary episode that Spooky Man and I can watch together.

We’re going to have to record it, because we object verbally when people say preposterous/stupid things that are taken wildly out of context and presented as fact. There will be lots of Pause button use.

This is so much better than reality television.

Five Things that Make Me Smile

1. I went to shiny-new-author Amanda Bonilla’s first book signing on Friday the 13th of January. We’re members of the same RWA chapter, but it was the first time we’d met (she lives in the McCall area, which is more than an hour away by car). Looking forward to reading her debut novel, SHAEDES OF GRAY.

2. Stuart Does. Not. Like. snow, particularly snow that comes up to his chin or higher. He’s a relatively tall cat, so that’s fairly deep for snow in this area. He doesn’t mind being carried over the snow, however, and he rather likes being rewarded with kitty treats for bravery in the face of frozen water.

3. I am approximately halfway through my heavy edit/rewrite of “Open Mike at Club Bebop,” the novella rejected so helpfully by Carina Press. Target date for finishing it is end of January, when I’ll send it off to a couple of other publishers.

4. Spooky Man is having his deviated septum fixed January 27 (next Friday); after recovery, he’ll be able to breathe out of both sides of his nose for the first time since we met, more than 20 years ago. Looking forward to pampering him a little as he recovers. Well, and taking blackmail photos of his black eyes and bandaging.

5. I saw more urban wildlife recently; raccoons crossing the street again, but this time at 16th and Main St (near the Cabana Motel, which I understand has changed hands and no longer rents rooms by the hour). The little bandits weren’t using the crosswalk this time, though.

6. Bonus Round: Technology has been giving me all kinds of grief for the past two or three weeks; in the last three days I have resolved all the issues, from the source control server connection that would only connect intermittently (service pack 1 is evil, apparently) to the 30-day trial software that didn’t want to install correctly (finally got it running and the document I was supposed to edit was in German), to the font that wouldn’t install from a network drive (copied it to a local drive and it popped right into place).

A Real “As You Know, Bob…” Conversation

I was flipping through channels last night about 5 p.m.-ish and came across a PBS gardening program where two hosts were telling each other stuff they already knew about planting. The few seconds I saw were about paying attention to sun requirements, or what can happen when a sun-loving plant is stuck in full shade.

I thought, “Hey, they’re As-You-Know-Bob-ing” and flipped on, settling on HGTV with my microwaved entree (Spooky Man was napping and I hate cooking for one).

I’d never seen anyone actually do it with real people before. It made them both look completely stupid and a little bit psychotic, as if their two personal realities didn’t quite match…. And that’s why we don’t do that in our books, fellow writers.

In other news: furniture

Today, I bought good living room furniture. It was time. Besides, I had to.

Spooky Man is having his deviated septum fixed in a few weeks, and we’ve been sitting on an Early-Marriage Parental Hand-Me-Down sectional for 20 years. He needs something comfortable he can sleep on in a semi-sitting position while he heals.

So…new living room furniture, including a leather recliner, AKA “Papa’s Chair” (his term, my eye roll; I love him, but still….). I have two more pieces of Early Marriage furniture to replace (1970s “Spanish” style dresser and rickety dining room table/chairs), and then we’ll officially be grown-ups.

See, you know you’re a grown up when you own real estate, you have legal papers filed in a real filing cabinet, and you chose all your furniture because you liked it, not because it was free. Having your car paid off and money in the bank is bonus points. I’m (we’re) almost there.

Now, back to the redemption of the evil twin from Blade’s Edge.

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