Friday, October 21, 2016

Kitty Wars

Earlier in the week...

I had a strange mash-up dream involving Carleton College and Scooby-Doo.  I think.  Between Cicero tearing around the house, various cloud-bursts, and probably too much tea yesterday, I didn't sleep as soundly as I would have liked.

Cicero is being a typical kitten, I guess.  He's the only cat I've met who likes to chew on paper, and we're at the point where The Child could say, "The cat ate my homework" and it would be plausible.  Just this Tuesday morning, the wicked little Visigoth chewed the corner off of my copy of Fowler's "Modern English Usage."  

Unfortunately, this also means that he bounds up to Smokey, wraps both front paws around his neck, and gets into Smokey's face.  Or decides that Smokey's tail is a kitten toy.   Smokey's been extremely good natured about all this, but it means we can't leave them alone in the same room.  With the turn in the weather, Smokey shouldn't stay out, with the result that one or the other spends some time locked up in a bedroom.   Our latest strategy -- which Mark is better at that I am -- is to sequester Cicero in our room whenever he gets into Smokey's face.   Cicero seems to be responding to this conditioning... until he's wound up and wants to kitty-wrestle.

I think it will be easier wrangling them when we can let Cicero outside.  He has to finish his immunizations and then get fixed (during which he'll get chipped) and then Halloween has to be over.  We have let him go on supervised jaunts in our back yard; his barn kitten past comes to the fore, as he likes to spend lots of time under our deck.  And zoom in and out of the patio door.

Smokey has been handling this fairly well, but we're pretty sure he's been going over to the neighbors to stress feed.  

Wednesday Workout:  20 minutes on the elliptical for 205 calories.  3x12x70lbs on the pec fly.  3x12x80lbx on the lat pull-down.   2x8x10lbs oblique curls.  3x12x30lbs barbell curls.  3x12 hanging curls.  3x12x30lbs triceps pull-downs.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Workout Report

Sunday Workout:  Virtuously went to the gym Sunday morning.  35 minutes on the elliptical for 320 calories.  3x12x60lbs on the pec fly.  3x12x80lbx on the lat pull-down.   2x8x5lbs oblique curls.  3x12x30lbs barbell curls.  3x12 hanging curls.  Umm.. a bunch of 12.5lb curl-lift-overhead curls.

Mostly cloudy and rainy today.  The high winds and inches of rain didn't materialize, so most of the leaves are still on the neighborhood trees.  We have had a lot of rain, and some of the fallen leaves have clogged the street drains.  But no animals two-by-two yet.  

Friday, October 14, 2016

Storm Prep

The big news locally is that the first of several storm systems blew in last night (Thursday, Oct 13).  There was between a quarter and a half an inch of rain.  The house and the cats got through the night without any mishaps (aside from the garage screen door swinging into something, I think).  One of my friends lost electricity... I'm not sure where in town he lives, so I don't know how widespread the outage was.  The streets weren't too bad, maybe some extra leaves and occasional spots of small twigs.  Mark went for a quick walk this (Friday, Oct 14) morning, and said he say Orion.   As I'm typing this, it's partially cloudy, with the morning sun painting the eastern clouds yellow-orange.

That didn't prevent thunder and lightning later Friday afternoon.  I think our lights flickered once.

An even larger system is blowing in Saturday.  People are stocking up on basics, and I need to go into the store and get things like eggs and cat food (and bacon).  The weather-folks keep invoking the Columbus Day Storm of 1964.  If I remember some story research I did correctly, fifty years ago a huge system swept in, and the air pressure differential set up a kind of funnel effect that had damaging winds blowing through the entire valley.  This (Friday) morning, NOAA reported some places (I'm guessing the Astoria Tilamook area) on the Oregon coast saw winds of 100 mph Thursday night.  And two water-spouts turned into tornadoes on the coast.

Looking at the NOAA site earlier Saturday morning (Oct 15) it looks like Florence weather is hitting Corvallis, and Newport weather is sweeping over to Salem.  I think that means Eugene is getting North Bend weather.  It's hard to tell from the radar images, because they're based out of Portland, but it looks like Portland is getting hammered by the gulf stream.  I suppose if the storms' paths shift south, Eugene will get higher winds and more rain than we have been so far.

Working Out:  25 minutes on the elliptical for about 240 calories.  Jumped onto the rowing machine for five minutes and 50 calories.  3X13X60lb pec-flies.  3X12X80lb lat pull-downs.  3X8 oblique curls on some funny machine, followed by inclined sit-ups and back-curls, mostly to loosen up my lower lumbar.  3X13 hanging curls.   Mark was appreciative later on. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Goal Resets and Colds

I've been set back about a week by a stupid cold, which makes me grumpy.  So time sinks are extra frustrating at the moment.   I also want to do some crafts for Halloween (and Christmas).   I guess I'm going to have to re-set my writing goals.   On top of this, I've misfiled an important document (which I finally found last Saturday (four days ago) paper-cliped to the back of a critique of my dog story).

Yeserday (Oct 4), I went through the critiques from last Tuesday.  Although the ideas and locale of the story were insteresting I'd say that the story setting (30K above the surface of Venus) was enough out of focus that non-astronomers got really confused.   Once again the manuscript got squished between the Twin Towers of Tolkein Sclorisis and Not-Enough-Detail.   It's frustrating, because I don't want the story to be tropey, and I don't want to have to beat the reader over the head with an atlas of Venus.  

Turtleneck weather is back.  Today I put on my black turtleneck  and found my black (well, grey, now) scarf with silver threads and did what I call a Roman wrap around my neck.  The Child opined that I looked like Fred Jones from Scooby-Doo.  I added my black-with-purple highlights coat (which Mark says makes me look like an 80's lesbian).  

The cold kept me out of the gym for a bit.  I went last Monday (Oct 10).  Did the usual elipitcal, pec-fly, lat-pulldown, side-crunches, hanging curls thing.  

Thursday, October 06, 2016

If Eric Copland Wrote Star Trek Music

Right now I'm listening to music from an Original Series Star Trek episode that Eric Copland might have written.  So far we've had the good people have died opening, the bar fight scene, the majestic space-the-final-frontier moment, the pensive exposition, the beautiful girl's entrance, and a few mushy kissing scenes.  

At first The Child and I thought this was originally, "Grandma died of dysentery along the trail, but the rolling hills sure do make a majestic background for her gravesite, from which we will march, hand in hand, into the wilderness so that we might tame it" music.    Ooops, we're having another majestic voyage scene and possibly end-credits.   I'm waiting for Rocky at KWAX to tell us what we've been listening to, because it does sound like Copland, but it might be John Williams.  

And it's... Peter Boyer?  Symphony 1 (2012-13)?  Written in memory for Leonard Bernstein?   I might have to add it to my music to write by selection.

And now I'm imagining the the classic Star Trek fight music (da-da-daah, da-da-daah, da-da-daah daah daah daah daah da-da-daah daah) arranged for Copland's Rodeo.  

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Autmn Colds and the Three Body Problem

It's Autumn.  The leaves are falling and the rain has returned.  Last week I managed to catch the cold The Child caught from his school peers.  The fever dream I had was weird, and I should have written it down.  The cold adversely affected my sex life (cue the verse about being too tired from the song "Life in the Fast Lane"), with resulting oh-so-subtle dreams of making out in the front seat of a roller-coaster while it goes into a tunnel... and some not-so-subtle ones that I'll let folks imagine.

The difficulty with colds is that they reduce my attention span and make me feel stupid.  This makes it difficult to write or to read anything much above the level of Calvin and Hobbes.  During recovery, I did manage to rustle up enough brain power to finish up "The Three Body Problem."  I like the way that the author, Liu Cixin,  can explain scientific ideas.  Sometimes, I noticed blocks of exposition, and I'm on the fence about the use of flashbacks.  I think I'm not understanding his characters' motivations, which is most likely a cultural thing.  The book has a strong totalitarian/we're-doomed feel to it, and I'm wondering if that's a Chinese cultural thing similar to the British cultural "life's-a-bitch-and-then-you-die" theme, or the American cultural "plucky-nerd-saves-the-world-and-is-sexually-fulfilled" theme.   I need to read Mr. Liu's afterward again, because he confesses to being awestruck by science, astrophysics, and math--and I'm only tangentially seeing his wonder in this novel.

Monday night, David Brin visited the Wordos in Eugene.  He's very entertaining and interesting.  Among the many topics he here was a brief discussion about aliens.  Afterward I was thinking that in some ways Liu Cixin's Trisolarian aliens are a return to Gort and Klaatu, with the theme that humanity is collectively unfit to manage itself (and collaterally, life on earth).  I prefer E.T. aliens... or, actually Vulcans.  Hmm.  Or Wookies.  Or Minbari.   Darn, looks like everybody wants prosthetic foreheads for their real heads. 

Saturday, October 01, 2016

OH !

I work at the University of Oregon.  Parking is luck of the draw here; drivers have a choice of paying lots of money for a reserved stall in a lot, or paying lots of money for a "hunting license" that comes with the privilege of circling through lots trying to find an empty stall.  Usually, the empty stall is sandwiched between two SUVs that are barely able to fit within the stall boundaries.  The signal to parking staff that you shouldn't be towed is a plastic dangling permit one hangs from the car's rear view window.

Last year's dangler featured the school's mascot, Puddles the Duck, holding up a white sign where an expiration sticker could be attached.  This year's dangler prominently features two gloved hands making the international sign language sign for vagina, otherwise known as the sports teams' "O."  Incoming comrades -- er, students -- are taught how to pose for pictures with their thumbs and fingers joined into a giant O.  The gloved O-making hands on the dangler have a yellow highlight on them to make the O more visible, and the remaining fabric appears to be some kind of black and white bar code pattern. 

So, in order to park, I have to hang what looks like a yellow vagina surrounded by a bar code tattoo from my rear view window.  I suppose it's subversive... but it really feels like I've become an advertising tool for an athletics business that comes up with phrases like "I love my ducks" and "duck-alicious."  

I suppose this is some sort of competition with the Oregon State University mascot, which is Benny the Beaver.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Cats and Parking

Week of 9/19 -- The Cats:  Mr. C is being a bit of a punk lately.  His favorite thing to do when we're sleeping is to attack body parts under the covers.  It's not so bad when he's going for our feet, because there are too many covers for him to actually chew on us.  However, the other night he decided that my earlobe must be a kitty toy, and some time last night he managed to scratch my butt.   I'd forgotten kittens go through many moment of vorpal insanity.

Smokey is putting up with living with a kitten relatively well, but doesn't exactly help matters by running through the living room from the front door to the back door at full speed -- which only encourages Mr. C to chase him.  I'm grateful that Smokey hasn't held down Mr. C with one paw (which he could easily do), but I do wish a little he'd stand his ground.  Maybe this is some complicated cat game, but I don't think so. 

School at the university starts soon.  Accordingly, someone has parked in a stall they shouldn't and now a tow truck is next to me setting off a Honda's car alarm as they pull it away.  I never realized how quickly a tow truck attendant could get into a car to release the parking break (I'm assuming the car was locked).  Parking here is always a pain; they don't give folks assigned stalls, they give them a hunting license.  

Writing:  I'm closing in on the ending of a Venus short story and should have the manuscript Wordos-ready by this afternoon.  Then it's on to the second Venus short story which is about 2/3rds written.

Working Out:  Went to the gym Wednesday afternoon.  22 minutes and 220 calories on the eliptical (with story critiquing); 3X12X60lbs on the pec fly; 3X12X80lbs on the lat pull-down; 3X12 hanging curl-ups; 3X8 oblique side-curls; and 12 combo curlup-overhead-reverse-tricep curl thing before I had to leave and get ready to deliver The Child to piano practice. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Circle: Enclave or Statis

I had an e-mail exchange with high school friend, the Reverend Amy Beltaine.  We were talking about the latest gender politics thing, which has been going on for at lest twenty years, and I wrote:  "I think it's useful to think of enclave vs. exclusion.    Holding space in enclave with like-people make it easier to process certain things.   Holding space in exclusion of others is a form of using gatherings as a weapon."

Amy asked to attribute me, and the next thing I know, there's a link in her missive to my blog.  Which currently is about cats and shoulder-bags.  And writing and my not-frequent-enough gym visitations.  

"Oooh, gotta fix that," I thought... although (looks at blog statistics from last week) it's probably a little late for that now.  

The idea comes from a series of thoughts on group dynamics that I formulated back in 1995 at Arcosanti.  I was working with a series of symbols, and circle was one of them.  The NeoPagan ritual circle of protection was the starting point for one train of thought.  In its positive manifestation, the circle allows for an enclave and focus of people with similar experiences, desires, or goals to work together and process.   In its negative manifestation, the circle is an excluding boundary that can lead to homogeneity and stasis.  The challenge that circle lays before us is to become conscious of all of the boundaries in our lives so that we can dynamically balance safety and focus against discrimination and moribundity.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The New Bag

I have a new bag.  My previous man purse broke where the strap attaches to the bag, and there wasn't an easy way to fix it.  I really liked the man purse because it had a lot of pockets, and it was great for traveling.  I tried using it as a soft briefcase, but not having the shoulder strap was problematic, especially when I was in the men's room and there wasn't a good place to hook it off of the ground.

I looked around on the web to try to find an ergonomic currier bag--the other down side of the man purse was that it may have been giving me scoliosis, especially when I loaded it up with manuscripts.  And stuff.  What web-surfing taught me was that if I wanted a more comfortable bag, I was going to have to spend some bucks for it, and I probably wanted to have the bag in my hands and try it out before laying down cash.   One bag I wanted was available in REI... in Portland.  

I'd consigned myself to lugging around my man-purse for a few more weeks when I chanced by some nicely ergonomic bags in the local UO Bookstore.  The new bag is slimmer, so I'll be less likely to through my back out lugging two tons of writer's schlock.  It doesn't exactly have a waist strap, but it does have a strap arrangement that distributes weight more evenly across my back, shoulders and hips.   Probably the biggest feature is that the inside is bright orange, instead of black--so I'll be less likely to lose my black wallet, black folders, and keys.

The tricky things about my new bag is that it only wants to be worn one way:  over my left shoulder.  I haven't yet got into the habit of putting it on without having to mentally rotate it in three dimensions so I know which arm to raise and which arm to hoist it over my head.  I also have to figure out a system of which interior pockets to use--until then I feel like I'm doing a calculus problem whenever I put something into or search for something to take out of the bag.  

I've already comfortably toted it on a twenty-block walk, and I'm looking forward to years ahead.

Yesterday I had a headache for most of the day, which put a crimp on writing and going to the gym.  Mark blames my Sunday writing spree; I'm not sure it isn't a glasses thing or a sinus thing; Medicinal Mexi-coke seemed to help, and Mark lectured me that there's no such thing as Medicinal Mexi-coke.  I said there was, because it (and the two ibuprofens I took) sure seemed to help.  Mark countered that my headache probably went away because I went outside and walked to the store...

Writing:  Racing against the clock to finish a 5500 word story to turn in tonight.  Alas, the clock won.  This sort of means I need to turn in two stories next week if I want to meet my goal. 

Working Out:  Missed working out Monday.  Spent Tuesday afternoon writing, finalizing critiques, and going to Wordos.  Will aim for Wednesday afternoon. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Mostly Cats

Cat Update:  We have two cats:  Smokey, who is about 8 years old; and a newly acquired kitten, Mister Cicero Artemis Fowl Wiggles (Mr. C or Cicero for short), born May 15, 2015.   Smokey is a 17 pound long hair something-or-other.  Mc. C is a black tabby-Siamese mix.  

We thought they'd be best of friends, but Smokey is not exactly pleased that there is a new black ball of energy that really really wants to play-play-play with him.  Accordingly, Smokey has decided that he's only going to come into the house to eat.  We've been letting him be a mostly outside cat, but after I found some scratches on his right jaw and shoulder, I've decided that sleeping outside at night isn't an option.   We're hoping Smokey will become as friendly with him as he is with the other neighborhood cats.  

Cicero is a typical kitten, super-cute one moment and a vorpal terror the next.  Luckily, both laser pointers and leaded crystal rainbows are infinitely mesmerizing.  Which comes in handy when he would like to play with Smokey while Smokey is trying to eat (and furtively glancing at all the exits). 

Probably the most annoying for Smokey is the fact that Cicero sleeps in our bedroom.  Occasionally, either Mark or I will sleep on the couch and keep Smokey company.  I think he would sleep with The Child, except that one of The Child's nicknames is "Captain Gyroscope" because of the way he thrashes around when he sleeps.   

Working Out:  Went to the gym Wednesday.  I've decided that the elliptical makes the balls of my feet hurt when I do more than 20 straight minutes on it, which is bothersome because I like getting a 300 calorie run in on it, which requires 30 minutes.  Did typical pec-fly, lat-pulldown, hanging crunches, free weight stuff.  

Writing:  Between Mark and the cats, I managed to actually get out of bed at 5:45 and was writing for a hour this (Friday) morning.

More Working Out:  Went to the gym Saturday. 20-some minutes on the elliptical for 200 some calories.  3x13x60lbs pec-fly; 3X13X70lbs lat-pulldown; 3X12 hanging crunches; 3X8X5lbs oblique crunches (extra points for not laughing too hard as the gym played "Stairway to Heaven"), plus a few back-curl things to loosen up my lower lumbar spine.  3X12X30lbs barbell curls.  

More Writing:  Met with some writing friends Saturday and discussed using a solitaire card game as a simple plot generator.  Managed to get in about 1400 words on a Venus sci-fi short story Sunday (Mark and The Child went on an eight-hour hike).  I need to wrap it up, as the goal is to present it to the Wordos for critique this Tuesday.

It rained Sunday, which was refreshing.  Despite the rain, the day was warm enough to have all the windows open, which allowed the rain-scented wind to gust through the house.  If I close my eyes, I can imagine I'm in one of those circular Greek temples...

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Writing Plans for the Quarter

I should be writing down my dreams... I had some sort of adventure dream involving a dove and flying and some Freudian bits, but that's all I can remember about it.

Got a critique back from the Wordos last Tuesday night; the ending of the manuscript was rough, and I got the expected critiques about it.  I was surprised that there was some character confusion about who was a human and who was not  at the beginning, and I'll have to go in and clear that up.   A lot of the characters were talking, dactyl dogs, and there was enough confusion about paws or hands and how did they do X that I should go back and see how C.S. Lewis has mice swinging swords.

My goal for this quarter is to try to submit something every week; I have enough partially completed manuscripts piled up that I should be able to do it.  There are 14 more meetings until Jan 1.  Take out two for the Halloween and Christmas readings, and another for Thanksgiving, and I'll say that I've met my goal if I can pass 11 manuscripts between now and then.  Ideally, I'd want at least six to be new to the table.    

Now... about those manuscript submissions... 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Weekend Report

Weekend Report-- Saturday Mark and The Child went on a hiking trip, and I wrote.  Except it was more like an editing session.  Punctuated with the kitten attacking my clothing, hands, and feet.  And other interruptions.

In the evening, I went to go see a theatre in the park production of "Pon Farr, The Musical."  I got there a little late, and missed the opening act, which was my writing friend, Sarina, dancing as a green Orion slave girl.  The show was pretty much the original script with musical numbers added.  

Sunday was a cleaning day.   Although I did have to get rid of a few old literary magazines that I had for research but to which I've yet to submit, it's become apparent that I've reached the limit of the shelves.  Normally, the solution would be to put up more shelves, but I'll need to negotiate that with Mark.

I also checked out some books on The Coliseum for The Child (he's got a project on ancient architecture).  I thought it would be cool to learn more about the Coliseum, but I hadn't quite remembered the gruesome details of its history.  The engineering and the ingenuity put to gross means... I want to say "Those Sick Romans," but given things like reality TV, "The Hunger Games," this year's presidential election, and internet clickbait,  I'm confronted with the enduring nature of humanity's ... I don't know--schadenfreude ? sadism?  distractability? 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Before September Ides

It seems like September is running swiftly through the year; I can't believe it's already a third of the way through.  The mornings have become cool again, in the 50s, and the leaves are yellowing their way to orange and brown.  Last week we had some rainy days, but the next few days are supposed to be sunny and in the 80's.

I"m looking forward to the cooler weather (and the rain), and I'm hoping the coming grey days are punctuated with some moments of light.  

Working Out:  I went to the gym Wednesday evening.  I hadn't been in about two weeks.  When I stepped on the gym's scale, I saw that I had gained about two pounds (probably from a combination of daily Mexicokes and cookies over the writing retreat).  30 minutes and 300 calories on the elliptical.  I did about 5 minutes and 50 calories on the rowing machine, the wheel of which felt sticky.  Downstairs I eased into pec flies, lat pulldowns, and tricep pull-downs.  I did some other light free-weight work.   Mark said appreciative things later, so I guess I didn't completely blimp out.  

The other benefit of working out was that it losened up my back enough for whatever problem I had to sort of click back into place.  At least, that's what it felt like when I sort of clicked back into place.  I'm not sure if I should be worried about clicking bits or not... apparently, in addition to the one around my lower lumbar, I've got one either in my sternum or my trapezoids -- I can't tell where, except that sometimes when I lie on my side after a workout, a very deep breath followed by a total exhalation will result in a click as I let all my breath out.  

Writing:  I need to work on getting stories into the mail.  I'm currently working on a Venus short story; I've got two in the works, and I'm focusing on the one that's a little more hard science fiction before turning to the one that's a little more science-fantasy.  The sci-fi one feels just a little like a CJ Cherrh story, and the science-fantasy more like Tanneth Lee or maybe  Patricia C Wrede.   Now that The Child is back in school, the day's a little more cut-up between various pick-ups and drop-offs.  Insert Time Management Laments here. 

I was talking with some co-workers, and one expressed a strong visceral aversion to Harry Potter.  I'm not sure that I followed, but I gathered that transformative objects were weird and aggressive, and somehow transgressed rules of how things ought to be.  Cogsworth from "Beauty and the Beast" was okay, I think because he was a cute cartoon; me anthropormorphising computers was OK because it was just me talking, and the computer didn't actually spring to dancing life.  The conversation then touched on who liked Star Wars and Star Trek and who didn't.  It was fascinating, and I didn't get a chance to ask her what she did like to read.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Getting Back into the Groove...

Just got a story rejection, so that's foremost in my mind.  It's a quirky story, and I suppose that makes it a hard sell.  I think it's funny, which also makes it a hard sell.  Ah well.

Over Labor Day Weekend, I cleared out the Writing Closet -- except for the file cabinet -- so that The Child has a place to actually hang his clothing.  He opted to leave the three-foot-square desktop I installed on the south end and has been listening to Harry Potter on CD.   Last I checked there were a few items hanging on the clothes rack.  

As a result of being evicted from the Former Writing Closet, there are a few stacks of books and magazines that haven't quite found a proper home yet.  The spare computer parts that have accumulated over the last decade will be spirited away some time this week to Next Step Computer Recycling.

I returned to the Wordos last night after a month's hiatus.  We're coming out of the summer slump, so there were only two stories to critique.  Afterward, there was a discussion at Turtles about writing screenplays, movie scripts in general, and then we got onto politics and minority identities a bit.  It was a good conversation it was the sort of thing I need to have more of in my life.

Tuesday morning I managed to get about an hour's worth of editing in.  Wednesday morning wasn't as productive, as a result of a combination of getting in late, kitty wrangling, and The Child's CD player un-pausing itself with Harry Potter at the stroke of Midnight.... but I did manage to upload manuscripts for critique and get in about fifteen minutes of editing on one of last week's Venus stories.