Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Dream of Bagpipe Hookahs

The other night I had a long, involved dream.  I waited too long to try to recall it, so some of the details were lost.   There was something about programming e-mail filters... There was a thirty-something woman in a flouncy, silver mini-skirt and boots; think space-aged swimming pool majorette.  I don't recall exactly how, but she was organizing a ritual dance.

The best part of the dream was when I joined the circle dance, spinning clockwise, and I was playing a cross between a bag-pipe and a hookah.  At least, that's the best way to describe it -- it might have been an over-the-shoulder rhyton or didgery-doo that I was blowing inscence out of.  I danced in a press of others in the ring, trailing frankincense or myrrh, while a deep note resonated through my body and rippled beyond me, through the dance, and farther.  I had the strongest sensation that I was singing and playing the instrument at the same time, and that I'd hit a cosmic resonance which vibrated the entire dream.

I woke up feeling connected.  I think some of the dream may have come from eating blue cheese the evening before.

When I told Mark, he said that turning a bagpipe into a water-pipe was the best use of the instrument that he could think of.  In reply, I started to sing, "Tell a bagpipe smoking caterpillar..."

Friday, December 09, 2016

Weather Report

Yesterday we had our first post-Halloween ice storm.  Luckily, it wasn't too bad, so the trees didn't lose too many branches and the roads weren't a skating rink.  The public schools closed... I think they could have started with a two-hour delay and been fine.

The evening's funny moment was a musical one.  I put together some season music, and when Maddy Prior sang the chorus of The Boar's Head -- "caput apri defero reddens laudes domino" -- The Child heard something like: "caput apri defero schadenfreude domino."

Working Out:  Went to the gym Wednesday.  200 calories on the elliptical with a ramp setting that worked my whole leg instead of the usual glutes and quads.  I think this helped to loosen up my lower back, which has been feeling as if it were being poked by a branch for the last week.  Downstairs I did 3X13 suspended crunches and a few light triceps curls.  

Writing has slowed to almost a stop.  . . . partially because sitting is uncomfortable and partially because I've been unmotivated to write.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Advent Post

Crazy dreams lately.  I'm blaming the Tiger Balm I've been rubbing on my back.  The most amusing one involved the local bookstore diversifying into a cannabis distribution center.  

On the writing front, I jotted down some long-hand ideas for the Wordos Holiday reading coming up in about ten days.  We're all going to try to write on the same theme; in the past the themes have diversified into a swarm of ideas.  I've also made a flash submission to a market; I'm trying something different with the flash piece and I'll be interested to see how far it gets through the submission process.

Mark's away on a business trip.  I'm hoping that he gets back before the predicted Winter Storm hits so he doesn't have to travel on slippery roads surrounded by Oregonians who don't know how to drive in snow and ice.

I've been easing in to the Christmas season with a stray carol here or there.  I tend to like old-style carols with krumhorns, boy sopranos, Latin verses, finger cymbals, Maddie Prior, bag-pipes, and Annie Lennox.   This isn't Mark's favorite combination, which makes the easing into things easier.

No gym visits; I keep waiting for my sore bits to stop feeling so sore and they aren't obliging.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Friday With Tiptree

This is my, typing in the parking lot.

Friday was the Tiptree Symposium, but the organizers moved the schedule up a day, and all the interesting panels happened when I work.  Unfortunately, work is really busy at the moment, and I couldn't justify taking the day off.  It's also early-release Friday at The Child's school, which also puts a crimp in things.  

I had consigned myself to being a shrewish house-frau and re-reading old notes from previous Tiptree Symposia when I got an e-mail from JS inviting a bunch of Wordos to join him at a Tiptree reception.   So I did, and had a pleasant evening listening to other local authors talk about what they did.  Probably the most interesting stories were about running a hot-spring resort, how being naked simplified certain social interactions, and having to speak with the local sheriff with no clothing on.  

And now, onto the flash fiction I'm working on... which I should send out.

Working out:  I've pulled something, so I did not go to the gym over the weekend.  I may do an elliptical run Monday afternoon to try to loosen things up.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Pre December Musings

Went to the gym Monday night:  About 250 calories on the elliptical.  3x13x60lbs on the pec fly.  3x13x80lbs on the lat pulldown.  2x8x10lbs side crunches.  3x12x40lbs barbell curls.  I did five reps on the triceps pulldown at 5, 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 lbs.

I'm in a spin about what sorts of craft to make for the holidays.  I'm under the impression (from Mark) that the paper cutouts, while neat, are essentially holiday clutter that the recipients don't know what to do with.  I suppose I could do wood things... but that just shifts paper clutter to plywood clutter.   I thought about making little plastic toys, which might go over well, but that means I need to get cracking and design something to put together in about three weeks.

On the writing front... Oh yeah; writing.  Stories have been rejected, so I need to get them back in the submission piles.  I'm currently working on a short list-story that's probably more therapeutic than anything.  The trick will be making the list have some narrative tension.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Gay Pride Dreams

Cicero  the kitten was sleeping with his paws in my face, which I'm thinking gave me so much recall -- however, the order and sequence is really disjointed...

I went to a kind of wooded dormitory where I met a 20-something woman who was going to teach me meditation and psychic techniques.   The structure was fairly well lit, and wooden, with lots of towels and blankets hanging everywhere.  We had to keep moving around because the place was chaotic with other residents' activity.   The setting didn't become Arcosanti, although I have the feeling it could have; instead it mostly was a large communal dormitory or fraternity house.

We started out in a black-and-white tiled kitchen, but then someone started dancing; there was an argument about where one could dance and we moved to a sleeping hall.  There was another man and possibly another teacher.  At one point, as I sat meditating and staring at the woman, a blue cube of light appeared around her head, and then her head disappeared (sort of like when you stare at something long enough and your eye gets tired and everything fades to a grey).

There was a kind of music video tribute to Eugene.  There was a group of us, I think Jai L was there.  The music was like "We Are the World," but the lyrics were about how moldy, and muddy the place is.  There was a scene where we were all running through muddy pine fields in a downpour.  And the song moved on to eco-hippies or something.... probably involving pedestrians stepping out into traffic and cyclists running stop signs.

Mark and I kept meeting gay couple friends and relations.  I think we were meeting them at an amalgum of our parents' houses.  There was a party going on, and I remember mixing drinks and putting together hors d'oeuvres.  At one point, we were climbing over city building roofs and avoiding security cameras.

I ended up with a group in a Judy Garland style farm yard.  George Takei was there.  I was standing next to a stand of corn, working a wisteria vine (or else a thick bind-weed) out of the corn stalks.  The vine was hairy and velcro-like, and it kept wanting to twist back up into the stalks.  I managed to get the majority of the vine out.

I looked up into the sky, and a rainbow was forming.  The colors became more saturated and a faint double rainbow appeared inside.  It was shining, almost a full circle in the sky.  I felt myself lifting and my toes dragged along the dusty ground.  I might have said something to the crowd with George Takei, and then I was flying low over the ground under a triple rainbow.

I flew into a pine or fir forrest, and I caught glimpses of the rainbow circle through the boughs.  A Jean-Micheal Jarre siren song, undulating between two piercing notes, echoed through the trees, and I rose higher into the growing green.

I've left out the id-driven bits.  Which were fun.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Post Thanksgiving

Working Out:  Went to the gym Saturday.  25 minutes and 250 calories on the elliptical.  3x12x60lbs on the pec fly.  3x13x70lbs on the lat pulldown.  3x12x10lbs side crunches.  3x12x35lb barbell curls; I should see if I can level up to 40 lbs.  3x12 hanging curls.

Helped my folks clean their house for the Thanksgiving celebration.   My my sister's family and my mother's sister's family came for dinner.  The Child and I stayed over night to help my folks with their monster artificial Christmas tree.

Back home, we'll resist Winter Holiday decorating for a few more weeks.  In my head, December 12 is about when I want to decorate.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Other Side of Stress

I'm still stressed out a little by the election.  On one hand it's still the same America (it's just that folks on the right came out to vote more than folks on the left).  On the other hand, OMG it's a bunch of phobic white supremacist.   On the other hand, there's lots of republicans and democrats and the ACLU and the CSPLC and the cast of Hamilton standing up and saying, "protect all Americans."  And back on the other hand OMG it's a fascist autocrat; believe his threats -- your institutions cannot save you.  And back on the first hand there's the right-leaning Archdruid saying, "calm down, just because we voted for jobs and an appeal of the Affordable Care Act doesn't mean we're jack-booted brown-shirts and KKK members."  And then back on the other hand, the transition team and the future of SCOTUS.

Still, I'm catching myself exhaling a little less than last week.

Spent the weekend not scrolling through Facebook, playing with Blender, making (and eating) chocolate chip cookies,  and reading "Startide Rising."   This week I need to donate to the ACLU and contact my representatives.  (Note to self: make a web page with contact info so you only have to look it up once...)

The Child's Kung-Fu place has a new exercise that seems good for grounding a centering; it's called "climbing the mountain," I think.  The first time the class did it I felt the energy of the room move down. I've decided that it will be a good thing for The Child and me to do for a few minutes in the morning.

Working Out:  Went to the gym Tuesday (and also last Thursday).  150 calories on the elliptical, 3x12x60lbs on the pec flies, 3x12x70lbs on the lat pull-down, 3x10x10lb side-crunches, 3x12 hanging curl-ups, 3x12x30lb barbell curls.    I've been trying to do five push-ups (at least) on days I don't go to the gym to try to keep my muscle tone up.

Writing:  Received a short story rejection (Wednesday) and another one last week.  Wheee!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Post Election Meditation

The last few days I've been taking a moment to imagine myself before the Door of the Day and asking myself four questions:

When you find a problem you can fix, will you fix it?
When you find a failure that deserves a second chance, will you grant it?
Severity ungrounded in Mercy leads to destruction; will you be a sower of discord?
Mercy ungrounded in Severity leads to chaos; will you be a permitter of evil?

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Post 2016 Elections

I'm discouraged by the election results.  I keep repeating to myself "it's never as bad as we feared and it's never a good as we hoped."  And I'm thankful I'm a gay man living in a liberal city in a liberal county in a liberal state (at least the western part of the state, that is).

Writing:  Submitted three stories last Saturday; received a rejection this Friday morning.  While it's not completely unexpected, I had hoped that the particular story was a better fit with the market's feel (the editor told me it wasn't).

Working out:  Went to the gym Monday and did stuff.

Cicero continues to want to be aggressive toward Smokey.  It's a pain, because we have to shut one or the other of them into a room to keep them segregated.  The cats' uneasy relationship seems to be a metaphor for so many things.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Election Nail Biting

Click the map to create your own at
Whew. I've cast my ballot in Oregon's mail-in voting system.  ... and I'm still a little stressed out by this year's election.  It's probably not the best idea, but I'm leaving this links here so I can find them more easily and just look at them once in the morning or something.

NYT Upshot: 


Princeton Election Consortium Electoral Map:

Real Clear Politics:

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Halloween Decorations

I love Halloween. And I love carving little pumpkins.
This year we finally found the perfect spot for the string of skeleton lights: the mantle.  In previous years we've hung them over the front or back windows, where they haven't been as effective.  They need to be next to a background, not hanging next to glass.
The little pumpkins strung up out front.
A spooky picture of Smokey.  Usually he looks much more laid-back.  I think he was annoyed that the camera was interrupting his nap.
Mark found the firework "flashers" from the Fourth of July, so we'll probably put those inside these guys on Halloween night.  Maybe I'll soak some newspaper in isopropyl alcohol and....

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Pre Halloween

The Wordos Halloween Reading was last Tuesday.  It was a lot of fun; folks are encouraged to write 1000 word stories and then read them aloud.  Usually there's a really funny story, a really powerful story, and a really creepy story.  This time around, we had less funny and more powerful and creepy.   I wrote a kind of ghost story set on Venus which was received well.

Halloween has come to our house:  the long table is in the window with pumpkins, the haunted carousel, skulls and the gargoyle on it.  Cicero the black kitten also likes sitting on the table; if there wasn't a fear of him dashing out the front door when Trick-or-Treaters visit, I'd keep him there Halloween night.  Mark prefers decorating for Christmas, but The Child and I are into it.

On a different front, I've been using an iPad for about four years, and it's too old to take the latest iOS update, which means that it's vulnerable to the latest JPEG security flaw that was uncovered a few days ago.  I've been looking around for news, but everything I'm seeing indicates that iOS 10.2 is the only fix for the problem.    I suppose this means that I'll have to uninstall various applications that could display malicious JPEGS (Facebook, Safari, Pinterest, Twitter, e-mail, )  On one hand, that means that I could leave the blog app, SimpleNote, and Scrivener and probably boost my productivity.  On the other hand, arg... my iPad is not _that_ old.  

Working Out:  Went to the gym Saturday (Oct 29).  30 minutes and 300 calories on the elliptical.  3x12x60 on the pec fly (my right shoulder's been bugging me and I figured I should try a lighter weight).  3x12x70 on the lat pulldown.  3x12 hanging curls.  3x12x35lbs with barbell curls.  My back has also been bothering me, so I did some random situp type things on a yoga ball.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Weekend Report

My weekend report got deleted ... so I'm experimenting with other tools. I'm curious how this post will be formatted [edit: well, the line returns didn't go through, so all the paragraphs got mushed together].

Friday was electronics-free reading night at our house. I'm finishing up Foundation's Fear. Saturday was visit with the folks in Corvallis day: We played "Sushi Go!" a card game with rotating hands, with my sister and niece; later we visited my folks and caught up with them. Sunday The Child and I put up the Halloween Decor; Mark helped clean because he's not as into the holiday as we are. 

Working Out: Sunday I went to the gym. 20 minutes and 210 calories on the elliptical. 5 minutes and 50 calories on the rowing machine. 3x12x70 lbs on the pec fly. 3x12x80 lbs on the lat-pulldown. 3x12 hanging curls. 3x12x35 lbx with barbell curls. 2x8x10 lbx oblique curls. 3x12x20 lbs triceps curls.

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.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Retreat Write-Up

I'm back from my writing retreat at McKenzie Bridge.  I stayed in a rental cabin on a piece of land right on the river.


 I spent most of my days writing from here.  Mostly I was sitting, but the table was the right height for typing while standing, too.  The idea was to write for about fifty minutes and take a fifteen minute break, during which I'd heft free-weights, do some planking, and brew more tea.    In reality, this tended to play out write for about fourty-five minutes and take a twenty minute break snacking on snacks and catching up on FaceBook.  The first days, I would go look at the river.  The last days, I started doing a  four-block power-walk, especially if I felt I was falling asleep.

I worked on two manuscripts, and wrote about 3500 and 3800 words, writing roughly 1900 words a day.  Both stories were set on Venus; my goal was to work on a series of Venus stories.  I thought I might be able to submit to a contest with the concept of darkness, but the first story's use of darkness was a stretch and it turned into something else.

So I brainstormed another story, catching myself from writing another disqualifying story by framing it as a children's fairy-tale.

Sleeping there took a little bit of practice

Getting a good night's sleep continued to be a challenge.

The second day wasn't as productive as I would have liked, because I had a mild migraine (luckily, I managed to get some pain-killers when shadow flashing started and headed the worst of it off).

By day four, I was drinking too much caffeine (both tea and MexiCokes), which was giving me a slight case of heartburn.  While I made a lot of progress on two manuscripts, I ended up not finishing either.

Um, on one hand, this isn't good; at Writer's of the Future I pushed out a passable first draft of a story in twenty-four hours.  On the other hand, I changed boats mid-stream, opting from writing braided stories on Venus to writing a short story set on Venus that would also qualify as a contest entry.  But it did allow me to explore the setting.

Driving home, Thursday evening, I realized my lower back hurt.  I'm not sure what I did, but it's still aching Monday afternoon.
I think if I had to do this again, I'd go with one or two other writers so that I'd be more likely to stay on a writing schedule and so that I wouldn't be so freaked out by odd noises at night (and sleep better).  I'd also hope that doing something like this with others might prompt me to plan meals a little better (I did bring and eat salad greens, but I think I also snacked too much on almonds, chocolate cookies and craisins because I looked flabby when I got home).  I'd be more careful about setting up my workstation (in this case, an iPad on an easel) ergonomically to cut down on head-, shoulder- and backaches.  I would have also brought more robust musical sources, because the every now and then the white noise of the river and the rustling of the trees and the moonless nights would become oppressive.

Looking at the numbers, I managed about 1300 words a day, usually in about 5 sessions.  A good session was about 500 words in an our, but more likely I'd get about 300.  The second day was not a stellar writing day, mostly because I realized I should take a nap to prevent the headache from developing.   I hit a circadian rhythm; and I'm coming to the conclusion that as I've aged, it's getting harder and harder to want to nap at 2 PM.

Bringing this forward, I see that the windows of time I have between The Daye Jobbe and Shuttling the Childe happens to be during the time of day when I most want to fall asleep.  This suggests that I should do one of several things:

A) Get up 4:30 AM, write from 5 AM to 7 AM, and then do things that don't require creative energy in the early afternoon.

B) Make arrangements with The Daye Jobbe to shift my hours back so that I can write as soon as I drop The Childe off at school.  (Which id difficult with that pesky early-release day).

C) Elect to write at night, from 9AM to 11 AM, getting up at 7 AM.

D) See about shifting the circadian rhythm so I don't nap; or else embrace it and plan for a cat-nap

The other area of improvement is I need to write more every day so that my hourly word-count is higher.  I've gotten rusty, both at letting the words flow out, and also at switching off the inner editor/censor.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Writing Retreat Dreams

I'm at the beginning of day three of a four day writing retreat.  It's just me in a rental at McKenzie Bridge.  My writing output is okay, but my story is stalling:  I'm working on stories set on Venus, and I want to submit one to a particular market with the theme of "darkness" ... only that's not what's coming out.  

So I go to sleep hoping for dream stories I can write.  What do I get?   

+ Dreams about farting, and identifying the farter.

+ a segment where a talking cat repeats my sister-in-law Maria saying, "Oh my Gawd.  Dat's disGUISTing." in a gravelly voice.  It was like a parot, and the cat was repeating a much longer dialog along the lines of somebody telling Maria something like going to the beauty salon to have armpit hairs plucked.  All of this is coming out of a cat that's sitting on a chair grooming itself.  Everyone is listening, and when the cat says, "Oh my Gawd," they almost fall over trying not to laugh because they know "Dat's disGUISTing" is coming next.

+  Really large wasps coming out of a pear I was eating, and who now think I'm some kind of pear because I've got pear juice on my hands or something.  Batting them away as they strafe me isn't very effective.

+ Mark has rearranged the kitchen -- moving the sink, the stove, and adding a new sink.  This was somehow related to the wasps and pears and I was trying to clean something up and I used the sink that wasn't connected to a pipe and so the water came out on the floor.

+ A roving band of folks fund-raising for The Child's school appeared to make funding pitch.  It's like a progressive cocktail party with kids.  While a Committee Mom is telling me about the benefits of Montesouri, her two kids have turned a hose on and are spraying some of Mark's watercolor and oil paintings on the wall.  
"Whoa, whoa!  They need to stop that," I say.
Other parents with cocktails and kids continue to hold a party in my house.
"Oh, but isn't it interesting how they're learning about art?" Committee Mom says.
There's some more, but sensing the social ackwardness, the fund-raisers leave.

+ Something about stray pets and owners and a floating cat head. 

+ Evil crime-lord children with giant lego guitines.  I think there was something about "paying someone back" and union-busting New York sewer workers.

+ Finding myself in Central Park as Burt Ward playing Dick Greyson watching Caesar Romaro as The Joker -- the Clown Prince of Crime, dressed in a white tail coat jacket with thin puprle pin-stripes, joins some little girls in a game of jump rope and leads the kids in a new counting chant about wanting to see Batman's underwear.  All the kids join in; all the Gotham parents are hapless.  Since I can't reveal my secret identity and punch the Joker, I try to derail the song by shouting, "Batman already wears his underwear on the outside!"  The song changes from "show us your underwear" to "show us your wiener and balls."

I wake up with the chant "wiener and balls" fading as gentle chimes of the iPad wake me.  Should  I phone home ? --  the last two segments were obviously something The Child would dream, so maybe he dreampt about my stories set on Venus?

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Stop Action Experiment

Mostly an experiment with stop-action.  This is a variation on the "John Is Writing" game.

..or it would be if the movie part loaded correctly.  Oh well.

Friday, August 19, 2016

August Utility Post

Whew. Utility post.

Writing: I've wrapped up a short story and I'm letting it sit for a few days before I do a final edit for stupid things. I've been looking at past edits on other manuscripts. My goal for the next few months is to always have ten, ideally twenty, items in the mail at one time. My writing retreat is coming up. Due to some life roles, I'm going to focus on writing short stories set in the same science fiction future Venus. Who knows, it might turn into a novel. The goal is to have a long stretch of intensive writing.

 We're getting a new kitten. We've been thinking that Smokey might like some company in the house. I imagine there will be many kitten posts in my future.

Working out:  I've been going, and I need to go more.

Weather:  It's supposed to be 100F today.  Bleah.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Latest Inkscape Art

Here's the latest design I've been working on.  If I were the sort of person that got tattooed, I might get this.  I might make it a T-shirt design. If I'm feeling extra creative, I might try flipping it so that the snake's head is at the bottom of the triangular knot, which might give the design a little more dynamism.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Summer Performances

The other Friday (July 29)  The Child and I went to hear Weird Al at the local outdoor theatre.  I was worried that we were going to fry in the setting sun, but luckily, our seats were soon shaded as the sun set behind some trees ringing the amphitheater.  Weird Al was not quite so lucky, as the setting sun shone "straight into my face" for the first 20 minutes of the show.  The Child loved the show, and I was impressed with how much fun Weird Al appears to have performing (which cut some of the overly-sarcastic edge off of his songs).

We decided that Weird Al's performance was better than the B-52's performance at the county fair last week (July 26th)... and it's probably safe to say that The Child enjoyed it more than Joan Jett's fair performance last year.

Last weekend (Aug 8), we went to see a community theatre performance of "On the Town."  It was fun.  Apparently the play is very different from the movie.  I'd say my favorite part was the cave-people dance in the Museum.  OK, and the gag where the same sad song gets sung in every nightclub the characters go to.

On the writing front, I've been loving Scrivener for the iPad, which syncs (albeit slowly) with Scrivener on the desktop.  The interface is similar; the thing I miss the most is the split screen, which probably wouldn't work so well on a small iPad screen.   The only thing that's awkward is that I have a lot of older Scrivener files that I have to convert to the latest version before the iPad Scrivener will open them.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Hello to Russia

I was looking at the stats for this blog the other day, and it appears that I've got some fans in Russia or something, because a bunch of my pages suddenly jumped up in their stats, and the indicators for a Russian audience did as well.

These are the monthly stats.  The posting with the highest daily stats appears to be Heisenberg's Airplane, and at first I wondered if an airline was using that post as an object lesson in customer crisis training.  But after looking at the monthly stats more closely, I'm wondering if someone wants to see how I work out, because they all have gym information in them.   Anyway, I'm not sure what's driving Russian folks here, but "Hello, and I'm hoping that you're finding the blog amusing."  

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


So... last Thursday I cut my hair back from sixteen inches to about a quarter of an inch.  I've done this before, with similar feelings.  I'm still sometimes feeling a phantom pony-tail, especially when I wash or when I drive a car.

I decided to see if I could fool my co-workers, so Friday, I wore a tie, a nice Oxford shirt, a tie, and sunglasses.  I practiced the lines, "I'm looking for some information on the English Major for my daughter, Caroline, who will be a freshman," moved my voice up from my chest to the back of my mouth, hunched my shoulders, and made sure to take small steps.   As I walked into the office, I was sure to peer at everything as if I was looking for something, and as if everything was new.  It helped that I was wearing big sunglasses instead of my regular glasses, so I really did have to peer at things. 

One of my co-workers saw me wander in and asked if she could help me.  I though for sure I'd be recognized--the sunglasses especially seemed a little Lady Gaga--but the haircut and altered stance made the perfect disguise.  What was fascinating was that she said she looked up, saw the sunglasses, and built a narrative around some guy who'd just come in from the eye-doctor's office and had had his eyes dilated.  Another co-worker came up to help--she thought I was visually impaired--and they both handed me things while I said filler things like, "Oh, yes; thank you.  This will help," all the time peering at introduction to the major materials.   

After about ninety seconds, I took off my sunglasses and said, "Boo."  It took about five seconds for my True Identity to be processed, even with the sunglasses off.  My Norwegian widow's peak (which I inherited from my grandmother) made it difficult for them to recognize that it was me.  We had a good laugh -- it was about as much fun as the time I did the same thing to a previous co-worker 13 years ago on Halloween.  

I got my boss the following Monday.  Mark warned me that tricking one's boss might not be the wisest move, so I simply waited for her to come into the office while I faced away from her and held a notebook.  She thought I was a vendor and said, "Hi, can I help y--whoa!!"  And we laughed.

More Hair-jinx here:  hair

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Marys Peak Hike

 Resting near the top.
 Watching humming birds fight over fireweed.
 Dusting a cloud for moisture.
 On the trail.
Contemplating fallen giants.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Mid July

Saturday, I had an extra-long workout at the gym; 30 minutes of which was elliptical work.

We went to the Oregon Country Fair.  It was rainy and just the right temperature for me.  While I missed seeing some of the more exotic costumes (or lack of costume), I also didn't miss some of the fashion donts that happen at the fair.  It was nice seeing L.H. a writer-friend who sells masks at the fair.  I think my favorite group was the Fighting Karma Marching Band, who plays a selection of Sousa mash-ups.

At some point over the weekend, The Child and I got into a discussion about music.  He's discovered "Imagine Dragons" and so he was playing me their song.  OK, songs; but like U2, their songs sort of sound the same.  In this case, there's a signature A-minor key, the word "whoa-oh-oh" in a sort of tonic-fifth-forth progression, an AABB rhyme scheme, and a key word (like "radioactive") repeated about four to ten times.   Actually, it could be much worse.

TC:  "John I want you to play something with a strong bass.  Like 'Duuuuuuhhhhhn.'"
John:  "Oh, well, here's something."  (Plays the Scorpions "Rock Me Like a Hurricane")
TC:  "No John; a strong bass."
John:  "Well..."  (Tries Duran-Duran's "View to a Kill.")
TC:  "C'mon.  Bass.  Duuuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhnnnnnnnn."
John:  "Umm"   (Tries The Cars "Just What I Needed") "Er, no..." (Tries "My Best Friend's Girlfriend")
TC:  "There's no bass in this."
John: "Hmm.  Well, you know, I don't normally like what they play at the gym -- but I noticed when they changed the music to some newer stuff that it all sounded generically bland.  Listen to the artistry of the guitar in this--"
TC (throwing his hands up, tilting his head sideways and making a face):  "Ugh!  No!  (In a Graham Chapman voice) Not the artistry!"
John:  "Alright, fine; we can listen to "Imagine Dragons."  (figured I may as well listen to it to make sure that it's just sad indie songs and not songs about sex and war)

Monday, I went to the gym and had a typical workout.   My latest focus is on obliques, so I've been doing side crunch things.

Dreams:  Odd mish-mash dreams.  Tuesday and Wednesday nights I've dreamed that I've written a short story (the second time I remember editing it), but when I wake up, I can't remember what I've written.  

This morning I had another hypnopompic visitation; this time it was a small muppet-like white-whiskered gnome wearing a blue shirt and a red cap.  I think he had a red nose, sort of like Bert's from Sesame Street.  He was looking at the books on my end table.  I knew he wasn't really there, and he faded away.  So far all of these instances have been silent.   I suppose if they start talking to me I should write down what they say.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Early July Utility Post

Had a laid-back Fourth of July.

Working Out:  Went to the gym Sunday.  100-something calories in 12 minutes on the rowing machine.  There were a surprising number of people at the gym.  I was wearing my contacts, which kind of makes it hard to see some of the settings.  3X12X60 lbs on the pec fly.  3X12X85lbs on the lat pull-down.  3X13 suspended curls.  4X12 oblique curls.  3X12X30 triceps curls.  3X12X35 barbell curls.  3X4X12lb dumbbell shoulder shrugs.  3X12X12lb dumbbell uh, triceps pulls (I forget what they're called).  Some random dumbbell upper-shoulder things.  I'm sure something dreadful played on the stereo.


I'm in a funk.  (Throws back of hand to forehead in a silent movie fashion and utters, "Then my world turned to ashes and the sun was darkened in my eyes.")

I'm not going to focus on it here too much--because focusing on it seems to perpetuate it--other than to wonder if it's summer and I'm in a funk, what's it going to be like in The Deep Dark Winter.  

Unpleasant dreams last night, probably prompted by reading about a 1960 American biological psychologist who used electrical pulses to the pleasure center of the brain to condition psychiatric patients, including gay men.  

The rains are coming back.  Or at least the clouds.  This morning is going to be a warm mug morning.


Woke up feeling sore in my hands and feet.  Looked out the window:  yep, there are rain clouds out there all right.

Working Out:  Went to the gym.  220 calories in 20 minutes on the eliptical.  3X12X60 lbs on the pec fly.  3X12X85lbs on the lat pull-down (I've switched machines to one with a different gradation of weights).  3X13 suspended curls.  3X8 oblique curls.  2X12X30 triceps curls.   Then I needed to leave.


Slogging away at a short story.  Writing has been difficult this week; I feel like I'm plodding away but not moving forward.  This is the peril of "exploratory writing."  

I re-read some old blog posts... and noticed the parts where I sound like a broken record.  I need to fix that.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Philosophy Games

Scene:  Summer Camp drop-off.  John and The Child have just checked in at the rain shelter, where other children are playing various games.  

Twenty-Something Counselor (to The Child): "Hey, there!  Want to play Candyland?" 

TC (glances at the game being set up): "Naw."

John: "Oh, but remember Jean-Paul Sartre."  (A reference to Existential Comics, where-in various philosophers play the game.)

TC (holds up spinner with a I-told-you-this-would-be-lame look):  "Look, John."

John (surprised that the color-coded cards have been replaced):  "Oh!  The illusion of free will has been preserved!"

20-SC:  "I think I see where some of his humor comes from."

Friday, July 01, 2016

July 1st Post

Wait... is today the first of July?

Working Out:  Went to the gym Thursday afternoon after (eek) about a week.  10 minutes and 120 calories on the rowing machine.  I love the rowing machine, even if it isn't possible to read on it.  3X12X70 lbs on the pec fly.  3X12X80lbs on the lat pull-down.  3X12X40lbs on the triceps pull-down.  3X12X35 lbs on the barbell curl.  I nearly dropped the barbells when the stereo started playing "Angie."  
3X12 suspended curl-ups.  3X20 scissors. 

I should add that the week prior, the stereo was tuned to something less Classic Rock; although I prefer the more generic light metal rock from last week because the beat is a little faster and the lyrics aren't as intrusive, I must say that the classic rock has better musicianship (even if the a majority of the lyrics are essentially either your-the-hottest-woman-I've-ever-beheld-and-I'll-sex-you-forever or post-one-night-stand-I-gotta-be-free-to-have-sex-with-whomever-I-meet-farewell-addresses with a sad-political-ballad thrown in for good measure).

I'm at a curious point where my bicycle tire is really responsive to if I've been eating junk food or not going to the gym.  I think I'm going to have to start calling it "Bloaty McBloatface" and figure out a Blexit Strategy.   That and do more planks.  

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Weekend Report

Over the weekend we went to Carl Washburne Campground.  The beach was sunny and calm; Mark and I sun-burnt the tops of our feet.  Our fellow-campers were pleasant, and coincidentally, half of them were elementary school teachers.  The Child made friends with a four-year-old boy who worshiped him.  Saturday, we hiked from Washburne beach, through blinding winds, through The Hobbit Trail, to Heceda Head Lighthouse.  Sunday was also windy and foggy, so much so that I could see better with them off then with them on.  As a reward for good filtering skills with four-year-olds, The Child was awarded a buffet brunch at Three Rivers Casino; which he thought was the zenith of dining experiences.

In the dream department, Monday night's dreams involved water dripping from ceilings.  I was at Arcosanti, flying around a gathering of people in the Crafts-3 Building, playing Christmas carols on a recorder/krumhorn while water cascaded down the east window and from the skylight.  I was sleeping with Mark in our bedroom, which had a wall replaced by a tent, while water dripped from our ceiling.  I was looking at a closet, which also had water dripping over the shelf hardware.  

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Working out and Dreams

Working Out:  I've been to the gym, but I've been behind logging:   Saturday:  25 minutes and 280 calories on the elliptical; 3X12X60 lbs on the pec fly; 3X12X80 lbs on the pec fly; 3X12 hanging curls; um...  2X20 scissor kicks (or whatever they're called); 3X8 diagonal side-crunchs;  3x8X10lb shoulder shrugs; 3X12X10lbs overhead triceps curls; 3X12X30lbs triceps pull-downs; 3X12X30 lbs barbell curls, plus assorted free-weights.  

MONDAY:  200 minutes and 200 calories on the elliptical; 10 minutes for about 103 calories on the rowing machine. 3X12X60 lbs on the pec fly; 3X12X80 lbs on the pec fly; 3X12 hanging curls;  3x8X10lb shoulder shrugs; 3X12X30lbs triceps pull-downs; 3X8 diagonal side-crunchs (which I think is good for straightening my lower lumbar area); 3X12X30 lbs barbell curls, plus assorted free-weights. 

Writing:  Bad news: the iMac hard drive has crashed and might be dead.  This means no MacOS Scrivener, which means no syncing stories with SimpleNote.  At least my projects were backed up and I can use Scrivener for Windows.  Good news: I picked up an abandoned manuscript from May and it's not quite as hopeless as I thought.  Also, I managed to find a place to have my writing retreat in late August.

Dreams:  I'm pretty sure the cat must have been grooming my head as I slept because in the middle of running around a large government building, which was light and airy, with lots of lightly stained hardwood paneling, wooden banisters, and an open atrium.  The dream had been about standing in lines to receive some kind thousand-dollar refund, when I was suddenly seeing my doctor (not The Doctor nor my regular care-provider) who recommended installing a small metal box on the top of my head.  He had two casually dressed twenty-something interns do the installation, which was an out-patient procedure.  I sat on a kitchen chair while the long-haired woman fiddled around with the back of my head.  Every so often I'd feel a pinch, and then I'd feel and hear a vibration on my head.  I think they had to drill into my skull to set the box (the details weren't very clear)  It was supposed to be relaxing and the vibrations were supposed to enhance your senses (especially vision).  But it was mostly like having a vibrating back messager stuck to the back of your head.

The doctor came back (we might have been outside along a rocky river shore at this point) and asked how I felt.  I wasn't feeling much benifit, was a little miffed that my hair had been cut as part of the procedure (and I hadn't been warned), and had a case of sticker-shock when he told me making the device permanent would cost $2000.  

I think I woke up at this point, and thought, "Great, I'm dreaming doctors are putting metal boxes in my head."  At least it wasn't a box that recorded and controlled my thoughts.  

Switching to a different dream... I had another one of those hypnopompic visions the other day.  I opened my eyes and saw a man-sized shadow standing in our bedroom doorway.  It grew less substantial, turned and walked away down the short hallway and toward the kitchen. 

There was no menace, but no sense of beneficial protection, either.  In those moments between dreaming and wakefulness, I always wonder if there really is someone in the house.  Maybe the house is haunted.  Maybe my robe, or a towel, hanging off of the door is tricking my sight.  Maybe the pollen is affecting my sleep cycles.  Maybe some shadow of the night, curious about sleepers, had walked into the house to see how people dreamed, and once I was awake, I was no longer of interest.