Currently Reading…

16 11 2010

November SciFi/Fantasy Book Club Selection: Look to Windward, a space opera by Iain M. Banks.

It is available in paperback and e-book form, but not in audio (BUMMER).  I’m reading the e-book version on my Nook.

Jacket Description: The Twin Novae battle had been one of the last of the Idiran war, and one of the most horrific: desperate to avert their inevitable defeat, the Idirans had induced not one but two suns to explode, snuffing out worlds and biospheres teeming with sentient life. They were attacks of incredible proportion — gigadeathcrimes. But the war ended, and life went on.

Now, eight hundred years later, light from the first explosion is about to reach the Masaq’ Orbital, home to the Culture’s most adventurous and decadent souls. There it will fall upon Masaq’s 50 billion inhabitants, gathered to commemorate the deaths of the innocent and to reflect, if only for a moment, on what some call the Culture’s own complicity in the terrible event.

Also journeying to Masaq’ is Major Quilan, an emissary from the war-ravaged world of Chel. In the aftermath of the conflict that split his world apart, most believe he has come to Masaq’ to bring home Chel’s most brilliant star and self-exiled dissident, the honored Composer Ziller.

Ziller claims he will do anything to avoid a meeting with Major Quilan, who he suspects has come to murder him. But the Major’s true assignment will have far greater consequences than the death of a mere political dissident, as part of a conspiracy more ambitious than even he can know — a mission his superiors have buried so deeply in his mind that even he cannot remember it.

Hailed by SFX magazine as “an excellent hopping-on point if you’ve never read a Banks SF novel before,” Look to Windward is an awe-inspiring immersion into the wildly original, vividly realized civilization that Banks calls the Culture.

My Impressions So Far: I am enjoying it, but it is an exhausting read.  It is indeed wildly original and vividly realized, but it uses fictional words to describe fictional beings and there are NUMEROUS different life forms in the book.  I have never wanted one of my books to have pictures in it more in my life!

Status: I am highly unlikely to finish it before club tonight, but that doesn’t mean I won’t finish it.

Also Reading: The Red Pyramid (The Kane Chronicles, Book One) by Rick Riordan.

Yay, this one is on audio so I’m listening to this when we trek the ATT and when I’m driving around.

December SciFi/Fantasy Book Club Selection: Furies of Calderon (Codex Alera, Book 1) by Jim Butcher.

This is also on audio, so it should be easier to complete!


The Wee Beastie Has Been Immortalized in Watercolors…

15 11 2010

As if it wasn’t cool enough that one of my cousins took some fantastic photographs of the Wee Beastie last winter…

Snowbeard…A friend of my mom’s used one of the photographs as the basis for a watercolor.  Imagine my surprise when I awoke to this picture of the completed piece…


The American Tobacco Trail…

15 11 2010





is like a mountain vacation three miles from my home…

…if you overlook the maddening throngs of people on the days you don’t get there first thing in the morning…

Is beautiful, no?

The Loudmouth Purplehead?

14 11 2010


PANCAN hairIt doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it? Not to worry, it is only a temporary situation and based on feedback not an all too obvious one either.

Overwhelming response is that I switch my hair up so much that color change wasn’t unexpected and yet I feel like there is flashing sign over my head screaming PURPLE…purple…PURPLE…

There is a method to my madness (as usual)…November is PANCAN’S Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month and their color is purple.

It isn’t often that I get to be a rebel AND bring attention to a great cause. Score!

I’ve lost too many people to this stupid disease, but the most painful was losing AMG at the too young age of 27.

** November was when she was diagnosed, so it seems fitting that PANCAN would choose that month.

** Purple was a favorite color of hers. I still find notes written in purple ink stashed around my office in her distinctive handwriting. Even ones scribbling out lab inventory needs make me smile.

I think she’d get a hoot over this small remembrance of her, after all not everyone would think to call me hot mama (let alone get away with it) like she did whenever I experimented with my hair.

Please don’t ignore mysterious abdominal pains that don’t go away.

Please keep pushing your doctor for an answer.

Please don’t think this stupid disease only attacks the elderly. AMG was 24 when she was diagnosed.

I miss you, Hot Mama.


750 Topic: Create a Level of Hell Appropriate for Those Guilty of Being Inconsiderate Neighbors.

26 08 2010

I may or may not have inconsiderate neighbors.

I may or may not vent about them regularly.

I may or may not wish them a special kind of hell.

I will neither confirm nor deny any of the above, BUT…

…If I did have neighbors like that…

and I did wish a special kind of hell for them…

then this is the type of hell worthy of them…

[For the sake of this ‘hypothetical’ supposition, I’ve included some examples of ‘fictitious’ events (sadly more factual than satirical). Should any of the following happen to reflect events that you may be guilty of committing then grow the hell up or do me a favor and MOVE away from me!]

For rude, selfish, inconsiderate neighbors who park all over the place, block other neighbor’s yards and driveways with their cars, leave their trash can out every day of the week and all over the place, move other neighbors’ trash cans all over the place, play music too loud, storm up and down the stairs, thump the bass on the movies they watch, pound on walls, bang on pipes, ignore attempts by others to be courteous, look at you blankly when you attempt to greet them, rev their engine…well, there just has to be a special ring of hell for people like them. [Wrote a song about it. Like to hear it? Here it goes…]

I like to think that it is because they are young and don’t understand what it is like to have to share walls with others that neighbors are inconsiderate and rude.  However, after seeing how the mother of one particular neighbor [that I may or may not have] behaved when asked to turn the stereo down, I realize that, in some cases at least,  it is more likely the result of how they were reared.

Neighbors like that seem convinced they are somehow more entitled than the others.  That they are somehow above following the guidelines for common courtesy that the rest of the neighborhood follows to assure that EVERYONE is happy in their home.

Therefore, I think their special ring of hell would have to include the following:

A single wide trailer in a cramped and dirty trailer park that has poor plumbing, window unit air-conditioners, and a trailer park full of toothless rednecks with poor personal hygiene.  Hygiene so poor that the reek permeates every inch of every surface everywhere in the trailer park.

Packs of rabid dogs roaming aimlessly over every inch of the property leaving big stinking piles of shit all over that no one picks up, only adding to the disgusting odor of the place.

The neighbors should be the sort who scream incessantly at each other at all hours of the day and night, play their music too loud, and who basically just dump their trash out the side door of their trailer allowing it to pile up for weeks on end before (if ever) carting it off to the dump.

Most of all, however, his [I mean, NAMELESS Inconsiderate Neighbor] car would need to suffer.  So no garage, no protective structure of any sort, not even a car port leaving the car exposed constantly to the elements.

I envision the neighbor kids would occasionally pelt it with balls, frisbees, trash and run into it while on their skateboards and bikes so that it was covered with dents.  Rust would be a nice touch.  Perhaps every now and then a drunk neighbor would puke on it, dogs would pee on it, and vengeful neighbors would key the cars in retribution for the way that they are treating their neighbors around them.

Obviously there would have to be absolutely no recourse for responding to the inconsiderate actions of their neighbors. They would need to suffer wondering how to survive living next to people so clueless and inconsiderate with the knowledge that nothing they could do or say would make a difference.

They should be sick and tired one evening, looking for nothing more than their bed and some peaceful sleep only to find that all of the neighbors around them were throwing a loud, obnoxious party. Not only would they be kept awake and uncomfortable, but there would be nothing they could do and not way for them to escape the noise.

Cops would visit regularly to remind them that they chose to move there, that their neighbors had every right to behave the way they did, and that they knew when they moved in that they would be sharing space with others.  If they wanted to live in peace, then they should have bought a single family home on a decent sized lot.

The alternative would include neighbors, a builder, and an HOA (or two) who did nothing but ride them incessantly whenever they were inconsiderate and disrespectful teaching them that such behavior as theirs was not to be tolerated and that their only alternative would be to move to a galaxy far, far away.

[end scene]

…what a stretch that was for me to come up with so many examples of such a horrible knob of a neighbor-that, kids, is what you call CREATIVE writing…

750: Write a Backstory for My Tweet on Tub Contents.

25 08 2010

The quandary: Rick noticed that the rarely used tub in the master bathroom currently contained: a swimsuit, an umbrella, a plunger, a water pitcher, and a towel. He had no explanation.

The solution: As the father of two young girls, you would have thought that by now he would have figured what had obviously taken place in that indoor water playground he considered a master bathroom.  Surely as a little boy, he too had participated in water play, no?

Obviously one of the younger members of the household had wanted to play outside during one of our recent rain storms and was denied.  Instructed instead to find something indoors with which to occupy her time and energy.  I’m sure the older, less inventive or creative members of her family thought that she would settle somewhere in a comfortable corner chair and curl up with a good book, maybe watch a movie, play a video game, or work on a puzzle.  All things grown ups dream of doing if provided a rainy afternoon where they have nowhere to be and nothing to do.  M, however, was not going to be deterred from her desire to do a little singing in the rain.

Since her raincoat was still in her locker back at school where she had forgotten it at the end of last week in her rush to head home for the holiday weekend, M donned her swimsuit, grabbed an umbrella from the stand by the front door, snatched a pitcher from the kitchen where her parents were preoccupied discussing the plans for that evenings dinner, and headed for the ‘water park’.  M had thought for some time that the little used bathtub in the water park more often referred to as her parents’ master bathroom would be a wonderful way to spend the day splashing about.  Today was the day that she was going to put that theory to the test.

In addition to the umbrella and pitcher she had brought along a couple of her favorite little animal friends.  They were colorful little plastic critters that looked just like a little terrier dog, a larger than average black cat, and two horses.  She had named the little Terrier, Fergus, after a dog in a book  she loved when she was smaller.  The cat she named Ivan the Great and Terrible.  Great because of his size and terrible because she thought he was terribly cute. She liked to picture him smacking the little terrier in the face with his paw whenever the devil took the terrier and he would get to bouncy.  The horses, Bonnie and April, were mother and daughter.  She liked the word Bonnie because of the song ‘My Bonnie lies over the Ocean’ and April was a cinch because it was her favorite month and this horse was her favorite.  April was a beautiful chestnut color and had a nearly perfect white star in the middle of her forehead.

With all of her toys assembled, she turned the water on in the tub and hopped inside.  She left the drain open so that the tub would not fill since it was her desire to mimic the rain outside, not a pool.  She lined Fergus, Ivan, Bonnie, and April on the side of the tub so they could participate in the festivities.  M opened the umbrella, filled the pitcher with water, and began to pour water over the top of her umbrella while she sang.  She loved to sing, it never really mattered what, she just loved to sing and singing in the rain was THE BEST.  Apparently singing in the tub while pretending it was raining was almost as fun, but not quite.  She thought it was because the water came down more in a stream than in the droplets that a real rain shower would produce.  She decided that if she tossed the water in the pitcher into the air, then as it fell back down it would feel more like rain.

With the first toss of the water she knew she had made a mistake in judgment.  Rather than going straight up and coming straight back down, the water bounced off the side of the tub wall and sluiced along the edge of the tub.  Fergus was caught in a tidal wave of water, was swept off the side of the tub, and headed toward the drain in a torrent of water. M squealed, turned off the water, hopped from the tub, grabbed the plunger from under the sink, and rushed to rescue her beloved friend from drowning.  She made it just in time to keep him from circling into the drain.  As she breathed a heavy sigh of relief after saving her friend, her father called from downstairs to let her know that it was almost dinner time.  She hurriedly dried off, changed, grabbed her little friends, and headed for the door.  Leaving behind a…

wet bathing suit…

an umbrella…

a water pitcher…

a plunger, and…

a towel.

From 140 Characters to 750 Words

25 08 2010

Back in March I found out about a cool new journal writing website called and immediately took to the challenge.  I started writing an entry there each day and 100 days later I unlocked the Phoenix Badge earning me a post in the Hall of Phoenixes (I was also lucky enough to be the first post there!).

One of the reasons for my success is due to a connection I made on Twitter.  A Twitter friend (A Twiend?) had been watching my progress on the website (I figured commenting about my progress would provide adequate peer pressure to continue and boy was I ever right!) and began providing me with starter questions and ideas for my entries.  Some of them are funny, some are more serious, some make me think, some let me vent, some are based on happenings in my life, some are derived from events in his life, but all have motivated me in one way or another to write about more than just the boring day to day events.

They have been so successful at engaging my brain on that I began neglecting my newly minted blog until it occurred to me that they would make GREAT blog entries.  So I am going to start posting them here as well thanks to handy dandy export feature.  There are several starters I haven’t delved into yet either so I think this will be a great motivator to complete those too.

If you like the starters, then feel free to use them yourself (maybe post a link to your response in the comments).  If you have a starter idea, then share it here in the comments and I’ll add it to my list!  With the understanding that I’ll apply the same rules I was given at the start…I can write or not write a response as I choose.