Sunday, December 30, 2007

Since I Don't Do Resolutions...

I was going to post about my weekend. But since it entails uploading photos, doing research, and other stuff not conducive to my current level of fatigue, I shall leave you with this, instead:

In 2008, nuj resolves to...
Take evening classes in lost.
Become a better football.
Put fifty dvds a month into my savings account.
Go to the hot celebrities every month.
Be nicer to obieo.
Pay for my movies on time.
Get your own New Year's Resolutions:

Friday, December 28, 2007

Dryer Wars 2007

The following is a true story, told by the participants. No facts have been changed to protect the innocent. There were no innocents in this war.

The Dryer: It happened slowly, as these things always do. Conditions down here deteriorated, and those in power were oblivious.

The Owner: All I knew was that my clothes were taking longer and longer to dry. First it was three cycles, then it was four. The dryer is old. I thought we needed a new one.

The Dryer: That infuriated me. I did my job for nine years, toiling away, and all she ever did was load me up again. Sure, the lint filter got cleaned before every restart. But it wasn't enough. It's never enough.

The Owner: A couple of years ago a sock got stuck in the fan, and we took apart the bottom of the dryer to pull it out. It was really full of lint then, so I knew that might be the problem now. But I couldn't find the ratchet set.

The Dryer: There are always excuses by those in power for not attending to those laboring under them. I was tired of it. I wasn't going to take it anymore, not with a lame token.

The Owner: Things were getting worse. I found the ratchet set and cleaned out the completely clogged exit duct, and all the lint loose in the bottom of the dryer. It didn't help. The next load took an entire day to dry. War had been declared. I got out my Consumer Reports articles and ratings on dryers.

The Dryer: Do you know how heartbreaking it is to have hope dashed so completely? It was like putting a Band-Aid on a bullet wound. I took a calculated risk in complete rebellion, but what else could I do?

The Owner: Plans are no good if you don't implement them. The articles I read said you should clean your ductwork once a year. We hadn't done it since we moved in. Nearly nine years ago. I'd taken measurements weeks before, but Christmas and work and school stuff kept interfering. It was going to be a big job. I even bought all the materials earlier in the week, but didn't break down and take care of things until the end.

This morning I pulled out the dryer, cleaned out the rigid, flat duct that goes behind it, completely replaced the old ductwork, and replaced the vent that goes to the outside, with a new louvered cap over it. It wasn't easy. Just cleaning the floor under the dryer took forever. But in the end, it was worth it, to end the war.

The Dryer: I dried the next two loads in one cycle. The third one, too, the big one of towels. War can be ugly, but sometimes it's necessary, to wake people up to their stupidity. I'm just glad no one was killed in this one.

The Owner: I can't wait to see my electric bill next month.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Limbo Week

I hope everyone who celebrates Christmas had a lovely holiday yesterday (I did) and that everyone who celebrates other things at least got the day off from work.

This week between Christmas and New Year's Day is the most difficult week of the year, I think. I was going to say it's the least productive, but that depends. Today, for example, my kids and I went to the library, post office, mall, and four other stores. My house is a mess, I have the spectre of a GIGANTIC to-do list somewhere ahead of me, and my husband is sure working his butt off at the office, but because so many people are off work at least for a portion of this week and/or next, and the kids are off school, and publishing has come to a grinding halt, and we're looking back at last year and waiting for next year, I feel like I'm in complete limbo.

Over the next couple of days I'll post my Top 10 lists (or Top whatever, if there aren't 10) of the movies, books, and TV for 2007. Then I'll address my 2007 goals and decided whether or not to do 2008 goals.

Part of me doesn't want to. I don't want to keep track of the books I read and the movies I see, or log my weight and exercise routine every day. I'm frankly impressed that I managed to last a whole year doing it.

On the other hand, I definitely want to keep track of my writing projects and how much I write, and I really should keep track of the exercise routine, or I'll fail at continuing it. I think I'm going to take a totally new approach, at the least.

So, stay tuned! Let's see if any of your favorites matched up to mine!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

They Say It's My Birthday...

According to astrology, today is the luckiest day of the year for all signs, but especially for Capricorn, and double for people who's birthday is today.

Yeah, right.

I spent $11 on scratch tickets--bupkis.

But that's okay. Despite that failure, and dreary rain, it's been a good day.

People always ask if I get gypped, having a birthday so close to Christmas. The only thing I've ever been gypped on was parties. Everyone made damned sure I got lavished with love and presents on my day. That's especially true now, with a husband and kids who wait on me and make sure I do no chores.

I always loved this time of year. Now it's about a week, but when I was a kid, it was a solid month of celebration. My grandparents came up one weekend and we had a party (and got presents). Then we had my birthday, then my aunt's annual Christmas Eve, which I did every single year until about 10 years ago, when Number One got old enough that we wanted Christmas Day in our own house and stopped traveling for the holiday. I miss it. It was mostly my uncle's family, but my brother and I were always really close to my cousins, and the traditions--Auntie Mary's wings, handing out presents, the Raffenetti men getting drunk and making lame-o jokes--were huge contributors to a happy childhood. Then, of course, we had Christmas Day at home, and later at my other grandparents'.

Last night we went to my sister-in-law's annual party and had a good time playing games and delighting in the new generation of babies. Tomorrow night Jim and I wrap presents while we watch mediocre movies, and Tuesday we go to his parents' house.

Warmth, family, laughter, loving. It's what December's all about.

That and presents! I got:

  • A 500GB backup drive
  • Parallel Desire by Deidre Knight
  • Tempted by Megan Hart
  • A Patriots steering wheel cover
  • Cool paper clips
  • Cool binder clips
  • A Nerf Patriots football
  • A $25 iTunes gift card
I got breakfast made for me, and pigs in a blanket for lunch, and they're making shepherd's pie for dinner.

Okay. Maybe this isn't my luckiest day of the year, as far as unexpected luck goes. But I think I qualify as luckiest wife/mom in the world, and that's much better.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Blog Year in Review

I stole this idea from Gail, who took it from someone else, who probably got it from someone else. Such is the nature of blogging. :)

The idea is to look at the first few lines of the first post from each month and comment from the current perspective.

January 2007
I've been working on and thinking about my goals all day, and I liked the way one author I know laid hers out, so I'm emulating her. It's quantifiable and means I can do another spreadsheet. I like spreadsheets. :)

I do like spreadsheets. My life is ruled by them. They've made it really easy to see just how far off I am from meeting my goals next week...

February 2007
Thirteen Things I Have To Do Constantly That I Hate

Not a very positive topic, huh? At least they were all minor things. Like dealing with kitty litter. I still have to do all of them, BTW.

March 2007
I'm not going to say "I can't believe it's March first already!" Not only is that cliché, I CAN believe it and I'm GLAD it's March.

Apparently, the shortest month of the year in 2007 felt really long. I can tell you that every single month this year someone said, "I can't believe it's X already!"

April 2007
I tried to log in to my bank today and they have tightened security so it's no longer my access ID and pin, they ask a security question, too.

That hasn't happened again. I removed the question "What is your dream job?" from the list.

May 2007
Thirteen Ways I'm Not Like "Most" Women

Another Thursday Thirteen, another topic with a negative word in it. I wonder how often I did that?

June 2007
MaryF tagged me again. Good thing, too, 'cause I've had nothing to say for too long.

Hmmm. Apparently, that was the year for this.

July 2007
A few years ago, not too long before my mother died, I was picking on her about her "address book." It was probably 20 years old or older.

Will it surprise anyone to know I still haven't gotten a new address book? It's falling apart, some of the sections have no more room, but every time I use it, I remember people I no longer see. Also, I'm lazy.

August 2007
Thirteen Reasons I Haven't Posted In A Week

No comment.

September 2007
I want to know what the hell is up with our commercial aviation system. I mean, out of four flights I took this weekend, every single one was early.

This was really funny, because since I posted this, I've heard at least once a month about what a mess the airlines are, with on-time rates at all-time lows. I guess I just got lucky.

October 2007
I was looking at my tags, or labels, yesterday, and I realized I've been remiss. This is my 450th Blogger post (not sure which for MySpace and LJ) and I have three tags I use a lot: Writing, TV, and Supernatural. But I have 16 labels I've used only once. And that's appalling.

I did manage to get rid of all my one-post labels. Now I have 11 labels with only two posts each.

November 2007
These Made Me Cry: This one, because it was so good and we'll never get to see more (idiot suits):

I had videos of the Veronica Mars episode they pitched around before getting yanked--you know, the one where VM was a rookie FBI agent?

December 2007
These are the last topics that have only one post labeled such, so I'm finishing my boost in one fell swoop.

Okay, so what have we learned from this year in review?

I'm redundant and boring.


Monday, December 17, 2007

She Did It Again!

A message from my former guest blogger, Trish Milburn:

I hope you're all prepared for the holiday season and will be able to enjoy your time with friends and family. Before you bake those final cookies and wrap those last presents though, I hope you can devote a moment to voting in the latest round of the American Title contest, in which I'm one of the remaining six finalists. The two people with the lowest amount of votes this round will be eliminated as of the end of voting on Dec. 30, and I really don't want to start off the new year by having to say bye-bye. :( So check out the latest round here.

Way to go, and good luck, Trish!


Me, I'm finally on my way with the holiday prep. Cards are out (I THINK all of them). Presents are shipped, and some of the non-shipping presents are purchased. Tree is up and decorated. And I have peppermint Hershey kisses in the house. :)

We had an ice storm this weekend. All my friends had power outages and/or damage. We have some honkin'-big limbs down in our back yard, but no damage. *knocks wood* Hope all my readers all over the country weathered the weather okay this weekend--and will continue to do so with the new storms coming up.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

That's Not So Merry

I was just at IMdB, looking up the actor who played Young!Sam in last night's episode of Supernatural, and I saw the air dates they have listed for the rest of the season.

"Witch Hunt" January 3.

"Dream a Little Dream of Me" January

That's it. So yes, we have to wait three more weeks for a new episode, and after that we only have two more before they apparently run out of finished eps. The news reports had all said we should 12 or 13 eps before the strike affected the show, but that's only 10.


At least we get the episode where we learn more about Bobby.

Come on, AMPTP! Stop being so stupid!

Friday, December 14, 2007



I knew I hadn't posted in a while, but I didn't realize it had been more than a week! I apologize to any die-hard reader who kept checking back here and finding the same lame TT from LAST week. Makes RSS feeds more attractive, I bet.

So what has been keeping me so freakin' busy? Nothing interesting. Editing work. Family stuff. Balancing the checkbook-level chores.

I've finally made some holiday progress. I mailed my Christmas cards today, and bought some gifts, wrapped them, and got them ready to ship. Ordered some things online. We don't have a tree yet, which is weird--it's really late for us. But the weather's been so bad, we kept putting it off (plus we still had all the dining room stuff in the living room until last weekend, when we got the new rug). Still don't know when we'll get it. They're all wet right now. We'll probably get one tomorrow and set it up in the carport for a week to dry. *sigh*

Speaking of the weather. It's been weird. Weirder than in 1999, when it was 72 degrees the first weekend in December and we cut down a Christmas tree in our shorts. Well, the tree wasn't in our shorts, we were. Except not me. I was pregnant, and leggings were more comfortable.

Anyway. It has rained every weekend for a couple of months now. I know this because it was always raining when I drove Number Two and her friend to soccer training. It was also raining nearly every Monday night (that's dance class). Last week we had a snow delay. It was nice snow, the light kind that packs perfectly. Great skiing snow. I always notice this, despite the fact that I haven't skied in almost a decade.

Yesterday we had school canceled for an ice storm. Today was warm enough that there was a cascade of ice off the trees in the back yard for about twenty minutes, but then it got cold and windy, and we're supposed to have snow both days this weekend.

None of which is worth complaining about. I just feel like I haven't seen real sun in a long time.

My to-do list is still too long. It has many items I have been putting off for a while, like calling Apple about my frazzled laptop, and calling the vet about the dog's vaccine, and calling our insurance agent...are you noticing a trend? I'm noticing a trend.

Supernatural was new last night, and darned near perfect. The acting was more subdued and natural, like they finally got back into their rhythm. The writing was focused on its usual dual tracks--the hunting evil, and the being brothers. The emotion was more internal, and therefore more impactful. I cried at the end.

I also squirmed a lot! Geez, the torture! Made so much worse by the people doing it. Those two were so natural as the perky, 50s-era grandparent types, even while they were being evil. I love these classic episodes. Sammy getting throttled, Dean hitting the wall. But it was horrible with the little kids watching their loved ones being taken away/killed, and even worse seeing Sam's *shudder* fingernail ripped out.

The lines were great, too. My favorite was the "You fudging touch me and I'll fudging kill you!" Oh, man, I laughed!.

I was delighted they brought back the kid who played Dean in "Something Wicked." He's a talented actor. I could see his brain working the same way I see it in Jensen. He internalized the motivations and the attitude, yet wasn't just copying his older counterpart. He seemed to have really thought about what kind of big brother he'd have been back then.

And how perfect is it that Sam gave him the necklace?

We have another rerun next week. *kicks TV* So let me leave you with this delightful tidbit, found by Vicki:

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #22

Header graphic courtesy Write From Karen

Thirteen Techie Things I Love

On My Computer:

1. CTRL+drag

You highlight something, hold down the CTRL button, and drag it with the mouse. Et voila! It stays in the old spot, but also appears in the new spot! Copy without the paste!

2. The expanded "recent documents" list in Office 2007

I used to only be able to see the four most recent files. Then it was nine. Now it's twenty.

3. Pinning files in Office 2007

You know how, in the old versions of Office, most recent documents were listed at the top, and old documents fell off the bottom of the list? If you had to open a bunch of files looking for something, and then wanted to go back to an earlier file, it wasn't handy anymore. Well. In Office 2007, if you want a Word document or Excel spreadsheet to stay put because you use it all the time, you pin it. Each file has an image of a sideways pushpin next to it. Click it, it turns green and is upright. That doc never falls off the list. It's awesome!

4. Word count at bottom of Word

I don't think this was there before. It might have been, and if so, I didn't notice it. I just remember there being page count, and I created a macro to quickly pull up the word count box. Now there's not only word count (very handy) in the bottom toolbar, if you highlight a section of text, it shows how many words in that, too, like 524/34,000.

5. Windows Vista's new ALT+TAB interface

You could always cycle between programs by holding down ALT and pressing TAB until you got to the program you wanted. In later versions a window would pop up showing the type of document and the name. Now, it shows a live image of that screen. So if a web page is loading slowly, or you're not sure if you have any new mail in your inbox, you can do ALT+TAB and check without having to actually switch to the program. Going along with that, you can point to the open item in the toolbar and it will show the same image. I always have a lot of stuff open (right now I have 12 things open in different applications) so I'm constantly using this.

In TiVo/NFL Sunday Ticket:

6. 30-second jump-back

The best feature by far. Didn't understand the line that garble-mouthed character said? Jump back. Wanna watch the big tackle again? Jump back. Oooh, a new Mac/PC commercial! Jump back twice.

7. Recording two things at once

I don't know how I did it before. We had two VCRs, but the cheap one in the bedroom I hated to use. It's a must-have for a two-team NFL family. Speaking of which...

8. Football Fan Gadgetry

On our non-TiVo receiver, you can press a button to see the scores of all the games without switching away from yours or waiting for the ticker to pass through the one you're curious about. You can choose a game that might be six channels away and just flick to it. You can also pull up live stats!

In the Camry:

9. Mileage Meter

There's a meter in the dash that shows the current mileage. It's a real eye-opener. The car averages 33 to 39 mpg overall. But you can get a really good idea of how it breaks down by checking the current meter. Going uphill, it gets 10 or less. Going downhill, of course, it's not using gas and is charging the battery. On the highway, it's one thing to know you're using much more gas going 70 than going 55, and quite another to see the needle drop 20 mpgs.

10. Automatic Rearview Mirror

Instead of having to flip the mirror when you have bright lights behind you, the mirror adjusts automatically. I think there's a gel or something in it, and it turns blue. You have better visibility behind you than a traditional angled mirror, and don't have to keep flipping back and forth, and never get blinded. From the mirror, anyway. Can't do anything about those idiots in the oncoming lane.

11. In-steering-wheel Controls

I like being able to control the radio or make a phone call by pressing a couple of buttons with my thumb.


12. Alphasmart Neo

I've talked about this before, of course, but I still love it to pieces. It has a better thesaurus than Word, quick access to word count, easy management of files, and excellent maneuverability within the document. Plus it's light, fast on-and-off, and never goes on the fritz (knock wood!).

13. Instant Alert

My kids' school district just contracted for this. You put your information into their system, and if there's a weather delay or cancellation, an emergency in one of the schools, or even a notice about athletics or after-school activities, they can put out a district-wide (or customized) alert to the entire district. You can get the alert via e-mail, on your PDA, cell phone (text or call), regular phone, or pager. No more listening to the radio (forever if you miss your county) or watching the crawl on TV or looking it up on the Internet.

Funny story about this. I had to drop by the school today, and the secretary was talking to someone who was obviously irate that they hadn't gotten an alert for this morning's two-hour delay. Thing is, the paperwork was mailed to the parents on Monday. We just got it Tuesday. It says right in the paperwork that a test message will go out to everyone on December 19, and after that, it will be live. Duh.

Maybe someday I'll do a Thursday Thirteen about all the ways people are stupid.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Pets, Plans, and Travel

These are the last topics that have only one post labeled such, so I'm finishing my boost in one fell swoop.

J told me the other night that Number Two wants a kitten for Christmas. We have two cats and a dog. The dog has stained every carpet with florescent yellow bile vomit. The cats have shredded all our wood furniture. Our vet bill, while certainly lower than other people's is daunting.

Then there's the litter box.

We only have one, because when we had two they both just used one, anyway. And since the cats are banned from going downstairs, there's very limited space in which to place a second box. I'm the one who cleans it all the time. Do I really want to have to do it MORE often?

Plus, kittens are a lot more work. They chew things, they climb things, they get lonely and cry all day/night.

But Number Two really wants one. She insisted she'll take care of it (she already shoulders a lot of the feeding duties anyway). But Daddy got her afraid of me. She said she won't put it on her Christmas list, but could Daddy please let Santa know for her? The heart weeps.

I have no plans for December. Well, not true. I have some plans. I want to write a short story so I get to 300,000 words. I want to start editing Behind the Scenes to eliminate the loss of tension at certain points. And I have some critiquing to do (should be doing right now, as a matter of fact!). And, of course, I have vague holiday preparation plans. I need to do Christmas cards, and make a gift list, and go shopping, and figure out what we're doing when. And we need to get a tree and put up the lights. And we have kids' events--dance recital for Number Two, orchestra and chorus concert for Number One.

But other than that, I have no plans.

I didn't travel that much this year. I did the May retreat with my chapter, CPRW, and in August I went to Myrtle Beach for our family vacation. I think that's it.

Next year will be another story. I have plans to go to the NEC conference in April, the CPRW retreat in May, National in July (a serious reach, but I'm not giving up hope), Cape Cod for our summer vacation, and a tour of Ohio so I can speak at the Maumee Valley chapter and visit family in Akron, Toledo, and Delaware (no, not the state, the city near Columbus).

That's a LOT of traveling. Good thing we have a hybrid!

Friday, November 30, 2007

The End of NaNo 2007

I finished this year's NaNoWriMo at about 1:10 this morning, ending with 8115 words for the day (I hadn't gone to bed, so I still count it as the same day) and a total of 88,705 words completed in 29 days, a new record for me. I did 3,047 more words than I did last year (and hit 86,000 before midnight, so it counts! LOL)

I looked at last year's "I did it" post, and so much of what I said then was true this year, too.

But this year was harder. I didn't love the book and the characters as much--I don't think I ever will. That's okay. It's not a bad thing. But it did make every day more of a struggle, knowing the characters were flat and the world too similar to last year's world (not really, and yet definitely) and some plot devices way stale and overused. It wasn't the book I envisioned when I started, even moreso than usual.

Time was harder to get, too. I did four critiques of various sizes, and I volunteered at my kids' schools A LOT. We had the big dining room project over the holiday (which was early, and that messes things up). Last year I wasn't doing editing and proofreading professionally, either. This year I did 16 paid projects (again, of various sizes, most pretty small, but frontloaded so I fell behind on my book pretty quickly). It meant many more late nights to get the words in.

I felt more isolated in it this year, too. I don't know why. The friends who did it last year also did it this year, but we didn't communicate directly as much, probably because of the new way the buddies were laid out. Maybe part of it, too, was this was my second time. The excitement wasn't the same.

So now I get to clean my house and do some critiquing I'd been putting off, catch up on my filing and declutter my office. I am 4,253 words shy of 300,000 for the year, so I plan to work on a short story in December, but that's it. I'll set a much smaller writing goal for 2008, mainly because my to-do list currently looks like this:

  1. Revise Behind the Scenes
  2. Revise Hummingbird
  3. Revise More Than You Know

That's half a year's work right there, plus (fingers crossed) I hope to have a book in production, which will mean revisions on that, plus marketing and promotional work and AAs. And any plan might be derailed based on which book sells and whether or not there's a second book to write in follow-up.

Anyway. Let me conclude by congratulating every writer who won 2007 NaNo; every writer who tried to win; and every writer who wrote, whether part of NaNo or not. You all rock.

Details to Follow

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

NaNoWriMo is Kicking My A**

Therefore, my dead brain is offering you these tasty morsels instead of a thoughtful and thought-provoking post:

Some Romance

Some Gravitas

Some Funny

And heck, let's have some more Jensen Ackles in Eyeliner

Monday, November 26, 2007

Oooh, Christmas!

Okay, I have two really cool videos I want to show, and I couldn't decide which one to put first. But I decided if you watch the fun-one-that's-not-about-something-serious first, you probably won't get around to the fun-one-that-IS-about-something-serious. So here we go.



What a Weekend!

Welcome Back!

Okay, maybe you've been hanging out here, annoyed that you keep checking and I haven't been posting. I apologize. It's been an extremely busy, very productive four days.

There was the holiday, of course, which was lovely, a quiet day spent with family, full of games and laughter.

There was also football. Number Two is really getting into it, saying things like "they gave him a good lane" and calling the number of a penalized player before the referee does. She even turned on college ball on Saturday! The Browns and the Patriots both won, though the tough time the Eagles gave us was nerve-wracking.

There was, erratically, writing progress. A total of 8,876 words, which is not as much as it should be, but when you hear the rest, you'll understand.

There was leaf-raking. Saturday we raked the entire yard and hauled it out front. So you can have an idea of what that means, here are some photos.

Our neighbor's pile of leaves (the one next to the mailbox is from our side yard; the one on the other side of that is the neighbor's):

And here's our main pile:

I swear, I take pictures every year, but I can't find any of previous years. This pile seems longer than usual, but I have no proof.

So anyway, we did that.

We also did most of the dining room remodeling. We cleared out the room on Friday, primed and painted the first coat on Saturday. I didn't take a picture of our creative failure. We did the light blue at the top, the dark blue at the bottom, and blended in the middle. The blending was great, but the transition to the solid colors we just couldn't make work. So we ended up doing two walls dark, two walls light. Which means messy corners, despite meticulous taping. What can I say, we're not that good at this. We did the second coats yesterday. Today we have to do the window and the ceiling of the kitchen and dining rooms, which includes priming the edges because there's wallpaper paste or something that turned brown around the whole ceiling. Add taping the walls to that, and we're talking a LOT of ladder work. My thighs are already screaming from all the squatting.

After the ceiling, or maybe before, as a procrastination tactic, I will replace the old yucky outlets with pretty new ones, add the face plates, and viola! We won't be done.

We're going to go shopping for a new rug today. Once that's in, we can move the furniture back. Eventually we'll replace the light fixture and buy new curtains for the window. THEN we'll be done, and I shall post photos.

Remember how this project was our big household goal for the year? We're going to make it! Yay, us! Almost makes up for missing nearly every single other goal I set for 2007. Phooey.

How was your weekend?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

To all of my American friends/readers, I hope you have a lovely, warm, toasty, delicious holiday with tons of reasons to be grateful and none of the usual holiday annoyances to cloud the gratitude.

I raked leaves today. Wasn't going to, because they're wet, and wet leaves are a bitch to move around. We have to haul them uphill to the front yard for collection. And the muscle was, of course, at work. But it's supposed to rain tomorrow, too, and there were a lot of leaves already down, so I dragged the girls outside and we did a little.

We have two maples on the rear property line and a giant maple in the center of the backyard. The rear maples have dumped probably 75% of their leaves, half of those in the neighbor's yard. Our previous rear-facing neighbor used to collect whatever was in his yard, even after he cut down his own maple and the leaves were all from our trees. But we have a new neighbor now, and they seem to be more like us, delaying such things. So we raked their yard.

Never doing that again.

It wasn't the leaves. It was the dog poop. You could barely find a place to step, it covered so much area. I wouldn't judge, honest--I mean, we only clean up our dog stuff periodically. But that's because Dolly goes out twice a day: once in the early morning when I'm still in my nightgown, once at night, when it is now dark. I'm not picking up doggie-do in those conditions. But they walk their dogs on leashes in the backyard. They stand right there while the dogs do their business. I can't fathom why they leave it there.

So anyway, the leaves were mucho heavy, and we only did two loads. We'll probably do the rest of our yard on Saturday, after the first coat of paint is put on.

One of the other things I did today was start to clear out my spices. McCormick had an ad in a coupon circular that talked about how if your spice has a Baltimore address, or is in a tin, it's at least 15 years old. You can check the codes on their web site, too. Ground spices are supposed to be good for 2-3 years. I know I have spices that predate my marriage, so I probably should replace stuff.

So today I grabbed a pen and started cleaning out my spice cupboard. I took out maybe nine bottles. The first three are things I use a lot--garlic and onion powder and lemon pepper--so of course they were okay. They don't expire until 2009 or 2010, have the dates right on them. But then I pulled out some more. And none of them are McCormick. The bay leaves are, but they didn't have a date or anything, and I realized writing down the codes didn't do any good unless I wrote down the spice, too, and most of my spice bottles are 3/4 full and throwing them away seems way too wasteful.

So I gave up.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Short Week

Today is my kids' last day of school until next Tuesday. So today is my last day of true NaNoWriMo progress. As you can see, I did meet the NaNo goal of 50,000 words. I have about 32,000 to go. Right now, this second, I'm slightly ahead of goal. But six days with the kids home, plus Thanksgiving, plus the husband home for six days, plus painting the dining room, all add up to very little writing time.

So, yes, I should be writing right now, thank you.

The writers strike will soon be affecting our television watching (the shows that have stopped production aren't shows I'm watching, so far). I'm slowly catching up. My thoughts:

I talk about this every week, so I'll just say I'm very, very sad that we have at least two weeks of reruns.

Not as funny as past seasons, but the only funny show we watch, so we'll keep watching.

I looooooove David Anders (Kensei/Adam). Kristen Bell can really act. Milo Ventimiglia really worked out hard over the hiatus. I still don't care for the twins plot, the Nikki plot, or the whiny cheerleader elements (not enough to call it a plot), but the rest is getting much better. They really shouldn't have moved so slowly to introduce the virus plot.

So far, no advancement as far as story goes. It's the same basic show every week. But, also so far, that's not a bad thing. The acting is good, the characterization well done, the dialogue and some of the situations very funny. Ray Wise as the devil is some of the best casting evar.

After Supernatural, this is my go-to show. I don't like Morgan all that much, and Ellie could use some depth, but I loooove Adam Baldwin, the episode plots are pretty decent, and the cool factor makes it easy to suspend disbelief of some of the stretchier points (like the coincidence of Ellie treating the poisoned guy last week). I do wish they'd do some training so Chuck wouldn't be so stupid sometimes, and had a little ability in a pinch. I also wish they'd pay him, or at least that the subject would come up. I mean, he IS working for the government.

Still one of my favorites, though a couple of recent episodes have been less well plotted than I'm used to. I liked that Charlie had almost no one show up to his booksigning. That made me feel better. :) We're a couple of episodes behind on this one.

Still haven't tried Private Practice or Bionic Woman, but with repeats and blackouts coming up, I will.

I've also been watching the final season of Gilmore Girls on DVD. I knew this was the bad season, so my expectations weren't high, but I'm disappointed anyway. It makes me think of That Guy, you know, the one who tries to make jokes like everyone else does, but they're off, so they end up sounding mean-spirited and not at all funny? The episode where Kirk drove the car into the diner was a good example. The traffic light and the flash and the crash and Taylor were all spot-on. And then Kirk does the diner thing? There's a hardness to everyone that wasn't there before, like they've all been possessed by demons trying hard to be like the original person but with a core of pain or hatred that leaks out. Everything is forced, with the superb exception of Logan, who has been excellent and consistent and makes me want to be called "Ace." :)

The holidays are all messed up this year. Everyone seems to be all panicked that Thanksgiving is early and they haven't done Christmas shopping and preparation yet, but in reality, it means there's almost a full week longer than usual in between T-giving and Christmas. So everyone should be more relaxed, right?

I have no idea what we're doing for the holidays. I can't think of what gifts to give anyone except Number One, and I have enough ideas for her to spread around to everyone, so she'll be set. Number Two is so much harder for some reason. And other family? Fuhgeddaboutit. Even worse, I have no idea what to do for my husband. So, of course, I said we're not doing each other this year. I think we'll be doing a lot of gift cards.

Okay, back to the writing. The writing of the derivative (from my own work), slow (there's no action in this action-adventure), currently stalled (I know where I'm going, not how to get there) NaNo book. Wish me luck.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

NaNo and Pencils

I've had a pretty roller-coaster NaNoWriMo so far this year. I'm about 4,000 words from winning, so that's no problem, but for most of the first half of the month I was wayyy behind. Like, 7,000 words at a time behind (my goal, not the 50k goal). I was caught up yesterday, after a 28-page day in my jammies started early with no Internet until lunchtime. Today I did only 1k. Bad me.

The book is different than anything I've done before, in that the romantic leads are married with a huge obstacle to overcome, and there is a dual timeline with flashbacks to how they got to the point where they are. The flashbacks ended up being in non-chronological order, which I like, but their presence has made the adventure plot develop slowly, probably too slowly. But it's a NaNo draft, so that's okay. In theory. We'll see come next spring when I'm revising.

I feel a bit guilty for writing during a writer's strike. Of course, I'm a novelist, and we already get residuals (i.e. royalties for each copy sold, that's our complete pay system). I couldn't write for visual entertainment if I wanted to. So the strike has nothing to do with me. But there's not too much I can do to show my solidarity, living as I do in central Pennsylvania, fairly far from strike zones. I can sign petitions. Blog about it. (How's that for meta? Self-referential linking!) And...

Buy pencils!

I love this idea. A concrete way to demonstrate to the AMPTP that the audience--the only people more important than writers in the popular entertainment equation--are on the writers' side. All it costs you is a buck! Go for it! Heck, go for it even if you side with the AMPTP because you, too, are a greedy bastard who doesn't want to give a penny to anyone else who is responsible for your millions. It may help cut the overall strike time, and then you'll get your 30 Rock back. :)

Friday, November 16, 2007

It's a Friday with No Soccer on Saturday!

Sleeping in FTW! \o/

I don't remember if I said this yet, but Trish Milburn, who was a guest blogger last month, made the second round of the American Title contest at Romantic Times.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Cool! I stole the code from MaryF for that image. I don't think the link works, though, so go here to vote.

Speaking of MaryF, she sold to Samhain! That's two books in, like, two weeks. Go congratulate her!

And the news just keeps coming! Misty Simon, Vicky Burkholder, and debut author Vicki Smith have sold an anthology about domesticated shapeshifters to Draumr Publishing. I didn't put this announcement first because they haven't announced it themselves yet, and they might make me take it off the blog if it's too prominent. I can't help myself, though, I'm so happy for and proud of them.

I have the bestest friend in all the world. For a lot of reasons, of course. I am blessed with many very close friends, and several of them "get" me, but none to the level of completeness that she does.

But today, she's my bestest friend because of this. My birthday present! Does she rock, or what? I'm so excited I'm bouncing with squee.

I'd like to announce some news for her, but I can't yet. Hopefully soon.

Okay, now to important stuff. Supernatural.

No, wait. Let's get the really important stuff out of the way first.

The WGA strike continues, and there are some fabulous articles out there with explanations and opinions I think everyone should read. My favorites are here and here, and of course, always United Hollywood with constant updates, links to videos (both funny and informative) and other articles and rebuttals for stupidity like the quote about flushing the toilet.

Okay, now to Supernatural.

It's pretty clear that this is my very favorite show, and as such, I have hated reading/hearing criticism of it. I want everyone to love everything about it because if they don't, they might stop watching and then it would be taken off the air (ratings are dropping every week, people!). I believe I have gotten past that knee-jerk desperation and can tolerate reasonable discussion about both the good and bad aspects of the show now. Just a long as no one attacks the creators, writers, actors, crew, or even The CW, m'kay? Thx.

So. "Fresh Blood." Once again they got creative with an established supernatural element, and I loved it. One of the few fan bloggers I still read said she didn't like that they acted like they had no choice but to kill Lucy, because they know there are options (there was Lenore, of course--I think that was her name). But just because there are some people who can overcome the hunger doesn't mean she would be able to. She's a junkie, and vampirism is a far more overwhelming hunger than simple narcotic addiction. She'd already killed two people and almost two more, including Dean. If there was a halfway house they could send her to, great. But they can't afford the luxury of holing up somewhere and trying to teach someone something they themselves can't understand. Besides the job they do, they have people after them. Lots of them. Minus one.

We thought when Sam cut off Gordon's head he'd have to have cut his hands on that wire, too, and Gordon's blood was spurting all over. I kind of wish they'd addressed it, like had Dean say "thank God you didn't cut yourself" or something like that.

I have two nitpicks. The first is akin to the situation in "Croatoan" where they had nothing to go on, so "oh, let's call Bobby." At the time, it was out of character and simply convenient writing so they had a reason to find out the phones were dead. This time, it was Dean telling Bela where they were. In what UNIVERSE would Dean do that? He hates her! Sure, he'll save her life and take her money, but he wouldn't chat with her, wouldn't give a known mercenary who'd sell them out at the clink of a coin his location when they are wanted by so many people.

The other is a silly one. Sam looked ridiculous feeling around in the dark. It was way too exaggerated and flaily. He's got more control than that, even when he's terrified. Puh-leez.

That said...this ep had so much greatness. The hotel room they were in, clearly one not in use that they were squatting in again. I love that they found a way to not say "as you know, since we broke out of prison and Henrickson is still after us, as well as who knows how many hunters, plus that Jesus-freak guy, so we have to lay really low, go where we can't be tracked." We had them squatting in the house last week, and in this obvious storage unit in a hotel this week. Very cool.

Sam starting out with the same argument about Dean's recklessness and avoidance, which is annoying some people but wasn't annoying me, I don't care if it's the same old argument, that's how people are, that's how life is, and I just love watching them do it. But he took it somewhere new, went ahead and opened himself up, made himself vulnerable. And Dean stepped up. For once, he did what his brother asked, not just what he thought was best or what Sam wanted because he wouldn't listen anymore. It was great, especially with the scene at the end, played perfectly straight without hidden nuance and deflection and stuff. Just "you're right, you're my brother, and I'll be yours again."


Sam's hair is freakin' awesome. Season one it was College!Sam hair, kind of dorky and childish. Season two it was adolescent hair. It was testing itself, seeing what it liked, maybe be longish here and stick out there. Better, but not great. This year, OMG, as Sam has matured, so has his hair. It's awesome. I want to...okay, wait, I gotta stop there. My husband reads this blog occasionally.

Sterling K. Brown has been the best recurring guest star on this show, and I shall miss him mightily. RIP, Gordon.

I'd post some of the great lines from the ep, but I'd mess them up. Maybe after I watch again. Which I definitely will, eventually. I'm saving them for when everything else goes dark due to the strike.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #22

Thirteen of my Pet Peeves

1. Slowness
Slow cars in front of me, slow thinking, slow talking, but especially, slow walkers. I'm a fast walker. Drives my husband insane. I find it physically impossible to walk as slow as he does. I especially hate it like in the mall or on a sidewalk where a group of people stretches out and moves at a snail's pace and you can't get around them. I am tolerant of injured or elderly, and that's pretty much it.

2. Drivers who can't make the turn
If you have to come to a complete stop in the middle of the friggin' road to make a right turn into a parking lot or, worse, another street, I'm likely to plow into you. Well, okay, not, because technically I'd be liable. But I'll yell and make lots of arm-waving gestures to demonstrate my displeasure.

This is a problem, actually, because my 8-year-old is known to growl, "Make the turn!" from the back seat.

3. Arm water
I hate having water run up my arms. I don't wash my face at night because rinsing it means splashing my face with water and then it runs up my forearms (which are upright, so it's technically down my arms, but if I said that you'd have no idea what I was talking about). Sometimes it happens when I'm taking out/putting in my contacts. I hate it.

4. Gender bias
This is a big one. Not bias in the sense of active discrimination, but "women love to shop, men love to roll over and go to sleep after sex" kind of stuff. I know there are some basic biological differences, but even those aren't universal. There are plenty of women who are physically stronger than many men, and plenty of men who are capable of multi-tasking. So I hatehatehate when someone blames an individual's behavior on their gender.

5. Generalizations stated as absolutes
Generalizations, like stereotypes, exist for a reason. I make them occasionally, though I try to avoid it. But a generalization stated as an absolute drives me INSANE.

6. When people bash others to elevate themselves or something connected to them
I see this in the publishing industry a lot. Authors published with micro press verbally shred publishers with bigger, more commercial houses, and talk about how their publishers are better. I adore my publisher, have nothing but positive things to say about them. But they are great because they're great. Not because New York sucks. The same with, say, sports. The New England Patriots are a stellar football team, and they are even if the Indianapolis Colts are also a stellar football team. It's not necessary to insult their coach or blame them for cheating in order to elevate the Pats. (Though they did totally pipe in crowd noise and the officials did a horrible job. :) )

7. Not hearing
It really frustrates me when someone is trying to talk to me and I can't hear them well enough to understand the words. Especially when I have to ask them to repeat it more than one. What's ironic is...

8. Not being heard
...I get equally frustrated when I'm telling someone something and they have to ask me more than once to repeat it.

9. Age apologism
This is probably going to annoy (or, better, amuse) a lot of people, since I'm only 36 (I keep calling myself 37 even though I'm not for another 39 days). It bugs me when people blame forgetfulness or misunderstanding or lack of knowledge on their age. We are all forgetful, and that's because we either have far too many things to remember and deal with, or we are focused in one direction and other things fall by the wayside (or a combination). Not getting a pop culture reference means you haven't seen that movie or paid attention to that celebrity's news--"out of touch" has nothing to do with being "old." And at the bottom of the "acceptable excuses" pile is technology. If my 86-year-old grandfather can send me e-mail, anyone can. The ability to learn new things, and to teach yourself new things, only stalls if you let it.

10. Dishes not being put in the sink right
This is such a silly one, yet it annoys me so much. Okay, I admit, it's very neurotic and anal. But I do dishes every single day, and it's not my favorite thing to do. Of course. So I've asked everyone to put things that go in the bottom of the dishwasher on the left side of the sink, things that go in the top on the right, and silverware in the tray. You're putting your cup in the sink anyway, just shift it an inch to the right. Why is that so frickin' hard?

11. Football announcers jinx
I swear, every time they announce some often obscure but usually cool stat, it immediately gets broken. Like, "Adam Vinatieri has never missed a field goal in this stadium" and he immediately misses. Or, "The Patriots have scored on their first possession for 15 games" and then they go three and out. Can't they say the stat AFTER the attempt? Let us know Tom Brady's interception-to-throw ratio at halftime, not right before he tosses a bomb, please.

12. Crowds
You know by the time you get down this far, usually the writer is scraping the bottom of the brain to think of something in the category. In this case, I couldn't believe I didn't think of my last two right off the bat. I hate crowds. I hate being considerate and stepping aside to let a woman with a stroller squeeze through the six-inch gap between groups of people clogging the thoroughfare, then being forced to wait while 50 other people stream through, ignoring my obvious attempts to go the other way. I hate being patient and waiting my turn and having someone behind me push me aside to get by. This is one of the rare times I get belligerent with people. "What makes you more important than me? Why is it essential that you get down their first? What difference will two more seconds make?" Grrr.

13. Servers who pour off the top of the soda
I may hate this more than anything else on the list. You go to the movie theater or the drive-thru, and order a Coke (usually a Coke, because it takes longer for the Coke fizz to dissipate than the Diet Coke or Sprite). The server doesn't care how much of their (admittedly cheap) product they waste, and they pour off the top, then fill some more, then pour off the top, then fill some more. The problem is, that "pouring off the top" is also pouring all over the side of the cup. Then they expect you to carry that mess and let it drip all over you and your car. It's lazy and inconsiderate. It's okay, though, I make them wipe it off every time. :)

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Buncha Stuff. With Pictures! And Links.

My last post (way long ago--sorry I've been AWOL) was about the WGA strike. I just deleted a really long post with viewpoints and opinions about it, but so much of it was rehashing stuff I've read elsewhere, I decided to just link you to United Hollywood. That's the true behind-the-scenes look. Yes, it's from the WGA perspective, but it addresses a lot of issues from both sides.

And really, the bottom line is that WGA members' average annual income is $5,000, and most of the CEOs of the companies fighting not to pay them are making billions per year. Each. This is an important issue that has an effect not just on the very, very few "rich" writers and the actors who's union contract is up later in the year, but on all the "smaller" sectors of the business, too. Big picture and long term is important, and not just when you get there.

On a lighter note...

We saw this in the parking lot at Barnes & Noble today:

Imagine the claws on the thing that did that! I think Sam and Dean should come check it out! You know, and protect helpless book-buyers. Like me.


It looks like the dining room project is really going to happen. Unless I want to keep THIS on my wall:

There was a curl of paper at the edge. Jim tore it. A little. Number One said part of it looked like a nose, so he then felt the need to draw on the wall.

Lovely, inn't it?


Umm, let's see, I should do a couple more links.

Lauren Dane has some big news. People have big news all around me! Go congratulate her, if you are so inclined. She deserves it, she's been working hard toward this for a long time.

Also, you should go here and order this book. I read it, and it's awesome. And yes, there is a sequel, so the unresolved elements will be resolved, in time. Something to look forward to! :)

Oh, and one final thing...

The New England Patriots are 9-0, and there is much belief that they will go undefeated for the season, something only done once before, by the 1972 Miami Dolphins (who won 14 regular season games). The coach of that 1972 team, the legendary Don Shula, was asked if the Patriots do it, should there be an asterisk next to them in the record books. He basically said yes.

Look. The Patriots were caught doing something they weren't supposed to do. Something big enough to cause unprecedented punishment. But they're winning now. Does anyone really think they're not under intense scrutiny by the NFL? That they could get away with cheating NOW? Does anyone think Randy Moss is NOT really catching that ball in double coverage, or that Wes Welker is making people miss because of...what, mind control?

Consider this. It is widely discussed how horribly bad the NFL is right now. In fact, I just checked, and out of 32 teams, 20 are .500 or below (meaning they have lost as many or more games than they've won). I don't know how that compares to mid-season in previous years, but it seems pretty bad. And it makes me wonder...

The Patriots aren't winning because they're cheating. And it's unlikely that Indianapolis, Dallas, and Green Bay are, either. It's unlikely that anyone is cheating at all right now.

Which really makes me wonder if that's why so many teams are losing so badly.

So that's pretty much it for me today. Probably more than enough, some of you would say. ;)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Have You Heard...

Some of you may not be aware of the writers' strike in Hollywood. Here's an awesome explanation of why it's happening and what the writers are asking for. I'm posting it to hopefully pre-empt all the whining we'd be wont to do come January/February when all our favorite shows go off the air.

Saturday, November 03, 2007


NaNo Updates:

Day 1 = 4722 words
Day 2 = 755 words
Day 3 = 3200 words

Day 2 was dismal due to a proofing job and prepping to travel, then traveling, and going to bed early. Today was better due to writing during soccer warmups, a mini-retreat at a friend's house, and after dinner/before Bee Movie, so I am exactly on task now.

Goals Updates:

Writing = 213,716 words for the year. Won't make 350,000. Might make 300,000, or just under.

Exercise = 260 days done, need 40 more, no problem. Must up that next year. :(

Weight = gained two back and they don't want to go away again, but the clerk at my favorite café noticed that I'd lost weight. \o/ Not a single other person has.

Books = 89, doubtful I will even reach 100 this year, never mind my increased goal.

House = uncertain. A little more planning underway, so we'll see.

Supernatural Update:

I loved this week's show as much as all of them, though I think my intense passion has settled down a little. I'm thinking more about...not flaws, necessarily, but things that aren't perfectly right. Like, how does Sam keep winding up alone so he can be available to Ruby and stuff? It's not like Dean goes to get gas during the 30 seconds it takes Sam to pack his duffle. Or his nifty new camie backpack. :)

I also can "see" the writers' work more this season. In the first two seasons, it felt more organic, more natural, and we could gather puzzle pieces and start putting them together but the whole picture was still black, we couldn't see what was coming. This season, what's coming seems all too clear, and I feel like we're being shoved in big chunks in that direction, and that the writing is struggling to serve that purpose rather than serve the moment. If that makes any sense.

Not that there's nothing redeeming about it. I loved how they took old elements--vengeful spirit, not-dead spirit, single-episode mystery--and wove a new tale. They kept tropes of the show (research, "you save the girl, I'll go fight the baddie") without making them routine and yawn-inducing. The yelling in the car was awesome, the confrontation at the end even awesomer, because we know both of them are right but we can't help but side with Sam (of course!).

I was a little disappointed with Sandra McCoy's scene. I blame the direction more than the acting. She seemed nervous and at one point I think she forgot her line, or didn't give her response the punch it was supposed to have. I wondered why they used that take. But it's up to the director to make the guest actor at ease and get from them what the character needs. I also thought she was the most obviously "blind" of all the characters on the show who've had the opaque contacts (YED, reaper, crossroads demon) and was glad it didn't last long.

But WHOA. I admit I was shocked that Sam killed her. Not because I thought he shouldn't--the demon deserved it, with the taunting and the evildoing and all. But he didn't seem to care any more about the woman inhabited by the demon. So is that Sam maybe being not!Sam? Or is it the writers already tired of having to worry about that factor when the boys confront demons? Or, conveniently, both?

Next week: Pirates! Yay! Looks that way, anyway.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

These Made Me Cry

This one, because it was so good and we'll never get to see more (idiot suits):

This one, because Yay! Joss! And the premise even sounds cool.

Yeah, yeah, NaNo started today, blah blah blah. Despite my widely ranging attempts at procrastination this morning, I'm halfway through today's page count goal. Back to it!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Random Thoughts

Trish Milburn, my guest blogger from October 19th, has advanced to the second round of the American Title contest! Yay, Trish! Voting for that round begins November 12. I'll try to post a reminder for anyone who is interested. Check out her blog tomorrow for some super-exciting news, too.


My cats don't like each other. Well, they don't hate each other, either. Frisbee always licks Maya, usually right before they chase each other and fight. And we even saw Maya licking Frisbee once. But they never occupy the same recreational spaces. If we're on the bed watching TV, and Frisbee is with us and Maya jumps up, Frisbee jumps down. If Frisbee is in my window, Maya will wait until she's gone, then take her place. They won't sit look out the front door at the same time. In fact, the only time they're close and not fighting (or preparing to fight) is when we're feeding them.

So imagine my shock when I went to bed Monday night and found this:

They were there again last night! And I didn't have the heart to send them out. I contorted myself around them until Jim came to bed.


I'm a mess.

I hate age-related generalization as much as I hate gender-related generalization. Forgetting stuff is more because of an overload of things to remember (or a lack of use of the brain) than age by itself. I've met 80-year-olds in better shape than I am. But it is really hard to dispute that recovery is slower the older I get, and wear and tear is taking its toll.

This week I've had:

Stapler Palm (from stapling 50 or so booklets for Number Two's reading program)

Folding Thumb (from folding those booklets before stapling)

Bowling Arm (and back and ribs)

Walking Legs (tight muscles from walking twice as long as I usually do)

Walking Foot (pain in the ball of my left foot from 4+ miles of asphalt)

Anger Fist (from slamming the side of my my fist--repeatedly--against the bedroom door after walking into it in the dark when it is never ever closed at that time of day)

But by far the stupidest was Pavilion Head. It was accompanied by a nice case of sideways whiplash and a bruised butt cheek from the card case in my back pocket. I'd been inline skating with Number Two, who was impressed with my skill. I told her I'd been skating for 30 years, and experience counts, even though I don't do it that much anymore. She wanted to see how fast I could go. I showed her.

Now, inline skates are nearly impossible for me to stop with. So I ran, deliberately, into the wall around the ladies room. No problem. Except the wall didn't meet the ground. So, yeah, my skates kept going, and there was nothing to grab. I didn't go down that hard, but did hit at an angle, which meant my head bounced off the side of the building.

Yes, I am stupid and prone to such when challenged.

What's that? Where was my helmet. Oh, the trunk of the car. Number Two was all geared up with pads, but her helmet was soaking wet. I couldn't make her wear it. So I didn't wear mine. Which was fine, she never fell, and of course neither did I know.


I know most of my blog readers--the ones I know personally, anyway--are not that interested in football. But I can't help it, I have to talk about it.

The New England Patriots are 8-0, and have slaughtered all their competition so far, including the top-rated defense in the NFC, the Washington Redskins. Everyone thought Dallas would be score was 48-27. So then it was that Dallas was overrated, but Washington, well, we hadn't played anyone yet. They'd give us a run for our money. Yep. Final score, 52-7. Indianapolis, who is 7-0 and has beaten some teams who are arguably tougher than those New England has beaten, is our opponent on Sunday. It will be a great game, and is being hyped as such. (Two undefeated teams have not faced each other this late in the season since 1921.)

The problem is, everyone is turning on the Patriots. They're bullies. They have no class. They're evil to Indianapolis's goodness, mainly because they keep running up the score (I guess Indie doesn't do that, despite their 60-14 score differential the last two weeks).

I've found myself indignant about the whole thing, trying to argue why it's a good thing they don't take Tom Brady off the field earlier (he can't be expected to be in playoff form if he only plays half a game every week), that we go for it on 4th and 1 when we're up 38-0 (they could stop us and get the ball back and keep us from scoring again), that we don't take a knee (giving the ball to our fifth-string running back allows the other team to force a fumble and gives them a fighting chance--and it also gives that fifth-string running back some film for when a trade or free agency come into play).

The truth is...maybe it is wrong. Maybe we should rest Tom and let Matt Cassel play some football. Maybe we should sit down in the middle of the field in the third quarter and let the other team play without us (probably we'd still win). Maybe Bill (our coach) has an unreasonable chip on his shoulder and he's trying to punish everyone he thinks has some role in putting it there.

But I don't care. I want to watch my team play. I want to see the magic that is Tom Brady 83 yards to Randy Moss in double coverage. I especially want to see Wes Welker and his soccer-player body make sweet moves that cause defensive backs to fall over their own feet. I want Laurence Maroney--or, hey, Kyle Eckel--to run through a porous defensive line. I want Chris Hanson (punter) to stay on the sidelines. Give me record-setting touchdown numbers, gigantic offensive yardage, more points. And more. And more than that.

Because it's fun. And geez, isn't that what football's all about?


I'm all set for NaNoWriMo! I finished redoing my website. I have my spreadsheets all set up to track my progress and chart my story info. I have little bits and pieces of the story and the world and the characters--mainly the latter two--jotted down and rubbing against each other in my head. So tomorrow I embark on a 30-day adventure.

NaNo's goal is 50,000 words. That's all I need to do to win. About 1668 per day. But last year I did just over 85,000 in 29 days, so I want to beat that. My last book was closer to 88,000, so I probably will. The word count, anyway. We'll see about the days.

What are some keys to success in NaNo?

Clearing your schedule is a big one. Which is why I signed up for four two-hour shifts at the kids' book fairs over the next two weeks. *sigh* I also have two proofreading/editing jobs coming soon. Jim will be home for six days over Thanksgiving, and we plan to redo the dining room. He wants a medieval castle, so I said we should use joint compound, carve the stones into it, paint it light gray, and then sponge dark gray over that. Yeah, that's a lot of work. there's only one real wall, though. The rest of the walls (one with a large bay window, the others just arches into other rooms) we can just paint.

Anyway. I shall have to go gangbusters on the days I am totally free to make up for the days I only get a couple of pages done. Last year I didn't miss a day. I have to do the same this year, and that means the Neo will get its first real strong workout.

I can't wait!

Oh, if you're also doing NaNo, let me know your user name so I can Buddy you. I'm Nuj. Good luck!

Monday, October 29, 2007

An Open Letter to Single Parents

Well, this is really not about single parents in real life, because I don't know many, and I can't say I've ever encountered the policy in real life. But it is everywhere in fiction. It abounds in category romances, and I just watched the episode of Gilmore Girls where Luke lets Lorelai throw April's birthday party.

The policy to which I'm referring is only applied to romantic relationships for some reason. Single moms don't want their kids to get to know the guys they date at all, or to know the women their kids' fathers date, because OMG the relationship might not last and the kid would be attached and they'd be devastated beyond recovery if they left.

So better not let your kid make friends. They might move away, or more likely, decide they'd rather be closer friends with someone else, and devastate your kid.

Don't let them go to school. It's sooooo easy to get attached to a good teacher and then wham, nine months later, they're out of their life. They'll never get over that, after seeing them day after day, more total time than they see their own family.

Definitely don't let them play sports. Attachments to coaches and teammates can be strong. And can you imagine, the trauma of a combined losing season and having to say goodbye?

Most of all, never, ever, EVER get a pet. Cats might be okay, if you get them young, because they can live 20 years. Unless, you know, they don't. They could get sick. So yeah, forget the cats. Big dogs only live to mid-teens, small dogs a little longer. "Starter" pets like hamsters have very short life spans. Stay away from those.

The point is, kids are resilient. My mother was a single parent from the time I was seven and my brother was four. She dated, and we met most of the guys, because it was important that if there was going to be a relationship there, everything fit. That we liked them and they liked us. All of them left our lives, and it didn't hurt us. It taught us.

The way to raise mature, well-adjusted adults who can handle change is to give kids reasons to adjust, changes to which they can adapt. Life has pain. We all need to endure it, and the only way to learn how is by doing it.

The flip side is that you may deny them, and yourself, something wonderful. And that's an even bigger loss.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #21

Thirteen Things About Current TV

I had a few other topics in the works, but I've been wanting to post on this one, so I thought I'd do it this way. Maybe I'll ramble less. :)

1. I stopped watching Prison Break.

First episode, I was meh. Second caught me, and I thought that was it. But a very big draw for me was Sara, and when I knew the actress wasn't coming back, it killed some of the interest. Still, the character was there, so there was always hope. And there was a reason. Then they cut off her head, and I haven't been able to bring myself to watch it since. I deleted the episode with the box and canceled my season pass.

2. I miss Prison Break.

I heard Michael Scofield either on a radio teaser or a TV spot when I was in the other room. It took a moment for me to understand who was speaking and why I had such a longing in my chest. I miss Michael and his brains and his compassion and his willingness to do anything for those he loves, not least of which is admitting that love. I miss Lincoln, too, the big lug who's got his own brains as well as an ohmygod body. If I get bored, I might have to catch up online or iTunes.

3. I stopped watching Ugly Betty.

I don't like Wilhelmina that much, and I hate the Willie/Dad plotline. And I hate the Alex plot line. As much as I love Marc and Amanda, I'm not thrilled with the Fay-is-her-mother plotline, either. Very unhappy with Henry leaving. The final straw was Santo's death and the way they handled it in the season opener. I'm not one to really notice emotional manipulation, or care. But this was way too much.

Plus, Betty should be out of those braces by now.

4. Numb3rs is like the Indianapolis Colts this season.

Nothing flashy, not the sexy show or the one getting all the hype (for those who don't know, that's the New England Patriots in this analogy). Just getting the job done, with solid quality.

5. Heroes is leaving much to be desired.

The reasons I'm unhappy with this show are the same reasons everyone else is. Nothing is happening. The same things are rehashed every damned week. And the things that are "fresh" aren't really. An amnesiac victim afraid of his past so he hides from it? Yawn. The geeky guy coaching the drunken stud so he can get the girl the geeky guy really wants? Yawner. Masi Oka and Dave Anders do their best, but even they can't make me care. I haven't yet watched the last two episodes, and from what I've heard, I'm not missing anything. I can plug in random scenes from any previous episode. Don't be surprised if this drops off the list, too.

6. Monday's replacement makes the loss of PB bearable.

I wanted to give Chuck a try, but my TiVo couldn't handle it. I got the pilot off SciFi and the second episode from Bravo, but after that they weren't rebroadcasting. I caught up online, though, because the first two eps were pretty good. Adam Baldwin rocks anything he's in, and I'm thrilled he's on every week. Sarah isn't bad, having some realness behind the hot chick exterior and some true acting ability. The sister is one of those too-gorgeous-to-be-real model types, but she has some acting ability, too, and I'm slowly getting past the plastic beauty. At least she's not blonde and skinny. Morgan is annoying, but not enough to hurt the show. I do see potential pitfalls, but I'm hopeful. So far the writing is pretty strong, and if they're smart, they'll deepen the relationships and up the stakes. Let this smart, fun, hard-working guy get over his woe-is-me past and move out of the Nerd Herd at some point. And tell his sister the truth, if not the idiot best friend. Don't be afraid to evolve, 'cause that's how the show will be more than a gimmick.

7. Who knew I wouldn't miss Veronica Mars?

Okay, Reaper isn't nearly as smart a show as VM was. The writing isn't as sharp, the world as tight. But Tuesday night isn't suffering. Until Scrubs comes back tonight, Reaper is the show that gives us a reason to laugh every week. Sock is a better lame friend than Morgan is, and the hot love interest is believable because she's not all about her hotness. I love that unlike in Chuck, the main character's secret isn't a secret. His parents and his friends know, which broadens the scope and offers flexibility. We will be annoyed, though, if he doesn't come clean with Andi. There's no reason to keep it from her.

8. Pushing Daisies is just okay.

I hate to say that. The premise is great, the characters great, the acting good, the writing fine. I really hate to say it because I love Jim Dale so much. But even though it's a show I enjoy, it doesn't drag me to my TV. I'll be glad it's there when there's nothing else to watch. Of course I wouldn't really be upset if it was yanked from the air, so it got a full-season pickup.

9. Speaking of full season pickups...

So did Private Practice, which I have not yet gotten around to watching. I hear a lot of disappointment about it, which disappoints me because it has such a great cast. But just because other people aren't thrilled doesn't mean I won't love it. I'll get to it eventually.

10. Bionic Woman sounds like it sucks.

My husband watched and was pretty disappointed, and his reasons for not liking it are definitely reasons I wouldn't like it. I'm still going to watch it--eventually--but my expectations are low. Plus, it's not on next week, which is always a warning sign. Maybe it's because of the World Series, but that started last night, and BW was still on. I guess we'll see.

11. Oh, yeah, I stopped watching Smallville, too.

There was absolutely nothing I liked in the first episode of the season, so I didn't watch any more than that. I catch glimpses at the end, because it's on right before Supernatural, and it looks like it is rehashing old storylines, just with new characters. I don't miss it at all.

12. We are so happy Scrubs is back!

Season premiere tonight. I don't have any particular love for any of the characters, but they sure make me laugh, and it's my husband's favorite show, so he'll be happy. I'm kinda glad it's the last season, though, because I'm sick of Eliot's whining and JD's idiocy and self-focus.

13. Of course, the best is saved for last.

Is anyone surprised that it's Supernatural? No, I didn't think so. Interestingly, the best part for me has been the caliber of guest stars on the last two episodes. From the crazy hunter to the freaked-out Mom, they've been mostly top-notch.

Of course, guest stars by themselves aren't enough. It's still all about Sam and Dean, and there's been much to love about them so far. I can't wait to see where the main story arc takes them, as the days tick past and Sam gets more desperate to save his brother.

I've read minor spoilers, synopsis-type things about upcoming episodes and a few things we're going to get about Bobby and Mary and even Ruby and Bela and oh, yeah, Henrickson (or whatever that FBI guy's name is). Put all together, it makes for a very rich season.

But best of all are the stand-alone episodes. Changeling kids? A rabbit's foot with real power? Fairy tales come to life...and death? Awesome.

Excuse me, now, it's nearly time to watch!

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Dual Purpose

JR Ward

Megan Padalecki

Brandon having sex with Megan

Chicken feet


Apparently, these strings will drive traffic to my site via search engines. So everyone who is reading this because they clicked a Google link...GOTCHA! Now go here.

I got lax about bumping up my labels that only have one entry (purposefully, anyway--I did get a couple just by happenstance). So today the topics are "Love" and "News."

I'm in love. Been in love for nearly 20 years now. Every day there is something that reinforces that love. But there is a part of me that misses those early days, the feeling in my chest when I was falling in love. Misses the anticipation of searching the street in case he walked by, or of the first (or tenth or 500th) kiss.

Which is why I write romance, of course. To recreate those moments for others like me, and for those who may not have felt it yet. And to relive them myself.

It's also, without a doubt, the reason for my crushes on such specimens as Jensen Ackles and Orlando Bloom--but don't tell my husband.

I don't watch the news.

There. Two more down, only three to go!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Out for Lunch

Last Thursday, Central Pennsylvania Romance Writers sponsored a booth at the Patriot-News/Wolf Furniture expo event, "Out for Lunch." Four published authors and a representative of our chapter were there, standing and talking almost non-stop for three hours. Hundreds of people came by, most excited and interested to see a group of local authors.

Prime Location

Thanks to the event coordinator (not sure her actual title, but she was our contact), Lisa Strohl, we had an excellent location. The Zembo Mosque is a gorgeous building, and we were in the tile room, which was gorgeous. We thought it would hurt a little, being in a smaller, not-main room, but we were positioned right on the end, next to the door from the room where they picked up their lunches, so everyone had to go right by us.

Megan Hart and Misty Simon, setting up their stuff

Misty had some fun giveaways ("melt-your-ex/boss/whomever" candles) and I had cute gifts-with-purchase. Most of which I still have.


We talked to a lot of people, collected a lot of names for our drawing/mailing lists, and sold a few books. Not enough, I don't think, to make back any of our money spent, but the number of contacts we made could lead to future sales--you never know. And we had fun:

Megan Hart and Jacki King

Things finally slowed down about half an hour before we were allowed to pack up. There were a lot of people who write, or would like to write, or wish they could write. Maybe some will become members of CPRW!

Talking to Customers/Taking a Break

Misty Simon, Megan Hart, Vicki Smith, Jacki King, Me

Next year, we plan to take a male cover model in a tux and have him hand out kisses. If you buy a book, you can sit on his lap. I think that will go over even better than the duckies.