Sunday, December 30, 2007

A guitar for Winterson makes a nice present for me. It was meant as a present for him -- and he clearly likes it, but it's turning out to be a nice present for me too. So far, he can barely even play the chords for "Louie Louie," but I'm already enjoying listening to him practice.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Finished my first novel today. Drafty. Very drafty. But finished!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Here's what I want to know about the latest episode of Heroes: exactly what kind of lab requires the class to light their Bunsen burners and then listen to a lecture about Charles Darwin? Even if it's a "general science" class that covers both biology and chemistry... that still doesn't make sense.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Now that I've had crab-cakes with jicama for the second time, I'm always going find crab-cakes without jicama disappointing. You wouldn't expect it, but jicama offers the perfect crunchy contrast to soft yummy crab-cakes.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Late night Settlers silliness brings you: "One Sheep Who Could Have Been One Sheep With Fifteen Other Sheep," the potential title of a children's book.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Watching 13 Going On 30 is a little like watching Peggy Sue Got Married in reverse. The obvious comparison is, of course, to Big. And it does have some traits in common with Big. However, I found it had just as much in common with both Peggy Sue Got Married and Mr. Destiny. So, if you combine Big, Peggy Sue Got Married, and Mr. Destiny -- all three better movies -- you get... Mr. Big Got Married. Actually, that won't come out for another year and will star Sarah Jessica Parker. Seriously, it was a cute movie. Not good, but cute.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Winterson brought me a pastry all the way from Poland. It tasted a lot like a normal pastry. But it came all the way from Poland.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

In high school, my cousins came to visit, and one of them brought his Nintendo 64 with four controllers and Mario Kart 64. It was excellently fun. Mostly, I played Bowser and Yoshi. (They're green.) My feeling was that Yoshi was capable of going faster, but Bowser was easier. I tended to over steer when playing Yoshi, because he was just too responsive.

A few years later when I finally got around to learning to drive, I completely freaked out my mom by announcing, after finishing my very first circuit of the chosen parking lot, that our car looked like it should drive like Bowser but actually drove like Yoshi. It was a big tank of a Ford Crown Victoria, but it was also one of the most responsive cars you could find. It would practically drive itself if you let it.

Anyway, a few days ago, Winterson got it in his head that he simply had to have a Nintendo 64. So, he camped out the Craigslist adds until he found a reasonable deal on a Nintendo 64 with four controllers (bizarrely, not the green one), and a decent selection of games: two Zelda, two James Bond, and Mario Kart. As it has been many years since I last played Mario Kart, I started off on Bowser. However, I was surprised last night when I finally tried Yoshi out again to find that I now find driving Yoshi much easier than driving Bowser.

Could my practice driving that Crown Victoria have improved my Mario Kart playing?

Friday, August 17, 2007

When you're little, for instance as Tanaris is little, there are some definite advantages. There are difficulties too..

But when else in her life will Tanaris have pet cats her own size and pet dogs FIVE TIMES her size. Or, for that matter, be able to fly? (Admittedly, she has some assistance when she flies, but, nonetheless, she spends a lot more time flying than I do.)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

As my pain and suffering decreases, I'm finding that my tolerance for it lessens accordingly. Thus, I don't feel like I'm getting any better. I have three theories for why this may be.

First, I've been using up my reserves surviving this far. So, the longer this drags on, the less energy I have to manage dealing with it.

Second, as I regain strength and mobility, I'm becoming less dependent on the people around me to survive. Therefore, I feel less of an automatic need to be pleasant, cheerful, and easy to care for in order to keep my helpers happy, aiding in my survival.

Third, as I get more energy, I have more energy with which to be unhappy with my situation. Not enough energy to do anything -- just enough to be dissatisfied.

Despite the seeming conflict between theories one and three, I think there's some truth in all of these. Basically, the last few weeks have felt like drowning -- I kick and swim with all my might toward the surface, and I know, intellectually, that I'm getting closer. But, no matter how much closer I get to the surface, as long as I haven't achieved it, I am still drowning.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Tanaris sleeps so much that she makes me think of the Greek myth of Endymion -- the shepherd granted eternal sleep, in response to the wishes of the goddess Selene.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The world no longer belongs to me. Last Friday evening, I passed ownership of it along to my new daughter, Tanaris. (I've used Warcraft names for myself and my husband thus far in this blog, so I figure I'll use the Warcraft nickname for my daughter as well.) I'm finding it very relaxing to not own the world any more. So far, she hasn't show too much interest in her new and grand possession. I think my favorite moment with her so far was when we were wheeled out of the elevator, coming down from the recovery ward where Tanaris had spent the first three days of her life. Entering the first floor of the hospital, the hallways opened out around us into a giant lobby, dozens of people walked by or milled in the distance, and I could see Tanaris realizing that the world was hundreds of times larger than she'd known.

Just wait until she realizes that it's hundreds of times larger than that...

And then hundreds of times larger again...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Unborn children do not seem to respond to either threats or bribes.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Last time I was visiting my mom, I picked up one of her Skeptical Inquirer magazines and flipped through the various articles. One was about the idea of free will and cited a study where the participants were given decisions to make and a button to push when they'd made the decision. However, their brains were also being monitored, and, supposedly, there was activity in their brains suggesting that the impulse to push the button happened significantly (this is where one of my concerns about the study lies -- what counts as "significant"?) before they would actually push the button.

Theoretically, the study showed that the decisions people make are made before the people making them intellectually realize it. Now, I don't know if the study really supports that. However, I think it's an interesting idea, and I've been trying to watch my own thinking since reading that -- trying to locate the moment when I make a decision. This is not very scientific. And, yet, I can kind of feel like sometimes I've made up my mind about something before I've managed to articulate the idea in thoughts to myself. And, then, the thinking and articulating I do is simply my mental way to explain my own decision to myself.

This may sound like I'm saying I make irrational decisions and then rationalize them to myself. (Which, actually, I think the article was arguing everyone does.) However, what I'm really trying to convey is more a sense that there's a moment when a flip switches somewhere in my brain, whenever a decision has to be made, and I can't necessarily pinpoint that moment, and it doesn't necessarily correspond with the moment when I say to myself, "I've decided that ---". Or even, necessarily, the moment right before saying that. So, perhaps, when the moment happens, it happens somewhere deep inside where I'm not even aware of it and can't feel it. And, then, the decision trickles forward and upward into parts of my brain where I can feel it and recognize it.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

I've been reading about a strange but interesting society lately. "Mystery Method" by Mystery and "The Game" by Neil Strauss both document the ideas behind and nature of the internet fostered pick-up artist society. They're surprisingly fascinating books. Anyway, one of the ideas that Mystery and Neil Strauss both propone (yes, I could use "advocate" -- which is a real word -- but, I feel that "propone" should be a word, so I choose to propone it instead) is that aspiring pick-up artists will best learn by approaching many, many women. That way, any individual rejection isn't a big deal, because the pick-up artist knows he'll just try again, approaching a different woman shortly.

This made me think of the folder of rejection letters from SF/F magazines that I keep in my top desk drawer. The first one was really hard, but they get easier over time. And each rejection is made easier by the fact that I know I'm just going to turn the story around and mail it to a different magazine. So, I'm more excited by the idea that the next magazine might take it than I am disappointed that the last magazine didn't.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

My butterfly is gone today. I didn't look for it very hard, but, then, I don't really want to find it.

Two days ago, I saw a yellow swallowtail in the front yard. I went up to it, and, to my extreme surprise, when I put out my hand it docilely landed there. I was shocked. Of course, I quickly realized that the butterfly was being docile because its wings were crumpling around the front edges. It couldn't fly well. I thought, as it was a very hot and sunny day, that maybe the poor thing was dehydrated. So, I brought it onto the front steps and put it in my geranium pot. (Sans geranium -- except for the remnants of the one from last year. I haven't been up to much gardening this year.) I poured copious amounts of water in the pot and hoped the shade and moisture would do the trick.

Later in the evening, I had to move the pot to get my butterfly out of the sun again, and I mixed up some sugar water. The butterfly's wings were only more crumpled, and it hadn't moved. I figured it was so clearly dying that any measures I took couldn't possibly do more harm, so I held the sugar water right up to its feet. The butterfly showed no interest in eating.

Yesterday, the poor swallowtail was back in the lawn. So, at least it felt up to flying. I helped it off of the sunny grass, leaving it in the shady lavender bushes. No point in bringing it back to the geranium pot. I'd already tried the full-scale intervention, and I don't think it helped. The crumpling in the wings had increased, spreading to the back ones. I figured it was time to let the butterfly find its own way to death. Poor thing.

And, as I say, this morning, it's gone. I know better than to hope there was a sudden and miraculous recovery in the night. I've learned before that when you find an injured animal in the wild, chances are you're too late to save it.

At least, it was nice to have a butterfly for a day. And, it was nice to try to do something for it. Poor butterfly.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

I've run across the theory that human intelligence evolved as a response to the complexity of human social dynamics a number of times. For instance, the strangest professor I had in college (and one of my favorites) was a visiting professor who offered a special seminar course called Robots and Society -- the intrinsic intertwining of intelligence and social dynamics was a huge theme in that course. Essentially, the professor argued, that to create an intelligent robot we must instead endeavor to create a social robot. It was a new idea to me at the time.

Most recently, I ran across this idea in a Scientific American article about ravens. Terribly clever creatures. Anyway, it got me thinking -- if human intelligence developed as a coping mechanism for dealing with human social dynamics, isn't it ironic that the most "intelligent" people are quite often the most socially awkward?

Does this deny the truth of the theory? (Which I tend toward believing in.) Or does it simply mean that human intelligence has strayed from its original purpose? Or, a question with more practical application: why don't more smart people think to use their intelligence to become less socially awkward? Do they not care? Or do they not think of it?

Clearly there are multiple kinds of intelligence. Perhaps that fact plays into the answers to my questions. Unfortunately, it doesn't immediately answer them. I imagine these're questions I'll have to keep thinking about for quite a while. Maybe I'll write a book about my thoughts on them some day. First, however, more thinking.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

My monitor broke last night, and until we get it replaced I'm using the tiny, old CRT from the music computer. It feels like I'm trapped in the late eighties/early nineties. Looking at Warcraft on the tiny, curved screen feels like looking through a bizarrely distorted time-warp -- because it's Warcraft... but... it's fifteen years ago... Woah.

Although, weirdly, Warcraft almost looks better on the tiny CRT than on my giant flat panel. The curve of the CRT and the fact that it has a physical depth to it creates the illusion that I'm looking into a tiny world contained inside it. Like a diorama. Whereas, the world of Warcraft is clearly fake and virtual when displayed on some giat, flat screen; although, the details are sharper.

Friday, June 29, 2007

I have decided that cashews are my favorite nut.

My dad loves pistachios, and I like pistachio ice cream. However, I think I like the artificial pistachio flavor, because I was not so crazy about the really high quality Haagen Dazs pistachio ice cream that actually tasted like pistachios.

And, I do like almond flavoring in all kinds of things... but that's because it tastes like maraschino cherries. (Which were invented in my home town and generally don't taste right in California.)

And there's no better flavor to add to hot chocolate than hazelnut. Not to mention that the trees are lovely and grow all over in Oregon.

And, of course, macadamia nuts can be particularly tastey covered in chocolate. Also, I do think of them as having the most sfik, nutwise.

And, to be fair, peanuts are by far the most useful. But who ever picked a favorite based on what's most useful?

No, when it comes to eating them straight -- no chocolate covering, no honey roasting, not baked into anything, nor extracted and turned into a flavor -- then I choose cashews.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The spirit of fire vanity pet from the most difficult of the fire festival quests does not look like a miniature fire elemental. It looks like a red wisp. I'm not disappointed. Really I'm not.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Winterson and I were talking about his plans for research and paper writing on the way down to Oregon for the weekend, and his ambitions pushed me into reevaluating some of my own. I've been working very slowly but steadily on my novel for the last five months, hoping to finish it before Tanaris arrives -- or at least hit 40,000 words. Well, I should hit 40,000 words within the next few days, however, I'm probably still 10,000 away from the end of the storyline. Between the snail's pace I'm writing at and the five weeks until Tanaris is due -- there's no way I'll finish. I've known that for a while, and I've been accepting it, figuring I'll just continue my snail's pace after Tanaris is born.

But, like I said, talking to Winterson got me rethinking that plan. If I revved up my speed... Planned on burning myself out... Well, maybe I could actually finish my novel before Tanaris is born. I'd be writing much faster than is long-term maintainable for me, but a break after finishing a novel isn't such a bad idea anyway.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I was reading Brideshead Revisited during the slow parts of tutoring yesterday, and I came to a lovely passage about the narrator and Sebastian discovering wine-tasting. It's not a subject I know anything about, except through the movie Sideways. At any rate, the passage described how Sebastian and the narrator would start with three bottles and three glasses each and would compare the three wines; only, as they kept tasting them, they'd get the wines mixed up and eventually would end up with the six glasses all passed between them and being poured into from any which bottle. Meanwhile, their analyses of the wines would grow more and more... well, influenced by the intoxicating effect of the wine. Here, the passage broke into dialogue, the two characters tossing back and forth sillier and sillier metaphors for describing the wine.

Ending with: "Like the last unicorn." I have to wonder, did Peter S. Beagle read Brideshead Revisited and discover that phrase for the first timethem having been inspired by Peter S. Beagle's work. They're just such striking words. It does make me wonder.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

I feel like I've been life tapping, and so I'm almost out of health, but my druid healer is busy tanking things in bear form, and I haven't got any mana either, because there are mana wraiths everywhere casting mana steal.

Friday, June 15, 2007

We had Ramoona over tonight, and the three of us watched the Warner Brothers cartoon "Feed the Kitty" right before taking her home. I mentioned that we had it checked out from the library, and Ramoona wisely pointed out that it would be best watched around 4am after we'd eaten lots of sugar. (Sugar form: homemade chocolate banana milkshakes and brownies, from a box mix.)

This was the first time I've seen "Feed the Kitty" since I was, oh, I don't know, five? Basically, I was young enough to find it powerfully, powerfully moving. It was, and remains, the saddest thing I'd ever seen. (In an absolute sense, I may have seen sadder things -- but in the relative sense that allows for how they affect me, nothing is likely to surpass the effect of "Feed the Kitty" on a kitten and cookie loving five-year-old.) Basically, it's the story of a big, ugly bulldog who becomes absolutely smitten with a tiny kitten who curls up in the folds of skin on his back. He brings the kitten home and has to hide it from his master. The kitten ends up stuffed into the flour box right before the master decides to make cookies, and the bulldog is unable to rescue the kitten before the flour is dumped into a mixer, flattened by a rolling pin, chopped up by cookie cutters, and then baked in the oven. Of course, the kitten escapes before all this happens. But the bulldog doesn't know that! At the age of five, I was absolutely horrified by the pain the dog was feeling. I empathized with ever moment and fiber of it. It was his kitten, and he'd hidden it in the flour... And... And... It was just so sad.

The final twist of the knife is when the master tries to cheer the sobbing bulldog by offering him a cookie... A cookie shaped like a kitten. This is where, absolutely moved by the memory of a cartoon I hadn't seen in some twenty years and a bit addled by being up way past my bedtime, I tried to repeat that last phrase to convey the true pathos of it to Winterson and Ramoona. Instead, I flipped it around, exclaiming: "The kitten was shaped like a cookie!" Hysrerics ensued.

Even having watched this momentous cinematic achievement tonight, I don't think Winter and Ramoona really got it. I have to admit, it didn't hit me as hard this time either. However, it's still a really cute and sweet cartoon. And, it truly is heartbreaking when the bulldog tries to nestle the kitten-shaped cookie in the folds of fur on his back. Nothing could be sweeter relief than the bulldog feels when his kitten shows up again. Not mixed, not rolled, not chopped, and not baked.

The saddest thing: a cookie shaped like a kitten.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

I can now testify first-hand that there is indeed a Westfall chicken quest. I'd always kind of suspected it was a rumor. However, yesterday, a couple level 40s were /chicken-ing the chickens while I was turning in The Killing Fields, and one of the chickens turned green. I managed to catch the quest before it went away. (The chicken didn't stay green long.)

Now, my non-demonologist warlock has a Prairie Chicken vanity pet. I've won WoW. (Don't worry, I'll keep playing. If I stopped playing, I wouldn't get to enjoy the Prairie Chicken.)

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

We've decided to bring Tanaris up bilingual...


Tuesday, June 5, 2007

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Sunday, June 3, 2007

The verdict on grilled eggplant burgers? Pretty good. The eggplant is oddly squishy for being a burger substitute, but I do like the flavor. So, it works. I would happily eat them again. And I may, seeing as we have another eggplant left over from last week's Iron Chef battles. And it's too hot to cook anything inside, so food must be either uncooked, microwaved, or barbecued. Thus, grilled eggplant.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Since the house is empty of crazy amounts of people now, I'm filling it in with the first season of Lost. I checked it out from the library. Anyway, I've heard that people are starting to feel disappointed with the current seasons of Lost because it's becoming more and more clear that the writers don't have any real plan or direction for the show. Now, admittedly, the fact that I've heard that probably biases me. However, I find it surprising that people are surprised to find that Lost is... well... lost. I mean, it's reasonably compelling, but it felt pretty directionless to me straight off the bat.

My theory is that Lost is one of a new phase of shows that is made to mimic reality TV. (The Office is another.) So, yeah, the characters are meandering around meaninglessly interacting with each other, but, apparently, that's what people like to watch these days. At least Lost bothers to employ writers and actors, meaning that the dialogue is more clever and the performances are more subtle and powerful. But, basically, it's Survivor.

(Caveat: I haven't actually watched Survivor.)
Well, I don't know quite what I'm going to do with this now that I've created it. But, I must say, the user interface for far surpasses the user interface for livejournal in quality. Drastically, drastically better.