Thursday

21 June 2018

You’re driving down Main Street with your two under-10 kids in the back seat. They’re fighting, because of course they are, that’s what bored kids do, and it’s just distracting enough that you roll through a stop sign. Luckily, there’s no cross traffic, so no one gets hurt. Unluckily, there’s a cop behind you. At the sound of whoop-whoop and a flash of lights, you pull over.

And you can’t find your license.

Now, you have a driver’s license, you just can’t find it. The officer is understanding; you get your ticket for blowing the stop sign and a chance to later prove you do, in fact, have an unexpired, valid license.

It’s an everyday kind of exchange. You broke a law, but no one got hurt, so you go on your merry way, yelling at your kids in the back seat to not tell the other parent.

Of course they’ll tell. Because they’re kids.

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You’re driving down Main Street with your two under-10 kids in the back seat. They’re fighting, because of course they are, that’s what bored kids do, and it’s just distracting enough that you roll through a stop sign. Luckily, there’s no cross traffic, so no one gets hurt. Unluckily, there’s a cop behind you. At the sound of whoop-whoop and a flash of lights, you pull over.

Problem? You don’t have a license. For whatever reason, you don’t have one. It expired. You just never bothered. Whatever.

You get your ticket, one for blowing the stop sign, one for driving without a license. You’re gonna have to appear in court, but overall, it’s not horrible.

You broke a law, no one got hurt, your crime is a misdemeanor. You can be pretty sure you’ll get a slap on the wrist and a fine. It sucks, but life goes on, so you go on your merry way, yelling at your kids in the back seat to not tell the other parent.

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You’re driving down Main Street with your two under-10 kids in the back seat. They’re fighting, because of course they are, that’s what bored kids do, and it’s just distracting enough that you roll through a stop sign. Luckily, there’s no cross traffic, so no one gets hurt. Unluckily, there’s a cop behind you. At the sound of whoop-whoop and a flash of lights, you pull over.

Problem? You don’t have a license. For whatever reason, you don’t have one. It expired. You just never bothered. Whatever.

The officer asks for your license and insurance, which you don’t have. You’re asked to get out of the car, made to step away. Another cop shows up. Your kids are forcibly removed from the back seat of your car. You’re not allowed to explain anything to them. They’re frantic, crying, screaming for you. They get shoved into the back seat of the other cop car, and you’re not told where they’ll be taken or when you’ll get to see them again.

You’re shoved into the back of the first cop car, taken to jail, with no guarantee of when you’ll be given a hearing.

Your crime is a misdemeanor, but you’re treated like a felon. You have no representation.

And you may never see your kids again.

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Here’s the thing.

There is nothing illegal about crossing the border to seek asylum.

Crossing the border without a visa and not asking for asylum is a misdemeanor.

By law, it’s no worse than driving without a license, an offense for which rendering your children from your arms is unthinkable. An offense for which going to prison is unthinkable. An offense for which your children being held in a prison-like institution is unthinkable.

A misdemeanor is a misdemeanor is a misdemeanor.

Yet, that's what we're doing.

Supporting the current zero-tolerance policy that rips families apart (and don’t let the newly signed executive ordering ending that fool you; it’s only good for 20 days and does nothing for the families already affected, and has the neato clause that allows apprehended families be held indefinitely) supports the idea that the disaffected in this world don’t deserve to be have access to the same legal protections as everyone else. It’s about as un-American as it gets.

It does nothing to protect our borders.

It does nothing to make you more safe.

It does nothing to save American jobs for American citizens.

It will destroy these children; even if they’re reunited with their parents, the mental and emotional damage is done.

It will result in hundreds, if not thousands, of these kids remaining in the U.S., never to see their parents again. Guess who foots the bill for that?

It will cost the U.S. far more to continue to implement this zero-tolerance policy than if things had been left alone.

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BUT OBAMA…

No. This was not a policy started by Obama. Families were not ripped apart, and the kids were not held like animals in cages. Yes, there were detention facilities in which kids were and are held, but those were largely occupied by teen boys who crossed the border *without their parents* and that doesn't mean they were the right thing to do.

And those kids? With the influx of children being taken from their parents for the misdemeanor crime of seeking a better life, those kids are being taken to a tent city.

A tent city.

In the Texas heat.

You know, like prisoners in Arizona. Prisoners who probably have more rights.

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It’s simple, really. The current administration had no difficulty with the idea of holding children hostage to getting funding for a border wall that will do absolutely nothing to curb illegal immigration.

And really, if the administration ever gets it, the net effect will be null.

Don’t kid yourself.

Most illegal aliens in the U.S. didn’t sneak over the border with Mexico. Most of them came into this county legally, on Visas, which they overstayed.

But that doesn’t count, does it?

Where’s the fun in having moral outrage about that?

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Illegal aliens are not taking your jobs. You wouldn’t do the jobs they’re taking. The jobs you’re losing are more likely taken by corporate greed; that rich white guy sitting at the CEOs desk who would rather make another million or two rather than bolster the work force that earns him the big bucks. The jobs lost went overseas, where the work can be done for a fraction of the pay.

Illegal aliens are not grabbing food stamps. They’re not eligible.

Illegal aliens are not sucking up welfare dollars. Most people are welfare are, surprise, white and born right here in the U.S.

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Continued support of this administration blows me away.

I basically understood when people voted for him; they wanted to take a wrecking ball to everything. They were tired of the way things were going.

The problem is in still supporting this administration. That wrecking ball is swinging, and if left unchecked is going to demolish everything. Was that the point? Because if it was, you’re forgetting something major: when you tear something beyond its foundation, there’s a good chance it can’t be rebuilt.

When the Boy was in 8th grade or thereabouts, he told me about what they were studying in history; the U.S. had carried this particular form of government long past its expected expiration. Looking ahead, we were poised to endure a fundamental shift that might end this form of republic in a generation, maybe two.

He thought it might happen sooner.

Twenty to thirty years.

That’s stuck with me all this time. And now I worry he was right.

We’re throwing babies in jail because someone else committed a misdemeanor.

We’re throwing babies in jail.

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You can’t support that. You can’t.

If you can?

God help you, and I mean that sincerely.

Saturday

9 June 2018

It pricks at me every now and then that I should be miles-deep into training for this year's 3 Day. I registered for it. I'll probably register for it the way I always did the Avon Walk...every year, with good intentions.

But...the truth is the 2017 was probably my last walk. And that popped back up last night when someone asked me how my training was going and the answer was "It's not."

My body just can't take it anymore. The training (if done right) is time consuming and draining, and the walk itself is...hard. It's a fun kind of hard and you're doing it with hundreds of your best friends that you just met that day, but still hard.

I managed it last year with Norco and alcohol. I don't recommend that.

I also managed it because the Spouse Thingy went with me and walked every step with me. It's for sure not something I would ever do again without someone who can walk my pace and knows what to do if I crash and burn.

I'm not saying 100% for sure never again, because it's an event that matters to me and I freaking love my team members. But as it stands for now, I think I'm done. I hate the idea, but that's where I am right now.

Friday

8 June 2018

Overheard in Starbucks today:

Woman 1: I put it on Facebook.
Woman 2: I didn't see it.
W1: But I put it on Facebook!
W2: I still didn't see it.
W1: It was right there, on my profile.
W2: It didn't show up in my feed.
W1: But--
W2: I. Did. Not. See. It.

I really kinda felt for the second woman. She could not make her friend understand that just because you post it on Facebook, that doesn't mean it makes it to everyone's news feed. I've missed a metric chit on of things posted by my friends because FB's algorithms just doesn't allow for every single friend seeing every single thing you post. I've been added to groups formed to collect cards for common friends who have lost a pet, and didn't know for weeks. I've been invited to events, finding out after the fact.

The takeaway: if it's important, don't rely on Facebook to deliver the message for you.

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 If you follow Max's "official" author page on FB, you already know we're seriously considering starting a Patreon page. It's still very much in the consideration stage, but leaning ever so slightly toward giving it a try. I'd like to consolidate our blogging to one site and bring Buddah back into the mix, and using Patreon would be a way to do that.

But, it's more than that. It's also a platform where artists and creators can invite support from their patrons. As a writer, I would be able to offer a mix of free content and sponsored content, and have more control over it than I currently do. Face it, the 'Zon has such a choke hold on books sales--I know more than 98% of my sales comes from there--that writers are pretty much at their mercy. My print books are distributed to all the online book stores via Ingram, and I could (now) go that route with digital books, I dove head first into the Amazon pool when they opened up sales avenues to individual writers who wanted to offer their works in ebook format, and I've kind of stayed in one spot since.

It hasn't made sense to take another route with ebooks. But with them paying less and less for books downloaded via Kindle Unlimited, and watching my download numbers go up but royalties plummet, it feels like a good time to give something new a try. With Patreon, I can offer up my backlist and give patrons the first read on new material. Some of the content would be free for anyone, other content would be available to paying patrons (and there are different levels...it could be as little as $1 a month.)

I follow a few writers and musicians there and am a paying patron at various levels. And every now and then I get on the site and surf, looking for new creators, and have found some pretty cool stuff.

But, like I said, still thinking about it. If I do it...y'all are totally getting my first few books for free,

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No matter what, we're going to try to blog more. Quick blurbs on FB are fine, but I'm far too verbose and I have a lot to whine about.

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I still haven't gotten links up on Max's blog for pawtographed copies of The Blessings of Saint Wick nor for The Whens of Wick. But...the second book in the Return of the Wick Chronicles series is with the editor and a couple of beta readers. The takeaway from this one is probably, if you say you want to be a character in the Wickiverse, it just might happen.

Thursday

7 June 2018

We ride together...a lot
I rode over to Starbucks today, which is not an unusual thing to do. If I have a choice, I take the bike. I take the long way and get there at right about 5 miles, and then take the longer way home. It's a heck of a lot more fun than driving, in spite of the idiots driving around here who seem to think bike lanes are a suggestion and have no clue that bicycles are allowed to use the roads.

My favorite toy has an electric motor; I have another bike, a standard step-through 8 speed road bike, but because of reasons, I'm not comfortable taking it far from home. Hence, it sits in the shed and I always take the pretty pink bike. Today I got to Starbucks and started to lock it up, but when I went to turn the controller off, it was flashing an error code.

Because the Internet is a thing, after I got online and whined about it, and then posted to a Pedego FB group, I got the answer I needed and was not stuck there all day waiting for the Spouse Thingy to come pick me up. But I did whine about it BECAUSE OF COURSE I DID THAT'S WHAT I DO, which set off a IM conversation that would have pissed me off if I hadn't known it was tongue in cheek.

Dood: Electric. That's cheating.
Me: Electric. That's fricking FUN.
Dood: Cheat, cheat cheat, cheat, cheat.
Me: Says the guy with an electric skateboard. And an electric wheel.
Dood: That's different. Those are for fun.

Here's the thing... a lot of people--a lot of a lot--think riding an electric bike is somehow cheating. A "real" cyclist pedals using nothing but body power and sweats like a whore in July, developing massive quads that can crush small children and delicate women with zero effort. He was teasing me because he knows I've heard that grunted in my direction: "yeah, it's a nice looking bike, but she's cheating."

If you ride a regular bike, more power to you. The Spouse Thingy does; he likes his bike. I like mine. He uses his gears to adapt to changes in the road grade and surface. I use different levels of pedal assist. It's basically like using the gears, which I have but have never changed, but I save a lot of wear and tear on my knees. And I'm not young anymore. I like the idea of saving that wear and tear.

The motor isn't a heart-rate curbing device, either. If I take the road bike a mile, I get my HR up to about 130. If I take the electric, I get my HR up to about 130. The difference is I get there faster...so I go further. If I take the road bike, I might ride 3-4 miles. If I take the electric, I might stop at 10 but I'm just as likely to go 15, and often 20. My longest ride is 30, and I only went home because I was hungry and had to pee.

Road bike = 20ish minutes at 130
Electric bike = 60-120 minutes at 130

For what I want...it's not cheating.

I hate the helmet, tho...
But here's the kicker. I don't only ride the electric because it's more fun for me. I ride it because a couple of years ago (hell, maybe 5-7 at this point) I was pedaling my merry way home, and a quarter mile short I started feeling super nauseated and light headed. And then I passed out. I was damned lucky to not be going at speed when that happened; I was able to get off the bike. The only thing that saved my asterisk was recognizing the symptoms of over-heating combined with a blood sugar crash.

I don't always recognize it when it happens. Most of the time I do (ask the Spouse Thingy how many times I've just stopped and told him I need to eat. Like RIGHT NOW) and deal with it. But afterward it feels like a ton of ick, and getting back on a bike I'd have to pedal very slowly is not the best idea in the world.

Because the bike has a throttle, if I get into trouble, I can get my asterisk home without having to pedal. I can get to food, or sugar, or a/c (and seriously, I now know the distances between just about everything in this little town, at least the places I would need to reach quickly. All hail 3 Day training.) Riding an electric gives me freedom I don't have otherwise.

So no, it's not cheating. I get more exercise, and I feel a hell of a lot safer on it.

It doesn't even matter if that safety is my own perception. I FEEL safer. Thusly, I get out and ride when I can. And isn't that the point? Ride safe, ride over drive, have some fraking FUN.

And older folks...this is an awesome way to get back into activity. If you can't ride anymore, an electric might make it possible. If you can't balance, there are electric trikes. Pedego has some seriously great options.

So, yeah. I don't wanna pass out on a bike.

I want to have fun.

So I do.

A matching water bottle was necessary, right...?



Saturday

12 May 2018

This guy will be 17 next month.

Yes, my shoes are on the sofa, but I was vacuuming...
 A year ago I honestly didn't think he'd still be here this close to his birthday (which we decided was the 20th of June, even though it's probably closer to the 10th. No, I don't remember exactly why other than we picked Buddah's "official" birthday first.) We're already thinking in terms of him being 17--the vet does, so why not?



Six months ago, I didn't think he'd see 17. He was tired and losing weight, but it seemed normal for a kitty his age. The weight wasn't dropping off, but it was just a tad more than we intended, but not enough to worry about. But then his appetite skyrocketed and it became a Hmm...maybe he should have his checkup a few months early this year thing.

Dood was hyperthyroid. And while we're still adjusting his meds to get the right dose, he's doing remarkably well. His weight has remained spot on at 14 pounds--still overweight but I think this is where we want him to stay--and his appetite dropped (though he still expect meals 5 times a day--and gets them--but he doesn't finish everything which I don't mind.)

I'm not counting on him making it to 18, but at this point I won't be surprised.

And yes, we really do have bedtime stories when he wants. He acts like he's reading along with me, and who knows, maybe he really is.

Friday

11 May 2018

I'm sitting in Starbucks, as I am wont to do a couple times a week, and I'm supposed to be hunting for typos in a book published nearly 20 years ago.

I'm like two pages in, and all I want is to be able to re-write the whole thing.

The temptation is serious...the original manuscript was started when I was not quite 15 years old, revamped prior to publication when I was 39, and it suffers from seriously awful editing.

There's a boring story behind that, but suffice to say I did not have the same editor then that I have now. I'm not with the same publishing house, either. That's a whole story by itself. Not an interesting one, either, but the short line version: I got hosed and mislead but I got my rights back and went with someone else after a few years.

Now, my current editor has read this book and the ones that follow, and she has not mocked it (at least not to my face...) She thinks that it's time to do a digital omnibus, all 5 novels in one edition, but she didn't mention rewriting the first two, which I know realllllllly need it. The last 3 only need some line cleanup, a stray typo here and there.

If you compare the first book to the fifth, you'll wonder if they were written by the same person. I like the story, I love the characters, and I get why it caught on with the readers who tend to buy in that genre, but man...even I admit the first book is not well written but you have to get through it to get to the better ones, and the fifth is the best of the bunch.

I also admit I am hypercritical of my past work. So there's that.

The only thing really keeping me from doing a total rewrite is the several thousand people who bought the original. Well, that and I'm well into book two in the Return to the Wick Chronicles Series, and should probably finish it and the proposed Max Interviews Buddah book.

I'd also retitle the first book, because that title--one picked when I was 14--is working against the entire series.

Now, I also know the Grand answer is to ask my editor what to do, but the truth is that I'm sitting here in Starbucks kinda not feeling like I want to work, so I blogged instead. But yeah...the typo-hunt is turning into a Rewrite Want.

Monday

16 April 2018

Sometime in the dark ages of my late teen/young adult life, Camilla Kimball (the wife of the LDS church’s president, Spencer) spoke about what she did with things relating to the gospel that she didn’t understand: she put it all on a shelf.

This was advice handed out over and over in Relief Society meetings and I imagine it was repeated to young men, too. If there’s something about the church you don’t understand, something in the way we do things and the why of it, just stick it up on that mental shelf. You’ll understand it later, if you’re meant to. If not, it’s God’s will.

The thing about putting things on a shelf is that sooner or later, you’ve put so much on it that the inevitable happens. The shelf breaks.

When the metaphorical shelf in your very real brain breaks, significant damage can occur. All the ignored doubts, the uncertainties, the outright WTF moments come crashing down at once. The things on that shelf are fragile as it is; they shatter like glass. It’s not a great way to deal with the very core of your spiritual identity.

I was lucky; my doubts came before anyone had a chance to advise me to construct this internal shelf, so I just chewed on them like tough, fat laden meat until I had to spit it out. My doubts came hard and fast early on; what the hell do you mean, Joseph Smith shoved his face into a hat to translate the golden tablets. What about that seer stone? And holy fark, THAT’s the excuse you’re giving me for why black men hadn’t been admitted to the priesthood until 1978? Because they have “too much to deal with, trying to get the world to see them as equal.”

I wish I was kidding. But that was only one excuse I was given. And given that 12-year-old white boys are anointed in the Aaronic priesthood, that kinda tells you what the church really thought about people of color.

Then came the revelation about the holy underwear and the stories woven around it were so fantastical that if I’d had a shelf, it would have bent.

Yeah, I dunno about now, but back then if you were talking to missionaries and were a potential convert, they didn’t tell you about things like the magic underwear. They probably do now because it’s so widely known, but back then few people outside the church were really aware of the bizarre undies. And they are bizarre.

Still. The bigger picture was what mattered to me, and to me at the time, it was the idea that revelation from God was still a thing. The church was just a conduit.

Then came BYU and the “ugh, you’re a CALIFORNIA Mormon” which left a nasty taste, but hey, bigots are everywhere, right?

But the thing that made my non-existent shelf crack was a Fireside chat we attended in Utah. We were already stepping away from most things church related and really only had our big toes in the water because of school, but for some reason we went to this thing, which is basically a church service where a few selected people get up and talk and try to be inspiring or motivating.

I listened as this young man stood up front, microphone in front of him, as he told us about this wonderful friend. He was a stellar example of faith in action. He volunteered. He served. He was the one you could count on to go help your grandmother with her lawn work without even being asked. He was the one who would show up, roll up his sleeves, and do the hard work, no matter how unpleasant. He was a happy, friendly guy, he’d served his mission, and he was what most men should be.

But…then he “turned gay.” Everything else he was no longer mattered. He was unworthy, and Speaker Boy thought it was a shame to have to turn his back on his friend, but no one should expose themselves to that kind of rank immorality.

I never attended another service after that.

I didn’t care if Joseph Smith conned people and started a religion; most organized religion is a money grab. I did care about how people were treated, and the long line of mistreatment of good people was enough for me to wave and say “‘Bye, Felicia.” Or I would have, if that had been a thing then.

Gay rights weren’t really a thing then; the few gay people I knew really just wanted to stay alive, rights beyond that were a future hope. But I damn well knew that someone doesn’t just “turn” gay and so what if they did? That doesn’t erase all the good they’ve done and will continue to do.

I kept paying attention, even if I had pulled my toe out of the water. Story after story, gay kids shunned by their families. Parents telling their kids they wished they were dead instead of gay. Smirks when some outcast kid DID kill themselves because of the pressure.

And it wasn’t just that. Other friends who left the church because they had doubts, too, were exiled from their families. This church that espoused family above everything but God accepted throwing people away because they didn’t fit the mold.

I could have gone the rest of my life without hearing another thing about the LDS church, but those people are persistent. We’d move, they’d find us. We’d be happily invited to attend a sacrament meeting (the sacrament prepared by worthy little white boys, of course) and welcomed back into the fold. I declined every time, but then came the Visiting Teacher.

Visiting Teachers were (I think, not positive, this has been discontinued) women who once a month visited other women for a short little gospel lesson and a chat. We were living in a ward where, I’d learned, the bishop’s daughter had been arrested for prostitution, the son ran away to avoid a mission, and the wife had an alcohol problem. I wouldn’t care, but…hell, I did.

They had my name, they had my phone number, assigned a visiting teacher to me, and she decided that I was A Project. She called relentlessly. “I need to come see you, it’s important.”

No, it’s not. I have to work.

And really, I had to work. This was at a time I was working at International Fitness Center, bouncing between the nursery and cleaning the locker rooms. I worked six days a week, usually 10 hours a day. I was not giving up the one day off I had to spend doing nothing with family.

After weeks of this woman’s persistence, I folded. I told her I had 45 minutes for lunch, she could meet me at work. The nursery would be empty, we could talk there.

Oh, no. It HAD to be at my home.

That was not happening.

And this is the moment she lit the spark that would eventually turn my I-just-don’t-care about the church into loathing: “You HAVE to see me at your home. I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR SOUL.”

Not even exaggerating.

I told her to never call me again, and if she did I would consider it an assault, and act accordingly. Now, to be honest, I had no idea what I would really do. It’s not like you can call the police and whine that someone woman wants to save your soul and she won’t leave you alone. I imagine there’s a lot of paperwork in that, and we were about to move from the area to a whole other state, so…meh.

I lived in my LDS Church Sucks bubble for a long time, never getting beyond that. They left me alone, so fine. I had no issue with most of the members, just with the details of the religion.

Then came Prodigy Online Services, then access to the Web and IRC, then websites…information bonanza. I’ve been poking around online since the late 80s, starting with a 300 baud dial up modem on Prodigy, creeping along at the speed of snails…and finding things. People sharing stories. People whose shelves didn’t just break, they shattered and the pieces drove right into their hearts.

There was the kid who had been stuck on his mission in South America; his mother was in a horrific accident and he wasn’t allowed to call home. Oh, they’d been happy enough to tell him she’d had the accident, but he was supposed to suck it up and keep working at bringing those converts in, and if he had to do anything, just pray. She died, and he was not allowed to leave. Why didn’t he just take off? Because the mission president had his passport.

He was nineteen; he didn’t know about American Embassies or just outright demanding it back with the threat that if they didn’t hand it over he’d file a kidnapping report. This was God’s work, and the MP knew about God, so. He stayed. For the remaining 18 months of his mission. By the time he got home, his family had moved through much of their grieving before he even got to start.

Another person… he had a girlfriend, they “sinned,” she got pregnant. He was never given an option in what happened. Neither was she. They wanted to get married; instead they were pressured into handing their kid over to LDS Family services to be raised by a good and faithful and more specifically a WORTHY married couple. They didn’t grasp until it was too late that they had options. They didn’t HAVE to comply. But they’d been raised that church leaders were never wrong because they were appointed by a calling from God, so what other choice was there? God is never wrong, and the church leaders speak for God, so what they wanted was the right thing. Right?

The stories went on and on and on.

Still, in my head it was all just another religion, and those *might* be anomalies.

Then came Proposition 8 in California. They church crossed the line between separation of church and state and actively waged a campaign to affect the outcome of the vote. They spent a metric chit ton of money waging a war against the rights of people who did not belong to their church and had no impact on their church, just to keep them from getting married. They sent letters to members “encouraging” them to vote against the proposition.

Bullshit. They TOLD the members what to vote for.

It’s one thing for a church to take a moral position on any given matter; it’s a whole other thing for them to actively campaign against it in areas that have nothing to do with their religion. You don’t want gay marriage? Don’t get gay married. Go forth in your heterosexual pairing and pop out babies like confetti, whatever floats your boat. You run a church that is against homosexuality, then don’t sanctify those marriages. That is your right.

And honestly…the church’s active interfering in public policy regarding gay marriage only scratched the surface of my now deep loathing of the religion. The fostering of family divide over personal issues only scratched the surface. Overt racism only scratched the surface. Magic underwear only scratched the surface.

You know what happens when the surface of something gets scratched enough? It’s pretty well ruined.

So maybe my shelf was actually a painting. And the paint got so scratched that the picture was gone.

And through the years, through all the little (and in hindsight, big) things that pushed me away, I couldn’t quite articulate the problem when asked why I’d left the church. It was a ton of things that would take far too long to explain and the people who wanted to know didn’t really want the answer. They wanted to be able to tell me I was wrong.

But deep down, yeah, you’d have to hog tie me to get me into a sacrament meeting.

More recently…hey, who’d have thought that a Missionary Training Center President would have what amounts to a sex dungeon in the training center? But it happened in the early 80s, the church was told about it, did nothing, and one of the victims has the asshat on tape admitting it. They’re still doing nothing other than “investigating,” which I assume means they’ll keep browbeating any victims who come forward by blaming them for participating because OF COURSE they had free will and all that, while the perp remains with the church, protected.

What else are they hiding?

Like I said, it’s all just the surface. There’s a hell of a lot more. We could discuss the three levels of heaven and how only the best of the best (and of course, wholly LDS because no one else matters) will reach the highest level. We could talk about the outright freakish temple ceremonies (look online for videos of temple ceremonies made by newnamenoah, have a good laugh) in which people are given a new name—but the wife never gets to learn her husband’s new name but he sure as shit gets to know hers. And hey, let’s talk about the 2nd Anointing, in which certain (read: rich and white) members are GUARANTEED their spot in the highest level of heaven no matter what else they do (the aforementioned MTC Prez…probably has it. As do all the apostles of the church. Which means they can screw the members but still be perfectly worthy of sitting at the celestial dinner table with God and Jesus, drinking the water that Jesus turned to wine, but Oh No! Wine is forbidden because OF COURSE IT IS.)

We could discuss a lot.

But the meat of it…if you really want to know…you can read at CES LETTER. (And fair warning...if you're a True Believing Mormon, you won't be after you read the whole thing. Your shelf will bend in ways you never considered possible.) (Oh, double warning...reading the CES Letter is enough to get your asterisk dragged into counseling with your Bishop or Stake President. They want to start damage control before you have a chance to think about it.) It’s a start. Even it’s not everything.

It really all boils down to one thing: this church is not, in spite of the face it presents to the world, kind.

A great many of its members are. They’ve very kind.

But the church is not, and I am really several kinds of ashamed that I was ever a part of it.

Friday

13 April 2018

Go ahead, mofo, tell me again how I don't work...


If I were J.K Rowling, Nora Roberts, Stephen King, John Green, or even E.L.fricking James, there's not a person out there who would assume that I did not work. The evidence is there, just look to the NYT Bestseller's List, or Forbes list of who drew the highest sales in any given year. THOSE people clearly work.

I'm not sure if it's the paycheck or the currency of one's name that seems to matter here. I'm guessing the latter, since the same people who think a midlist writer doesn't really work would also swear that the kid who asks them if they want fries with their fast food burger does work. Yet, I've heard it before: oh, you work at home? That's nice. You must have a lot of free time.

I got all stabby this morning over a private message suggesting that I fly halfway across the country to attend this thing for a six year old (because help was needed with kid wrangling) and before I could shoot back, "Oh HELL no," the next thing said to me was, "I know you have time since you don't work and all." Also, it's going to be a LOT of fun, because you like kids and this is the only time my kid is going to do something like this.

Yeah, I like kids. You, not so much.

We won't even get into the impropriety of asking a virtual Internet Stranger to come spend an afternoon with kids, the implication being that you're going to spend some time alone with some of them. I don't care how long you've been talking to someone online, you don't know them well enough to expect them to freaking buy a plane ticket, get on the damned plane, and be happy about, apparently, babysitting a bunch of six year old kids who are participating in an event that holy fricking hell, will surely happen every damned year (private school play/talent show/post-show party. I dunno. I stopped paying attention to the details.) It doesn't matter if you love my cat, love my writing, had fun chatting with me: you don't know me. Why the hell would you trust me with your kid?

Yes, what pissed me off was "You don't work."

Honey, let me 'splain something to you. Books don't write themselves. Companies don't run themselves. Just because I seriously, freakishly enjoy what I do, that doesn't mean it's not work. Just because I am technically self employed, that doesn't mean I don't have deadlines and an editor to answer to. Just because you don't see the effort that goes into this, doesn't mean it hasn't been expended.

I work, in fits and starts, a good 60+ hours a week. Some days are longer than others, because I do take time to go outside and be a semi-normal person on the days the Spouse Thingy is off, and often I'm at Starbucks, which doesn't see like working, but... I work.

Pretty much anyone who works from home is, SURPRISE, working.

It's not just me. I would bet real money that there are a ton of people out there who know someone who works from home, and thinks they spend most of their time goofing off. And there are a ton of people working in their home offices, or at their kitchen tables, on even while sitting on their sofa, who get the same krap I sometimes do.

It's work.

It's fun, but it's still work.


Monday

26 March 2018

This guy.

Oh, man, this guy.

You'd have liked him. Everyone liked him. He was that kind of guy; it didn't matter where you sat politically or personally, where your faith lay or your doubt pricked, you would have liked him because he was That Guy. You didn't have to agree with where he stood. He was the one who didn't talk the talk. He walked the walk.

I'm pretty sure that he would have walked every step of that barefoot and bleeding if it mean giving his shoes to someone in need. And that's as literal as it is metaphorical. To paraphrase a Who thing that will always stick with me: who he was is where he stood, and where he stood was where he would fall.

He didn't just believe. He knew.

Jim Hatch.

Say his name, please.

Today my oldest sister is laying her husband to rest, and that breaks my heart more than the idea that he's gone. And I know that sounds...wrong...but he was a man of faith, deep abiding faith, and that faith--the path that he walked with certainty--leads him into his reward. I believe that. That doesn't mean I'm not upset. I am, but more for the loves he left behind, my sister, their kids, grandkids, the people whose lives he touched every single day.

Jim Hatch was a good man. He was the sort of man that you feel is owed more years on this earth than he got; he got almost 83 years, and yet it still feels too short. It feels short because he wasn't in my sister's life nearly long enough; they were married for over 25 years, but it feels like it should have been more.

Of all the pictures posted online over the last few years, I think this is my favorite of them.

No idea what was going on, but it made me laugh.

It still makes me smile.

And she should have had many, many more years with him. He brought light into her life, became a father to her children, and was just...amazing.

I will truly miss every post he made on Facebook that I didn't agree with; I will ache for those that I did.

Jim Hatch was truly a really great guy.

I will always feel like he didn't get enough time, my sister didn't get enough time, but holy fark am I grateful for the time they did have together.

Whatever your bent--prayers of faith, thoughts, mojo--please offer it up for my sister Mary today. I can't fathom her loss. I can't wrap my head around it. But please, do it for her, in her name and in his name.


Seriously, guys, if anyone is going to hear "Well done" at the Pearly Gates, it's Jim.


Tuesday

13 March 2018

$1205

That's how much y'all donated to St. Baldrick's this year. That's over a thousand bucks that will go to Keaton's Child Cancer Alliance, and will benefit research into childhood cancers.

2018 Before and After
I went to a different venue this year; every other year has been at a mall, this one was at a bar in downtown Sacramento. I liked the vibe better, it seemed like they were having a much better time at the bar...but we didn't stick around. We'd parked in Old Sac, 15 blocks away, and didn't want to have to walk back after dark.

But next year I think we'll plan better and find parking closer to the bar so we can hang afterward, get a drink, and have some fun.

Every year, just before the event, I have that omg what the hell am I doing? feeling, and I kinda don't want to go. But I really want the t-shirt, so... LOL

Every year, during the event, I feel super exposed.

Every year, after the event, I dread the looks I'm going to get. For the next 3 weeks or so, if I don't have a hat on, there will be some staring, and it's a whole different level than the staring that goes on when I dye my hair. With that, I know what people are thinking and it's largely positive. Most people dig it, a few think I'm an idiot. And that's fine.

With this, people aren't sure what the hell is going on. So they look longer than they usually would, and what I see is someone conflicted: is that lady sick or what? Why the hell else would someone her age do that?

Once in a while someone asks, and I tell them about St, Baldrick's, almost always get a Ooh I should do that! and they ask for the website.

If even one of the dozen people who had asked in the last couple of years go on to participate, it's a win.

This is likely to be my only charity even this year when I fundraise. There are a few others I'm interested in, but I'll self-fund those...then if something comes up and I can't go, I won't feel bad.

Well, I will, but only because I miss out on the t-shirt.

$1205, peoples. That's five bucks over my goal. You did this, and I am touched and amazed.

And I can't thank you enough.

Monday

26 February 2018

Last week, I sat back and watched, with a bit of interest, as a bunch of people just lost their chit over the news that George RR Martin has irons in the fire that will likely mean that it'll be even longer before the sixth book in his A Song of Ice and Fire series. People have been waiting for The Winds of Winter for a freaking long time and are pretty pissed off that he's diverting his attention to things other than getting that book done.

I saw more than one, "I'm done, I'm never reading his stuff again" comment. I understood the frustration, but honestly, I rolled my eyes a little bit.

I get that people are worried this will be another Robert Jordan situation, with the author dying before finishing the series. Some are worried that he doesn't have the rest of it plotted out, ready for another writer to continue on in the manner than Brandon Sanderson was able to for Jordan (and he probably doesn't, though I have no sure way to know that.)

But. Here's the thing. He doesn't really owe anyone anything. He doesn't owe anyone his time. He doesn't owe anyone an ending.

Would it suck? Certainly. If he never finishes the series, it sucks for the people who have enjoyed it so thoroughly that waiting for the next one feels like waiting for Santa.

He's always taken his time with his books. He's said himself that as far as writing goes, he's less of an architect and more of a gardener--which is likely why so many people love his work. He doesn't construct an elaborate outline, and then plop the words down and force them to fit into that constrained frame; he lets the characters develop, he tends to the words like plants sprouting from balanced, fertilized soil. He takes his time because that's how he works, and no amount of wishing on his readers' part will change that.

Literal quote online: "I've spent half my life reading these books. I'm tired of waiting."

Well, sorry for you, but he's also spent more than half your life writing them, caring for them, crafting them, and honing the stories which you're so eager to read. Yes, you've grown up, gotten married, had kids, divorced, lived life.

The man is entitled to live his life, too. And part of that life is stepping away from the computer to engage in other things.

He doesn't owe you the time he takes for himself.

It's great when a writer can give the readers exactly what they ask for...and yet, when we do that, we get slammed down for it as well. The Space Between Whens was written mostly because of requests; people wanted a more adult story, and a few outright wanted a little Emperor erotica, though I didn't want to go that far. It worked to take the story in that direction; after the next book, it'll work to take it back in the other direction.

But make no mistake, for every person who enjoyed the Wick After Dark theme, there's someone else who's pissed off by it.

Guess who I hear from?

I can't win. Neither can Martin. Only his not winning is on a much grander scale.

Just be patient. He'll get to it. And if he doesn't, well, then he doesn't. You still read and enjoyed his other books, and not having the next one right now doesn't take anything away from that enjoyment unless you let it.

Yes, the things he's working on are sidebars to the series, and it feels personal. But it's not. It's what can make the difference between finishing the series on an I-had-to-finish note and an I-finished-and-damn-it's-awesome note. Those side projects might be what's keeping that elusive sixth book from becoming a steaming pile of crap; he's diverting his attention and refreshing himself.

Granted, he could be far less off-putting when asked about the book, but when it gets right down to it, he doesn't owe you, me, or anyone else a single thing.

Sunday

25 February 2018

I have a select few people who have volunteered to be my beta readers, people I've trusted with my work for over a decade. I can generally rely on them to be honest in their appraisals, to offer feedback that goes beyond, "Hey, no typos!" or "Sweet font choice, dude."

I've also had a couple of beta readers who were a one and done kind of thing. I appreciated their want of helping me out, but their feedback was either useless--oh, you know what you're doing, this is wonderful, you walk on literary water!--or they overstepped the bounds of what a beta reader should do and tried to rewrite the story.

I've got some good people; they'll read more than one draft, and they tend to read each draft multiple times. They find things I miss, chase down lost story threads, point out incongruities, and let me know where things fall short.

Not everyone is so lucky in the readers they're trusting with their work. I sat on the periphery of a discussion online this week, something that was pretty much a whine-fest about the quality of beta readers, how to get them to do what they're supposed to without hurting their feelings, and really, what should we expect of them?

The main thing is this: if you're a beta reader, tell your writer how their story doesn't work for you. Don't tell them what's wrong and how to fix it.

Just...how it worked or didn't work.  Answer some basic questions, give the writer an idea of how well the story moved along, if there were confusing points, if something was too obvious or not obvious enough.

And do it gently. Because straight up truth, most writers are sensitive. They're already baring their souls, allowing the world to peek inside their head, and when someone takes a jab at that? By the time you get the manuscript, they've hit the point where they hate the book, it's the worst thing ever written in the history of everything, and it's time to chuck the computer off the closest super-tall bridge.*

It's a particularly cruel kind of pain, even when that wasn't the intention (hence, I do not read reviews if I can help it. I sometimes peek at the star rating, but the actual review is better left alone...though I have read a couple of bad reviews that made me laugh because they were so horrific.)

Don't make it personal; be professional, even if it's a friendly kind of exchange.

Now, if you're functioning as editor...totally different ball game. but I would hope that if you're offering editor services, you already know how to handle a writer and won't plunge your pencil of doom into their little writery hearts...not if you want to get paid and rehired later, anyway.

*I am at this point with the latest book. I am 100% sure it's trash. Waiting on beta readers is really kind of grating on my nerves.

Thursday

15 February 2018

In a little under a month, this is happening again:


I haven't had a haircut since November so it might be a little bit longer pre-shave this time, and who knows what color it will actually be. Right now it's pink with purple undertones, and way too much gray poking through.


Gotta admit, I thought it would be longer by now. I had visions of having it down past my ears by March, but I don't think that's going to happen.

Still, the end result is that I'll wind up bald, which I hate, because my face is way to doughy to pull off that look. It'd for a good cause, though, and this year I signed up to do it at a bar. If the result is too horrifying, I'll just drown my sorrows with an unhealthy amount of Fireball.

Right now, I'm sitting at $550 donated, and I set my goal this year as $1200.

It's probably the only charity fundraiser I'll do this year (I did one quietly, for the Donna Foundation raising money for breast cancer research at the Mayo, but I had a few donors lined up and didn't go public with it this time...mostly because it's a virtual event and I have no been impressed with how they're handling it this year, so we'll see if I get the shiny medal when it's over.) I don't have time this year to train for the 3 Day and don't want to spend the travel $$$ for it, so this is it.

My 2018 thing is raising money for St. Baldrick's.

It's for kids' cancer research, y'all.

Awesome charity.

And your donation is tax deductible!

Monday

5 February 2018

All right. You're on Facebook, scrolling through your newsfeed, and you come across the image of this cute but clearly ill little kid, with the caption LIKE IF YOU THINK I'M BEAUTIFUL, SHARE IF YOU'RE PRAYING FOR ME. Or it could be as simple as 1LIKE=1PRAYER.

It might be a photo of Trump, asking you to SHARE IF YOU'RE PROUD OF ME.

It could be a photo of Obama, stating SHARE IF YOU MISS ME.

People...those are total scams. Stop liking those things. Stop sharing them. They're not harmless. They're a product of like-farming and by sharing them and liking them and commenting on them, you're helping someone who lacks scruples or a moral compass make a lot of money.

Those photos of kids holding signs asking for shares to see how far around the world it will get? Bogus.

Here's the thing...those pictures of sick kids asking for prayers and likes and shares are generally stolen from someone else's Facebook page or website. The parents don't know the images are being used until it pops up in their own newsfeed, and by then it's too late for them to do anything. Their child has been used to create a dynamic that is then used to sell something--usually the Facebook page.

It works off of Facebook's algorithms. The more an image is shared and liked--and commented on--the more traction FB gives it. It explodes from a few newsfeeds to a dozen, to dozens, to hundreds, then thousands...and the only goal is to build up those likes and shares to an amount that makes the page valuable.

The people who buy those turn Facebook pages into commodities aren't nice people looking for prayer; they're racking up the numbers, in order to sell the page--along with your likes and sharing WHICH INCLUDE YOUR PAGE INFORMATION--to other not-nice people who then turn the page into something else...and what it gets turned into is typically pretty scummy.

You may have shared an image because you truly want something good for whoever or whatever is in the picture, but what you're doing is feeding a scam based machine designed to make money off someone else's misery. Every like, every share, every "amen" typed as a comment is doing exactly the opposite of what you probably intend.

Simply put: you're hurting someone every time you do this.

Consider how you'd feel if it was your kid or grandkid being used like that. Consider especially how it would feel if your kid or grandkid was truly ill, and their image was being used.

Consider the shattering heartbreak of parents who find the images of their dead children being used to farm likes and shares.

And there's another angle...if your Facebook account has been cloned more than once--and I know several people to whom this has happened--chances are it's because you've shared more than one of those images. You've identified yourself as a mark, and if that cloned page is never found and reported, it's then used to replicate more likes and shares of suspect information.

YOUR intentions are good. The results are not. You're being used and manipulated into driving up someone's else's value on Facebook, and they're making money off your actions. They're stealing images and turning them into something they never were, and your basic goodness and/or politics are being used for ill gain.

That cute puppy picture you shared, that said SHARE IF I'M ADORABLE and looked like it came from a page that shares nothing but happy fun things? A couple weeks after you and a million other people shared the picture, it was sold to someone else who turned it into a page where puppies are sold as bait dogs.

(Ok, I made that up as an allegorical example...but that's the reality of what happens. People take something that speaks to other people, and turn it into something horrible.)

And if nothing else gets you to stop sharing those things, maybe this will: you're cluttering your friends' newsfeeds with these. For every political/sick kid/wounded animal/military like-share meme you post, a real status update gets pushed aside. You're missing real things from real people, and causing your friends to miss real things from real people.

Don't be part of the machine that makes that crap popular enough to become a commodity. Be part of the machine that stops it.

Wednesday

24 January 2018

Max does not yet need the steps, but I wanted to get a set and get him used to them before he does. Every now and then he looks at the sofa like, "Eh, maybe," but he always makes the jump...he's 16, there's going to be a day when he can't.

So I ordered one and the Spouse Thingy set it up tonight.

 He wasn't too sure about them. But hey, we're smart people, we can convince him to give them a try.

Just add treats. Right?

No problem.

He'll just go from one step, to the next...

To the next...

And then jump onto the sofa to get the last treat on the top step.

What...you didn't expect me to just walk up those steps, did you?

I swear, he did it on purpose, like he knew we wanted him to walk all the way up. He has cubes around the house to get onto things like the bed and my desk, so I know he's familiar with using other things to get where he wants to go and if he eventually needs this he'll use it.

But still.

Furry little jerk. LOL

Monday

22 January 2018

Last week the Spouse Thingy and I went to Disneyland. It was intended to be a short trip, just a couple days, have a ton of fun and ride as many rides as we could. We flew down Tuesday afternoon, with the idea that I could take that evening to get over the whole OMG I FLEW thing, and we'd go into the park for dinner at most.

And we did that; we wandered in for just a bit, but it was crowded and neither of us like crowds, and I wasn't as over the traveling bit as I should have been, so we left and went for food in Downtown Disney.

Still classy...
I was being intentionally classy, but if you look close...yeah, I'd had enough of the day already.

Wednesday held promise; we got up early and were at CA Adventure for the extra magic hour, during which we hit a couple of rides, the only two on that side I bother with and one he likes (but I did not ride, Guardians of the Galaxy, because of my back) and then we headed for Disneyland.

Let me tell you, the whole Max Pass thing is awesome. It was worth the $10 each and saved us a lot of time, making it possible to get on more rides that we otherwise would have. Normally, we'd brush off a long line with, "Eh, we'll get to it tomorrow," but we had the chance to get on all the ones we wanted, and some more than once.

The plan was to get up early again on Thursday and get to Disneyland for the early magic hour again.

Now, here's the thing. If I'd have paid attention, I might have seen what was happening before it happened. From 7 in the morning until 8 at night, I barely peed. I was drinking, but not enough.

Yet...

If I'd looked at this picture, taken just before dinner Wednesday, I might have noticed that my face was even bigger than it usually is. And if I'd noticed that, I might have taken a look at my legs, which were probably an inch thicker than typical.

The notion that I'd been drinking but not thirsty I might have blown off to my meds working really well. And the creeping fatigue? Well, I hadn't slept much the night before, and we were pretty busy all day, so of course I was tired.

My back hurt. A lot. But I'd been walking all day, so sure it did. I'd been taking Norco to stay on top of it, but there was still that grinding pain that I hoped would eas up after a good night's sleep.

Yeah, that didn't happen.

I got up Thursday and we still planned on getting to the park early, but I was six kinds of tired and just felt like crap. I needed more sleep, so the Spouse Thingy went down to the lobby to read while I tried to sleep more...which isn't easy when housekeeping is in the hall right outside the door, and every room around you is being vacuumed.

I gave up, texted him to come back, and we headed out.

I got as far as the security gate...I couldn't do it. The crash had occurred. Lest it be spectacular, I needed to crawl back in bed.

Two hours later, and some snoozing though not really sleep, we tried again. I made it into the park, where I ate half of a really horrible hot dog, when it was pretty clear: I was done. Done enough that staying another night was not a great idea for me. My back was completely jacked, and my electrolytes were probably skewed as hell--hence the basketball face and general bloating and creeping nausea--so we went back to the hotel and changed our flight from Friday afternoon to Thursday evening.

We got one good day, though. Because of Max Pass, we did everything we really wanted to do. We just didn't do as much of it as we'd have liked. Wednesday was a blast, which made the trip worth it.

But still...this is why I don't like making plans. It's bad enough that I screwed up the Spouse Thingy's vacation, but at least he knows to expect it and understands it. Other people? Not so much, even when they say they will. "But you did X, you should be able to do Y."

Yeah, no. I can't count on it.

Yes, I did most of the 3 Day. I also did it on Norco and alcohol, something I don't recommend and won't do again. And if I'd crashed like this then, I would have stopped. We had a hotel room room and not a tent in camp for a reason.

It took until today for me to feel reasonably normal. I'm still tired as hell, but that might be because some furry thing decided he loved me at 1 am, and then at 6:30 it was time to start reminding me that breakfast was in half an hour.

In any case, the cats were happy we came home early (after an appropriate amount of shunning, which ended at 4 am Friday.)

The Spouse Thingy still has a couple of days off, so we might go do something, depending on the weather. We keep talking about a long bike ride, so of course it's been raining. I'd like to go wander around San Francisco, which means it'll be cold and windy. But we need to do something, just so I don't feel like I wasted his time off.

Next time...fly down early in the morning, do only one day, fly home that night, and crash in my own bed.

Sounds like a plan.

1 January 2018