One more thing off the list: the Hyundai is sold. The people who wanted to look at it Saturday took it to a mechanic today, and in spite of some needed repairs ($1200 worth, but $700 of that is covered under a Hyundai recall) they bought it, and we got $200 more than we really expected to. Coolness. Now we can either buy plane tickets for the Boy and his Significantly Better Half, or prepay taxes, like Uncle Sam wants.

Money never lasts…


Shiver Me Timbers … Again

I was okay with the chilly temps today until the weatherman said the norms are in the low 70s this time of year. He said that when it was 52 degrees with a 46 degree wind chill. Dammit. We went out to lunch (Pizza!) and had to ride with the top up—because, frankly, I’m a wuss.

Keep your fingers crossed for us; we’re showing the car to someone tomorrow. They’ve already seen it, actually, but because the Lemon Lot was blocked off for construction, they couldn’t take it for a test drive. Tomorrow they want to take it to a mechanic, and have sad that if it checks out they’ll buy it.

I won’t hold my breath, but I’m hopeful.

Not only do we need to buy airplane tickets for the kids, but Uncle Sam wants us to prepay some of our taxes. Granted, that really is a good idea, so we don’t get killed come April 15th, but in order to prepay the taxes, we kinda have to have the money. Funny how it works out that way.

I still think I should follow that hoochie Karyn who got the world to pay off her credit card debt, and start a Get Thumper Out Of Debt drive. Paying off education and medical expenses isn’t as fun as someone credit cards, though, is it?

Maybe I should start a pr0n site. I bet I could get rich that way…

Ok, I went from complaining about the weather to pr0n.
I need a nap.
Or a drink.


Theft By Any Other Name…

I’m a writer. That’s no secret; I’ve been pimping my stuff (see the little book cover images to the left) for the last couple of years. I’ve put up sample chapters of each book online, a sort of virtual flip-through since you can’t hold the book in your hand and look through it. Soon there will be a third, and another sample chapter.

That was my choice.

You will note, however, that I did not place the entire text of either book online. Why not? Because as much as writing is not about the money (face it, there’s very little money to be made unless you get lucky), if you want to read the book, you either need to suck up to me in a major way, or buy it.

No, it’s really not about the money. But it takes roughly a year, sometimes a little longer, to take those books from idea to final manuscript, a year of work without pay. So sure, I want people to buy the book. It’s just the same as anyone else who works—getting paid for the effort is generally a nice thing.

I imagine it’s not much different for a musician. They work their collective asses off, create a product, put it out there for the public to hear, and hope that people buy it.

Buy it, folks. Not stick it online to share with a million other people.

“But it’s art. Art is not about the money!”
“I paid for the CD. I can do with it what I want.”
“What’s the difference between file sharing and just burning copies for my friends?”

Honestly, if you have to ask those questions, your momma didn’t raise you right.

Okay, you bought the CD. Paid full price even. So make yourself a copy, that’s fine. A copy is a good idea; stick the original away to keep it safe. I had a bunch of CDs stolen out of my car; most of them were copies, so I didn’t lose much. I understand that. Make a copy for a friend. I can live with that, too.

But when you place someone else’s work online, you’re potentially sharing that work with millions of other people. Literally millions. And they didn’t get a say in it.

You’re not hurting the music companies, or book publishers, or even the distributors, really. But you’re killing the people who rely on royalties.

Put it into perspective. When my first book, Charybdis, came out, the entire text wound up online. Every freaking word. Roughly 25,000 people downloaded it, and who knows how many sat there and just read it. Twenty five thousand downloads.

At royalty rates that equaled about $4.00 per book, had those been purchases, I would have earned enough money to get us out of debt, with a little left over.

Even if only half of those had been purchases, it would have literally changed my life. And I’ll never know how many of those downloads were then shared with other people.

While I’m partially thrilled that so many people have copies of my book, I’m still mad as hell that I was ripped off.

Yeah, I said it. You who placed my book online without my permission, and those of you who downloaded it ripped me off.

Every time you take someone else’s work, place it online and “share” it with others, without the express consent of the copyright owner, you are stealing.

I know next to nothing about the RIAA or DCMA or whoever they are, I don’t care who they are and what they do, I don’t care if you’re for them or against them, or feel like because of their policies you deserve to swap music and text files to which you don’t own copyright. I do care that no matter what, when you do it, you’re taking money out of the wallets and pockets of the people who created that work.

And really, if you don’t get that, there is something wrong with you.
And if you’re one of the people who d/l’d my book, you owe me $4.00.


Just For Cookie

My brand new shiny thingy:

It cost as much as girly-type shiny things...



Remember when you were a teenager? More than once you probably heard some older person snort something like, “Those damn kids. They have no respect.”

I know I heard it more than once. And I wish I knew then what I know now, so I could have patiently pointed out a glaring fact: Respect is a two way street. You get what you give.

A couple of days ago I had an IM conversation with a friend who’s been struggling with her weight for the last couple of years. We met online when I was surfing for information on pituitary tumors, and she was a well of information for me, as well as understanding. She’d been through it, knew what I was facing, and pointed me in the directions I needed to go online to get the right information.

We both have undeniable problems resulting from the tumors; I was thrown into very early menopause, have diabetes insipidus, my pituitary gland doesn’t make growth hormone, and probably a few things I’m not even aware of. She was left with some of the same problems, but she also lacks the hormone that prods the thyroid into functioning.

So, she’s gained weight. She hates it, but it’s there, an all too visible reminder of what she went through, and what she lost.

So the other day we were talking, and she brought up an encounter that she found a little startling, more than a little upsetting, and frankly, quite rude. An elderly woman sitting near her in a fast food restaurant leaned over and said, with a slight nod towards the food on the table, “Deary, you would be so pretty if you would lose some weight.”

Backhanded compliment? Hardly. The message was clear: don’t eat those fries, you’re fat enough already and you’re only making it worse, and I don’t want to look at you.

No concern over why she’s overweight, no thought to the idea that there might be a reason not obvious to the world that gets to live outside her body. Just a judgmental old woman who probably doesn’t care that she took what was a nice day, someone’s afternoon out with the kids, and deflated it in less than 5 seconds.

Now, I get looks. I know what being overweight in this world feels like, and it’s rarely a nice feeling. When you’re overweight you get looks, sometimes the occasional derisive snort. But can you imagine someone leaning over and saying that to you? Do you know what you would say back?

She had a good comeback. “Ma’am, if you would keep your opinions to yourself, you would be such a nice person.”

Better than the “Bitch” I would have spat.

I once belonged to a Body For Life support group online; I was giving the weight and nutrition program a try, hoping that it would work for me (it didn’t.) Most of the people on it were nice enough, but the underlying message to a very high percentage of the posts were the same: fat people are less deserving of respect than others. Fat people deserve the crap they get. It’s okay to sneer, frown, and make fun of fat people, including posting running commentaries on the contents of their shopping carts, because they are defective.

It’s not all right.
It’s rude.
It’s disrespectful.

So, I’ll say what fat people across the world think but rarely verbalize: unless you can look at a person and know, with 100% accuracy, what their story is, why they are the way they are, shut up. You don’t know, not really. You don’t know if that person shoves food in their mouth every ten minutes. You don’t know if they’re inherently lazy. You don’t know a thing about them, other than outward appearance.

Give the respect you want to get.
It’s as simple as that.

I think I wrote that book, actually…


Shiver Me Timbers

The weather here is starting to turn; the days reach a nice, comfortable mid-70’s, but the nights are cool and the mornings are pretty nippy, in the low 50’s. Fall is definitely bearing down on us, something I’m both looking forward to, and wishing it could be delayed another month or two.

Because of all the rain we’ve had over the last couple of months, when the leaves start to change it should be damn near spectacular. Last year was kind of a dud; the leaves changed—sort of—but fell off within a week or two. Or so it seemed. This year holds the promise of some sights to seriously behold, or at least stare at and ooze “Ooooh. Pretttttty.”

You know. The same way you’d ooze over bright, shiny, new jewelry. ;)

But, the thing is, cold weather means putting the top up on the convertible, and I haven’t had it long enough to be willing to do that. We had some things to do today and when we left the house it was still pretty chilly outside, but there was no way I was putting the top up. Nope, we ran the heat instead.

It works. Zooming down the Interstate at 65 m.p.h. with the wind whipping our collective hairs around and the heat blasting from the dashboard, it was comfy.

I don’t suppose that’ll work when it’s 15 degrees and snowing.

Not that I won’t try.
A month or two more of mid 70’s would be nice.
Arrange it for me, willya?


And The Neighbors Thought I Was Spouse Thingy's New Hoochi Mama...

Unappreciative Little Furball…

Ok, so I managed to do a couple things on my list. I went blonde—very blonde—and while I really didn’t like it at first, it’s growing on me. I’m not sure the cat likes it; I’ve woken up the past two mornings to him biting my head.

But, in spite of his gnawing on my head, I rearranged the office yesterday to accommodate his incredible need to stare out that particular window. I had to unplug everything from the computer, there were massive amounts of paper to be shuffled through (what the heck, while I was at it I cleaned the office up a bit, too) and I had to figure out where to stick the scanner since moving the desk meant losing wall space.

I got it all done (with a little muscle from the Spouse Thingy, who helped move the actual desk, which I couldn’t have done on my own. This sucker weights a lot) and then the little Psycho came downstairs.

Did he notice the now free window?

No, he jumped up on the desk, went behind the monitor, and stared at the freaking wall. And then turned to look at me with this “where’s the window?” look.

I went blonde and the cat lost IQ points.



Things I am going to do in the Very Near Future:

1. Rearrange my office so that my desk is not blocking the window. Having my desk where it is is causing PsychoKitty great distress, as he cannot get a clear view outside without jumping up on the desk and pushing his way behind the computer monitor (which, frankly, pisses me off sometimes.) He’s a good kitty most of the time, and deserves to be able to watch the kids play outside.

2. I’m going to dye my hair blonde. Very blonde.

3. Rearrange bedroom furniture to make room for a couple of bookcases that are in the spare bedroom. We need the space so that we can stick a queen sized bed in there—we figure the Boy might want a place to sleep when he visits (ahem, and his Significantly Better Half, but we’ll pretend that one of them is sleeping on the floor, yes we will.)

4. While I’m at it, I’ll strip down one of our old dressers and stain it. For the spare bedroom.

5. Sell the Hyundai. For megabucks. Like, $1500. And then spend it all on plane tickets. For the Boy and his SBH.

6. Did I mention, dye my hair blonde?


No One Is Available To Take Your Call…

If your name and number don’t show up on Caller ID, that’s what you’re going to hear if you call our house. Yep, we screen calls. If you want to talk to one of us, don’t hang up, just start speaking after the tone. We are just so tired of all the telemarketers, and while the numbers of calls instantly decreased the day the National No-Call list went into effect, we’re still getting them. You know the calls—those unaffected by the list. Companies we’ve “previously done business with.” Like credit card companies who don’t accept “no” and “never call me again” as a legitimate reason to place us on their own Do No Call lists. So as an FYI, if you call and you’re unlisted, start talking. We might even pick up.

I was not at all surprised to get online this morning and read that Johnny Cash had died. After June Carter Cash died a couple of months ago, both the Spouse Thingy and I figured he would not be far behind. It was just a gut feeling; it’s not like either of us were huge Johnny Cash fans, though we both certainly respected his talent and really liked his last release, Hurt. I think we both just had that vibe that he’d rather be with June, and not here.

On the other hand, I was completely blown away by the death of John Ritter. He was too damned young to die and had everything to live for. I first noticed him when he played the minister on The Waltons. And like most of America at the time, I watched him on Three’s Company. I was blown away by his true acting talent in movies like Sling Blade. And I had that thought every once in a while, when I would see him on talk shows, that someday we’d all be watching him at the Emmy’s, an old man taking small old man steps, accepting his lifetime achievement award.

Instead, we’re robbed of a comedic talent far too many years too soon, his wife looses her other half, and his kids lose their father.

And damn it all, for the rest of her life, his little girl’s birthday will be the Day Daddy Died.

Another FYI: The new chicken strips at McDonald’s suck.


Pimping My Wares

It’s not as pretty as the cover for Charybdis (on sale now at Amazon.com!), but it works. In any case, As Simple As That went to the printer and should be in the online bookstores in 2-3 weeks. I got a proof copy yesterday, and it looks a whole lot better in hand than this little .jpg image does; my only gripe is that after I approved the proof, I found a whopper of a mistake—towards then end there’s a line that should be in italics, but it’s also in bold. The bold type is very distracting … but I’m not pulling the whole book over one line. I can be cheap that way.

The third book, Finding Father Rabbit, is in the final editing stages. There are a couple of chapters I’m not happy with and I’m struggling to find a way to make them flow better, but I still think I’ll be done with it in the next couple of weeks. Overall, I think this book is the best of the three. The subject matter is a little more touchy than things I’ve written about in the past, and it might even offend a person or two out there.

‘Course, I don’t want to intentionally offend anyone, but being that I’m not Catholic and it does deal on some level with Catholic issues, I can see where I’m ripe for “What the hell do you know?” salvos. I can only point out that I had a lot of help from TK Scott, who was a priest until he was 40 years old. This is a guy who’s full of eye opening stories about his experiences over the years … he should write a book. I’d publish it.

Heck, you should write a book.
I’ll publish it.
For a fee.


Money Money Money

Six a.m. is like, well, early. I’m a nine a.m. kind of person, and even that’s reluctantly, dragging myself up to feed the PsychoKitty. But this morning I dragged myself up, slooowwwly put clothes on, and went outside to start dragging stuff out of the garage and onto the driveway for the neighborhood yard sale.

Spouse Thingy had to work, but he was home long enough to help me take most things out, and he got all the really heavy things. Not long after he left, people started coming; not as many as we expected, but enough. I managed to sell 80% of the crap I had sitting out there, including most of the big things we wanted to get rid of to make space in the garage.

We’ve had several sales over the years and it still amazes me the things people will haggle over. I had a paperback book out, in dang near new condition, priced at 50 cents—some woman wanted to give me a dime for it. Would I take twenty cents? No, fifty. Twenty five? No, fifty. She finally paid the fifty cents and went next door and started haggling over the price of a toaster oven. Now, I heard my neighbor tell her—very politely—that the prices on the appliances were firm because they were new, but damned if she didn’t try to talk her down regardless.

The funniest thing about everyone having sales on the same day was the kids. They bounced from one sale to the next, generating a wake of “I want” that just built as the day went on. They were all really good, though, and didn’t get grabby, they just drooled and wanted.

I know that feeling.

Now … since I ran the sale, I should get all the money. Right? Right. I’ll run out and spend it before Spouse Thingy gets home.

Yep. All on jelly beans.


It’s A Sunshine Day

So. We took the convertible into Midas today to have the brakes checked out, and were pretty sure that when all was said and done we’d be looking at $700 worth of work—pads and drums, maybe even lines.

They called an hour or so later to tell us the brakes are fine, but there were several other problems. The rear shocks were leaking, the rear bearings needed to be repacked, and it needed new front bearings. And a fan belt. Mike told them to go ahead and fix everything, probably because I kept saying the car felt a little bouncy when I drove it.

Three or four hours later we went to pick it up, and they showed us the parts. Ick. The shocks weren’t just leaky, one was seriously split. The front bearing looked like crap. And the new fan belt just looks pretty. Best yet, it didn’t cost as much as we feared, and the car feels so much better. He suggested we put new struts up front, and we’ll probably do that in a few weeks.

After that … we drove around topless. It was a beautiful day, no rain, lots of sun. And I even let the Spouse Thingy drive some. I mean, heck, he did buy the car for me. Tomorrow we’re having an alarm put in (kind of necessary, I think) and a CD player (thank you parental units and in-laws for the birthday checks!)

I’d like to go cruising around tomorrow after it’s done, but I still have that nasty dental appointment. Damn teeth.


I Wanna Go Zoom!

I know, I have no comments right now. I had them for about 15 seconds today, but they vanished again. According to the YACSS site, it’ll probably be September 8th before we have them again. That’s not a royal “we,” that’s all of us who use them for our comments.

It’s a shame, too, because I know everyone wanted to comment on my spiffy new red ragtop.

I’ve had it for almost a week, and for almost a week it has done nothing but rain. I’ve hardly had a chance to go cruising in it topless. The weather broke today and we had sunshine, so I took the chance to get a coat of wax on it (did I mention that on my actual birthday, Spouse Thingy gave me a bag filled with car care products, even though I didn’t actually have the car yet? He had high hopes for me!) Now it’s all shiny.

Tomorrow we should have nothing but sunshine—but we need to take it in and have the brakes checked out. We wanted to do that on Monday, but Midas had the nerve to be closed for the holiday.

Friday looks to be good, too, but I have a dental appointment and will probably spend the rest of the day drooling on myself. I suppose I could drive around and just let the drool fly into the car behind me…