29 March 2011

Yep, that's me...
Between smacking my shoulder into the snow in December and then throwing my back out, I haven't been on a bike since November. Before that, my riding was sporadic; training for the 3 Day Walk took up most of the time I would normally have been riding, so my bike and scooter have been pretty much ignored over the last year.

The weather hasn't cooperated a whole lot, either. On the days when I felt like I could ride--when my shoulder wasn't hurting too much--it was raining. But today...today was nice and bright and sunny, and it was going to be over 60 degrees, so this afternoon we geared up and fired up the bikes, and headed out for a short, shake-the-rust-off ride.

Oh yeah, I have a lot of personal rust to shake off. My cornering was less than ideal, my shifting only so-so, the rear tire slipped a little coming around one corner, and in one brain fart of a moment I nearly locked the brakes up--at a railroad crossing with a train barreling down.

I locked up the brakes on my old SV650, at a fairly slow speed, and that was no fun at all. I launched off the bike and as I was in the air I clearly remember thinking "That was never supposed to happen!" Well, sunshine, it did, and it hurt. And I damn near repeated it today.

Except that I got my hand off the front brake before the launching occurred. I really wish this bike had anti-lock brakes. Canadians can get this bike with anti-lock brakes. USA? Phhhffft. Apparently Suzuki doesn't think we need them.

Last year...I usually wear gear, I swear
Still, it was a nice 45 minute tide that helped ease back into riding. I would have kept going, but the riding position was too much for my still-not-completely healed shoulder, so we went home and got the scooter, and I was much smoother on that one.

Physically, the scooter was a far more comfortable ride today; it's seating is upright, and the seat is wide enough to accommodate my asterisk. For fun, the Gladius is always more fun....other than that thing with the brakes. And the rear tire slipping on one turn. That was a WTF kind of moment, because it took my brain half a second to process what was going on, and by the time it had, I was already through it.

Rookie mistakes...I made a lot of rookie mistakes that I shouldn't have. Which tells me i clearly need to ride more.

You know, for my own safety.

Not for the fun factor.



28 March 2011

One of the pain-in-the-asterisk things about having a few chronic conditions is having to report every now and then to a doctor who looks at you and grunts "Yeah, you look all right." The bigger pain is that about a week before that appointment is the required Trip To The Lab, which has to be done in the morning before eating, and in my case, before 10:30 a.m. because they don't accept lab results on some of my tests if they're done later.

I'm not a morning person, not at all. Given a choice, I would be up until 3 am and would sleep until noon, but the cats have removed that as a life choice for me, what with wanting to be fed and all.

Next week is my annual appointment with the endocrinologist (but, I can't remember what time it is...this could be problematic...) so this morning I dutifully peeled myself up early (meaning I slept like crap last night, waking up every 30 minutes, because the possibility of OH NO I OVERSLEPT kept poking at me) and after feeding the cats (you know how they are...no food = something of mine meeting a toothy death) I headed out into the freezing cold (ok, 44 degrees) to let the lab vampires have at me.

Not my arm
Now, I have no real fear of needles. It's just a little prick, and I endure a little prick on a daily basis. But I am a hard stick, and getting blood drawn can be An Event.

I think the record for sticking me to find a vein is 22 times. And I warned the guy before he started that I would be difficult, but I got the, "oh, I never have problems" along with the everyone-says-that eyeroll.

When he had to call for help, and the help had to call for help, I totally felt vindicated.

But...the people at this lab are good. The first few times I had blood drawn there, I warned the guy. And he didn't blow me off. But he was able to get the needle into a vein with one stick, which impressed me. And every visit thereafter, he's gotten it. So I wasn't particularly concerned when I got there this morning; this would be quick and easy and I would be home in another 15 minutes, where I could crawl back in bed if I wanted.

And I kinda wanted...but I had to get the whole blood thing taken care of.

The guy with the golden gloved fingers was sitting there behind the desk when I arrived, so I rejoiced a little. For sure this would go well!

I checked in and was waved back, and I sat in the weird blood letting chair...and Super Dude stayed at the desk.

The blonde who had been sitting next to him, pouring over an anatomy book, was the one who got up and headed for the vacuum tubes and blue latex gloves.

Still not worried.

But then she started asking him questions. Questions of the I'm-so-new-I'm-still-in-school sort. Questions that had me mentally thinking "Oh, shit..." Because when someone who is about to jab you with a needle asks the other tech, "So, will it be easier if I put alcohol on both her arm and my fingers while I look for the vein?" you tend to start losing confidence in how smoothly things will go.

It doesn't help when she adds, "I have a lot of questions for you in a minute."

I resigned myself to getting a new record in how many times I was going to be jabbed. I probably could have spoken up and asked for the guy I know can draw blood painlessly, but hell, she has to learn on someone. And it doesn't hurt much, it's mostly annoying. Plus, it would give me something to whine about.

Not my tubes
So while she rubbed an alcohol wipe across my skin and then across her gloved fingers, I braced for it. She felt and she probed, and then she grabbed the needle and slid it in.

And damned if she didn't get it. She popped the first vacuum tube on, and it filled effortlessly.

Less than two minutes later, she was done. Four tubes of blood, a piece of gauze taped over the puncture mark, and I was out of there.

I practically skipped back out into the freezing cold (ok, 45 degrees) and headed home, where a nice warm bed was waiting for me.

But then I decided to pop onto Facebook "for just a minute" and then I had to read some headlines at FARK, and then there were blogs to be surfed.

Yeah. I don't think the bed is warm anymore.


26 March 2011

I mentioned previously that on Tuesday the Spouse Thingy and I went to San Fransisco to meet up with some friends. And of that adventure, you got to see a picture of the frog I bought.

Why no mass of SF pictures? 'Cause I always post SF pictures, right?

Well...it rained. It rained a lot, and the Spouse Thingy kept the camera in the backpack while it rained. He took pictures when it wasn't raining, but many of them?

Karen & Sandy's backsides

Apparently this is my better side.

Now, friends Sandy and Tom were in town for a week, and in that week it rained Every.Single.Day.

Pounding rain.

Whipping wind.

I think we've had 22 straight days of rain, and I'm ready for some sun and some warm. They've headed back home to WI, so for sure next week will be bright and sunny, with temps in the 70s.

At least it didn't turn sunny today, the day after they left, because that would totally have been a major Mother Nature Middle Finger kind of thing.

(Yes, I would have laughed...a little...)

And just for kicks, here's my shiny ball I also got in SF.


Since it is still raining, the rest of my weekend will probably be spent in the office, in front of the computer, as I try to wrap up The Flipside of Doubt. I think--after writing and abandoning around 10,000 words--I found the thread my editor was looking for.

Think being the operative word.


24 March 2011

Fair warning: pettiness ahead...

You know, some Internet memes are kind of fun. The "25 Things About Me" that occasionally pops up on Facebook, that one can be fun when people don't take it too seriously. It gets buried in a note and you can read it or not, no big deal.

But the last few days I've noticed that there are a lot of Bloggers doing this hourly post thing, "A Day in My Life," complete with pictures. And people? When you have a few (several) hundred blogs in your feed reader and a good chunk of them are doing the damned meme...the reader gets bloated and it take for-freaking-ever to get through it.

Blogs I typically love to read...I'm hitting "next" over and over, because in all honesty, I don't care to see a picture of you brushing your teeth at 5:35 in the morning. Yeah, I get that it's part of the meme and you do it every day, but...come on.

Twenty four posts in one day? Teeth brushing, photos of breakfast, a picture of the pile of dirty laundry you need to do?

The Day before yesterday the Spouse Thingy and I went to San Francisco to meet up with Sandy & Tom, friends we haven't seen in about ten years. Even though we got rained on and it was cold, we had a really good time. We wandered into shops on Pier 39, I spent a ridiculous amount of money on a ceramic meditating frog and a little shiny glass ball, saw the seals... a fun day.

Neither here nor there, for the purposes of my whining.


I got home and booted up the computer--and there were over 450 items waiting for me in Google Reader. And most of them were A Day in My Life posts.

After half an hour of trying to breeze through it all, I finally marked all read. I know I missed quite a few non-meme blog posts, but my head hurt by then.

I thought that would be it, but no...

People are still doing it.

My Google Reader is weeping.

And really? I absolutely do not believe that most of you brush your teeth in the morning with hair already done just so and makeup on...

Oh, and here's my frog.


Yes, I know what "hypocrite" means. Don't you be rolling your eyes at me.


18 March 2011

Bah. Nearly 8,000 words written, and it's just not working, so into the ether they go...

And right now, I really want some cake. Or cookies. Neither of which we keep in the house.

Oh yeah, that's how hard my life sucks. No cookies or cake. IT'S NOT FAIR!

I'm rolling my eyes, too...


14 March 2011

There’s a writer’s axiom, “show, don’t tell.” In other words, paint a picture with words; let the reader see the action in his head, make the reader involved.

It’s kind of like the difference between saying, “Hey I got a new tattoo,” and describing that it’s a pretty little blue hummingbird, its wings stretched high, head pointed so that it’s looking down for the next beautiful flower to investigate.

Some things, you want to tell and not show. For instance, I don’t think you’d want me to show you Max’s latest hairball. That’s better left to telling.

Well, unless you like that sort of thing, and if you do, I don’t want to know.

Today I got the first of what will surely be 3,842 pages of noted from my editor (because, you know, she’s mean and all that) and while she overall likes the story and found few technical errors, she did think that in one particular plot point I did more telling than showing, and given that it’s an important plot point, more work needs to be done.

As I said on Twitter* earlier, I didn’t become a writer to work.

But, I can see where she’s coming from. While I may have woven a reasonable verbal tapestry, there are a couple of threads missing; I need to figure out from what parts of the story they’re missing and go back to shove them into place. And then do it without shredding anything else in the process. And make it look like those threads were there all along.

See, my editor is teh Meen. Making me actually work. Sheesh.

*Yes, I’m on Twitter. I’m just now really figuring it out. I’m also on Facebook. But that one, I am totally on board and annoy massive numbers of people on a daily basis…


12 March 2011

I don't know why, but the cats let me sleep in this morning--late enough that I assumed the Spouse Thingy had already fed them and they were content to just chill out on top of me in bed. After only 3.5 hours of sleep the night (day?) before, I was grateful for it and was in a good mood when I got out of bed.

And dang, he had not fed them. They just let me sleep.

After they were fed I picked up my laptop and got online...and my good mood turned a little sour. Because, in the aftermath of what happened in Japan, I dunno, I had these expectations that everyone would be on board with helping quake and tsunami victims, Because, you know, that's what you do when tragedy hits. You do what you can to help, no matter what it is. Rescue worker skills? You go help. All you can do is donate $5? Donate $5. It all matters, and it all counts.

But poking around online, I keep seeing people talking about how Japan got what it deserved, and we (U.S. citizens) should do nothing because, hey, remember Pearl Harbor?

If you're one of those people...are you fucking insane?

Do you know how long ago that was? And hey, did you forget about the fact that the U.S. bombed the motherfarking hell out of Japan with nuclear bombs???

That war? IT'S OVER. Has been for a long, long time.

And so what if it hadn't? So what if it had been last year or even last week?

When the shit hits the fan like that, when the earth moves and swallows people whole and then drowns a few thousand more, you set the political crap aside and YOU HELP.

So yeah, my mood is a little more sour, because finding out there are so many stupid, sucky people crawling around? It bites.

Plus, something in the kitchen stinks, and I have to figure out what.

I hate cleaning...


11 March 2011

I had the TV on my desk tuned to the news last night as I sat there, ostensibly to answer email. I wanted information on the earthquake that hit Japan, but I never expected to see the horror that was unfolding. I could not have fathomed witnessing, as it happened, cars speeding down the road as people tried to outrun the water that was rushing toward them at speeds so fast that there was no way for them to win.

It was the most gut wrenching of disaster movie moments, but so real that I cut my email short and sat there trying to not cave in to the overwhelming want of crying for those people, and the churning in my stomach.

The TV on my desk is a little 20 inch flatscreen, which is about as big a picture as I wanted to get, but eventually I moved out into the living room, where I could--ironically--be comfortable while I watched the destruction slamming down on the Japanese people.

I didn't want to see it, but I think that was mostly because I didn't want to accept that something this horrific was actually happening. I also couldn't not watch; I caught myself more than once whispering words of hope for those people, and I had to watch.

Eventually I headed for bed, turned the TV on in the bedroom, thinking that I'd turn it off in a little while. I commented on Facebook that I didn't think I'd sleep, but truthfully I thought I would.

But then they started talking about Hawaii. The tsunami was not going to be limited to Asia.

And then there was mention of the U.S. West Coast; we're far enough inland that being slammed by a wall of water wasn't even a real possibility, but the Boy lives a hell of a lot closer to the coast. Near the water.

I worried.

When it went from a Tsunami Watch to a Tsunami Warning, I knew I wasn't sleeping. I stayed online, relying on Facebook and Kurtis Ming from Sacramento's channel 13 for updates and links (he was on all freaking night long with updates and information...I know I'm not the only one who appreciated that), and my friends for people to talk to. And I was glued to the TV; Sacramento's channel 3 ran news coverage all night, and while I surfed FB for channel 13's updates I watched channel 3, worrying a little bit about what all this would mean for the Boy.

He's old enough and intelligent enough to get his ass out when he needs to, but still...that's my kid. I was fully prepared to pick up the phone and call him if the news guys said that area of the county needed to evacuate.

I hate phones, that tells you something.

By then I was also very, very tired and not really thinking straight.

I watched until about 8:30 this morning, when I finally needed to cave into the need for sleep...yet I woke right at noon, just in time for the noon newscast.

In time to see images like this online:

The Atlantic.com -- Reuters/Kyodo
The above image found at The Atlantic; there are 48 pictures there worth seeing. Boston.com has 47 more (some are the same) that are kind of jaw dropping.

I suspect I'll sleep just fine tonight...and I really feel for those who won't.

I can't even imagine what they're going through...


10 March 2011

My little Macbook has made me a Mac convert. Kinda sorta. So far I like it better than Windows, although I haven't had to install much software and haven't tripped over much yet...when that happens, I'm sure I'll have some Mac Sucks attitude.

But my little Mac?

That 13" screen is really small. It's all right (but just) when I'm writing, but tonight I tried to work on the book cover, and the only way I could do anything was with my nose about half an inch from the screen.

Clearly, the screen is too small.

Shuddup, it has nothing to do with my age.

Than manuscript has been through a couple of proofreaders and I've taken a couple of passes through it; every time someone combs through it they find something--a dropped letter here, an extra letter there--but for the most part it's coming together swimmingly.

Haven't gotten anything back from the editor, yet, though, so my happy tune may change to screeching death metal soon.

She's mean.




8 March 2011

My mother in law is a busy person; from her daily activities to her love of cruises, if we want to see her, we make an appointment.

If we're lucky, she'll pencil us in. ;)

I love that she's as active as she is, and I want to be that active when I'm older (not old...the numbers don't matter, she's not old. I don't want to be old, either.) I want to still be out there taking long walks, going places, dragging the Spouse Thingy to San Francisco for the hell of it. I want to squeeze every freaking thing I can out of life, and I want to not just enjoy it, I want to be happy through it.

And there's another thing; she's not just busy, she seems to be a happy person. Genuinely nice, very sweet, and innately, wonderfully happy.

It would be easy to not be happy. Face it, when you lose your other half, it would be easy to just burrow down and hide away, and let the darker shadows suck the joy right out of life. Who could blame you?

She could have gone there, yet she didn't. She mourned, and then did exactly what my father in law would have wanted for the woman he truly adored.

She lived.

Remember this tattoo?

I knew when I got it that it wasn't complete. Because Superman alone never felt right. There was always supposed to be something else there.

I even knew what it was, but I didn't know exactly how I wanted to implement it. It had to really matter, because my mother in law? She really matters.

I wanted something to represent happiness. Something to represent busyness. And every time I contemplated it, I came back to the same things: the Bluebird of Happiness, and hummingbirds.

Both are incredibly beautiful, and I love the flitting, zippy motion of hummingbirds.

Blue for happiness; the hummingbird for the beauty of keeping in motion, staying busy.

And the wings...they're touching the shield for a reason, Because no matter how busy she is, how much she lives life, she always, always carries him with her.

It's not two tattoos; it's one that I had done a couple of years apart. 

And now no matter what, I carry these people with me.


7 March 2011

I admit, I tend to become singularly focused when I'm this close to wrapping a book up. I'm on the third pass through the manuscript, the Spouse Thingy has proofed it once, the editor is doing her thing, and Murf is eyeballing it for continuity and context errors.

Max apparently has had enough.

This was his answer to the question of "How does a kitty go about getting some attention around here?"

Buddah, on the other hand, just sits there and meows at me.

Yes, I feel guilty that they're obviously so neglected (see how thin they are? Poor babies...) but I need to get this sucker done...


3 March 2011

One of the nice things about living where we do--if we get up one morning and the weather is nice, and there's nothing else to do, there's always San Francisco. And on Tuesday the weather was just about perfect and there was nothing on the schedule, so we headed for a BART station and rode the train in, with nothing specific to do in mind.

 We got off at an early stop and decided to walk along the Embarcadero. I don't think we were even sure how far we wanted to go, but it runs along the water and it's where all the pier buildings are.

Overall, there's not a lot to see other than those buildings and ships (which is fine if you like boats...I'm not a huge fan) but if you turn and look towards the heart of the city, you can see stuff like Coit Tower.

Very cool.

Still haven't see it up close, but even at a distance...very cool.

We walked down to Fisherman's Wharf and poked around Pier 39 a bit (ok, fine, I needed to pee and we knew there was a restroom there...) and split a soft pretzel and Diet Coke. In spite of the plethora of shops, we didn't wander into any of them (BTDT, have enough t-shirts) and instead kept walking.

And just past Pier 39, I met my new Boy Toy. He posed for the Spouse Thingy, and after this picture was taken. my new Boy Toy (MNBT) spotted an older Asian guy walking past, and he jumped from his perched and literally jumped on the old guy...I think hscaring the crap out of him, and as far as I know he may still be running down the Embarcadero to get away.

But while he was trying to get acquainted with the Asian guy, I was putting a dollar in his bucket. 'Cause, you know, he was nice enough to pose, and he was making everyone laugh.

After I dropped the dollar in his bucket I started to walk away, but MNBT decided to come get me, and together we walked back to where his throngs of admirers were waiting.

Ok, fine, it was a bunch of people who wanted to see what he was going to do next.

And what he was going to do, was pose for another picture for the Spouse Thingy.

Don't we look happy together?

My new Boy Toy is one of the reasons I love walking around San Francisco. You never know what--or who--you're going to see.

We walked a little further down the Wharf and the Spouse Thingy indulged in some fried fish (I do not do fish, but damned if I was going to be a reason he didn't get any. If you like fish, when you're at the Wharf, you get fish. It's like a law, I think...)

We ended up at Ghiradelli Square, and you bet we picked up some chocolate.

By the time we were done there, I think we'd both had enough walking. We wandered over to the cable car station at the end of Hyde Street, and this is the view you get while standing there.


We wound up waiting there about half an hour; they had loaded one car that took off, and the next we *just* missed getting on...but it just sat there for 15 minutes while the operator took a break. When the next one pulled up, being that we were first in line, we got choice seats right up front...and still waited while another operator took a break.

Still...we didn't have to sit inside and didn't have to hang off the sides (though I get why some people like that...the kid that was standing in front of me kept going Wheeeee...LOL)

Since I was right up front, I was in a good position to get a few pictures. I was shooting for some perspective on the downtown hills, though the pictures I got don't quite do it justice.

Still, try to imagine walking up and down these hills. the locals don't seem to think twice; they just do it. You see guys on bikes all around the city and they all have these HUGE calf muscles...

Fricking amazing.

All I can think about when I see them is that 1) none of them killed me on the last 3 Day Walk; 2) I clearly remember swearing under my breath (and not so much under my breath) during the last 3 Day every time we came up to a new hill; and 3) I'm actually looking forward to doing it again.

Not just the walk itself, but coming into the city and wandering around, getting my feet and legs ready for September.

I think the next time we wander into the city we're going to drive in over the Golden Gate Bridge and head for the beach along the Great Highway, and maybe walk around Golden Gate Park for a bit. We've been to the DeYougn Museum there a few times, but haven't really explored the park. I want to check out Stowe Lake and the Japanese Tea Gardens, find Baker Beach, and see what else there is to explore.

I'm not sure much will beat a view like this, though

The Golden Gate Bridge from Crissy Field.