Friday, June 30, 2006

Anywhere But Here: July 4th Edition

Weekend Assignment 118: Share some favorite memories of July 4th. You can do it by telling a story or showing some of your favorite pictures of the day -- or both! Pretty simple, because, after all, all of here in the US have lots of July 4th memories.

Okay, like John S. I do remember the U.S. Bicentennial in 1976. My mom was newly divorced, and I spent the summer with her in Cape Canaveral, Florida. For the 4th we went to a local park, and saw some not-so-great fireworks. But the VAB had a giant flag painted on the side of it, and I think a Bicentennial star logo. That's the Vehicle Assembly Building, the huge, boxy structure at Kennedy Space Center. Whenever I flew into or out of Melbourne, I always looked for that building. It can be seen from quite a distance. I don't think I have any relevant pictures from that summer, bit if I find any later, I'll post them.

Other than that, I remember really outstanding fireworks in Seaside Park, NJ when I was about six or seven years old. My mom was in the hospital with polioencephalitis (or possibly something else), and I was spending the summer with my dad's family (my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins) in and around Little Ferry. I remember standing fireworks displays of the Liberty Bell and the Statue of Liberty, stuff like that. For someone who usually only saw the most boring fireworks in the world, over at Suburban Park in Manlius, it was an amazing and wonderful thing. I can't remember ever seeing any really good fireworks the entire time I lived in Manlius or Syracuse. Come to think of it, Tucson doesn't do all that much better. We have fireworks at the baseball games, and a couple of the resorts, and at A Mountain (Sentinal Peak), which catches fire annually. But none of them match what I saw when I was seven years old.

The only other Fourth of July that left any particular memories behind was the trip John and I made to Disneyland in 2003. I bought a lanyard with patriotic pins of Mickey Mouse and Tinker Bell, and had fun working on my pin collection. The morning of the 4th, we were each given a little non-Disney flag pin and a Mickey Mouse pin saluting the USO(!) as we entered the park.

Back home in Tucson, the Aspen fire on Mount Lemmon was sending a fair amount of smoke into the city below. Between that and the summer heat, we were glad to get out of town for a while.

So where will we be this year? Here in Tucson, in the heat, with the monsoon not yet arrived. Yuck.

Extra credit: Note your other favorite historical event that happened on July 4th (here's a list). Birthdays/deaths of notable people count as well.

Well, there's some cool stuff on the July 4th events list in Wikipedia, no doubt about it. The one I knew about was the deaths of Jefferson and Adams, fifty years after that little thing that wrote with Franklin was accepted by the Continental Congress. But the other stuff includes a sentimental favorite for me:

1817 - At Rome, New York, United States, construction on the Erie Canal begins.

Remnants of the Eric Canal were as close as three miles or so from our house in Manlius as I was growing up. At least one two-story building in nearby Fayetteville had some kind of hook outside an upper window, to facilitate hauling up cargo. In sevenths of eighth grade, I participated in a walkathon, "Walk to Save the County," which was supposed to raise money to clean up and preserve bits of the Erie Canal. Before the canal, Syracuse was malaria-ridden swamp, and Manlius was the area crossroads. Governor DeWitt Clinton championed the canal, in recognition of which the village and town of DeWitt were named. I lived thre until I was four years old. Discontinuous U.S. President Grover Cleveland was also pro-Canal, in recognition of which...oh, never mind.

Clippa cloppa, clippa cloppa, sing! Along the way, for we are coming to a town! Now haul away, Along the Eeer-ie-eee Canal!
--descant to Erie Canal song.

By the way, this is as good an opportunity as any to mention that the next Round Robin Photo Challenge topic, as suggested by Cosette, is Americana! Be there. Aloha!


All photos (except the ones of the pins) taken at Disneyland, July 4th, 2003.

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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Not a Sundog, but an Icebow (also called a Halo)!

Darn it! I had so many plans for tonight, but I had to settle for catching up on over 50 emails, updating the Round Robin linking list, and keeping an eye on the latest developments in the ongoing Barbara Bauer article controversies on Wikipedia. Regarding the latter, I'll spare you the details for now, save to say that substantive objections to sources cited have arisen, even as the jerk who libels me almost daily has finally attracted the unfavorable attention of admins who can do something about him, if they so choose.

I wanted to catch up with the Writer's Weekly Question, and talk about novel continuity and other fun writerly stuff. Instead I must post these pictures, explain them briefly, and go the heck to bed. It's already way late.

unedited icebow shot, snow settingDoesn't this look a lot like an eye? A co-worker alerted me to this ring-around-the-sun phenomenon yesterday as I left for lunch. Sure enough, there it was! Never having seen one of these before, I took a bunch of pictures. I was sure it was called a "sundog" or "sun dog," but I was wrong. It's a halo, more specifically an icebow (I think). This first shot, which is not the first I took, is the unedited version of the shot. All I've done is resize it. The original is kind of dark because after awhile I switched the camera to the "snow and beach" scene setting to compensate for the sun's brightness. It was impossible to get the whole circle into the shot, because I couldn't get far enough away from the sun to fit the halo into the camera's lens.

icebow halo, snow setting, brightened and saturatedThis one looks even more like an eye, and you can see the rainbow effect better. It's another "snow" setting shot, brightened and color saturated.

icebow halo, auto setting, darkened
Here's one of the first shots I took of the halo, possibly the first. This was on the automatic setting. It's been darkened.

icebow halo, brightened from snow setting, saturated
I can't decide whether I like this better than the one with the palm trees clumped together, so I'm showing you both. Again it's a snow setting shot, brightened and color saturated.

icebow halo, darkened from auto setting, saturated

And last, here's another of the earlier automatic setting shots, darkened and saturated. The camera wanted to color-correct for the tree, which washed out the icebow. Still, it cleaned up well, and I like the effect where the tree meets the circle.

I've been working on what amounts to a new scene for Mages. I've been writing it at lunch for the past couple of days. Originally it was going to be a prologue, but I don't want to give the book a prologue. I'll have to fit it in somewhere else. For those of you who have read Mages of Mâvarin in manuscript, it's an earlier introduction to Keni - much earlier, which may be a problem. I've got to do it, though, to establish what happened to Dendoris (who?) and when and how.


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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Round Robin: Allergen-Free Flower Power

This week's Round Robin Photo Challenge, "Flower Power," comes to us from Reneé of TimelessCalligraphyStudio. Flowers are a subject I've seen photographed exceptionally well by a number of Robins in the past, so expect to see a lot of outstanding pictures of flowers over the next day or so.

However, I'll be doing something different.

What can I say? I'm just not a fan of flowers. Maybe it's because I'm allergic to most of them. Maybe it's because they remind me of my Mom, and that makes me sad. Maybe it's because a, well, listen, I don't know why. Flowers just don't provoke the expected emotional response in me. I mostly avoid or ignore them. I prefer stylized representations of flowers to the real thing. So when the topic "Flower Power" came up, this was the first thing I thought of:

It's a neo-Mod night light, a gift from Linda a few years back, if I recall correctly. It basically lights Tuffy's water dish. Here's a view of the flower's power:

The term "Flower Power," of course, comes from the early Mod era, the time of hippies and peaceniks and psychedelia. Floral designs were a big part of the pop art of the day. For example, check out the pockets of this 1967 Barbie and Stacey case, and Casey modeling one of the outfits from the same year, "Style Setters":

And here's Tutti, in "Plantin' Poseys." The boots are from "Puddle Jumpers." A lot of Tutti's 1967 clothes had flowers on them. She's leaning against an ice tea glass that's probably a bit older than that. Oddly, the glass is upside down here in order to show the flowers right-side up!

Floral fashions aren't limited to the 1960s, of course, nor to Mattel dolls. My favorite real-life florals are mostly Hawaiian shirts and related items.

Floral throw pillows

Semi-Hawaiian shirts. My good one needs to be replaced.

Tomorrow: Sun Dog! And no, I don't mean Tuffy!


Now check out the other Round Robins:

Linking List
(links from the word "Posted!" are to the individual entries)

TimelessCalligraphyStudio - Posted! x2

Outpost Mâvarin - Posted!

Ellipsis...Suddenly Carly - Posted!

Retrospect USA - Posted!

Animated Seasons - Posted!

Julie's Web Journal - Posted!


Patrick's Portfolio

John ***Welcome New Member***
Personal effects - Posted!

Through The Eyes Of The Beholder - Posted!

Here, There and Everywhere - Posted!
Here, There & Everywhere 2nd Ed. - Posted!

Nancy Luvs Pix - Posted!

Robin (Gannet Girl)
Search The Sea - Posted!

Suzanne R
New Suzanne R's Life - Posted! x2

The Daily Warrior - Posted!

Julia ***Welcome New Member***
The Bohemian Eye - Posted!

Janet ***Welcome New Member***
Fond of Snape - Posted!


Paragon - Posted!

Pamela ***Welcome New Member***
Times of My Life, One Nurse's Story (Private - email for access)- Posted!

My life and pictures - Posted!

I'm swamped tonight, folks, so I probably won't comment on most of your entries until Thursday. I will get there, though; I promise! (Uh, make that Friday. Sorry!)

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Your Monday Photo Shoot: Find an interesting pattern or texture somewhere in your home. Take a picture of it.

I'm sure I've showed you these curtains before. They're part of the ongoing exhibit of vintage modern decor here at the Museum of the Weird. We brought at extra panel of this to the furniture store a few months ago, and ended up buying a green couch to replace our worn out red-orange one. The green one is still under plastic in the front room, waiting for us to get some other work done to make room for it. Anyway, these 50-year-old curtains have a 1950s palette and sensibility, but not quintessentially so. They aren't turquoise and pink, and they don't have atomic or boomerang shapes on them.

This is a bit of wall in my office. I think this is hand-plastering over brick, inexpertly done. I like it, though.

And now I'm gonna get all metaphorical, with a little help from Paul Simon:

Impaled on my wall
My eyes can dimly see
The pattern of my life
And the puzzle that is me.

--from the Simon & Garfunkel song Patterns, written by Paul Simon

I've had this song in my head ever since reading about this Monday Photo Shoot this afternoon. In the song, Simon draws a parallel between a pattern on a wall and patterns of a person's life. So okay, yeah, it may be a bit obvious, but I'm going to mess around with the concept for a moment.

Our kitchen has two different wallpaper patterns, separated by molding. They're in the same colors, but otherwise they don't go together very well. Still, there they are, and we make do, just as I try to fit together the disparate parts of my life: work, writing, blogging, husband, church, friends. They don't always fit together well, but they're all part of the Karen-colored puzzle.

From the moment of my birth
To the instant of my death,
There are patterns I must follow
Just as I must breathe each breath.

Okay, now that's getting a little too deterministic. Yes, we all fit into certain general patterns: growing up, aging (unless we die young) and death; physical characteristics and biological processes. Some parts of our lives have patterns as predictable and as varied as Tucson weather.

early evening rain, Tucson in June
Yes, it rained today, bringing us one step closer to the summer weather pattern called the monsoon.

Like the color of my skin,
Or the day that I grow old,
My life is made of patterns
That can scarcely be controlled.

That's the last part of the song, and the lyric that's been stuck in my head tonight. After the depressing fatalism expressed earlier, Simon leave us with one grudging word of hope: "scarcely." I'm in a pattern of eating too much and sleeping too little. Changing that pattern isn't easy - but it can be done.

This is a pattern in the floor I see at church, whenever I have crucifer duties. This indentation in the lacquered stone is a little to my left as I sit in the sanctuary. I think it looks like Superman from the waist up, flying. I don't have to be Superman to control my patterns, do I? Maybe I can get some help from the Person whose image I carry into the church most weeks.


P.S. I got back out of bed and did my installment of The Jace Letters. Enjoy!

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Monday, June 26, 2006

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

I suppose I've been moderately productive today. I've
  • da quiltserved at Mass as both cruicifer and lector,
  • taken photos of a quilt the St. Michael's quilting group is raffling off,
  • added a citation to the Route 66 article, based on the research "Toddpence" did,
  • edited most of Chapter Three of Mages of Mâvarin,
  • doubled back to Chapter Two for a few more edits,
  • gone grocery shopping without buying ice cream or other Bad Things,
  • started my laundry (finally, at 1:10 AM),
  • recycled some cans,
  • made some progress on my FeedBlitz backlog of blogs to read, and
  • revamped my sidebar.

So yay, me! On the other hand,
  • close-up.  I like the sun design.I didn't scan my mom's sheet music for my brother, as promised;
  • I didn't get to the gym;
  • I didn't scan and edit my backlog of Fr. Douglas's sermons;
  • I didn't go through the mail;
  • I didn't clean up my office or bathroom, at least not much;
  • I didn't get my only-socks-that-fit into the laundry;
  • I didn't write my installment of The Jace Letters;
  • I didn't update the church's web site; and
  • I didn't get to bed at a reasonable hour.
So shame on me, too! Isn't that how it goes? No matter how much we get done, there's always something else being neglected. Well, that's true in my life, anyway. Maybe you're not as overextended as I am. Or maybe you just manage your time better! Notice that the stuff I did get done tends to be the "fun" stuff.

Still, I'm pleased that I'm on a roll with the editing, after a rather long period of letting myself be distracted by other things. I do have some challenges that I'm starting to run into with it - but that will have to be a subject for another night.

different layers and types of clouds todayTucson's weather is making monsoon-y overtures, but we haven't had significant rain yet. It's hot, and as sticky as it gets around here. Still, the clouds can be pretty.

I've developing quite a backlog of stuff to write about. I'll try to start working it this week.

Oh, a quick note about the sidebar. I added a Round Robins list, and dumped the J-Bloggers diaspora list. By now, anyone who wanted to know where their favorite AOL-J refugees ended up has had ample opportunity and resources to find out, assuming the blogger in question is posting anywhere at all. I got tired of scrolling past this nearly-useless list all the time, so it's gone now. For the rest, I tried to sort my links into vague categories that have nothing to do with blogging venue. A few blogs are in more than one place, and nothing is in any particular order. I'm not going to worry about that, not tonight and probably not this week.

On the other hand, losing the J-Bloggers list may mean that I'm no longer linked to a few regular readers' blogs. Sorry about that. If you're a frequent reader of the Outpost, and I know it (i.e., you comment, link or email, or all of the above), and I don't have a link to your blog on my sidebar, please let me know and I'll add it. And please consider reciprocating if you haven't already done so. Thanks!

The other thing I did, following Patrick's lead, is add a Recent Comments section to the sidebar. I had a distinguished visitor to this blog this week, but really, I treasure all of your comments. You're all esteemed visitors, at the very least!


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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Actual Revision Is Actually Taking Place*

Well, I managed to mostly avoid all things unpleasant today. It's not that there wasn't trouble, but I didn't court it or worry about it much:

  • The vet is reasonably certain that Tuffy's tumor is benign, because the malignant ones usually aren't confined to the epidermal layer as this one seems to be. It's going to cost us almost $900, but for that we also get her teeth cleaned and nails clipped, and peace of mind.

  • Mrk posted another bizarre accusation today, but it wasn't directed at me. I didn't really know what he was talking about and I didn't reengage.
  • And I did not hit "Save" on Barbara Bauer's "Cannoliq" UserTalk page. As Julie pointed out, someone else had already posted a different response to her actions, explaining how easy it is to undo her edit, and inviting her to explain things on the Talk:Barbara Bauer page. This is the same place where Mrk is trying to pick another fight, but that's neither here nor there.

A few explanations, based on your comments:

1. No, Barbara Bauer is not looking for attention, regardless of what kind it is. She spends a lot of her time actively trying to stop people from posting negative information about her, threatening legal action. Her rants have been described as "cartoonish"and "irrational." Heck, she may even really believe that the industry watchdogs who called her out are "terrorists." In case you haven't been following this story or my rants about all this, Barbara Bauer is the fee-charging, non-book-selling "literary agent" who has demanded "a billion dollars" in recompense for the supposedly illegal posting of her business's name (the Barbara Lauer Literary Agency).

2. The term "vandalism"in the Wikipedia template I quoted last night is not a word that I chose. It is Wikipedia's. It has a specific, well defined meaning for Wikipedia editors, which is found behind the link. To say that removing content is considered vandalism on Wikipedia is not an insult, or an accusation of crime. It's a head's up that the user has violated one of Wikipedia's guidelines, with helpful info for learning to avoid such problems in future edits. In point of fact, I didn't even type the word "vandalism" in my text. This is what actually appears on the Edit screen: {{ subst:test2bBarbara Bauer }}. Without referencing templates that mention the Wikipedia concepts of vandalism, blanking, original research and NPOV, those of us who dare to post to Bauer's talk pages cannot possibly convey which rules are being broken, and what possible consequences exist if she doesn't mend her ways. And without these fair warnings, Wiki adminds are less likely to take further action, should that become necessary.

I did read some links that Julie sent me today, most notably this one:

Victoria Strauss Writer Beware interview

...but mostly I read a few alerts, fussed with the Route 66 and George Maharis articles, and did some actual work on Mages. (I'll get to that in a moment.) One of the people who has been contributing heavily to the Route 66 article finally stopped by the article's talk page, so we were able to compare notes. I managed totrack down a few citations for him, and he promised to write up character sketches of Tod and Buz and Linc. Good. Now I won't have to do it myself!

And I edited Chapter Two of Mages of Mâvarin, from beginning to end. I know I already made it through the first third of it recently, because I specifically remember rereading the drowning scene. But the doc on my computer was open to the first page of the chapter, so I just started over. This is just as well, because I rewrote some sentences near the beginning that really needed it.

Then, a little more than halfway through, I came upon a half-finished scene extension that I don't remember writing at all. Part of it didn't make sense, so I cut it, pasted it into my "mage bits" file, and tried to replace it with something equally awkward. This didn't work well, so I pasted the cut scene back in, and changed it almost completely. At the very end, there was a bit that explained what I was trying to do in writing the bit in the first place! Oh, well. This version works better, I think. And now I think I'm back in fiction mode, and weill be able to keep going. This is good, because I'm theoretically within the time frame for hearing back from Tor. If I should sell the first book anythime soon, I'll want to have the second book a lot closer to being ready than it is now.

Enough. I'm tired, and I can see I'm not going to get to The Jace Letters tonight. Catch you all tomorrow! Meanwhile, here are two versions of a sunrise picture John took this week, the day after my own sunrise pictures. He says the sky looked much more amazing before he went looking for the camera, but I think it came out well anyway. Enjoy!

sunrise, as isNo autocorrection or changes to color saturation

color adjusted
Increased saturation and contrast to bring it closer to what John saw.

I guess it really wasn't sunrise yet in the picture I took. I didn't see any big orange ball!


*This is a paraphrase of a line from the Tom Selleck film Mr. Baseball.

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Friday, June 23, 2006

Dangerous Intentions

I'm going to talk about Wikipedia again. Please read it anyway, because I feel the need for some advice here. If you make it all the way to the bottom, you get to see a cute Tuffy picture - and a not-at-all-cute one.

As I mentioned before in passing, Barbara Bauer has made a number of attempts to edit the Wikipedia article that bears her name. We know it's Bauer because a) the user name associated with the edits matches her posted email address, and b) nobody else would or could have written the text she's trying to substitute for the existing article. Her version describes at great length the work she allegedly did for one of her early clients, a priest who wrote a cookbook, including the blow-by-blow on his tv talk show appearance and how Bauer lost money on the deal due to her excessive generosity. Bauer refers to Father Orsini as a "first-time author," but later contradicts herself, admitting that he had a couple of previous small press/self published titles. Later in the article, shortly before revealing that she "also appeared on one episode of Sex and the City," Barbara Bauer strikes back at everyone who has Googlebombed her to be associated with the 20 Worst Agencies list:

In 2006, Bauer's agency, along with 25 other American(USA) companies, was the victim of googlebombing attacks on the internet perpetrated by terrorists attempting to destroy their small businesses, many of which are women and minority owned and operated.

(Reprinted under GNU provisions of Wikipedia.)

(Insert heavy sarcasm here.) Just for starters, BB's agency plus 25 others would make it the 26 Worst Agencies, not 25. Second: terrorist???!!!

Obviously, she can't be permitted to delete the negative but factual information in this article, or use it to make wild accusations like the one above. Every time she tries, someone puts it back the way it was, usually just within five minutes or so. And under Wikipedia policies about original research, vanity articles, NPOV (neutral point of view) and verifiability, she's really not supposed to edit an article about herself at all.

And yet...and yet...

NPOV demands that this article be as fair and balanced and factual as possible. If there is published evidence from someone other than Barbara Bauer that she sold Father Orsini's book to St. Martin's Press, and a book about mermaids to Weekly Reader Books, then the article should probably say so, as part of the discussion about whether she qualifies for the Worst Agents list. If she was really on Sex and the City and can prove it, that can go in the the bio section. But as long as she just "blanks" the negative info about her, adds this long ramble about Father Orsini that's punctuated with effusive self-praise, and calls her detractors "terrorists," she's unlikely to get any concessions from other editors.

Now, here's the dangerous part.

Wikipedia has a system of templates for certain kinds of standardized text or layouts. There's a whole page of them for template messages from one Wikipedia user/editor to another. These range from a friendly welcome with useful info to a stern but polite warning. They're designed to allow a progression from a helpful, perhaps-you-didn't-know-this stance, through last warnings, on on to a notice that the user has been blocked from editing. This is one way Wikipedia tries to keep everything as civil and friendly as possible. It's also a system for trying friendly persuasion before proceeding to more drastic actions. Wikipedia doesn't want to go around blocking users without first greeting, educating, mediating with and finally warning them, via other editors and administrators.

After five attempts to substitute her "Hooray for Barbara Bauer" edit for the factual one, nobody has placed any of the warning templates on her UserTalk page.

I'm thinking about being the first to actually do it.

I looked at a bunch of the templates, trying to figure out which working best suits the situation. The candidates are:

Please stop. If you continue to vandalize pages by deliberately introducing incorrect information, you will be blocked from editing Wikipedia.

Please refrain from removing content from Wikipedia, as you did to Barbara Bauer. It is considered vandalism. If you want to experiment, please use the sandbox. Thank you.

Please try to write in a measured, nuanced, encyclopedic and factual way. Excessive and tendentious edits might disturb the work of other editors and be reverted. You might find reading WP:POV useful in this respect. Thank you.

Eventually I chose the second option above, and wrote some text of my own, trying to explain how she may be able to get a little more positive info into her article:

If you wish to present additional factual material for this article, and can cite your sources (i.e., verification other than from your own website), please do so on the Talk:Barbara Bauer page so that we can add it. That will help to make this a more balanced article, in accordance with WP:NPOV. Thank you. (Incidentally, I'm the one who added the PhD, acting and singing information. I was able to do that because it was verifiable. If that same standard can be met for information on book sales, etc., I'm sure other editors will not have a problem with adding that as well, as long as other material is not removed.) Unfortunately, Wikipedia does not allow users to write or rewrite pages about themselves. Regards. Karen 08:21, 24 June 2006 (UTC)

Yes, I wrote and rewrote that, a helpful hint for someone who has attempted to bully her way across the Internet, trying to stifle any negative mention of her. The crux of the complaints against her, aside from the bullying, come down to two accusations about the way she does business as a literary agent:

1. She charges fees, well beyond the minimal costs of phone calls and photocopying, and does so before a sale is made. Most agents and writers consider this a big no-no.

2. There is no evidence that she has recently sold a book, tv or movie rights, etc., for any of her clients. All the books she has cited in this regard appear by be either quite a few years ago or vanity-published.

Bottom line: she takes the money, and doesn't make the sale. She may have made sales a long time ago, and she may be trying to make sales now, but basically, money is flowing from the writers instead of to the writers. The most they seem to get out of the deal is a little exposure on her web site, and on a podcast she does with them, "Authors Without Limits."

Now, if she were to come forward and say, "I sold these five books last year to the following publishers," and provide evidence that this really happened, it would go a long way toward refuting the accusations that got her on the worst agents list. She doesn't do this, probably because she hasn't made the sales. Instead, she tries to force everyone to shut up, which of course gets them talking all the more. This can't be good for her business. It sure as heck doesn't produce sales for her clients. Understandably angry, she lashes out, even though doing so is counterproductive.

Hence my latest problem. If I do as Wikipedia guidelines suggest, and post a warning template, even with the semi-helpful suggestion shown above, I'm painting a target on my chest. As it is, I'm already pussyfooting around, watching as Mrk Y. posts another personal attack directed at someone else, not saying anything right now while the truce in the edit war holds. You would think I'd learn: if I try to be nice and reasonable to a person with a strong history of abusive behavior, I'm only going to get shot at in return. Good thing I've never stated online where I work. Whatever else happens, Barbara Bauer can't try to get me first, as she tried to get TNH fired.

But that's assuming I hit the "Save" button.

I often wonder whether I'm a moral coward, doing the right thing only when it's easy and convenient. Am I leaving the Disemvoweling article alone for now because it's good enough, and we sorta-kinda have an agreement to let that text stand even though I have all this new material I would incorporate to make it better? Should I continue to wait for the Wiki advocate person to say something further, or for a break in the truce? Is that the ethical thing to do? Or am I leaving it alone because I don't want to fight another battle with Marky48? I don;t know. Both, I suspect.

The Barbara Bauer talk page question is more basic. If I don't do it, it's not due to some ethical consideration. It's fear of conflict, pure and simple. If I do it, she benefits from the same system of suggestions and warnings all Wikipedians are entitled to when they disbehave, and may even get the article changed a little bit in her favor. If I don't do it, I avoid the Wrath of Barbara - maybe. She could still come down on me for my past contributions to the article itself, or even for blogging about her here. But posting to her UserTalk page feels like a much more direct confrontation, no matter how friendly or helpful I try to be.

So you folks tell me: should I hit Save?


John and I are taking Tuffy to the vet tomorrow, eight hours from now. She was due to go in January. I think we both put it off because we're worried what the doctor will say. Tuffy has a growth on her head, previously labeled benign. But it's getting bigger. Much bigger. We really can't ignore it any longer. We've even mentioned the C word to each other.

If you believe in praying for a beloved pet, please consider dropping one in there for Tuffy, okay? Thanks!

Never mind all that! Make with the dog biscuits!


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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Stuff I Avoid

I'm hoping to make this another "quickie" entry, built around a couple of subjects that are only vaguely related. Scalzi first:

Weekend Assignment #117: We all have to do chores around the house. Which chore do you like to do the least?

Cleaning in general is a problem for me, particularly anything that involves sorting through stuff, throwing half of it away, and finding a place to put the rest. Hardest of all is the ritual Sorting of the Mail. Oh, I can throw away the newsprint ads, the pool cleaning offers and "Have you seen me?" blow-ins (with transmission service ads on the back) without much trouble. But I have a real problem with the rest, identifying and dealing with bills I pay online anyway, credit card offers that have probably expired and been replaced by newer ones, church stuff I ought to read before I toss it, and so on.

Weeks ago, I promised John I would sort through the mail while watching Route 66. After putting it off and putting it off, I finally did about an episode's worth. The stuff I managed to toss filled our Fallout Shelter water storage drum just a little bit:

And this is what was left: definite keep stuff (particularly the items on top), and stuff I need to actually open and read before I toss, file, or otherwise deal with it.

And that was not all the mail, by any means.

I hope to get this chore finished this weekend, after which (if get it done), John promises to take over the task. Yay, John!

Extra Credit: Do you recycle?

Yes. We have a big green bin that John periodically empties into an even bigger blue thing on wheels. We get curbside pickup, which makes it easy.

Some of the recycling is a little less easy, though. Christmas trees must be discarded to a certain place by a certain date, for example. And at this moment, in the back of my car, there are several grocery bags full of cans and bottles. I brought them home from the office just yesterday, probably a month's worth of recycled Diet Cherry Pepsi and (red) Diet Mountain Dew containers, hand-carried across the Crosswalk of Death to my car.

Oh, look at that. I'm over halfway through this entry, and it's only a little after midnight. Good. I desperately, desperately need to sleep tonight. Part of the reason is that I had trouble getting back to sleep after my late-night blogging Wednesday night/Thursday morning. Soon it was 5:30 AM, and I was taking pictures of something I try never to be awake to see:

Yeah. That was dawn in our back yard Thursday morning, or a little while after dawn. Between the mountains, neighbors' houses and the cloud cover, I don't even really know whether sunrise was mostly over with or not. I will say that it sure wasn't as pretty as the average Tucson sunset. Even when I fiddle with the color saturation, as I often do with the sunset pictures, the result is a little disappointing:

Oh, it's all right, I guess. I think I mostly just resent the dawn, because it means I've failed to take care of myself. See, it doesn't mean I got up early. That would never happen, short of a specific obligation that morning. No, dawn means that I just stayed up all night. Or, as in this case, I got some sleep, got up, and failed to go back to bed in time for the earlier sleep to do me any good.

Speaking of things I don't get done, I haven't done a proper promo for next week's Round Robin Photo Challenge. The topic is "Flower Power." I know a lot of you are big flower fans, or like to take pictures of them, or both. They're extremely photogenic, with their delicate, contrasting colors and not-quite-geometric shapes. I'm personally not a flower fan, not even a little bit, because of allergies and melancholy memories; but even I take pictures of them from time to time. This one, for example. These plants are all in front of an office building on Wilmot. The building went up fairly recently, but already it's shaded by a nice variety of huge flowering bushes, with ground cover in front of that. It probably helps to keep out some of the 110 degree heat, even though I'm sure the windows have special glass to block most of the sunlight. (The glass doesn't block bullets, though. There was a drive-by shooting here one night recently, that broke some of the windows on this building and at least one other one.) The flowers also provide a bit of privacy for people on the first floor, or when they smoke or eat on the corner patio. Oh, and the flowers are pretty, too!

So, have you some great new flower photos to share? How about some other interpretation of the them "Flower Power?" Were you a hippie? Are you still a hippie? What does the topic mean to you? Go over to the Round Robin blog, if you haven't already, RSVP at the Flower Power entry, and get ready to post your entry on Wednesday, June 28th. We'll see you then!


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I'm Not Ready for This

Tonight was one of those nights when my brain demanded that I go to sleep for a while before trying to do anything else. I slept for four hours. If I can get this entry in really really quickly, I can end up with seven and a half for the night.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden has posted a long set of answers to my questions about disemvoweling over on Making Light. It's great stuff, refuting everything Mark claims, with examples. It puts me in a quandary, though. The Disemvoweling article has stabilized, at least for now, and nothing further about all this was posted today on Wikipedia by Mark or the Wikipedia advocate or anyone else. For tonight, at least, I'm not going to disturb the peace.


"Is that a dust storm rolling in?" my co-worker asked tonight, long after most people had left for the day. I rushed to the window and got these pictures:

Yes, there was a huge dust cloud on the horizon, seemingly as tall as the Catalina Mountains themselves. Immediately outside there was rain and wind. I took a little digital footage of water blowing west across the parking lot, but I haven't looked at it yet.

My co-worker hasn't been here during the summer monsoon yet. I showed him some posted pictures from last summer. He was suitably impressed.

The roof line in this last shot is the top of my building. I took this picture when I finally left work tonight.

These are all the words I'm going to string together for you tonight. Catch you Thursday night, not so late this time. Meanwhile, don't forget to sign up for the latest Round Robin Photo Challenge, "Flower Power." I'll tell you more about that in a day or two.


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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Teresa Was Right - Darn It!

I was amazed today to see a comment on my entry from two nights ago, from none other than Teresa Nielsen Hayden of Making Light. She wrote, in part:

Making Light is not the first venue that's kicked him out. It's not the second or third, either.

What you have to understand is that (1.) since Mrk . Yrk has opinions, we're all obliged to listen to them and find them interesting; (2.) anything less is simple injustice; and (3.) he's never wrong. If Wikipedia doesn't have a mechanism for removing intransigent posters, this could turn into a long fight.

Mrk Yrk, or Mark A York, Mary48 on Wikipedia, is the man whose anti-TNH, anti-Absolute Write edits have so taxed my time and patience recently. Teresa sounds even more exasperated with him - and possibly with me for trying to negotiate with him.

When I read Teresa's comment, I looked over my blog entry to make sure I hadn't been unfair or unclear about anything. I was horrified to discover that there was an ambigious paragraph, that seemed to imply I thought Mark was 10% right about Teresa Nielsen Hayden being unfair to him. That wasn't what I meant at all! Too late, I did a quick edit, adding the following sentence:

(She wasn't.)

And it's true. Mark was right that the article should acknowledge that not everyone is in favor of disemvoweling. Unsurprisingly, most people who are disemvoweled aren't happy about it. However, Mark is wrong about whether it's applied unfairly on Making Light, whether it's a precursor to inevitably being banned completely, and most of all, whether he was banned just for disagreeing with the crowd. He was banned after months of comments, most of them unpleasant, after warnings and disemvoweling, and, the last straw, after sending in a "sock puppet," and posting the same accusations and unpleasantness under a different name. Sorry, Mark. It's not just because you resent Absolute Write for banning you also, and dared to speak out repeatedly about Jenna of AW's treatment of you.

But I digress.

Everything Teresa wrote about Mark tallies perfectly with my experience with the man. Everything, that is, except the outcome. As of last night and this morning, the edit war appeared to be over. Mark accepted the edits, and that seemed to be that.

Then tonight I read this, from Mark to someone with a bit of authority at Wikipedia:

Well they did it too is what I'm saying, and I had no knowledge of this rule. The article has been completely rewritten by a fourth party
Zack preserving enough of my language that I'm washing my hands of it. The same two ganged up on me at the Barbara Bauer entry over a link that is now defunct since it left the owner JC Hosting in a bad light. That was my beef at the time, yet they won by repeatedly adding it back in. The users are JulesH and Mavarin. This is chronic partisan buying by forum members at Making Light which banned me for persistence in voicing my opinion. It looks like it's over but you want to take a look at that page as well. Thanks.Marky48 15:22, 20 June 2006 (UTC)

So he accepted my edits, but he's still trying to get me in trouble? Drat, Teresa as right about that, too. I've been trying to report on all this without calling him names (other than Mrk Yrk, which has become a convention on Making Light), or otherwise attacking him personally. I've done my best to be patient and cordial, reasonable and logical. I've tried to come up with Wikipedia edits he could live with that were nevertheless fair and accurate - no easy task, I assure you. I've tried to de-escalate things by calling in a mediator, and even tried to help him arrange for an advocate, the next step up in Wikipedia dispute resolution. What I get in return is attacks and accusations and name-calling.

So tonight I wrote to the Wikipedia advocate guy, and did my best to explain without attacking Mark in return. I'm sure that if he looks over the Talk pages, he'll see how I've tried to be fair. Oh, how I've tried!

And here's the answer to the question I posed the other night. If there is no Them, and Mark is not an enemy by my definition, then what is my obligation to him, as an Us and a non-enemy? Where does he fit into my philosophy?

Hmm. Tricky.

Well, first of all, Mark is a human being. He has his "own spark of divine fire." He also falls under this provision:

Does that mean I have to confirm his distorted self-image? No, of course not. Does it mean I should allow Wikipedia articles to turn into attacks? Not that, either. Does it mean I need to be polite to him, and honestly consider his point of view? Bingo. How about leaving out certain links Mark doesn't like when I edit Wikipedia? Erm, um, well...I'm not quite sure on that one. But regardless, I feel I should treat him with compassion and respect, even if he treats me badly, even if privately I think he has some kind of personality disorder. There. I said it. Should I have admitted that, even here on my blog? Is Mark going to turn up here, as Teresa did? If so, will he hound me forever? Is my comment an attack?

I don't think it's an attack. I think it's true, and it makes me sad. It means that he's never going to admit, even in his own mind, that "This Mavarin person, Karen, actually treated me pretty decently. Maybe I was wrong after all." Not gonna happen. But I still feel obligated to treat him as if he were a reasonable adult human being. It's the Golden Rule and all that.

Do I think he shouldn't have been disemvoweled, or banned? No, I think that was perfectly justified. Do I want him to be able to endlessly accuse me of bias and trolling? No, but I don't see how I can stop him, without abandoning the stance I have taken. Should I abandon that stance as ineffective and counterproductive?

I'm not sure yet. I'll get back to you. This blog entry is already a crack in that wall, I'm afraid.

Oh, by the way. Julie pointed out that I used the term "them,"at least tangentially, in writing about my fictional characters. Okay, yes. I supposed they are "them," since they really can't quite be "us." On the other hand, within their reality, they are all "Us" after all. Huh. Interesting.

Or maybe I'm just tired. Good night!


P.S. The Jace Letters installment is finally posted.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Still Life With Small Miracle

I've got a two-part post tonight.

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Take a snap of something in a "still life" mode. It doesn't have to be a bowl of fruit, mind you (although there's nothing wrong with a bowl of fruit, if that's your thing). But something that you can get contemplative about would be nice. Also, it doesn't move, unless you go and pick it up.

Other than bowls of flowers or fruit, I wasn't quite sure what a still life is. For example, does it have to contain something that's alive but doesn't move? So I checked Wikipedia (there's that word again!):

A still life is a work of art depicting a collection of usually inanimate objects, typically natural -- (flowers, game, sea shells and so on) -- or man-made domestic items -- (drinking glasses, foodstuffs, pipes, books and so on).

Okay, we'll go with that as a working definition, at least of the purpose of this meme. Having just eaten a chicken salad bagel when I came across this, I cleaned up my desk a little and took a bunch of pictures of the empty plate. I did most of them with the camera's "close-up" scene settings, some with the camera propped up somewhere for better focus, some not. Later, because I don't want the pictures to be boring, I messed around with most of them using one of my cheap photo editing programs, PhotoStudio 2000. Here are some of the results:

Still Life with BambiStill Life with Bambi

Still Life in OrangeStill Life in Orange

Still Life in CrayonStill Life in Crayon

Still Life With Cell PhoneStill Life With Cell Phone

Still Life With BooksStill Life With Books

Am I supposed to contemplate something in connection with these pictures? Very well, then. I'm thinking I need to get my desk cleaned off. Better photo editing software would be nice, too. And a tripod.

Meanwhile, the edit war about the Wikipedia Disemvoweling article is suddenly over. It was an intense, distracting day, with more accusations and edits and reverts (undoing someone else's edit), and attempts by Julie and others to help with links to cite. In the end, it came down to establishing whether it's factual to say that once people are disemvoweled on a blog or forum, "most" of them can't ever post normally again on that venue. A counter-example was found, and I added that to the article, along with a link to the inventor of disemvoweling saying that if the person behaves well after that, the moderator should "forgive and forget." Meanwhile, there were attempts to take the dispute resolution process to the next level, advocacy.

Then, much to my surprise, Mark accepted my edit, which left most of his text in place as well. It wasn't an ideal version, but I'd take it. Then, wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles (yes, I've got Fiddler on the Roof running in my head), somebody with no prior history on the article came in, rewrote it extensively, organized it into more sections, incorporated and summarized citations, and left it looking a heck of a lot better. Mark accepted that version, too! Wow!

Next he complained again about the link he didn't like over on the Barbara Bauer article on Wikipedia, which is a dead link anyway. So I did a rewrite on that one, too. So far, it's holding.

Tomorrow Night: Us and Them, Me and Him, and That Other Them! (Thanks, Julie!)


P.S. I know I'm three days late on The Jace Letters. I'll make it up to you Tuesday night.

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Doing the Right Thing - If I Can Figure Out What That Is (Pt. 1)

It's late again, and I've put off writing this to research it some more. Shame on me. So I'm going to give a few highlights, and leave the actual post for another time.

As I've mentioned a number of times recently, I'm involved in a disagreement over on Wikipedia. I'm not going to write up what it's all about again tonight. I'll just give you a few links:

The Barbara Bauer article on Wikipedia, which Bauer herself tried to change into a 100% pro-Bauer puff piece, twice tonight (and once before that I know of). But that's not the problem.

The Talk page for the Barbara Bauer article, chronicling a dispute over whether it's fair to an ISP to link that ISP's own explanation of why they shut down a web site.

The Wikipedia article on Disemvoweling, a technique moderators of some large blogs and forums use to deal with disruptive and rude people. The people who misbehave end up with posted comments that look like this:

tk flng lp


Strtgclly, f y wr ntrstd n hlpng crt gndr blnc, rthr thn slf-jstfyngly lmntng th lck f t, y shld hv ttndd tch. Mks sns, n? t lds n t sspct ths s bt "my prty ws mr fbls thn yr prty" rthr thn nythng sbstntv.

The basic problem on the Disemvowelment article, for those of you who don't want to wade through the Talk page (and who could blame you?) is that someone whose comments on Making Light were disemvoweled thinks that he was treated unfairly. He wants the article to say that disemvowelment prevents further discourse by the person, is humiliating, is applied too quickly and in response to polite disagreement, and "leads to banning" of that individual. All of this is based on a highly distorted view of his own case. Sorry, but that's not what happened - and it's certainly not the norm.

Me on a Making Light open thread, explaining the problem a little and asking for info

Mediation Cabal Case: Disemvoweling
, a page for the dispute mediation I called for.

This one person keeps changing the article to match his opinion, and doesn't give evidence for some of his erroneous "facts." Someone else keeps changing it back, incorporating anything the guy (Mark) has done that isn't too false or distorted, and rewriting as needed. In this way, ironically, the article has been getting better. Yet the "edit war" continues.

This may sound kind of dry, but believe me, it's high drama, at least in the modern sense. I think Mark honestly believes he's fighting off a conspiracy to canonize Teresa Nielsen Hayden of Making Light, who he thinks was unfair to him. (She wasn't.) I've never been cast as a villain before, as far as I know, but Mark now thinks I'm out to get him as well. I'm not. Strangely enough, I'm kind of fond of him, and don't think he's 100% wrong in what he's trying to do - only 90%. But he frustrates the heck out of me. I want to explain and negotiate, help him to see that he need not be so adversarial, that it actually gets in his way for him to assume that everyone is an enemy. He even brought up Us vs. Them, I think as a description of the way he's being treated. Well, you guys know how I feel on that subject! But Mark doesn't.

Ah, but the application! If there is no Them, only Us, what does that imply, if anything, about the way I should behave toward Mark? If I hate no one, and have no enemies, then what are my obligations toward Mark?

Do your reading, and I'll try to answer these questions over the next day or two. Good night!


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No, They're Themselves

Writer's Weekly Question # 19 (or possibly 20):

Have you ever created a character based on someone you know? Was it because you liked the person, or disliked the person? How was the character different or like the person you based him or her on?

I'm trying to think of any characters I've come up with over the years outside the Mâvarin books, and whether any of them fit in this category. Aside from the occasional fictionalized version of myself, I really don't think so. No, wait, I take it back. There was an angry, fat college student in a short story once who was sorta-kinda an amalgam of my roommmate and myself, and a man in another short story who was based on my ex-boyfriend at the time, Bob. The latter was an attempt to tap into some more emotional, closer to home subject matter than my usual stuff, although really, my Mâvarin characters were also dealing with issues at least vaguely like my own problems at the time. The protagonist of "Dreamsong" was based on Bob because Bob was an interesting character in real life, and fit the story. Neither story was intended to either praise or put down these people in my life. They were just a starting point for the characters.

In the Mâvarin books, with my beloved cast of hundreds, only a few players are even a little bit based on people I know. Li Ramet is about 10% my brother. Two father figure characters, Pol Ramet and Jamek Barst / Jami Baret, are each 10% my dad (not the same 10%). Baku Dener is about 20% my husband, John Blocher, as my beta readers have noticed. Typically, these characters have some character trait that is similar to that of someone I know, but have little else in common with the real people. Baku, for example, has John's skepticism and underlying kindness, but is very different in temperament, appearance, interests, and profession. Baku is much more sociable than John, for one thing. But somewhere along the way, he picked some of John's attitudes and ran with them - and I'm glad he did.

Even the one character who is heavily and deliberately based on a real person, the mage Rutana, isn't really my mom. I couldn't write my mom if I tried. They have similar names, interests, medical histories, marital histories and taste in clothing, but that's about as far as it goes. Rutana's marriage broke up for different reasons from Ruth Anne's, and she doesn't really talk the same way. Okay, I know that doesn't make her sound like an independent character, but she pretty much is anyway.

That's just as well, because I have no desire to import real people into Mâvarin. The stories are best served by having characters who are not slaves to some factual source material, but free to be themselves. They all start with a spoonful to half a cup of Karen, mixed with whatever's going on in the story that requires their presence. They then tell me who they are by what they do, usually without reference to anything my friends or relatives did before htm. Rani has my introspection and then-youthful alienation, but really, he's Rani, not Karen or Joel or Steve or even an archetype or Christ figure. I know who Rani is and what he'd do, and it's based on who the character has become over thirty years of intermittent writing about him. I know when Cathma is going to say something she shouldn't, or when Carli is about to do something foolish.

A moment ago, I said that the characters all start out as Karen, at least a little bit. This is fairly common. After all, who else do we ultimately know through and through, as we need to know our characters? But unless the character is a Mary Sue (an idealized verson of the author), she will soon differentiate herself. Madeleine L'Engle once said:

"As my protagonist deepened, so did I. Now this character was at first no more than a thinly-disguised self-image, but as I learned to listen to the work during the writing, Katherine Forrester began to have her own separate identity. And the more real she became, the more apart from me, the more I learned about the writing of fiction and about myself."
--from a lecture at a writer's workshop, quoted in Madeleine L'Engle, Herself.

I have more ranting to do on this subject, but I think I'll stop there for now.


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Saturday, June 17, 2006

Sleepy, Wiki, Lassie and Boots

Rose asks the sleeping Doctor to wake up and help her.After struggling through the day and later going out to dinner with John, I found it necessary to nap for a couple of hours tonight before returning to the computer. Now it's very late again, so I'm going to rush this entry and go back to bed. Emergency naps like that always remind me of The Doctor after a regeneration. in Castrovalva and again in The Christmas Invasion, the Doctor talks about his dentrites (or synapses) healing. I like to think that that's what sleep does for me - or would, if I did enough of it. In The Christmas Invasion, the Doctor says he's having "a neural implosion," and proceeds to spend most of the story asleep! Perhaps I should follow his example, especially given that I'm not urgently needed to save the world. I suppose we're all needed for that, but a few more hours of sleep don't generally get in the way of that.

Other than sleeping, the main thing that I've done tonight is follow through on a request I made last night for mediation on Wikipedia. As I've mentioned before, there's been ongoing drama there about two articles, Barbara Bauer and Disemvoweling. I'm hoping that a mediator can help restore peace. Meanwhile, I've done more reading on Wikipedia policies, and generally agree with them. They basically come down to, "Let's all be kind and reasonable, okay?"

One of the things that keep me up late on Friday nights, and sometimes on other nights, is reruns of Lassie on Discovery Kids. I got pretty bored with this show in the Corey Stewart era and in the years after that, especially in episodes that mostly consisted of animals interacting with each other. But I've been enjoying the Timmy epsodes recently, and even some of the newer ones. It turns out that one of the producer-directors was William Beaudine, Jr., who worked on The Further Adventures of Spin and Marty, and, it turns out, the Quantum Leap pilot episode. Anyway, I try not to watch, but several times recently I've been sucked in by the simple stories of a magical collie and her kind-hearted owner(s). Tonight I saw the last few minutes of one with teenaged Ron Howard in it. Last week I saw one in which Timmy got to meet the Lone Ranger and sit on Silver after Lassie recovered some money stolen from the Lone Ranger's Peace Patrol, a kids' savings bond program.

The reason I ended up watching Lassie escape from dognappers tonight was that I was waiting for my computer to install and reboot, install and reboot. The original update was a Windows one, I think; but then it wanted to install two Acrobat Reader updates. I think I ended up rebooting four times. At one point the computer got caught in an endless loop, and failed to finish its start-up routine. I waited about 15 minutes before turning the computer off and starting over. Ain't technology wonderful?

And now, back to bed!


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Friday, June 16, 2006

Same Difference

Weekend Assignment #116: Tell about some personality trait or quirk you got from your father -- or, if you're a father, some personality trait or quirk of yours you see in your kids.

I've spent much of the evening catching up my email and educating myself about Wikipedia policies. Consequently I'm getting a late start on this entry. That's okay. I haven't much to say anyway. I've already written a couple of tributes to my dad:

The Aging Lottery
Two Mealtime Stories About My Dad
My Favorite Veteran

Tonight's entry probably won't add much to what I say in those.

The truth is that I'm very different from my dad in terms of personality traits. He's organized and disciplined. I'm so very not. He's fairly private in his personal life. I'm highly confessional, almost compusively so. He looks forward, hardly ever back. I look around a lot. He's achieved a lot in his life, and just keeps going, even now that he's well into his eighties. I'm--


When I was a kid and then a teenager, I used to think about my parents, with their multiple activities and respected positions in the community. I'd think, "They're overachievers. I could never be like that. I wouldn't want to be." My dad was an assistant dean by 1965, and became the dean of University College about four years later, if memory serves. Also in 1965, My mom was holding down a job plus private practice, serving on five boards of directors, and writing a musical revue. They were both Ph.D.s, of course. I, on the other hand, didn't do any extracurricular activities at school, except for appearing in a brief sketch one year in high school. I also didn't get the straight As they wanted -- only five of them per report card, usually. More tellingly, I didn't manage to finish my B.A. at Syracuse University in 1979, let alone continue on to grad school.

But look at me now. I did finally graduate from college, with a more useful degree than the one I started out to get 31 years ago. I've got one novel completed and I'm editing the second. I blog every single night, even though John sometimes wishes I wouldn't. I help Carly with the Round Robin Photo Challenges. I write and edit for Wikipedia. I have so many irons in the fire that I continually burn myself.

Did I get all that from Dad, this continual whirl of activity? Probably. It's true that he's never managed to do much sitting around as a retiree. He's heavily involved with his church and the local railroad museum where he lives, among other activities. He's better at it than I am, though. I need to find a way to work little things like cleaning and working out into my schedule. That's where Dad's discipline and organization come in, I suppose.

I probably get my intelligence from both parents, and my sense of humor, and my ethics. But in terms of actual personality traits, the inability to just hang out and relax is probably more from my Dad than from my Mom. Yeah. Definitely.

Extra credit: Did you ever get dad a tie for Father's Day?

Well, of course! I think he liked them, too. I especially remember the "wide tie" era.

I've shown you at least one of these couch pillows before, but it's worth mentioning them again. John and I got these two cushions for Christmas, 2004 from my stepmother, Ruth, an experienced quilter. She made them out of some of Dad's old ties! As far as I'm concerned, this is the coolest use of old ties, ever. (Yes, I did choose to use a photo with my persistent lens cap problem. I like the way it framed the picture!)


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