Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Crawling Across the Web, Spinning Through Time

In case you haven't guessed, let me tell you I haven't been outside by daylight much lately. I finally had a weekend off a few days ago, but mostly I was inside, and part of the day I was asleep. Weekdays I've been coming out of work at dusk or later - sometimes much, much later. It's not as bad now as it was last week (in more ways than one), but still time is tight. Which is why I only just tonight finished visiting everyone's Round Robin entries for the topic "Red." Sorry, folks!

There was a day last week when low clouds tried to obscure the mountains again. The rest of these photos are from that day, enhanced quite a bit so you can see something more than just grey. As for myself, I haven't really been in a fog this week, although I still need to get a bit more sleep. One of the problems is that everything takes too long. A simple question about when Unnamed Largish Company had a certain transaction take place should have taken minutes to resolve, but ate up the better part of two days. And it would be a lot easier to read everyone's blog entries (or, at least, some reasonable subset thereof, such as the entries of Robins and close friends) if it didn't take my dial-up connection five or ten minutes (sometimes much longer) to load each media-heavy blog.

For this shot, I turned the camera and tried to concentrate on one portion of the view. That's what I'm trying to do here, concentrate on essentials and leave out the rest. I'm not there yet, but I've definitely been making strides in that direction.

At least I know where I'm going, more or less. There may be a change of direction in my near future, but the signals are not yet clear. Meanwhile, the annual cycle of months and days leads me ever closer to "the big five-oh," my fiftieth birthday on March 10th. I won't be celebrating with the traditional bungee-jumping or leaping out of airplanes, but beyond that I'm undecided what to do. I definitely need a rut-breaker! Balloon ride? A dash to the Grand Canyon? Vegas? Spring Training? Horseback trail riding through the desert? A night at a local resort? Dunno yet. Any suggestions?


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Refrigerator magnets do not equal Gracious Living

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Show off your refrigerator magnets. Because you know you have 'em.

You mean like this? Well, yes, we have them, just a minor exhibit at the Museum of the Weird, so minor that we don't even keep them on display any more. John took them down when we got our new refrigerator last year. Fortunately for tonight's entry, he happened to find them in a box on Sunday, so I was able to pull them out of the box and arrange them on the refrigerator. My favorite one is the cartoon of Sam and Al from Quantum Leap, as drawn by my friend Sherlock - the same artist who drew my Mâvarin characters for me.

I strongly suspected John would not want the magnets left up on the front of our nice new fridge, junking it up. So I thought I'd see whether I could get away with putting them on the side of it instead. If nothing else, it gives the photo a more contrasting background. But no, John doesn't want them on the side of the refrigerator, either, near the open flames of the adjacent gas stove. Can't blame him for that!

And really, the fridge does look better without them. As John said tonight, "Refrigerator magnets aren't really part of gracious living." "Gracious Living" is something of a running joke with us. It was a term used on the cover of a trading stamp redemption book when I was a little kid in the early 1960s. It was probably a little silly for the competition to the S&H Green Stamp people to promise they could bring graciousness to the new suburban homes of the generation that begat the baby boom, but it fit in with the optimistic consumerism of the era. The Museum of the Weird is full of that generation's cast-offs - and yes, we really do aspire to gracious living. We're not there yet, but we're working on it.

Still, I kind of wanted to keep at least some of these on display somewhere. But where? There aren't a lot of metal surfaces in this house that don't have electronics inside, which could be negatively affected by the magnets. Just for fun, I temporarily stuck them on this vintage lamp on time of my computer hutch. Clearly, that's not going to work, either. At the moment most of them are stuck to the pole part of the same desk lamp. Sam and Al are stuck to the old Altar Bread can. That'll do for tonight.


Monday, February 26, 2007


I don't really have anything to say tonight. I went to church, came home, slept, helped John go through a few boxes (most interesting find: my old Quantum Leap shirts), laughed at selected excerpts from Conservapedia, whittled away at my backlog of email, inquired about getting Dan's yearbook inscription to me translated (it's in Quechua, but rendered in one of Tolkien's alphabets), fixed typos and misspellings on a three year old page about the magic of Mâvarin, spent a few hours trying to create a graphic of the sword / coin talisman in Heirs of Mâvarin...and here I am. It's late, and I have to go to bed now. Making the rounds of the rest of the Robins will have to wait another night. Sorry!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Book I Couldn't Put Down

My week of self-imposed brevity is technically over, but tonight's entry will be short, anyway. I plan to stick to the short format for a while, except for an occasional longer posting as I have time and the subject matter demands. For the short ones, I won't necessarily keep it to one paragraph, though. On a lot of the past week's entries, I changed subjects several times without making a paragraph break. Rather than continue to do that, I'll allow for several paragraphs while keeping the overall word count down.

Today I tried and failed to give blood. This happens about half the time when I go over there, usually because my hemoglobin isn't quite high enough. So I'll eat more meat and spinach and oatmeal, and try again in two weeks. I also visited Wikipedia for the first time in a week, for no more than an hour, just skimming my watchlist and replying to a few messages. No big deal. See there? I don't have to overdo it.

Or do I? I finally posted the beginning of my Fayubi and Jor scene on Messages from Mâvarin tonight. I had stalled out in my typing of the scene due to the need to look up which guard was likely to be at the King's door. I went looking for him in an appropriate scene in Return to Mâvarin, and ended up reading parts of seven chapters, all the way to the end of the Mages trilogy. Gee, I love that book. I cleaned up some typos and noticed some inconsistencies, but it's going to be a heck of a story by the time I'm done revising it.

I'd better get to it.


Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Second Year Begins

Tor Anniversary cardAdapted from tonight's posting on my LiveJournal: Today was the one year anniversary of my three chapters, synopsis and cover letter for Heirs of Mâvarin arriving on the slush pile at Tor Books in New York. I was reminded of this fact in a dream this morning, in which Patrick Nielsen Hayden got annoyed with me for temporarily storing ham and cheese in a Tor mailbox, and announced he would have nothing more to do with me. For months I've been fantasizing that I could mark this occasion with an anniversary card, something like the graphic on this entry. Actually sending such a thing would be unprofessional, though, so I'll post it online and leave it at that. I'm not really upset at the long wait; I once sold a logic problem to Dell two years after I submitted it. Having spent a few decades turning my derivative high school efforts into a rather decent first novel (she said modestly), I don't really mind waiting to get it published. On the other hand if this long wait ends in a form rejection slip, the depression that follows is likely to make this past week look like a Jolly Holiday by comparison. If that happens (and I kind of don't think it will at this point), I'll probably cry for days...and then send the manuscript to another publisher.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Ain't Technology Wonderful?

Weekend Assignment #153: Share a story of true computer horror. Your computer blow up just before a big presentation? You forget to take down a compromising picture before the in-laws come over? Ever thought you were IMing with one person but in fact were IMing someone else? Share! You'll feel better. Really.

Extra Credit:
So, ever actually hit your computer in frustration?

You know, I'm sure I must have experienced some major computer failure at some inopportune moment, sometime in the 20+ years I've owned computers. But all I remember is dying monitors, software incompatibilities, frozen programs when an IM pops up to use the last few K of RAM, and all manor of temporary glitches, the sort of thing you spend an evening recovering from, and never fully trust your computer again. The image above was photographed during one such evening, when my previous laptop was acting up. The worst was perhaps the night last April when I tried about twenty times over the course of seven hours to post a one paragraph entry from an expensive New Mexico hotel room, when the phone line refused to connect to AOL for more than a minute at a time. Equally annoying are the ongoing problems, like the time I spent weeks trying to uninstall every trace of Norton SystemWorks and related programs and start over, or all the times I've reinstalled AOL itself, or the shareware anti-spyware program that insisted daily on removing a program that AOL/AIM immediately reinstalled. But no, I have no dramatic stories for you tonight of a computer's inanimosity, and no, I can't recall ever hitting a computer, unless you count a measured slap to encourage a monitor to show the right colors, or my dying CD drive to spin faster. That's not frustration; that's the scientific method. And I've reached my one paragraph limit. Good night! I'll catch up with everyone's Round Robin entries Friday night. Or maybe Saturday.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


I remember that I am but dust

Okay, maybe I'm not quite that depressed. But that sentiment is part of the Ash Wednesday mass: "The Lord remembers that we are but dust," (sung repeatedly during Psalm 103) and, at the imposition of ashes, "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return." I'll be fifty years old in a few weeks, but I haven't really been thinking about mortality this day. I'm too caught up in my depression over where I am right now, what happened last Friday and what I'm going to do about it. I need to shake the brooding and move on, move into Lent and the reflection about becoming the Karen God wants me to be, the Karen who is most useful, neither self-destructive nor self-pitying, giving but not in ways that encourage misbehavior, forgiving but not a pushover, moving forward instead of being stuck in old habits and past sorrows. The good news of the day is that Father Smith and a few others will take it from here on the church directory; I'm off the hook for that obligation now that they have my 106 photos to work with. And my dad's birthday was today, and he seems to be doing great as usual at age 80-something. He can't remember ever having his birthday on Ash Wednesday before, and played hooky from church to go out to dinner with Ruth and two other birthday couples. Sounds good to me! Meanwhile, for those who worry, let me reassure you I got almost 11 hours of sleep last night. The alarm didn't go off! When I awoke, I was helping to outsmart the odious (Principal Snyderesque) principal of a magical school. Ah, well. Back to the real world!


Ash Wednesday Evangelism
by Lauren F. Winner (excerpt from Girl Meets God)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

In the Red

This being my Round Robin entry for this week, I will post more than one photo tonight. The topic, Red, comes from Pamela of the AOL journal My Photos. Red is of course one of my favorite colors. I spent the early 1980s wearing mostly red and black, and as most of you know, our kitchen is decorated in red - red barbecue trays on the wall, red and white tablecloth, red and white chairs, and red and white vintage clock. If one had been available for a reasonable price, we would have bought a red refrigerator last year. But I've photographed all that stuff for you before, so here are a few other red items. Check 'em out, and then go see the other Round Robin entries. For the first time ever I'm cheating this in at midnight Eastern instead of MST so I can go to bed early. Catch up with you all when I can! - Karen

Red raspberry valentine left for John early Valentine's Day morning

Red raspberry valentine left for Karen a little later on Valentine's Day morning

Red CDs full of photos from two cameras ago

Red tablecloth at St. Michael's Shrove Tuesday / Mardi Gras Pancake Party

Rev. Angela in red, red beads and confetti and streamers,
red cranberry drink at the pancake party.

Linking List

Pamela - POSTED!
My Photos

Carly - POSTED!
Ellipsis... Suddenly Carly

Janet - POSTED!
Fond Of Photography

Karen - POSTED!
Outpost Mâvarin

Fractal Myth

Kimberleigh - POSTED!
I shaved my legs for this?

Suzanne R - POSTED!
New Suzanne R's Life

Linda (Lou) - POSTED!
Blah Blah Blog

Kerrin - POSTED!
Kerrin's Daily Photo

Gattina - POSTED!
Keyhole Pictures

Steven - POSTED!


_rRose - POSTED!

Julie - POSTED!
Julie's Web Journal

Nancy - POSTED!
Nancy Luvs Pics

Annie ***Welcome New Member*** - POSTED!
The Light's On...But No One's Home

Gina - POSTED!
Gina's Space

John - POSTED!
Personal Effects

Teena - POSTED!
It's all about me!

Patrick - POSTED!
Patrick's Portfolio

Brad - POSTED!

Chuck - POSTED!
Dribble by Chuck Ferris

Love Reign O'er Me

Thanks, folks, for the kind words in comments and emails. For those of you who have guessed that I may be having health issues, that's not it at all. Aside from very minor stress-related gut pain a few days ago - maybe a 2 out of 10, a huge improvement over the "11" I used to get back when I had a gall bladder - I'm as healthy as an obese 49-year-old can possibly claim to be. As for what the problem actually is, here's a hint. I left work just now at 5 AM. I got 8 hours of sleep Monday morning (previous nights' totals were 7 and 8) , but that clearly won't be true tonight. The photo is of my car in the parking lot of Unnamed Largish Company, seen from above per the Monday Photo Shoot. I think tonight's marathon is the last of the insane hours, but we'll see.


Monday, February 19, 2007

Absolutely Necessary

The photos for the church directory were a big hit. Father Smith wasn't around to see them, but those who did all wanted copies of their favorite shots. So after church I dug up some photos I missed the first time around, went back to Walgreen's and ordered another 100+ prints at 19 cents each. I'll probably ask parishioners for 50 cents a print to cover the leftovers. Aside from that, absolutely all I've done since I checked in with you last night was sleep 7 and a half hours and work 11 hours or so, to 3:10 AM. Yes, it was absolutely necessary that I do this, and yes, I fully intend to get at least eight hours of sleep before I go back for the last leg of my catch-up marathon. Good night!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Introducing the New Format for This Week

It has been suggested to me that I give up blogging and Wikipedia for a week, the better to take care of Real Life. I'm not going to do that, but here's my compromise. I'm giving up Wikipedia for now except for the L'Engle pages, which mostly means adding a few facts and reverting a few vandals - no new entries or major overhauls. And here at the Outpost it's going to be one photo and one paragraph a night. Ten minutes' work, plus the photo editing if any. Here's the first one. To those who wonder: no I'm not sick, except for minor IBS from stress. Yes, I worked today. I also got the photos done for church. Huzzah! Only 19 cents each (on the church's dime), and nearly all of them came out great! Tonight's photo is one of the ones I had printed. (In retrospect I should have re-edited this photo for the web. It's taking forever to load!)


One of those cryptic postings I find frustrating as a reader

The world is treating me bad. Misery.

I can't tell you what's going on, but if you were to guess, you'd probably be in the neighborhood of being right. I can't ask your advice, and I can't expect your sympathy.

John is fine. My dad is presumably fine (and I must remember his birthday next week!). Tuffy is fine. The online world is fine.

To hear some people tell it, I'm not fine. They're not entirely wrong.

To say more would be to cross boundaries I've set for myself, so I won't.

Forgive me.


Friday, February 16, 2007

One Good Quote Deserves Another - and Another

Weekend Assignment #152: Caption This Photo! Try to imagine what's going on between the two in this picture, and put your own spin on it. You can have one of them talking to the other, you can narrate the event -- whatever you'd like. Also, of course, feel free to take the picture from this site and do whatever you'd like with it: post it on your site (naturally), fiddle with it in Photoshop or other photo editor -- Use your imagination and have fun with it.

I worked tonight until midnight, and I still barely put a dent in all the work I'm supposed to have done by tomorrow. So I have a few here for you, but I gave up on another more ambitious idea, and I won't be writing any essays tonight. I'm sure you understand!

Both of these are bits of quoted dialogue, although I think the first one may be incomplete. Can you identify them?

Going to bed now.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Halfway There

Valentine's Day was okay here at Casa Blocher, the Museum of the Weird. This morning when I got up, I found this welcome sight:

This is our vintage overhead light fixture, kind of a flying saucer light with 1950s-style starbursts picked out in gold. Something went wrong with the original wiring a month or two ago, leaving the kitchen severely underlit. (That's when John brought in the table lamp filled with old Happy Meal toys.) But over the last couple of days John managed to replace the broken wiring and get my favorite light fixture back where it belongs.

Oh, yes, there was a fun little Valentine's Day surprise, too, but I'm saving that picture for next week.

This isn't my best picture of the Catalinas half-hidden by low clouds, but I'm showing it off anyway because for once I took it from a different intersection. Doubleclick on the picture to see a little more detail.

I didn't get nearly enough done at work, but I did enter a bunch of data despite numerous interruptions for other urgent tasks.

John and I celebrated Valentine's Day at Mama Louisa's. The earliest reservation I could get, calling at 11 AM, was 8 PM, and even at that we probably waited at least 15 minutes (we were a little early). The food and service were both very good, as usual, but the wait wasn't fun for John, who feels that "no meal in the world" is worth the kind of long wait many people had tonight, waiting to get into their favorite restaurants. Still, it wasn't bad for us, and once we were seated everything was fine and dandy.

Between that and work, I really haven't worked on the church directory at all. I'm just going to have to say that I could not meet the deadline, and that I'll get to it soon. My job has to take precedence over the volunteer work, and sleep has to be given its due also. I keep hearing more and more about the health benefits of sleep and the negative effects of its absence - and the message is beginning to sink in. I know I go on about this all the time, and it's unlikely I'll reform overnight. But I'm working on it.


Update: okay, okay. I collected a few hundred church photos into one folder, and posted the church announcements only half a week late. NOW I'm headed for bath and bed, at not quite 1 AM.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Listening to My Inner MAD

No, I'm not angry, and no more crazy than usual, thank you very much. But a few minutes ago, as I discarded, just for tonight, the ambitious post topic I've been turning over in my head this evening, I remembered a bit of advice on study tactics from MAD Magazine, circa 1965. My brain doesn't have the exact quote handy any more, except for the last six words. But the gist of it was this. The night before a test, you have two options. You can stay up all night and cram, and then be too sleepy to remember anything when the time comes to take the test. Or you can get a good night's sleep, and be wide awake the next day, ready to concentrate and remember all those facts you would have known had you "stayed up all night and crammed."

I'm not in school now, but the point seems relevant tonight anyway. As much as I absolutely have to get done this week - and trust me, the stress level at work is rapidly approaching "11" - I wasn't up for anything tonight except to buy and cook dinner, watch House, check my email and watch the Doctor Who story "The Christmas Invasion" for about the tenth time, along with some DVD extras. I didn't go back to the office; I didn't select photos for church; I didn't wash dishes. I didn't even edit John Scalzi's entry on Wikipedia, as I've been contemplating, except to remove someone's addition of an upcoming novel that doesn't exist. Personally, I hope he runs with the idea and writes it, but right now it's just a mock book cover someone made out of a truly outstanding photo Scalzi posted on Whatever. But I gather someone fooled someone else into thinking it was real, and that someone else announced the spurious book on Wikipedia.

But I digress. And that's rather the point. I got almost six hours of sleep last night, but coming off two nights in a row of three hours each, with a four hour nap in between, that's clearly not enough. I'm distracted and unmotivated, just when I need to be concentrating and powering my way through all this stuff I really need to get done. Part of that is my natural tendency to get "avoidy," to use a Buffyism, when faced with high pressure obligations. But mostly I think it's the sleep thing. Which is why I'm going to bed now. If I don't lie awake in bed, which has happened a lot lately, I've got a shot at very nearly eight hours of sleep.

Then I'll be awake tomorrow to face all the work I didn't get done tonight. Maybe this time I'll be able to concentrate, and get a lot more of it done than if I'd "stayed up all night and crammed."

Meanwhile, winter has returned to the Old Pueblo, just as I was starting to consider the possibility that for the first time ever (in my reckoning, anyway), that Pennsylvania groundhog was onto something. No it didn't snow, but it got chilly, and it rained, and my windshield is all covered with dusty dried raindrops. It's not dramatic like what's been happening in Ohio and Oswego, but it caught me off guard a little. If it gets really cold again by Tucson standards, I'll let you know.


Just a phone

Your Monday Photo Shoot: show off your cell phone (provided you have one).

Um, okay.

This is my...let's fourth Sprint PCS phone. I hope it's my last.

I got the first one to keep in touch with my mom and her doctors and caregivers during her difficult last year (2002). Part of that time, my mom was in a rehab place with no windows in her room, and there were times when she had no idea whether it was day or night. Once she called at 3:30 AM when the phone was turned off and on the charger, and I was sound asleep. (Yes, in those days I still used to sleep at night.) She left an angry message about paying for my phone and still not being able to reach me. It didn't help that I thought I was leaving the "please leave a message" greeting on default, but was actually using whatever the previous owner of the phone number had recorded. Mom kept insisting that John had answered the phone, but she couldn't hear what he said.

It wasn't a very reliable phone, so Sprint replaced it with another of the same model. I think that was the one I took to Disneyland in 2003, only to discover that it would unsuccessfully look for a signal there until the battery was drained, while all around me people were yakking on their phones about meeting with the rest of their party in half at hour at the Matterhorn or wherever. Sprint replaced that phone, too, with a slightly newer reconditioned model.

I think it was the third one that, after Sprint insisted it was fine, could not find a signal at The Good Egg, the restaurant at the end of the same building as the Sprint store. I do know that the third phone was stolen on Christmas Day 2005 at Disneyland. The person who found and kept the phone successfully called Tarzana with it.

But these pictures are of the fourth phone, which cost me $65 or more (I forget), a higher monthly rate and a new two-year contract, just as I was on the verge of ending my obligation with that company. The guy in their store was extremely rude, tried to renege on the previous day's offer to let me get a used phone, and called me "lady" in the nastiest possible tone of voice.

The phone works, though, most of the time. I just hope it lasts another 11 months so that I can switch companies at last.


Monday, February 12, 2007

My Week of Desperation Begins

I don't know why there are cups on my neighbor's cacti.

Sunday Morning

I went to bed sometime after 5:30 AM Sunday morning, got two phone calls between 8:00 and 8:50 AM, got up about 9 AM, picked up Kevin and Eva, went to church, was substitute crucifer, checked in with Father Smith and Reverend Angela after Mass, was loaned the church's digital recorder to transfer sermons to my hard drive, was talked into signing up for a bunch of church webmaster workshops in Phoenix on March 3rd, was told I need to have the photos for the church directory printed and the layout work done by the end of this week, interrupted a Social Concerns committee meeting to confess that I left Ila's photo printouts home and make alternate arrangements, and dropped off Jan and Eva and Kevin. And that just covers the period from 5:30 AM to 12:45 PM Sunday!

Sunday Afternoon

I grabbed a couple of sandwiches at McDonald's, went home, checked my email, checked my Wikipedia watchlist, cleaned off my dresser and my jewelry (over half of it Mom's originally), took allergy medicine, read a little, and finally took a badly-needed nap from 4:45 PM to 8:20 PM.

Sunday Night

After another check of my email and another trip to McDonald's, I went into the office and worked until 2:30 AM (excluding the time spent checking my watchlist and commenting on a minor dust-up between John Scalzi and Wikipedia), came home, transferred and tried to organize the files from the church recorder, was forced to stop when Windows Explorer, AOL and RealPlayer all stopped responding, ended processes by hand until Windows deigned to reboot, ran Norton, booted AOL (which took five or ten minutes just to launch!), and here I am. It's 4:11 AM.

This week I have to get about three weeks' worth of worth done at the office, probably without assistance; get Ila's photos and the recorder dropped off at church; find, select and have printed a bunch of church photos that are currently scattered on some back up CDs somewhere as well as numerous folders on my hard drive; take a better cover photo for the directory; do actual layout work (which I've never done before unless you count putting fanzines into PageMaker followed by physical paste-up work in the early 1990s); do dishes and laundry, and still manage to work in Valentine's Day, sleep and some sort of sanity.

Wish me luck!


P.S. The trackback ping for the Scalzi entry is supposed to be, but it doesn't seem to work for me. I never did understand trackback, though.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Long Ago, Far Away

Under the old railroad bridge, 1972

I didn't get to work today. I think that ends my streak of consecutive days worked at 13. I'll have to make up for it tomorrow, but today I was mostly magnificently lazy, sleeping almost 7 hours before my allergies woke me, reading, watching You've Got Mail with and without commentary, working on my Fayubi and Jor scene and writing about Japheth‎, Emily Litella‎ and the phrase Never mind‎ on Wikipedia.

I was about to wrap up all of these pursuits and start on this entry when I got an email invitation to register with an alumni listing service for Fayetteville-Manlius High School. The link given was to, but that turned out to be nothing but a portal to That site has fairly aggressive marketing screens promoting its premium services, the kind in which for you have to hunt for an option that doesn't involve pulling out your credit card. I get a lot of that with already, but I registered anyway because there really are a lot of F-M alumnae on there. The info doesn't seem very well organized, but perhaps I'm just being grumpy, impatient and tired.

You've Got Mail heavily features the Nilsson song "Remember," which starts out: "Long ago, far away...." Between the recent snow here, posting our Niagara winter pictures, news of outrageous snowstorms in Oswego, NY and now the class reunion site, I've been thinking about Manlius, NY rather more than usual. I'm sure if I actually got there, I would find that nearly everything I remember is gone, or disconcertingly different from the Manlius of my memories. Still, I kind of wish that after over 20 years of not being within 500 miles of the place, I could bridge the distance, digital camera in hand, and document the 21st century version of the town and village of Manlius, that place I loved and hated for fifteen years, a place that, sight unseen, still influences me today. Some kind stranger sent me some photos a year or so ago, but I need to see it for myself.

Too bad it probably won't happen.


Saturday, February 10, 2007

Never Too Tired to Be Weird

Lines in the sky: cirrus clouds and power cables

I've been working on a crackpot theory. It's largely unprovable, irreproduceable, and possibly applicable only to me. It is this: there are states of exhaustion in which some kinds of work can be done only with extreme difficulty, while others are actually enhanced.

An actual purchase order itemizes time travel at $75.

Take tonight, for example. When I left work, I had reached the point at which my eyes focused on the screen only with great effort and the frequent application of water. My concentration by then was marginally better, but it was clearly time to go. I was exhausted!

Impressionist filter and other adulterations
show off an actual rayed light effect at dusk.

Yet I had no trouble seeing and photographing an odd pattern of light when I got home a few minutes later. The camera still has that noise issue for night shots (Julie, can you explain further?), but that's the camera's glitch, not mine.

Solarization and pointillism tools and I-forget-what-else produced this.

I then went shopping for light fixtures with John, intelligently discussed Valentine's Day, jazz, language shifts and other subjects over dinner, did some good work on the Wikipedia article about "The Unicorn in the Garden," explained to someone who withdrew an invitation to his fictional kingdom (after an equally fictional coup) that Mâvarin is also suffering political instability "due to certain romantic entanglements and the expected death of King Jor," read half of my email (mostly the AOL alerts), and did some truly wonky photo editing, as you can see on this page. I even contemplated typing up the beginning of the Jor and Fayubi scene in Messages, but I guess that can wait for tomorrow. Yes, I'm tired, and yes, my eyes hurt, but none of those activities were at all difficult. This level of tiredness seems to bring the subconscious closer to the surface than it normally is, so that creative thinking escapes into the conscious world that much more easily.

I have no idea why the raw image seemed full of raindrops. It
hasn't rained. All I did was lighten and adjust hues and saturation.

On the other hand, being exhausted is bad for the typing and proofreading skills. And beyond a certain point, the brain can't concentrate enough to do anything productive with the stray thoughts and ideas. When that happens, there isn't much you can do except a) load up on caffeine or b) go to bed.

Good night!


Friday, February 09, 2007

The Problem With Valentine's Day

Weekend Assignment #151: Is Valentine's Day a genuinely romantic day? Or just a big commercial money pit into which romantic people fall? Go on, share how you really feel about the day -- whether you enjoy it, or feel like it's forced on you by greeting card companies, or fall somewhere in between those two poles.

Oh, that. Both and neither, I guess. Yes, it can be romantic, and yes, it can be a racket. For John and me, though, Valentine's Day is mostly a minor annoyance and a problem.

Yes, yes, of course we love each other. Yes, I'm reasonably romantic, and John, well, John has his moments. But Valentine's Day sets up expectations that neither John nor I come close to meeting, most years.

Visit Safeway for all your romantic needs. Or not.

Look at this stuff, for example. This is one of several displays of Valentine's Day-themed merchandise at my local Safeway. Are the Blochers likely to buy any of these items? Hardly. I like teddy bears, sure, but the few stuffed animals I have, except for Trophy, are in a box somewhere. Why should John bring another one into a house that's already overcrowded with stuff? Decorative boxes? Where would we put them? Do they even go with our Midcentury Modern decor? What possible use would we have for them? No. None of these gifts would go over well with either of us. Let's move on.

Oh, look, another bear, and lots of flowers. I'm allergic to most flowers, which, like my allergy to cats, severely curtails my appreciation of them. No, no flowers, thanks. I seldom wear jewelry, so it would be silly to buy me something that involves diamonds. Candy? Again, no. John is being very good with his dieting, and I...well, one of these days I'll start in again. In the meantime, we're not likely to buy each other much candy.

Jessica Rabbit valentine graphic. Copyright Disney.

Aside from cards, which are almost always rather lame, that pretty much leaves just some personalized creative endeavor as a possible Valentine's Day gift. A year or two ago, I turned this Jessica Rabbit graphic into a rather clever valentine for John, the details of which I've since forgotten. That's pretty much as good as it gets around here. Neither of us is likely to write or appreciate a love poem, or serenade each other.

So what will John and I do to mark the day and our love for each other? If it's like most years, we'll either exchange lame cards, confess that we didn't remember to get anything, or make some other half-hearted attempt at a love offering. We'll probably kiss, and that will be that. Exciting, huh?

But here's why it doesn't matter. John knows I love him. I know he loves me. We've been married nearly 28 years, and our marriage has generally improved with our finances. We don't need Valentine's Day to tell us how we feel - or to prove our love for each other.

Extra credit: Suggest a nice romantic movie.

Yes, it's an AOL-centric movie, and the technology angle has quickly become dated and quaint. That doesn't matter at all. This is my favorite Nora Ephron or Nora Ephronesque romantic comedy. Hey, it's about bibliophiles and the plight of the small business in the modern world. It's funny, and it's got a great cast, and it's a remake of an old Jimmy Stewart movie that I hope to see someday. What's not to like?


Thursday, February 08, 2007

When I Was Cold, Part Two

Hmm. Now that it's time (past time) to write this entry, I'm not sure I have any stories about being cold that I haven't previously told online. In past entries I've written about:

Figure 1: The abandoned railroad bridge in Manlius, 1971. Newly re-edited.
  • Walking home along the abandoned railroad tracks from my guitar teacher's house, and how cool water felt hot on my half-frozen fingers afterward (Figure 1)
  • The Blizzard of '66, when we were off from school for a week, built an igloo, or a least a tunnel, and had plowed snowbanks five feet high
  • Waiting in another blizzard in the early 1970s while my brother finished his biology lab
  • Cracking a rib after sliding uncontrollably down an icy path at Syracuse University, and crawling across a steep and icy sidewalk outside my dorm to get to the street
Figure 2: Half-frozen Niagara Falls, February 1986. I think the
temperature that day was below 0 F. Yes, it was also windy.

  • Driving around in early 1986 looking for someplace where it wasn't winter, and ending up in Montreal and Niagara Falls, where it was really winter (Figure 2)

Figure 3: a spit of land above the falls. Newly re-edited.

Figure 4: probably not the patch of river I stood on
  • Standing on a frozen patch of the Niagara river, just above the falls (Figures 3 and 4)
  • Getting ice in my freshly-washed hair as I walked to my boyfriend's house
  • Our first and only white Christmas in Tucson
Figure 5: the firecracker hummingbird bush on January 22, 2007.

Figure 6: the drive to work on 1/22/07

Figure 7: by lunchtime on the 22nd, most of the snow was gone
  • Our rare Tucson snowfall in January, 2007 (Figures 5-7), and discussing same with a security guard outside Unnamed Largish Company at 1 AM
Figure 8: a icy grotto is really an observation window at Niagara Falls

Well, then, what's left?
  • I'm not sure I haven't told this before, but I didn't find it in a quick search, so here goes. There's the time I stood in front of University College, where my dad was the dean, waiting for a bus home to Manlius. Dad would have picked me up had I been able to call and reach him, but I was afraid that if I left the bus stop the bus would come, and I wouldn't be able to catch dad on the phone. So I stood there for an hour as late afternoon turned into evening, watching the time and temp on the MONY Plaza tower: 11 degrees, 12 degrees, 11 degrees, 10 degrees, 9 degrees...! Turned out a least one of the buses had broken down.
  • John and I used to go to record shows (where we sold records and posters and buttons) in a 1962 Ford Falcon van. This was circa 1982, and the van was anything but airtight, and the heaters didn't work any more. One memorable trip was when we drove to Monroeville, PA in February, freezing all the way. Before we started back we went to Monroeville Mall (huge place, with a skating rink!) for some "moon boots"and down jackets. John found his moon boots, but I had to settle for something less stylish.
  • (Posted this to John Scalzi's By the Way as a comment, which doesn't count as my having told the story:) Once when I was in about fourth or fifth grade, we have a snow day for blizzardy weather at 23 degrees below zero. My memory says that was before wind chill, but I don't trust 9-year-old Karen to have that detail right. The next day it was still windy and still cold, but not as extreme. It couldn't have been more than 0 degrees. We not only had school; we had an "outside noon hour," in which all those little girls in dresses and tights (and little boys a bit warmer in pants) had to go outside and shiver for half an hour. The gym teachers put many of the kids in a kickball game to warm them up, which is the least sadistic thing I remember Miss R. ever doing. The day after that we had no school, but I had already prepared some hand-written protest signs in case the school pulled that thoughtless stunt again.
Enough! It's past my bedtime. Sleep well and warm!


Related entries:

Winter Wonderlands, 1966, 1976, 1986

The Lost Railroad and the Land of Salamanders

Snow, Rare and Otherwise

Snow by Day; Not Too Fine a Mess