Back to School!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Munchkin started back to school on Wednesday.

Wednesday evening, he informed me that he wanted me to quit my job and homeschool him because his teacher is horrible.


Because she had the nerve to give homework (said with utter disgust) on the first day of school. (I personally agreed that it was a bit much.)

Then he decided that if I wasn't going to quit and homeschool him, he'd go to military school. (Not sure where, since there isn't one around here...)

On Thursday, he learned that he has Social Studies ALL YEAR (in other grades it was only a 1/2 year subject), so he was excited as could be. He looooooooooooves Social Studies.

I'm all on board for the quitting my job. But the homeschooling? I think we'd be sick of each other by the end of the first week day class.

Sluggite days.

Friday, August 24, 2007

I still remember the first Sluggy Freelance comic I ever read. It was this one. April 29th, 1998. I had met my wife by that point, but we were not friends. I was writing ten thousand words or so a day -- many of them crap. My job was a paper route. I was in a rough-and-tumble garage band, which for my part was mostly writing lyrics.

1998. Y2k jokes were starting to circulate. Backstreet Boys were still around, and I was not fond of them at all. I think I had just discovered some new bands, like KoRn. It would be another year before I bought my first Alice Cooper album (I can't even count how many I have now).

(A very typical guy/writer detail, too: I still own a couple of shirts from 1998 and they still fit.)

I came to Sluggy Freelance and I laughed and then said "What the hell?" and spent a couple of sleepless nights reading what there was of the archives up to that point. Since April 29th, 1998, I've read Sluggy almost every single day, unless something prevents me from it. And when I get back on the computer, the first thing I usually do is catch up on the few comics I may have missed.

I'm waxing slightly nostalgic about it, because today is Sluggy Freelance's 10th anniversary. It's hard to believe the web-comic's been going for a full decade, and equally hard to believe that I've been reading it for nine years of it.

Congratulations to Pete Abrahms and to Sluggy in general, and I look forward to another ten years being left in suspense over what the hell a "sluggy freelance" is anyway.

What Arthur C. Clarke said.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I make no secret about how I'm a big fan of stage magicians, among them Penn and Teller, and Harry Anderson, who was always fun to watch. I'm also a big fan of psychology.

I've been deeply enjoying the episodes of Mind Control they've been showing on the Sci-Fi Channel, following the frankly amazing antics of Derren Brown, an illusionist who lays claims to neither psychic powers, nor real magic. Nonetheless, what he is able to is amazing. Go to YouTube and look him up. Watch the show.

Along those same lines, this was a delightful article that I enjoyed. And so, of course, I must share it with you.

Harry Potter kills Kids with Devil Worship!!!!

Hey, you want to have some blood pressure spikes? I did. Here. Read this.

Follows is my response. Understand that it is not an attack on Catholicism. I am Catholic. I am proud of it. Nevertheless, it is something you lot probably didn't know about me, and the reason I am not forthcoming to mention because of articles like above.


He is frankly a very poor writer indeed. Or a fine writer, and a poor thinker. That was a lazy, knee-jerk article without any particular purpose or use, just mindless puppeteering. Harry Potter is evil! Harry Potter kills Gods!

Ladies and gentlemen, if Harry Potter can kill God, then he's been croaked a long time now. By the same system of argument that he uses in this article, rock 'n' roll killed God (starting with that evil Elvis fellow) and so did the Roman Empire, and so did Leonardo Da Vinci, and for that matter most of the rest of the world, which has continued to contain quite a lot of things unrelated to God.

The article is cheap and stupid, when it comes to it. He has not read the books, he has not thought about the books, he has not treated the books as works of fiction, on the line of Stephen King or Gene Wolfe or Neil Gaiman, not on the line of the Bible (portions of which, certainly, are also fiction? Unless we're following a Protestant belief that Every Biblical Word Is True and Verbatim).

The article is dangerous, in that he takes a nearly militant stand against The Evilness of Harry Potter. My God, it's that same sort of "if it's not for the Bible and God, then it's AGAINST the Bible and God!" attitude which can be further translated to "Those stupid Muslims are all terrorists," and just a bit further to "Kill them all, God will know his own." It's a black and white worldview, a "with us or against us," decision that is dangerous and stupid and lazy. You have no business writing an article of any sort, about anything -- be it Harry Potter, world politics, the Minnesota Twins, or wormholes -- if you have decided that the world is thus, and everything which does just jive precisely with you is therefore evil, or bad.

Let's look at the good things Harry Potter does, all of which he glosses in a happy attempt at waving torches and pitchforks.

1) Harry Potter has brought quite a lot of kids back into an interest in reading. When they finish a Harry Potter book -- which they read fast and easy, something that is sweet -- then they have a year or two to wait until the next one. Or, now, they have no more at all. And therefore they seek out something else to read. I spend a lot of happy time in my used bookstore -- at last five or six times a week, if not more -- with a beleagured mom and a hyper kid, looking for other books they've liked. I'm afraid I've turned them on to such godless books as Isaac Asimov, the Lord of the Rings (we'll come back to LotR) and other interesting books like A Series of Unfortunate Events.

2) Harry Potter has several messages beyond death. From the get-go, we learn that you should rely on your friends. That's a good message. We learn that Good is Good and Bad is Bad, and you should always fight for Good, you should always fight for what's right. Even when the odds are stacked against you, even when it's hard and painful and the whole world thinks you're crazy, you should fight for good. This is a message we find in great literature all across the board. Isn't that one of the key messages of Babylon 5? This far, and no further. "You can say No I Won't one more time, and they can say Yes You Will. But as long as you don't give've beaten them." This is the message of Harry Potter, the message of Babylon 5, the message of the Lord of the Rings, Superman, every comic book ever written, and...oh. The Bible.

3) The Harry Potter books are full of references to fairy tales and mythology, to the point where I happily helped a child find a book on the mythological and historical references of the Phoenix bird. This is wonderful. If we have all manner of scientists in the world because of Star Trek (I'll come back to that too), then I am content to think we will have all manner of historians and anthropologists because of Harry Potter.

Articles like this don't think of any of that. The author, who I will unhesitantly refer to as a fool, picks a small bad point of view and, when there is the potential for it not to exist (as it fails to here) then he makes it up. What does Frodo say about Sauron? He cannot create, only pervert? This is true of articles like this.

And speaking of the Lord of the Rings. God is not visibly, actively, in this moment present in the Lord of the Rings, therefore they are killing God by teaching us that this is a World Of Men. This is true of the Lord of the Rings books, as well. Only if you go further into The Silmarillion and the Lost Tales do you find out about Middle-Earth's God and Angels. The Lord of the Rings are easily so evil as Harry Potter -- full of wizards!!! -- and for that matter, so are the Idylls of the King by Alfred Lord Tennyson. And yet we do not see articles such as this appearing which accuse the Lord of the Rings of destroying God and killing young minds and leading them down a path of Satanism (A claim that baffles me, in that Satan has failed to even be mentioned once in Harry Potter, for how often they are is bandied about together).

Also, I mentioned Star Trek. Where all the other titles I have mentioned are just Not Mentioning God, Star Trek is anti-religion. It always has been, of course. And yet Star Trek has existed for decades now, for thousands of TV episodes and eleven movies, coming soon. So where are the rampant articles declaring Star Trek a menacing evil to religion which will destroy God and bring about the end of a hallowed view of the universe? There aren't any. Not particularly.

The reason for this is simple. It is fashionable, at the moment, to attack Harry Potter books. What better a "me too" article could you write than a "Harry Potter is Evil And Bad And Stuff," article? What an easy thing to find a home for. It's like writing a lazy article that says "Those Muslim Terrorists Sure Are Bad Aren't They?" I bet you could find a home for it. But it's lazy, it's following a crowd that is, upon closer inspection, made up of mostly non-literate lemmings who are getting ever closer to a cliff.

I find, in my little bookstore, that the people who scoff at Harry Potter...usually have never read anything beyond Dr. Phil self help books, Sylvia Browne books on Finding Angels For Real This Time In Your Life, and occasional romance novels called things like Her Thunderous Heart.

Does that give them the right to judge? No. It won't stop them, but they have no right. They are Pharisees paying a crowd to shout "crucify him." They are knee-jerk fools with no thought beyond the popular conceit.

Does having a wider reading base give someone a right to judge? No. No. No. Who are you, or me, or anyone to decide if a book is good or bad? This is where censorship has come from, one of the greatest unnoticed evils of our lifetimes. I personally have a hearty loathing of Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code style tripe, but would I prevent someone from reading it? No. Would I declare it evil terrorist propaganda? No. I have not the right. I have an opinion. Nothing more.

Articles about the evil of Harry Potter consign the author to the same bin of worthless fools as people who declare that Elvis will destroy the morality of America, television brings lawlessness and godlessness into the home, video killed the radio star, and so on.

I have this nagging suspicion that God doesn't care if we read or don't read Harry Potter, if we do or don't take back Jerusalem, if we kill the Muslims, or if we "kill them all, and let God sort them out."

This article makes it frankly embarrassing to be Catholic. Fortunately, there's more to a good religion than fools with pitchforks and stupid opinions.

Fortunately, there's more to life than that too.

Doin' the Happy Dance!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I don't know WHY I'm doing the happy dance. Well, I know, but it's ill-timed. School is starting next week. Which means my PTO involvement is about to ratchet up about 185 notches. That's on top of the job and the whole being a wife and mother and not letting the cats starve thing.

So what does my traitorous brain do?

It gives me a fabulous idea.

For a freaking NOVEL.


I'm alternating between the Happy Dance and the What The Hell's Wrong With You Dance.

I'm also doing this novel in first person, which is new for me, but it seems to be the way to go.

Gak, I soooo don't have time for this right now!!!

~~Happy dance~~

>>deep despair<<

~~Happy dance~~

>>deep despair<<

~~Happy dance~~

>>deep despair<<

I think I need a refill of my PHENTERMINE. :oD

Nerves all a'jangles.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

It's been another long weekend, where all sorts of plans I had (relax; sleep; write; work on the Variety Hour's New Plot Direction) were put to the wayside by Mr. Baby developing a 101.9 degree fever and us getting to rush him to the Emergency Room. They checked him out and, because he's a baby of only a month (help!) old, they admitted him to a room to run a bunch of tests. They have to make sure it's not bacterial, because that can progress alarmingly fast and kill 'im.

So. I've been in the hospital all Friday, Saturday, Sunday (I went to work for seven hours on Sunday, a brief parole) and Monday. And, depending on what the tests show, possibly Tuesday as well. I'm here right now, in this cozy little hospital room. If ever you need a perfect writer's spot, come to this room. It's wonderful.

So. THAT was nerve-wracking. And exaperating. My second weekend in a row spent around the hospital.

But the thing that's really on my nerves* is the fact that I'm launching a web-based serial science fiction story tomorrow, Monday, August 20th. I had a lot of publicity planned around the first episode, and sadly a lot of it was cut short by trying to organize things from the hospital. Still, a couple of sites will make mention of it's launch, and I'm once again writing on the internet. I'm very nervous. The last time I did a web serial was maybe 2001, and it ended very badly for me.

Some good news, the artist I wanted onboard agreed. He didn't have to. I can't guarantee I'm going to make a single red cent for myself, or for the series, let alone for him. He signed on because he digs the story, and because we're friends. I found out that he signed on today, while I was at work. My wife called. I was very, very happy. I think every writer has an artist whom they click exactly with, and Christoffer Saar is mine. I'll give him a description of something and what he'll bring back is more accurate than what was in my head.

(For those of you AW'ers on here, remember when I was participating in that How To Write Comic Books thread, and I called in a favor with an artist who turned a one-page script of mine into a rough layout? That was Chris Saar.)

Also, this afternoon while at work, I wrote a short story. I really like it. I think I did some things with it that I hadn't done before, and I really nailed the emotion I was going for. One of those blessed few stories where what you picture in your head is actually less than what comes out on paper. Usually, it's the other way around. I never quite reach what I'm aiming for.

It's called Into Silence, Like A Shout. It's about 3,500 words long. It's on-purpose about as High Fantasy as a story can be, or rather, it's about High Fantasy. And several other things. I'm glad I finished it. If I'd had to come back to it, I never would have found the tone again. I'm very proud of it.

Okay, time to go hold my son, who is a wriggle-worm, and to sit around and be bustingly nervous about my series launch tomorrow.

I'll post a link to it in the morning. Check it out, please, please.

To Bore the Ever-Loving Shit Out Of You...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

As promised! *grin*

Here's my lengthy trip report!

Day One: Miami, Florida

We got up at 3 AM. Well... I got up at 3 AM. Hubby got up at 3:20, and it took us until almost 3:50 to get Son up. And we had to leave at 4, sharp. Needless to say, I wasn't thrilled with our roaring start. Son was cranky, but he did chill out on the ride to the airport. We got to the airport at 5:00 for our 6:00 flight. (We flew Delta on the way down to Miami.) We checked our bags without incident.We got to the gate and had a few minutes to sit around.

The guy at the counter was a complete moron. He told us there was a slight delay because there was a mechanical problem. "Hopefully it's not anything serious," he says into the loudspeaker.

WTH?? Idiot. He must have missed "Gloss Over Everything" Day at airline employee training. Then he announces that there's no working toilet on the plane, so use the restroom now. Turns out the mechanical problem was a faulty latch on the cargo hold. They fixed it, and away we went.

It was Son's first time flying and he was really nervous. I was trying to reassure him, while not admitting that I was a tad apprehensive myself. Some people should NOT be allowed to have access to loudspeakers.We finally took off at 6:30, with plenty of time to make our connection in Atlanta. Son decided flying was pretty cool. The clouds were huge and puffy and white against the perfect blue background. It was absolutely gorgeous.

Atlanta airport is HUGE. We went to our gate to wait for our connection, and I got to charge my cell phone. They have nifty stations set up - round tables with outlets so you can plug stuff in or work while you wait for your flight. They also had a Cinnabon, so guess what we had for breakfast!

The flight from Atlanta to Miami was a bit smoother... no idiots making announcements there! Unfortunately, Hubby & I both got really bad earaches. We each had one ear that just refused to pop and it hurt like hell. Not to mention not being able to hear right. Ugh.

Getting onto the ship was smooth as could be. Royal Caribbean is uber-organized and absolutely wonderful at making sure you're on VACATION. They keep all the paperwork and checking in stuff to a minimum. They now have a fabulous online checkin process, which I used, so we just had to go to the counter, show our ID and credit card (for on-board purchases) and we got our SeaPass cards and onto the ship we went.

We got on board and went right to our room to unload our carry-on stuff, which mysteriously got heavier and heavier by the minute. After we unloaded, we went up to the Windjammer for a buffet lunch. Hubby & I both thought it was excellent, but Son was less than impressed. We went back to the room, where I took a cat-nap and they went off to explore the ship.We decided that since we only go on vacation every 5+ years, we were springing for the good room. I'm glad we did. We got a Junior Suite, which has its own bathroom and a private balcony. It was WELL worth the extra cost.

Around 2:00, there was a big thunderstorm that lasted about 2 1/2 hours. After it was done, it was absolutely beautiful! It took out all the humidity, and it was just lovely. On the hot side, but very comfortable!

At 4:30 we had the mandatory life jacket drill. Afterwards, we came back to the room to relax for a little bit. (Relax for the guys meant checking out the flat-screen TV in our room. For me, it meant digging out all the toiletries and putting our travel documents in a safe place.) We watched the ship pulling out of the dock and heading out into the ocean.

For dinner, we went to Johnny Rocket's. It was awesome. It's a little 50's style diner with jukeboxes on the tables and a red and chrome decor. Very fun! It reminded me a lot of Zimmie's (local diner that went out of business YEARS ago), which I miss tons!

In the evening, we walked around the ship and just hung out. Very low-key. We were back to the room and in bed by 9 because we were all exhausted and the dolphin encounter was first thing Tuesday morning, so we wanted to be rested up.

Day Two: Nassau, Bahamas

When I got up at 7, we were pulling into the dock. We got breakfast at the Windjammer (gotta love those buffets!) and then got ready to leave for our Dolphin Encounter on Blue Lagoon Island. We followed our tour guide out and - of course - she conveniently led us through a cluster of little merchants and shops and down a side street to a water ferry. We rode the ferry about 25 minutes to the island. We saw the Atlantis resort and lots of amazingly beautiful homes along the shore. The water was crystal clear, and you could see to the bottom. Very very cool.

We got to the island and walked down a little pier into the Dolphin Encounter. They split us into groups of 30 people, and then each group went onto a square platform in the water. Inside each square was a sort of "sidewalk" type platform. We sat around the square, just watching a few dolphins frolicking a few feet away. Awesome.

Our dolphin was Andy, but he was rather temperemental and didn't feel like interacting. All the dolphin activities are voluntary, which is cool, so we had to wait for another dolphin who was in the mood to interact. We got Goombay, who turned out to be perfect. He was really into being in the group, and we had an amazing time. First, they led each family onto the water platform, where we got a family picture with one of us getting a kiss from the dolphin. Son was a bit timid, so I got the kiss. *grin* The picture turned out awesome, I love love love it.

After the families were done, we were split into 3 groups of 10. We were in the first group. We all walked into the water on the platform and the trainer brought the dolphin around to each of us. We all hugged the dolphin and gave him a kiss, then we got to rub his back and his belly. Then we danced with him. It was so much fun! Son was still a bit timid, I think it was mostly because the water under our platform was deep and it was freaking him out.When our group of 10 was done, we got to leave the platform. We wandered around the gift shop and then out back to see the Sea Lions, who were hiding. Only one was lounging in the water. We went back through the gift shop and they had DVDs for sale of our group interacting. The DVDs were $58, so we decided to not buy it. We did, however, buy $59 worth of photos. (The minute we left, I regretted not buying the DVD. Turns out, you can order them online, so I ordered it. Now I'll have to pay an arm & a leg for shipping, but I don't care. Reverse buyer's remorse????)

We rode the ferry back to the dock. For some reason, it was rough, and I wasn't feeling so well by the time we got back to the dock. I got a massive headache, thanks to the rough ride and the high humidity. So we got back to the ship and I took a short nap. I felt a LOT better, so we went back on shore and checked out a ton of little shops. There was a Hard Rock Cafe, a Burger King, and a Subway. Not quite what I think of when I think "Bahamas".

Dinner in the Windjammer. Yum.

Day Three: CocoCay, Bahamas

Wow. The ocean in the Bahamas is the most amazing mixture of colors. And so clear you can almost see the bottom. In fact, in the more shallow areas, you can. It's just breathtaking.Today, we were anchored off the shore of CocoCay and had to take a ferry from the ship to the shore. We were the first off the boat, so we had some time to walk around before our Glass-bottom boat tour. I was really looking forward to seeing some colorful ocean life.

We chilled on lounge chairs while we waited. CocoCay is reserved for Royal Caribbean's private use only. It's basically a beachy extention of the ship. There are a handful of little shops and thousands of lounge chairs. And little else.

We weren't allowed to take any shells from the island, which was a bummer. Son and I found a ton of tiny little shells that would have been perfect for in the scrapbook, or in a little jar. Or something. But we did the Right Thing and didn't smuggle any back on board.

The glass bottom boat tour was a huge disappointment. I suppose it's my own fault for having such high expectations. I thought it would be a big boat. With a glass bottom. That you can look through. Crazy, I know. Turns out it's not. It's a 3-level boat with glass panels on the bottom deck. So we had to sit on the upper decks and take turns going below to see what we could see. Which was, not surprisingly, not much of anything. We saw a few starfish and some plants. And sand. Lots and lots of sand. Meh.

At the end of the tour, the boat pulled close to the shore and we fed bread crumbs to some colorful fish. That was pretty cool. The fish would actually jump out of the water trying to get the bread before all the other fish got to it.

Overall, it was just hot and crowded and lame. Won't be doing THAT again.

By the time we got back to the island, it was so miserable hot that we all had sweat just running down our faces and backs. Ick. We poked around the shops VERY briefly and hopped the first ferry we could back to the ship.

We grabbed some lunch and then I sat on the balcony to write in my journal. We were positioned perfectly! We were on the shady side of the ship, and there was a wonderful air going, so it was comfortable out there.

CocoCay was a fair disappointment for all of us. We decided that if we do that cruise again, we'll just stay on board for CocoCay. We were very much looking forward to the next day: Key West.

Day Four: Key West, Florida

We had high, high hopes for Key West, as it was our very favorite place when Hubby & I cruised 5 years ago.

As luck would have it, the captain announced that we would be arriving early and would have an extra hour and a half in Key West. Yay!

As MY luck would have it, we had to go through an on-board customs checkpoint before we could leave the ship.

Surprisingly, we had more good luck. We were supposed to be in the first group to go through customs, at 7:00 AM. We got there at about 6:45 and were probably about the tenth people in line. By 7, there were at least 100 people in line. So we got to zip right through. It was super easy - just show our ID and travel documents and off we went.

We got off the ship and walked around a little bit before coming back to the pier to meet up with our tour. We opted for a repeat of the tour we took last time: a Conch train tour of the island, plus a visit to the Aquarium and the Shipwreck Historeum. We ended up on the very last seat of the train, facing backwards, with zero shade in intense heat. Needless to say, it wasn't my favorite tour. It was okay, though. Still better than CocoCay. :oP

After the train ride, which lasted about an hour, we were dropped in Old Town, which is walking distance from the pier. We went through the aquarium and the Shipwreck Historeum, then climbed the tower. Oy. My legs were shaky til we climbed back down. #1, I hate heights, and #2, I'm waaaaay out of shape. And I was peeved because it was so crowded that we couldn't get a good picture of us with the ship in the background. Although I did get a decent one of just Hubby & Son.

We checked out a bunch of little shops, and watched the chickens walking around the sidewalks. Yes, chickens. And one mangy cat.

One thing I noticed - Even though it was hot and humid and muggy everywhere we were, there weren't any bugs.

Anyway. We walked around Key West and just had a wonderful time. We took lots of pictures with statues. Hubby's favorite was a scantily clad pirate woman with big boobs. LOL

Key West was just perfect for us - lots to see, but everything is just so laid back and we just took our time and did what we wanted to. We can't wait to go back!

Finally we went back on the ship. We had to get our stuff packed and set out for disembarking in the morning.We were slated to exit the ship at 7, so we would have to get up at 6 to get dressed and pack up the last of our carry-on stuff.

Day Five: Miami, Florida

I was up at 5 because I kept waking up, panicking that I had put our travel documents in our checked luggage. I forgot my glasses, so I had to put my contacts in to check the papers in my carry-on bag. (Yes, I'm blind as a bat.) Of course the docs were right where they should have been.

We were up and around and to the Windjammer at 6:30 for breakfast. Along with everyone else on the ship. We were slated to exit in the 7:00 - 7:15 time slot, so we ate fast and went back to the room to grab our carry-ons and do a last minute check to make sure we didn't leave anything behind.

We got off the ship and onto a bus to head to the Miami airport. We were at the airport by about 7:45. Our flight wasn't until 2:55.We gave our checked luggage over to the US Airways rep and headed for the terminal and settled in for a loooooong wait.

We noticed that all the US Air flights were late coming in and going out. Hmmm.At 2:40, they decided to tell us that our flight was behind. Way behind. Great. We had a 50 minute connection to start with. They tell us that there's no way we're making our connection, and they'll put us up in Charlotte, or they can get us to Philadelphia and put us up. No thanks. We want to go the heck HOME.

We got on the plane to Charlotte. We made up some time in the air, and had about 8 minutes to get from Concourse B-4 to Concourse E-18. They made an announcement to please let off passengers with Indianapolis connections because they had such a tight connection. WTH? It wasn't as tight as ours, by a longshot. Screw it, we jumped off with the Indy people. US Air had a cart waiting for the Indy people. Who had more time and not as far to go. And nothing for us. Bastards.

So we ran. Literally RAN through the Charlotte airport. We made it! They held the doors for us, and then about 2 minutes later another group ran in, gasping and looking as rough as we were.

I was so relieved I almost cried. We flew to Harrisburg. (Almost home!)

One of our bags did not.

They managed to screw up and put someone else's name on our one suitcase. That someone else was bound for Houston. W.T.H???

So we came home. I was livid. The woman in Harrisburg was a complete idiot with the attention span and listening comprehension of a maggot.

Our bag was finally delivered to our door Sunday night around 8:30. Hooray. Everything was intact and fine. I hope the souvinirs had a nice time in Houston.


I left a LOT out of the last section, mostly because I'm sick of bitching about US Air and how much they suck. I wouldn't fly them again if I got free round trip tickets. (Well... maybe if they were FREE...)

Instead, I'll focus on the good stuff, which there was a LOT of. Son was perfectly behaved during the airport debacle. (Not going to point out the hissy fits during the cruise though. Tuesday morning was the worst, but after that he was very good.)

Nassau was beautiful and we'd go back in a heartbeat. We would definitely do the dolphin encounter again, too.

Key West is just wonderful. We picked up one of those freebie real estate guides, and if I ever come into an extra $6 mil, we're moving to Key West.

Royal Caribbean is fantastic. I highly recommend a cruise to anyone. It's the perfect vacation. You just get to the ship and everything else is taken care of. Food around the clock - delicious food, and such a variety! They had several different ethnic tables to serve all the different people on board. Every Royal Caribbean employee we came in contact with was friendly and pleasant. Not a grouch in sight. ;o)

CocoCay... Meh. I could take it or leave it.

All in all, it was a wonderful vacation. A much needed vaction. This has been a hard year for us, so it was great to be able to go and kick back and just not worry about anything. THAT is what a vacation should be. And it was.

Angst from my angst-ridden soul

I came on to write a chatty post, free of angst, about how my robot series is finally coming to life and how happy I am that I'll get to write it after all. I was also going to talk about how I've set myself a deadline to finish my Rome novel by September 13th (which, it just occurs to me, is also my wedding anniversary).

However, the door rang and the mail lady gave me a package. "Jaycinth" is the name on the return address.

Inside the package is as follows:

1) A heavy ceramic dish

2) Which has gummy worms in it

3) As well as the best macadamia and butterscotch cookies this world has ever known.

So instead of sharing feelings with you, I'm going to sit here and stuff my face unto death.

Oh, and sleepy Zach says hi.


Let me tell you about MY weekend.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Worst weekend ever. EVER.

Let's break it down.

Friday daytime was busy, full of a busy work shift, time spent with all sorts of families. I'm already a very stressed out person, so it was a long day. But not as bad as...

FRIDAY NIGHT: Friday night was a fascinating experience of ups and downs. Many a time have we told my wife's mother that we have bad storms here in Minnesota. She, being an idiot, has no idea what this means. She lives in Nevada. They get slightly muddy out there. So while visiting us, every time we had a drizzle or some wind and a few clouds, she'd titter, "Oh you had your storm!"

"That was not a storm."

So on Friday night, we got hit. I mean nailed. On a doppler map, the extreme dark red part of the storm nailed St. Cloud, us in particular. The storm was a huge, violent, long-running, powerful thing. Lightning struck the field next to us and across the street from us. It brought down trees. At around midnight, it struck our building itself and we lost almost all the electricity in the building. The wind was at seventy miles an hour. Nickel-sized hail. Pounding rain, flooding. Everything.

So on the plus side, I'm happy that my wife's mother is going into a panic attack about this. I'm not keen on her anyway, and it's about time she got to experience a storm. "That's a mother-effing storm, damn it!" I would have gleefully shouted.

The hallways were mostly dark. There were patches of lights on. There was also a deep throbbing HUM from the elevator, God knows why. Anyway, it was deeply frightening in the hallways, and not just because I can give myself the heebie-jeebies at the drop of a hat. Creepy.

So, we had to go down to Mother-In-Law's guest apartment (where she lived, one floor below us, for the longest month of my life) to bring her some matches and candles, since we had no power. My wife went down there once by herself while I stayed with Tzinski 2.0. She came back up reporting that 1) M-I-L had not answered 2) It was creepy 3) All throughout the floor, there was this loud sound of a distressed cat meowing, as if it were coming at you from the walls themselves. Freaky.

So, I went down with her the second time. Her mom answered. It was delightful to watch her freaking out. Then, we went back out into the hallway. Standing in the apartment building's hallway was a cat. A skinny little cat, part Siamese, with beautiful blue eyes and a terrified meow.

I managed to pick it up, when it came to me. Without knowing what else to do, we took it back upstairs and locked it in our bathroom, gave it food or water. It seemed a bit like an outdoor cat, although it was trusting of people and knew how to use a litter box. We had no idea.

The storm went, and kept us up, until 5:00am. By the time the storm finished for good so we could have gotten sleep, it was 6:30. Zach was beginning to wake up. We had to meet Renee's parents at 7:00. They wound up getting some sleep. We got zero sleep.

SATURDAY DAYTIME: This is the day when we deal with her parents, and then with my parents, and then I have to go to work, where it was extremely busy. I am running on maybe a total of twenty minutes sleep. You thought I was hypertensive and an unkind person before? You should see me here. BY that night, I'm weird and tired and miserable and haven't really eaten any food all day. Which brings us to:

SATURDAY NIGHTTIME: Zach stayed up all night, and I do mean all damn night. And when he wasn't up, I was taking care of my wife, who was unable to get warm, despite the fact that she had four heavy blankets on her. She was also running a fever. She couldn't take care of the baby, or herself. So I had to do both. And also keep an eye on the hyper cat in the bathroom. Saturday night, I got maybe an hour of sleep. So, this is two nights of almost no sleep.

SUNDAY DAYTIME: I go to work. Half an hour later, my wife calls. She has a fever of 103.7 degrees. She is barely conscious. Certainly, she can't take care of the baby. So I made lots of frantic phone calls until I found someone who could cover for me. I got home and my sister and I took my wife (and son, who can't stay home yet) to the Emergency Room. We got to the hospital at 12:30. They admitted her to a room at 3:00. They treated her eventually. We finally got to go home at 8:30 at night. We also didn't get to eat all day. Nothin'.

SUNDAY NIGHT: We get home. We have to take care of Zach, who no longer wants to sleep. Also, a hyper cat. My wife fortunately began to feel better and tended to Tzinski 2.0 a little bit, and I mercifully got a little bit more sleep. Which brings us to:

MONDAY DAY: Where I worked, began to recover from the worst weekend ever, took the cat to the humane society (which is a whole blog post by itself, since Humane Societies are generally about as helpful as killing the animal yourself; I swear they get their rocks off killing things)


MONDAY NIGHT: When I write a blog post.

So. How are you tonight?

Got My Luggage!

We got our suitcase Sunday night around 8:45. Hooray.

US Air still sucks.

Back From Vacation! US Airways Sucks!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

What do you mean, "Oh... you were gone??"

We had a lovely time on our cruise. I'll post details later, and bore the ever-loving shit out of you. I promise.

Today is reserved for my loathing and disgust with US Airways. I hate them all. May the airline go bankrupt. (Cheers!)

We arrived at the airport 7:30 Friday morning for a 2:45 flight. Yeah, won't be using THAT travel agency again. Anyway. All was spiffy until we noticed that Every. Single. US Air. Flight. Was. LATE. Coming in, going out, didn't matter. We also noticed that every Delta, AA, Norwegian Air, Bob's Airplane Service (and Bait & Tackle) was On. Time.

Our flight was almost an hour late. We had a 50 minute window to make the connection. Well, now we're down to -10 minutes. EVERYONE ELSE on the flight was rebooked to better connections. Except us. We're cursed or something. We go up to the counter to ask WTH??? and the guy's like "Oh... yeah. You're heading to Harrisburg. We were going to talk to you last."

Uh-oh. That can't be good.

"There's no way you're going to make your connection and we don't have anything else available until tomorrow."

Really. Not. Good.

"We can get you to Philadelphia and put you up in a hotel."

Um, no.

"Or we can put you up in Charlotte."

Slightly better, but still... no.

We wait for the flight to Charlotte, and en route, the pilot makes up some time. We now have a fabulous 8 minutes to make our connecting flight.

We land in Concourse B 4.

By the time we got off the plane, we had 5 1/2 minutes. Of course, the connecting flight was on time. Bastards.

Connection is in Concourse E 18. As you can see, it's a freaking hike.

Concourse E is up here ...................................X

and B is here ^

We RAN through the airport and made it just as they were closing the doors. They let us on (HOORAY!).

My chest was on fire. I am way out of shape. Oy.

We land in Harrisburg. (Yay! Almost home!)


Only one of our suitcases landed with us.

Keep in mind, we had gotten up at 5 A.M. to be off the ship & to the airport. It's now 8:45 P.M. I was *not* a happy camper. Throw in a complete bitch with a comprehension deficiency at the luggage counter, and I'm ready to twist someone's head off and play soccer with it.

The dimwit in Miami put someone else's name on one of our suitcases. It is taking the scenic route to Harrisburg from Miami, via Houston.

Allegedly, we are guaranteed to have our suitcase within 48 hours. Yeah. I'll believe it when I have it in my hands.

What really irks me is that 90% of my souvinirs are in that suitcase. And my favorite jeans. I just want my stuff.


The War Overseas

Thursday, August 9, 2007

No, not that war. Another war.

People keep telling me I look really tired (which is really true) and they assume that it's because of the baby. This is incorrect. Actually, we've all settled into nice routines, Me, Myne Wyfe, & My Son. It's the in-laws that wear me out.

There are lots of reasons. Mostly, they're idiots. If they read this (which I doubt), I am unapologetic. Most exhausting of all is how deeply racist they all are. I really lucked out with Myne Wyfe, apparently. She's the sane, good-looking, intelligent one of the tribe.

(Examples of racism: My sister makes an offhand comment that there's a lot of crime in Washington D.C.. Mother-in-Law's first comment is, "So there's a lot of black people in the area...?" OR, My sister points out that the caretaker of our apartment building is rude to her. Mother-In-Law: "So is she Mexican?")

It's lazy racism. She's just stupid. For example, although black people and Mexicans are apparently evil (I forgot; we apparently are in danger of terrorism here in Minnesota because we have a lot of people from Africa and Simolea here.) she goes on and on about how Italy and Italians have a "different and unique culture," (because she's Italian). THey are just different. It's not bad. Just different. Different culture. Were that she allowed other cultures to have differences too.

Anyway, apart from this, we get a lot of telemarketing calls around the house. Lord knows why. For the past few days, I've been angry enough (translation: really wants to put an axe through someone's face; anyone will do) that I've gotten through my phone phobia and started taking telemarketing calls. I'm not mean. I doubt I'm capable of being mean. But I'm not nice, and I feel better for a bit.

Three calls, the past two days, have been from some unknown name and weird number I didn't recognize. I didn't think anything of it. I would answer them. Some deep, accented male voice would say. "....Hello....? there....?"

"Nope," I would say, "Wrong number. She's gone for a bit." and then when they started stammering, I'd hang up. Take THAT, outsourced telemarketing bastards!

This morning, after the third call from this same deep voice, my wife looked at the number.

"That's an Italy number," she said. "Probably one of M-I-L's relatives. She gave out our number to everyone."

I have therefore been rudely hanging up on some Italian relative of Renee's whom we've never met, who probably doesn't even speak English (the last time one of her relatives called from Italy, he babbled at us in Italian for thirty seconds and we hung up in confusion).

I'm a teensy bit guilty-feeling about this. Mostly, I'm enjoying it.

Excuse me, I have to go sharpen my axe.

Are you there, God? It's me, Satan.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Before The Dawn of Time:

Hey, God. Sorry to bother you. I know you're getting ready for your project's big launch. I was just letting you know we got here okay. I hope you're not still mad at us. No hard feelings, huh? Really spacious down here. A bit warm, but we'll manage.

300 Million B.C.:

Hey, me again. I wandered around Earth a bit last week, hope you don't mind. Nice place, really pretty, great job on the fjords. When I still upstairs, I heard you had Slartibartfast on those. Was that still the case? He did a great job. I'm getting a really red rash all over my body and wings from the heat. I think I'm allergic to brimstone, which is weird, 'cause there's a lot of it. No fun. Gotta go.


Hey, I just wanted to say sorry really quick. I know you were keen on that man and woman and all, but she was having such an issue with that diet thing of hers, you know, I didn't think it'd hurt, so I was all like 'fruit's great for you.' Totally didn't know what was up with that tree. I am all about making that up to you.

354 A.D.:

Hi. I know they were going on about what I was up to on Earth, so this is just an FYI to let you know I wasn't doing anything. It's all weird down there. I never know how to act. I know, I know, "when in Rome, do like the Romans," but when I was in Rome, it was weird. So I've been working from home. Hope things are okay there. We tried putting in a cooling system, but all I get is sulfur out of it. Really sucks. Later.


Hey, God. I know they're going on and on about me getting into the music scene, you know, but I'm really not. I don't get that rock and roll stuff at all. I'm big into classical and blues, you know, so I try to enjoy that whenever I'm on Earth. It's a shame that when they die, they go up there. All I get down here are rock and rollers and these guys from ghettos who talk in rhyme to beats. I don't know what to do with them. I gave them the sulfur cooling system.


I know you don't normally tell people this stuff -- tight-lipped guy, you are! ha ha! -- but I was wondering if the world was REALLY ending? Do I need to be clearing room for the final arrivals? Only we're pretty full right now. This free-verse poetry thing has really filled up our nooks and crannies. BTW, I thought that Y2K thing was a hoot! You're such a kidder.


Emo kids: not me. Can I not have them when they go? Honestly, the grunge folks are bad enough. Also, WTF is up with Scientology? Sometimes, I just don't get your jokes.

Gotta go. Later.


Writing skullduggery

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Remember that bit where I mentioned I'd done a good 2,500 words?

Well, I started to type them into the manuscript, making my changes as I went and reading it for errors.

Then I realized that some of the logistics were off.

Then I realized that the whole scene was off.

I realized that the scene, as it's being told, Does Not Work. I think it needs to be told by another character, who is looking back on the scene. But I'm not sure that works either. I keep putting it together that way in my head and it comes off awkward.

So I thought maybe I should tell it from the bad guy's standpoint. Except I haven't gotten into a bad guy's head this whole time and wasn't planning on it. And there aren't many details to tell from the bad guy's standpoint. So THAT doesn't work.

So, having typed up 1,000 out of the 2,500 words, I have stopped typing. I will need to erase a chunk of this (not too much, possibly, I hope).

It's not that I hate the You are on the wrong track alarm that goes off in my head. That's dead useful, like a Spider Sense. It's that it doesn't come equipped with a here's the right track alarm which tells me where to go instantly. So rather than working, I get to just stew on it. Hmph.

Anyone want to finish this Rome novel for me? Can we stop the ride? Can I get off?

*beleagured wave, then heads off to Run Errands With Wife & Baby*

Because I have been asked...

Since some people are hazy about where in Minnesota I live, and so I would like to say that:

1) I live in St. Cloud, forty-five minutes away from the cities.

2) I am fine, my family and friends are fine.

3) I am nonetheless deeply heartbroken for the people who WERE on the bridge when it collapsed.

4) Moment of weirdness is that we now have to find a new route for our trip to the cities, which was planned on Friday and would have been in the vicinity of the bridge.


That said, life around here is peacefully chaotic. Zach, ignorant of all the horror stories you hear about newborn babies, behaves himself and is thoroughly enjoyable. When he cries, or fusses, then his diaper is dirty or he's hungry. Fix whichever the problem is and he settles back down. He spends lots of time awake, but he's quiet and peaceful. Just enjoys looking around. (Not that he can focus more than 15 inches in front of himself yet, but nevermind.)

Runt, one of our three sibling cats (and then we have our fourth non-related cat), is a deeply jealous and insecure cat who doesn't like having to compete for attention with other cats. He needs to be cuddled and felt loved. We always say he'd be a perfect old lady cat. We were curious to see how he'd do with the baby, since he tends to get scared and react with hostility toward new arrivals.

He is fascinated and fixated on the baby, in a non-violent way. He wants to be near Zach and lie by him, he acts in a non-afraid and comfortable manner. He acts different (more dignified and secure) around us now too. It's a complete change.

The other day, he found a way into the crib on accident. This Is A Bad Thing, and of course we've remedied the situation. It was no less adorable, though, to come in the bedroom and find Zach sound asleep with Runt curled up at his feet, just looking at him.

The other night, I wrote 2,500 words of Rome novel; the first thing I've written since about three weeks before Renee had the baby. I'm not back on track yet (and, having plenty of non-writing time to think and analyze it, I realize I've been off-track for years now) but maybe I'm getting there. I think I have a very long-winded article/post to write, mostly for my own benefit, talking about my writing and where it perhaps went wrong. Of course, that'll be for another day. My computer time is a bit limited these days, which is not entirely a bad thing.

I love Zach to death. Have I mentioned that? Honestly, he's great. Yessir, I will love him right up to the bit where he gets colic, and then I'm going to sell him to Wal-Mart production shops.


I got a haircut. I have short hair again. Profoundly weird. I look like a human being for example. Since everyone in the world prefers me with short hair ("it makes you look like an adult, and NOT a lemur") I have it now. I always mean to gather up my hair when they cut it and donate it to something useful, but I can never get up the courage to ask the nice (and not totally unattractive) girl who cuts me hair if she will please sweep my dead hair into a bag for me. For a good cause? Yes. Profoundly weird? Hoyeah.

Also, what is it with people in haircut places having really awful haircuts? How is this a good thing? You want a guy with a boring simple haircut and girls who very little hairstyle at all. You don't want them to have only half a head of hair which is spiked and looks bizarre and hungry. Do you? Of course not. Would you go to a doctor who was covered in scars and missing an eye, 'cuz he liked to practice? That's what I thought.

Whoops. Mr. Baby's awake. Off I go!