Last night in session we were talking about adapting Earth history while world building, and I forgot to mention one of my favorite history sites to the crew. Hyperhistory.com
is jam-packed with concise historic data on people, places, things, all neatly compartmentalized and with excellent chart and map graphics. I reference this a lot when hunting for timeline boosters and civilizations I've yet to explore. Next on my list, the Sumerians.
Now I'm wondering if George Clooney or Russell Crowe has a weblog. Imagine the entries:
George: Played hoops with Noah. Ordered Subway. Hung out with the guys and watched a game. Made a 10.7 million dollar movie deal. Told Cindy Crawford to quit bugging me for a date.
Russell: Rounded up cattle with Dad. Ordered Subway. Hung out with the mates and watched a game. Made a 10.7 million dollar movie deal. Told Meg Ryan to quit bugging me, she had her chance.
Working on links again. Found (by accident) Wil Wheaton's weblog, which I thought was pretty cool.
On a more serious note, one of my favorite people passed away on January 8th -- Dave Thomas,
founder of Wendy's restaurants, a Fort Lauderdale resident and well-known TV commercial personality. What many people don't know is Mr. Thomas was an advocate for adopted children, founded the Children's Home Society and was himself an adopted child. Another kind man who will be missed.
Nebula Sludge Pool:(updated)
I've solved the SFWA problem. Anyone bugging me will receive a reply directing them to a self-help psych site. Think of it as me doing my part to improve the mental health of SF writers everywhere.
think we should run Miss USA like SFWA runs the Nebs -- make it totally a politicking, write-in thing. Imagine the letter you'd get from say, Miss New Jersey:
"Dear Pagent Judge:
As you know, I have been nominated as one of the top ten finalist for the Miss USA beauty pagent. Enclosed are photos of me almost naked. I'm sure that once you read over my personal essay, "Why World Peace is So Important to Me" you'll agree I'd make a fabulous Miss USA. Oh, and those rumors about that adult film I was involved in last summer? That was my identical twin sister Muffy, not me. I'd never sell my body like that.
Sincerely, Buffy Thompkins, Miss New Jersey.
P.S. Did you know Miss Arizona has breast implants and stretch marks? Just thought I'd mention it."
Famous Quote for the Day:
"He who does not enjoy solitude will not love freedom." Arthur Schopenhauer, 1788 -- 1860
That would work as a motto for co-dependents everywhere, wouldn't it?
Medical Fact for the Day: Sacralgia
is pain in the sacrum (the triangular spinal bone below the lumbar vertebrae) caused by pressure on a spinal nerve in this area. Sacralgia is usually the result of a disk prolapse, but in rare cases it may be caused by bone cancer.
Norby wants me to stay awake and write, and here's part of what he's messing up:
Excerpt from "Infusion"
(R for language. Kids, you should be in bed now anyway. Shoo.)
By S.L. Viehl
A carpenter who falls and impales himself on a two-by-four isn't supposed to burst into flame, but there he was: construction worker kabob.
“Maybe he spilled some solvent on his clothes,” my partner Harry said as we walked around the still-smoldering body. “Bumped into an acetylene torch, whoosh, he panics, then jumps off the seventh floor.”
“That would work, except the welder went home for the night, and the security guard said the fire started after
he landed.” I checked the perimeter to assure the uniforms were cordoning off the area. The smell would probably keep people back as much as the crime scene tape; the air reeked of Eaude de Extra Crispy Dead Guy. The coroner’s white van pulled up to the curb, and I rubbed the sting of smoke from my eyes. “Tenderson’s about to make his entrance.”
Harry winced. “I’ll go repeat with the guard.”
I watched as Frank Tenderson jumped out of the van and stomped over, a scowl puckering his pudgy face. “Evening, doc.”
“It’s three a.m.,” he said, lips peeling back from teeth his parents should have gotten fixed long ago. “Where’s the body?” I pointed up at the scaffold platform where the carpenter had landed, three stories above us. “Shit. How the hell am I supposed to get up there?”
I’d have suggested inserting a pogo stick up his ass, but then I’d be tempted to help him with the installation. “Elevator’s over here.”
We took the open lift to the third floor, and walked across the newly-laid tile to the scaffold. The stench made my stomach roll, but I’d smelled worse. You didn’t work Fort Lauderdale homicide for eight years without smelling a lot
“Christ.” Tenderson set down his bag, held on to a support beam and leaned out over the body. “He’s not burned, he’s charcoal.” He looked down. “No accelerant, no heat source.” He lifted his head. “Anything upstairs?”
I stood beside him and breathed through my mouth. “Nothing but wood, tools, and hardware. He was putting in wall studs.”
The coroner reached out toward the body, then shrieked and pulled back his hand. At the same time, the victim’s body disintegrated. Tenderson and I stood there for a moment, staring at the small heap of ash.
“You ever see anything like that before?” he asked me, eyes wide.
I’d seen three-week floaters, chainsaw dismemberments, and what happened when you pissed off Colombian drug dealers. But this was a first. “No.” The wind picked up, and starting taking the ash with it. “Better get out your dustpan before he blows away.”
Copyright 2002 by S.L. Viehl
All rights reserved.
Gonna Wash That Man Right Out Of My Hair:
Since the cats have indicated any more of me singing in the shower will force them to pack their bags and leave, I've devoted that particular fifteen minutes a day to working out plot problems in relative silence. Tonight I figured out what I have to do to tame Sean and get him in line for book three, and I felt almost relieved when wham,
out of nowhere Norby pops into my head. Norby is one of the secondary characters in an old horror series I plan to revamp (no pun intended) eventually, another troublemaker like Reever, and has been biding his time waiting to mess up another perfectly good writing stretch. He wants to be in the latest short story, which has no room for him. Even if I give him a couple of cameos it'll push the word count up past novella. Still, I never explored Norby's character before he became the Prince of Nightclubs, and it's tempting. Maybe I'll fool with it this weekend, see how it plays out in the story. Yes, I'm a wimp.
Famous Quote for the Day:
"It's snowing still. However, we haven't had an earthquake lately." -- Eeyore
If you wait for the worst to come, eventually it will.
Medical Fact for the Day: Perthes' disease
is caused by inflammation of an epiphysis (growing area) on the head of the femur. A type of osteochondritis juvenilis, Perthes' disease is thought to be due to disrupted blood supply to the bone, and commonly strikes children aged 5 to 10 on one side. Symptoms include pain in the thigh and groin and a limp on the affected side. Movement of the hip is limited and extremely painful. Xrays will reveal fragmentation and, later on, if the head of the femur is shrinking.
Treatment for Perthes' disease requires bed rest until pain subsides, followed by splinting the hip to reduce pressure on the femur, or an osteotomy procedure to change the angle of the femur to that it fits better into the hip. The condition usually clears up within a few years, but may leave the hip permanently damaged. Severe damage increases the likelihood of osteoarthritis later on in life.
Calmer now. Takes a few hours for me to stop kicking inanimate objects after I'm exposed to flagrant bigotry. Good thing I wasn't an adult in the 60's, I'd have spent them in prison. And now, for reasons completely unrelated to writing or moral outrage, I can't sleep.
Have you ever been poised on the threshold of something and not too sure how the heck you got there? Think standing in the crossroads, watching the approaching headlights, not deciding to stay or run but kind of suspended; unclear on how you ended up in the middle of that particular highway -- that kind of not-sure. This isn't always painful. Sometimes it can be very enlightening. Only enlightenment has eighteen wheels and the high beams on and it's about to mow you down or make you move very, very fast -- or so you think.
I'm not the hit-and-run type, nor do I move very fast. People think I'm Ms. Speedy Decision, but I pretty much plan out every other minute of my life. I just don't babble to everyone about it. Decisions are thresholds, crossroads, the entrance ramps to unknown highways. They make me uncomfortable, because you can't plan for what's ahead unless you find someone with a map or who's been down that road before. I'm blessed in that I have good friends who have been down plenty of roads I'm just now encountering, and their advice helps a lot. But there's always one or two highways no one's even heard of . . .
I guess I'd just like to know what's directly ahead, and reserve all possible adventures in the unknown for the books I write.
Will someone go over to John Shirley's house and tell the guy to just shut up
? God, he's annoying, especially when he uses a movie review as a platform to exercise his homophobia.
This time he's even pissed off Oscar Wilde
-- quite a feat, considering the poor man's been dead for 102 years.
I'm finding out a lot about Kalen as I write chapter seven. His framework started out solid and has stayed that way, but he keeps surprising me with little side trips into the past where I find reasons and motivations that keep me adding nuances. Like the house in Virginia -- that came out of nowhere, but it's so
Kalen to do something like that. In his own way, he's as complicated/simple as Jory in Blade. I've only known a few guys in the military who were Kalen material, so I've had to invent a lot, but reading the Dulles book and other intelligence op stories have given me a feel for the type. I like Kalen, but he makes me sad, too. Guys like him so often end up alone and lonely because they can't function in a normal, mundane life -- they replace love with adrenaline and fill their days up with intrigue instead of meaning.
Raven has gone far beyond my expectations and developed many layers, some I had to trim back because they wouldn't allow her to make mistakes. You can't mess up and love again if you keep your heart locked away forever. And unlike some novelists, it's how my characters mess up and the warts most people would have removed that makes them real to me. Flawed, damaged people discarded by friends, family, and society have a much tougher time of it, and yet when they grow beyond their limitations they become my heroes. It's so easy to give up and allow the defeats and indignities to eat into you; harder to make a life in spite of them.
I'm finding that writing about an amazingly beautiful woman isn't about the outer beauty anymore. I love beauty, but my vision is a little different -- to me beauty can be found in the wrinkled face of an eighty year old man as well as the George Clooneys of the world. While Raven is more Cindy Crawford than Mother Teresa, as I write her, I find more appeal in the beauty of her scars and her armor of humor than in the surgically installed, flawless mask she wears. Happily, that's working its way into the writing, and Raven keeps growing.
To be technically accurate, that should read book five instead of book two. I'm thinking in trilogies again.
Oh, man, did I come up with a great twist for the end of book two. I need umph and the umph fairy delivered. Hee hee.
Quote for the Day:
"The only thing that girl will ever write is bad poetry." -- N.T., high school English teacher, 1975
1. You never know who's listening to the stupid things you say, and 2. Never underestimate a lousy poet.
Medical Fact for the Day: Labyrinthitis,
or inflammation of the labyrinth (the fluid-filled chambers of the inner ear which sense balance) causes vertigo, a sensation that oneself or one's surroundings are spinning around. The inflammation is usually caused by viral or bacterial infection, and can be a symptom of such childhood illnesses as measles or the mumps. Bacterial labyrinthitis is often caused by otitis media (infection of the middle ear) or less commonly, a head injury. The condition causes nausea, vomitting, nystagmus (jerky eye movements), tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and can lead to deafness and in some rare cases, meningitis. Symptoms from viral labyrinthitis can be relieved by antihistamines, such as meclizine, but bacterial labyrinthitis must be treated with antibiotics. Surgery may become necessary to drain fluid or remove any collected debris causing the infection.
Sometimes other writers really make my day. The author of KaneBlues did today with this
BTW, is it spelled Parliment
Hell if I know.
One member of a SF reading group I correspond with just let me know 90% of her group vehemently agreed with every bad thing I've had to say about Perdido Street Station.
This award-winning novel, which made me so sick it would take a couple more pages simply to begin to cover my disgust, was written by China Mieville, a talented young writer who needs some serious therapy. However, along with the gratifying consensus came more disturbing news -- the author is now a Member of Parliment. All I can say is, God Save the Queen. Please.
Not a terrific writing day. Sean and Kameko have just met -- sort of -- and he got a little too
dark on me. I have to scale back the anger and instill a bit more guilt-ridden angst, not one of my strong points. (Is this because I rarely beat myself up over the past and think brooding and sulking should be the exclusive territory of three year olds? Not sure.) I did take a break to read the new Susan Andersen, "Head Over Heels," to clear my head. Back to work.
Famous Quote for the Day:
"A distant sound is heard, like the melancholy twang of a string, breaking in the heavens. It dies away." Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, 1860 - 1904, from The Cherry Orchard.
Mess with your English teacher: claim Chekhov's twanging string was actually Scottie beaming up Spock and the Captain.
Medical Fact for the Day: Capgras' syndrome
is the delusion that a relative or close friend has been replaced by an impostor. Also known as "the illusion of doubles," Capgras' syndrome is seen most frequently in paranoid schizophrenia, but also occurs in patients with organic and affective disorders.
Bestselling author Patricia Cornwell
will be remaining on board with Penguin Putnam for at least her next two Kay Scarpetta novels -- something that doesn't always happen when upper management changes hands. I like her attitude, even though I'm sure she's been properly compensated for her show of loyalty, too.
This morning, while I was being a good author and writing the new version of chapter six, an idea for a new novel sprang up. Before I could consign it to the novel idea notebook, it sank roots into my brain and started to bloom. I tried production schedule pesticide, I yelled bad words I don't allow the children to use at it, I threatened to go back to a day job. No use, it set up house and moved in. I'm already mentally writing the character outlines. So I attacked it from another angle, stuck it in the story compactor and mashed it down to a novella. Maybe. The jury is still out.
Cat New Year's Resolutions:
We've got a running list
over at Holly's site, and here are some I wish my three boys would make:
-- I will not catch lizards. If I do, I will not eviserate them on my human's bed pillow.
-- I will not cough up hair balls on my human's prized 1940 Dresden fan quilt.
-- When my human enters the kitchen, it is not always to get me Pounce treats. I will be understanding about this.
-- I will kiss my human before
I wash my butt.
-- I will not grab my brother in a stranglehold and pretend to tear out his throat in front of my human's guests.
-- When I have gas, I will be polite and go fart in the other room.
-- I will not lie in the litter box pretending I am Simba Master of All He Surveys while my brothers are waiting to use it.
-- The flat cans with the smiling fish on them are not
-- I will not knock over and rearrange the large stacks of paper my human produces to make a bed for myself.
-- I will not sit and stare at my human when she sits in the bathtub, no matter how wierd I think she looks with those tea bags and that mayonnaise on her face.
-- I will stop plotting to get rid of the short humans.
-- I will stop trying to squeeze between the balcony railings to catch dragonflies. I will remember if I miss it's a three story drop into a canal.
-- Whatever my human drinks in those mugs is too hot and not for me.
-- I will not glare, hiss, or growl at the guests who smell like dog. I will understand some humans are simply not worthy of feline ownership.
and finally --
-- I will not sneak into the closet, climb into the big box and chew off the corners of my human's author copies.
Just sitting here grinning cause that N'Sync link down there works. Hee hee.
For crying out loud . . .
Hear the latest whines of outrage over the members of N'Sync
being cast to appear in some new Star Wars flick? So what's the problem? They're nice-looking boys. It's probably a big thrill for them. Let me guess, the SF traditionalists want to put Greg Bear and Connie Willis in those roles because they're more qualified
to appear in a SF film, right?
Quote for the Day:
"What is the author trying to say?" A high school teacher discussing Moby Dick, circa 1973.
The Answer That Gets You Detention:
"Don't save the whales."
Medical Fact for the Day: Dry Drowning
is a form of drowning in which no fluid actually enters the lungs. About 1/5 of all fatalities by drowning are "dry" -- death results from lack of oxygen. Victims of dry drowning have unusually strong laryngeal reflex, which diverts any swallowed water into the stomach prior to death.
It's almost that time of year again; each January 27th I try to read James Joyce's Ulysses. Try
being the operative word here. It's been an annual event in my life since 1984, when I picked up the copy I have at a yard sale. Traditionally, I throw the book against a wall after an hour of reading, but last year I made it all the way to two hours and ten minutes before the novel flew through the air. This is partly Joyce's fault for writing the wretched thing, and partly mine for wanting not only to read it but understand it. Remember Rocky running up the stairs? Same thing. It took a little while for me to catch on to Faulkner, who drank so much while he was writing that you can almost breathe in the fumes from the print. But Joyce is definitely the Mt. Everest of writers for me. And when I do finally read Ulysses and comprehend the story (without resorting to the Cliff Notes like everyone else does) I'm going to write an analysis of it. At the rate I'm going, I'll be ninety and
have it memorized.
When All Else Fails . . . Move it to the Next Book:
Raven's book is cruising along, but not as trouble-free as I'd expected. I have a subplot conflict I may excise and relocate it to the third novel -- Mick and Gemma have gotten way too interesting. I also terminated the Japanese ambassador, he got out of hand, and I can combine his qualities with Hyatt. Ditching him hurt, big time. On the flip side, Zhihan is shaping up nicely, as is Beryl (formerly Chara.) This is the oddest crew I've ever had outside of a StarDoc book, but they're exotic, fun, and meshing pretty well. I think I might intro Mick and Gemma separately in this one, but keep otherwise them apart.
Famous Quote for the Day:
"In small proportions we just beauties see: And in short measures life may perfect be." Ben Johnson, 1572-1637, from It is not Growing like a Tree
Fifteen minutes of beauty, twice a day. Find it, or create it.
Medical Fact for the Day: Myxedema,
a condition which results from hypothyroidism (underactivity of the thyroid gland), thickens and coarsens the skin and other body tissues, most noticeably in the face. The lips become swollen and the nose enlarges. Other symptoms include weight gain, loss of hair, sensitivity to cold, and a variety of mental incapacitation. Myxedema is most common in adult women over 40, but if it occurs in childhood, it can retard growth, delay sexual maturation, and inhibit normal development of the brain. After hypothyroidism has been diagnosed through a blood test, replacement therapy with thyroxine can halt and reverse the symptoms. In most cases, the hormone therapy must continue for life.
Kat and I made a pizza run tonight, and as we got out of the truck we stepped right in the middle of a Dad/Daughter fight. Dad was about my age, nattily dressed and from the make and model of his car, making some serious paychecks. Daughter was somewhere between twelve and twenty (I can't guess girls' ages anymore. They all
look twenty) and into some kind of J.Lo-goth style I didn't recognize -- spangled red tube top, bell bottom black slacks, oversized white jacket, Elvira makeup. Short green fingernails, black lipstick. Shoulder-length, pink hair. I mean Pink,
too. Like a little Barbie who got drunk and dunked her head in a vat of that pink stuff they slap on all her product boxes. Not flattering, but interesting.
Kathy saw the hair and heard Daughter say, "You can't make me! I'll move in with Debbie!" and was immediately mesmerized, but I saw Dad's expression and hustled my kid into the pizza place. Kat stood watching them through the window while I picked up our order. On the way out, we got to hear Dad giving Daughter the Responsibility/Respect lecture (this is a parent classic. It always starts off with "If you want to be treated like an adult, you'd better start acting/dressing/working like one . . . ") Shame that one never really works unless you're actually talking to another adult.
He was beet-red in the face; she wasn't even listening to him. My daughter chose that moment to say, very loud, "I like your hair!" Dad halted in mid-speech, shot me a dirty look, hustled his kid into the mega-bucks sedan, and took off.
We were both quiet on the way home. Kathy snuggled up beside me and I put an arm around her. She started singing off-key to the radio; poor kid is as tone deaf as I am. I thought about how sweet my daughter is, and the six years left before she hits puberty (four if she goes early, like I did.) I try to imagine what our relationship will be like when she wants pink hair and spangled tube tops. I want to remember this so I don't rag on her in the middle of a parking lot someday. I want to remember that I love her, no matter what color her hair is.
More links. Consider this link-o-rama day.
The results of my experiment: I got rid of the orange border to the left, which was bugging me, and I decided to (cough) keep the pale yellow background (okay, I hate yellow, but this is tolerable.) I now know how to create template links, change colors, and create links in my posts. No laughing at the HTML-challenged author; I did this all by trial and error. And you know what happened the last
time I messed with the template.
Mainly I got into this because a weblog is supposed to be linked to other weblogs and internet sites, otherwise it's not a weblog. I didn't know this, now I do. I still don't like cluttering up a site with a bunch of graphics and junk, but I find a lot of interesting things on the web, and links don't take a hundred years to download, they just appear.
This is fun, in a terrifying way. But a little too much blue, I think.
So now I can make a link in my posts, too. Tomorrow, I conquer Europe.
for the color changes.
And a little more blue, maybe.
FF6633 is blue, so this must be . . .
I'm experimenting again. Give me a little knowledge . . .
I've got more to add on over there, but it's lunch time, and the progeny are demanding to be fed.
You realize, of course, that no one's weblog is safe now.
(Tom Hanks Castaway moment #2) Look! Over There! I made LINKS!
Oh, boy. I'm on a roll now.
Well, that worked. Now let's see what this
Trying to do something with the template here. Crossing fingers and toes.
Famous Quote for the Day:
"She had a pretty gift for quotation, which is a serviceable substitute for wit." -- William Somerset Maugham, 1874-1965
I've never pretended to be anything but a story teller -- oh, wait, he said that, too (Creatures of Circumstance, 1947)
Medical Fact for the Day: Fractures
or breaks in the bones, are commonly caused by a sudden injury that exerts more force on the bones than it can withstand. The force can be direct, like hitting your finger with a sledgehammer, or indirect, like twisting your foot so severely that you crack the tibia (shin bone). Fractures are divided into two main categories: simple, or closed, and compound , or open. In a closed fracture, the bone ends remain under the skin, and there is little damage to surrounding tissue. In a compound fracture, one or both ends of the bone protrude through the skin. Fractures can occur across the width of the bone, but also occur lengthwise, obliquely, and spirally. Anyone who suspects a patient has a broken bone should not
try forcing the displaced ends into alignment. Cover any open wounds near the fracture site, splint the limb if possible (unless spinal injury is suspected -- if so, do not move the patient
), and seek emergency medical treatment for the patient at once. Children recover from fractures much faster than adults, and infants can heal in as little as fourteen days. Weight bearing adult bones, such as the tibia, can take up to six months to knit together completely.