Star Lines
Saturday, February 16, 2002
  Found my sister walking around the surgical ward, slow and still in considerable pain but more than ready to go home. I brought her the three cures for all ills -- chocolate, GQ, and Cosmo, but didn't stay long, she was really tired. We had to show ID and were issued specific badges to get in the hospital, which is new, and I totally approve -- too many people wander in and out. Stopped for lunch, then came home and got back to work.

One weird thing, my son enabled the annoying paper clip helper icon on Microsoft Word, which I'd left running, and when I got home, I didn't disable it. I stopped for a break five minutes ago and discovered that the little paper clip was asleep. Now I wonder if Drefan is trying to tell me something.  
  I've been working on Raven's book all morning, but I've got to make a trip over to the hospital now to see my older sister, who just had surgery and is not feeling too great. Mom would have come down, but she just had cataract surgery on both eyes. I'm starting to feel a little left out here.  
  Quote for the Day: "I was an angry kid." -- Caleb Carr, miltary history author

So, when do you expect to grow up?

Medical Fact for the Day: Anthracosis is the medical term for coal workers' pneumoconiosis, a lung disease caused by inhaling coal dust and particles over many years. Some doctors believe all people living in large, industrial areas have a mild form of anthracosis. 
  Blogger doesn't want me to post today, for some reason. 
Friday, February 15, 2002
  Quote for the Day: "A man who cooks his own meals, does his own laundry and keeps his apartment clean is not interested in my gender." --Jessica

Probably, but you can still swap war stories with him.

Medical Fact for the Day: Amyotrophy is the shrinking or wasting away of a muscle, caused by size reduction in the constituent contractile fibers. This condition leads to weakness in the affected limb. Amyotrophy is generally caused by malnutrition, lack of use (such as when a limb is immobilized for a long period of time), or partial disruption of the blood or nerve supply. Patients with diabetes mellitus or poliomyelitis are particularly vulnerable to this condition, which may result in permanent muscle damage.

Thursday, February 14, 2002
  Ladies Love Outlaws: I don't like much country music, but I had a real soft spot for Waylon Jennings, who died yesterday from complications attributed to a long struggle with diabetes. He had an outlaw image and a gentleman's attitude, but it's his beautiful, deep voice I'll miss. Waylon Jennings was 64 years old. Safe journey, big guy.  

Happy Valentine's Day

This is a great day for hugs and kisses, so make sure you're not stingy with them today. And for those of you looking for a unique way to say how you feel to the one who makes your heart beat faster, here's "I love you" in a couple of Native American languages:

Apache: Sheth she~n zho~n (nazalized vowel sounds)
Cheyenne: Ne mohotatse
Chickasaw: Chiholloli (first 'i' nasalized)
Hopi: Nu' umi unangw'ta
Mohawk: Konoronhkwa
Navaho: Ayor anosh'ni
Sioux: Techihhila
Zuni: Tom ho' ichema

Wednesday, February 13, 2002
  Breaks #3, 4, and 5: #3 -- three hours to pick up the kids, help them with cards and finish the prep for tomorrow's school Valentine's parties, then sent them to spend an evening with their Dad. Sat down and got out another 2K before #4 -- emergency run to pharmacy for anti-inflammatory prescription and some Chinese takeout (forty minutes.) Since then I've produced another 3K for a not very exciting daily total of 13K, or about 75 pages. I swore I'd break 20K tonight, so back to work.  
  Break #2: Lunch on the timer, or I'd forget to eat again. My neck hurts for some weird reason, and my hands are stiff, but otherwise, trundling along toward 8K. Thought up a better key element to undermine Raven in the first showdown with Zhihan, which made me feel happier. Still have to tone done Mick a lot; he's way too interesting.  
  Break #1: Over 4K written this morning, so I've earned ten minutes. I see author Caleb Carr has continued his little ego-war. Did he really call that lady reviewer a bitch* in print? I bet his editor is popping antacids like they're candy.

*Update: Appears that he did.  
  Buffy on Ice: For those who e-mailed, yes, I taped last night's show, but I don't have time to watch it. I'll keep taping it for a couple of weeks and then have a Buff-a-thon once I've met my deadlines. If I can stay awake that long. 
  Huh? There are Olympics again? It's been four years? Already?

  Quote for the Day: "I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." Douglas Adams, 1952 -- 2001

Imagine Douglas Adams in heaven, and you have to smile. Poor God.

Medical Fact for the Day: Arcus senilis, which is caused by degeneration of fatty material in the cornea, forms a distinct gray-white ring over the outer rim of the iris. The ring usually begins to form over the lower edge of the iris during late adulthood and spreads until it completes the circle. Unlike cataracts, arcus senilis does not affect vision.  
Tuesday, February 12, 2002
  Another Teaser: I'm still working on this one, but have a look at next month's story for the site and the February genre challenge at Holly's site:

Excerpt from Gamers
by S.L. Viehl

The ship didn't land on the asteroid. It crashed into it.

Blood and sweat blinded Tya as she crawled out from under the ruined helm console. "Prox? You make it?"

The maintenance drone trundled over and stopped in front of her face. "My systems are seventy-three percent functional"

"Mine aren't." She rubbed her face on her sleeve until she could see. Power surges had blown all the viddisplays and most of the consoles were either smoking and sparking, or dead. "How much damage to the ship?"

"Assessing." Prox's small screen blipped and scrolled as it searched the systems database. "Stardrive, ejected. Primary power cells, drained. Hull, compromised." It offered an extending clamp to help her to her feet. "Communication array, destroyed--"

"End report." She checked herself for wounds, then looked through the cracked view panel. The arc -- an elongated patch of asteroids, ice, and dust -- orbited a smooth, brown deadstar. "Identify where the hell we are now."

"Pmoc Quadrant, Eitri system, Lun brown dwarf, northern equatorial arc, object four-hundred-fourteen, vector seventy-eight degrees, three-forty east, plus seven solar."

Lun 414.

She went to the viewer and focused the exterior sensors that were still working on the surrounding surface. A few hundred yards from the ship, clusters of light and dark habitat domes squatted between ragged pillars of carbonized rock. Behind them,she could just make out huge, motionless ore extractors. A small fleet of Hsktskt ships could be hiding out there, using the slag op as cover.

What had Vaclar said? Do this right, darling, and it might even settle our debt.

"Shall I activate the crisis beacon?" Prox asked.

She pressed her throbbing brow against the wall panel and closed her eyes. He's dead. I don't have to do it. I can find a ship, steal it, and then --

"Disable it."

The sound of the third voice made her straighten. "So you survived the crash."

"Sorry to disappoint you, precious, but you know how hard I am to kill." Cold, hard fingers stroked the bulge in the back of her neck. "Are we there yet?"


"Dre." Keel peered at one of the exterior security screens. "Someone's brought a female to the service door."

"Signal Mijis." Drefan reversed the battered armet he was patching and applied a new weld to the inside of the visor. "Tell him sex drones won't settle his account."

"I don't think she's payment." The big feline's silvery fur bristled as it padded over to his console. "She's Hsktskt, and this Terran's got her on a leash."

He lifted his visor and checked the monitors. The unexpected visitors wore envirosuits and O2 packs, but had taken off their breathers. A short, dark human male was leading the reptilian female by a chain attached to a slave collar around her neck.

"That wasn't a meteor hit out by the east crater, then." He spotted dark, wet streaks on the female's brutal face. "Looks like she's been injured."

Keel's ears flattened. "I'll activate the turret and put her out of her misery."

"We don't kill the customers until they're inside." He maneuvered his glidechair over to the door panel. "Monitor the grid, and watch the Tingaleans. We're low on anti-venom."

Drefan traveled through the back corridors to the service entrance. He opened the viewer to see the human attempting to rewire the exterior access panel. An area sweep showed no one waiting in the shadows, and a body scan confirmed his visitors weren't rigged. "Identify yourselves," he said over the audio.

The big female's head snapped up, and her oversize yellow eyes gleamed, but she said nothing.

The dark Terran drew a weapon and targeted the viewer. "You first."

Dre activated one of the turret guns directly over their heads. "I insist."

"Very well." The Terran calmly replaced his weapon. "My name is Vaclar. This is my property, TyaVa." He jerked the Hsktskt's chain, which made her bare teeth and hissed. "My recently acquired property, I should say." He waited, then looked around. "This is the gamers dome, isn't it?"

"Yes. Why bring her here?"

"We'd like to play. The centuron prefers simulation over real combat." Vaclar patted the Hsktskt's face as if she were nothing more than an oversize puppy. "Don't you, precious?"

Drefan expected the big female to open her jaw and bite off his hand. Instead, she tensed, then dropped her head back, exposing her throat. A Hsktskt, willingly capitulating to a human. That's a first. "Is she drugged?"

"Not at all." The man smiled at the viewer. "She owes me her life."

Drefan opened the door panel.

Copyright 2002 by S.L. Viehl
All rights reserved.
  Quote for the Day: "Doubt is the most successful censor of writers." -- Yours Truly

Medical Fact for the Day: Rhabdomyolysis, or destruction of muscle tissue accompanied by the release myoglobin (red muscle pigment) into the blood, is usually caused by a severe crushing injury, polymyositis (viral infection of muscles) and sometimes excessive physical exercise. Unless there is serious damage to the muscle, patients with rhabdomyolysis recover in a few weeks without complications.

Monday, February 11, 2002
  Lots of good news today, computers will be fixed (Yahoo! James), students will entering the Jane Austen essay contest (kick butt, Terry), a certain writer had a wonderful time at Ad Astra (I want to hear all about it, Sarah) and a bi-annual royalty money will soon be rolling in (God bless Emily.) From snail mail, the latest issue of Popular Science has an article about practical time travel that rocks, which I read to my daughter over dinner. She agrees that building a particle accelerator the size of a small galaxy is an impractical application of Einstein's Theory of Relativity. Well, she giggled over the idea, which is the same thing. You guys at MIT will just have to catch a couple of those pesky cosmic strings and play chicken with them. And now, I'm going to write a few more thousand words and see how much trouble I can get my heroine into before 2 am. 
  Guns and Roses: I guess that's what I think of when I contemplate being in love -- not the band, but the sheer spectrum of potential relationships. Everything from the endearing charm of a husband who brings home four dozen red roses to the grim possibility of an ex-boyfriend who shows up with a .38. Yep, really glad I'm personally done with all that. But I did help out the cause of true love today (for someone else), and I feel pretty good about it. It's nice to see people in love, and how much they enjoy the ride. Cupid just needs to wear a Kevlar vest.  
  Raven in the Morning: As I started the final buff and polish this morning, one of the early scenes in Raven's book jumped out at me. Probably because I'm not a morning person, and anyone who tangles with me before I have one cup of coffee is taking their life in their hands. Happily, my children are just as surly and silent as I am. But Raven . . .

Excerpt from Book Two, Onyx Trilogy II
By Gena Hale

After the maids departed, the phone rang. It was Hyatt, and from his faintly strained tone she imagined the general already giving him grief. “Sorry to bother you, Major, but we’re having a briefing in the Eisenhower suite in ten minutes.”

Oh, were we? “Tell Patton I’ll be there in twenty.”

She could hear the subsequent gulp. “I, uh . . . I don’t think you want to keep him waiting. Not this morning.”

“Feed him a muffin or something, Hyatt. He’s always grouchy when he skips breakfast.” She hung up the phone and headed for the bathroom.

Six years of prepping for shows and shoots gave Raven the practice and speed to be ready in only a few minutes, but she took her time. When she finally looked and felt more human, she emerged to discover a breakfast tray on one of the side tables. Yet the prospect of attending Portia’s funeral and snaring Dai Zhihan had her feeling so queasy she only picked up a slice of dry toast and carried it with her to the Eisenhower suite.

She thought of that day in the temple, when she’d opened her eyes and seen Jian-Shan standing over her. I don’t want to do this.

She thought of the blood-stained flower he’d taken from her hand. But I have to do this. Taking a deep breath, she knocked once and stepped inside.

Three faces turned her way as she sauntered in. Mick’s hazel eyes crinkled with appreciation, while Hyatt’s myopic gaze bounced from Raven to Denise. The Nordic beauty looked perfectly polished, like the edge of a good blade, Raven thought as she took a bite of her toast. I wonder if she starches her lingerie.

“’Morning, Major.” Mick nodded toward her toast. “Bring any for us?”

“Get your own food, Perry.” As she chewed, she scanned the room, and noted they’d set up enough tech to practically launch a space shuttle. No sign of Kalen, however. “So where’s the boss?”

“Denise, I’ll need an update on the Dai tong members known to be residing in Chicago.” The boss emerged from one of the other rooms, flipping through a thick file. He looked up at Raven. “You’re late.”

“My time card got stuck.” She sat down in the nearest chair. “Shall we?”

Denise turned her back on Raven and stalked toward one of the computer terminals. “I’ll pull those records for you now, general.”

“You can do it later.” Kalen seemed oblivious to the blonde’s silent outrage. “Let’s go over today’s schedule.”

Raven kicked off her shoes and hitched a leg over the arm of her chair. “Will I have time to get in some shopping this afternoon? Bloomie’s has a fifty percent off sale.”

Mick, who was drinking some coffee, choked for a moment. Hyatt looked ready to do the same, minus the coffee.

“You” –Kalen pointed to her— “will shut up and listen.”

She silently saluted him with her toast.

Copyright 2002 by S.L. Viehl, writing as Gena Hale
All rights reserved. 
  Quote for the Day: "You can't run from love." Copy writer, Onyx books

Which is why God created pepper spray.

Medical Fact for the Day: Horseshoe kidney is a congenital birth defect which results in both kidneys being joined together (forming a horseshoe shape) versus being apart. One in 600 people are born with the defect, which is twice as common in men. The cojoined kidneys generally function normally for the lifetime of the patient. 
Sunday, February 10, 2002
  Don't Mess With My Bid: I love auctions, but I've never tried eBay before. So when one of my friends listed some interesting things, I decided to go over and have a look. While nosying around, I found a bunch of gorgeous vintage quilts and put in a couple of bids. I lost the first two by fifty cents in the last minute because I hadn't set a high enough maximum bid. What followed was a crash course in eBay bidding tactics, during which I monitored a couple of popular items and saw how the bid flow worked. Then I went to work.

A lot of bidding at any auction is attitude -- if you don't hesitate and bid aggressively, you win -- unless you're forced to pay more than the item is really worth. So you figure out your top bid first, then you start low. Timing is also important, especially with eBay -- if you're watching an item that has more than five active bidders, at least one of them is smart enough to wait until the last two minutes of the bid period to place their max bid. Since the max bid isn't displayed, you have to guess at what will top it. And by then you've only got two or three chances to bid, then the item closes.

People think I'm a stone-cold, fearless (even reckless) bidder at auctions, but I have it all figured out before I raise my hand the first time. It's fun to go in with an attitude, and you can always tell the seasoned bidders out there. At live auctions we eye each other across the room, smile, and psych each other out. At eBay, it all comes down to those last two minutes. :)  
  When in Rome: In deference to the 9/11 tragedy, I'm using a Manhattan street map to trace the paths of various characters during the New York City portion of Raven's novel -- mainly to keep them away from Ground Zero. I've already acknowledged the events in the second chapter of the story, because it would be an idiot thing not to, but it serves no purpose to continually throwing mentions of 9/11 in my readers' faces. One hotel in my book is loosely based on the Fitzpatrick on Lexington Avenue, but I'm using two real locations in other scenes -- Raven makes a stop at Tiffany's, while Sean ends up praying in St. Bartholomew's Church. I've talked with people who have either lived or worked in Manhattan, and even gotten a custom drawn walking/jogging map of Central Park for Kalen's morning run. This is part of the fun of the editing process for me, because I get to buff out little details and invest more authenticity in the story.  
  Quote for the Day: "Neither man nor God is going to tell me what to write." James T. Farrell, 1904 -- 1979

I wonder how James's editor felt about that.

Medical Fact for the Day: Sarcoidosis is a very rare disease which causes inflammation in the lymph nodes, as well as other tissues and organs of the body, such as lungs, liver, skin, and eyes. Symptoms include enlargement of the lymph nodes, fever, aches, breathlessness, arthritis, and red-purple swellings on the legs (erythema nodosum). Chronic symptoms include purple rashes on the face, painful joints, bloodshot eyes, and loss of sensation -- but in some cases, the disease produces no symptoms. Complications include damage to the lungs, hypercalcemia (abnormally high levels of calcium in the bloodstream) which can damage the kidneys, and blindness. Sarcoidosis affects young adults primarily, and about 90% recover within two years. There is no known cause for this disease, but corticosteroid drugs and chloroquine have proven to help aleviate symptoms and prevent organ damage.  
Adventures at the KeyBoard

10/28/2001 - 11/04/2001 / 11/04/2001 - 11/11/2001 / 11/11/2001 - 11/18/2001 / 11/18/2001 - 11/25/2001 / 11/25/2001 - 12/02/2001 / 12/02/2001 - 12/09/2001 / 12/09/2001 - 12/16/2001 / 12/16/2001 - 12/23/2001 / 12/23/2001 - 12/30/2001 / 12/30/2001 - 01/06/2002 / 01/06/2002 - 01/13/2002 / 01/13/2002 - 01/20/2002 / 01/20/2002 - 01/27/2002 / 01/27/2002 - 02/03/2002 / 02/03/2002 - 02/10/2002 / 02/10/2002 - 02/17/2002 / 02/17/2002 - 02/24/2002 / 02/24/2002 - 03/03/2002 / 03/03/2002 - 03/10/2002 / 03/10/2002 - 03/17/2002 / 03/17/2002 - 03/24/2002 / 03/24/2002 - 03/31/2002 / 03/31/2002 - 04/07/2002 / 04/07/2002 - 04/14/2002 / 04/14/2002 - 04/21/2002 / 04/21/2002 - 04/28/2002 / 04/28/2002 - 05/05/2002 / 05/05/2002 - 05/12/2002 / 05/12/2002 - 05/19/2002 / 05/19/2002 - 05/26/2002 / 05/26/2002 - 06/02/2002 / 06/02/2002 - 06/09/2002 / 06/09/2002 - 06/16/2002 / 06/16/2002 - 06/23/2002 / 06/23/2002 - 06/30/2002 / 06/30/2002 - 07/07/2002 / 07/07/2002 - 07/14/2002 / 07/14/2002 - 07/21/2002 / 07/21/2002 - 07/28/2002 / 07/28/2002 - 08/04/2002 / 08/04/2002 - 08/11/2002 / 08/11/2002 - 08/18/2002 / 08/18/2002 - 08/25/2002 / 08/25/2002 - 09/01/2002 / 09/01/2002 - 09/08/2002 / 09/08/2002 - 09/15/2002 / 09/15/2002 - 09/22/2002 / 09/22/2002 - 09/29/2002 / 09/29/2002 - 10/06/2002 / 10/06/2002 - 10/13/2002 / 10/13/2002 - 10/20/2002 / 10/20/2002 - 10/27/2002 / 10/27/2002 - 11/03/2002 / 11/03/2002 - 11/10/2002 / 11/10/2002 - 11/17/2002 / 11/17/2002 - 11/24/2002 / 11/24/2002 - 12/01/2002 / 12/01/2002 - 12/08/2002 / 12/08/2002 - 12/15/2002 / 12/15/2002 - 12/22/2002 / 12/22/2002 - 12/29/2002 / 12/29/2002 - 01/05/2003 / 01/05/2003 - 01/12/2003 / 01/12/2003 - 01/19/2003 / 01/19/2003 - 01/26/2003 / 01/26/2003 - 02/02/2003 / 02/02/2003 - 02/09/2003 / 02/09/2003 - 02/16/2003 / 02/16/2003 - 02/23/2003 / 02/23/2003 - 03/02/2003 / 03/02/2003 - 03/09/2003 / 03/09/2003 - 03/16/2003 / 03/16/2003 - 03/23/2003 / 03/23/2003 - 03/30/2003 / 03/30/2003 - 04/06/2003 / 04/06/2003 - 04/13/2003 / 04/13/2003 - 04/20/2003 / 04/20/2003 - 04/27/2003 / 04/27/2003 - 05/04/2003 / 05/04/2003 - 05/11/2003 / 05/11/2003 - 05/18/2003 / 05/18/2003 - 05/25/2003 / 05/25/2003 - 06/01/2003 / 06/01/2003 - 06/08/2003 / 06/08/2003 - 06/15/2003 / 06/15/2003 - 06/22/2003 / 06/22/2003 - 06/29/2003 / 06/29/2003 - 07/06/2003 / 07/06/2003 - 07/13/2003 / 07/13/2003 - 07/20/2003 / 07/20/2003 - 07/27/2003 / 07/27/2003 - 08/03/2003 / 08/03/2003 - 08/10/2003 / 08/10/2003 - 08/17/2003 / 08/17/2003 - 08/24/2003 / 08/24/2003 - 08/31/2003 / 08/31/2003 - 09/07/2003 / 09/07/2003 - 09/14/2003 / 09/14/2003 - 09/21/2003 / 09/21/2003 - 09/28/2003 / 09/28/2003 - 10/05/2003 / 10/05/2003 - 10/12/2003 / 10/12/2003 - 10/19/2003 / 10/19/2003 - 10/26/2003 / 10/26/2003 - 11/02/2003 / 11/02/2003 - 11/09/2003 / 11/09/2003 - 11/16/2003 /

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