Star Lines
Saturday, July 20, 2002
  Ay, Caramba:  Went to the new pack and ship place this morning and had to wait a few minutes behind a lady who apparently has no problem discussing the intimate details of life on her cell phone.  Now, while I'm an avid watcher of people and love to hear bits and pieces of conversations (helps me tremendously with composing dialogue), the running commentary on her husband's lack of...prowess...I could have skipped.  Even the pack and ship guy, who looks like he could bench press a packaderm, turned a little pink.

I think it's bizarre, how some people zone out like that when they're talking on their cell phones.  I also can't help thinking it's rude as hell.  It reminds me of those snotty cliques in high school (usually girls) who would take over a lunch table and talk around someone they considered a geek -- as though they were invisible.  By the way, Caroline, if you ever read this, I was the one who dropped that red Jell-O down the back of your collar for being hateful to poor Linda. 

Anyway. I finally got to the counter for my turn, and exchanged some pleasantries with the still-pink Pack and Ship Hulk.  We've become good buddies now and he didn't charge me extra for peanuts and bubble wrap.  As I was filling out the shipping label, Cell Phone rushed back into the store and started babbling about losing her car keys.  After giving me a suspicious look (oh yeah, lady, I really wanted to steal your Beemer), she tried to tear the counter display apart.  The Hulk was totally mystified and told her he thought he saw them in her hand.  I suggested he check the box he just sealed up for her, and sure enough, she'd been so busy yammering on the cell phone that she had dropped her own car keys in it.   
  Bad News/Good News:  Jessie and I worked on Drefan for a couple of hours yesterday, but still no luck accessing the Forward Motion chat/conference rooms.  I switched over to Phillip last night but he's not responding either.  It may be AOL, which means getting a new internet browser if I'm ever to go back to moderating the Think Tank.  My apologies to everyone, we'll keep working on it.

Good news for several friends came in from Denver, for which I played Happiness Switchboard Operator.  Everyone wants me to go to RWA National in New York City next year, but I've already decided against it.  My knee situation is getting worse in slow degrees, and the last thing I need to do is wreck my health running around at what will be one of the biggest conferences in RWA history.  My claustraphobic little soul also pales at the thought of all those women, and I'd much rather stay home and write books than do lunches with editors anyway.   
Friday, July 19, 2002
  Hey, Sarah...

Under this carapace, I'm really a puppy

Would you mind keeping your little friends over at your own weblog?  Kathy wants to make a pet out of it. 
  Quote for the Day:  "Someone should put some poison in the punch and thin out the herd." -- SFWA member (who shall remain nameless) referring to the 8K+ members of Romance Writers of America

And this delightful piece of work is also on the board now -- Sharon, I'd stick to bottled water for the duration.

Medical Fact for the Day:  Food Poisoning is a common term for a variety of stomach syndromes usually caused by contaminated foods like eggs, dairy, poultry and other meat products.  Some of the organisms that cause food poisoning:

Staphylococcus -- found in spoiled, high protein foods such as egg salad, ham, and heavy cream.

Bacillus cereus -- commonly found in cereals, vegetables, cooked rice meats and dried foods.

Salmonella -- found in undercooked meats, particularly poultry.

E. coli -- found in most foods, raw vegetables and fruit, and contaminated water.

Entamoeba histolytica and Giardia -- found in contaminated water.

Botulism -- found in improperly canned foods, particularly non-acidic vegetables and canned meats.

Clostridia -- found in meats, gravies, and vegetables.

Shigella -- found in contaminated water, raw vegetables, and high-protein foods.

Symptoms of food poisoning include fever, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting (with associated dehydration), abdominal cramps; all of which can range from mild to violent in intensity.  Diagnosis is made from stool samples, blood tests, and/or food sent for toxin culture.  Patients are put on clear liquid or BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast) diets and given intravenous fluids if needed for severe dehydration.  Some antibiotics are administered, depending on the source of the poisoning.  If Botulism is suspected, a patient must be given Botulism anti-toxin.  In the event of multiple poisonings or potentially lethal outbreaks, health care providers will notify the local authorities to investigate and send a warning out to the general public.

To prevent accidental food poisoning, avoid eating unrefrigerated food, and always wash your hands with anti-bacterial soap during food preparation.  Reheating by cooking does destroy bacteria, but the toxins produced by the organisms remain present in the food.  Avoid restaurants that don't adhere to high standards of cleanliness.  
  It is To Chuckle:  News from the RWA National Convention in Denver -- Books by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller have won first and second place in the PRISM awards (a nice award given out for futuristic romance.)  In case you're scratching your head as to why I'm giggling, Sharon Lee is the new President of SFWA.  When I resigned back in 2000, it was in part because a number of SFWA hard liners told me "there's no room in SFWA for [censored] romance writer."  Well, boys, appears you've got an effing romance writer running the place now.  Hee hee.  
Thursday, July 18, 2002
  TBR Stack:  Gifts of books have arrived in abundance lately, including the new China Mieville which a friend nicely offered to take off my hands before I do something impolite -- like mail it back to China.  After the disappointment with the new Evanovich, I've been reluctant to read any fiction. Still, the top of the stack by the bed consists of Celtic Myths & Legends, a couple of medical journals on craniofacial reconstructive surgery and The Magician by Carla Cook (a birthday gift from a friend, I've never read any of her stuff before.)  You never realize how weird you are until you take a good look at your TBR stack. 
  Government-sponsored Pregnancy:  Japanese Health Minister Chikara Sakaguchi believes fertility treatment should be government funded, to insure his nation's economic future. Since Japan currently has one of the lowest birth rates and highest life expectancy ratios in the world, there are not enough children being born to care for the rapidly ageing population. Other measures being considered to increase the birth rate are monthly allowances for families with children and better child-care facilities for working mothers.  
  Infamy:  We went through e-mail today and weeded out a pile about the Interzone thing; I'm tempted to mail it all to this guy who wrote the article so he can answer it.  Lee is trying to come up with a form response that provides a polite but not-interested stand.  My suggestion of "Not my problem" isn't working for him.  He thinks I should say something vaguely Zen so I can sound reasonably cool and artistically unconcerned.  And I want to hide under the bed.

This is the part of the job I don't like.  The other day I tried to put together a bio for the new Forward Motion site, and cringed so much I gave myself a crick in the neck.  I finally bailed and went with the old bio, which is like two sentences long.  Yes, I'm chicken, bock-bock-bock.  I'm also about as interesting personally as oatmeal, sans the raisins.  It's easy to write what I want here, I've got the proper mindset -- this is my journal, I can say whatever I want.  Advertising myself elsewhere is different.  It feels too intrusive to me. 
  Control Your Temper, Now...  I haven't been reading many blogs outside of my favorites list because of the widespread and ongoing interblog discussion about anger and how we online journalists should censor our less palatable emotions in order to be more effective communicators.  Everytime I hit a blog these days the author is yammering on about control, which they seem to think will get them respect, which means blogging is entering a "literary" phase and you already know how I feel about literati attitudes.  Even though I don't agree with him, Mike Sanders is probably the best of the lot, if you want to get into the whole meaning and purpose deal.

Throughout childhood and during most of my adult life, people have been telling me what's acceptable, and how I never make that list.  I've been told to shut up so many times that you have to use a crow bar to get anything out of me in person.  Writing, on the other hand, is my refuge.  No one thought to censor whatever I was scribbling in all those notebooks as a kid; they couldn't be bothered to find out what I was doing.  As an adult, everyone thought it was an odd hobby, but otherwise continued to ignore it.  That luxurious privacy allowed me to naturally grow as a writer without potentially damaging outside influences.  I think it also helped me avoid that pit of inhibitions everyone else seems to drop in -- like investing and deriving self-esteem from the work.

It's only human to want approval, it's the primal self-preservation instinct in play.  If everyone likes us, we get to stay in the cave with the rest of the tribe and avoid starvation, loneliness, and death.  There is strength in numbers, and we were never meant to be solitary creatures.  If you want to become a pro writer, self-censorship is part of the deal -- publishers have long lists of what you can and can't write.  However, journals are personal, and to me should be places where we can write the truth, warts and all -- not what we think everyone will like or approve of.  Even the journals we display as weblogs in front of the entire world.  
  Love is like a bomb:  We had an impromptu brain storming session over at Holly's last night, and the writing clan helped me settle on the first of the new Onyx standalone pitches.  I get to play with explosives in this one, so I'm a happy girl.  I also got a real charge out of jamming with the writers on the site, and the supportive comments here have me back on track.  I think I'm going to have a lot of fun with this one. 

The other two novels are starting to take nebulous form, too.  I've always wanted to write a book set in Monterey, California, where I lived once back in my nefarious youth, and pay homage to some of the breathtaking spots out there.  The third novel will be a cross-country race against time type of deal, but I'd like to hit the Grand Canyon along the way.  The trick now is to put them together but keep them as standalones.  I figure I'll have the basic plots worked out by Friday, then get the outlines done over the weekend.  Onward and upward.  
  Quote for the Day:  "The writer, making every effort to appear innocent and noble, takes his revenge with the pen; while the murderer, less hypocrtical, takes it with the sword." -- Christopher Spranger

Sure, but we writers don't want to clean up all that blood or hide the bodies.

Medical Fact for the Day:  Spellex Development Online Medical Term Spell Checker -- If you don't want to invest in a medical dictionary, this site has a free medical term spell checker. They also offer a variety of medical and scientific spell checker programs for purchase, but the free service is nice for people who don't use medical terms that often. 
Wednesday, July 17, 2002
  Mothra:  We get some pretty big bugs down here, but this visiting moth was the size of a small bird (that's my hand next to it, for size comparison.)  When we came back home after our walk, it was frantically trying to dash itself against a light globe in the hall, just like any other moth. least, until I think of the size of the holes this baby would eat out of my favorite sweater...

  Testing for Terrorism:  Smallpox vaccine trials began this month, as researchers test the viability of existing vaccine.  What they have on hand is about 85 million doses -- only about a third of what we need to innoculate our current national population of 287.5 million people -- but it's obviously smarter to test old vaccine than throw it out and start from scratch.  Worst case scenario of an unchecked smallpox epidemic in this country could result in the deaths of up to 71 million people, so I think this is an excellent idea.  
  Quote for the Day:  "All I want is a warm bed and a kind word and unlimited power." -- Ashleigh Brilliant

Works for me.

Medical Site for the Day:  The Virtual Hospital -- The University of Iowa created and maintains this interesting site, which offers the following explanation of its mission:

The Virtual Hospital, a digital health sciences library, was founded in 1992 as a public service of The University of Iowa. The Virtual Hospital is designed to lower barriers to accessing authoritative information. The Virtual Hospital is based on the philosophy that learning is an apprenticeship, and that apprentice learners -- health care providers and patients -- need convenient access to authoritative information. The Virtual Hospital delivers information to health care providers at the point-of-care to help them take better care of their patients and delivers information to patients at home to help them live healthier lives.

The Virtual Hospital contains over 350 peer-reviewed books and booklets from 160 authors in 29 departments and 4 colleges on The University of Iowa campus. It receives 6,000,000 hits per month, from 20,000 visitors per day. Approximately 10% of those visitors come from the state of Iowa and 20% of those visitors come from outside the United States.
Tuesday, July 16, 2002
  Shelved:  After discussing my future Gena Hale novels with my agent today, I made the tough decision to shelve "Into the Fire".  It's been morphing way beyond the original premise, and I'm not even sure it's going to be a romance when I finish fine-tuning it.  For those reasons, it won't work for Onyx, so it goes onto a shelf until I have the spare time to play with it.

In doing so I tanked three months of hard work.  Also, my agent asked me to put together three GH standalone novel proposals for my new editor, who starts August 1st. 

This is the first time I've put aside a novel I've written as a pro, and it's pretty humbling.  I'm glad my easily-inflatable ego can still recognize when a novel I've written is unsuitable for the target market, but I feel like I've just blown three months all to hell.  I should have seen this coming; the Gena Hale novels sell because readers like the mix of humor/adventure/danger, and that's the kind of romance I write best.  "Into the Fire" is much more serious and scary, and filled with the kind of nonstop psychological suspense that I love -- as a reader.  It's a solid story, and I will go back to it sometime in the future, but for now -- back to square one.   
  Star Lines Gets Into the Library of Congress:  A few months ago I mentioned I made an application to register my weblog with the Library of Congress via their new National Series Data Program, and today the number (1540-6946) arrived.  This number is almost exactly like an ISBN# and can be obtained free -- you do have to make an application, and send a printed representational copy of your weblog, but otherwise there's no charge.

As a standard numeric identification code, ISSN#'s are used in libraries and many different forms and sources of indexing and other reference materials.  The number allows accurate identification for citing of serials, and is maintained on an international database to provide global access.  
  Soundtrack for Your Head:  Musically I'm almost as retarded as I am with computers, but I had an epiphany last night and decided to brave my Windows Media Player.  Two hours and three ruined CDs later, I successfully burned my first writing mix -- "Music for Novels," with some of the songs that have inspired my best work.  Then I decided to go all the way, got into my publishing software and designed a cover and liner notes about each song and what it meant to me.  The end result is pretty professional, and way cool to play in my truck.  Best part is I did it solo, without any assistance from my more tech-headed and knowledgeable friends.  Next thing you know I'll be writing software...(Not.)

If there are some songs that inspire you, and you have a handy-dandy CD burner, why not put together your own writing mix? Remember that you can't sell or otherwise distribute it -- unless you want to go to jail -- but having one CD with all your inspirational tunes is great fun.  
  Quote for the Day:  "No, I have never been remotely sexually voracious, whatever that means...maybe I'll be sexually voracious next week." -- Alan Rickman

I think I just had a hot flash, reading that.

Medical Fact for the Day:  Menopause, the medical term used for the end of menstruation and natural childbearing capacity of women, is becoming a very hot topic as American women of the post-World War II generation (aka Baby Boomers) are now entering midlife.  Some women go through menopause as early as age 35, while others don't experience it until their late 50s.  Menopause occurs at any age with surgical removal of the ovaries.

And just what are those "hot flashes"?  The most infamous of all menopausal symptoms is actually an alteration in thermal stability, which is maintained by the hypothalamus, a brain region located above the pituitary gland on the brain's floor.  The hypothalamus operates the body's temperature regulation system, and estrogen levels help the hypothalamus function.  During menopause, as the ovaries produce less estrogen, the hypothalamus responds by rapidly changing body temperature.  End result: hot flash, which 85 percent of menopausal women will experience.

Some updates on what's happening with menopause research and therapies:

The Women's Health Initiative, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, is studying 164,500 women of various racial and ethnic backgrounds across the United States.  WHI hopes to discover whether a low-fat diet, hormone replacement therapy, calcium, and vitamin D might prevent heart disease, breast and colorectal cancers, bone fractures, and memory loss commonly associated with the postmenopausal stage in a woman's life.  This study will continue until 2005.  **Update, thanks to Willa -- this study was cancelled last week. (see comments for this post for details.)**

15 to 25 percent of American women undergo hormone replacement therapy during menopause, which replaces the estrogen they need to alleviate symptoms and protect bones.  The FDA has approved four estrogen drugs--Premarin, Estraderm, Estrace, and Ogen--for long-term use specifically to prevent osteoporosis.  Many doctors believe estrogen may help fight heart disease by lowering harmful cholesterol (LDL), raising beneficial cholesterol (HDL), and strengthening the lining of the blood vessels.  Estrogen replacement therapy is not risk-free, however, and some patients develop endometrial cancer, gallbladder disease, and abnormal blood clotting.  The therapy can also aggravate conditions like asthma, epilepsy, migraines, and heart and kidney disease.  It is not known whether estrogen use increases the risk of breast cancer, but regular breast examinations and annual mammograms are imperative for all women in midlife.

Forty years ago our mothers wouldn't say the word out loud, but now menopause is becoming universally accepted by both patients and doctors as a natural process.  If you are entering menopause, be sure to make an appointment to see your OB/GYN health care provider to help you govern this important period in your life.  It's natural, it's inevitable, and it's nothing to be ashamed of.  
Monday, July 15, 2002
  Alan Rickman reads Shakespeare... like everything else he does: beautifully.  If you're a lover of Shakespeare's sonnets, check out the When Love Speaks website, but bring your wallet.  You can hear short sample clips from the album and e-mail a sonnet to someone you love, too. 
  Amazing Birthday:  I just finished printing out the messages and e-cards from everyone, along with answering so many lovely posts on a huge surprise birthday board Holly put up for me over at Forward Motion.  I've cried five times in the last two hours, too.  All this plus my day with the kids -- what more could anyone ask for?  I'll be floating around the house with a silly grin on my face for weeks.

Thank you to everyone who made this the best day I've had all year. 
Sunday, July 14, 2002
  My Birthday Horoscope:  This comes from Lily, and is eerily precise.  I didn't know Nobel and I share the same birthday -- but it figures I'd be born on the same day as the guy who invented dynamite. Thanks Lily!

"Today marks a very significant day, because the Sun is back in Cancer at exactly the place were it was when you were born.  This is the day to sort things out!  Your collections may be gathering dust.  There may be boxes and piles of treasures that need a better place.  Take some time to work on them.  It's also a positive time for just ordinary housekeeping.  The evening, however, is perfect for an excellent meal with close friends and family.  Let them spoil you.  Make sure you spend this day well, since it sets the tone for the year ahead!

What to expect during the next 12 months:

You have a gift for bringing people together.  Whether it is over a wonderful meal or at the bargaining table, your concern for the benefit of all has a powerful influence.  Do not hesitate to be of service when the opportunity arises.  Your lucky days are November 15 and March 13, 2003.  The best days for romance are December 30 and April 14, 2003.  On January 12, 2003 take time to review the goals your are working toward.  It will be most helpul to write a list of plans for the year.  May 13, 2003 is an especially positive day for any sort of group project."

Your lucky charms:  silver and pale violet, moonstone, amber, mushrooms and melons, crabs, chickens and cows, Kwan Yin, the goddess Kali, the tarot card The Chariot, the numbers 4 and 8.

Historical events on your Birthday:
1868 - The tape measure enclosed in a circular case is patented by A.J. Fellows of Connecticut
1867 - Alfred Nobel demonstrates dynamite
1865 - First ascent of Switzerland's Matterhorn
1789 - Beginning of the French Revolution is marked by the storming of the Bastille

Cancer IV sign 22Jun-22Jul [shc] Yr. of horse.
Cancers' sign: Tough armour, soft inside, "scissor hand", defender, thinker, turtle. Year of Sheep in 202 days time.

Famous People born on July 14th:

(1977) Victoria Bernadotte, Princess/future Queen of Sweden
(1943) Lynn Loring, NYC
(1932) Rosey Grier Football player-turned-actor
(1930) Polly Bergen in Tennessee
(1927) John Chancellor, TV journalist (NBC).
(1923) Dale Robertson, actor.
(1918) Ingmar Bergman, Swedish film maker/writer
(1918) Jay Wright Forrester, invented RAM
(1917) Douglas Edwards CBS newscaster
(1913) Gerald R. Ford (R), 41st VP (1973-74), 38th pres (1974-77).
(1912) Woodie Guthrie, US folk singer.
(1911) Terry-Thomas, English actor.
(1906) Tom Carvel, Ice Cream Mogul
(1904) Isaac Bashevis Singer, Yiddish novelist (Enemies) (Nobel 1978).
(1903) Irving Stone, author.
(1833) Alfred Nobel, Swedish dynamite inventor. Founder of Nobel Prize.
(1486) Andrea del Sarto, Italian painter.  
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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