Star Lines
Saturday, July 05, 2003

Happy 11th Birthday Michael!

You were the best early birthday present I ever got. :) 
Friday, July 04, 2003

Happy Independence Day, America!

Old Glory
  Got Cephalopod:  Scientists are still investigating the remains of this creature which washed ashore in Chile last week.  The interesting thing is, it could be the partial remains of a whale who died offshore, or could be a squid.  A squid the size of a school bus.

One of my favorite Ray Harryhausen (spelling?) movies was Mysterious Island, so I'm rooting for it to be a colossal squid.  Hey, since she's such an expert on the species, maybe we should get Margaret Atwood to have a look at it. 
Thursday, July 03, 2003
  Whitehall Present:  I grouse so much about retailers and department stores but today something nice happened, thanks to my shopping habits.

This happened because I don't buy junk jewelry.  I read a line in a book once, in which the protagonist felt it was better to have one really good pair of emerald earrings than a drawer full of cheap costume stuff.  That impressed me to no end, and it's been my policy since I was 17 -- don't buy the cheap stuff; hold out until you can get something real.  As a result I don't have a lot of jewelry, but I really like what I have.

I always shop at my local Whitehall's for jewelry.  Yeah, I know, it's not Tiffany's or Cartier, but they have a nice selection, great sales and I have never waited longer than a minute for service, no matter how I've been dressed (try getting someone in Zales to wait on you if you're in jeans, sneakers, and an Eeyore tshirt. You could wait until cobwebs drape your head.)  I especially like this one sales woman at the store -- she knows the inventory so well that when I tell her a price range she can tell me what she has in stock right off the top of her head.  They also offer repair/resizing/replacement warranties which is a big plus if you're a klutz like me.

A few days ago I got a letter from Whitehall's which I thought was a reminder to have something checked but turned out to be a nice-sized gift certificate for my birthday, good for any regularly priced store item, with their thanks for being a regular customer.  I thought it was some kind of gimmick, but I stopped by the store and my favorite sales woman said, no, it's the real thing.

So customer loyalty does count for something.  Cool. 
  Oprah's Back:  For reasons that probably have something to do with large sums of cash versus any literary compulsion, Oprah Winfrey has restarted her Book Club and put her first selection, John Steinbeck's "East of Eden" back on the bestseller list,  knocking aside Hilary Clinton's Living Herstory History.

John's classic interpretation of the Cain & Abel story from Genesis is an excellent story, btw, one of three Steinbeck novels that I've actually read.  It's also the only one I'd recommend; Grapes of Wrath made me sick, and Of Mice and Men made me sicker.

It's nice that Oprah can boost publisher sales and get people reading, but I assume she still refuses to consider genre fiction for her club.  Thus we'll see another new wave of painfully earnest and extremely boring literary trade paperbacks hit the shelves as publishers battle again to be an Oprah selection.  Like we needed more of that?  
  Comeback:  It would seem Duran Duran has gotten back together and are ready to battle with the likes of Eminem and 50 Cent to win back the legions of fans they once enjoyed back in the 80's.

I don't think I want to watch this; it ain't going to be pretty.

  Got Cephalopod?:  From the July edition of Ansible:

"As Others See Us. As a service to the editor's sanity, further outbreaks of Margaret Atwood have been censored. Oh, all right, just the one. Science fiction, as opposed to what she writes, is distinguished by `talking squids in outer space.' (BBC1 Breakfast News) [NLW]"

This is probably a snark on Atwood's "The Blind Assassin," but it made me feel better.  After all, in my StarDoc series I've got the character of Squilyp, whose head was modelled from Sepioteuthis sepioidea, a fairly common Caribbean reef squid.  Cherijo (fondly) calls him "Squid Lips."

So -- whatever the rest of you slobs out there are doing, at least I'm writing genuine science fiction. :) 
Wednesday, July 02, 2003
  The Other Peterson:  The murder trial of novelist Michael Peterson has begun, and jurors will have to determine if Peterson is guilty of the first degree murder of his wife, Kathleen, who was found dead in their home 18 months ago after what appeared to be a fall down some stairs.

Also mentioned in the article is the fate of the Elizabeth Ratliff, the mother of two daughters whom Michael and Kathleen assumed guardianship of after Ratliff's death.  Like Kathleen, she too died after an apparent fall down some stairs.  A second autopsy, performed after Peterson's arrest, revealed that Elizabeth Ratliff's injuries are consistent with blunt force trauma, and that she was murdered -- shortly after Michael Peterson walked her home, in fact.

This one hits a sore point with me because I researched blunt force trauma murders for "Into the Fire" and bashing in someone's head is not something you can usually conceal by pushing a body down a bunch of stairs.  If Peterson did kill these women, forensics will hopefully nail him -- this time.

I haven't been able to find any links to Peterson's books -- I think he was one of the authors of "Charlie Two Shoes and the Marines of Love Company" -- but I could be wrong.  If you're interested in following the case, this web site has all the links. 
Tuesday, July 01, 2003
  Writer Moment:  A copy of my first novel in hardcover (Blade Dancer) arrived via UPS today; the first chance I've had to see the finished product.  I knew what it was the minute it was in my hands -- mass market paperbacks aren't as stiff or heavy -- but I didn't open it right away.  I knew I needed some private time to do it.  So I put it aside and waited until the kids went to karate, and only then sat down and opened the package:

The Jolt

I just sat for a long time and looked at it a lot.  Under the book jacket it's all black and gray with silver lettering on the spine.  The paper they use for the pages is heavy and smooth; nothing like my paperbacks.  Heavy, solid, unyielding -- all very official and serious.  I think that was my first thought -- having a book in hardcover is some serious business.

When I held my first book in print, I could not in any way connect myself with the object itself for a few days.  Sure, it had my name on it, and my words filling the pages, but it was so different from the stories floating around in my head.  I think every new author looks at the first book and thinks, God, did I do that?  And then they wander around in disbelief for awhile.

Not this time.  I fought for this book.  I poured so much into it that I couldn't know it better, even if you tattooed the words all over me.  Some writers say it's only luck of the draw which book makes it into hardcover first, but I pushed as hard and as far as I could to make sure it would be this one.

And here it is.  Silent and darkly beautiful and serious business.  And it's mine.  
  Everbody:  Go and read Kane's latest post, it's marvelous. 
  Interesting:  I was hoping for Psalms, but okay. :)

You are Ephesians
You are Ephesians.

Which book of the Bible are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

This is my favorite verse from Ephesians.
  Conflicting Signals:  First Lady Laura Bush is sending out confusing vibes with her new TV push for children's books (yay) via AmazINGMORonS (boo, hiss).  Apparently she's short on cash too, as she had one of her staff return the book she reviewed on TV to the store where they purchased it.  Imagine the look on the clerk's face when the staffer said: "Uh, great book, but the First Lady wants a refund."  
Monday, June 30, 2003
  Fractal Planets:  I can't do worlds as cool as Holly's Korre, but I often use Ed Hynan's marvelous fractal planet generator to come up with basic maps.  This morning I was trying to work out the math for Akkabarr and Mike got interested in it, so I let him play with the settings.  He came up with this:

Mike's Planet 
Sunday, June 29, 2003
  United We Stand? Or Stomp?  Ever since the Supreme Court had a bright moment and banned sodomy laws, conservative bigots like Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist are having hysterics over the possible ripples leading to legalization of same-sex marriages in the U.S.

Says Bill: "I very much feel that marriage is a sacrament, and that sacrament should extend and can extend to that legal entity of a union between — what is traditionally in our Western values has been defined — as between a man and a woman."

I'm so glad I have Senator Frist to police my love life, aren't you?

I think when debating the same-sex marriage ban being proposed, our officials should consider some of the other, fine traditions in this country.  Traditionally African-Americans were considered/treated no better than animals, children could be worked to death in mills, mines and factories, and women were denied many of the most basic civil rights.  Now, Bill may have very fond memories of these quaint and charming traditions, but I think the rest of us are kind of glad they're off the books.

Also, let's look at the word Bill throws around so casually: sacrament.  The good senator is a Presbyterian, so he may not know that sacraments are outward signs of inward grace, i.e. "Symbolum rei sacrae, et invisibilis gratiae forma visibilis, sanctificandi vim habens" -- (translation: A symbol of something sacred, a visible form of invisible grace, having the power of sanctifying.)  And last time I checked, what is sacred cannot be decided by one person, one political party, or one religion.  In this country, we are given the freedom to decide for ourselves what is or is not sacred.  The whole point of America is that no one can control or dictate by law what we believe.

Finally, let's look really hard at what the issue is about: love.  If two adults love each other, and they want to make a legal commitment to celebrate that love, and they don't share a common gene pool, how is this a problem?  If I wanted to get married again (okay, stretch the imagination here; I might go for #3) I certainly wouldn't want the government telling me who I can or can't take to the altar.  It's none of their damn business who I fall in love with and who I want to spend my life with, and it never will be.

AOL had been carrying the photo of the two gentlemen who just got married up in Canada.  I can't believe anyone could look at that couple and see a pair of criminals plotting to undermine the moral integrity of a country.  They're just two people in love.  Of all the things we could outlaw, please, not this. 
Adventures at the KeyBoard

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