Friday, December 09, 2005

I'm trying to get the required IRS wording typed into the articles of incorporation. He's crouched under my legs next to the couch and grabs at... pen, coffee table, pen, fingers, de-sissalled scratch ball, coffee table leg, blanket, coffee table corner, de-sissalled ball, wrapper, jean clad knee, network cable, paper recycling bag, pen, couch arm, chair arm, human arm, bottom of couch, pen, knee, sweater button, pen... He looks up mouth opening and closing like a guppy. He must chew something. It starts all over again. And then there's me, "No, no, no, no, ouch, no, no, no, no, where did you get that?, no, no, no, where's the kitty?"

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

It's been a busy couple of weeks but when I try to list what I accomplished the list is very short. Everyone else has already blogged about Thanksgiving in Kentucky. It already seems so long ago. This week I've been working on a business plan and the official paperwork for the new nonprofit as well as doing a lot of e-mail networking with digital divide and computer refurbishing groups. I can't decide on a name. I need to decide soon as in the next two days. This moments leading choice is Computer Reuse Project.

Puppy Update or Puppies have two speeds - stopped and hyperdrive
Despite the fact that the puppy was able to circumvent the gate system we instituted while we were away for Thanksgiving, the pet sitter was able to contain the damage to our livingroom. We lost one of the books we brought back from World Fantasy but not one we were going to read, at least not unless I got desparate which does happen. We also lost one of the corners on our coffee table. I can't wait until the chewing period is over. The puppy had his vaccinations last week and promptly vomitted in the car on the way home. He also peed all over the floor in the vet's reception area. We had two other field trips, one to the pet place so I could get him a new collar (he's already outgrown the one he came with) and he peed all over the floor. The other trip was to my parents' house to get their new internet connection going. He vomitted in the car and then peed and pooped on their carpet. Cute as he is, he is not quite ready for social outings. We are now allowed to take him outside the yard on walks but we are not allowed to let him have contact with other dogs until after his booster shots next week. In the meantime, he pounds out his energy on the cats. I was a little worried about how rough he was on our oldest cat. It's not uncommon to see him pulling the cat across the floor by the skin of one cheek or his tail while the cat makes these unholy agony noises. I found someone else had posted on one of the discussion boards on puppy behavior that her dog and cat play the same way. She has decided that since the cat not only doesn't run away but actually solicits the fighting, the noise is just an act. I've come to the same decision.

'Rents come into the twentieth century
Last week, I helped my dad pick out their first home computer and set it up for them. They both have e-mail addresses which they didn't have since they retired in January. I've been doing some on-the-phone tech support as my dad tries to remember everything he's forgotten how to do during the past year. I remember him saying that he didn't miss e-mail at all this past spring. You forget how fast it piles up and how much junk people send you when you don't have it. That may be true, but isn't it annoying when someone doesn't have it?

Setting up the internet and running all the updates took a lot longer than we planned and I was driving home at 12:30 that night. The temperature sign right by the freeway entrance said it was 4 degrees. All that day, I'd had to scrape ice off the inside of the car windows. That cold. We were cozy driving home, though, since I'd let the car warm up before getting in with the dog. The air was hazy and it made some of the city lights weird. They went up straight into the air like transport beams or some other sci-fi special effect and danced up there like the Northern Lights. For a second I thought that was what they were since they appear to the north. Very lovely.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Snow puppy - 1 Humans - 0

We got our first snow in the late evening a couple days ago. I missed the whole puppy discovers snow thing since Alan took Gambit out then. By the next walk, snow was no big thing, just something you have to dig your nose into to get to the good scents. Minnesota weather is a malicious thing -- zooming between extremes without any warning. This week we went from rain and a few days when I was out with just a sweater to yesterday's high of 5 above, low of 5 below. The result is grumpy humans never warming up with frozen fingers from scraping off hard, hard ice on windshields. What happened to our starter winter -- you know, the light sweet snow that doesn't stay and brushes right off the car? So, humans bundled up like "gangsta eskimos" (Thanks Haddayr!) and still cold while puppies run around like it's eighty degrees out.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Meghan has started another discussion of gender inequity in the genre. It reminded me of a discussion I had at Wiscon last spring. Jenn asked if I had experienced any sexism as a co-editor for the Rabid Transit series. It hasn't been a lot but there have been a few times when the other editors were mentioned and I was forgotten. She said Heather had experienced some of that as co-editor of Flytrap. I don't know if Gwenda's had the same experience with Say... It's hard to tell how much of it is because my co-editors have a lot more stories published than I do, but I do think sexism has been part of it. It's even happened at Wiscon which is a little haven of feminism in a wider world of sexism. I've been groped at a SF conference before but I think the editor stuff bothered me more. The groping was just one boorish man.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

I can't believe it's already Saturday. The week went by in a blur and I misplaced a day somewhere around Wednesday. Gambit seems completely recovered and has been a huge handfull. Potty training is progressing nicely. Most of my time with him is spent keeping him from chewing on the coffee table, other furniture and us or pulling things like shoes, CDs cases, pencils and pillows out of his mouth. I bought him a puppy sampler of Nylabone products and he tore through the first two in no time at all. I've given him the last bone, a more durable chicken flavored one, about a month early on their timeline. I guess he's what they call a "strong chewer." Has anyoned tried those freezable chew toys for teething puppies? Any other suggestions?

The two scaredy cats are around on a regular basis now. One keeps his distance and for some reason the puppy does too. The other one has had a few cute touching noses moments, always from a safe height. As the previous baby of the family, she feels entitled to be the recipient of love and affection and the puppy doesn't quite get that. The oldest cat, Tora, and the puppy have started wrestling together, accompanied by growls, hisses and much thumping. Despite the hisses, the cat doesn't move away and most of the time seems to be the instigator. Tora is much gentler with the puppy than he is in return. I keep hoping Tora will give him a good whack just to show him who's the boss and get him to be a little less nippy in their play. It hasn't happened, yet. The cat must like it. It was the other way around when we had our 110 lb. dog, Burt. The cat would sit on something at head height for the dog and they'd play that way. The cat never seemed to hoold back with whapping with his claws but the dog never closed his jaws too far when snapping back.

There's an interesting article in the LA Times about the battle between Wal-Mart and its foes for churches.

Monday, November 07, 2005

We got back from Madison and World Fantasy last night, exhausted but happy. Gambit circumvented our safety gate the very first day and managed to either get over or under the gate at all the different heights that Lynn, our pet sitter, tried. I'm guessing he stayed confined before we left because he wasn't feeling very well. He did only very minor damage and Lynn swept the new areas to get anything loose up out of his reach. He's sleeping at my feet right now and isn't coughing anymore. Last night we got to see him gently nibble our oldest cat's ears and neck. Tora, a neutered male, is a terror most of the time but has always been incredibly caring and gentle with kittens. He's showing the same affection and patience with the puppy who is slightly larger and much wilder than he is. He was the one who missed our old dog the most and I've been able to take him off the kitty prozac since the puppy came. No more cats fighting.

Little Con Report - Con Catchwords: Hey-o, Dragon Tits, Drive-by workshop gang signs, and Drunkomancy

Now the convention was a lot of fun as always but you were all missed terribly. Madison is just not the same without you. You know who you are. Big smooch!

I spent most of the convention in a fog that only lifted the very last day. On Thursday, we got into our room around midnight and I went right to bed. Any dreams of catching up on my puppy-deprived sleep dimmed each morning when I woke up way before I planned to. It did allow me to make the only two panels I attended the whole weekend on Friday. My favorite of the two panels was the Fantasy in Unexpected Places panel moderated by Jeff Vandermeer with Kelly Link, Matt Cheney (filling in for Dora Goss who arrived the next day), Graham Joyce and Carol Emshwiller. Everyone was wonderfully witty and the ninety minutes never dragged. The panel explored "fringe fantasy" versus the mainstream fantasy epic model and why the panelists wrote what they did. Whether they were writing in response to the mainstream of fantasy publishing or mainstream realism or because they couldn't write any other way, all said fantasy allowed an author to get at a truth that mimetic fiction didn't.

Friday had the added surprise of finding Kelly Everding and Eric Lorberer from Rain Taxi visiting because so many friends were in town. In one of those small world kinds of things, Rudi Dornemann who has the wonderful story, "The Sky Green Box" in this issue of Rabid Transit, Menagerie, went to graduate school at University of Massachusetts, Amherst with Kelly and Eric.

We spent most of the evening in the lounge outside the Governor's Club bar visiting with friends. I got to meet Hal Duncan from the Infernokrusher discussions (I was just a bystander) and for the first time, at least the first time while sensible, really got to talk with Hannah Bowen and Meghan McCarron. I ended up that night sipping wonderful homebrewed cider at the West Coast Indie Press Posse and Scribe Agency party and hanging with Brett Cox and Robert Wexler. Alan and I went to bed early for us around 2 a.m. Alan had picked up Margo Lanagan's fantastic World Fantasy Award winning Black Juice and I was able to read and be blown away by the World Fantasy Award winning, "Singing My Sister Down," that night before falling to sleep.

Saturday, I spent most of the day sitting and letting the world come to me. First, to relieve Midori Snyder for lunch at the Endicott Studios table, later at the Small Beer Press dealer's table and finally at the sales table at the Got 'Zine party we co-hosted with Small Beer, Electric Velocipede and Trunk Stories. It was about all my little mind could handle and I like nothing better than meeting interesting new people and trying to introduce them to books I love. We had so much help with set-up and clean up that it wasn't the chore a party usually is. Karen Meisner made a much needed appearance and all was well with the world.

Sunday, David Moles arranged a casual reading for Twenty Epics with Dave Schwartz, Alan and Meghan and then we had the banquet. We don't normally go to the banquet but must have been feeling flush when we registered. It was totally worth it, if only to hear Peter Straub's strange, convoluted and funny talk confirming that there are secrets that writers become privvy to as they ascend to fame. He said he was at level 5 and put Kelly at the top at level 11 and rising. It wasn't a surprise as we've all always known that she has the secrets of the universe in addition to a thorough knowledge of zombies.

This convention more than any other was relaxed but I also felt like I was constantly passing people I wanted to talk to but was already deep in conversation with someone else and vice versa. I missed every reading I wanted to go to except my husband's. But, World Fantasy is all about books and with books we came home. On my reading stack with Black Juice are: Spirits Unwrapped edited by Daniel Braum with stories by Rudi Dornemann and Catherine Dybiec Holm amongst others, the premier issue of Fantasy Magazine from Prime Books with a great story by Jeff Ford - the only one I've read in the magazine so far - and a large number of paperbacks and 'zines. Oh and the forthcoming books excerpt sampler which must be read, preferably aloud, to be believed.

I got up early this morning to let the pooch out and pulled a sweatshirt from my still packed bag. It wasn't until I got outside that I realized the sweatshirt had sat against my jeans from Saturday night. That horrible stale beer smell was coming from the Capitol Amber ale I had spilled down my leg while moving the kegs at the end of the party.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Oh, and last night Alan and I watched this week's Rome. WTF?! Not where we thought things were going that's for sure.
Last night, I finished reading Rikki Ducornet's "Entering Fire," a wonderful bargain from the Rain Taxi used book sale at the Minnesota Book Fest. I first encountered Ducornet and her writing a few years ago at a Rain Taxi sponsored reading for "The Fanmaker's Inquisition." Yay all around for Rain Taxi! While I grew up in a family of readers, most of my parent's reading came from the paperback shelves at the local library or from books passed among friends. I've always been a fast reader and they didn't believe in limiting what I could read, so I was often scrounging their books or whatever was left in the bookshelf at our cabin for more reading. I even confess to the blasphemy of reading some of the Reader's Digest condensed books that my grandparents donated to the book shelf. I remember being given nightmares by Nabokov's "Pale Fire" and going through a British Raj stage inspired by Kaye's "The Far Pavilions" but those books were few and far between and most of the reading was very forgettable. My grandfather fed me SF classics. Mac, who owned and watched over the land my parents bought for their cabin, passed me spy novels. On my own, I moved from the SF shelves in the children's section of the library to the mysteries and then onto the adult mystery and horror sections. Rikki Ducornet is too young to have been a childhood influence on me but I wonder what my writing would be like if more of those paperbacks had been classics or by authors like Borges or Nabokov (if I hadn't been so traumatized by my early introduction.) In college, I tried to remedy my lack of education by reading all of the Best American Short Stories editions going back to the beginning in 1915 and the O. Henry anthologies which started not long after that. Yay Grinnell College for having a complete set! I tracked down more work from the authors I liked. That's how I first encountered Eudora Welty who's probably had as much of an influence on me as anybody. All of these musings came out of reading Ducornet, who always makes me think, "Wow, I wish I could write like that."
Last night, every once and a while Gambit started coughing with a horrible retching sound. I worried all night with images of a splinter or something else stuck in his throat. At one point yesterday I caught the little critter with a couple pieces of wood in his mouth. I swear he was sitting right underneath me the whole time. I still haven't found which piece of furniture they came from. The shelter doesn't open until noon so I took him into our own vet at 9 a.m. I love our vet. Anyway, he has a respiratory infection and after he received a shot, we returned laiden with anti-biotics and a gentle canned food to ease his sore throat. He coughed and retched all the way home, so I guess it was going to get a lot worse. Just after we got home, the vet's office called to let us know he also has some kind of protozoan parasite. He'd been put on de-worming medicine right after he'd been picked up but this one must have been too tough. All of this is pretty normal for a puppy that's been through what he'd been through. The vet warned us to keep him home and away from other dogs until his immune system rebounds. We've been debating what to do with him while we're at World Fantasy this weekend. We'd thought about waiting until after this weekend to get him but the shelter staff said he'd be better with us even if we left for a few days, so we took him. We have a great pet sitter and had already lined her up to come in as often as the puppy needed while we're gone. We had decided it would be less stressful than moving him to someone else's house for just three days. Now, I'm tempted to stay home to take care of him.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Alan had to work late tonight, so I'm sticking with TV in the livingroom to be able to answer the door for trick-or-treaters. We've had more kids than we had last year and some pretty good costumes. For the second year in a row, I had two older guys at the door not even bothering to wear costumes. I don't think I'd find the candy was worth the humiliation. The puppy, I suppose I should start referring to him by his name now, Gambit, is asleep on my foot in between bouts of hyper-excitement at the door. A very pleasant surprise today was that after his first bath with us, Gambit now smells like the "Pat the Bunny" book my grandparents had for when we visited. That powdery, gentle scent engenders so many nice, cozy memory feelings.
Well, we decided on a name for the puppy, Gambit -- appropriate in so many ways. I had to make an emergency run to the pet supply place for chew toys this morning, after tiring of continuing efforts to keep puppy teeth off the legs and edges of our coffee table and other not so toothsome places. I gave the puppy his puppy pacifier and he promptly fell asleep. I also learned that catnip is enough to make our "piggy" cat overcome her fear of the puppy. Gluttony always wins in the end.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Miracle of Puppy Resiliency

Wow, I actually found our foster puppy on the rescue website after just one search and scanning a few pages. It gives me hope that owners trying to find their animals won't have too much trouble if they've been entered in the system. Here's his page. He's much cuter in person. We had a good day today , especially considering where we started. Wednesday evening, I carried him out of the shelter and put him on the ground to do his thing before our half hour drive home. He immediately scrambled under a nearby truck and then my car and tried, almost successfully, to buck out of his collar and off the leash. Anyone who's ever experienced this with a dog that isn't their own knows how scary that bucking movement can be. Pictures of someone else's pet splattered across a busy road fly through your mind as you try to calm the animal down and get them back inside. I had flashbacks to my days walking dogs at the Minneapolis Animal Shelter. The puppy ended up back in my arms and calmer, although I got a nice warm trail of puppy pee down my leg. I wasn't really thinking that I'd have a dog in the car with me on the way home so I didn't even have a blanket for the back seat. About five minutes into our half hour drive, the aroma of puppy poop permeated the car. I blocked the image from my mind and kept up a little one sided dialogue with him all the way home. The scene when I opened the door to the back seat was so much worse than I ever imagined: seat belts, crevises, cushions, windows not to mention the puppy himself. He spent most of Thursday staying in the bedroom his crate with occassional "nature calls" outings to the nearby bathroom where a kitty litter box resides. I promptly papered the floor with newspaper and we had a good solution for the rest of our floors until we got him potty-trained. Whenever Alan and I were in the room or nearby, he was scrunched tight against the back of the crate. Any time our oldest cat, Tora, came into sight, he growled. Our one trip outside had him hiding against the side of the house under a bush shaking. They warned me that he might not eat for a couple days, but his appetite won out and he ate heartily from the very beginning. He'd let us pet him inside his crate but his little heart was beating overtime. By Friday, he'd come out of the bedroom when we were in the living, get our attention and then scramble back into crate. He played with his new toys that Alan picked up. He ventured out into the livingroom and kitchen following the cat but scrambled back at the smallest sound or movement. Trips outside were the same. Saturday, he was spending more time outside the bedroom when we were around. He and the cat started playing. The cat would hide in a paper grocery bag on its side on the floor and the puppy would get very excited and stick his nose in after him. He looked very disappointed later when the bag was empty and he stuck his head in repeatedly and didn't find a kitty. Puppy containment got much easier with the addition of two safety gates. Our two fraidy cats seem to appreciate the introduction of puppy-free zones, although we still only see them around feeding times. Today, during our trips outside, we ventured into the wider sea of creeping charlie that makes up our side yard and he even flopped contentedly on his side for us to rub his tummy. Right now, he's snoozing on a nest of towels I have for him by the living room couch. So, we may be able to start basic training much sooner than I thought we would, we only require a name. He was Jordan at the shelter but we've been invited to give him a new one. We've tried a baby name book I got in high school for naming characters and Louisiana and cajun names. Alan's leaving it up to me, although he has veto power. We've come up with a shortlist of Chase and Riddick and Dustin (which means "of the storm") and Tristan. I'm not thrilled with any of them. I promised I'd have one tonight, so I'd better get back to it.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

So what's been happening the past month?

BIG NEWS: Since Wednesday evening, we are hosting a refugee from Hurricane Katrina. Picture coming soon. A 12 week old shepherd (mix?) or an Australian cattle dog. Not sure which. The little guy is traumatized and very shy. Our goal as foster parents is to get him socialized and give him a home until his family claims him or he's able to be adopted. He's already bonded with our oldest cat -- the one who missed our old dog the most. The other two have been MIA except for feeding time.

Huge, 50 year old maple next to our house brought down and chopped up over the last four days. Very sad -- the oldest tree on our lot -- first tree my grandparents planted -- but splitting down the middle. It took three and a half days and two people and two chainsaws. Saved us $2,500 doing it ourselves. Thank goodness for dads who are retired and have power tools. We now have sun where none was found before and a lot more yard. I'm totally in love with his electric 2.5 amp chainsaw.

The Twin Cities Book Fest. Always fun to catch up with the Rain Taxi and Minnesota literary crowd. We were there armed with 'zines and chapbooks. Sales were up from last year. Wish there were more participants for the Twin City genre scene, though.

A trip to Fargo/Moorhead with my dad for a family wedding and time to tour Moorhead to see my dad's old house and neighborhood.

A visit to The Wildcat Sanctuary to meet with Executive Director Tammy Quist, to see if there was any way I could help and to trade resources. We may need to start a support group for directors of nonprofits who are trying to go from volunteer to paid staff. I felt very privileged to be able to tour the sanctuary with her since it's closed to the public for the cats' sakes. So many sad stories. I can't believe people take these wild animals for pets. It's a labor of love for Tammy and has consumed her whole life. They have a great website. You should visit it. As the only wildcat sanctuary in the upper midwest, she deserves our support.

I finished a story! After battling through a year of frequent bouts of writing but not finishing anything/not writing, I have completed a novella. Feels very good.

More basement stuff but we're all getting bored of that. I'll have pictures for comments soon.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

I had to take a shudder break from the basement. Shudder as in, "Today I found the spider motherload." One small shelf containing a couple huge, green, 60s or 70s era ashtrays, some old idenitfiable cans of paint, a few old canning jars, a few pots, a box that used to contain one of those single-hand springy things for building grip which now contained numerous small unidentifiable items, a piece of driftwood, a tea can containing beads and four huge spiders and a lot of little ones. There were also a number of spider carcasses -- possible victims of cannibalism? Two of the cats sat watching me from the stairs but provided no help. They've all been a little crazy since the weather changed. Cold weather seems to bring out the crazies. Our youngest has been on a particular terror and has broken two wedding gifts, a glass and a plate in the past week. One of the wedding gifts is completely fixable just requiring a little regluing of the frame. The other was a chalice or cup of blessings given to us by the pastor who married us. She held it up during the ceremony and had people suggest things to fill it for a good marriage. I was a little freaked out when it first broke thinking, "What does this bode for the future?" It was on the very top shelf pushed back from the edge for safekeeping. We still remember the contents so maybe we can replace it. The youngest cat is our little piggy. She's athletic and likes getting up high at times but is a bit clumsy and her extra weight -- despite her continuing diet -- doesn't help. Back to work now, I'm no longer feelings things running up and down inside my clothing.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Yuck! All the spiders driven out of the refinished part of the basement have taken up residence in other parts. I went to throw some laundry in the washer and got my head caught in a web akin to those John Goodman battled. I, too was creeped out by the movie. Heck, I was creeped out by the giant spider episode of Gilligan's Island as a child. Tomorrow, I bring out the big guns -- the vacuum cleaner with long tube attachments.

I was going to go into a long description of doing the floors just in case someone else wants to tackle a similar project someday. I don't have the energy to write about it today. I spent most of the day washing awful smelling, musty wooden furniture with a 50% bleach mixture someone recommended for removing the smell. It seems to have helped quite a bit and I may be able to donate the pieces in question after all. I still have a drawer stuck in one of the dressers but haven't given up on getting it loose, yet. I need to get it out of our house so I have room to work. Also - ONE PUMP ORGAN FREE TO A GOOD HOME IF YOU COME GET IT. It was on the dry side of the basement and shouldn't be as musty.

Gwenda wanted someone to start talking about Serenity. No spoilers here. Alan and I went to see it Saturday. It was a lot of fun and scary and sad. My need for more Firefly has only grown, however, so there'd better be a sequel. One review had said it felt more like a series of episodes strung together rather than a movie. I thought the story line tied together well following the advertised theme of River. Although it was brutal, I liked the gritty reality of the fight scenes. There will have to be a sequel since we need to see what happens in the AFTERMATH. I'd be really interested in hearing what someone who hadn't watched the series thought of it.

Is anyone else watching Rome on HBO? Alan and I have become hooked on it. I like it almost as much as I like Deadwood. It's one of the few shows that I want to watch the episode again to see what I missed before the next one appears. This last episode, wow.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

So, I've been off work for over a month. I've been working hard, physically, but another part of me feels like I've been mentally wallowing a bit. Well maybe not wallowing but possibly hiding from reality. I had lunch with a former co-worker this week and things are changing for the better at my old job. I had to ask myself if I should have stuck it out. At this point, I have to say I'm happy with my chosen path. I've decided to start a nonprofit to refurbish donated PCs for low-income families. I'm still looking for a good name for it, if anyone has any ideas. Some names we've tried Technology Access Project (TAP) and assorted variations of Bridging the Digital Divide. To keep some income flowing in, I'll do some consulting IT/Communications and possibly find a part-time job, too.

Basement Fix-up Part One: Asbestos
I've been working on our basement so I can set up an office and workshop down there. It's taken so much longer than I thought it would. I've finished about a third of the room which is where the office and workshop will be as well as the lone toilet my grandparents installed. So much stuff! So much more to do! We just got the results of the materials I sent for asbestos testing. The floor tile which covers part of the basement near the washer and dryer came back clear, but fifteen percent of the pipe wrap is asbestos. The tile was the main concern since most tile and mastic back then had asbestos. The pipe wrap which is black, thick and tough, was an afterthought as they included two sample bags with the test kit. It follows a pipe from the meter all along the wall above where I'll be working. A couple parts of it have slightly lifted from the pipe. I think I'll be able to get by covering it with a protective wrap and not removing it. The tiles would have been tougher since some of them are broken and coming up off the floor. They would have had to been removed. Old houses. There's always something.

Decimating Prime Spider Habitat
We bought my grandparent's house which was very far from being empty when we moved in. We managed after a few months of living in the house to move most of their stuff out of the upstairs rooms. Some of it was given away immediately and some was moved to the basement to be sorted later. The basement and then garage filled so quickly, we had to stop until we had a garage sale last summer. We didn't get rid of much stuff and I never really had time to dig in to the basement until now. I've been spending most of my time off down there. It took me a couple weeks just to clean out about a third of it. It's enough space to set up my office and a work area for the computers. I don't think I've ever seen so many spiders in my entire life. We had pale ones and black ones and red ones and taupe ones and little, teeny ones and big fat ones. Because this is Minnesota, most were on the smaller side. One of the main benefits of getting a hard freeze each winter is that bug size is limited up here. The most notable experience occurred when I was moving a box and a marble rolled out. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a blur streaking across the floor and the marble stopped dead. A brown spider, not super huge but big enough to give me pause, was wrapped around the marble. I eyed it nervously as I moved the box away and then when I got back it was gone. I knew I'd have to face it eventually. There were two dressers and a couple of boxes left of the section before I was done. I occassionally saw him watching me from under one of the dressers but had many other spiders and webs to deal with before him. An old fashioned broom is a wonderful web fighting utensil. Sweep up the web some times complete with spider, run out the garage and shake the broom. Again and again and again. Later that week, I was moving another box and I felt that light tracing of furry feet scurrying down my arm and thankfully, off my leg onto the floor. Lacking other cover, he hid in the cap of a can of spray paint. I slammed a can of paint down on top of it and took the whole thing carefully outside where I deposited him on the lawn to continue his contribution to pest control. I was curious so I looked the critter up online. It seems he was a wolf spider which is a hunting spider. Hunting spiders don't use webs to catch their food which explains the whole marble thing. People used to believe they hunted in packs which is where they got their name. There are a couple of short articles by Kevin Strauss on wolf spiders on the site, if anyone is interested: Wolf Spiders Seek Warm Homes and Bugs in Winter.

Next: Basement Fix-up Part Two - How Do You Make Cement Floors and Block Walls Cozy?

Friday, August 19, 2005

Not much to post. My first week of vacation was spent sick and in pain (which has mostly passed.) This week was spent trying to catch up on everything I was supposed to do last week while still trying to take it easy. Not much to post about although I did a lot of reading and should probably some short reviews. Tonight I was catching up on people's blogs and searching the IMDB for random things. We had on the movie Ghost Ship. Neither of us were watching it closely - it was more background noise. (It was the presence of Eomer in the movie that started the whole IMDB thing. Next year, he'll be starring in a movie called Outlander - no not the Diana Gabaldon one - which has aliens and vikings. With pirates, Antonio Banderas, sword fighting, and witty repartee, these are some of my favorite things in movies. Together, they could be really, really bad or this can be the most awesome movie ever. I'd give the better odds to the bad end of things. Still, he scowls his way through movies better than anyone else out there right now. If you don't believe me, take another look at LOTR II and III and Chronicles of Riddick.) Anyway, another search turned up something disturbing, something I would have questioned I really saw if Alan hadn't also witnessed. Now we can't reproduce it. Maybe you can. Here's the link. Let me know if you see it, too.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

This blog has always been a perfect mirror of my work life. When I got too busy or stressed about work, I'd stop blogging. When things were fairly smooth, I'd write. After 11 years with same nonprofit, I gave two weeks notice last Friday. It was one of the hardest decisions I've ever made and there will be times that I will regret it, I'm sure. I mostly felt relief when I finally decided and that alone tells me it is the right thing.

The thing everyone asks is, "What's next?" I DON'T KNOW! Various things have been winging away inside my head;try to pick up some freelance writing work, start a consulting business focusing on small business and nonprofit IT and communication needs, temp work while I decide what to do, start a nonprofit to refurbish donated computers for low income people - I never had enough time for this in my current job, try the corporate side and make a little more money...

In the meantime, I'm going to take a couple of well-earned vacation weeks and do some writing, gardening and work on our house. Mostly I'll just veg out a little - that and stay away from our Gamecube - I've been blowing way too much time trying to zone out after work playing Mario Sunshine lately.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

So, my blog template finally imploded. Okay, it's been imploding for a while. I finally got a chance to put up a quick fix. It was a good thing to work on while watching Purple Rain for about the milliionth time. Alan had never seen it -- another sign of our generation gap -- and somehow I got sucked in during a break from weeding. The music does bring back memories. One of the strongest memories was from my high school civics class. The class itself was boring and was made worse by the teacher's voice which droned on and on in a deep monotone as he repeated everything we had just read from the textbook. One of my friends, Dave was listening to his headphones, a very common thing in a class where a couple people actually spread out on the floor under their desks and slept during class on a regular basis. Class was going along normally and Dave broke the silence with a very loud, "Ooooey, oooey, ooo," complete with Tyme-like arm flapping. When he realized what he'd done, he slunk down in his chair and removed his headphones. The teacher hardly missed a beat. Now, back to weeding.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Via PNN Online

Oxford University Press
has teamed up with Book Aid International to provide a $10 rebate on the new Oxford American Dictionary, Second Edition, if you donate your old dictionary to charities in the poorest English speaking countries. The deal includes a postage paid mailing label. For more details see their website at: NOAD Rebate Program

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Wiscon as usual was lovely, far too quick and way too short/just the perfect length.

I woke with a sore throat this morning which is a small price to pay for the activities that filled the last five days. I've had a slightly different Wiscon since I've become involved with the organizational side of things. It's busier but no less enjoyable. I cut back even further this year by not signing up for panels or readings but things seemed to stay just as busy. A lot of the Wiscon concom completely give up their lives for the span of the con to make it work. To those of us on the outside it seems so seamless but it isn't.

Lots of highlights, too many to count, but here are a few:

Singing along to karaoke Centerfold by J. Giels Band with Cliff

Sushi, twice, with Karen

Visiting with Jeremiah and Par, though my time with them was way too short

Sharing stories of convention geeky shyness - you know those times when you find yourself alone and panic and think that no one likes you, knows you, wants to hang with you..

Hanging with Elad and hearing about his life and girlfriend

Seeing Maureen McHugh - actually, walking right past her, gorgeous but hard to recognize with her temporary straight hair - and Bob again

Meeting people at packet stuffing and registration

Finding out that David Moles had been in Tokyo at the same time I was, although he was in high school and I was in college. It was an amazing moment to find we'd both found the best two places for American style burgers, the well-known Hard Rock and lesser known, Homeworks.

Lots of great advice on pregnancy, motherhood, etc. from all the wonderful new mom authors at the con - and no this is not a way to say that I'm pregnant. Sorry Mom and Dad.

You've got to check out the link below to Technorati's Wiscon tag page and check out the photos. There's the one of the cutest photos ever of Alan and the much cuter Meghan McCarron (sp?)

I love hosting the party at Wiscon. Over the past few years, we've kept Wiscon dancing and for the past two proved that a SF convention can handle karaoke. This year, the Speculative Literature Foundation was a co-sponsor and we had a great turn-out. While we were cleaning up and shooing people out of the suite at the end of the party this year (at 3:15 a.m. ) the con party organizers, Scott and Jane, mentioned the possibility of moving the party to the ballroom next year which would allow later nights, less crowding and more room for socializing and watching. We'd be able to bring our beer and cider and other refreshments although there might be a corkage fee. We'd have an actual dance floor and might be able to bring in a real DJ and equipment. All of these are big plusses. The thought of moving off of the party floor makes me panic a bit, though, since so many of the people hang out in the hall outside the party at least part of the time and come and go from other parties. Would anyone come see us downstairs? If anyone reads this, let me know what you think.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Dang! Another month had passed...

  1. The person (or persons) who passed the baton to you.
  2. Total volume of music files on your computer.
    Since going through 2 hard drives in short succession earlier this year we are down to nothing. I don't even have the punk kitties from Rathergood anymore.
  3. The title and artist of the last CD you bought.
    Alan got me a CD of the Von Bondies since I loved the FX show Rescue Me's theme song so much. My husband is pretty much my music source.
  4. Song playing at the moment of writing.
    No music now since I'm in a hotel room and it's still early. I did spend a lot of the weekend crammed into Alan's office closet doing some emergency work on our bathtub plumbing. I listened to what Alan had in his boombox which included the Von Bondies CD, a southeast Asian hip hop band, MIA, and a funky jazz band, Medecki (sp?) Martin and Wood. I found the first three tracks on the Von Bondies CD the most helpful when I was tearing out the old faucet pipes.
  5. Five songs you have been listening to of late (or all-time favorites, or particularly personally meaningful songs)
    • "Cmon, C'mon," Von Bondies
    • Any of the music from Deadwood
  6. The five people to whom you will 'pass the musical baton.' Is there anyone who hasn't done this, yet?

Friday, April 29, 2005

It's been forever since I last posted anything and the longer you go without posting the harder it gets to start again. At first I was dealing with a lot of wrist and arm pain from overdoing things and since I couldn't stop using the computer at work, I stopped using it at home. At work, things have been too busy for posting. I love my job but I sometimes wonder if I'll ever get caught up.

This is the last of a series of long work days. We've packed up most of our offices and should be ready for the movers on Monday. I'm stuck here waiting for what appears will be a seven hour long full back-up of our server to end. One of our supporters made a very generous donation of an old mansion a block south of Franklin on Pillsbury for our offices. The move is really needed since we're overcrowded here but I'm feeling a little sad. I've been here for eleven years now and the building feels like home. (I'm also a little sad because we were planning on attending the Nebulas this weekend until I realized it coincided with the move. It would have been nice to be able to cheer Chris on in person. We'll be there tomorrow in spirit.) We didn't always occupy this part of the building. When I first started this part was Southside Family School, one of the first charter schools in Minneapolis. They eventually had to move and ended up at the old St. Stephens Church school. As we expanded, we slowly took over more and more until we had most of the second floor. There are only two of us left on staff that even remember being in any other space. The shelter will stay in the basement so I'll be back here on a regular basis.

Tomorrow a couple of volunteers and I will sort through our computer parts and donations to try to put together three more workstations we need and to see if any of the rest can be given to the families in our transitional housing program. Yesterday afternoon, I finally had a chance to try to fix on old HP LaserJet 4si printer that stopped working two months ago. Right now, we all have access to our wonderful networked copier for printing but in the new place we'll be spread out over three floors. I'd like to have a laser printer on each floor and don't want to spend any money we don't have to. After getting it running nicely on the network and printing without smudges, I noticed I was getting some weird irregularly spaced dents in the paper. I narrowed the problem down to the area around the fuser assembly and decided to try to remove to see if I could tell what was causing the dents. It was surprisingly easy to remove. When I tipped it sideways I could see a lot of brown stuff stuck to the rollers. Replacing it is doable - there seem to be spare parts for the old LaserJets all over the place - but it would be a chunk of change. I didn't know if cleaning it would cause any damage but I figured we didn't have anything to lose. The brown stuff was baked on but it started to come off on the Q-tips I was using with a little anti-static cleaner. Water wasn't cutting it. I had a shop light clipped next to me and when it started getting hot I noticed a sweet smell rising from the fuser. The brown stuff was chocolate. The fuser is pretty inaccessible, buried deep under the closed cover. The chocolate must have been solid when it passed the first sets of rollers and toner, etc. and only melted when it hit the fuser. I was able to remove almost all of it and the printing and paper is now pristine. I would give quite a bit to know how the chocolate got into the printer in the first place. It took a long time to fix. My admiration for the designers of those early LaserJets only continues to grow.