Sunday, November 26, 2006

Something Very Bad

Time to cry outrage.

Thanksgiving is done, NaNoWriMo is done. And now it's time to speak about something I was told a week or so ago that has been bugging me like crazy.

We were at a restaurant bar, where we have been accustomed to eating lunch now and then. The two bartenders were giddily gossping with one of the waiters, and afterwards, apparently thinking we'd overheard their conversation, one of the bartenders, a young woman in her early twenties by all indications, came over and said, among other things, "I probably shouldn't mention it, but one of our friends is a paramedic, and he gives us a saline drip if we're hung over. You know," she chattered on, "you only get them if you're dehydrated, and the IV just puts fluid back into your body fast. I know, we shouldn't get that drunk, but oh well, you know, young people just party hard, just crazy kids."

I don't remember what we mumbled to make her get back to work; I just wanted her to stop telling me shit that I never wanted to hear had ever happened -- let alone, happened regularly.

Okay, not only is it stupid to drink so much you're hung over ONCE, but having done so ONCE, it's far more stupid to not recognize what will do it again. (Now in fact, I think it took me three episodes in college to understand that even ONE mixed drink would cause me three days of painful joints and nausea; since then I do not drink anything -- anything! with hard liquor in it. Love the scent and taste of gin; NEVER drink it.) Well, alcohol does impair reasoning, and some people don't learn easily. Stupid, but repeat bingeing does happen.

But I can't think of what rank of stupidity it takes to get hung over to the point where you think an IV drip is an acceptable solution. "Morning, Dwayne, hey, listen, I'm so hung over I think I'm going to die. Can Suzy and Debbie and me come over for an IV this morning? Thanks, Dwayne, you're a peach." Needle holes in the arms every weekend. Oh, great. What a problem-solver is Mankind!

From the way the girl talked and twitched, and how skinny she was, I wouldn't be surprised to learn she was ingesting a lot more dangerous stuff than alcohol. I couldn't smell her, so my guess would be cocaine rather than meth; on the other hand, I was coming down with a cold so the ugly chemical smell of meth could have just not reached my nose. Her whole demeanor about the incident was that this was What Young People Do.

I was digusted.

And on another level, I was appalled that someone who is a paramedic would be doing hang-over drips on the side. I don't know about the legality of it; there are tons of catalogs that sell veterinary supplies (including syringes and needles) that I could buy from without having any kind of veterinary background ... maybe this paramedic buys all his supplies and isn't using his employer's. Legality aside, there is an ethical issue here, isn't there? It wasn't "He gave our friend Irving an IV because Irving was so sick" is was "He gives us" -- a recurring theme. How could he? And would I want my life in the hands of someone who thinks that IV's are a recreational tool?

No wonder medical costs are so damn astronomical. Black market hangover cures. What a world.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

NaNoWriMo Success in 2006

I hit 50,000 (and some) words, and I am done.

Much can be said about National Novel Writing Month, both that it is a futile waste of words that would better be spent writing articles worthy of submission to snooty and inbred publications that can be found in the local supermarkets (those bastions of culture) and also that it is a phenomenal device that allows participants the freedom to use a keyboard to follow their dreams down pathways they never before expected.

For me, it has been a release of random creative activity. Before 2001, I had no idea that I could actually write for any kind of entertainment. Before November of 2006, I had forgotten what writing for fun was really like.

The story that I have written this year is largely built upon word count. Yet I found myself discovering things about my characters that I didn't know before, and saw in my writing a reflection of the frustrations and issues that I encounter in real life.

It's been a grand effort, and I've loved it, even during the first ten days when typing two thousand words a day seemed like bloodletting or having a tooth filled.

And nothing, nothing can compare with seeing the word counter pass 46k and knowing that the end is so near, and so very obtainable.

50k Any Way.

Thank you, Chris Baty.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


I'm very thankful for many things.

First, my beloved husband. Second, the rest of the family. Third, for a comfortable place to live in a beautiful land.

Have a great day, folks.

Friday, November 17, 2006

National Novel Writing Month 2006

Negative post, grab your garters and skip this if you don't want to see someone bitch.

I've been stepping up to the challenge of writing 50,000 words during November since 2001. I have learned how to use forums to communicate with others as a result, I have learned to stay away from various forums as a result. The Piker Press has evolved as a result, with me as one of the original Filthy Pikers who wrote for it. Good things have happened as a result of NaNoWriMo.

I used to love the NaNo Forums. So many people, so many ideas. Over time, however, I pared my activity down to the perennial Jon Renaut (aka TheTejon) Urinal Cake thread and the Geezer Thread (updated each November by Cheryl the Badass Knitter).

The Urinal Cake thread -- sorry, folks, there is no rational explanation about why a forum thread about urinal cakes could be so entertaining and mind expanding as to become a role-playing game that ranged from a stolen alien spaceship to a medieval castle transported to a Caribbean quasi-island -- is still reasonably entertaining. I cannot say the same for the "Geezer" thread.

God, some of those people are such nincompoops.

The Geezer Thread used to be, in some years past, a place where people actually talked about their work, their effort, and their insights. Now it's a forum for whining about infirmities, for taking up band width about why they will never will make word count, for yapping about how much else they are doing besides writing.

I respect the gentle ground of the NaNoForums. I will not intrude by telling someone who feels compelled to post six separate posts in a row to "Shut the fuck up!" Nor will I myself whine that when I knew I could not complete a NaNoWriMo challenge, I got the hell off the boards and let people who could complete it talk without my cluttering up their run for the roses. (Which would be another way of telling some others to shut up.) I can't even bring myself to find a way to tell someone she's a bossy intruding asshole who only thinks she's a popular poster because her prolific and stultifying posts get answered because the rest of the people on the board are trying to be so polite. (I guess that would be still another way of saying "Shut up".)

Oh, and have I mentioned that when you're struggling to meet word count, having someone yap about having reached 50k words in twelve days is really disheartening? If you can leave the rest of the world behind so early, well, uh... shut up.

2006: The Year of Wishing People Would Just Shut Up

Well, except for the cool people who really have something to say about their writing experiences.

Duh. I guess that would be Pikers.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Introducing Sebastian

After a number of requests, I finally managed to get a couple pictures of the latest addition to the household.

Such pictures are easier said than done, as the little fellow scampers quite a bit, and when I do get his attention, he rushes toward the camera to see if it's good to eat.

Sebastian is allegedly half border collie on his father's side, and his mother is a "shepherd mix." Could be dachshund and beagle and a cur whose grandfather's uncle was a German shepherd ... people trying to find homes for puppies often throw "shepherd" into the spiel. Or maybe the mother was a mixed breed who came from dogs who worked sheep. No matter. The first time I saw Sebastian stalking the cat with a perfect border collie stare and crouch, I was won over.

He's pretty sassy for such a little guy, and Howie is still considering whether or not a new puppy in the household is a good idea. I believe it is a relief to How that we don't interact too much with the pup. I know it is a relief to me that someone else is taking care of all the puppy burdens

Poor Howie. In only a matter of weeks, this pup is going to be big enough to chase him. Or should I say, chase after that fascinating fluffy dingo tail?

Friday, November 03, 2006

There's a Spider in My Room

Just so you know ...

Spider-toe to spider-toe, this lovely measured more than an inch across. Bernie spotted the arachnid as he was preparing for bed. He wanted me to deal with it.

I don't mind being the one to confront spiders or wasps or bees or even toads. By and large, you either kill them cleanly or escort them gently from your domain. I don't do well at all with bats or giant roaches -- too skittery. You never know when they'll run or fly up your pantleg.

HOWEVER. This animal was just too big to humanely encourage into a dustpan -- mostly because it was perched above our bed, and specifically, MY corner of the bed. One wrong move and it would have disappeared into the bedclothes or under the bed, and neither Bernie nor I would sleep for the next decade.

"Vacuum cleaner," I said to Bernie, holding out my left hand. In seconds, he placed the vac hose in my hand, I climbed to the bed, and called, "Fire!" He turned on the vac and I slurped the poor spider up.

"Now what?" Bernie asked, gingerly holding the machine at arm's length.

"Mr. Spider inside Mr. Vacuum Cleaner goes to reside in the garage tonight."

"Oh, okay," he said with relief and scuttled the machine and its captive to the garage.

Someone else emptied the vacuum cleaner the next day before I had the opportunity. I don't know if the beautiful spider is dead, dumped with the dust from the cleaner, or if it managed to escape into the garage.

I'm keeping my eyes open.

PS. The title is from an early BareNakedLadies song.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Halloween and Dia de los Muertos

2006 was one of the best Halloweens in recent years.

Not only was it the first Halloween in too many years that Bernie was actually home in the evening, but also, we somehow managed to be given the time to carve pumpkins, that is, Alex and Lil and I.

I reprised my cat design -- I'd tried it on a pumpkin last week for the cover story 23 Oct 06 in the Piker Press, but not having carved a pumpkin in more years than I care to admit, I foolishly chose a pumpkin that was already overripe. It carved easily, melted in a few hours, and stunk up the kitchen to boot. This pumpkin was nicely crispy, though much tougher to cut.

Alex got home from work while I was still carving, started playing with the drill bit I'd used for the cat's eyes, and ended up with a lovely Octopus. Lillian was content to watch and offer helpful observations ... after she encountered the stickiness of pumpkin innards. Ah, she's definitely my granddaughter. Stickiphobia must be genetic.

It was still light outside when we finished the pumpkins, so Alex and Lil went to the driveway (which I had hosed down earlier in the day to clear away the almond harvest dust) with a tub of chalk.
Halloween, All Saints Day, and Dia de los Muertos end October and begin November. We like to remember that the dead are still with us, still family, still friends, still loved, and so we draw calacas for passers-by to see, hoping that they'll ask us what that's all about. This is a broad view of part of the driveway (with Howie in the way). Probably more of the drawings will surface in the Press sometime this month.

We had lots of trick -or -treaters, but none quite so cute as You Know Who. Face paint and photo are by Alex, but the expression was aimed at yours truly. Lil always does best with an audience.

In all, it was a wonderful day, and the best bit was sitting with Bernie in the driveway, surrounded by the calacas, a fire burning in a chiminea by our feet. We sipped wine, and talked about life and death, the universe and everything, and how much we love each other.

Best Halloween in a long time.