Friday, November 30, 2007

Lincoln and a possible illness

Here's an interesting article in WaPo about an extremely rare genetic illness that Lincoln may have had. The article also has an image of of a cast of Lincoln's face where he looks oddly like Picard...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Grocery list

You know how when you go to the store half the time you get home and someone needed something that you didn't know about? Razors, conditioner, a pony; whatever.

This week Cam created the grocery list in Google docs then sent it to me. I suggested making it editable then passed it to Cullen so before we went to the store everyone had a chance to add stuff all to one central list, which we couldn't just forget when we left. Then we went to the library and printed it from there, because we don't have a printer and also because at that point everyone was done editing it. If Chris had been coming down he could have also added anything he needed or wanted to fix while he was here.

Now we have the basic list where any of us can get it from any computer.

God bless Google.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Ratty quiz

Cam and I are thinking of building a cage for the new ratty girls. Our original plan after Paws died was to get one new girl to keep Karma company. But then we couldn't put the new girl in with her right away because she would have beaten it up so we got three new girls with the intent of two in each cage, Karma and one new girl and two other new girls together and all three new girls together until one could move in with Karma. Got that?

But then Karma died and we can't put just one in a cage by herself because that would be mean. The trouble is neither of our cages are big enough for all three girls.

So I'm looking online for awesome rat cage plans and I find something nifty called the grotto and while exploring the site further I find this page of quizzes and such.

My very favourite, which made me laugh like a maniac, is the rataholics quiz, particularly question number two:

2. Someone says "Euuuw!!" when you mention you have pet rats. You:
a. Sigh and forgive them for their ignorance and intolerance
b. Try to explain to them why rats make such great pets
c. Pull two rats from your shirt, kiss their furry bellies and wave their tails in the persons face


Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Scalzi posted his LOLCreashun contest finalists and they're hilarious.

Almost at fifty thousand words for NaNoWriMo. Barring disaster I'll hit my word count tomorrow but the book won't be done. One of my characters had been turned into a bobcat, another has fallen down a ginormous laundry chute and one changed sexes. There are a bunch of things to be resolved, including an encounter with some shiny red steamdriven robots. That's going to take more than the 400 or so words left to me.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


If you read Calliope, one of the stories in Sandman, you might have wondered about the trichobezoar. Here is an article from New England Journal of Medicine about a 4.5 kilogram trichobezoar found in the stomach of a woman who eats her own hair. There are also some photos, which are fairly mindboggling. This thing was just enormous and the poor woman lost 18 kilograms before she had it surgically removed.


Friday, November 23, 2007

Just cut them up like regular chickens

Cullen wanted Cornish game hens for Thanksgiving so that's what we did. Chris handed them to me and asked me to carve them but then told me to just cut them up like regular chickens, which meant I couldn't really eat mine. When I saw Eraserhead years ago I couldn't eat for days after. Apparently the effect is still there.

Then we went to see Beowulf, which I enjoyed very much, except for the ending which annoyed me quite a lot. I particularly liked the sea serpent sequence. We did end up seeing it in 3D despite my worry that it would make me sick as a dog. It didn't - happy news since we saw a 3D preview for Coraline that looks fawesome.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Everything Old is New Again

I was a little disappointed that this article about how barbershops are now offering health advice in a partnership with health insurance didn't mention that barbers used to be surgeons and that's why the red stripe on the poles. It's still an interesting piece.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Follow up on iron

I went to see my hematologist today. He said my iron is okay, not great. I'm not really clear on what that means. I guess the infusion was somewhat of a success but my iron wasn't fabulous, which is what I was hoping for.

I'm going to cut back on coumadin for a bit and see if that helps my PT/INR stay level. And I've got to go for a mammogram - I despise them. I've spoken to women who barely feel them but for me they're unbearably painful. They make me cry.

36,000 words for NaNoWriMo, which is really terrific because I was very sick over the weekend and didn't want to write a word. I somehow managed at least 1700 words a day but I'm not sure how.

I think I'd like a vacation. Somewhere nice and warm but not too warm...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Stress buster

Friday, November 16, 2007

Seussical The Musical

I went to see Seussical the Musical at Cam's school tonight. He's not in this one but he's working the spotlight. Nick Carter did an outstanding job as the Cat in the Hat.

This is a show I knew very little about so I came to it with fresh eyes. The costumes were amazing and the set was simple but seemed like they fit into the world of Seuss. The songs were nice and the music was catchy.

But oh lord, the script is a mess. It's like a mashup of eight songs instead of two. There are so many plots and Dr. Seuss ideas jammed into this one show that it staggers around and loses its way. I got the impression the writer (s?) wanted the audience to cheer every time a familiar name was mentioned so they threw in as many as possible. It doesn't work and some large loose ends are left for everyone to trip over.

But it was still a nice evening and if you don't mind mess with your Seuss you can have a lot of fun.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


I watched a movie called Candy last night. It starred Heath Ledger as this heroin addict called Dan and this incredibly lovely girl whose name I can't recall as his girlfriend. It was broken into three sections called Heaven, Earth and Hell and really there's not much more I need to tell you about the plot is there? You can figure out the rest.

I accidentally saw Requiem for a Dream a few years ago and was in a funk for weeks afterwards. God, what a dreary movie. Oh it's brilliant and compelling, I'll give you that, but you have to hide the razor blades when you watch it. And I watched it thinking it was a completely different film so it was an awful surprise.

Naturally I was afraid that Candy was going to be much the same and certainly it's not exactly Pippi Longstocking Goes to the South Seas but it also didn't leave me with that gritty, ashy, dead feeling Requiem did.

But speaking as someone who lost a baby the miscarriage scene was horrible. And by horrible I mean brilliantly done, very true to life. Even the nurse with no lines is spot on. I cried so much I had to wash my glasses.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Variety coverage of the Writers strike continues to piss me off

I get an email with the day's strike headlines all together. It's bad enough reading the actual stories but if you just skim the headlines, as I do with several subscriptions I have, you'll get an awfully slanted view of the strike.


Soap writers cross the picket line

This is also the headline for the entire day's digest.

The text below reads:

At least one WGA scribe on CBS sudser "The Young and the Restless" has decided to cross the picket line to keep his job -- and several others on TV's most-watched soap may be doing the same thing.

So that's one but the headline is plural.

Then when you click through, the story is all innuendo.

Several WGA scribes on sudsers have decided to cross the picket line to keep their jobs.

According to several people with knowledge of the situation, a high-ranking writer-producer on CBS's "The Young and the Restless" has informed the WGA that he plans to go "financial core" -- that is, give up full membership in the guild and withhold the dues spent on political activities in order to continue writing during the strike.

Another source with knowledge of the situation added that two other scribes on "Y&R" have also opted for financial core status, and one other is considering it. A writer on NBC's "Days of Our Lives" may also be considering crossing the picket line.

No names given, no citations, nothing. It's all "may" or "plan" or "considering" or sources say. Bah.

If you go back and read the pdf file about the SAG strike that I linked to a few days ago you'll see that this is exactly what happened during our strike. Advertising Age kept saying "high profile" actors were going to cross the picket line but never mentioned names and it didn't really happen. Yes, Liz Hurley, Tiger Woods and a couple of other sports figures crossed the line but I wouldn't consider any of them high profile actors.

Did I mention how much a Guild Writer makes for streaming video? It's nothing. That's right, no payment at all.

But hey, the governor of California says the writers all have residuals to keep them going so we have nothing to worry about, right?

Back to Variety - what's really interesting about their articles is the comments. If you read a story be sure to read the comment thread.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Reading marathon

I wrote 4200 words this weekend, putting me up to 20 grand in total, then I spent the rest of the weekend reading.

I read Obsidian Butterfly, far and away the best, least annoying Anita Blake book. If only all of them could be this caliber.

Then I read Scott Westerfeld's The Last Days, which I had started earlier in the week when foolish Cam set it down for a second. He snatched it back when I was on page 64 so I had to wait to see what was going to happen. It was fexcellent. The beginning is gripping - a boy is walking home and a girl throws a guitar out the window, but not just any guitar, a very special Strat. Another girl helps him catch it and they click and she joins his band. Meanwhile the world is disintegrating around them...

Then I read the same author's Extras, the next book in the amazing Uglies series. Cam was less taken with Extras but I loved it. A worthy successor. If you're not reading Scott Westerfeld you're doing yourself a disservice.

And now I am going to jump into Johnny and the Dead, the second book in the trilogy by Terry Pratchett.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Did we need another reason to love Joss Whedon?

Probably not but here is one anyway.

Reporters are funny people. At least, some of the New York Times reporters are. Their story on the strike was the most dispiriting and inaccurate that I read. But it also contained one of my favorite phrases of the month.

“All the trappings of a union protest were there… …But instead of hard hats and work boots, those at the barricades wore arty glasses and fancy scarves.”

Oh my God. Arty glasses and fancy scarves. That is so cute! My head is aflame with images of writers in ruffled collars, silk pantaloons and ribbons upon their buckled shoes. A towering powdered wig upon David Fury’s head, and Drew Goddard in his yellow stockings (cross-gartered, needless to say). Such popinjays, we! The entire writers’ guild as Leslie Howard in The Scarlet Pimpernel. Delicious.

Except this is exactly the problem. The easiest tactic is for people to paint writers as namby pamby arty scarfy posers, because it’s what most people think even when we’re not striking. Writing is largely not considered work. Art in general is not considered work. Work is a thing you physically labor at, or at the very least, hate. Art is fun. (And Hollywood writers are overpaid, scarf-wearing dainties.) It’s an easy argument to make. And a hard one to dispute.

That's pretty much the attitude I've been running into. Some guy the other (at a bookstore of all places) was nattering on about HOW MUCH writers make. He was responding to someone who was asking if House was going to keep being made (answer no, not after they use up the scripts already written) and he said he'd read something where some dude was saying writers made 25 grand when they turn in a rough draft and then another 20 grand the moment (cash on the barrel head?) they turn the first rewrite. And that all of Hollywood is "locked out." If you sell a script in Hollywood you're forced to join the union.

When I pointed out that this is just not simply not true, starting with the fact that TV writers tend to be paid a salary not a per script price, and moving on to the bizarre notion that everyone in Hollywood is union, (I totally forgot to mention that nobody in their right mind turns in a "rough draft" and that script doctors are the ones getting paid for rewrites) he said that he meant feature film scripts. I said a good one takes about a year to write and he said some people write faster than others. Which is true but so what?

Let's look at Ratatouille. This is a film that has made nearly 400 million dollars world wide. Let's say the writer got Guild minimum (I'm sure that isn't the case, but let's pretend) - so they made around thirty grand writing what became a 400 million dollar film. And the writer is greedy and whiny and shouldn't be allowed to go on strike?

Never mind that Guild minimum isn't even the issue - according to WaPo writers want to make a dime for each DVD sold and they want to make something for work that is distributed online. Oh dear god, let's flay them all now. The sheer effrontery! How dare they!

Look at this quote from the governor of California, someone who should know better, from the same WaPo article.

"I think that's a sad story," Schwarzenegger said. "Because the studio executives are not going to suffer, the union leaders are not going to suffer, the writers in the strike are not going to suffer -- all the people who have money." Rather, "the electricians, the grips, the set designers are the people who are going to suffer because they are not getting paid and they are out of work," he said.

How much money does the average member of the Guild make? I've heard that the average is less than five grand per year. While I have no citation for that number it's pretty close to the numbers I've heard for us, the members of the Screen Actor's Guild. I've made less than five grand for every year I've been in SGA. I remember reading a post at Will Shetterly's blog about a residual check he and Emma got for an animated show and the check was for less than ten dollars. (I think less than five but I'm going with ten to be safe.)

I have a question for everyone who thinks the writers shouldn't be on strike. How much do you think they should make and why?

Friday, November 09, 2007

RIP Karma

Karma, Paws' sister, died yesterday. I am still rather stunned. She'd developed a mammary tumor but it was still very small. But she had some symptoms of possibly another tumor that we couldn't see, some personality change, loss of energy, hair loss, and just being kind of blah. She lost weight very rapidly, and unlike Paws had none to lose, so I tried her on some more fattening food but to no avail. I had just suggested to Cam that we start her on syrup a couple times a day to help keep her weight on when he opened her cage and found her body. Unlike Paws she was walking fine as late as yesterday morning so I'm somewhat baffled. The only thing is her breathing was strange and she was making funny noises, although she didn't look like she was in distress. I thought it was the cat throwing up again (he's had a couple of hair balls.) Cullen thinks maybe Karma had a tumor that kind of wrecked something and gave her a stroke. Sigh. Too much sadness.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

NaNoWriMo Write In

I went to a write in last night, which was kind of cool. I was surprised by how many people use bookstore coffee shops as meeting houses. There were at least three sets of committees making plans and what looked like a couple of small businesses. It's free for the participants and good for the bookstores so why not?

The gentleman sitting next to me is writing a steam punk book, always awesome, and goes to swing dance in Baltimore every Monday night. He said I should give it a whirl. (heh, he had more class than to actually use the word whirl.) There are free lessons before the actual dancing. I think he said they need more women, which surprised me because usually I hear women complaining that men don't dance enough.

That's how my dad met my stepmother. At some kind of West Coast Swing shindig. That was more than twenty years ago. Golly, could be going on 25. ymmv

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Three credit unions fail

One edition of the Credit Union Journal Daily Briefing (a newsletter I used to proof, format and mail out) this week talked about three CUs failing.

Obelisk FCU failed because a teller stole seven million dollars.

Cal State 9 CU failed at least partly because of mortgage losses.

Green Tree FCU failed, possibly because it had something to do with Quakers and there aren't enough Quakers left to support a CU.

And finally a link to my NaNoWriMo data.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

NaNoWriMo 2007 word count so far

I'm at 10,555 words which seems weirdly round even though it isn't at all. It's not really alliterative either. I guess it's just friendly.

I've been watching seasons one and two of Da Ali G Show this week and it's fawesome. I especially like the episode where he goes to talk to the k-9 cops and asks how long it takes the dogs to defuse the bombs. Hilarious.

Tomorrow I might go to a write in. I've never been to one. Could be fun, could be annoying. Could be both I suppose.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Commentary on the ad I was talkin about

Here's a fascinating paper about the exploitation of black women and how that relates to the SAG strike of 2000 and more. Unfortunately it's in pdf but still worth reading. I was supposed to be doing something else when I found it but I finished it murmuring to myself as I read. If I weren't about to fall asleep I'm sure I could do a better job explaining why you should read it. Perhaps you'll take my word for it.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

WGA strike

The WGA strike starts on Monday. So far I'm disgusted with certain websites that are telling their members to try really hard to sell scripts during the strike, making statements like the new power players are going to be those who sell during the strike. No, see if you sell during the strike you're what's called a scab. You're saying you don't believe in a fair wage for a fair day's work and that you don't believe in solidarity.

I remember when we, that is SAG members, were on strike several years ago and Ridley Scott's company ran this god awful full page ad with a picture of an older topless African woman that read something like this "In Africa, this is what SAG means." The whole point was you should take your film to Africa and avoid the strike. I think it was the first time I actually saw red with rage, I was so pissed off on so many levels. Oh yeah, they apologized, or someone apologized, like that changed anything. Demeaning, sexist, ageist, racist, classist, asshole ads are still demeaning, sexist, ageist, racist, classist, asshole ads even if you apologize afterwards.

To this day every time I see Liz Hurley I tell the kids she worked as a scab during the strike in 2000. She said she didn't know about it (WTF?). Because you know, it's not like it was worldwide headline news or her agent or anyone knew. Ugh.

SAG is strongly supporting the WGA strike. If I were in LA I'd make sure I spent some time on the picket lines to show my support. I'll have to keep my eyes open and see if there's anything going on here.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

No posts for a month

See now if I say no posts for a month and then make some you'll be all pleasantly surprised. I'll probably be more like Neil and post a fair amount. To start, this excerpt from today's writing.

"What were they like?"
"They hardly talked at all. They stared at me with this look like you never saw before."
"A good look?"
"No. Like if you forgot your homework, threw up on the rug and announced you were pregnant all at the same time."
"That's some kind of look."
"I don't ever want to see it again."