Monday, December 31, 2018

The Return

I picked up Guido and the dogs today. Guido was complaining very loudly about being in his crate. The little dog was doing that little dog excited trembling thing. The big dog ignored me in favor of the kennel worker who was still holding the bag of food. All in all a big improvement over the year Molly-the-dim couldn't figure out who I was after staying there a week.

No, I was not surprised that the dogs' report card did not have "Quiet" checked. I know they spend the entire week barking at everything that catches their attention.

Once we finally made it home the dogs literally ran laps around the yard sniffing everything that might have changed during the week, then we all went inside and Guido ran up and down the hallway a few times before settling in for a nap.

Happy New Year -- I hope the coming year brings you health and joy!

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Home again, home again, jiggety-jog

(Title note: I did not buy a fat pig at market.)

I drove back home today, and once I was able to get past Los Angeles it wasn't bad. (Getting through Orange County and Los Angeles is always bad. There was stop-and-go traffic all the way past Magic Mountain on a Sunday afternoon and it was completely expected.)

I stopped at a couple of rest stops along the way just to move around, and then I finally stopped for gas before I got to Sacramento -- I could have made the whole trip on one tank, but it probably would have been beeping at me near the end, and having an almost empty gas tank stresses me out.

The two cats at home were very excited to see me. It's been an hour and they've just now calmed down enough that they aren't tripping me every time I move. Guido and the dogs come home tomorrow, at which point the full amount of chaos will be present in the house again.

Anyhow, I'm going to go collapse on my bed for the next ten hours. I think it might be time to look into a bus the next time I have to make that trip -- I can probably find something comfortable with wifi and then someone else can deal with the driving.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

The Royal Mycological Society of the Great County of Orange

K-Poo Weak Hands (last seen here two days ago helping make stollen, although I later found out she doesn't even like stollen so probably my plan of having her make it in the future is doomed from the start) joined some mycological society up in near San Francisco.

A mycological society sounds like steampunk cosplay to me, but apparently it is just reasonably normal adults who like to learn about fungi, and she and her husband now wander around in the wilderness identifying mushrooms. She doesn't, however, eat any of the feral mushrooms, so this is still a safe hobby.

Meanwhile, my parents had a bunch (bevy? quarry? ring? murder?) of large mushrooms show up in their front lawn, and KPWH convinced us that it would be neat to chop off the stalk (known as the "stem" if you're wearing a velvet corset and/or carry a pocket watch with visible gears) and place the cap on a sheet of paper/foil overnight and look at the spore pattern left behind the next day.

KPWH had to take the zeppelin back to her dear husband early this morning, but Jeff promised to duly record the results. We finally remembered the stuff was out in the garage this evening, so we rallied the urchins and hustled off to the great unveiling. It was anti-climactic. Maybe there were a few lines where spores had dropped from the gills, but it was subtle. I considered making a replica with glue and glitter, but it was late so yet another great scientific prank is lost to sheer laziness. And then Jeff crumpled up the paper and foil before he remembered he was supposed to be taking a picture to send to KPWH.

Anyhow, if anyone invites you to join a mycological society, maybe ask them what kind of tea and spirits are served before you commit to anything.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Peggy and the Swingers

The title of today's post is from the story Peggy told us after dinner about the time she was in a bar and a huge group of swingers was having their pre-hookup meeting (scheduling? organizing? I'm not sure what the keys-in-a-bowl phase is called). She declined, which is probably good for her overall health and sanity, but kind of a bummer for my ability to live vicariously.

My seven year old niece roped my sister (her other aunt) into playing with her, then told her that she was a "natural pretender". High praise indeed!

Anyhow, I'm tired and I ate too much (although the food was so good I have a hard time feeling regret about that though the four miles I ran this morning only worked off about three forkfuls), so I'll just leave you here with this in-progress version of a doodle for a calendar I made...

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Stollen Again

In case anyone wants to make stollen (which is another way of saying "Hey, I should really keep this recipe somewhere!"), this is from The Spice Cookbook (pretend a proper attribution is here but I don't have the book in front of me).
Notes courtesy of my mom -- she adds currants in place of some of the raisins (and I've been told that currants and raisins aren't the exact same thing despite how they look).

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Stollen and More

Today I made stollen with my sister K-poo Weak Hands (who, come to think of it, didn't do any of the kneading, so she missed her opportunity to work on her finger strength). I have no idea how the loaves taste, but they look right, so that's at least half the battle.

I also dropped by the grocery store to buy shampoo, conditioner, and soap. They have all of those things at the hotel, but... they've made some interesting choices.

Last time I was here they had those little bottles (which were annoying and wasteful), but I loved the shampoo and conditioner. I even tried to find the same thing elsewhere and failed. This time, they've replaced the little bottles with dispensers in the shower (which is a step forward), but the shampoo and conditioner are eucalyptus scented, so it feels like I'm rubbing Vicks VapoRub all over my head. The body wash says it is lemon sage -- I'm not sure if it's due to the camphor smell or what, but the soap smelled like rotting oranges.

As long as I'm complaining about the hotel, there's also the temperature issue. I like it cold in the room when I'm sleeping. It's 45 F outside, but it's a struggle to get the room under 71 F. The A/C only goes down to 68 F. I've got the window open the entire four inches that it will go, but it's still hot.

On the other hand, even if it is too warm there's a certain comfort level to be found with a nice mattress and a bed without multiple creatures kicking me and sitting on top of me all night long.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

I Don't Love L.A.

I spent all day driving down to southern California and as I went through the Tejon Pass (ie, the top of the Grapevine) I suddenly lost my will to live, and that's when I remembered that I feel this way every year.

I'm pretty sure it's just a reaction to driving in L.A. -- if you actually have a strong desire to stay alive, you wouldn't be able to successfully navigate through the torn up roadways, narrow lanes, and crowds of cars. Mostly I try to treat it like going on a roller coaster, which means that for one portion of the trip near Magic Mountain I was barreling down the road screaming "I'M NOT HAVING FUN ANY MORE!" pretty much like I do at amusement parks. (Note: I don't go to amusement parks for exactly this reason.) (Note #2: If you use this method, remember not to throw your hands up in the air when screaming.)

Anyhow, I survived the trip here and successfully delivered the springerles.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Silent Night

This morning I took the big dog on a 3.5 mile run jog stagger and then I dropped both dogs and Guido at the hospital to board for the week.

With only two cats plus the birds, I've been able to take down the baby gates and it's a lot easier to clean things up, but the biggest thing I've noticed is the quiet.

Sure the birds were still noisy during the day, but once it got dark it was just Ripley and Effing Scooter around to make any sound.

The silence really is deafening.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Key

So I've been sort of slowly getting the house in shape for the petsitter for the last few weeks. This isn't to say that the house is actually ready -- it's still a disaster, but hopefully it's not so bad she'll run screaming the first time she comes through the door.

I've trimmed back some of the greenery attempting to hide the front gate, and swept away some cobwebs on the screen door, and mopped the area where the big dog drools when I'm getting his dinner ready. I still have a long list of things that I'd like to get done, though I'll probably just do the easy parts and ignore the rest.

I just realized a few minutes ago that I have no idea where my front door key is.

My petsitter has had a copy of the key for the last five years, but I usually only lock the front door from the inside. About the only time I use the front door is when I walk the dogs, and then I leave it unlocked. If I'm driving somewhere I go out the back door so

I lock the front door from the inside and leave the back sliding door unlocked. Trust me when I say that a) the dogs keep people from breaking in, and b) if someone makes it past the dogs, good luck finding anything worth stealing in my house.

(The Fluffy Guardian)

Anyhow, I do lock up the house completely when I leave on vacation, but only so my petsitter doesn't get worried by finding an unlocked door. But this means that I need to find my keys so I can unlock the door when I get back.

I have a couple of ideas where the key might be. I just need to remember to look for it sometime in between cleaning the kitchen and wiping paw prints off the sofa...

Saturday, December 22, 2018


Tonight we celebrated the solstice at Elisabeth's house.

We ate food, we folded origami crowns in the dark (and then I used a lot of tape to make up for the folds that my I-can't-see-what-I'm-doing technique did not quite make uniform).

(The torturing of the animals with the crown came later.)

Songs were sung.

Poems were poemed recited.

Curses were yelled. Goblets were drained. Things were burned. (Lots of fire!)

Bulbs were planted.

And then cake was eaten.

And now the light will return.

Friday, December 21, 2018

I Dare You

In the ongoing saga of "Perhaps Theresa Shouldn't Work For A Large Company" (which really ought to be shortened to "Perhaps Theresa Shouldn't Work" except I failed to be born into wealth), I group-replied to my brother's going away message ("I'll miss working with all of you blah blah blah") with the one word reply "Bastard".

I thought it was funny. He thought it was funny. I had even sent him mail earlier saying "I was going to reply-all with 'Screw you, you bastard' but I chickened out."

Then he dared me to do it.

I mean... he's my older brother. He dared me. I had to do it.

Anyhow, I sent it off, laughed, got his reply in which he laughed, and then I didn't think much about it. I was kind of expecting at least one of the many people we've both worked with to reply to me with some sort of eye-roll or stupid gif. These people know me. That mail is in no way out of character.

I got no response.

Jeff, though... Someone sent him mail and asked if I was his ex-wife. His boss sent him mail and asked who I was and whether I knew I'd sent that mail to the director. Apparently a whole bunch of people assumed I was serious and that I hadn't realized I'd hit reply-all.

(The little dog worries that we'll be homeless and starving soon.)

Oh well. I still think it was funny. But maybe nobody from my family will be working there in the new year...

Thursday, December 20, 2018


Effing Scooter, who comes by his name honestly, was upset today because I made him stop licking the cakes of watercolor paint. He took his displeasure out of the office and wandered the house, singing his anger and letting it echo in the hallway while I was trying to work.

(Knowing him, he probably also peed on something. Maybe with the addition of the paint he'll be able to create a more interesting protest piece!)

His other claim to fame is poking me with his whiskers when he wants me to get up and feed him in the morning. I'm not sure that's intentional or just a byproduct of his whisker length and his love of staring at me from one inch away, but it's like having acupuncture done by a drunk.

He really does have magnificent whiskers though, doesn't he?

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

End of the Year

I know I'm not alone in feeling that this year has lasted about three decades. Even so, the race to the end of the month continues to be to be odd.

I think I've mentioned before that the company I work just laid off (okay, voluntarily separated) 10,000 people. At the same time, they doubled our goals for next year. The good news is that I ignore everything they say as a matter of course even during the good times. They're also shuffling all the executives around, and to that I say "Ha!" because I couldn't keep track of who was there before so it makes no difference to me. My ignorance is beating the system!

But anyway, a bunch of the people who are voluntarily separating have their last day next Friday, so this week has been a lot of holiday parties plus going away parties. Some of the parties have had alcohol.

As you can imagine, not much work has been getting done.

I've spent the last few days trying to get other people to fix things so I can complete tasks, but nearly everyone is on vacation or leaving at the end of the month or drinking themselves into a stupor because half their coworkers are leaving and the deadlines aren't changing. Meanwhile, my brother (who is voluntarily separating, that bastard) responds to my griping email by telling me that his biggest challenge of the day was finding a box big enough to mail his monitor back in.

Here's to the new year. May we still be able to duct tape the broken pieces back together.

(Pretend this is artistically lit & framed and not just another of my crappy photos.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Do They Have The Shut-in Special?

I've spent the day kicking around how I can rearrange things so I can just get rid of my car.

For the most part the town I live in is small enough that I can walk to wherever I need to go -- my favorite grocery store is about a mile away, the vet hospital where I take my pets (and also train in agility) is just a bit over that. I tend to do a lot of shopping online in any case. I do drive other places occasionally for non-work events, mostly related to my writing groups, but I could probably use one of the ride sharing services or even take the bus, depending on where I need to go.

I run into problems with work, though. Once a week I drive about 65 miles to get to the main office, and then another day I drive about half that distance to get to a different one. A while back I looked up how to get to the main office using public transportation, and it turned out that it would be at least four hours, probably more. Turns out we aren't that great at public transportation around here.

I suppose I could move closer to work -- I used to rent an apartment in that area before I had a car -- but I can't live in an apartment any more and houses in that area are unbelievably expensive. And it's not someplace I really want to live. Plus, if I ended up switching jobs I'd be stuck commuting a long way every day.

I've even thought about moving to NYC because people there don't drive, but that's more than a little ridiculous because I'm never leaving California again.

So... yeah. I don't have an answer. Selling everything and living in an RV in the desert is looking really attractive right now...
(The dogs have no time for my existential crisis because it's time for agility.)

Monday, December 17, 2018

Is Pork Vegetarian? How About Beef?

So today at work Jon wanted to take my brother Jeff out for a celebratory lunch because the bastard (my brother) will be done working in less than two weeks. The plan was to go to the Vietnamese noodle shop. They invited me along because we always eat lunch together and also, who wouldn't want to invite me along?

I think I've mentioned this before -- I quit eating meat about twenty years ago. What I probably haven't mentioned is that Vietnamese food, at least that which is served by this noodle house, is not exceptionally vegetarian-friendly. Usually when we go out for phở I order the closest thing to vegetarian that they have, ask them to leave out the meat, and then pretend that there are just some really strangely textured mushrooms in the broth (which is totally vegetable based at least as far as I know!). Yeah, if I was vegetarian for religious reasons I'd definitely be going to that religion's version of the Bad Place.

Anyhow, I looked at the menu and, not too surprisingly, there were zero vegetarian options. It's a little unexpected -- this is California, not Louisiana where that was a common occurrence. Just in case I'd missed a section, I asked the woman who came to take our orders.

"No, nothing vegetarian. Everything has meat."

Not "we can make you something with rice and eggs" or even "sorry, try the place next door", but just a flat out "no".

I have to admire someone who gives exactly zero fucks about making every customer happy.

Anyhow, I ended up with spring rolls filled with unflavored rice noodles. They actually weren't too bad when I added the spiciest sriracha sauce I've ever tasted (and which could not possibly be what was originally contained in the jar because I normally slather that stuff all over everything I eat and I'm telling you that is not what was in there).

Anyhow, I'll miss our lunches together. But I won't really miss that restaurant.

(I had springerles for dessert when we got back to work.)

Sunday, December 16, 2018

This again?

Now that it's no longer a zillion degrees out and the fires are no longer making the air hazardous to breathe, I've started trying to run again.

My running partner is pretty happy about this. The big dog would probably go running twice a day if I would take him. He's been known to try to ditch me and go off with people who pass us on the trails. Clearly he's a much better athlete than I am.

 (Post-run. He really, really wanted the treat I was holding.)

The little dog doesn't go along -- she stays at home barking hysterically for some amount of time. I think it's usually less than ten minutes -- she's always quieted down by the time we get back. I'd take her along, but she's not as fond of running and I don't want to have to play Luke in the swamp with Yoda on my back when she decides she's had enough. Plus she has a heart murmur -- it's probably nothing, and it doesn't really slow her down at agility, but it makes me a little nervous to take her on a multi-mile run.

Anyhow, the big dog and I went 2.5 miles today, plus another mile walking to cool down. That's not much compared to what we were doing last winter, but I guess we have to start somewhere.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

I Can Only Solve Crimes In Britain

(Ripley is judging my taste in television programs.)

 Here's my confession: I love watching police procedurals. Since I've dropped all the streaming services, I don't watch that much television, but if I can find a good detective show, I'm all set. You have characters that are building relationships over the season, while problems are being solved every week. It's the perfect way to relax.

But. (You knew there had to be a but.)

I can't watch police procedurals that ignore the procedures of police. Sadly, that pretty much knocks out anything made in the US. They take a swab of something in the morning and have DNA back before lunch? No. They bust down some person's door without a warrant and there are no repercussions? No. The first people on the scene are suddenly running the multi-agency task force? Sorry, I don't think so.

I mostly end up with shows coming out of Great Britain. I'm sure they have inaccuracies as well, but not on the same scale.
  • Not only do they show the forensic team properly suited up, but they actually show the forensic team and they don't pretend that the random supercop is collecting their own trace evidence.
  • They have bosses that keep track of what they are doing, and when they are out of line there are consequences.
  • Not everyone is either a distinguished white man or a hot young woman.
  • Women don't show up to crime scenes in high heels.
  • The science is at least plausible. I can't keep track of the US shows whose plots routinely hinge on completely ridiculous forensics. If you can't write a plot that could happen in real life, find another show to write for.
The weird thing is that all these inaccuracies in the US shows seem to be done to make it more cinematic, but in reality it makes the whole thing dull. There's no point even paying attention because the plot every week is "supercop makes an illogical leap and is backed up by magical science". There's nothing interesting about that.

So there you have it. Once again, if I were in charge of the universe, things would be very different.

Friday, December 14, 2018

How Does Anything Ever Get Done Here?

I decided it was too much trouble to get the Nissan Hide Everything out of garage to go for my regular Friday evening coffee shop visit, so I sat down on the couch with my laptop and brought up the Google doc of the story I was critiquing.

Then Ripley came over and tried to sit on top of the keyboard, adding some extra characters in someone else's document while he was at it. I pushed him off to the side and undid the changes and went back to reading.

Then the big dog came over and stuck his nose in my face for a while until he settled down on the other side of the couch.

The Guido got on the couch and would not be denied the opportunity to sit in my lap.

(Ripley's hiding behind Guido)

Then Effing Scooter came over, which would have just increased the chaos except Guido took that as a sign that he needed to run after him, and eventually I was able to both see and touch my laptop again.

This is the current setup:
Of course I could probably avoid all this by turning up the heat a bit.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Mad at the Meringues

What happens when you get two people who like to tell dad jokes in the same room? Not a lot of writing, it's true, but the question of whether trench coat was one word or two (answer: two) morphed into hyphenation which then led to invention of T. renchcoat, the less than fearsome dinosaur who can't get his arms all the way in his duster.

Also, at one point we heard Jennifer in the kitchen using a blow torch and that spawned the phrase "mad at the meringues" which then turned into a series of cozy mystery titles (Pissed at the pies, etc.).

The test batch of springerles was almost a complete success, except with the person who doesn't like licorice. I think I needed to bake them just a tad longer, but it also may be that they just need to sit for a day or two. Rolling them out turned out to be not too difficult -- it's more like smashing it all flat than rolling something springy like a pie dough. Traditionally the cookies would be rectangles, not circles. Since the special rolling pin won't get here until tomorrow, I made them with non-traditional cookie stamps, but the stamps have German words on them so maybe the spirits of Weihnachten past will forgive me.

Anyhow, I'm back home and the Nissan Blindspot 360 is once again safely wedged into the garage for the night, so we're all off to bed.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Can I Just Walk Everywhere From Now On?

So, yesterday I had a moment of inattention (let's go with that) and now I am driving a rental car.

It's not just any rental car. It's an SUV, hereafter referred to as the Nissan Occlusion because I can't remember the real name and also because I can't see a damn thing towards the 10 o'clock area. Between the gigantic side mirror and the frame that holds the windshield and door together, left turns are accomplished by looking once and then hoping nothing changes as you drive toward the spot you can't see.

An extra bit of madness is brought on by the rental company that provides two fobs for the car on a key ring that can't be opened. I actually googled this because I thought maybe I was having yet another moment of stupidity, but nope, they do that on purpose so they still have both fobs when they get rid of the car in a year or two. (Or no fobs, in which case you, the renter, get to replace two of them, which means I'm walking around with $1,000 in my pocket.)

Every car I've driven in the last two years has made me long for my 2002 Civic in a way that I thought could only apply to people and pets.

Anyhow, I drove the Nissan Is-There-Something-In-That-Direction-I-Can't-Tell to Fairfield today. Then the temperature dropped, and as I was driving home I was starting to get really cold. A fresh breeze was blowing over my sneaker-clad toes. So I decided to turn on the heater.

Reader, I could not figure out how to get warm air blowing in the car. I found the heated steering wheel button, and the heated seat button, but I could not find the rest of the controls, and I really didn't want to get off the freeway and find someplace to park for a while, so I turned on the seat and the steering wheel, and drove thirty miles with my thighs burning and my fingers comfortable and a cold wind blowing over my frostbitten toes.

Getting the Nissan Marco Polo into my garage required the use of all three (!) exterior cameras. (And by the way, the fact that they put three different cameras on the car, plus flashing lights that indicate when there is a car next to you, is a clear sign that they know there are visibility problems and have decided to just high tech gadget their way out of it. That doesn't really work.)

In any case, it's in my garage, where it will stay as long as I can possibly manage.


Have a lovely picture of Guido to make your evening better:

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Mush Is A Four Letter Word

Remember how I said that I've been watching sled dog videos lately and I thought that might be something to try with the big dog?

(Guido and I like to watch these together.)

It's currently 6 PM and I have agility with both dogs in an hour. Outside. It will likely be about 45°F which really isn't that cold unless you're from California and you haven't seen snow since last year while driving over the Grapevine on the way to Orange County. I'm trying to pretend that I'm as excited to go do this as the dogs are. It's not really working.

I guess what I'm saying here is that I would be a terrible Iditarod  competitor. With the cold and the lack of appropriate restroom facilities along the route (no, I don't camp, thank you very much)... nope.

I guess I should stick with non-competitive agility.

Monday, December 10, 2018

At least I Have a Good Dental Plan

When I was little, my paternal grandmother used to send us a box of cookies and other treats each year. Some of the cookies were traditional German versions, similar to what she'd grown up with, and others were recipes she'd acquired after she moved to the states. One of the traditional types of cookies was springerles.

If you've never had them, springerles are anise cookies that are rolled out and then embossed. I was given a springerle board when I was in my teens. I used it -- once.

I think I've mentioned before that I am constitutionally incapable of following directions. That makes baking... a challenge. It makes baking finicky cookies an impossibility. I spent a whole lot of time and energy making these things.

My springerles ended up half-height and so hard you could crack a tooth on them. Seriously, if I'd built a house from those things, it would still be standing. To this day they're probably taking up space in a landfill, in the same shape they started out in, with some weird embossed shape (leaves? berries? I'm not even sure what they're supposed to be) on the top.

For a while my parents bought the yearly springerles from the German bakery, but at some point my mom took over, and hers always turn out perfectly, probably because she follows directions. (She claims it has something to do with never making them on rainy days, and sure, I'd love to blame my problems on humidity, but it's a lot more likely that it has something to do with my slapdash measuring system.)

Anyhow, I agreed to make them this year. (I also suggested that having a backup plan might not be a bad thing.) I have a springerle rolling pin on the way. I'm crossing my fingers that the grocery store has anise extract. And I'm even going to drag out the gram scale (ie, the small kitten scale) from its hiding place in hopes that it will force me to be more exact.

And if when all that fails, I'll order some from Amazon.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Feathered Four

Today I felt guilty enough about not taking the big dog on a walk last night (because the little dog was sick -- she's feeling better today), so I actually went for a run. As I was putting on my running pants the big dog looked over and raised his eyebrows. He didn't actually say "Really? You're going to go for a run? You don't have any excuses left?", but I was definitely feeling some judgement. Even the running app on my phone has started giving me notifications lately, like "Hey, remember me? Thanksgiving has come and gone. Now would be a great time to start working out again!"

We only went two miles out, then walked back, but I figured that's probably good enough for only the second run in something like eight months. Frankly I'm a little surprised I can still run two miles since I remember going through the whole couch-to-10k program and being wiped out after 30 seconds of jogging. (No really. It was pathetic. And yet here I am!)

We ran past these guys on the way out:

(They look like they're auditioning for a Beatles cover band.)

And then we walked past them on the way back. They were not happy about the big dog. The big dog was pretty happy to see them, though. I think they were the highlight of his run.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Random Pet Post

After I submitted yesterday's post on The Big Dog Weight Loss Plan, it occurred to me that the other thing that changed recently (aside from the weather getting colder) was that I put up barriers to keep the big dog out of the kitchen because he kept stealing things from the counter and getting into the trash. Now I'm just brainstorming here, but I wonder if it's possible that that is why he lost weight and therefore staying out of the kitchen should be part of my strategy as well.

Nah, that can't be it.

Anyhow, in the latest episode of this season on Theresa and her geriatric pets, I took both dogs for a long walk this morning, then we came back and the little dog puked all the treats I'd given her (plus a bunch of water that she drank when we got back) onto two separate dog beds. Now it's six hours later and she showed no interest in showing up for dinner. But one episode of vomiting and half a day of inappetence in an otherwise normal 12 year old spayed little dog is no reason to panic.

Look at me not panicking.

(Guido's toe beans. Yes, that's a technical term.)

Guido is continuing on his own terminal illness parade by picking fights with all the other animals in the house. It has gotten to the point that Guido just looks at Effing Scooter and Effing Scooter jumps off whatever cozy spot he has taken. Guido seems comfortable enough for the moment, though he suddenly gained a bunch of weight and his nose has been dripping. That might just be because his appetite has been good (yay, steroids!) and he has a chronic herpes infection... or it might be that he's retaining fluid because he's now in heart failure or something equally bad.  At least he's still breathing okay.

Guido and I have been watching a lot of videos on sled dog Twitter together. I'll miss that when he goes.

Speaking of sled dogs, it occurs to me that the big dog might actually enjoy pulling me around on a cart and it would be a good way to get rid of some of his extra energy. I may have to look into this...

Friday, December 7, 2018

The Big Dog Weight Loss Plan

The heat, then smoke, and then rain (plus, let's be honest, laziness) have really messed with my fitness levels and I've reached the point when I think I either need to buy bigger clothes or start eating less. Frankly, both of those options suck, but buying clothes is probably the more painful option. On the other hand, December really isn't the best time to say "Hey, I'm going to lose five pounds!". I was lamenting my options the other day and one of my friends agreed and suggested buying a pair of sweatpants and then putting off the pain until January. I have practical friends who enable me. Also, please don't comment on my sweatpants before next year.

In the meantime, the big dog has lost three pounds in as many weeks. He does this every winter. The minute the temperature drops I have to nearly double his food or he starts losing weight. He doesn't really get any exercise that I don't, so the only thing that makes sense is he's burning calories to keep warm.

So my new plan to lose weight is... I'm going to turn down the thermostat a few degrees during the day. (I already turn off the heat at night, which just means I am under a mountain of cats.) I tried it today and found that I notice when I've been sitting at my desk for a while because my hands get cold. Then I get up and jump around a bit and I'm warm again. Maybe this will help.

(The cats are not super thrilled with this development.)

If this works I'm going to patent the plan, write a book, and make millions.

In other news I took the dogs for an early walk this evening and our arrival downtown coincided with the pre-tree-lighting festivities. The big dog saw a horse pulling a hay cart and he was very interested. He was staring and prancing around just like the horse, making everyone waiting for the parade laugh.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Speaking of My Boss

Yesterday I mentioned my boss (H) asking me if I was trying to train him to take over my brother's job of receiving all my irritated emails at work.

Lest you think his email comes out of nowhere, let me give you the history of my texts with my boss.

Before we start, you should know that he is not my boss on paper. As someone whose role doesn't really match that of others in the group, I get moved around every time they need to rebalance the managers so they all have at least the minimum number of direct reports. But H remains my boss for real throughout all the changes.

This can lead to conversations like the following during my annual performance review:

[boss on paper]: To be honest, I don't really know what you do every day.
[me]: Well that makes two of us.

So here are some text messages my boss and I have exchanged over the last year:
me: I'm bored. Can I leave yet?
H: Ask [boss on paper]
me: He's not here.
H: Excuses
me: Is there a company class on finding a new career?
H: Trying to get you into that but you keep resisting
me: Would 'hijos de puta' have been in use in Ecuador in 1936? Where would I be able to find that out?
H: Google it, but not from the work's computer
(Apparently he was driving with his family in the car when I sent that one, so his wife (whom I also work with) read it to him. She thought it was funny.)
(At some point he said something offensive along the lines of "I don't like cats" or something similar.)
me: [cat gif]
me: [cat gif]
me: [cat gif]
H: [angry bird gif]
me: [cat gif]
H: [hamster gif]
me: [cat gif]
H: [owl being attacked by jay gif]
H: Annoying
me: [cat & Shaq gif]

And then over the next two days I sent 15 more cat gifs. (I counted.)

As you can see he manages to deal with me without quitting, and he hasn't fired me yet either. I'm not sure how he's held up so well. I might need to up my game.

Obligatory picture of my real boss

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

He Ain't Heavy

At work they're currently implementing a "voluntary separation package", and if you've been an employee for a long time it's a pretty good deal, so a bunch of people I know are leaving at the end of the year.

This is definitely better than the previous rounds of involuntary layoffs (although the packages then were also decent, and there was at least one person sending out pictures of himself with a sign that said "pick me!" -- yes, morale has been at an all time high for the past few years). But it's still a bummer for me because one of the people walking around with that "I'm going on vacation starting January 1st" glow is my brother.

Jeff is better at remembering people than I am. I had to start a file with the names of people I never want to work with again because otherwise I forget who they are. Last Monday, after a week of trying to remember an old director's name I called him up in the other building. "What was that executive director's name? The one who they moved across the country right before she retired? It was something old-fashioned like Irma, but not Irma." He knew the answer immediately. (Eula.)

But mostly it's going to suck because he's the person I send all my work snark to when I don't want to have to think about whether it contains anything that shouldn't go outside the company. So I can send him email that names names, and forward ridiculous requests without making a huge effort to change all the details.

(Here's a random picture of my cats helping me write.)

For instance, every single week HR sends an email with a stock photo of some smiling person that says "It's not too late to get your W-2 sent electronically!" Every week. Because I didn't get the hint the first forty-nine times they sent it this year, but this week I'm going to listen! But since they don't have any way to unsubscribe, or even an email address that we can send complaints to, the only thing I can do is send rage mail to Jeff (which crosses electronically with the rage mail he sends to me).

(We had another program that has been sending out automated messages every night for the past two weeks about some event being over, and one of my coworkers almost hurt himself laughing when I suggested that if they can't stop that email maybe they could at least combine it with the W-2 email. Everybody hates that HR email.)

Anyhow, on Monday I was in the office complaining to my boss about not being able to complain to my brother in the future. He was mildly sympathetic. Or possibly alarmed.

On Tuesday I sent my boss mail suggesting that we could make a device that keeps track of something because I was trying to write a report to figure out where all the equipment was and that was harder than it should have been.

My boss, of course, sent back mail that said a) Are you training me to take the place of your brother? and b) What algorithm are you using for this report?  I'm interested in what you are doing.

Yes, my boss can be a bit of a smartass.

Of course then I sent mail saying "Which part are you interested in? If it's the latter, [algorithm details]. If it's the former..." I attached a video on how to clicker train a dog.

It's Wednesday and I still have a job!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Books You Need In Your Life

I don't do a lot of lists, but a topic is a topic, amiright? Anyhow, these are books that I've read or listened to this year that I've really enjoyed. I read others that were well written but just didn't quite do it for me -- those aren't on this list. (And since I have a Kindle Unlimited subscription, I've also started a whole lot that weren't well written or even particularly coherent. Don't subscribe to KU if you're one of those people that absolutely must read all books to the last page. It will take you down like a hungry lion attacking a tired gazelle.)

This still isn't a comprehensive list of the books I loved since I don't keep track and I can't figure out how to make goodreads work for me. Expect random additions in the blog entries for days to come.

A lot of these probably came out before this year, but all that matters is that I read them this year. They're all in print anyhow and that is the important thing.

Science Fiction / Fantasy
I read some great stuff this year. Seriously, if you enjoy SF/F at all you've probably already ingested these, but just in case:

  • The Murderbot Diaries (starting with All Systems Red) by Martha Wells. Go read this immediately. You will thank me. Really. I expect you to come back and write a comment on this post thanking me.
  • Dominion of the Fallen (starting with The House of Shattered Wings) by Aliette de Bodard. What if all the world religions were real? This is a Paris of fallen angels and Annamite dragons and people just trying to make it through the day.
  • The Broken Earth Trilogy (starting with The Fifth Season) by N.K. Jemisin. Three books, three Hugos, and the reason is that these books are just amazing. She also has a collection of short stories that I'm currently in the middle of called How Long 'til Black Future Month? and it's making me reconsider my decision to not read as much short fiction.
  • All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders. I'm only halfway through this, but even if she doesn't stick the landing (which I'm not worried about), the language in this book would make it worth reading. There's a large gnarled tree root that is described as especially "grumpy". 
  • The Calculating Stars / The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal. Alternate universe in which the east coast is wiped out by a meteor and there's a race to get into space before the planet is uninhabitable. It's a space race novel with actual people and realistic conflicts.
Different people like different things and that's all good. Personally I will stop reading any book where things happen without the character's consent. Also, if I find myself side-eyeing all the character's choices, or wondering how they've managed to reach adulthood without knowing how any of the world works... nope. If those parameters match yours, here are some authors and books you might want to check out:  
  • The Comfortable Courtesan trilogy (starting with The Comfortable Courtesan: Being Memoirs by Clorinda Cathcart (that has been a Lady of the Town these several years)) by L.A. Hall.  These were a fun read.
  • Anything by Talia Hibbert. Perhaps start with The Princess Trap. Just read and enjoy.
  • Anything by Courtney Milan. The Suffragette Scandal was one of my favorites. I'd started avoiding historical romances in the past few years, but I'm glad I was talked into trying these.

  • Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. Both funny and serious, it covers a lot of information about Apartheid that I had never learned in school, and it's just generally a fascinating book. For this one I'd really recommend the audio version because Trevor Noah reads it. 
Does anyone have any mysteries or thrillers they'd like to recommend? I've found nothing that has come out recently that has really grabbed me.

And finally, here's the big dog who found the only sunny spot in the house...

It's Holidailies time!

Monday, December 3, 2018

The Most Monday of Mondays

Ugh. It's been a day. For many reasons.

Here's a picture of Guido channeling my current mood.

Tomorrow is another day.

Sunday, December 2, 2018


At some point in the last fifty years I learned to accept that I will never live the way other people do. I mean, I get that it's aesthetically appealing when everything in the house matches, and when art is done by people who are masters of the craft, but it's just not me. I don't put things on my walls unless it was done by someone I know. That someone is usually me.

All this is to say that I was trying to figure out how to put up a string of lights in my living room. I considered just tacking them up close to the ceiling, but I was pretty sure they would just annoy me because they wouldn't be straight. (Because nothing I do ever turns out straight.) Then I decided to incorporate them into linked canvases.

  • A whole bunch of really cheap canvases. (They were on sale at Michael's and I was going to go over to Elisabeth's and do some cool blobby acrylic pours, but that hasn't happened yet.)
  • Really old acrylic paints. They are starting to not mix with water. I should probably just get a new set, but meh, I can just pretend I'm adding texture on purpose.
  • The world's cheapest freaking paintbrushes. Seriously. Granted, the whole bag of twenty was probably a couple of bucks and you get what you pay for, but I used a brand new one and it was shedding bristles literally the first time I touched it to the canvas.
  • A string of lights I had in the garage. For a few years I kept seeing cheap strings of lights and buying them, so now I have at least three boxes in the garage which is ridiculous because I never decorate for the holidays. I have a thing about heights and it turns out that decorating the house with lights that are all under six feet just looks kind of sad. So I had lights.
  • Glue. I had to buy this. I went through the junk drawer and found three (3!) hole punches but no glue.
("Canvas 1"; media: acrylics and paint brush bristles; lights off.)

Anyhow, I attached a bunch of lights to the canvas today. That turned out to be harder than I expected, because these lights are the icicle kind, with a row across the top and strands hanging down. It's harder to place them exactly where I want them, but I persevered. I think I should get points just for using super glue around both my computer and the cats without any disasters.

 ("Canvas 1"; media: acrylics and paint brush bristles; lights on.)

The strand has 300 lights and I used 17. I'll probably run the strand around the outside this canvas as part of the frame (maybe with twigs glued on as the frame?), but my quick calculations are telling me that I could have ten canvases as part of this. We'll see...

I'll try different things as I go.


It's Holidailies time!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Downtown Dogs

Today Ginger went to the groomers to get her annual "little fluffy dog maybe she should come in more often" bath and brush-out. I'd made the appointment Thursday, and it turned out to be prescient because Friday night the big dog (accidentally?) peed on her head while aiming at a bush.

Anyhow, I walked both dogs downtown and dropped the little dog off and then Georgie and I wandered around. Turns out that with a big dog, wearing jeans, my 22 year old coat, and a baseball cap on my head keeping my hair out of my eyes, I make the security guards hired to keep the homeless away from shoppers downtown sorta nervous. So we walked over to my favorite coffee shop to get hot chocolate, then wandered around at a slightly faster pace.

Georgie kept trying to go back to the groomers, almost like he missed Ginger which doesn't make a lot of sense. At home they pretty much just ignore each other all day long. Usually their only interaction is if the big dog is sitting on a bed the little dog wants -- she'll run over and hump him until he gets up and moves. Really. That's the only time they seem to notice each other.

Ye Olde Covrt Hovse

Finally we went home, at which point the groomers called and said Ginger was ready, so we walked back and picked her up. She's very soft and fluffy now. (And I forgot to take pictures, oops.)

The big dog was overjoyed to see the little dog.

The little dog was overjoyed that she got to leave the building.

We all came home and took a nap.


It's Holidailies time!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Just Breathe

We had a fire up north a bit that made the air quality go from "Good" to "Moderate" to "Unhealthy for sensitive people" to "Unhealthy" to "Hazardous" over the space of about two days and then it sat there for a couple of weeks. Obviously it could be worse -- I didn't die and my house didn't burn down, so I figure I got off easy. But it does mean that the dogs didn't get walked or go to agility for a couple of weeks.

So this morning I took them for a nice long walk at a local park, and as I usually do when I remember, I took some pictures.

I'll spare you the one of my finger completely blocking the lens. (Besides I already posted it on Twitter and then deleted the original.) It looked like every other picture I've taken of my finger blocking the lens.

This one made me laugh:
Let's break it down a bit.

Ginger is looking happy (or maybe like she's staring straight into the sun, but at least she doesn't look like I'm about to beat her like she normally does when I start snapping pictures):
Then there's Georgie. He's staring at Ginger:
Same thing in the next picture:

Then he stared at me:

In any case, he's a handsome boy.

He's also still moping at home because I have denied him access to the kitchen. The two times when I've gone out briefly without leaving him a Kong stuffed with treats, I've come back home to find one of my new running shoes out in the hallway. Look at that last picture. Yes. I see the shoe thing as a threat too. Silly dog.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Full Janky

I know people, lots of people really, who live in houses that look like they are inhabited by adults. You know what I mean. There are matching, correctly-sized curtains on all the windows, the furniture looks like it was all purchased at the same time, professionally framed non-ugly things are hanging on the walls, all that stuff.

Somehow I missed the gene that controls that.

I have two large dog crates in the living room (one of which is there just to keep the extra paper towel rolls from the cats). The sliding glass door in the living room still doesn't have curtains. I finally bought a sofa recently, but every piece of furniture in the room is a different style, color, and state of decrepitude. I'd like to refer to my decorating style as "family cast-off modern", except it's not quite that good.

When I had my bathrooms redone, the designer was pretty much just constantly horrified by me.

The plus side of missing that gene is that I honestly don't notice that there's a problem. I lived without a couch for something like eight years because it was too much trouble to get a new one. Sure, the kitchen looks like it hasn't been upgraded since 1958 (because it hasn't), but the faucet is no longer shedding chunks of metal and threatening to come off in my hand. And it's just more efficient to store all your clean clothes on top of the drier.

Anyhow, some people would be bothered by not being able to find a baby gate that fit the second kitchen opening, but clearly I'm not that person. I mailed the company and asked what part I should order to get a 12" extension and they sent back info on the 4" and 6" extensions. Handy people would probably build something that fits in with the housing style. In brainstorming with a friend she asked if I wanted something nice, or just something kinda janky.

I went full janky.

Yes, that's a bookshelf turned sideways in the opening with a board pressed against it. It seems pretty sturdy and the big dog hasn't pushed it all over yet, so I'm calling it a success. I could lie and claim this is just temporary, but we all know this is going to stay like that until either the house burns down or I die here.

It doesn't even really look out of place.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

My Dog Only Eats Meat (Unless It's On the Counter. Or In the Trash)

So I recently switched to a different wet cat food because the cans were smaller and Crow was dying and not eating as much, and then she finished dying and wasn't eating anything, and now Guido is taking his own turn on the lymphoma merry-go-round and -- wait, the point of that sentence was to say that I switched brands and suddenly the cats were finishing everything on the plate. Sometimes I would open a second can and it would be gone, too.

Except... Yeah, it wasn't the cats. The big dog has discovered that he can get to everything on the counter. Also, if I'm not paying attention and forget to put up the barrier, everything in the trash. Somehow this took him two years. He's not really a sneaky dog in general, so I think he honestly doesn't get that he's not supposed to do these things even when I'm not in the house. I mean, it's not like he tries to hide it because he either takes things to his bed or onto the couch.

Anyhow, I think fully half of his calories in the last week have come from his scavenging. The list includes:
  • about two cups of safflower seeds (?)
  • (different day) a cup of small bird pellets (and he also broke the scoop, which is sort of irritating)
  • (different day) a tub of sour cream so old I couldn't remember what I bought it for
  • (multiple days) cat food
  • a bottle of dog skin supplements that came with him two years ago that I finally remembered to start giving again just to get rid of, so maybe 30 tablets? Luckily, there's nothing in there that would cause a problem.
I swear I haven't been starving him. Also, I don't understand how a dog that can't be bothered to lick all the Velveeta from the inside of a Kong has the patience to break open a thick plastic pill bottle. Luckily he has not gotten into Guido's steroids (and yes, I have moved them to a safer place).

So I could try to rig up something to keep him off the counter, but really the smart thing to do is just keep him out of the kitchen altogether.  The baby gates shipped two days ago.

Silly big dog.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

"How to Write Sex"

(This post started as a Slack conversation I was having with some friends and it made me laugh so much that I had to save it for posterity. My friend Hilary came up with the title, and she was completely making fun of me at the time, but after I wrote out the rules she changed her tune. Anyhow, now it's here for everyone to laugh at.)

"How to Write Sex" by Theresa Baumgartner

Step one: Uh, make them want to have sexy times. Somehow.

Step two: Have the sexy times. Or maybe not.

Step three: How can the sexy times have caused problems? Let me count the ways!

Step four: That wasn't good enough? Wait another quarter of the book and we'll revisit this idea.

If I can't sell my fiction I think I should totally sell a book on how to write a novel...

And because I have a feeling this title is going to generate some traffic from people who don't know me... Here, oh great Internet, have a picture of my cat Guido who is not long for this world (lymphoma) but is living his best life by napping and picking fights with everyone in the household in the meantime:

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Georgie the Grouch

The big dog is keeping me busy lately. I came home yesterday from a NaNoWriMo meet and greet and found that somebody had gotten into the trash. There were well-licked plastic wrappers, a few pieces of butternut squash, and a few egg shell sprinkles pretty much all over the living room. (Note: this is entirely my fault. I looked at the unprotected trash can before I left and thought about putting up the barrier and then I forgot about it.)

From my detailed forensic examination, it appears he first settled in on the dog bed with his ill-gotten gains and then moved onto the couch (maybe because the little dog was trying to get her share? maybe just because he likes to hang out on the couch?) The addition of the couch narrows down the culprit; it's not impossible for the little dog to get into the trash, but she refuses to get on the furniture. Anyhow, while on the couch Georgie removed the rest of the items from the bag, although he lost some to the cushion gaps. For a dog who turns up his nose at any hint of a vegetable he sure changes his tune when there are vegetable scraps in the garbage.

It's good that I got the easily-cleaned faux-leather covers for the couch cushions.

In other news, Ripley the cat keeps trying to get the dogs to cuddle with him. I was working from home the other day when I kept hearing grumpy under-the-breath growling from the big dog and I turned around and found this.

The big dog eventually got up and flounced into the other room.

I have to give Ripley points for trying. He eventually got the old dog, Molly, to hang out with him by waiting until she had entered a state of sleep that closely resembled a coma and then moving in next to her. After a few months of that Molly stopped moving away from him when she woke up, although that might have been because she was so arthritic she had a hard time getting off the floor.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Crow the Cat

This is Crow the cat. When I first saw her she was a little bundle of fur whose eyes had just opened. She hissed at me, a less than terrifying gesture in a kitten who couldn't really walk yet and had no teeth. Despite that, she turned into quite a nice cat. (Okay, yes, she bit someone on the face and ended up on rabies quarantine a couple of months ago, but she was provoked.) Her name came from a comparison with the others in the litter. Crow was the smart one, Guido (who is still in the house) was the aggressive one, and Pigeon (who was quickly renamed Cheech and then finally George in his new home) was the one that was a little lacking in the smarts. At five weeks of age Crow and Guido were running around terrorizing each other (and the adult cats in the house) while Pigeon/Cheech/George liked to lie on his back and wave his feet in the air.

Crow and I had nearly sixteen years together, a time which involved two cross-country trips, much purring, and countless episodes of me pushing her off the keyboard. Because of her I know nearly every accidental combination of keys that can be pressed by dainty feline feet, and more importantly, how to undo the damage.

She pretty much lived to eat, so much so that she had to be fed in a separate room to give her siblings a chance to eat at more leisurely pace. She taught me that it's easier to just take the trash out than to try to bury the cheese wrapper under other garbage because burying it just meant more trash would be pulled out of the trash can on the way to the cheese wrapper. Stubborn was her middle name. But she also liked to cuddle and was always in charge of keeping the other cats clean, whether they wanted that or not.

She was a good cat.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Saffron Saturday

It's good to have friends who have big dreams. Even huge crazy dreams. This is why I spent most of Saturday planting a chunk of a 1/2 acre with saffron bulbs.

I have a history of being carried along on crazy quests. And here's the thing -- they almost always turn out to be a ton of fun and give me something else to think about for a while. So when Noah & Elisabeth invited me to help plant saffron bulbs at the rented farm, I said sure, why not?

In case you didn't know (and I'm not even going to pretend that I didn't just look up the wikipedia entry), saffron comes from a species of crocus. I knew the spice came from part of the flower and I spent the day making flower penis jokes because I'm super mature when I'm semi-delirious with heat stroke, but the joke's on me because it's actually the stigmas and styles (aka, the "female" part of the flower) and not the stamen (the "male" part).

The farm is in the middle of a suburb in West Sacramento, so I drove out there early in the morning (ahem, because I'm such a good friend!).  The dirt had been tilled (or whatever is done with dirt to loosen it up and hey, I wasn't the one planning this whole thing so don't make fun of my lack of farming knowledge) and there were rows of mounds about a yard wide with furrows in between. There were eighteen rows that were about fifty feet long.

We had ten people there at various points during the day which should tell you what wonderful people Noah and Elisabeth are, because they know a bunch of people who are willing to spend a Saturday planting bulbs for fun.

Noah had built this clever contraption that would drop six bulbs across at intervals as the thing was pulled through the dirt. Pulled through the dirt by people. In action looked a bit like we were trying to plow using people instead of oxen. I'm kind of surprised the neighbors weren't lined up on the street taking pictures. I wouldn't be shocked if it showed up online somewhere.

So five people were working with the human-powered bulb-o-matic and the rest of us were hand planting. Noah carefully explained that we were aiming for 6 inches deep, with 6 bulbs across the width of each row and four inches (center to center) between the ones on each side. We had yard sticks. We had markings on trowels. I think there may have been just the tiniest discrepancy between the plan and the reality.

Anyhow we grabbed one of the boxes of bulbs, and with Jen on one side of our row and me on the other, we dug down with a trowel, shifted the dirt out of the way long enough to shove a bulb down -- hairy side up, just like a troll doll -- three times, then moved over four inches and repeated the process.

We did this for about an hour before we took a water break and I looked around and realized that we were only a couple feet from the beginning of the row and we couldn't see the end. The bulb-o-matic had its own problems -- the tubes kept clogging I think -- so they weren't too much farther ahead in their row. Then I realized there were twice as many boxes of bulbs as I'd thought there was. The delirium set in.

A really old guy tottered by with his Chihuahua. He didn't speak English, but my two years of Duolingo Spanish were enough for me to tell him that no, it is not onion, it is... (here I had to look up the word for saffron)... azafrán. (And yes, that was in present tense because I don't take my lessons very seriously so I have not progressed to any other tense.) He didn't seem to understand what azafrán meant, but I give it equal odds that my pronunciation was terrible or he just didn't know what saffron was.

It got hotter. Jen and I discussed a variety of things as we moved along, including our plans for NaNoWriMo, and the fact that we would starve to death if we had to depend on our planting skills to eat. The hotter it got, the lower the threshold for jokes. By the end of the afternoon we finally got through our entire box of bulbs and I went to steal some from another box. I used the front of my t-shirt to hold them, then we almost died laughing when I told Jen I didn't need a box to hold them because I was going to use my "shirt bucket". At the time I said it I was completely serious about "shirt bucket" being a real thing.

Anyhow, I think at least one or two of the many, many bulbs I planted were at the correct depth.
As a group we finished four rows, so if you, too, want a saffron planting experience in the next week or so I can hook you up.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Well-trained, My A**

I took the dogs on a walk along Putah Creek this morning both to get some exercise and to get some photos of them.

I'd forgotten that being in a new place means that all training acquired in the past is invalid, so every time I told the dogs to stay and then crouched down to get a picture on their level (which, after many years of truly terrible pictures, I have learned is very important), both dogs would rush toward me. So I have a series of pictures that have vaguely dog-like blobs in them. Oh well. Maybe next time.

Here are the best of the bunch:

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Second Worst New Hobby

Recently I installed a geocaching app on my phone. You know geocaching -- people hide a box with a log book and then other people get the coordinates and go find the box and sign the log book. I've been feeling very lump-like lately since it's been too hot and smoky to run for about six weeks and I've been using the extra time to eat more.

So I decided to try geocaching. When I told my friends my plan one said "Do people still do that?", which is just further proof that I am the sign that a given fad is over.

Anyhow, instead of eating more ice cream for breakfast this morning, I grabbed the dogs and headed for a local spot. It wasn't that far away, just on the edge of town due south from me, and there's a park nearby, so I figured it would be a good one to start on. Also, the difficulty was listed as easy.

It wouldn't surprise me if someone pointed out a cache box in the background.

I probably should have picked a different cache when I read the past comment that said "clever hiding spot!". I'm the world's most unobservant person. Even wearing my glasses I could miss something in plain sight. And something cleverly hidden? Lost cause.

I looked around for a while. I'm a little surprised nobody called the cops. I never found the cache. The app said I was in the right area, but there weren't any more directions. So I took a couple pictures of my dogs and then I was going to take a picture of the sign at the end of the road but half an hour of GPS usage on my phone had killed the battery. Besides, it was getting hot. And I was trying not to get frustrated by my new "hobby".

Should we take bets on how many locations I can visit before I find a cache?

(It's still only the second worst new hobby because of the whole Pokemon-go fiasco a few years ago.)

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Online Dating (Just Kidding) (Sort of)

One of my goals for August, yes, this August, is to start querying my novel with agents.

In a perfect world, this is the sequence:
1) I send a query to multiple agents describing my book.
2) One or more of them offer to represent me.
3) I carefully pick the one who will be the best for my writing career.
4) My super agent queries the book with editors at publishing houses.
5) The publishing houses get into a bidding war.
6) I get a seven figure advance.

In reality this is what will happen:
1) I send a query to multiple agents describing my book.
2) Half of them eventual send a form reply, the other half never respond, leaving me to wonder how long I should wait before I consider it a rejection.
3) I obsessively tweak the query and send it out to the next group of agents.
4) Goto step 2.
(See also, Dijkstra's "Go To Statement Considered Harmful")
5) Eventually I run out of agents to query.
6) I either self-publish or put the book in a digital trunk and forget it ever happened.

So yeah, good times ahead.

Today I was trying to figure out which agents to put in the first batch and I realized it's a lot like online dating. You start with a huge list of agents. You filter out the ones that accept the right genre and then you're down to something under 200. Now you have to prioritize them.

Do they have any clients you recognize? Do they have any clients at all?

Are there comments from other writers saying "Agents at this agency seem to last about two months and then disappear"?

Are they famous? Because maybe you'll have a better chance attracting the attention of a newer agent. Except the newer agent won't have the contacts that a more established agent would. But will an established agent even have time for a new writer?

Anyhow, I'm just going to be looking for an agent who's interested in what I have to offer and won't leave me buried in a shallow grave in a national forest.

That's not too much to ask, right?

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Not Yet Funny

Related to this, I got this notice today:

Fingers crossed that Crow the cat does relatively well for another week...

Friday, July 20, 2018

Some Day This Will Be Hilarious

I currently have four cats and they all started as my bottle babies when I was in vet school, so they're all in their teens now. If you know anything about cats that information is enough to tell you they are well into the lymphoma years.

Crow the cat didn't eat anything last night and didn't eat anything this morning, so I took her in to find out what specific form of badness she has going on and whether it's something we can treat for a while. (Jury is still out on that part -- it's looking like either the bad form of lymphoma or the worse form of lymphoma, plus something else that is making her jaundiced.)

 Crow the cat, "helping" me write

While she was at hospital number one (before transferring to hospital number two), she bit one of the technicians putting her IV catheter in.

If that wasn't bad enough, she is two months overdue on her rabies vaccination. I mean, she's an inside cat, I haven't seen any dead bats in the house, and she's probably well-protected from all the vaccinations she's had in the past, but still.

If she dies within the next ten days (which I give pretty good odds on at this point), legally they need to cut off her head and send it to the state to test for rabies.

So, yeah, someday this is going to be really funny. Just not so much today.