Saturday, September 29, 2012

Road Trip

From Drop Box

A Winning Combination

All the important events in my life take place in a casino. Or, very near one, at least.

We were married 23 years ago in Reno, Nevada. We got marred at the Chapel on the Park which was the only chapel I could find without an Elvis impersonator and plastic flowers. We bought our rings at a pawn shop, rented a tux, and got hitched.

Subsequent birthdays and anniversaries, thusly, are celebrated in casinos.

We are, for the next half hour, at the Wild Horse Casino in Pendleton, Oregon, which is the only "dry" casino I'm aware of. You can smoke like a fiend here, but you can only drink in the bar. Which is, of course, where we ended up and danced the night away to the local cover band. We partied like rock stars and had a blast.

Next week is my birthday....

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Let's say you're driving on a two-lane road (that is, one lane in each direction) and you're following a car and you are both coming to an intersection. Just as you approach the intersection, another lane is added and the car in front of you chooses the right turn only lane. You are aiming for the left lane because you are either going straight or turning left.

Let's just say you pull as far forward as you can so the car that was previously in front of you has no choice but to wait until you've cleared the intersection because the right hand car can no longer see the traffic coming from the left.

This is how you avoid waiting your turn in line.

(btw, this makes me crazy.)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Three Minute Fiction*

It’s probably time for me to retire anyway. I’ve been here for a lot of years and they want someone younger in this job now, someone fresher. Someone who is comfortable with new technology.

I remember when I got my security clearance. That was decades ago and I wasn’t allowed in the West Wing even then. When I started, I was in charge of cleaning up after the chimney sweeps. Every six months they would come and they always left a sooty mess behind. Footprints everywhere. There are thirty-five chimneys in the White House and over the years, Cheney’s was the dirtiest.

You’d be surprised how long it takes to move up the ranks in the Executive Residence Staff. You have to work there for years before you’re trusted enough to not be noticed. I didn’t get the Oval Office detail for twelve years and I’ve been cleaning it ever since.

That was twenty years ago. When a man sat behind the desk.

It’s no surprise it came to this. The media had been talking about how obsolete the President was for years. Not the function so much as the man. He didn’t have any real power, after all. Congress had all the power. The President was redundant. Anything he did had to be approved by Congress. They just wanted to eliminate the middleman.

President Roddenberry was the last person to hold the office before it was outsourced. He took it hard but he was a believer of the system and, besides, there wasn’t anything he could do.

POTUS was built in the United States but not all of its parts. The computer chips and circuitry came from overseas. The programmers were primarily U.S. citizens but some of the code was outsourced. If people were fed up with the biases of the President, shouldn’t they be worried about those of the programmers?

It’s shaped as an obelisk made of polished steel. Pundits said it was a nod to George Washington but I think they did it for the photographs. A metal box the shape of a shoebox would look pathetic on the Resolute Desk. They wanted it to have height. They wanted something that looked imposing

I can see the advantages to POTUS. One less election, for one thing. And POTUS can literally track the will of the people. But, that’s my problem right there. The “people” crave reality TV. This isn’t a game. This is a country. But nobody asked me.

It used to be, I cleaned the Oval Office early in the morning. I only had to be out before the President arrived. Now, of course, POTUS is behind the desk 24/7 and they won’t let me in there at all. But I cleaned that office until President  Roddenberry’s last day and I learned a lot even though I never met the man.

For example, all the pictures of the installation featured an empty box because they were behind schedule. POTUS wasn’t finished yet. And, there are two POTUSes. That’s so there’s always one online while the other one gets updates. And, its battery backup only lasts four hours. I found that out when I tripped over the cord in the first week. It wasn’t long after that I was asked to leave. They said my duster created too much static electricity and posed a threat to POTUS.

I didn’t like that power cord. It made POTUS look vulnerable: a symbol of the greatest country on earth had a rat’s tail. It was like pulling back Oz’s curtain and finding only a man.

But, then again, maybe that’s how it should be.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Pre-Peeled, Re-Wrapped Bananas Are the Most Wasteful Sign of the Apocalypse Yet


I was looking at the calendar for the Clark County Event Center to see what there was to do this weekend. I thought maybe it was time for the county fair but it's already come and gone. However, if you're interested, there are two events taking place there this weekend: The Portland Agility Dog Trials and the Seattle Cat Club Show. Funny that these would be on the same weekend and that it's the dogs that need to be agile.

But this reminds me: I went to the library yesterday to pick up The Poisoner's Handbook by Deborah Blum. I thought it might provide some useful ideas of how to foil my protagonists in my upcoming Now & Then story. In browsing the shelf, I found some other interesting titles and also checked out Coroner At Large by Thomas T. Noguchi, M.D. and This Will Kill You by HP Newquist and Rich Maloof. (This last one already looks good. Check out the Table of Contents: Chapter One, Alligators....)

These books were located very near another interesting title: The Ultimate Guide to Orgasm for Women by Mikaya Heart.

Interesting that death and orgasm are shelved so close together.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Maybe I'm Jinxed

I got the lights back on in the kitchen so I can see what I'm doing to make coffee which is good because I have NO IDEA how many decaffeinated people it takes to change a light bulb and I have no interested in finding out, either.

But even as I contemplated the answer to the above riddle, the light bulb burned out in my dining/office so now I'm working in the dark.

At least I have coffee.


From Drop Box

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

How To Buy A Daughter

In 2009, Steinberg came under a worldwide media firestorm when he announced on his website that couples could also choose their baby’s eye and hair color, in addition to gender. 
Didn't think it could happen, did you? Thought I made the whole thing up, huh? Well, me too. I had no idea it was possible.

But, there you go.
Fertility doctors foresee an explosion in sex-selection procedures on the horizon, as couples become accustomed to the idea that they can pay to beget children of the gender they prefer.
Slate: How To Buy A Daughter
If you're new to the site, I wrote a story last year with designer babies as the general premise. It's called Now & Then and you can find it, in its entirety, right here, for a limited time. Free!

It's a work of fiction, about 20,000 words (less than 100 pages), a tongue in cheek story about two amateur detectives, Tsosumi Then and Wynott Now, who must find Ken and Barb Carson's missing baby and uncover a black market designer baby racket in the process.

It was a lot of fun to write and, for some, a lot of fun to read. I hope you like it.

Meanwhile, I'm working on the next Now & Then adventure. Tsosumi and Wynott are hired to find the missing parents of Carrie D'Way. Known as the Water Princess, Carrie is heir to her parents' substantial water rights. Things get serious when the Guy Goody, who is challenging H.T. Eaux for Commissioner of the Water Works in the upcoming election, is found dead and all that is left of him is Goody's two shoes.

I'll bet you can't wait, can you?

Monday, September 17, 2012


I dreamed that we suffered a power outage last night. (The dream and the power outage.) I woke up and noted the time. It was 4:30 am. It didn't occur to me that I wouldn't know the time if the power was out. In my dream-state, I was confident that my electric clock had a battery backup. It made perfect sense at the time and, as far as I know, it could be true.

The real concern wasn't what time it was, or whether my clock was functioning properly, or even whether there was a power outage at all. My only concern, after noting the time, was how I was going to make coffee later in the morning. There was nothing to be done about it at that early hour so I dozed back to sleep and hoped the power would be on again shortly.

At closer to 7 am, I wondered if the power was back. The clock was functioning, as before, but why bother getting out of bed if there's no coffee? I imagined I might have to trek to Starbucks to get my literal and figurative juices flowing. But, then, I heard a tick - the sound of the bathroom heater clicking on. Aha! Power!

I emerged from my bed/cocoon and checked the clock on the microwave. Not flashing. No power outage. It had all been a dream and I was saved! Coffee was mine and the day was dawning fresh, anew, with glory and hope abounding. Amen.

But I need to add this to my To Do List: Go to the boat and retrieve my kettle and french press. Catastrophe awaits and I must be prepared.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Official Forecast

According to

Is "dreary" a new weather term? Anyway, I hope they're wrong.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Blood Donation

(Could I get a receipt for that?)

I donated blood the other day and it's been a while. I think the last time I donated was in 2001. That was the year I ran my first* marathon and, and at the time, I didn't think I could spare it. I couldn't tell you why I didn't go back to donating blood after that.

Turns out, things have changed over the last decade. Some good, some not so good. The biggest difference was how they asked those embarrassing, very personal, questions. They don't. You still have to answer them but you get to do it on a touch-screen laptop while the interviewer takes a smoke break.

Another difference, and this is during the face-to-face interview, was the intake person asked me to give my gender. I wonder what would have happened if I said, "Male."** I wasn't brave enough to find out.

I did, once, answer the following question in the following manner:
Q: Have you ever taken money or drugs for sex, even once?
A: Of course! I'm married!
It didn't go over well so I don't do that anymore.

The most disheartening change was there wasn't a cookie waiting for me after it was all over; they had Cheez-Its. I don't have anything against Cheez-Its. In fact, some of my favorite cracker-like snacks are cheese-like crackers. But, I wanted a cookie. Hell, I earned it! I mean, if I had known I wouldn't get a cookie I might not have made the effort!

Oh, well. At least I wasn't making a blood withdrawal.

*of two - and in the interest of full disclosure, I ran it in 4:45:03. I improved my time by ninety seconds when I ran the Cincinnati Flying Pigs Marathon roughly six months later in 4:43:37. I wouldn't want to be innacurate with regard to my marathon time. Sheesh, who would do that??

**Also, and there's no full disclosure here, I'm female.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

To Do List

  1. Change light bulbs in kitchen
  2. Clean top of refrigerator
  3. Let light bulbs burn out in kitchen
  4. Top of refrigerator no longer exists

Chocolate Chip Mint Brownies - Recipe

1. Brush teeth
2. Eat brownie

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Starbucks Smack Talk

I went to Starbucks today - a Saturday - and the patrons there were wearing their Saturday clothes. The weather was expected to be nice so there were flip flops, shorts, and spandex workout wear, people who hadn't combed their hair yet and weren't planning to, and people who could have been wearing their pajamas but were polite enough to get dressed first.

The exception to this scene was in line in front of me: a young woman, tastefully dressed as if she was on her way to work in a professional office. She wasn't severe; she wasn't wearing a suit. She was in a beautiful, flowered chiffon dress in colorful hues, four-inch-heeled pale green patent leather pumps, with a lemon sorbet colored cardigan sweater. She was about 30 years old, if I had to guess, and her blond hair was tied into a neat - not tight - bun. The most severe thing about her was her shade of lipstick.

She stood out from the rabble.

As it happens, I took a phone call in the time between when I placed my coffee order and when it was purveyed. As I chatted, the young blond woman received her order and, so, I assumed the next coffee proffered was mine. But, I wasn't sure. I twisted the cup around on the counter so I could see the markings that would identify its unique combination of milk, foam, and - what's the other ingredient? Oh, yes. Coffee.

The blond was very polite, not wanting to interrupt my cell phone conversation, and said, "I'm sorry, I think that's my coffee." I removed my hand, still chatting, as she turned to me, the devil now possessing her sweet face as she said, "DON'T TOUCH THAT!"

I was afraid for my life and fled from the store.

That could really happen in Seattle. And, it did, really. Right up until the point where I fled.

I got my coffee first.


Yesterday, I went to the right Costco in the right city and got my replacement sunglasses. Finally.

As I made my way to the crowded entrance, I noticed there were several bike racks. Lots of them, in fact, I thought Good for Costco. Of course, I was in Portland but still - who's ever been to Costco on a bicycle?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Five Alarm Fire on Hayden Island

We went into Portland for dinner last night and saw this:

Photo by Zachary Kaufman

This was the Tunderbird Hotel just across the Columbia River from us on Hayden Island. It was still smoldering on Thursday night, after the fire broke out Sunday morning. We didn't arrive in town until  Wednesday so we missed it but we our apartment is close enough we would have been able to see the smoke from our apartment had we been here. The river is within walking distance.

The building has been vacant since 2005 and The Columbian has reported the owner of the property owes back taxes of over $1 milllion dollars. Certainly sounds suspicious but the cause has yet to be determined.

The property is just west of I-5 and if a new bridge is ever built there, it would certainly impact this property. Many of the stores here have been vacant although there has been some recent construction that suggests someone thinks things will turn around in this area.

This fire was huge. More than one million gallons had been used on Sunday.
“We had to call the Water Bureau to make sure we weren’t depleting the city of all its water,” he said.
Last night, we could see they were still pouring water on hot spots and during the night we could still smell the smoke in our apartment.

This two-minute video is a press conference in which all the statistics are mentioned. Pretty amazing.

I have some shopping to do on Hayden Island today. I'm sure there will still be some activity at the scene. It's been tying up traffic all week.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Only in Seattle

NPR: Bacon IN your coffee?

Black Cat

A black cat crossed my path today but it might have been worse for the cat since I was driving my car at the time. The cat's fine - made it to the other side of the road safely. Me? It's too early to tell but I was on my way to Starbucks to cash in my coupon for a free cup of coffee but when I got there I forgot all about the coupon and paid for the coffee instead.

It could be all downhill from here.

*** UPDATE ***

After Starbucks, I tried calling Costco optical to see if my glasses were in. (These were to replace the glasses I lost in the lake.) No on answered the phone but since I was across the street, I figured I would just go over there and ask them. Even though it was only 10 am, I had to wait 45 minutes before I could talk to someone. The nice young man told me the glasses were in but I was in the wrong Costco! I ordered them in a different city altogether! Crap - where am I anyway?

After that, I had a case of fumbleitis. I kept dropping everything but I bought a new pair of black shoes and that fixed everything.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Draft Day

6:48 pm - I am in Draft Central of the Hawks Nest Fantasy League with less than fifteen minutes before the first draft pick. Six of ten teams are represented here with the remaining four logging in from remote locations. These posts are live.

6:50 pm - The first round draft pick will go to Ghetto Punky's Posse, the only team in the league with a female owner. She is calm and cavalier just prior to the proceedings. She's either prepared herself very well or she just wants you to think she is. This reporter wishes her the best of luck.

6:59 pm - Food and drinks have been brought into Draft Central and team owners have staked their territories. Laptops have been set up and various reports are displayed on multiple monitors. The tension is mounting as we prepare for the first pick.

7:05 pm - Punkys Posse has taken Running Back Arian Foster in the first round. And, we are off and running!

7:08 pm - It is very quiet now in Draft Central as each team ranks their picks in anticipation of their next pick.

7:10 pm - Hubbys team is owner of On The Road Wanderers. He will be picking ninth. After the tenth team, pick order reverses and Road Wanderers will pick again in the twelfth position.

7:11 pm - On The Road Wanderers has picked Drew Brees as Quarterback (congratulations, Drew) and Lynch Marshawn at the Running Back position. (On The Road Wanderers immediately expressed regret for his last choice. Was it true regret or a chance to get inside the head of other Team Owners?)

7:15 pm - Southside Tony Toni Tone drafted Calvin Johnson at Wide Receiver which caused a stir in the Draft Room. This reporter heard from one Team Owner, "Suck it!" to which another replied, "That would be a good team name for you!" Things are heating up.....

7:17 pm - Punkys Posse drafted a much sought over Tight End, Jimmy Graham, which encited additional outbursts.

7:18 pm - As a side note to the proceedings, the owner of Southside Tony Toni Tone shared the first place prize in the Cornhole For Cash 2012. Good luck, Tony Toni Tone.

7:22 pm - Things are heating up physically as well as figuratively. Draft Central has western facing windows (that dont open) and the A/C has cut out. The available players left to select are thinning and Team Owners are voicing their anger when their top picks are stolen from them.

7:24 pm - I just heard one Team Owner accuse the others of stealing his scouting reports. Lets just hope it doesnt come to fisticuffs.

7:25 pm - As space was needed for Team Owners, this reporter was relegated to the broom closet for her report. The equipment here does not include an apostrophe..

7:27 pm - This reporter has just learned that Josh Brown, Kicker formerly for the Seattle Seahawks, then for the Rams, then for the Jets, is planning to return to Seattle for the rest of his career. This is an unconfirmed report.

7:41 pm - In an exclusive interview with Punky, I was able to get personal insight into the the leagues only female owner. I learned about shopping trends and personal preferences in shoes. Another team owner wondered aloud if we were seriously talking about shoes in the middle of The Draft. Indeed, we were! Since she picks first, then last, she has plenty of time to talk about fashion. (Do we see a Punky Posse sportswear line in the future??) Another owner predicted that Punky would end up kicking all their asses this season to which I responded, "Of course, she will, and shell be wearing awesome shoes when she does it!"

7:46 pm - This reporter has just heard a rumor that the Lake Stevens Sea Gals is owned by a conglomerate *** THIS JUST IN *** Punky has taken a kicker in the eighth round which has totally confounded other owners and caused a lot of talk. She has confirmed this move was to put everyone else off balance. *** (returning to our previuos post) *** of young women who have ALSO taken a kicker in the eighth round. One has to wonder if the women are working together.

7:54 pm - I just spoke with Team Up The Middle who is new to the League this year. His draft style is exclusively by the seat of his pants. Even as he formulates a strategy, he abandons it. By contrast, Team Thank God Al Toon Retired is researching even now after the midway point of the Draft. God is feeling very confident in his team and for good reason. Gods fantasy baseball team is in first place.

8:03 pm - Reggie Wayne went in the 11th round to Team In Like Flynn. (Flynns owner is also the Commissioner but this reporter detected no bias in the current proceedings.) I was there during the decision making process. Flynn has charts and lists posted all around him which he marks as players are eliminated from the draft. "Its time to get creative," he told me. When it was his turn to pick, I watched as he used his entire minute and a half for his selection, talking to himself as he made his choice. It was a tense moment as he selected as the clock nearly expired.

8:04 pm - Shouting now, as players are routinely stolen from other teams wish lists. "This is when leagues are made or broken," shouted the owner of The Road Wanderers.

8:09 pm - Tony Toni Tone is also feeling confident of his picks. His strategy so far has been to mess with everyone elses strategy. His prediction is that he will finish in the top half of the League this season. However, if a trophy was offered he thinks he could bring it home for the win. He did not offer what kind of footwear he might sport if he were to make it the the final playoffs.

8:11 pm - We are near the end of the draft now. Only a few picks left. Chatter is lighter, friendlier. Conversation now moves to trucks and mileage. I havent been able to communicate with the offsite teams. I wish them all the very best of luck."

8:17 pm - On The Road Warriors has made its last pick after which Team Owner Hubby wished the remaining owners lots of luck. Team owners are bottom-feeding now to complete their rosters and are expressing relief at its completion.

8:17 pm - God has four quarterbacks. I suppose he can have as many as he wants.

8:19 pm - Well, that about wraps things up. Punky will be the last to pick. Other owners are urging her to pick a kicker. She picks ... Bernard Scott, Running Back!

8:23 pm - There are no ceremonies to open the draft. There are no ceremonies, no parades, no over-the-top fanfare to conclude it. But every one in the room has sighed a sigh of relief and pushed back their chairs. And, now, the analysis begins amongst and between the owners.

Already, the smack talk is starting between The Wanderers and Punky in the first matchup and team owners are challenging the commissioner on league rules.

It should be an exciting season.

Labor Day

And labor we did. Actually, it wasn’t as bad as last time. We pulled the motor off the dinghy without too much trouble, even though the lake level is down about two feet. The boat on the other side of the finger pier was out so we pulled the dinghy into that slip and the hoisted it out onto the dock.

Hubby brought the pressure washer but we couldn’t use it because the boat on the other side of us was being varnished and the water was spraying too much. So we just used a hose and a brush and that worked fine. The bottom of the boat was brown when we pulled it, but it cleaned right up with much less effort than last time!

We rigged up some lines in the rafters and pulled the dinghy up to store for the winter and we took the motor home. We still have to disconnect the wash-down hose and drain the lines before winter but we think we’ll get a few more nice weekends before then.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Boating Adventure # (n+1)

Went to the boat yesterday and found it had lost power. The batteries were low and we could only get one engine started. Luckily, we were able to get the second one started without too much fuss and we were on our way.

As we left the marina, I went below to get our lunches and found a small stream of water leaking from the refrigerator. Of course, it had defrosted! I grabbed a towel to mop things up and tentatively opened the refrigerator door and that's when things got really bad.

Not only had all the ice melted but the hamburgers which were frozen when we last left the boat were now thawed and rotting in the freezer, and meat juices were dripping everywhere. Oh, did it stink! (I think it smelled worse that our soiled dinghy!)

I shut the door and hoped it would all go away, disappear like a bad dream. But, it didn't so we dropped an anchor and went to work. I got towels, soapy water, and bleach while Hubby went to work cleaning the fender covers that got goopy on our last trip in salt water. Friends came by and asked if we needed any help. We shooed them away saying the chore was too disgusting to share and they sailed on their merry way.

The sun was out and it was, otherwise, a pleasant day and so we decided our efforts deserved a beer to cheer us in our unhappy tasks. That's when our day went from bad to worse - when we realized we were afloat, alone, with tepid alcohol and no ice! We nearly called Vessel Assist!

We thought this situation might constitute a new definition for "dry dock" but we recovered. We chilled a couple of brews in the freezer as we finished our smelly tasks and drank them in celebration of our survival of the day's ordeals.

Oh my, that was a close one!

Evening Stroll

From Drop Box

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Taking Care of Business

I don't normally pay a lot of attention to lyrics unless I'm singing karaoke which I was, last night. It's really research. I have to do it (but that's a different story).

Along the way, I sang BTO's Taking Care of Business which lyrics include:

If you ever get annoyed
Look at me I'm self-employed
I love to work at nothing all day
. . .

It's the work that we avoid
And we're all self-employed
 We love to work at nothing all day
Clearly, this should be the anthem for 76003dot1414.
(The rest of the lyrics are here.)