Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Jasper Fforde & Nancy Pearl

This is the link for the audio of the interview I attended on October 15. It's about an hour long so pop some popcorn first. Plus, if you're trying to avoid anything, this'll do it. (I don't know if you'll avoid any storms with it, though.)

The volume starts out real low at the beginning but it gets better after the introductions are over.

Jasper Fforde & Nancy Pearl

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

From Fallen

Fantasy Land

I think it would be fun* to write a fictional blog. This one is mostly true although I do embellish for comic effect. My first "novel" (Nanowrimo project of 2010) concerned a woman who blogged but the character didn't actually blog. I mean, in real cyberspace, if that isn't an oxymoron.

What if I created a fictional blog by a fictional person? It could be great fun to invent all kinds of bizarre occurrences, like a global boycott against Starbucks. Who would ever be dumb enough to think they could take on Starbucks? I would have to name it FICTIONAL BLOG or something in case this blogger gets involved in something illegal. I wouldn't want to ruin the fantasy by interjecting a lot of reality and disclaimers but I don't want the FBI knocking down my door either.

I already have enough on my writing plate for the next couple months so I'm not sure I'll  launch into this write away. On the other hand, it could be a fun companion piece to Now & Then if the blog is written by Tsosumi and it tracks with the story. It could be a way to get juices flowing and allow me to get in her head a little more.

Or it could be a great big time suck which I have no problems finding enough of (or creating  for myself).

Anyway, just something I'm thinking about for fun.

*Okay, my idea of fun might be different than yours.


It's been a week since my last confession. So far, I have nothing to confess. 

Yesterday, I had a latte at Costco. You don't need a rewards card to have a coffee at Costco because it only costs a dollar in the first place. It wasn't the best latte I've ever had but it wasn't the worst either so there's progress right there. And, just so you know, the Costco was across the street from a Starbucks. So there.

Also, it is Nanowrimo eve eve and I'm starting to feel a little panicked about writing 50,000 words in 30 days and getting something I like out of the mess that is likely to result from it. (I was referring to my writing rather than my psyche and family relationships.) What I write before November 1st doesn't count for Nanowrimo but it certainly counts as far as getting a completed project. (I'm shooting for 80-90,000 words so some will necessarily be written before and after Nanowrimo.) 

Anyway, I thought I would post my progress here. I published last year's Now & Then adventure as a serial which was great fun. I had a blast writing it and I loved getting the instant feedback. This year's writing feels rather isolated by comparison. It's hard to know if I'm on the write track if no one's reading it. (Like a falling tree in a forest, if there are no readers am I really writing?)

There's nothing in my progress report as of yet. I've only created the page and the link to share here. I'll get it filled out later today. What I intend to put there is chapter recaps and word counts as I go along. It'll help me keep track of where I am in the story as well.

Friday, October 26, 2012


I mentioned earlier that I fell off the Global Boycott wagon. This was Wednesday and I was getting my hair cut in a salon that is located next to a Starbucks. My thoughts, at that point, were altruistic. I still had a few bucks left on my reward card and rather than let Starbucks keep my money, I was going to spend it all and close the account.

But then - and anytime I start a sentence with "but then" you should be alerted to the fact that things went awry from that point forward - I logged on to their website to check my balance. Exactly, how much was on my card?

Who cares? should have been my self-reply.

But I looked, and I became distracted. Argh - those bleeding stars! I only needed to purchase three more drinks (thus earning three more stars) to get a free drink (the only remaining benefit of the rewards program, assuming I maintain Gold status which requires 30 cups of coffee per year). Hell, I was about to buy one - what's two more?

And so, I put another five dollars on the card, got a coffee, and am one star closer to a free drink. But, I still have a remaining balance. I'm not sure I accomplished much. Not only that, I sacrificed my already shaky moral principals for a double tall soy latte.

Yes. I feel guilty. But I have a plan. Two actually. The first is to buy stock in Starbucks thus creating my own rewards program. So, if I give Starbucks $500 (which is roughly the equivalent of 110 double tall soy lattes), I could earn enough in dividends for a free cup of coffee.

The other strategy is to sign up all my family and friends for a Starbucks card. Even without Gold status, registered cardholders get a free drink on their birthdays and I don't think they have to buy a single cup of coffee for that reward.

And, if I employ both strategies, I'd get more free coffee than if they continued to reward me as a loyal customer in the first place.

No, I'm not bitter.

And, I guess I'm not feeling all that guilty either.

The bottom line is the Global Boycott continues to struggle. This time I fell off the wagon after a week. But, that was six days longer than the last time, so I'll consider that progress. And then - note the difference between "and then" and "but then" - there's this:
It is disheartening that calls for boycotts of Starbucks stores and products, which are based on blatant untruths, have had direct impacts on local economies and residents....
Starbucks: Myths and Facts
However I proceed at this point may be of no consequence. I have them right where I want them.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Circleville, Ohio

I know that got your attention. And, why wouldn't it? Circleville is the known center of the universe.

I fell off the global boycott wagon yesterday and I was going to tell you about that today (and maybe I'll get around to that later) but then I spotted this: The Official Circleville Pumpkin Show. Now let me just point out, this is not just some pumpkin patch in the middle of nowhere. This is a pumpkin show with parades (plural) and princesses: Miss Pumpkin and Little Miss Pumpkin. There is a Schedule of Events which includes the Southern Ohio Giant Growers Association weigh-off (and let me just point out there really is an association of giant pumpkin growers in southern Ohio which, from pictures, appears to be an association of growers growing giant pumpkins, not of giant growers), lectures and demonstrations, music, the Roundtown Ringers Chime Choir (yes, a bell choir), contests, and even karaoke. This is not just a show, my friends. This is a festival of epic proportions. Giant, even.

But here's the best part. I learned of this event on Facebook.

Much like the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, and according to my grandfather, the average person is only a few acquaintance links apart from Circleville, Ohio. On Facebook, my friend, Paulette, posted that she had taken her son to a pumpkin patch and her friend, Eric, posted - from Circleville! - the link to the Official Circlevile Pumpkin Show. Boom! Two acquaintance links and we're there!

It does not get better than this.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Now & Then

"I'm tired of having to say 'the other Vancouver' and 'the other Washington.'" 
This line was supplied by Galina who cut my hair today. She also told me to hurry up and finish  my book so she can read it. I'm working on it, Galina! Thanks for being a reader!

I think I'll attribute this line to H.T. Eaux who is a frustrated politician - frustrated because while he wields enormous power in the small pond of Vancouver*, he is unknown in larger political circles. But, if he could solve Vancouver's financial woes by charging more for water usage and, at the same time, attract new industry, he would not only be a local hero but he would have a platform for launching onto larger political stages.

This would make his wife, Jackie, very, very happy.

*I'm currently setting the stage in Vancouver rather than San Francisco (or SFOak/LA, as I renamed it). I think it's funnier. Not  to mention easier.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Satire Day

There's no doubt it's fall. My favorite time for taking pictures. And cooking lots of good food. David Sedaris is at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton tonight. I'd go if I could figure out how to get there in the next few hours.

Meanwhile I have first drafts of Chapters One and Two* of the next Now & Then adventure. Probably about 4,000 words. It's inconceivable that I could come up with 80-90,000 more. But that's what the organic chai tea lattes are for. Encouragement. And fuel. At $4.50 per cup, it'll cost me around $225 for the first draft. Might be worth it.

Thanks for supporting the global boycott, btw. Does this make it a movement, officially? And, if we link to each other, is that considered a circular reference?

*They're not posted anywhere at this time.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Star Struck

From Drop Box

I didn't actually get to meet him but I did have a very good view of him. Nancy Pearl was selling her books there as well, but not her action figure which is a bummer. That would have made for a perfect evening!

(I don't mean to spoil The Woman Who Died A Lot but Nancy is in it. Very, very cool.)

As for The Last Dragonslayer, it was published in 2010! Before you wonder how it's possible you could have missed it, the book was only released in the United States earlier this month. In fact, on the same day as  The Woman Who Died A Lot. This book is the first of three which have already been written and published in the UK.

There were 200-300 attendees. (For tea drinkers, you can translate that to 250.) I wanted to get my book signed but it would have surely taken an hour to get through the line. I passed on the signature.

I'm glad I bought the book though. He made a comment about reading on paper versus e readers - essentially that reading on paper was more essentially "real." I would have looked silly just sitting there with my Kindle on my lap - everyone else had a book or two. (It's good to blend in.)

As for the interview, it was recorded but I can't find it on the internet yet. It was sponsored by University of Washington Book Store. Nancy broadcasts videos here (there's an interview with Mr. Fforde from 2005) but nothing from the 15th.

I'll keep looking. If I find the link for the audio, I'll let you know.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Loyalty Goes Both Ways

"So? Starbucks rewards loyalty - and they're not out to take over the world. Okay, that was a bad example...."
Thursday Next in The Woman Who Died A Lot
I wonder if Mr. Fforde knows that after only two weeks after publication, his book is already out of date.

As it turns out, I read the above line today which is funny because, as of today, Starbucks does not reward loyalty. I was planning a worldwide boycott but, to tell the truth, even before Starbucks had a reward program, they were my caffeine-pusher-of-choice. So what's the difference now? Nothing, really. I just liked the attention - well, perceived attention. I got post cards and I have a gold card in my wallet with my name on it.

So, I don't know about the global boycott. I am easily influenced by the "dark side" of everything. Amazon, Google - it's all just too easy, like the Goliath Corporation (which "catered for everything from the cradle to the grave" Ibid.). Starbucks, whether you like it or not, is everywhere and you know exactly what you're going to get when you go into one. It's like the whole principal behind McDonald's - you can walk into any one and get the same experience, hamburger, or cup of coffee.

They're on every corner, and if you're not sure which corner is closest, you can check your mobile app so you can rest assured you're never far from another cup.

I was a fan before the rewards program so what's the problem?

The problem is I feel used. They didn't have to manipulate me to get my vote; they already had it. I gave them my e-mail address, I let them track my buying habits in exchange for some goodies. Now, they have my information but I no longer have the goodies.

I shouldn't complain too much. My grocery store knows more about me than they should. My internet browser stalks me. My freaking car can differentiate between asses* and will adjust the seats automatically when I get in! How personal is that?

It's time to do something different. It's time to buy local. I try to do that anyway but now it's time to try harder. The mermaid is just going to have to learn to live without me for a while.

Maybe I'll send her a postcard on her birthday


Monday, October 15, 2012

A Pretty Big Day

I have the opportunity to meet Jasper Fforde and Nancy Pearl this evening. (Woo hoo!)

And, it's the last day to cash in on Starbucks Rewards.

Oh, and the last day to file your taxes if you haven't done that already.


Sunday, October 14, 2012


From Drop Box
"Everything but the kitchen sink" scramble with biscuits, double layer carrot cake with cream cheese frosting all from scratch, two roasted chickens with Brussels sprouts and potatoes. It's Sunday, and it's raining.

I'm pooped.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Root Root

Happened by a farmers market yesterday with no particular plan in mind but I quickly decided on...
From Drop Box
...vegetable soup.

From Drop Box

It turned out pretty good which is good because there are a lot of leftovers.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I'm eating my favorite emergency food: chili from a can. "Emergency" = I'm hungry and too lazy to do anything about it. I took it out of the can first and heated it up - not that lazy! To round out my culinary week, I had chocolate chip mint ice cream after my Purple Stride Walk* in support of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. And, I've got Oreos in the fridge. (Is it tax season??)

*More on this later because, in fact, it is Tax Season Part II. Everyone who extended their tax return must file by October 15th and it's a prerequisite that the more complicated the return, the longer they take to bring us their stuff. So, busy.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


If they had known who I am, they would have never given me the bean bags. For a dollar, I had the chance to win $100 by tossing bean bags across a room at a cornhole target. We were at the Portland Meadows for Customer Appreciation Day and, although I had never been there before, I was about to be appreciated.

The feeling was mutual.

I got two out of four which wasn't enough for the $100 but it was enough for $20 in betting vouchers. So, bet I did. On the horses.

A couple of beers, hot dogs, and six races later, I left with $70.


(Props to my coach and the home field management of Blechschmidt Meadowlands for teaching me everything I know about the sport.)

Stalked Again

What worries me is not that I'm being stalked. What worries me is that it doesn't worry me. 

I was sitting at my desk the other day when I saw a shadow cross my window, not ten feet away. 

I'm in a first floor apartment, facing the street, and I work from home. I'd rather people didn't know when I'm here and when I'm not so I always keep the blinds mostly closed - open enough for light but not open enough for someone to see in. I knew it wasn't the day for the landscapers - they had come the day before. 

And, yet, I wasn't worried. More, I was curious about who might be outside my window and what would happen when we came face to face. The source of this shadow wasn't on the sidewalk. No, whoever cast this shadow was right outside.

Now, I would  come out of my skin if a spider were to cross my path, but a mysterious shadow across my window? Surely, there must be a screw loose in here somewhere.

The shadow moved as I watched. And, then, the shadow spoke.

"Meow," said the cat on my windowsill who was stalking, indeed, to find the best spot in which to sun himself.

"Boo," I replied. 

Boo, indeed.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Not The Onion, Indeed

Sticky buns 'devastating' for Swedish wild boar
But local officials warn that the practice, while increasing the chances of a successful hunt, it increases the risk that the boar suffer from weight problems and poor dental hygiene.
H/T Ron's Log

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

"Rewards Faster"

This is the slogan Starbucks is using to encourage devotees to think that stripping their Rewards Program of rewards is a good idea. What they've done is change their program to match the frequent buyer program of every other coffee house, shack, or roadside stand on the planet. No free syrups. No free soy. No free drink if you pay full retail for a pound of coffee. Heck, you won't even get a free, flippin' postcard anymore. I liked the postcard! Now, you get a free coffee after purchasing 12 just like every other joe joint. They might as well go back to using punch cards.

Okay, getting rid of the postcard is a good idea that I can support. On the other hand, the paper punch card might be more environmentally correct than the plastic ones. At this point, the plastic ones aren't really needed, are they? But there's no longer a reason to choose Starbucks over another coffee joint. Certainly not the price. Their only hope is they have enabled the coffee addictions of enough of the coffee consuming public that it won't matter.

Well, this morning, I'm drinking Seattle's Best. Take that!

Now Reading

From Drop Box
An early birthday present. Woo hoo! You can get one, too. Here.

Monday, October 1, 2012

System Re-Boot

From Drop Box
When they roll up the carpets in Mountain Home, they're not fooling around. They closed the whole city last night for a system-wide re-boot. We should have taken a drive just to see what it looked like, a whole down gone dark. As it was, we were in our hotel room (no glow sticks) and we missed the end of the movie we were watching that wasn't quite over when the power went out.

No A/C and no windows that open. I wondered if the door locks worked or if they had battery backup. What about the sprinklers, fire alarms, and smoke detectors? How many transformers would blow when the juice came back online?

The sun came up and the power was on. Just another day. Everything looks like it went as planned, although I haven't ventured outside the hotel yet. Speaking of venturing out, the sign on the hotel room door says "Fire alarm sounds like a loud siren."

Perhaps there was some confusion.