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October, 2012:

Odd Lots


As I circle the concluding chapters of Ten Gentle Opportunies like a ravening vulture (do vultures raven? If so, what do ravens do?) I discovered this morning while reading email with an iced coffee in hand that Phil Foglio posted a rave of my novel The Cunning Blood, both on the Girl Genius Facebook page and his LiveJournal. (Thanks abundant to Alice Bentley for the tipoff.) Nothing motivates this particular vulture to abandon patience and kill something like a review of what has been (and still is–barely) my only completed full-length novel.

Now I have to kill this thing before it kills me.

(Note that there are other reasons for my slowdown the last couple of weeks, reasons that kept me from attending MileHiCon this weekend. Carol had to take a flight to Chicago on very short notice; more as things become clearer.)

Need. More. Coffee. I’m trying something peculiar here: The new-ish International Delights iced-coffee-in-a-milk-carton product. It’s outside the envelope for me because it’s got sugar in it, so I really bought it as a dessert. The mocha flavor is disappointing. It tastes almost exactly like the chocolate milk I used to drink at the Lane Tech lunchroom. Good if you like that sort of thing, but I want a brew that reminds me less of the clueless nerd I was in high school.

I also need to research the named ingredient “corn syrup.” Is that a new euphemism for HFCS? I know the corn industry is squirming so hard the worms in the gully are worried, but from earlier research I know that corn syrup is mostly glucose/destrose, which while still sugar isn’t as malevolent as HFCS seems to be.

Flying back from Hawaii I attempted to watch a rip of an episode from the original Outer Limits series on my Transformer Prime, and discovered something interesting: The throughput from the MicroSD card slot is insufficient to render the video on the Transformer’s display. It’s not exactly pixellation, but more like the sort of herringbone interference my ham radio signal used to put on broadcast TV. Regardless, it made watching the video impossible. Then, when I simply copied the .avi file to internal storage, it played perfectly. I know from previous experience that mp3 files play fine from MicroSD, and ebooks are not an problem at all.

Separate but still important issue: The Transformer Prime did not have the audio signal to drown out jet engine noise on our long flight. So even once I copied the episode to internal storage, I couldn’t make out the dialog half the time. That was the only video I brought, so more research is necessary. Video rips are peculiar things, and I certainly need better headphones.

I’ve broken a lot of light bulbs in my sixty years, but this recent casualty from the lamp over the stove was remarkable:

Broken Lightbulb.jpg

Secret? The touch of a rag wet with cold water. Yes, the bulb was off , but had been on all morning until five seconds previous. Duhhh. Light bulbs are not made of Pyrex.

Odd Lots

It’s Turtles Most of the Way Down

Sea Turtle-500 Wide.jpg

I know how the turtle beat the hare: The turtle ate the hare, and the turtle’s nose crossed the finish line before his stomach did. The trick is staying away from the business end of the turtle. More on this in a moment.

As some insiders know, Carol and I just spent a week in Hawaii celebrating our 36th wedding anniversary. We chose the Sheraton Maui because it had almost everything we wanted: Good food, good beds, a good beach, colorful fish, rentable beach cabanas, and a 30-foot-high lava cliff from which addled teenagers were throwing themselves into the surging ocean every five or six seconds all day long. This allowed me the pleasure of congratulating myself on being a lot saner than I remembered being at that age. (Yes, my friend George Murphy and I built a pair of what amounted to wheeled surfboards and took them coasting through the Chicago sewer system in 1967. It was nuts. It was maybe a little dangerous. But it wasn’t frakking batshit.)

So we got ourselves a cabana, and we set up on the beach to do some serious lolling. I stuffed my cranky, 8-year-old Kodak V530 digital camera into what amounted to a fortified ziplock bag, parked my prescription snorkel mask on my broad and heavily sunblocked forehead, and followed Carol into the water. Taking pictures of fish with this rig is tricky because you can’t easily see what the camera’s LCD is showing, and fish don’t sit still. I snapped a lot of pictures of water where fish had been swimming a second or two ago. When I did get the fish in the frame, it was generally the wrong end of the fish.

After an hour or so of snapping empty water and colorful fish butts, there was some excitement among nearby beachgoers. People were staring into the water and pointing at something big and dark. I ducked underwater, and saw the biggest damned turtle south of Gamera steaming right at us. Carol and I dodged to one side, but turtles are better in water than we are, and by the time we got out of its way there was maybe three feet between us. The turtle was big enough to be clearly visible on my LCD display. I snapped some reasonable shots (reasonable for four feet of surf-churned water) the best of which is above. All I can figure is that we were between the turtle and an algae wad with his name on it. The turtle got to the algae wad, and Carol and I didn’t get eaten in the bargain.

Ok, I watched too many Japanese monster movies on Channel 7 when I was 12. Guilty. At least I wasn’t jumping off thirty-foot lava cliffs.

The turtle, as it happened, was a regular visitor to the beach, and we saw others cruising the nearby waters just about every time we looked under the surface. We saw them swimming around from our hotel room window more than once. It was the great unexpected pleasure of the trip.

More on this and other things tomorrow.