Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Revisiting

I'd forgotten all about this. And the first time I read it, I really didn't appreciate it. I wasn't entirely a grown-up then, though--so I can cut myself some slack for missing it.

What texts do you revisit? What have you read, that years later comes up in the stray flotsam of your memory that you have to turn to again and reconsider from the perspective of greater age and better experience?



THE GOOD-MORROW
by John Donne

I WONDER by my troth, what thou and I
Did, till we loved ? were we not wean'd till then ?
But suck'd on country pleasures, childishly ?
Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers' den ?
'Twas so ; but this, all pleasures fancies be ;
If ever any beauty I did see,
Which I desired, and got, 'twas but a dream of thee.

And now good-morrow to our waking souls,
Which watch not one another out of fear ;
For love all love of other sights controls,
And makes one little room an everywhere.
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone ;
Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown ;
Let us possess one world ; each hath one, and is one.

My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest ;
Where can we find two better hemispheres
Without sharp north, without declining west ?
Whatever dies, was not mix'd equally ;
If our two loves be one, or thou and I
Love so alike that none can slacken, none can die.


You can find more John Donne, here.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Solstice Approaches

Solstice.

However you spend the approaching longest night, may it find you safe, warm, happy, and surrounded by those you love best.

And as the days begin to lengthen again, may this New Year bring increase to your every blessing many times over.

Monday, December 04, 2006

To My Mad Comment Thread Vandal

Look, friend, you can keep vandalizing my comments threads if you'd like--I'm old and curmudgeonly, and I don't sleep much anyway. I could enable comment moderation, but I don't choose to do so. It's easy enough to just delete that stuff.

Or we could have a conversation, instead. That's quite a grudge you're carrying.

Meanwhile, since you seem to like jokes, here's one for you:

Two hydrogen atoms are sitting and drinking together one afternoon. The first one says to the other, "I think I've lost an electron."
The other says, "Are you sure?"
The first says, "Yep, I'm positive..."

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Take a second and click -

Via Elizabeth Bear's LJ:

" Bristol-Myers Sqibb is running a click-to-donate promotion to fund AIDS research. One dollar per click-through, to a total of $100,000."

It's an annoying flash site. But they'll kick in another buck for research if you can bring yourself to wait while it loads. They're over the halfway mark, right now.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Scheduled Maintenance on Absolute Write

Just in case you stop in here, looking for news:

The AW Water Cooler will be closed Sunday, November 26th, from about 6 am (PST) until we can get the databases transferred to the new server, currently running in an undisclosed co-lo facility. This exciting transfer necessitates a few hours of down time for the site.

Cross your fingers for us, and we should be up and better-powered hopefully by Sunday afternoon--but I'm telling everyone Monday, just in case of unforeseen complications.

Thanks!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

I've been tagged

From the last comment thread:

Zonk said...

...you've been Tagged, :-]

You have to share 5 little-known facts about yourself, and Tag 5 other Bloggers to do the same. Blame Dawno, she started it, lol.

http://zonkzone.blogspot.com/


Ummm...okay. Here goes:

1 - I listen to opera. Not exclusively, but quite a lot.

2 - I'm a most excellent cook.

3 - I'm horribly nearsighted.

4 - I have absolutely no sense of direction. Seriously. I couldn't navigate my way out of a wet paper sack.

5 - I trained horses for a living for a number of years.

Tagging Wisdom Weasel, Pete Tzinski, Jason Evans, Secret Government Eggo Project, and Unique at Blowing Smoke. You'll note a couple of these blogs haven't been updated in a woefully long time. I dunno as a meme tagging will be sufficient to wake them up again.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Googling

I love that google has become a verb.

I'll be googling far into the night, searching for folklore and myth concerned with people who have mismatched eyes.

It's a long story. Actually, it really will be a long story, but it's not quite clarified itself in my hindbrain, yet.

Any thoughts, knowledge, niggling feelings?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Jeep Update

The jeep is running. Got the starter off with a cutting torch. They have aluminum housing, you know.

I've learned a valuable lesson about the proper tool for the job.

Heh.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Please Vote

And if you're still not sure which way you're leaning in those close races in your district, here are some links about why you might seriously consider voting straight Democrat, this year. I've always voted for the person I thought would do the best job...this is the first time I'll vote a straight ticket, without so much as a second thought.

Here's part of why.

Making Light

Washington Post
--WaPo follow up article

New York Times

Daily Kos

American Chronicle

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Jeep Saga continues...

Day 2:
I picked up the starter from the parts store. Hurried past the dead Jeep, eyes averted. Went inside to write, instead of fighting with rounded-off bolt holding starter to Jeep.

Day 3:
Pretended Jeep was fine. Worked on ms. Thinking I'm onto something--writing as avoidance activity...

The trick is to be avoiding something so assiduously that even writing is preferable.

Day 4 and 5:
Investigated more ways to remove bolt, once bolt head is useless. Hung out at autoparts store, picking over twitchy CarQuest guy's brains. Bought more tricksy bolt-extraction tools. Wrote some more.

Day 6:
Called Pater and whined.
Got one bolt out. One down, one to go. Victory!
Now it's only a matter of time.



I hate this. I hate working on cars. I loathe being cold and greasy.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Author Scoop

So a friend of mine has undertaken an ambitious project. Haskins is a hell of a writer, a talented poet, and an all-around good guy. I wish him most excellent luck with Author Scoop.

And how can you not love a site that opens with collected reviews of King's latest?

Don't be a stranger, William.

A Peek Into the Writer Mind...

My good-natured housemate has bemusedly observed on more than one occasion that it sometimes seems to take an awfully long time for me to accomplish what seems like a fairly straightforward task. I've been thinking about that, and realized I know precisely why. It's really easier to illustrate, than to explain, though. So, if you'll bear with me?

So the starter goes on my beloved twelve-year-old jeep, this week. I ascertain that it's the starter through tricksy diagnostics: It won't start, so I replace the several-months-expired battery, and that doesn't fix it; so then I consult Google, then spend some time lurking on the Jeep-Fixing Fora--yes, they really are plural--which leads me to believe the starter is the real problem. I'm here to tell you, though, those people badly need good tech-writers.

*note to self: must remember to put fresh candles on the Google altar.

Day 1--Since I consider myself a handy, mechanically-inclined sort of a woman, I decide to fix it myself. Also, the webpage I found most closely describing the symptoms said it's surprisingly easy to replace your own starter.

It seems like a good way to get some hands-on experience at something I'm only passingly familiar with--and that always engages my curiosity. I start wondering, at this point, about the etymology of the word "torque." Pretty sure it's Latin. Sounds Latin.

So I gather a mostly-complete socket set from the top of the dryer, the windowsill, my nightstand, the junk-drawer in the kitchen, and the tool chest in the garage, and go out to the driveway.

I pop the hood and spend some time staring at the engine. It occurs to me that this would be a much easier job if all those bits and pieces were clearly labeled. I start mentally composing a friendly and hopefully funny letter suggesting as much to the Jeep People. Back inside to google images for "jeep starters" and I run across an interesting essay about why I need to replace the solenoid, if I'm replacing a starter. More googling. The solenoid on a '95 Jeep Wrangler is apparently attached to the starter itself, so I'm golden. Print the clearest pic. Back outside.

Staring at the engine, identification picture in hand, I have a slowly dawning suspicion that the starter isn't going to be found from topside. Go inside to write draft of less friendly, less funny letter to Jeep People.

Nothing to be done for it. Back out to the driveway and wriggle under the jeep, behind the passenger side tire, to peer up into shadowy interior of engine compartment. Locate what was probably once the starter. At least, the shape is vaguely similar to that in the picture I'm clutching. Consult directions, and realize I was supposed to disconnect the negative terminal of the new battery. Wriggle back out. Spend some moments picking gravel from waistband. Disconnect battery, and spend self-congratulatory moment feeling totally chuffed that I didn't accidentally zap myself. Or run over myself. Or whatever Bad Things happen if one doesn't remember to disconnect the battery.

Crawl back under the Jeep. Stare into engine mass from bottomside, once again. Have brief daydream about being Scotty, aboard the enterprise. Say lots of stuff in terrible accent. "She's givin' us all she's got, Captain!" "I dinna think you should bang on 'er like that, Captain..." (I get to be Captain Kirk, too, now.)

I do manage to disconnect the battery from the starter and solenoid, though. Accomplishment!

Then things begin to deteriorate. The bolts actually holding the starter to the rest of the engine stuff have funny-looking heads. After some experimentation, I discover that a 3/8 hex-head socket will fit over the bolt heads, without obvious slippage. However, when I apply pressure (with a length of pipe slipped over the wrench handle for increased leverage, because those puppies ain't movin') the socket slips, I badly skin most of the knuckles on my right hand, and the bolt itself still hasn't budged. Now I begin mentally composing a caustic letter to the author of the webpage that claims this is "surprisingly easy."

I spend a long moment, then, thinking about Laura Mixon's lecture concerning "unconscious incompetence" and suppress premonitory chill.

No worries. I've got the battery disconnected from the thing, so I can just pick up the actual squiggly-looking socket I need, when I go purchase the new starter. Confident in my eventual triumph, I picture the engine smartly spinning and roaring to life. And off I go to CarQuest.

(Turns out the funny looking bolt heads take a Torx-head socket. I found out from the nice CarQuest guy who looked like he was trying very hard either not to sneeze or not to laugh.) They have to order the starter, but I'm okay with that, actually. I can wait til tomorrow for the inevitable flush of success and accomplishment. I believe in delayed gratification. Besides, I don't have the old starter off, yet, even.

The CarQuest guy tells me to bring the old starter back to them, and they'll refund my "core charge." I raise an eyebrow, because I know what the old starter looks like, and I'm suspicious that the core is actually showing, but agree. 60 bucks is 60 bucks, and who needs a big, filthy paperweight?

The twitchy CarQuest guy can't tell me the etymology of "torque," however. I promise to share it, tomorrow, after I've had a chance to look it up. He seems strangely disinterested.

Home I go, new sockets in hand, and crawl back under the engine. It occurs to me that I've gotten used to gravel down the back of my shirt and pants, which starts me thinking about human adaptivity, which gives me a proto-story idea. I consider stopping to jot notes, but decide to let it percolate a bit more.

So the Torx socket doesn't really want to fit on the bolt head I rounded off. A few sharp raps with a hammer, though, and it pops right on. It can only be a matter of minutes, I figure.

Twenty minutes of swearing and reinjuring my already insulted knuckles, and the bolt head resembles fossilized chewing gum. At this point, I quietly acknowledge to myself that a sane person would seek a Qualified Mechanic Guy. I, however, resolve to stick it out by reminding myself of the eventual sense of accomplishment, and the satisfaction of useful skills gained. Clearly, a bit more research is required, though.

Also, I'm still wondering about the etymology of "torque."

Back inside the house to google torque, because I can't stand not knowing.

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.0.1) - Cite This Source
torque[tawrk] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation, noun, verb, torqued, torqu‧ing.
–noun
1.Mechanics. something that produces or tends to produce torsion or rotation; the moment of a force or system of forces tending to cause rotation.
2.Machinery. the measured ability of a rotating element, as of a gear or shaft, to overcome turning resistance.
3.Optics. the rotational effect on plane-polarized light passing through certain liquids or crystals.
4.Also, torc. a collar, necklace, or similar ornament consisting of a twisted narrow band, usually of precious metal, worn esp. by the ancient Gauls and Britons.
–verb (used with object)
5.Machinery. to apply torque to (a nut, bolt, etc.).
6.to cause to rotate or twist.
–verb (used without object)
7.to rotate or twist.

[Origin: 1825–35; L. torquēre to twist; (def. 4) F. torque L. torques torques (torc perh. <>
Yep. Latin. I'm pleased.

Also, it turns out there's another tool you can use, just to remove big friggin' bolts without viable heads.

I'll let you know how it all turns out.





Monday, October 02, 2006

Pass it along.

From Making Light. Feel free to pass it along, with attribution and a linkback to the original souce.

Thanks.
__________________________________________

ATTENTION US MILITARY PERSONNEL

Posted by Jim Macdonald at 12:05 AM * 10-2-06

You are not required to obey an unlawful order.

You are required to disobey an unlawful order.

You swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

The Constitution states (Article VI):

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

Here is article 3, the common article, to the Geneva Conventions, a duly ratified treaty made under the authority of the United States:

Article 3

In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

1. Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.

To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) Taking of hostages;

(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

2. The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for.

An impartial humanitarian body, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, may offer its services to the Parties to the conflict.

The Parties to the conflict should further endeavour to bring into force, by means of special agreements, all or part of the other provisions of the present Convention.

The application of the preceding provisions shall not affect the legal status of the Parties to the conflict.

Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions is straightforward and clear. Under Article VI of the Constitution, it forms part of the supreme law of the land.

You personally will be held responsible for all of your actions, in all countries, at all times and places, for the rest of your life. “I was only following orders” is not a defense.

What all this is leading to:

If you are ordered to violate Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, it is your duty to disobey that order. No “clarification,” whether passed by Congress or signed by the president, relieves you of that duty.

If you are ordered to violate Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, this is what to do:

1. Request that your superior put the order in writing.

2. If your superior puts the order in writing, inform your superior that you intend to disobey that order.

3. Request trial by courtmartial.

You will almost certainly face disciplinary action, harassment of various kinds, loss of pay, loss of liberty, discomfort and indignity. America relies on you and your courage to face those challenges.

We, the people, need you to support and defend the Constitution. I am certain that your honor and patriotism are equal to the task.

This post may be quoted in full. A linkback would be appreciated.

________________________________________________

Saturday, September 30, 2006

To our everlasting shame...

This is what waterboarding looks like.

From the article:

The similarity between practices used by the Khymer Rouge and those currently being debated by Congress isn't a coincidence. As has been amply documented ("The New Yorker" had an excellent piece, and there have been others), many of the "enhanced techniques" came to the CIA and military interrogators via the SERE [Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape] schools, where US military personnel are trained to resist torture if they are captured by the enemy. The specific types of abuse they're taught to withstand are those that were used by our Cold War adversaries. Why is this relevant to the current debate? Because the torture techniques of North Korea, North Vietnam, the Soviet Union and its proxies--the states where US military personnel might have faced torture--were NOT designed to elicit truthful information. These techniques were designed to elicit CONFESSIONS. That's what the Khymer Rouge et al were after with their waterboarding, not truthful information.

Bottom line: Not only do waterboarding and the other types of torture currently being debated put us in company with the most vile regimes of the past half-century; they're also designed specifically to generate a (usually false) confession, not to obtain genuinely actionable intel. This isn't a matter of sacrificing moral values to keep us safe; it's sacrificing moral values for no purpose whatsoever.

Please remember when the time comes to vote that a vote for a Republican is a vote for torture.

It's not a vote against Queers Ruining Marriage.
It's not a vote for Family Values.
It's certainly not a vote for Smaller Government, or Fiscal Responsibility.

It's a vote to torture human beings. To deny Constitutional rights even to American citizens, should the government choose to label them terrorists.

Go take a look at the pictures. We're already doing this to people. Our federal government just voted to make it legal, and to make government employees immune to after-the-fact prosecution, for doing it.

"I was just following orders" is apparently a valid defense for war crimes, now--if you wrap yourself in the flag, first.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Formative Reading

When I was perhaps eight or nine years old, I happened onto a battered copy of Theodore Sturgeon's collection of short stories, E Pluribus Unicorn, and promptly read it from cover to cover--then immediately went right back to the first page and read it all again.

Now, I don't know as I could comfortably recommend Sturgeon to the parents of most pre-teens, but I don't know as I wouldn't, either. They're sort of disturbing, odd, and discomfiting pieces of writing. I remember one story about a teddy bear that was really a sort of vampire alien, for instance, and I've never looked at stuffed animals quite the same way, since. On the other hand, how scarring can that be, really, if it makes a kid look out beyond her own window and really start to wonder about things? Certainly, I wasn't the only kid that Sturgeon's stories had a huge impact on--nor the only one who would grow up and write about it.

They were all stories written before I'd even been born, and originally published in Weird Tales, and F&SF, and the like. (There are Weird Tales covers posted online, by the way, which are great fun to examine and deconstruct, if you're into that sort of thing...and who isn't, really?)

Of science fiction, Sturgeon said in an interview:
I believe it is the wrong name for the field. It should have been called a number of other things - speculative fiction, for example. In many people's minds, science fiction is girls in brass brassieres about to be raped by a slimy monster, and being rescued by some guy fully dressed in a space suit with a zap gun. It is all in the future, all in space, it is all Star Wars and Buck Rogers.

Science fiction, outside of poetry, is the only literary field which has no limits, no parameters whatsoever. You can go not only into the future, but into that wonderful place called "other", which is simply another universe, another planet, another species.

It's things that happen inside your head. I've always said that there's more in inner space than in outer space. Inner space is so much more interesting, because outer space is so empty.

That really sums up the lure of specfic for me; first as a small, over-imaginative girl in eastern Montana in the 70s, then through college and grad school, and now.

So what's it mean, though, really? To some extent, shouldn't fiction explore inner space in general? Probably, yes. That doesn't mean it actually happens that way, though. The forced, artificial resemblance of some kind of objective, recognizable reality creates constraints restricting the territory explored by more mainstream genres.

As soon as a story departs those constraints, as soon as the internal reality of the story makes a leap into the unfamiliar and takes the reader with it, a panoramic view opens up, revealing just how big a place all that inner space really is. Immediately thereafter, we ghettoize that story into a niche called science fiction. Or horror. Or fantasy.

What else is one to do with, for example, a gender-bending story about characters who actually change sex midway through the story--a problem as true for the reader of Woolf's Orlando as of Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness? Because really, isn't the crux of the problem a sort of magical thinking? That if we can be persuaded to imagine something, to believe it, perhaps it becomes real in increments? And if that's so, then suddenly the horizon of our described reality seems quite distant, indeed. So literature that knocks walls out of those careful boxes--not in a humorous manner, but in a way that's direct, straightforward, and matter-of-fact--presents a quandary that may be a challenge, a promise, or a threat, depending on the reader's perspective.

Ursula Le Guin said, in "Why Are Americans Afraid of Dragons?":
For fantasy is true, of course. It isn't factual, but it is true. Children know that. Adults know it too, and that is precisely why many of them are afraid of fantasy. They know that its truth challenges, even threatens, all that is false, all that is phony, unnecessary, and even trivial in the life they have let themselves be forced into living. They are afraid of dragons, because they are afraid of freedom. (Le Guin, The Language of the Night, Berkley 1985, p44--I looked for the essay online for you guys, but no such luck. Buy the book. Really. It's worth every cent, and then some.)


So what of those Weird Tales covers, then? Is there something intrinsically true about those bug-eyed monsters slavering over helpless virgins? What of that vampire teddy bear? What are we to make of the need to examine the awful, alongside those ideas that are expanding and uplifting? What's that about, that need to embody our worst fears, and stand them up in the light where, yep, sometimes they really are that scary and disgusting?

More on this, I'm sure, as I poke through it. There's been so much terrific stuff written about it, and I believe more to do, still, especially as we move deeper into a seriously scary time in our country and our world.

The most important thing, of course, is that spec fic must stay true, else it loses its potency.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

LACon IV

I'm in Anaheim at my first WorldCon. The official opening ceremony is at one. So in the interim, I've had a chance to catch up with a couple of friends, Mighty Dawno of the Sparkly Ears and Medievalist. It's always wonderful to put faces and voices with people you know and admire from online acquaintance.

Based on this very limited experience, though--if you get a chance to do a big con, jump on it! I'll keep y'all updated as the week progresses.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Paranoia in the streets...

Pass a Federal Background check if you want to volunteer for the Red Cross, now.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Multimedia message

Big sky sounds corny, but it's observably true.

Multimedia message

Harvest moon, Montana.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Shooting

At the Jewish Federation building in Seattle this afternoon, a man walked into the building--somehow got a shotgun through security according to one locally-reported source--and shot at least six women, according to the local King 5 news team.

He's reported by eyewitnesses to have announced, upon his arrest, "I'm a Muslim American. I'm angry at Israel," although the AP account contradicts that statement.

One fatality. Five injuries. Three in critical condition. The suspect is in custody.

You might spare a thought or good wish for the victims and their families.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Oooh, baby, I love your ways...



A chestnut colt. Mom and baby are both healthy and vigorous.

*whew* Finally!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

VP and how the clock works

I got into Viable Paradise. I've wanted to do this workshop since I found out about it.

Last year, I just didn't feel like my writing skills and dedication to the craft were up to par, to really get the most from the experience.

I'm awfully happy. This should be a big part of learning how the clock works.*





*Two of my dearest friends once pointed out that if someone gave me a pillowcase full of watch and clock parts, I couldn't rest until I'd learned to reassemble all the bits, and then proceeded to deconstruct clock theory in general; whereas a saner person might just run out to the local store and purchase the clock they wanted. They say I approach writing and publishing the same way. It seems to be symptomatic of how my brain works in general.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Spread it like a Virus

The Donate to AW page. Self-explanatory.

The AbsoluteWrite Water Cooler is an online forum for writers, but much more besides. This is a place where the Would-Be can learn from the Been-There.

Link it up, if you'd be so kind. Spread the word.

As we venture into this brave new world of invisible, wireless connections to one another all over the world, venues like AW are at the forefront, establishing a new paradigm for "community."

A simple definition of community :

com·mu·ni·ty Audio pronunciation of "community" ( P ) Pronunciation Key (k-myn-t)
n. pl. com·mu·ni·ties
    1. A group of people living in the same locality and under the same government.
    2. The district or locality in which such a group lives.
    1. A group of people having common interests: the scientific community; the international business community.
    2. A group viewed as forming a distinct segment of society: the gay community; the community of color.
    1. Similarity or identity: a community of interests.
    2. Sharing, participation, and fellowship.
  1. Society as a whole; the public.
  2. Ecology.
    1. A group of plants and animals living and interacting with one another in a specific region under relatively similar environmental conditions.
    2. The region occupied by a group of interacting organisms.


[Middle English communite, citizenry, from Old French, from Latin commnits, fellowship, from commnis, common. See common.]


What the dictionary definitions fail to capture, and why a simple dictionary definition is nearly always inadequate when establishing an agreed-upon lexicon of shared vocabulary and definition, is the complex interplay of association and emotion connected to an especially powerful word.

This is one of those words.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Today

I am more than usually aware of the fragile nature of the web that connects us, one to another, here in the ether.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Ahh--OOOooog-A

The AW Hostage Crisis has been Boing-Boinged.

Also, please let me direct your attention to Making Light's recent update, and link round-up. Our good friend Dawno is, as always, about two steps ahead of me, too. There's also the Random Acts of Kindness approach.

A friend of mine just emailed me to say, "Barbara Bauer and her nineteen friends must be puking a lot these last few days."

We can only hope. You can help, personally, by clicking the paypal button at the bottom of this post, or else spread the word. Feel free to email me if you need help with code for either of the buttons--there's a link to contact me directly, to the right and towards the top, on the sidebar.

Neasa from Stones' comments has taken up the cause, too. She's put the AW button on her blog and is helping spread the word to non-writers--thank you, Neasa! (She's got a cool and beautiful blog, too--go and look. You won't be sorry. And she's a bellydancer.)

Also, I'll be posting this on my regular domain for easy linkage, later--but don't miss this.
Jim Macdonald--Yog Sysop, for you sff.net regulars and Usenet veterans--has done an amazing and generous thing and assembled this list:

Books for Writers




Book sales from this page will help support Absolute Write and the Absolute Write Water Cooler



,
,
,


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Calling all Stragglers

If you're one of our AW peeps, and can't find us, we're hanging out temporarily at some of these places:

The AW Refugee Camp, kindly hosted by Roger Carlson our Tech mod.

The Making Light AW thread, kindly started by TNH.


Now you can get the tee shirt to commemorate this...ummm....occasion:

Dawno's "I survived the AW Shutdown" stuff at Cafe Press.

I'll update when I know anything about the restoration of the board.

I'm terribly interested in the fact that every IT person I know is a bit gobsmacked that our host just kept our data. No one's heard of that happening, apparently.

Heh. Our Jenna, she's a trendsetter.

Keep the faith, folks.

Friday, May 26, 2006

"You...

...can't stop the signal."


Writer Beware's 20 Worst Agents:

" Below is a list of the 20 literary agencies about which Writer Beware has received the greatest number of advisories/complaints over the past several years.

None of these agencies has a significant track record of sales to commercial (advance-paying) publishers, and most have virtually no documented and verified sales at all (book placements claimed by some of these agencies turn out to be "sales" to vanity publishers). All charge clients before a sale is made--whether directly, by levying fees such as reading or administrative fees, or indirectly, for editing or other adjunct services.

Writer Beware recommends that writers avoid questionable literary agencies, and instead query agencies that have verifiable track records of sales to commercial publishing houses.

Note that while the 20 agencies listed here account for the bulk of the complaints we receive, they're just the tip of the iceberg. Writer Beware has files on nearly 400 questionable agencies, and we learn about a new one every few weeks."

  • The Abacus Group Literary Agency
  • Allred and Allred Literary Agents (refers clients to "book doctor" Victor West of Pacific Literary Services)
  • Barbara Bauer Literary Agency
  • Benedict Associates (also d/b/a B.A. Literary Agency)
  • Sherwood Broome, Inc.
  • Capital Literary Agency (formerly American Literary Agents of Washington, Inc.)
  • Desert Rose Literary Agency
  • Arthur Fleming Associates
  • Finesse Literary Agency (Karen Carr)
  • Brock Gannon Literary Agency
  • Harris Literary Agency
  • The Literary Agency Group, which includes the following:
    -Children's Literary Agency
    -Christian Literary Agency
    -New York Literary Agency
    -Poets Literary Agency
    -The Screenplay Agency
    -Stylus Literary Agency (formerly ST Literary Agency, formerly Sydra-Techniques)
    -Writers Literary & Publishing Services Company (the editing arm of the above-mentioned agencies)
  • Martin-McLean Literary Associates
  • Mocknick Productions Literary Agency, Inc.
  • B.K. Nelson, Inc.
  • The Robins Agency (Cris Robins)
  • Michele Rooney Literary Agency (also d/b/a Creative Literary Agency, Simply Nonfiction, and Michele Glance Rooney Literary Agency)
  • Southeast Literary Agency
  • Mark Sullivan Associates
  • West Coast Literary Associates (also d/b/a California Literary Services)



BarbaraBauer

Buttons and Codes

Matt's Button--

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Okay--blogger isn't helping one bit with posting the code, it keeps wanting to fix it for me. So here it is, but you've got to replace the [ ] brackets with <> brackets, instead, for html.

[a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0974934445/
absolutewrite" target="new" title="Get your copy of The Street Smart Writer and support AW, too!"][img src="http://www.mattdinniman.com/aw2.gif" /][/a]


Feel free to swipe it, and if you have trouble with the code, just let me know.


Matt, how hard is it to make the button bigger?

Let's make a couple more, folks, so peeps have a choice--what do you think?

ETA:

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Street Smart Writers

Jenna's blog, in case you hadn't found it.

She says she isn't comfortable taking donations for the forums, yet, until she knows if she can "put Humpty Dumpty together again."
We can all buy more copies of The Street Smart Writer, though.

Jenna's page about the book is here.

Lisa Spangenberg, our own Digital Medievalist, points out in an email:

"Now, if we all link to the Amazon page for the book, using this url:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0974934445/absolutewrite

Then AbsoluteWrite gets a little bit of cash from Amazon, and we can
save
someone from the Barbara Bauers of the world.

Pass it on . . .
http://www.jennaglatzer.com/street-smart.htm "

Maybe someone would like to design us a nifty sidebar button to share around?

In the Meantime...

Roger Carlson has put up a forum as a gathering place for displaced AW folk--you have to register, but it's free.

Oh dear...

Let us consider the saga of Barbara Bauer, literary agent from hell:

What's worse for a scammy agent than being prominently featured on Writer Beware's 20 Worst Agents list? Or attracting the aggravated attention of the redoubtable and delicious Miss Snark?

Why, having a series of very public temper tantrums about it, creating a ludicrous nuisance of yourself, and generally giving the whole thing oh-so-much-more Google juice than it ever would have had, otherwise. Better minds than mine have cooked up a smart and dirty Google Bomb. Do consider participating.

Heh. Also, don't miss Fireflies in the Cloud's hilarious follow-up post, complete with illustrations.

Then consider how wise it is to put yourself squarely in the sights of a bunch of writers--after depriving them of a time-consuming and much-beloved hobby by getting a favorite hang-out like AbsoluteWrite pulled down off the web, even temporarily.

Jenna Glatzer is one of ours. She consistently and tirelessly fights the good fight. If you really want to take her on, Barbara, you'll have to take on all of us.

ETA: Oh, look! Barbara Bauer has been Wiki'ed!

A whole host of others.

More blogging about Barbara Bauer.



Wednesday, May 24, 2006

AW Down but not Out

AbsoluteWrite's message boards are temporarily down, for those of you who might wander by here looking for information. We've been temporarily frozen out, through the combined effects of an apparently inept-but-abusive supposed literary agent, and a cowardly and amateurish web host overreaction.

Blustering agent Barbara Bauer, PhD (wooHOO)--proprietor of the Barbara Bauer Literary Agency and proud member of WriterBeware's 20 Worst Agents list--called up our webhost and they shut us out.

Thanks a lot, JC Hosting. Way to stand up for what's right. Don't look to word of mouth from us for a whole lot of positive future traffic, I'm afraid. Best of luck with Barbara's good wishes, though, since you've chosen sides like this.

It's a long and sordid story, and you can get the gist of it here.

We're working diligently to get everything back up, and at this point it looks like we've saved the databases, and should be back and badder than ever sometime tomorrow morning.

Thanks, everyone. Blog it, if you can. Then blog it some more. Be sure and use her name: Barbara Bauer, or even Barbara Bauer, PhD. Perhaps we can all compare nasty and abusive emails, later! Won't that be fun?


technorati tag--and pass it along:

Thursday, May 18, 2006

You must remember this...

I submit for your consideration The Payphone Project--self-described as "stories, pictures, phone numbers and news from payphones and public telephony."

Just the price of the gas in this picture should give you a hint as to how long ago it was taken. Ah, the good old days.
My personal experiences with payphones over the years tend toward the middle-of-the-night, damn-I'm-in-a-fix variety. You know the kind I mean, right? Your car broke down and you've just hiked along the shoulder of some lonely two-lane highway, in the dark. You find a roadhouse with a payphone in the back, through the smoke and past the pooltables.

So you cradle the receiver and fish in your pockets for enough change for what's going to be a long-distance call from the middle of nowhere, and when you finally manage to get through, you stick your finger in your free ear to block the loud music from the crummy local band, and shout your location to whoever was unfortunate enough to pick up, on the other end of the line--never mind that you can only make out about every third word they try to reply.

Then, if you've still got a couple of bucks in your pocket, you go order a draft beer and settle in to wait for your friend, roommate, sister--or whoever you called--to come and retrieve your sorry ass.

That can't possibly just be me. That's happened to all of you, too, right? Before we all carried cellphones, I mean?

Much has been made of the vanishing payphone, in this brave day of blackberries, cells, and wifi hot spots. The disappearance of coin-operated telephones creates problems for people in remote areas, since guaranteed cell service still isn't a Constitutionally protected right.

Here's an article that points out some of the issues with losing these free-standing, well-lit oases of communication with the rest of the world.

From The New York Times in October 2005:
The pay phone in the dirt parking lot of the Acworth General Store here is not terribly impressive, its base coated in grime and a plastic-covered phone book hanging limply from its metal frame.
But to residents of this village of 150 people in southwestern New Hampshire, it is a phone worth fighting for. The town gets no cellphone reception, and there is no other pay phone for miles. The police and volunteer fire departments even have to use the phone sometimes when their radios do not work.
I don't really need payphones, anymore. I just sort of miss them, you know? For all that my friends make fun of my propensity to fondle my cell phone--which lets me check my email, download music, text and send pictures, and even take snapshots or short digital video clips--there was more than once I was awfully happy to see even a beat-up payphone with the yellow-pages long since gone missing.

Even now, especially on the road, driving long distances, I find myself noticing and remembering where I last saw a phone. You know, just in case.
Not to mention that poor Supes is going to have to figure out yet another whole new system for those quick costume changes.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Just found this post, (via Bitch, Phd)on a blog called Super Babymama.

Since I've nothing particularly interesting of my own to say, I thought I'd at least direct you to someone who does.

I'll be more myself, I'm sure, when my brain returns from wherever it's gone this time.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Spring

You know how when you go to the beach and wade out into the surf, if you watch the water instead of keeping your head up to orient between sand and water and sky, the sea tries to coax you out deeper and deeper, and you don't even quite realize it until a bigger wave nearly lifts you off your feet, and you look up suddenly, remembering that you're supposed to be watching that--that the ocean will swallow you up--and you realize you're much further from dry land than you meant to go?

That's what spring is like, for me. I understand why adults, kids, and teens, Christians, pagans and neo pagans alike, all want to build bonfires and stay out in the newly-warming nights. Chasing around, playing tag as dark falls, watching the flames dance, breathing deeply of the rising tide of green.

I wish I knew the constellations better, to understand the seasonal differences in their positions.

So that's where I've been, just lately.

I've been listening to that siren call that would take me far out to sea.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Gift Song Meme

This was Medievalist's idea, and I think it sounds like really a serious lot of fun.

1. Pick one or more of your friends who listens to digital music; preferably someone who already has iTunes and an iTunes account, and who has a blog or Live Journal or somthing similar.

Songs are .99 cents on iTunes; if people want to send MP3s directly, that's up to them, but post the song title, artist, and album anyway. You can use a credit card or PayPal to purchase songs. I suspect it's possible give music with other music services, but I don't know. There are also lots of good sources for free music on the net; feel free to use those, or to publicize indie artists you like a lot. Oh, and there are
free songs at Amazon too.

2. Select the song you want to give.

3. Post this meme on your blog or Live Journal, and list your friends, the song you've chosen for them, (keep the song a secret until after you friend receives it, if you'd like), a link to their blog, and these instructions. Feel free to add a comment about why you chose the song.

4. Purchase the single song for each friend, one at a time, (that is don't buy three songs for three friends.) If you use the iTunes store, find the song, then click on the link for the album; you will see a link near the top of the screen that says "Gift This Music"; click it, then click the Gift button that's included in the link for the song. When you check out, you'll see a form with spaces for your name, your friend's name and email address, and a short message. This will be emailed to your friend, with instructions about how to download their gift song. Use the message to send them a link to the permalink for your blog post about the meme so they'll know to blog about the song. If you use Tags, tag the post as "Gift Music."

5. If you decide to "gift back" to someone who tags you, please also tag someone else, so we can have a variety of musical tastes, journals, blogs, and people.

So I'm tagging Mark Pettus, at The Bluff; Dawno, at NVNC ID VIDES, NVNC NE VIDES; Jenna Glatzer at Hot Diggety; and Ray Wong. Also, I'm sending one to Medievalist, cuz it was her idea--but it might show up in her LJ, instead. (Of all these, I think Lisa is the only one likely to have whatever I send. She's already doing the meme, too.)

ETA: If you have trouble with the links in your email, try recopying the actual link (double checking that there are no line breaks or extra spaces) into your browser address bar, and navigating to pick up your gifted song that way.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

For your contemplation

Five Reasons Torture is always wrong.

Christianity Today is an unlikely source for me. I've deep and long-term philosophical differences with self-identified Christianity. Nonetheless, many of my friends profess to be Christians, which declaration always makes me squirm a bit--then I feel sort of dirty, as if I'd said "some of my best friends are straight...(or black, or queer, or fill-in-the-blank.)"

So a thank you nod to TNH over at Making Light, for her Particles in the sidebar.

At some point we must, all of us, make a stand that wrong is wrong is wrong.

Torture is wrong.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The WA State Highway 2 trestle, from beneath.

The moon is high, and there are cars up there, going somewhere.




Saturday, April 01, 2006

April Fools' Day

One possible origin for April Fools' Day, or All Fools' Day.

My favorite explanation for this holiday, and the likeliest sounding, is found here:

Another explanation of the origins of April Fools' Day was provided by Joseph Boskin, a professor of history at Boston University. He explained that the practice began during the reign of Constantine, when a group of court jesters and fools told the Roman emperor that they could do a better job of running the empire. Constantine, amused, allowed a jester named Kugel to be king for one day. Kugel passed an edict calling for absurdity on that day, and the custom became an annual event.

The problem with that explanation is that the good professor invented it. Never happened. Was, itself, an April Fools' joke.

As not a particularly subtle person, I've played my share of practical jokes, over the years.

Just wanted to remind y'all to be a bit skeptical, today.

Happy April.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Jill Carroll released

Journalist Jill Carroll, kidnapped in Iraq back in January, has been released by her captors.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

What do you take for granted?

I take good books for granted. I appreciate them--but frankly, I assume there will always be books I want to read.

I mean plain old fashioned books--words on paper, with a cover. Everytime someone starts speculating about books being out of date, ebooks being the wave of the future, yadda yadda...I cringe.

I don't think I'm in that much danger, though.

How 'bout you?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Folk Songs

Lady Anne Bothwell's Lament

Baloo, my boy, lie still and sleep
It grieves me sore to hear thee weep
If thou'lt be silent I'll be glad
Thy moaning makes my heart full sad.
Baloo, my boy, thy mother's joy
Thy father bred me great annoy
Baloo, baloo, baloo, baloo
Baloo, baloo, lu-li-li-lu.

O'er thee I keep my lonely watch
Intent thy lightest breath to catch
O, when thou wak'st to see thee smile
And thus my sorrow to beguile.
Baloo, my boy, thy mother's joy
Thy father bred me great annoy
Baloo, my boy, lie still and sleep
It grieves me sore to hear thee weep.

Twelve weary months have crept away
Since he, upon thy natal day
Left thee and me, to seek afar
A bloody fate in doubtful war.
Baloo, my boy, lie still and sleep
It grieves me sore to hear thee weep
If thou'lt be silent, I'll be glad
Thy moaning makes my heart full sad.

I dreamed a dream but yesternight
Thy father slain in foreign fight
He, wounded, stood beside my bed
His blood ran down upon thy head
He spoke no word, but looked on me
Bent low, and gave a kiss to thee!
Baloo, baloo, my darling boy
Thou'rt now alone thy mother's joy.

Ah--if I lived to be a thousand, I could never learn all the marvelous things I'd love to learn.

The historical Lady Bothwell's husband was killed in 1640--the song was also sometimes called Baloo, My Boy, though. Fragments of this song have been around since at least the mid sixteenth century, though. Like nearly all folk songs, its history is murky, because it might well have been sung for years, in different incarnations, before anyone thought to write it down.

This is a cool site.

This one is fun, too.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Thinking about:

The Lives of Saints. The murder of Becket. Giuseppe Desa and hair shirts. Henry II walking barefoot to Canterbury. The Children's Crusade.

You know how sometimes your brain wants to make a connection, and you can't quite tease it out?

They were just like us.

Just. Like. Us.

More later, after this stews a while.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Running

Okay. I've finally realized no one really likes to run. Not at first, anyway. Maybe not ever. The jury is still out.

I had visions of loping easily along, like a wild animal; formidable, fast, a stunning picture of grace and power.

It's not like that. I loathe it.

No. Really. Loathe it. Always have. Even in the years before I started smoking, I was not a particularly good runner.

Running hasn't gotten any better in the intervening years, either. Plus, is it just me, or is gravity getting a lot stronger? I'm here to tell you. Gravity is strong. Damn strong. Especially when you're going up hills. It gets even stronger, then.

It hurts. I suck desperately for air, and fight to keep some rhythm between my feet and my breath, and I try very hard to ignore the fact that I can hear all the blood in my body roaring in my ears. I get all sweaty and red in the face. It's actually sort of awful.

Then I realized everyone I see out running looks the same way. I felt a bit better.

So then I started thinking about marathons. Those people never really look like they're having that much fun, after the beginning. Not until the finish line, when they get to stop. Right?

So I started looking around, checking out some of the training schedules helpful runners have posted for newbies. There are some nifty 20 week plans to train to peak for your first marathon.

They say things like "Week 12: Monday--Run an easy eight miles--you should be breathing too hard to sing, but still able to gasp your location into the cell phone for the ambulance guys. You know. Just in case. Come home and do wind sprints til you pass out. When you wake up, drink as much water as you can hold, walk out the charley-horses, then blend up raw eggs with almonds and drink that, too.

Repeat."

September, I think. I think I could be ready by September.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Okay--quick question

Who has an ipod or an mp3 player--which one, why, and so on? I'm not all that interested in what the salespeople have to tell me, yet. I'll ask those questions after I've already figured out what it is I need.

So most of you know I've recently quit smoking. Along with that, I'm running again. Both farther and longer than ever before.

The harder I push and the farther I go, the more I'm thinking it would be nice to hear something besides my own ragged, tearing gasps for air and leaden footfalls, especially after the first couple of miles when the rhythm falls all apart.

(Remind me, by the way, to tell y'all about the weirdest emotional baggage that comes up, quitting a habit you've carried for nearly twenty years. Just, you know, if you're interested.)

Tell me about your favorite portable music device.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Suck it up, Bitch--Marry your rapist, raise your baby...

See the video of Bill Napoli describing what sort of raped woman might...might...be entitled to an abortion.

Edited to add another source for the video--thanks, TillyLost.

Digby covers the story pretty well.

BILL NAPOLI: A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.
But, you know, tough shit if you happen to be a woman who is only raped, but not sodomized (and WTF is that about, Napoli? Get a stiffy just thinking about it?)

Or, you know, if you're not a virgin. 'Cause if you wanted it once, it's obvious you want more.

Or, you know, if you're not religious and saving yourself for some nice rapist boy, to come along and knock you up and make a real woman of you, so you can get married whether you like it or not, like when Senator Napoli was a young man, growing up in the Wild West.

There's a deeply disturbing post about how this South Dakota law is not just about abortion, but also about rape, and about women's control over their own bodies at a very fundamental level, by Liza at BlogSheroes:

Digby covers all the major outrage points on the subject of how Napoli is basically signing onto the idea that forced childbirth is the proper punishment for being female and having a sexuality all at once, which is an argument that strikes me as no different in any substantial way than then argument that getting drunk or being 16 or whatever is reason enough to deserve to be raped and spat on. So I won’t bother with it, but I will say that what struck me about Napoli’s statement here is that he had to squeeze in “sodomized”, an act that actually can’t get you pregnant. I found it interesting that Napoli requires the sodomy before he’ll deem the Christian girl raped so badly that even he can’t imagine her deserving to be punished further for whatever the hell it is that women need to be punished for.


It takes a strong stomach, I promise you, to get all the way through the entry--it's primarily about a deeply depressing aquittal in an Illinois rape trial. That's why we all need to read it. And think about it. And talk about it.

From the linked article:
Reporters and other courtroom observers were not allowed to see the tape. Lawyers' descriptions indicate that it shows Missbrenner and codefendant Burim Bezeri having sex with the teen during the party in Missbrenner's home in the upscale suburb. The tape also shows the men and others spitting on the woman and writing on her naked body.

Defense attorney Patrick Campanelli relentlessly dissected the tape Friday, however, contending the accuser's actions indicated that she had not been coerced.
[emphasis added by me]
If this had happen to her in the great state of South Dakota, this kid would be unable to legally abort a pregnancy resulting from being gang-raped while she was drunk at a party. Yep, that's right--she would be required by South Dakota law to carry to term and raise the child of one of this gang of young men who raped her, spit on her, and scrawled obscenities on her naked body...then left her unconcious, missing her pants.

That's yer family values in action, there, eh?

A friend of mine observed earlier this week that I sounded angry, discussing this legislation and the issue of whether a woman is entitled to make her own decisions about whether or not to carry a child. That's a fair observation. Yep. I am angry. I'm furious, in fact, that there should even be any question of whether this topic belongs in the arena of public discussion.


This is why the pro-choice among us cannot afford to get tired and stop yelling about it.