Friday, October 09, 2015

NYCC Cosplay

Visit Bleeding Cool for some great photos of NYCC Cosplay this weekend. I'm particularly amused by this perfect couple:

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Stupid Political Rant

Sorry, I've got to get this off my chest...


Far be it from me to defend someone whose political views are pretty far off from mine, but folks... Ben Carson is partly right.

His smirking attitude makes his comments on the Oregon shooting a bit off-putting, to the point where it almost seems he's blaming the victims. And his previous statements on the second amendment and shooting victims mean people aren't going to give him the benefit of the doubt.

But he's absolutely correct that, in some specific cases, it's better to rush the shooter than to stand there and just get killed. In fact, that's the new way children are being taught in schools. But, of course, it's more complicated than just rushing the shooter.

The old protocol for school shootings dictated that everyone huddle in place and hide, making no noise to attract the shooter to your location. The result was that shooters could go from room to room killing without distraction. There have been studies done on the subject, and the conclusion seems to be that a "one size fits all" response to a school shooting is ... well ... stupid.

The newer protocol being taught relies on the teachers being informed and the students being drilled in what to do. The first step is keeping everyone updated on what's happening, whether through intercoms or text messages or security badges with alert systems.

If the action is happening outside the school, the building will go into the traditional lockdown. Outside doors locked, students staying in classrooms instead of roaming the building - the usual. This is for situations where police are conducting a search for someone believed to be armed in the neighborhood near the school or a case of somebody spotting a danger outside the school.

However, once the danger comes inside the building, the protocol changes. The new protocol says that students who are far enough away should escape if it's possible and safe to do so. So, if there is a shooter reported at the front door of the building and your classroom is at the back (and there's no evidence of a second shooter), then you evacuate the class out the back as fast as possible. The shooter can't kill kids that aren't there.

If the shooter isn't in the same room but you cannot escape through another door, you follow the old lockdown standards. You are silent, don't move, don't attract attention. If possible, barricade the door so even breaking/shooting the lock doesn't let the shooter in. So far, I bet most of you are in agreement with these ideas.

The final, last resort happens ONLY if the shooter enters the room you are in. And this is the only situation in which Ben Carson's "I would have done it this way" would work. If you are in the same room as the shooter and cannot escape, then rushing the shooter or trying to distract him (and the odds are high it's a "him") is the best way to survive. Because at that point you are likely dead anyway, so rushing the shooter (if you have the courage and physical ability to do so) makes more sense.

Of course, children aren't being taught that they must rush the shooter in these cases. It's emphasized in the training that it's a personal choice. It might be easier for some kids to throw things at the shooter or run around to distract the shooter or scream (a classroom of 14-year-old girls screaming at the top of their lungs would distract anyone). Whatever works. Some kids would rather hide. In the most drastic situation possible, if the shooter is in the room, there is no wrong response (except maybe pushing someone else in front of you to die, that might be wrong). It depends entirely on the person.

Carson said he would have rushed the shooter. Giving him the maximum benefit of the doubt, I'm assuming he meant in a case where there was no other option: where he couldn't escape and hiding was no longer safe.

That said, there are about a dozen different ways he could have said it better, starting with dropping any laughter or smiles while talking about people who have just been murdered. He could have cited ALICE training, he could have noted that it was a last resort. He could have made himself considerably more clear. Simply saying "I would have rushed the shooter" is a pretty weaksauce way of describing a valid method of defense against a problem that is becoming entirely too common.


I'm still very much in favor of reasonable gun control laws written by reasonable gun owners. I'm not of the opinion that guns should be outlawed, nor do I feel that people who enjoy shooting at the range or hunting should by vilified. But I also think the NRA has completely lost its way and it's time for the responsible gun owners to either take it back or start their own gun owners association.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Star Wars Tapestry...

The Daily Mail has a report on an obsessive Star Wars fan who created a Bayeux-style tapestry that tells the story of the first six Star Wars films...

I admit, it's awesome. However, I would want one without the prequels if I were to invest in something like this. And with the new movie about to be released, I have to wonder if another tapestry will be in the making at any point? Check out the artist's website for more of his work.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Gallifreyian Shopping Network


Monday, October 05, 2015

Hijinks at Work

This was on the layout table this morning. There was nothing in the cup.

Someone brought in a bag of Halloween candy. The Nestle Crunch and other types went fast, until this was all that was left.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

A Sunday Review

The Philosopher Kings
The Philosopher Kings by Jo Walton.

First up: the completely *non-spoiler review. Starting almost 20 years after na vasnzbhf qrongr raqrq gur rkcrevzragny Whfg Pvgl (na nggrzcg gb perngr Cyngb'f Erchoyvp va gur qvfgnag cnfg), guvf obbx fubjf ubj gur senpgherq cbchynpr trgf ba jvgubhg uryc sebz Nguran naq gur ebobg jbexref fur cebivqrq. This book is not nearly as unsettling as the first in some ways, but in other ways... whew. It's a wild ride. *It's been pointed out that my non-spoilers were not non-spoiler enough. My mistake, and a big one. I apologize to anyone who was spoiled.

Ok, Spoilers ahead (use rot13 to read). Vg'f 20 lrnef ba naq gur obbx cerggl zhpu fgnegf jvgu gur qrngu bs Fvzzrn, gur Znel Fhr bs gur svefg abiry. Fur'f orpbzr terng juvyr chefhvat rkpryyrapr naq yvivat va gur Erzanag bs gur Whfg Pvgl. Fur'f nyfb unq n qnhtugre, Nergr, jub orpbzrf gur guveq ibvpr jr ernq va guvf abiry. Yvxr gur svefg, gur puncgref fjvgpu orgjrra cbvag-bs-ivrj bs guerr punenpgref, gjb bs gurz gur fnzr sebz Gur Whfg Pvgl.

Boivbhfyl, gur ovttrfg greebe bs guvf obbx vf jung Ncbyyb qbrf gb Xrorf/Zngguvnf. Vg vf, sbeghangryl, abg eraqrerq gbb qvfgvapgyl va jevgvat. Ohg vg vf qrfpevorq rabhtu gb znxr zr srry zber guna n yvggyr fvpx. Gur npgvba vf gur erfhyg bs Ncbyyb ernqvat Fvzzrn'f qvnel: jung jnf 1/3 bs gur cerivbhf obbx. Nyy bs gung jnf oehgny, naq nyy bs gung jnf arprffnel gb rkcynva gur npgvbaf bs gur punenpgref vaibyirq, V guvax.

V nyfb rawblrq gur wbl bs Ncbyyb'f puvyqera nf gurl ernyvmrq gurl unir cbjref naq pna orpbzr qrzv-tbqf. Orggre lrg, gurl ner yvxryl gb orpbzr na npghny cnagurba ng gur raq bs gur fgbel, nsgre Mrhf chgf gurz va gurve arj ubzr. V jnf nyfb cyrnfrq gb frr gung gurl unq n pubvpr. Zhpu vf znqr bs ubj vzcbegnag vg vf sbe crbcyr gb unir n pubvpr. Gur ragver frevrf eribyirf nebhaq gung vqrn gb fbzr rkgrag.

V sryg guvf obbx uryq gbtrgure fyvtugyl orggre guna gur svefg obbx, ohg gbtrgure gurl znxr n sbezvqnoyr grnz. Qrsvavgryl fbzrguvat V'z tynq gung V ernq. Guvf Uhtb guvat unf fbzrguvat tbvat sbe vg, boivbhfyl!

In conclusion, I believe nominating The Just City/The Philosopher Kings as a single work may be appropriate and may be something I will do. I'll have to think about it a little more, but I think they work best together.

Short story reviews:
  • "Miriam and I, After the End" by I. Verse is a short tale of what happens to a robot caretaker after the end of the world. I quite like the "voice" of the robot, telling us how it got into the situation its in, and I can't help but feel for Miriam, who isn't feeling anything but is still cared for. A strange little story.

  • "The Cubicle Witch" by James Luther Reinebold is a quick but jolting fantasy of the modern office building. Having seen more than a few offices in my life, I'm just glad I never got to the point where a 13th floor accountant-turned-witch would be something I'd feel like turning to for help. But then, I've always been the type to leave a situation like that first.

  • "The Pixie Game" by Anna Zumbro is set in a fairly normal universe, except for the well-known existence of pixies. Gage takes a dare and regrets it. Cute little story, but there's not a lot of *ahem* bones to it.

  • "Pot" by Chuck Rothman is a very silly story about a leprechaun and his gold. It's a bit of a stinker, but somewhat funny.

  • "Chocolate Chip Cookies for the Apocalypse" by Claire Spaulding is a spare tale about love at the end of the world. Like most of the stories I'm finding on Daily Science Fiction, there's just something missing. It's not a bad story, but it needs more to be a great story.

TV this week:
  • Doctor Who: "Under the Lake" - I didn't know this was a two-parter. I was engrossed enough that I didn't figure it out right away. Which is both good and bad. Good, because it means I really enjoyed the story. Bad, because at the cliff-hanger I just yelled "ARGH!" Ok... let's see. Good things: it's nice to see Clara and the Doctor just out having adventure, and some of the patter between the two (mostly on Clara's part) was fun. The crew of the station was great, with a simply awesome second-in-command. V jvfu jr'q unq zber gvzr jvgu gur pbzznaqre uvzfrys. Gur genafyngbe vf n xrl punenpgre - V'z fher rirelbar svtherq bhg jul ur jnfa'g xvyyrq, evtug? Ur arire ybbxrq ng gur jbeqf, fb ur pbhyqa'g orpbzr n genafzvggre, fb uvf qrngu jnf cbvagyrff. V jnfa'g fher nobhg gur raq, rfcrpvnyyl ubj gur gvzrl-jvzrl ovgf jbex. Next Saturday cannot come fast enough.

  • Gotham: "Knock, Knock" - Whew. I really was not expecting that one. I mean... obviously a pile of lunatics running loose is going to cause problems, but I really didn't expect those particular actions. In fact, those were about as far from what I was expecting at this point in the season as it's possible to get. So, svefg gurer ner zheqref ng gur arjfcncre'f bssvpr, gura n fpubby ohf shyy bs purreyrnqref arneyl trgf sevrq. Gubfr ner onq rabhtu, ohg gura nqq va gur cbyvpr znffnper (uneq gb gryy ubj znal bssvpref qvrq irefhf ubj znal whfg ynl fgvyy hagvy gur qnatre jnf tbar) naq vg'f haoryvrinoyr. Naq gur pbzzvffvbare! Qnat, Revp cerqvpgrq fur jbhyqa'g ynfg gur frnfba, ohg fur qvqa'g znxr vg guebhtu gur rcvfbqr. Gur bgure cybgf jrer terng... Nyserq unq fbzr ybiryl zbzragf va guvf rcvfbqr, vapyhqvat uvf senax gnyx jvgu Yhpvhf Sbk. Altzn'f fhocybg, fubeg nf vg jnf, bs fnivat Xevfgra jnf bar bs gubfr gjvfgf gung'f obhaq gb unir artngvir pbafrdhraprf va gur shgher. I really doubt this series can keep up this level of action. I'm kind of expecting to be let down like I was with last season. But so far so good.

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Aug 19th
  • Justice League #43 - Luthor isn't usually this stupid, is he? I'm still annoyed at the lack of Aquaman in this storyline, but not very annoyed, because it's a crappy storyline, so it's best Aquaman's not involved in it.
  • Harley Quinn & Power Girl #3 - *speechless* *shaking head* *stunned open-mouthed staring* *wrinkled eyebrow and mild frown* *speechless* *disturbed laughter* *befuddlement*
  • Green Lantern: The Lost Army #3 - This entire situation is nasty, but I'm actually vaguely interested in how this is going to play out. I actually sympathize with Guy for once. Very odd.
  • Teen Titans Go #11 - Cyborg's facial hair and Raven's family. Well, they can't all be winners. But I am amused by the cover, at least.
  • Astro City #26 - So, the overall arc is getting a bit stickier. The heroes are thinking about the next generation and worrying about getting older. Interesting. And this is a nice tribute to the first issue.
  • Oddly Normal #9 - Ok, this is fun on several levels. Lots of potential for new stories set up, and a new character introduced, along with a resolution to a past one. Nice.
  • Fiction #3 - Ah, I'm seeing links to Doctor Who in this one. There's a very old DW story that uses the exact method seen here to get out of trouble. Hrm.
  • Doctor Who 2015: Four Doctors #2 - Trying to avoid something always seems to make it happen, yes? The Keys of Marinus is one of my favorite serials of the original series, so I'm eagerly awaiting what happens next.
  • Rivers of London #2 - Still not making a whole lot of sense to me, but I'm following the gist of it, I think. Fun stuff.
NOTE: To people looking for Hugo recommendations, I'd say if you are really into humor, the Harly Quinn & Power Girl series is worth a look, but only if you are into the humor. Astro City is always a contender, and I highly recommend it. Oddly Normal, Fiction and Rivers of London all had potential as well. Personally, I'll be looking hard at recent Astro City story arcs for something to nominate - for the rest, your mileage may vary, but they are all worth a glance.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

The Week in Review

Yeah, I had an interesting Sunday.

Where There's Smoke, There's a Story

After Eric left on Saturday, Inkwell the cat and I just kind of rested. Inkwell was nervous, thinking I was going to take him somewhere. But I was good and left him alone. I stayed inside pretty much all day, resting and trying to flatten the fatigue.

Sunday morning I was lazy and slow. I was checking out Facebook when I noticed someone had posted a photo of a plume of smoke over town and asked where it was. Immediately I thought, "I'm a reporter, my job is to answer that sort of question!" and looked out my front window. Sure enough, I could see the plume. It looked like it was due north. I didn't bother getting into nice clothing, I just rushed out the door and followed the smoke.

Can I just say that traffic goes extremely slow when you are in a hurry? I mean, really really slow. As I got closer to the fire I kept thinking, "I hope it's just an ag fire, I hope it's just some farmer burning stuff" although I knew, from the dark color of the plume, that it was a house fire. Sure enough, I came into the clear and could see a grand old two-story home in flames. I turned down the road it was on and found a parking spot, then waved my camera at the officer who was telling me to leave, and got out and started taking photos.

It was a bright sunny day and I had the sun at my back and the fire at my front. I got uncomfortably hot very quickly, but decided to keep taking photos until I realized my car was blocking an easy exit for the fire trucks. I decided to move it... but I couldn't find another spot to park so I just went home.

After getting home I decided this was something we needed on the website NOW instead of waiting until Monday. I contacted the tech expert and, after a false start and some fiddling on my part, she got the photo posted. Then I spread the photo a little more via Facebook, including answering the original post that alerted me to the fire in the first place. Ah, social media and the news.

Inkwell made me stand still once I came back into the house and sniffed me thoroughly. He was very interested in my jacket, which had some ash on it. I got that "where on earth have you BEEN?" look from him, as well.

Hanford Hot Date

After that adventure, I was a little hyper for awhile. I knew I was going to go out again to take photos of the Super Harvest Blood Moon, so it was hard to get back down into a restful state. I ended up doing a little cleaning, and finally got dressed in normal outside clothes.

Eric got home in late in the morning, tired and happy to not have to leave town again for many weeks. Inkwell was thrilled to have him back as well, and did his "where on earth have you BEEN?" look at Eric, too.

After dinner, Eric and I headed out to view the Super Harvest Blood Moon. Eric said he knew a perfect spot up near Hanford, so we drove up north, over the hills and to the very gates of Hanford. We turned down the road and a couple of miles past the gates there was a wide shoulder off the freeway at which someone else was already parked, watching as the moon was slowly being eaten by shadow.

Once we'd parked, I got out and set up my camera and tripod, fiddling with it repeatedly to finally get a good shot. To my delight, the camera was actually able to focus on the moon itself. While it's not crystal clear, the image was considerably better than I expected it to be. I took a lot of photos. Maybe a quarter of them were blurry, but many of the rest were really quite good. I used the timer on the camera so I wouldn't be touching the camera when I took the picture, which leads to hand-shake blurs. No matter how steady you think your hands are, holding the camera for a long exposure will lead to blurs. Using the timer worked.

My co-worker put together a gallery of our moon photos, the first six are mine. The co-worker also put the best shots on Instagram, which made me happy.

After we drove back home, I told Eric it was an ideal nerd date: Going to Hanford to watch the lunar eclipse. Definitely our kind of a night.

Council Fun

Monday was less pleasant, as Mondays often are. With the transition to a new publisher really getting going in the office, everyone was feeling a tad confused. I had a bunch of photos from the Fair to get ready, along with the fire photo for the paper, a sports story, and the usual police logs. It somehow got done before deadline.

Monday afternoon was more relaxed, and I headed out a bit early to cut hours for the council meeting Monday night. It was a heavy agenda, and I was worried I'd have a long meeting. Fortunately, everyone presenting saw how long the meeting was and kept it short. It ended up being an average length of meeting, and I didn't go over my hours. Yay!

Unfortunately, despite being somewhat short, the council meeting was absolutely dense with information that needed to be reported. I barely had time to get through the council stuff in the morning, never mind my other areas that needed stories. I struggled through, and got some help from co-workers. There was just so much I wanted to make sure we mentioned.

After deadline Tuesday morning it was another one of those moderately relaxed mornings. The afternoon was going to be taken up with the open house for the publisher's retirement party and the introduction to the new publisher, so I worked ahead as much as possible.

ASB Follies

I also found a schedule conflict for the soccer game the next town over that I was taking photos at that night. On the school's website it said the game started at 6 p.m. On the league website it said the game would start at 4 p.m. I didn't want to miss the game, so I called the ASB office at the high school to find out when it actually started. I was assured the varsity game started at 6 p.m. Due to that, I made plans for dinner with Eric.

I stuck around the office for the first half-hour or so of the open house, chatting with customers and folks who stopped by to say farewell to the retiring publisher. Then I headed home, had a nice dinner out with Eric, and headed to my soccer game... which wasn't in the stadium, like I expected. Having run into this situation once before, I headed up to the "practice field". Only when I got there I didn't recognize any of the girls on the home team. I stopped a couple of boys carrying ice to the sidelines... the JV game was just starting. The varsity game had been held at 4 p.m.

I said a bad word.

Then I got very angry at the ASB office. I talked with the boys for a moment, learning that the reason they played the varsity game first was because of a lack of lights up on upper field, meaning that if it got dark before the end of the game, it would only be a JV game affected, not the main show. I then left before I caused a scene.

Since I had a volleyball game up next, I headed to that instead of fuming at the soccer field. I was still feeling heated when I got to the other high school and ran into the editor's wife, who works for the local high school. I vented. I was pretty upset, and I apparently attracted negative people that night because I ended up talking with several other folks about unrelated subjects that were mostly negative. It was a very unpleasant night. I stayed long enough to make sure I had two good shots at the game, then went home in an extremely grumpy mood.

Museum in a Box

I was still fuming the next morning. I got my photos into the production crew and headed out to the Daybreak Rotary meeting. Outside the building I ran into one of the members, who asked how I was. I told him the truth, and he said he hoped the Rotarians would cheer me up. I doubted they could... but I was wrong. The club had a "Burke Box" to show off, and there is something delightful about a bunch of local business and community leaders gleefully examining fossils together. In fact, I left the meeting feeling much more positive about life.

Deadline was tough, as it always is when you have an hour-long meeting right in the middle of it. I did not finish everything, although my co-workers did their best to help. We ended up with a single police log left off. Still, not bad.

Kinder Crying

My big morning assignment, after the Rotary meeting, was taking a student of the month photo at the local all-kindergarten elementary school. I got there about five minutes early, but expected it to take a long time. It was the first of the year, so I expected the kids to be unsure and wiggly and possibly upset because of the change in the routine they've gotten used to over the past month.

To my delight, when they called for the kids they asked for an adult to accompany the children. The result was a good number of adults there with the children to maintain order. I'm not entirely sure where all the adults were from, although I heard the words "parent volunteer" more than once. One of the administrators ruthlessly organized the children by height. I noticed one girl was close to tears, and worried about getting a happy shot.

The children were wrangled into four rows, and then it was my turn. I got their attention and explained the photo is for the newspaper, then told them the high school kids often have trouble all looking at the camera at the same time, could they all look at the camera at the same time? I got a ragged "yes!" from them, and told them I would be taking a bunch of photos so I could use the best. Then I snapped the first one while they were still trying to figure out what they were looking at, then told them to say "Cheese!" They said it. I said, "Say pizza!" they said it. I said "Say chocolate!" and some of them said it while others laughed. I got a total of seven photos, but in the last one I could see the girl had finally snapped and was crying, so I stopped and let the admins take over again.

They had the children give their names so we'd have the list, while I went over to the girl who was crying and showed her the photos. She calmed down quite a bit while I talked to her about how her parents would love the photo early on where she's smiling. She gulped and agreed, and I asked her what her name was. She answered in a whimper that I could not decipher, so I asked again, and that time I understood. I told her she would be fine and I would make sure I got her name right. Eventually we got through the line, with each of the kids getting their name taken.

Then I headed home for lunch with Inkwell the cat. I ate my lunch, set my plate down, and what seemed like a moment later Inkwell was jumping on me, trying to reach the plate. It woke me up from a fairly sound nap. Fortunately, I wasn't too late in getting back to the office. Once there, we had an impromptu reporter meeting, and then I just got through my afternoon stuff until my appointment at 2:30 p.m.

Feels Like Home

I live in a housing development that is relatively new. It's right next to a nifty arena that's surrounded by fields that are completely vacant. They have been left to go to grass, and the owner doesn't water them at all and only mows them because the county makes her. The area is surrounded by tall trees, including a lot of evergreens. And driving through that area on my way to the appointment at the owner of the arena's business, I felt like I was seven years old and living across the street from a mostly abandoned horse pasture, which I loved. It felt like home. And it's only a couple of blocks from where I live now.

Anyway. I did my interview, got some photos, got to pet the dog who was delighted to have a new human to scratch his head, then went home. It was a very short drive. I pulled into the garage, shut the garage door and started to take off my shoes when the garage door opened again. It was Eric getting home right after me.

After a quick consultation, we decided the trip to Costco was needed, and wrote up a list. Then we drove out to Yakima for the shopping trip. Personally, I haven't been to Costco for a long time, to the degree I can't even remember the last time I was in the store. So it was interesting for me. Eric, on the other hand, has been there fairly recently. But he also needed to get glasses, so we went to the optical center and went through their choices. Not a huge selection, but he found one we could both live with and put in his order. Then we did the rest of our shopping and had dinner there in the "food court" at Costco.

We got home just in time for Inkwell's dinner. I was exhausted and ready to kaput, but managed to watch a couple of DVRed shows and get some online stuff done. I have been neglecting online due to falling asleep in my tracks and lots of meetings and sports photos.

I went to bed early, but still was tired when I got up. I'm always tired when I get up. I'm rarely well-rested. I wonder if I ought to have another sleep study done and see if modern medicine has advanced enough to actually help me this time?

New Month, New Boss

Thursday morning, the first day of October, was also the first day with the new boss. We were grateful he didn't come in and try to change everything in the first few moments. He did talk with the editor for awhile during deadline, which led to us not quite getting everything corrected and filed in time, but that was the publisher's fault, so I'm not going to blame anyone else. We still got the paper done on time. This particular issue also published our circulation statement, so we all have a very good idea at the moment where we stand and what our future goals for circ ought to be.

After deadline I started work on other assignments, getting a bunch of stuff done. I needed a couple of fillers, so I headed to the local physical therapy office and asked if someone there was willing to fill out a "neighbors" questionnaire and get a photo taken. To my delight, one of them was willing and I got that job done. After lunch I had to head over to "Holy Pies!" which is a new lunch place that features pies. I wanted to get a couple of good photos of the place to promote their grand opening, but while I was there I went ahead and got another neighbor. Ha! I also decided I need to do more "research" there before I do my promo piece for next Tuesday's business pages.

I stuck around for the full duration on Thursday, working on my "Women in Business" story and being hyper about pies. Then I headed home for a very relaxing evening with Inky and Eric. I actually got some TV watched and played a little Doctor Who: Legacy, which I haven't been able to do for quite awhile.

Mandatory Meetings

Friday morning we had a mandatory meeting after production deadline, at 11 a.m. That's when I usually go to lunch. In fact, most of the reporters go to lunch about that time due to coming in so early. So we were a little low on blood-sugar as the meeting went from one hour to an hour and a half. After the meeting, I managed to get some one-on-one time with the new publisher to discuss my own issues. I was scattered and a little confused, but I think I got my concerns across. I hope.

After that I just stuck around for a bit longer instead of going to lunch. I had some really good apple crisp cookies, and started to develop a sugar high that probably wasn't good for me. I finally lost it about 2 p.m. and went home. I fed the cat, who had missed his eleven o'clock feeding and was very upset, and then fell into bed and slept until shortly before the farewell dinner for the leaving publisher.

The dinner was at the local Eagles Club, and I met several people I'd heard of but never met. The publisher had been working at the newspaper for more than 40 years, so there are a lot of people involved over the years who showed up. It was mostly fun, although the chicken had the texture of shoe leather. The baked potato was really good, at least.

I slept fitfully last night, with a massive headache waking me up several times... although it didn't hurt quite enough for me to get out of bed and find painkillers. I also had disturbing dreams that, fortunately, I have forgotten. I slept in quite a long time before I woke up and helped make breakfast with Eric. I was lazy most of the morning, and didn't get much done, which is why this is getting posted so late.

It's been a very slow day... hopefully I'll be more awake tomorrow.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Breaking Cat News - Special Report

Inkwell approves of this important message from Breaking Cat News about shelter cats. Inkwell particularly approves of the bits about black cats, but the rest is good too, Inkwell reports.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

New Simon's Cat!

Fortunately for me, Inkwell is relatively easy to get into his carrier. Most of the time. Sometimes... well, I have scars.

Monday, September 28, 2015

My Lunar Eclipse Photo

Hubby-Eric and I went on a road trip last night to get some great photos of the Super Harvest Blood Moon. Fortunately for me, my camera was up to the task. As I've told several people, only nerds like hubby and I would have gone on a date night to Hanford to watch a lunar eclipse. It was an exciting night for me, as I've never been up that way before - I'm always thrilled to visit new places. We stayed for about half the total eclipse before heading home. This is one of the best shots I got during the hour or so we were up there.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Stretchy Cat

I want kibble.

A Sunday Review

Reckless Traveler
Reckless Traveler by Walter Rhein.

Walter Rhein contacted me about two months ago after reading my review of Turn Right at Machu Picchu and asked if I could read his book about living in Peru. I was a bit reluctant: I was afraid with my current Hugo obsession I wouldn't want to take time out to read a non-fiction book. However, I agreed, and I started to read it chapter by chapter in between other readings. This is the perfect book for casual reading - almost every chapter stands alone well, and Rhein sprinkles in enough information within chapters to get the reader quickly back up to speed if it's been awhile between readings. Toward the end of the book I found I was reluctant to stop reading to get to other stuff, so I finished off the last third in a day... although it took me weeks of doling out chapters to get that far. There are 42 chapters, and each one is short and fun.

Ok, Spoilers ahead (use rot13 to read). V sbhaq gur svefg puncgre gb or n avpr vagebqhpgvba gb gur obbx nf n jubyr - gur nhgube vf ba n ohf fgbccrq ol zra jvgu NX-47f. Gur fvghngvba vfa'g erfbyirq hagvy gur svany puncgre naq jbexf irel avpryl nf n obbxraq gb gur frevrf. Vg jnf nyfb pbzcryyvat, znxvat zr jnag gb pbzr onpx naq frr jung unq tbggra uvz gb gung cbvag, juvpu vf n arng gevpx.

V jba'g tb puncgre ol puncgre, ohg fbzr bs gur zbzragf gung ernyyl fgbbq bhg sbe zr jrer gur puncgre ba orq ohtf naq gur arkg puncgre gung gnyxf nobhg gur nhgube'f lbhgu jvgu pbhfvaf jub jrer n ovg jvyq. Gur jubyr xvqarl fgbarf nqiragher jnf nznmvat gb ernq nobhg. V jnf nzhfrq ol gur sbyx xabjyrqtr gung ur rkcrevraprq va phevat vg. Va snpg, whfg nobhg rirel zrqvpny gnyr jnf unve-envfvat naq lrg nzhfvat. V pna fnl vg'f nzhfvat orpnhfr V qvqa'g unir gb yvir vg.

V ybirq gur gnyr bs Fcnavfu zvfgnxrf naq jung rirelbar gubhtug ur nfxrq gur jnvgre sbe. Gung jnf cevpryrff. Nf jnf gur gevc gb Znpuh Cvppuh jvgu uvf sevraq Tenql. Va snpg, gur ragver frpgvba jvgu Tenql jnf ernyyl sha gb ernq... evtug hc hagvy gur svany cnentencu bs puncgre 23, ng juvpu cbvag V chg gur obbx qbja naq nyzbfg pevrq sbe n zna V'q arire zrg.

Sbeghangryl, gur arkg puncgre jnf na nqiragher va uhzbe naq Xnsxnrfdhr ohernhpenpl. Gurer ner n pbhcyr zber ivfvgf gb gbhevfg fcbgf, zbfgyl gbyq va n jnl gung znxrf lbh ernyyl jnag gb tb purpx gurz bhg. Gurer ner nyfb fgbevrf nobhg grnpuvat gung znqr zr teva. Grnpuvat Gur Pnyy bs gur Jvyq gb n ohapu bs puvyqera jub unq ab pyhr jung fabj vf jnf ybiryl. V nyfb ybirq ubj ur uvq uvf xabjyrqtr bs Fcnavfu sebz gur angvir grnpuref. V'ir urneq bs crbcyr qbvat gung fbeg bs guvat orsber, whfg abg nf ybat nf gur nhgube fnvq ur pneevrq vg ba. V nyfb ybir uvf ivrj bs rqhpngvba naq jul cresrpgvba fubhyq abg or gur tbny. Irel avpr fghss gurer.

V jnf nyfb nzhfrq ol gur vapvqragf juvyr ur jnf n wbheanyvfg jvgu n cerff cnff. Lrf, gur guvatf ner zntvpny. V ybir zvar, nygubhtu V eneryl unir gb hfr vg. V gubhtug uvf rkcrevrapr jvgu gur Cerfvqrag jnf cerggl shaal. Ur qvqa'g qb nalguvat jebat, rvgure. Gur gevpx vf gung lbh ner gurer gb trg fbzr xvaq bs fgbel. Gung'f nyy ur arrqrq gb qb, naq urpx, ur qvq vg! V qba'g xabj vs ur jebgr nobhg vg sbe gur jrofvgr, ohg ur tbg vg sbe gur obbx, fb gung jbexf. Ur fubhyq unir oebhtug n cra naq abgrcnq jvgu uvz, nf jryy, ohg V'z vzcerffrq ur tbg nf sne nf ur qvq. Nzhfvatyl, ol yrnivat n yvggyr rneyl, ur znqr uvzfrys ybbx n yvggyr zber cebsrffvbany. Ur tnir gur vzcerffvba ur jnf bss gb svyr uvf fgbel. V ybir vg!

In conclusion, if you are any kind of traveler or, like me, wish you could be a traveler, this is a great book to read. I also heartily recommend it to younger readers, high school age. In fact, I wouldn't hesitate to give it to just about any teenager. The worst activities he gets up to, that he describes, involve drinking. And even those result in some lessons learned. But high school or college kids would get a lot out of the stories in this book - from the willingness to take risks to the understanding that sometimes bad things happen. I may have been reluctant to start this book, but I'm very glad I read it.

Television shows:
  • Gotham: "Damned If You Do..." - An episode that sets up the new status quo, showing Penguin consolidating his power while Jim is demoted to street duty. There's a point in this episode where Bruce shows his twisted reasoning that will eventually lead him to take up the mantle of Batman - and shares that reasoning with Jim, who takes it to heart. And that's really the entire point of the show. Bad choices are made that result in horrible things with the goal towards creating a greater good. What are the consequences of those bad choices going to be on the people who made them? We also see Nygma falling further into mental breakdown with an interesting scene at a mirror. The Riddler has been both villain and anti-hero in the comics, this show may try to give him all the levels he's had in the comics.

  • Doctor Who: "The Witch's Familiar" - Missy is truly an amazing character. I definitely see the roots of the original Master in her portrayal, along with the gathered insanity of the others. Her tricks in this one were lovely from a story standpoint. However, the absolute best moment of all came in the beginning, (spoilers) jura Zvffl vf gryyvat Pynen gur fgbel nobhg gur Qbpgbe naq Pynen fnlf gur Qbpgbe tbg njnl. Zvffl'f erfcbafr (naq gur ivqrb bs gur Qbpgbe nybat jvgu vg) znqr zr cnhfr gur fubj fb V pbhyq snyy bhg bs zl punve ynhtuvat: "Ab, ur'f gur Qbpgbe. Ur sryy vagb n arfg bs inzcver zbaxrlf. Ohg gung'f nabgure fgbel!" V'z abj tbvat gb fcraq fbzr gvzr guvaxvat nobhg inzcver zbaxrlf, V guvax. Gur bgure gryyvat zbzrag jnf jura Zvffl gevrq gb trg gur Qbpgbe gb xvyy gur qnyrx juvpu unq xvyyrq Pynen. Irel zhpu ure guvat. Was it a great episode? Yes and no. It had some moments, but it dragged a little in the middle.

Novella review:
  • What Has Passed Shall In Kinder Light Appear by Bao Shu is one of the more interesting stories I've read this entire year. Originally I was a bit put off by it because I thought the writer was getting basic stuff wrong... then it hit me what was happening. At that point I started to really enjoy it. While it probably could have been a tad shorter, it was still quite excellent. I'm not sure about the ending, but the whole thing was so good that by the end I was enjoying it enough it almost didn't matter. In short, definitely a contender for my Hugo nomination ballot.

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Aug 12th
  • Justice League United #12 - So the team works after all? I wonder very much about Mera on the hunt for Aquaman all on her own, but at least Animal Man keeps his word. As for the rest, the team probably ought to listen to Etrigan on this one.
  • Earth 2 Society #3 - Ok, I liked the bits with Lois' story, but I'm not really sure what to make of the rest. I'm not sure I get where this story is going.
  • DC Comics Bombshells #1 - Ok, I'm in. The total subversion of the Batman origin was lovely. This is fun from start to finish, with a pleasant kind of art that amuses me. The stories are promising so far as well. I know Mera shows up soon, so I'm just going to really enjoy this book, I think.
  • Arrow: Season 2.5 #11 - Well, that's kind of an anti-climax for the final scene, since we know he survives. In fact, all of season three is already over, so there's no question at all. This book was a neat enough idea, but it just falls down in places.
  • Star Trek/Green Lantern #2 - For whatever reason, it took me forever to want to read this book. I literally would read the first page, say, "eh" and move on to a different book. Once I got past the first page, it wasn't bad, but honestly, I'm just not that interested in it. Which is strange, because usually I love cross-universe stories like this. I will just note that whoever is writing the book got the spectrum lanterns all wrong, as well. Oops.
  • Empire Uprising #4 - Wow. Everyone in this book is pretty evil, but this guy takes the cake, I think. I also wonder about Lohkyn - I remember him from the original series. A good character, even though his fate was unpleasant. I'm not sure about that final splash, though. Going to have to keep reading.
  • Rebels #5 - Honestly, this series feels like it's been going a lot longer than five issues, and I'm not sure whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. I feel like I need to go back and reread the first four issues, though. There's stuff I feel like I'm missing.
  • Secret Wars 2099 #4 - I really hate Miguel in this book. Roberta, on the other hand, is very cool. And seeing Hercules and Sub-Mariner trying to drink each other under the table was great.
  • SpongeBob Comics #47 - I love the fishstick. I don't know why, but it really amused the heck out of me. The rest is more of the usual - fun if you like the humor in SpongeBob.
  • Doctor Who 10th #14 - Oooo Pyramids of Mars references! Awesome. I wanna read more of this one, especially after that cliffhanger.
  • Doctor Who 11th #15 - Well, 15 issues in we finally get the finish to the story that started in depression with a rainbow dog. Good stuff, and I'm glad we've sorted out Jones and ARC. I'm curious where the story will head next.
  • Doctor Who 2015: Four Doctors #1 - Clara goes to stop a paradox but apparently causes the very paradox she went to prevent? Is that what I'm reading here? Good job Clara!
NOTE: This was a huge week, so my brain is a little fried... but people who want to read comics for Hugo purposes could do worse than to look at DC Comics Bombshells and/or Empire Uprising. I probably wouldn't bother with the Trek/Lantern crossover, but then again, it might get really good at the end. Bombshells is an interesting alternate take on the DCU in WWII, while Empire Uprising is all about the world when the bad guy has won and is trying to keep control of his empire.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Week in Review

I admit it. After the soccer game on Saturday, I kind of blissed out and just shut down everything in me that felt even slightly responsible. It was very nice. It was also slightly stupid.

Soccer at the "new" Stadium

The soccer game started at noon on Saturday at the stadium the next town over. They've recently resurfaced the field, but there's still dusty dirt all around the outside of the track, and the track itself is just asphalt, so it's not quite done yet. I drove to where I usually park for events in the stadium but quickly figured out the gates were locked. I ended up driving around to find street parking in another direction and walking a long way to get into the stadium.

That's my biggest problem with that particular stadium: there is no parking near it. It has no parking lot of its own, and it's situated in a such a way that no matter where you park you have a hike ahead of you... unless the lower gate is open. Which it wasn't.

So I hiked down into the stadium and wandered over to the coach of the visiting team, which happened to be my hometown. I got a roster from her and chatted a little, then I headed over to the other bench and found a fellow who had a roster available for me for the home team. The sunlight was strong, and I decided I needed it at my back to get the best shots, which meant walking back to the other side of the stadium again. Taking sports photos in good light is awesome. Most of the shots turn out as long as the camera focuses fast enough, and mine was doing well.

I had my long lens working hard for the first 20 minutes, then I started to get a bit uncomfortable in the sunlight. It wasn't hot, by any local measure, but it was definitely getting warm while standing in the sun. I moved around a bit to get better shots of particular players, although it's a crap shoot in soccer. The game moves fast enough that I spend a lot of it just focusing on the players with the ball and hoping to get something that isn't blurry. Eventually I wandered over to a shed at the edge of the field which cast a bit of shadow. There were some folks sitting in it, so I stood in the shadows and tried to get a few last shots while chatting with people.

There were some kids, maybe 7 or 8 years old, playing with some of the stuff the construction workers had left in the dirt. I went over and told them that if I was a responsible adult, I'd tell them to stop playing with the stuff, but as a person who had once been a child I would instead urge them to be very careful. They nodded solemnly and moved away from the sticks and markers (which looked like they could have really hurt if somebody threw one) and started daring each other to run around the track. That seemed like a safer occupation for them, so I wandered off.

As the half came to a close, I decided that if I didn't have enough good shots by now I'd never get any, and hiked back to my car. I'd left my last Fierce Melon Gatorade in the car, and I was pleased I'd thought of it because I really needed it. Again, it wasn't really hot, but it was surprisingly tiring standing/walking in the direct sunlight for about an hour. I tend to get caught up in taking photos and forget I'm in the sun until I get uncomfortable or sunburned.

Home Alone

I headed home after the game, feeling sweaty and tired, and was greeted by Inkwell the cat, who apparently had been certain I was going to abandon him like Eric did. I gave Inky scritches and attempted to give him a cuddle, but he prudently fled. And so I rested for the remainder of Saturday, only getting up to get dinner or feed the cat. I also baked the buttercup squash, which was excellent, but too much for one person. I saved some for later in the week.

Without Eric, it was very quiet and I wasn't really sure what to do. I watched the new Doctor Who as soon as I was able, then wrote up my review. Played with the cat. Read comic books and novels. Slept. Basically allowed myself to recharge.

Sunday morning Inkwell woke me with repeated touches of his paw on my face, gradually letting more of his claws out as I lay there and ignored him. At some point he went over to Eric's bedstand and started knocking things over, but it was still before 5 a.m. so I ignored him. He stood on my pillow with his butt to my face and yowled. Finally I got up at 5:30, and he acted like I was the stupidest creature ever. He stayed right under my feet, attempting to guide me downstairs I think. Instead, he nearly tripped me. But I managed to get to his food dish and feed him, at which point I just became another piece of furniture to him again.

Too Blissed

Eric got home around noon, and Inkwell was amazingly happy to see him. Inkwell is never pleased when he's down to half his usual set of slaves. With Eric back, he felt much more secure. It was a moderately quiet evening.

But I was so relaxed I forgot to call one of my coaches. Heck, I completely forgot I needed to call him (technically, he should have called me). So when I got up Monday and looked at my assignments for the day, I just sat there and silently cursed. Monday morning was extremely unpleasant at the office. I was in a horrible mood from the start, and we were all working our butts off on various things.

Ambulance Chasing

Then an ambulance roared past the office. No biggie, that happens. Then a second one. Hmmm. Then a fire truck. I raced out to my car and tried to give chase. Unfortunately, I lost them after the first light. I considered the direction I thought I'd seen them turn, and watching the sky for any sign of smoke, I headed toward the freeway entrance. Nothing. My instincts told me to go past the freeway. There's a route that would allow me to swing around and check all the major intersections of town in a swoop, so I started on that route... but just past the freeway there was a police car blocking off a road.

I managed to get in position to talk to the officer, pulling out my press badge. He waved me past his car, and I headed down the road to what looked like an accident. As I got closer, I realized it was a rollover. Both ambulances and the fire truck were standing by.

I parked my car and walked up the road, leaving plenty of room for any other emergency vehicles (including possibly a tow truck) and got to the scene, wearing my press badge prominently. Yup, a single-car rollover. A little pick-up truck. There was a stretcher near the car, but nobody in it. A man who might have been the driver was surrounded by state troopers and firemen. I talked with a trooper, who told me the guy wasn't injured, then I snapped a few photos, trying to get an angle that showed the vehicle and a few firefighters.

I hate to say it, but it really brightened my day. I guess it was the act of getting out of the office, not what I was getting to. Though I admit there was a little of the "someone else is having a much worse day than me" thing going, as well. I headed back to my car - there really wasn't all that much to report - and headed back to the office without any issues. Then it was back into the unpleasant editorless grind.


I'd rather not talk about how difficult it was to pull the paper together on Monday. Nor the not-quite-arguments that made it even less comfortable. But I was glad when we finally had the thing laid out and checked, even if there was an entirely too good chance we'd missed stuff. I headed out to lunch without a backward glance. I just can't handle the stress anymore. Especially not after such a relaxing weekend that I had thought had gotten me totally rested. Ha.

After lunch wasn't much better. I recognized that part of my problem was my depression leaking through my medication. It happens sometimes, and I never know when it will strike or what form it will take. Most of the time I simply get numb/depressed. On Monday I started to get irrationally angry at everything. I guess it would be akin to having a sore that everyone accidentally bumps or pokes. Only everything about me is sore, so no matter what anyone else does, I feel like I'm being attacked. It's better than being numb... but not a lot better.

I churned through Monday afternoon, wanting nothing more than to find a dark hole to curl up in. When I got home I was snappy with Eric and grumpy enough that Inkwell followed me at a distance and watched me carefully. I don't think I accomplished much Monday night. I was irritated with everything and it was a relief to finally go to bed and try to ignore the world.

Tuesday I was numb. I felt close to tears most of the morning for no reason whatsoever. I did my best to just ignore my emotions and do my job, but it was amazingly difficult and created something of a feedback loop. The more I struggled to hold it together, the harder it became to hold it together because I was struggling. Perhaps I just needed a good cry, but I find it hard to allow myself to cry when there's nothing to cry about.

Dog doo

While on deadline, the postman came to the door, stopped, then opened up the drop box to the side and yelled something to the front desk lady. She walked around to find out what was up, and he told her to not open the door. There was a giant dog turd right in front of the door. She alerted the publisher and he went to clean it up. It was a good thing we were warned, because anyone opening that door would have got it smeared all over the door and thence all over the floor of the building and... well, it would have been a mighty big mess.

After getting deadline done, I looked at pages and struggled through the rest of the morning before heading out. I went again to the home of the guy who I'd been trying to interview for a week. This time he opened the door and talked to me, since one of my co-workers cornered him at church and told him why I was "stalking" him. I took some notes, then headed home for lunch.

Inkwell was delighted to see me. Eric had left early, so he was lonely. After finishing his own lunch, he decided that my lunch looked very interesting and did the "I'm going to crawl all over you until I get your lunch or you throw me out" thing. I managed to eat my lunch and put the plate down on a stool next to my chair. Inkwell climbed over my computer and onto the stool, where he licked the crumbs off my plate. I ignored him until he decided to jump from the stool - knocking it over onto me. *sigh* I chased him out of the room and shut the door to finish my computing. When I opened the door ten minutes later he was waiting outside it. As soon as he saw me he showed me his belly, which I guess is "I'm sorry" or at least as close as he's going to come to it. *sigh*

Despite deep exhaustion and depression, I headed back to work and got a little more done. Because I had a meeting Tuesday night, I left work a little early. Once home, I promptly fell fast asleep and didn't wake up until Eric came home. Luckily, he got home before I had to go to the meeting. Whew. I had a quick dinner and took off for the night meeting the next town south.

Citizen Complaint

The meeting... well, it was ok. Nothing overwhelmingly obnoxious happened in the work session, but in the main meeting there was a guy who had read a handful of legal documents and believed he understood the law, so he came to complain at city council about his sewer line being clogged. The line from his home to the main line. The line on his property. Now, when Eric and I lived in Bothell we had some sewer line issues thanks to the trees in our yard. Because the line was on our property, it was our responsibility to fix it. Which we did, each time it happened. This guy, however, was convinced that the city was responsible for cleaning out the sideline to his house due to language in a state law that talks about "adjacent" lines.

From the way the city manager and the mayor spoke with him, it was clear that they'd tried for some time to sort out his issues and explain reality to him, but he still was convinced he was right. The problem was that he was using technical terms he'd read in legal documents without the slightest clue what they meant. I'm not a legal scholar, but even I could tell he was wasting everyone's time. The mayor attempted to explain the situation to him, but then the council members also needed to understand why the guy was complaining (he didn't set out his argument in a way it was understandable in the first place) and so it took a long time to sort out. By the time the mayor, city manager and the guy were done, it had become completely clear that the guy didn't have a clue how government works, much less whose responsibility his sewer line is. There were some things he could have done to present his case better, but since he didn't really have a case in the first place, it was embarrassing for everyone.

I got home just before 9 p.m., totally wiped despite my nap. I was also still depressed and feeling it. I grumped up to bed and probably irritated my husband mightily before falling asleep.

Rotary Morning

Wednesday morning I woke up with a headache. I struggled to get going and out the door, and struggled once I got to work. But I didn't have much time for writing, as I had to attend the morning rotary club meeting in the middle of deadline. It was an ok meeting, as such go. I loved the "happy bucks" part of the meeting, where I heard a couple of neat stories I'm not going to be able to pass along elsewhere. So here they are.

One of the Rotarians said he was giving a buck for "Batman". He and his wife had spotted something flying through the house a few days ago. He didn't get a good look at it, but it flew upstairs and they searched all over and couldn't find it. The next night it "took the same flight path" and he was able to get a good look. It was a bat. The next night after that, they put up a net, got a fishing net and heavy gloves, and managed to catch the poor thing and get it outside. The other Rotarians got a laugh of the idea of their fellow wearing large, heavy gloves and swinging a fishing net around the house after a bat. One of them asked if he'd gotten any video of the shenanigans. No such luck.

Another odd happy buck was from one of the insurance industry Rotarians. He said he'd gotten a call from a hop producer about a car accident and he was extremely happy. Everyone was all "...wha?" and he explained. Normally when he gets a call from a hop producer during the harvest season it's something really bad, like the windstorm that took down an entire field or a fire, or something horrible. He said it was nice to have just a little fender bender.

The presenter for the meeting was enthusiastic, but she rarely walked where I could get a good photo of her. I eventually managed.

When I got back to work I had a little over an hour to write up the city council meeting, the Rotary meeting, the police logs and two volleyball games. Scratch the volleyball games, thank goodness - the editor had written those for me. That left me with four stories and some briefs on the council. I got the first council meeting story done, then got to work on the Rotary story. The editor visited my desk and told me to jazz up the lead paragraph on the council story, which sounded like a technical document. Yeah, I tend to write like that when I'm stressed. I eventually got the Rotary story done and rewrote the council story opening, then got one of the police logs done. The other one... well, the county website isn't at 100% yet, and I wasn't able to get the Sheriff's log in time. And the briefs? Yeah, they were late too.

Super Harvest Blood Moon (this Sunday!)

After deadline and everything that came with it, I looked at the new assignment sitting on my desk. The editor wanted me to confirm reports of a "supermoon" this Sunday. Hey, right up my alley. After a little research, I learned that it's not only a supermoon and a blood moon at the same time, it's also a harvest moon. For people here where I live, it's going to happen right after sunset Sunday night. I hope to go find a nice place with a good view of the eastern horizon to watch from.

Interestingly, when I read the date of the last super-blood moon, I realized that I saw it. My mom made sure, way back in December 1982, that we all saw it - because the next one wouldn't happen until 2015, so many years later. Wow. I remember her saying it was significant, and I remember the moon turning blood-red, but I didn't remember the supermoon thing, probably because the name hadn't caught on back then.

Cat doo

After I wrote the moon article up I headed home for lunch. Inkwell was being a little snotty, but I thought he was ok. Ha. After I went upstairs and ate, I brought my plate down and found a giant cat poop near the front door. I looked at the cat. He looked at me. I growled. He crouched down and his tail started to swish wildly. I cleaned up the mess. He watched me cautiously. I got out the vacuum to finish the job. Inkwell ran away.

Needless to say, I was less than happy after lunch.

I started to try to piece together a really boring story about the drought and what cities are doing to conserve water when the editor asked how far along I was on the piece. I told him the truth, that I'd only talked to a couple of city leaders and so far, so boring. He said to scratch that and instead I needed to attend the parks and rec meeting. There was a possibility the new recreation coordinator would be introduced, based on the agenda, so he wanted me there.

Honestly? I was pretty happy with the switch. People are very interested in the park and rec programs, whereas the drought story is something I could put into a column and have it work almost as well, if not considerably better. So I happily scheduled out the rest of my day so I could make the meeting.

Sadly, there isn't a new coordinator yet. They aren't even interviewing until this coming Wednesday. But I covered the meeting and had a decent little time at it, including making a paper frog for a very young attendee after the meeting had ended. Then I went home to Eric and the stinky cat. It ended up being a moderately calm evening, and the depression was fading, which made everything a bit better.

Changes Coming

Thursday morning I was running late, in part because I lost track of time. Eric was running on a slightly later schedule and I foolishly set my "clock" by what he was doing. Oops. I ended up racing out the door to get to work before I was too late. Once inside, I found two of my co-workers talking with the editor. I joined in, and when the fourth reporter arrived we ended up having an impromptu editorial meeting about the upcoming changes.

It's not a secret any more: the publisher is retiring. We will have a new publisher soon, and we're all a little concerned about the possible changes in the job, combined with excitement for what it might mean. Change is always something we tend to fear going into it. I admitted that my main fear is being asked to do something I haven't yet been trained to do. I'm still, deep down, a technical writer. I need some help with the whole reporting thing at times. I'm learning, constantly, but I refuse to make the claim that I'm anything other than a cub reporter still. The last four years have taught me tons, but I've got a long way to go.

That said, some of the possibilities make me very keen to find out what will happen. I know the new publisher is much more into tech than the current publisher, so I suspect more of my job will go online in ways I can't even imagine. In fact, this weekly journal I've been writing may give me a great deal of insight once things start to change. We'll just have to see.

It was amazingly refreshing to get our concerns and fears out into the open and to talk freely about what might happen and what we hope to happen. There was a cautious (very cautious) optimism once we concluded talking and got to work.

The Fair

Thursday deadline was oddly anti-climatic after the meeting. I got stuff done quickly, although the editor picked everything apart in ways that made me feel utterly incompetent. Then I got started on Friday's stuff, since I was going to spend all day Friday at the Central Washington State Fair taking promo photos and hopefully getting a story or two.

A note on attending the fair as a reporter. The first time it was really exciting, I was thrilled. The second time I was better prepared for the work and a little more cautious about what I planned to do and how long it would take me. The third time it was old hat and I just wanted to get the job done. I like the fair, don't get me wrong, but I don't feel any great need to enjoy myself.

And so, after a fairly calm afternoon on Thursday, including the LTAC meeting, Friday morning was a case of getting everything done so I could go to the fair. I realized driving out there that I was exhausted from the week... I'm clearly having fatigue issues... and I struggled to stay fully awake and alert on the drive. I cranked up the AC to keep myself frozen since that seemed to be the only way to make sure I was completely awake. Once at the fairgrounds I parked after being directed all over the freaking place and then walked to the gates. I should have rested in my car since we still had a few minutes before opening, and I don't handle standing in direct sunlight well.

Once inside I got my photos and looked around for story opportunities, but I was hot and tired almost immediately, and I started to get grumpy. I found a quiet corner of the SunDome (relatively quiet) and sat for about a half hour to cool down and get my strength back, then started to wander again. I didn't find anything that would work for a story, which made me more frustrated. I ran into a couple of Sunnysiders, but for the most part I was just taking the same old photos of the same old things. With the utter fatigue and frustration, I got into a worse and worse mood. Finally I headed home to a frantic cat who apparently thought he'd been abandoned completely. As soon as I fed him, I headed upstairs and collapsed into bed. I didn't wake up until about 8 p.m. when Eric asked me if I wanted dinner. I figure I must have slept at least four hours.

After dinner I read a little before going back to bed. I woke up moderately early this morning when Eric attempted to weigh Inkwell but the Wii wouldn't turn on. Eric is now headed over the mountains for another event while I plan on trying to fight my fatigue with some exercise and chores... and reading. Inkwell, meanwhile, is hiding because he thinks I'm going to put him in the carrier and take him somewhere.

Wish me luck fatigue fighting. It's becoming a real problem again, so I need to figure it out and flatten it soon.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

More Monty Python

The new release of Monty Python and the Holy Grail will have outtakes and deleted scenes, some of which can be seen in the video with Terry Jones introducing them...

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Bratty Catty

"Your foot looks tasty, human."

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Everybody's doing it...

Click to make your own... Yeah, it's a movie promotion, but it's somewhat amusing.

Monday, September 21, 2015


I tried to find something I want to blog about today, but I'm in a really strange and negative mood, and I think it would be better all around if I just went to bed and didn't try to come up with anything creative tonight.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

I have my Asterisk!

A friend picked one up for me and delivered it via my husband, who went to Rose City Comic Con this weekend. I intend to keep it as a souvenir of starting to vote, recommend and nominate for the Hugos. I'm lucky to have a physical object with six exclamation points made by a robot with lasers to remind me of when and why I finally took the jump and joined Worldcon.

A Sunday Review

Uprooted by Naomi Novik.

This is yet another book I jumped into without reading anything more than "it's good!" from a bunch of people. Seriously, this is very unlike me, and I have expected to be disappointed, but mostly I've been extremely impressed by the quality of the works.

First up: the completely non-spoiler review. The story is set in a small valley threatened by an evil Wood, and it starts out with the most perfect opening:
Our Dragon doesn't eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley.
If that doesn't draw you in, nothing will. The plot from there seems a bit obvious, until it isn't any more. The main character's name is Agnieszka, pronounced ag-NYESH-kah, as pointed out in the acknowledgments in the back of the book. I would have liked to have read that bit at the beginning... but that may be the biggest flaw I found in the whole thing.

Ok, Spoilers ahead (use rot13 to read). Gur angher bs gur Jbbq vf gbyq ragveryl, ohg va gubfr synfuonpxf-bs-Gehgu gung V jbhyq svaq vaperqvoyl qvfgheovat gb qrny jvgu, crefbanyyl. V jbaqrerq rneyl ba jul gur Qentba qvqa'g vafvfg ba qbvat gur Fhzzbavat ba gur dhrra, rkprcg sbe gur snpg gung ur jnf gbgnyyl rkunhfgrq naq arneyl qrnq. Lrnu, vg jnfa'g rknpgyl n zlfgrel ubj gung fgrc va gur chetvat tbg zvffrq, ohg vg jnf fbzrguvat gung jbhyq unir ceriragrq nyy gur erfg... juvpu vf, bs pbhefr, jul vg qvqa'g unccra.

V unir unq n erpheevat qernz va juvpu n zntvpvna gnxrf n jbzna/tvey (nyjnlf cynlrq ol zr va gur qernz, ohg arire npghnyyl zr) naq gryrcbegf ure gb n pnfgyr jvgu n zneoyr sybbe, yrnivat ure va gur unyy ba ure unaqf naq xarrf fvpx sebz gur cnffntr. V jnf fghaarq gb ernq cerggl zhpu gung rknpg fprar va gur bcravat cnentencu. V nqzvg gung znqr zr rira zber phevbhf guna V zvtug unir nyernql orra nobhg gur obbx, naq cerggl zhpu przragrq vg nf "zvar" va zl zvaq.

Znerx vf obgu cngurgvp naq njrfbzr, ohg zbfgyl cngurgvp. V ybir gur fprar jurer Ntavrfmxn orngf uvz hc. Dhvgr fngvfslvat. V nyfb rawblrq gur snpg gung fur svanyyl ernyvmrf jung fur vf qhevat gung fprar.

Gur bcravat puncgre nyfb gryyf lbh n ybg gung vf yngre hapbirerq... yvxr jul gur tveyf yrnir gur inyyrl. Va fubeg, gurl ybfr gurve qrrc pbaarpgvba gb gur cynpr naq ernyvmr whfg ubj greevslvat naq qnatrebhf vg vf gb yvir gurer. Nal abezny crbcyr jbhyq or vapyvarq gb yrnir gur inyyrl jura zbafgref uhag gurz, cbyyra snyyf ba gurve svryqf naq cbvfbaf gurz naq na ragver ivyyntr vf fjnyybjrq hc va yvivat zrzbel ol gur rivy bs gur Jbbq. Lrnu, abezny crbcyr... ohg cneg bs orvat hcebbgrq ol gur Qentba vagb uvf pnfgyr vf n fybj ybff bs pbaarpgvba gb gur ynaq. V sbhaq vg obgu gentvp naq jbaqreshy jura V svanyyl haqrefgbbq.

Gur jbeyqohvyqvat vf vagrerfgvat. Gur jvgpurf naq jvmneqf nccneragyl unir irel ybat yvirf anghenyyl, nf gur bar punenpgre jnf qvfpbirerq orpnhfr ur'q fcrag 40 lrnef vyyhzvangvat znahfpevcgf naq unqa'g ntrq. Gurer ner nyfb aba-uhzna enprf ba gur jbeyq, nf jr riraghnyyl frr gunaxf gb gur gevcf vagb gur jbbqf. Abg whfg zbafgref, ohg bgure glcrf bs perngherf. Gur guvat gung vagrerfgf zr zbfg, naq znxrf gur raqvat fngvfslvat qrfcvgr n lrneavat gb yrnea zber, vf ubj Ntavrfmxn jvyy yvxryl fhpprrq va ure svany dhrfg orpnhfr bs ure ybat yvsr. Senaxyl, sebz fgneg gb svavfu V ernyyl rawblrq guvf obbx.

In conclusion, if you enjoy fantasy at all, this is a great book to check out. It drew me in quite unexpectedly and held my interest as well as any book I've read in the past year. I loved the main character and found the plot to have just enough small twists to keep me turning pages. I very much enjoyed it.

Short story reviews:
  • "Blue Ribbon" by Marissa Lingen is about 4-H in space. I don't know how much more I can say without giving far too much away, but this is really a great little story about children dealing with extreme adversity that is definitely worth a read if you can get a copy.

  • "Madeleine" by Amal El-Mohtar is about a woman who accepts an experimental drug to help her handle severe grief. It starts out seeming normal enough, but veers off into the strange and different... and then into the hopeful. I enjoyed it a lot. I'm not sure how long it will stay with me, but it's a good tale.

  • "The Extraordinary Extraterrestrial Togo Mouse from Ghana" by Ryan W. Norris is a very silly story about an "alien" creature discovered living deep in Ghana. The first part of the story is basically a conversation between a reporter and a biologist about the possible origins of the creature. It gets silly when the tale goes into a flashback that describes just how the aliens arrived in Ghana and why they are running loose there. Not something I would consider particularly Hugo-Worthy, but a fun story nonetheless.

  • "Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys: The Elephant's Tale" by Damien Angelica Walters is not a science fiction or fantasy tale, to the best of my reading ability. It's an extended metaphor with some aspect of fantasy, but I wouldn't call it flat-out fantasy. It won't be on my list.

  • "God Mode" by Daniel H. Wilson is about the memories of a man meeting his lover, while the stars are disappearing in the sky. It's a touching and bittersweet story, but I'm not knocked out by it.

Novelette reviews:
  • "Karma Among the Cloud Kings" by Brian Trent is about what happens when different human cultures and beliefs end up having differing goals and priorities. In this particular case, I can't see a good result happening for the humans, because they rely on what's outside to survive. I sympathize with them, of course, but at the end I'm worried for them. As for storytelling, this was nicely done, including a clever flashback method. Fascinating story that sticks with me.

  • "Entanglements" by David Gerrold is about alternate universes, although it takes its dear sweet time getting to the point. Still, I suppose the set up is important to the notion of looking at the works of alternate "you" in a cell-phone-like device. I think the trick with this one is the final paragraph that at first doesn't seem to be part of the story itself. Ha. I get it. There's a lot going on here, but your mileage will vary. I liked it, but I'm not really sure if it'll stick with me.

New television review:
  • Doctor Who: "The Magician's Apprentice" - Well. Wow. Ok, this one requires spoilers all the way through (use rot13 to read). Vg'f byq ubzr jrrx ng Qbpgbe Jub, jvgu HAVG, Zvffl, gur Fvfgreubbq bs Xnea, naq Qnyrxf. Naq na harkcrpgrq nccrnenapr ol n irel lbhat Qniebf. Ubyl synzvat pbjf. Gur unaqf jrer rkgerzryl perrcl, rfcrpvnyyl ubj dhvpxyl gurl znqr gur thl inavfu. Jul qvq Pynen srry vg arprffnel gb qenj n pvepyr ba ure jvaqbj? Gung jnf... bqq. Univat n fvfgre bs Xnea gnyx nobhg Qniebf orvat byq vf n ovg ulcbpevgvpny, vfa'g vg? V jnf nyzbfg jvyyvat gb oryvrir gung Zvffl qvrq, ohg V jnfa'g jvyyvat gb oryvrir Pynen qvrq, abg rira jvgu gur fcbvyref bhg gung fur'f yrnivat gur frevrf. Naq V'z pregnvayl abg jvyyvat gb oryvrir gur GNEQVF jnf qrfgeblrq, fb gung raqvat ybfg n ybg bs vgf vzcnpg sbe zr. V thrff V'z n plavpny byq sna. Birenyy, V gubhtug vg jnf n qrprag rcvfbqr, ohg vg ernyyl sryg yvxr vg jnf ernpuvat gb chyy bhg nyy gur fgbcf - naq V'z abg fher jul. Episode 1 of the ninth series, originally aired Sep 19, 2015.

Older television reviews (these are only the ones that I thought might be good enough to give an award to):
  • Gotham: "Red Hood": A pivotal episode in some ways, this one had two points to it that lifted it above the average episode of Gotham, a show that's been very uneven. The first is Fish Mooney removing her own eye to prevent it being used as a spare part for somebody else. It's gross and powerful, but develops the character more than just about any other point in the show. The second point is Alfred's past coming back to haunt him. The bits of his old war buddy talking about the old days was good stuff. The inclusion of the red hood in a storyline is cute, but not necessarily compelling to anyone who doesn't know Batman history, so I don't have much to say about it. Episode 17 of the first season, originally aired Feb 23, 2015.

  • Gotham: "Everyone Has A Cobblepot": This one is only good due to the level of corruption it reveals in the Gotham police. The underlying theme of the show is that every single police officer is corrupt, which is a neat trick, really. So this episode shows how that's accomplished, while giving Gordon a chance to use the corruption in the system to his advantage. Is it enough to nominate it for a Hugo? Probably not, but it is an interesting episode with a strange stand-alone concept. Episode 18 of the first season, originally aired March 1, 2015.

  • The Flash: "Out of Time": Probably the best episode so far in 2015 of a fantastic series, this one has Barry travel in time... but not until a whole bunch of dramatic and terrible things happen first. The shocker in this episode is the death of Cisco, which had fans screaming and clutching their heads. The next episode looks at the consequences of the time travel, but in this episode the writers cut loose, which made it an incredible piece of television. Episode 15 of the first season, originally aired March 17, 2015.

  • The Flash: "Fast Enough": The season finale of The Flash did not disappoint, but I'd be afraid to nominate it because it might not make sense to a new viewer. There is more of that pesky time travel, and some incredible hints of the future to come. The cliffhanger is truly magnificent: a black hole developing that will destroy the earth? Very superheroey. Episode 23 of the first season, originally aired May 19, 2015.

My Hugo Suggestions were likely recommended in the comment sections on File 770, Renay's Hugo Spreadsheet of Doom, or the Hugo 2016 Wikia. For my current list of Hugo 2016 readings, check out my Hugo 2016 Posts page.

Fortean Times #329
Fortean Times #329 (July 2015). A bit of a strange and dark cover, with a werewolf and a soldier. Not my favorite. The cover story is about the Morbach Monster, a werewolf supposedly encountered by American troops stationed in rural Germany near the end of the Cold War. The writer actually visited the place the creature was spotted and learned more about traditional tales in the area, and what's become of the legend started by bored servicemen guarding an ammo dump in the middle of nowhere.

The next story is about Linda S. Godfrey, who kind of stumbled into the role of chronicling werewolf sightings while working at a small newspaper. After writing about the fact that the county animal control officer actually had a file folder marked "werewolf" to put frequent sightings of such animals in, she started to get tips on other sightings and started a bit of a fever for werewolves in the town. It turned in to a career of sorts for Godfrey, who wrote books about the phenomenom.

The last main article is about Etienne Bottineau, who claimed he could tell if ships were coming from hundreds of miles away in 1782. He called the science nauscopie, and said it was the result of years of study and trial and error. The article dissects what we know of the man and his science.

Strangedays starts out with mysterious noises heard by many people, mal de debarquement syndrom (a neurological disorder triggered by travel), genetically stinky people, a sleeping sickness in Kazakhstan, another visit to Loch Ness, crows in Seattle who bring gifts to humans and snakes... it just had to have an article on snakes. The Conspirasphere talks about monological theories: in which everything fits into a single far-reaching conspiracy. Archaeology looks at evidence for more types of early humans, ancient runes, and children noticing things in plain sight that other people have missed.

Classical Corner covers the dangers of being a baby, particularly a royal baby, in the ancient world. Ghostwatch looks at a theory that some types of mold within old houses might cause people to see ghosts. Alien Zoo looks at an awesomely colored crayfish and tackles an internet "hoax" - a video posted in May that shows how simple it is to make a believable UFO video using CGI.

Speaking of UFOs, the UFO Files looks at yet more failures to prove the existence of alien bodies from a media event that turned out to be based on slides of a mummy from a museum. Blast from the Past looks at the history of chloroform in crime and stories about crime. Strange Statesmen has become a regular feature, this time looking at fairies, folklore and fascism in 20th century Irish politicians.

Fortean Traveller goes to Portland, Maine, and visits the International Cryptozoology Museum. Illustrated Police News recounts the tale of the Countess of Derwentwater, and the fact that no one knows who she really was... or even if she was who she claimed she was. Phenomenomix has part three of the biography of Dion Fortune.

The Forum has a review of a recent dramatization of the Enfield Poltergeist story from one of the people involved in the original event, who also talks about his character in the tv show. Another forum article is about the Queensland tiger what what it might actually be.

The Reviews start with a book about how Victorians tried to teach science with fairy tales, which sounds utterly zany but was one way people tried to deal with the changing times. Most of the books reviewed didn't catch my interest, but there's a couple that might make my list if I keep rereading the reviews. The movie reviews were fun, as usual. The letters page has a response to the article about radio interference in FT327, talking about modern radio interference caused by cheap power supplies. There's also a page of simulacra: trees that look like faces. It happened to me has a letter from a person who suffered from amnesia and forgot who his was, in answer to a mythconception that claimed amnesiacs never forget who they are.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Week in Review

Mornings and Cat Barf

The last remnants of my cold petered out over the weekend, leaving me tired on Monday, but not so tired I couldn't function. I actually felt better than I had for awhile, even though I wanted another day off.

Monday morning wasn't too bad, despite having to write up volleyball and the leadership forum before deadline. I did not meet deadline, one of the few times I can say that, but I was really close.

I spent the rest of the morning getting stuff done for later in the week and setting up appointments. I had a relaxed afternoon with the cat, then headed to the council meeting Monday night. It was a longer meeting, 2 1/2 hours, and I was exhausted by the end of it. I really just wanted to go home and sleep... so I did.

I had a difficult time waking up Tuesday morning, but Inkwell helped by meowling. I had left one of his mugs of grass on the counter in the bathroom, and after I got going, he noticed it while I wasn't paying attention and gorged himself sick. Literally. He threw up in front of Eric's door.

What a lovely start to the day!

All Tuesday morning I was convinced it was Wednesday morning, and kept starting to put my files into the Wednesday folder. I caught myself every time, fortunately, but it was distracting.


Tuesday afternoon I had to head out to the local pot store for an interview. I also was trying to find photos for my Thursday photo page, which had originally been planned for an event a co-worker was going to attend... but she got sick and her car broke down, so I had to improvise. I decided first to try an "autumn" theme, but by Wednesday it was clear that wasn't going to work... however, I'm getting ahead of myself. On Tuesday, I went to get some autumn-y photos and visit the pot store.

I also got my new lenses for my glasses and learned I was going to have to submit the paperwork to the insurance myself. To put it lightly, I was annoyed. But there's not a lot I can do to get insurance companies and optical centers to work together if they don't want to.

At the pot shop, the interview subject was out on the "front porch" making glass pipes. Which was why I was there. So I asked if it would be ok if I took a bunch of photos of him working. He was *ahem* cool with it, and I started snapping away. I think I took more than 200 photos in the 20 minutes or so it took for him to shape and blow the new pipe. Then I sat down with him for a quick interview.

After the interview, I headed up the road and got a couple of photos that were somewhat boring, but would work in a pinch for a photo page. I didn't like it much, but I couldn't think of anything else to do.

After I got back to the office, I wrote up the glassblowing story and another story which I thought was due for Wednesday, but was actually supposed to run on Thursday. I just kept getting ahead of myself. I finally went home and mostly rested, except for the fact that I knew the volleyball coach was going to call.

He ended up calling just before 10 p.m., about the time I'd given up and was getting ready for bed. The team had won, which was nice, and so I got to write up a happy story about them on Wednesday morning.


I didn't have a heavy deadline on Wednesday, and I got through most of the stuff quickly enough. The biggest shock of the morning came when I went to check the County Sheriff's media log. It was gone. In fact, the entire website for the sheriff was gone. The county had done a complete rehaul of the entire website for every county department, all at once. Luckily, the new website was easy to navigate, and I found where the log was supposed to be posted without difficulty, but there was no new log.

I called up the records department of the sheriff's office, and they were surprised to learn it hadn't posted. In the end, it wasn't posted until after we were done with our deadline. My editor shook his head and said that's what happens when you mess with technology.

After deadline I showed the editor the "autumn" photos, and his opinion on them pretty much matched my own. But since we had nothing else, he said to get a few more and we would *sigh* go with it. I had a notion that if I went down to a local organic farm, I would get some really good photos, so once we had the paper ready to send to the printer, I drove down that way.

The farm was busy packing and prepping, with a bunch of spaghetti squash getting ready to ship to the Seattle area and bouquets of basil and other herbs getting ready for local community supported agriculture recipients. When I saw the sight, I suddenly thought why don't I just do a photo page about the farm? It was so obvious that I'd never considered it. So when Merritt, the owner, stepped out to greet me I just told her the whole tale of my missing photo page. She was delighted to help me, and I took a few minutes to meet her latest interns (well, one of the two) and then went around taking photos of the farm.

In the process, I got a lovely tomato fresh off the vine, a freshly dug carrot and a squash that I was told is "heaven on a plate" when properly grilled in the oven. I also got a half-dozen eggs. Going to an organic farm before lunch is not the smartest move ever.

After lunch I got back to the office and put together a hopefully nice photo page of the organic farm. The editor was MUCH happier with it than with my previous idea. Once it was done, I had a few other things to work on, but no stressful deadlines hovering over me for once.

Late Nights

I had a volleyball game Wednesday night to attend, but I had to stick around in the office. The new hours mean that I'm at work at 6:30 in the morning, but then I'm also at work at 7 p.m. at night in another town. It's essentially a split shift, but there's no way around it. I hate it with a passion. The editor tries to keep it down to just two or three nights a week, but even that is often too much. I feel stretched. Oddly, when I was getting to work at 8 a.m. it wasn't nearly the stress-inducer. But for some reason that extra hour and a half in the morning is killing me.

Wednesday night I headed south to the all game the next town over. I'd promised the coach I would attend the whole game and chat with him after. Taking photos wasn't too bad... I had to spend some time setting up my camera to try to get the right speed, so I took a bunch of photos of the warm-ups to try to get it set right. I finally found a setting I was happy with about the time the pre-game introductions and rituals were starting. Then a home team player served the ball and I was the roaming reporter, trying for a great shot.

Shooting Volleyballs

My volleyball strategy is fairly simple. I start with a couple of shots of serves, since they are the easiest "action" shot to get. In general, we don't want to print serve photos, because in general they are somewhat boring compared to other action shots. But there are times when not one action shot comes out, so I start by getting the "sure thing" so we have something to fall back on.

Next, I try for a dig. The girls are fairly stable and still when they are down near the ground with both arms out, bumping the ball into the air. The trick is catching them with the ball close enough to make a cool image. I have a ton of shots where the ball is just out of shot, or too far up to look right. The timing is the hard part, and it always takes a few minutes to remember how to anticipate the actual action. It gets easier the more you do it, but that doesn't mean you'll get a good shot.

After the digs, I go for the spikes. Unfortunately, true spikes aren't all that common at the level of game I'm shooting, but if you can get a girl in the air with the ball close to her arm, it can be a very nice shot. They are hard to get because of the angles and where I'm allowed to stand to get photos, but I had an easier time of it Wednesday night because the bleachers on the team side weren't pulled out, allowing me a lot of space to roam behind the teams.

The next shot I try to get is of the girls blocking at the net. For that I have to go to the "enemy" side of the court and shoot back at the players. Sometimes it works: usually it does not. However, a really good blocking shot can make up for a lot of failure, so I always try it.

I also tend to go up into the stands with the crowd and try to get some shots from different angles. Sometimes the shots work, most of the time they don't. The goal is to get something interesting that tells its own story.

All during this time I'm also waiting for any opportunities to take coach photos. While the coach isn't the focus, a good "huddle" photo or a picture of the coach yelling or clapping or cheering is always a fun little bonus on the side. I missed a great one Wednesday night, as the coach was pointing and did a strange maneuver with his hands that made him look, for half an instant, like a disco dancer. It would have been hilarious, but I had the camera pointed at the girls and not the coach right then. Oh well. I'm sure he's just as happy I didn't catch that moment.

At Wednesday night's game I had plenty of time to practice. The opening set was tight, with the score going back and forth for the entire game. It was really a thrill, with no team taking a clear advantage. When the home team pulled it out, 26-24, I was thrilled and amazed. And a little worried, since it had been a LONG set, and I figured if the teams were matched up so well, I was going to get home really late. There were a lot of volleys that went on for a long time, and overall it was just a really good set to open the match... fortunately, the other two sets weren't nearly as heart-stopping, nor as long, with the home team taking control and finally winning the whole enchilada.

A fun bit was that the boys who were in the audience figured out how best to cheer for the volleyball, and I believe their enthusiasm actually helped propel their team to victory. At first, they were counting the hits, 1-2-3, but then they realized they could use the school's initials, M-H-S and have the same effect. So by the middle of the second set, they were yelling along with each hit: "M!" "H!" "S!" and the girls picked up on the enthusiasm. And I think the other team felt a bit intimidated, because their JV team (which had just played) started trying to use their school's initials to counter, but WHS doesn't work as well. I was actually able to listen to the action while checking through photos and follow the game pretty well thanks to the chanting and counter-chanting. The local boys also decided to say "BOOM!" at each serve, which worked surprisingly well. One girl went on a massive serving streak and when she finally got substituted out a bit later, I could see she'd been pumped up by her success and the cheering.


The game lasted roughly an hour and a half, and I headed home. I was still a bit bouncy from the energy of the game, but once I was home I sort of deflated. I was asleep almost as soon as I got into bed. I usually wake up when Eric comes to bed, but Wednesday night I slept soundly through until my Thursday morning alarm. Which came to me in the middle of a dream about making important edits to a newspaper page. I had to make those fixes, so it took me longer than usual to actually wake up. Even when I was awake, the sense of anxiety remained for an hour or so. It wasn't actually a nightmare, but in some ways it felt like it.

I had a good handle on the morning's work on Thursday, which was good, because I felt absolutely drained. Two late nights with one left to go, and I just was running out of juice. After deadline I had an interview with the new school PR person, and I went with some trepidation. I'd really liked the previous person in the role, but I hoped the new person would be good. Well, I don't know how well she'll do her job, but as a person I really enjoyed our chat. We went over the usual "what's your background" stuff, and eventually I asked about hobbies. She's a reader. A voracious reader. Who rereads favorite books and reads fast. She gave me some suggestions and I gave her a couple back and I think we're officially friends now. I can hardly wait to read the books she suggested.

I was pretty happy with my interview and went to lunch (where I immediately put all three books she'd mentioned on hold at the library). It wasn't until I was done with lunch and back at the office I realized I'd completely forgotten to get her photo. Whoops.

I called, she was still in, I drove down and got a good picture - but man I felt stupid.

As I got back to the office and parked, I noticed a car stopped at the stoplight, three cars back. Well, he would have been three cars back, except the other two were already through the now-green light. I watched for a moment, wondering how long it would take the guy to notice. He seemed to be looking in the passenger seat at something. Finally a pick-up truck came up behind him and honked, and he went through the light with a screeching of wheels. I wonder how long he would have sat there if not for the truck?

Getting a Break

Back at the office, the editor called me in to talk about Thursday night's assignment. It was a community forum that, honestly, I was really not looking forward to at all. I was resigned to the fate of sitting on extremely uncomfortable chairs for two hours listening to people talking to parents about the dangers of drug use and abuse. I am certain I would have found something vaguely interesting to write about - but Bob the editor had other plans. He'd decided my time would be better spent helping a co-worker with a tough story, so he told me to get on the phone with my contacts and to skip the meeting entirely.

To say it was a pick-me-up is not adequate. Yeah, I was going to be doing some difficult research, talking to people who'd probably not want to talk with me, but I wouldn't have a two-hour meeting Thursday night. I checked with my co-worker, who wanted me to talk to the county sheriff about the tough story, so I called up my contacts and got that rolling. To my vast surprise and delight, the detective in charge of the case got back to me almost immediately and gave me pretty much all the information I needed. I called the prosecutor's office to get any further details, and that was that for Thursday. I wrote everything up for my co-worker to work on in the morning and headed home.

A relaxing evening with hubby and the cat was just what the doctor ordered. I actually napped for a couple of hours before a leisurely dinner while watching tv with Eric. I got to bed early and slept soundly, waking up a half hour before my alarm - fully refreshed. Inkwell was extremely confused to see me moving around before the alarm, and after about 15 minutes decided that, since both his humans were up, it was time to start screaming for breakfast. He yowled non-stop until the alarm went off and startled him.

End of the Week

Friday morning at work was interesting. The editor took two days, Friday and next Monday, off. So the reporters were on our own as far as editing. I had the least writing to do, I think, so I spent a lot of time copy-editing, then ended up writing most of the tough story, since I was the only one who got anyone to call back on the problem. We got it almost entirely done by deadline, missing it on the final police log by only a few seconds thanks to a printer that needed a new cartridge. But we were done quickly enough to give the production crew time to get the entire paper laid out and ready to send.

I then started to try to get an interview that I've been trying to get all week. The guy hasn't called back, so I finally decided to see if I could catch him at home. I know he lives in the senior housing, so I went to the senior center where everyone was having lunch and asked which unit he lived in. One of the folks gave me directions, and I headed out there. I could see a bit inside, enough to see his TV was on and I thought he was sitting there. I knocked, loudly. Nothing. I thought I saw movement inside, so I waited. Nothing. I knocked again. Nothing. After standing there like an idiot for a few more minutes I knocked a third time. Nothing. I gave up and headed home to lunch, where I stewed for a bit, trying to figure out what to do next. Back at work, I tried calling several people to see if I could get any response from my interview subject, but it became increasingly clear he wasn't going to talk to me. I don't like giving up, but in this case I just couldn't deal with it, so as soon as I knew it wasn't going to happen, I headed home... only, I hadn't quite given up. I stopped by the senior center again to see if he was around (nope) before I finally went home and grumbled at the cat about people avoiding me.

Friday night, last night, was moderately calm and quiet. Eric is off in Portland at Rose City Comic Con to promote Oz Con International 2016, which will be held in Portland. Early this morning Inkwell woke me by tapping his paw, with claws lightly extended, repeatedly on my face while meowing loudly. Surprisingly, he woke me only a few minutes before his usual feeding time. After I fed him and came upstairs to 'net, he attacked my feet, so I shut him out of the bedroom while I'm playing online.

New Doctor Who tonight, which I'm excited to see... before then I have a soccer game to take photos at, and I'll probably swing by the senior center once more before going home. It should be a nice quiet day, if everything goes to plan. Perhaps I'll get some serious reading done.