Friday, May 22, 2015

Exhausted

Certain events have happened this week that have made me so tired I can barely think, much less write. Thank goodness I have a three-day weekend.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Great Scott!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The weird weather...

I admit, the story told by Cliff Mass at his weather blog about this past winter has me really nervous. I mean, it's bad enough to be worried about global warming, which may or may not be something we can stop from destroying our civilization... but to see something so incredibly odd as a year with normal precipitation and yet practically no snowpack is somewhat terrifying.

I'm not trained in weather observation. I only know that I don't like the really hot or really cold days. We had almost none of the latter in this area this past winter, but I doubt I'll be spared the hot.

At least I can take some small comfort in the conjecture by Mass that the weird winter was truly related to the overall trend of global warming. Because I want to have hope that the snowpack will return in future years and this valley won't become an arid desert once again.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Hugo Update

So, the Hugo packet has been released, and people are starting to really consider their voting. File 770 has been keeping track of all the nonsense being spewed by the people who tried to take over the awards this year, along with comments from the other side (yep, I'm biased against the misogynistic twits who call themselves "puppies" and whine about how men are underrepresented in the Hugo Awards, ug.). I will tell you right now that if you use the term "Social Justice Warriors" or SJW in any way that isn't ironically mocking the "puppies" movement, then I don't want to associate with you.

The most interesting writing about the whole mess has come from David Gerrold and George R.R. Martin, both of whom continually give the "puppies" chances to prove that their movement isn't a backlash against women slowly gaining equality, and both of whom have so far been disappointed by the "puppies" refusal to actually say anything of any substance about the works they nominated. Instead of saying why the works they listing on the slate deserve Hugos, the defenders of the slates continue to attack the "SJW"s they hate so much.

All-in-all, it's a pretty big mess. I have considered, multiple times, jumping into the fray and becoming a supporting member so I could vote. But I don't have time or energy to read all the nominees, and I would feel honor-bound to at least give each entry a try. Just as I would feel absolutely honor-bound to read anything I nominated for an award. So I'll skip it this year and instead watch from the sidelines to see if the Hugos survive this nonsense.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Linkdump

I've only read 23 of Amazon.com's 100 Young Adult Books to Read in a Lifetime, although some of the others are on my endless "to-read" list. I also haven't read many of these Captivating Short Stories Everyone Should Read, although The Yellow Wallpaper haunts me to this day.

This cartoon isn't fair to comic book fans. Hey, I found a guy!

Read Tony Lee's Pitch for a Doctor Who/Deep Space 9 Crossover and dream about what might have been.

Cliff Mass has more on the strange weather we're having here in the Pacific Northwest.

Boing Boing has a great story on how to buy secret cookies from cloistered nuns.

The Eisner Awards were announced a month or so ago... I still haven't really gone through it, but glancing through I see a few I've read, including Astro City, Beasts of Burden, Shanower's Little Nemo, I Was The Cat, Tiny Titans and Meteor Men, all of which are definitely worth reading.

While it was announced some time ago, I'm still gleeing over the idea of a new Cordelia book.

I kind of want this car shade.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Sunday Review

DCBS
Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Apr 15th
  • Convergence #2 - I had to look up Deimos to find out he's a Warlord character. I figured out he was a bad guy just by his look. So, what's next in this massive crossover from heck?
  • Convergence: Aquaman #1 - Is it bad that the first thing I noticed was a possible continuity mistake? This version of Aquaman wasn't with Mera. In any case, this is ok. I like Convergence: Justice League a bit better, but this works.
  • Convergence: Green Lantern Parallax #1 - So, this version of Hal is completely controlled by Parallax then? Ok. That's interesting.
  • Convergence: Justice League International #1 - It's just very wrong for heroes to be fighting each other, which is why this whole event isn't really working for me. If all the "bad" universes were set up against "good" ones first, that would have worked, I guess.
  • Infinite Crisis: Fight for the Multiverse #10 - Whew, I wasn't really expecting Luthor to NOT be the big bad, so that's a surprise. And Hawkwoman comes back but not Aquaman? Not fair!
  • Teen Titans Go #9 - Ok, that had some moments. I don't hate this version of Teen Titans, but I recognize that I'm really not the audience for the book. Usually that doesn't matter... for this book it does.
  • Oddly Normal #6 - Climbing into someone else's memory, wow. Don't let's get too Harry Potter on this, please.
  • Peanuts V2 #27 - Charlie Brown feels sick and goes to the hospital. It's a strange take on the whole set of characters and... well, the final bit feels slightly forced to me.
  • Doctor Who 10th #9 - This one is simply painful on multiple levels. That's the problem with time travel. Life twists and turns and people get left on the long path while others take the shortcuts. Bittersweet ending. I've been enjoying this book.
  • Doctor Who 11th #11 - ARC's secret origin is revealed! Sort of. There's a couple of questions remaining. Like why the heck Jones would even consider a clown costume.
  • Doctor Who 12th #7 - The bad guys in this are suitably creepy and disturbing, but the really terrifying thing is that I'm not sure if the people getting converted are all dying. If so, that's an awful lot of people to sacrifice for this one guy.



Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Week in Review

A nice relaxing weekend was shattered on Monday morning by the five a.m. alarm clock reminding me that I needed to be at work at 6:30 a.m. Well, that's the poetic way of putting it. The truth is that I was already partially awake when the alarm went off. Sunday morning I actually woke up at 5 a.m. sharp and got out of bed wide awake without the alarm. Admittedly, I took a nap a few hours later, but my body was up and raring to go at five. Monday... well, I wasn't dragging. Just slightly befuddled.

Sunday was also Mother's Day, which meant calling my mom. She and I chatted for a bit about the usual stuff before she asked about the wedding... and I said, "what?" and she realized that I was a different daughter than she thought I was. Heh. At least I know with absolute certainty that she treats us the same! Having four sisters, I sometimes wonder. In any case, she said I sound exactly like my oldest sister. I also, apparently, sound exactly like my youngest sister. So that's two vocal doppelgangers in my life. Heh. Mom said when she and her sister went to an event together, the other ladies complained that they couldn't tell which sister was laughing because they both laugh exactly the same.

No problem getting my shower and breakfast, although I couldn't eat much. Just too early still. Eric and I plotted on Saturday and I made some snack packs for after deadline this week with beef jerky (boy is that expensive!), Pirate's Booty and little packs of raisins. I packed up six of the suckers and took them to work, since everything in them is shelf-stable.

I played with the cat a bit Monday morning, since it was early and he is still very confused by me getting up at 5 a.m. While I was 'netting and trying to ignore him, he started making his "intruder in the yard!" sounds, so I got up to look. There was a new cat in the back yard, a cream-colored one with a pinkish-purple collar. It came right up to the sliding glass door when I tapped on the glass then tried to smell me through the glass. Inkwell was furious. Then both Inkwell and Creamy's heads snapped in unison to the corner of the yard. It was the phantom shadow cat, who bears a distinct resemblance to Inkwell but is definitely a stray. He glanced at Creamy and then just continued on his way, unconcerned. Inkwell raced to the window two rooms over to get a better view. Creamy vanished from the yard. Just a little morning drama for me.

I was the first reporter into work on Monday, at our new 6:30 a.m. report time, by about three minutes. Ha. Despite having sent e-mails Sunday afternoon to my coaches, there were no responses and the police logs either hadn't been posted or didn't have the comments yet, so there was literally nothing for me to do. We'd been so careful about making sure we were ready for Monday that we left little to do if the folks on the other end didn't come through. Oh well. About 7:15 I finally got my first coach e-mail and started writing up the track report. Then comments from my local police that I cover came in while I was writing that. After getting those done, I had to wait again for the sheriff's log to be posted, and fortunately my other coach responded at 8:15 a.m. But I didn't complete everything until 9:15... missing the deadline by 15 minutes. Ouch. It was mostly out of my control, but it was still frustrating.

I had my snack after deadline and learned that Pirate's Booty doesn't play well with raisins and jerky. Storing them in the same container isn't a good idea. The Pirate's Booty had gotten a bit chewy and tasted a bit like jerky. Not horrible, but not as good as fresh Pirate's Booty.

Eventually I went to lunch with my brain in a muddle, trying to work out my schedule for the rest of the day. With a city council meeting Monday night, I was expected to leave work a bit early. But I also had dairy stories to work on, which meant I needed to get some afternoon time in. The house was warm and muggy and Inkwell was unhappy. I got the brush out and gave him a thorough brushing, which he seemed to appreciate. I headed back to work after a long lunch, deciding to split the difference and see if that helped. After an hour back at work cleaning up the morning messes and getting stuff ready for Tuesday, I headed out to get an interview, which went better than expected.

A bit later I went to the local health food store to see if I could find that awesome raw honey that I got a sample of at the meet a farmer event. When I entered the store, it looked completely different than the last time I was there, which was for an interview about a reflexology doctor working out of a section of the store... which was a medical supply store at the time. The supply store closed, the health food store moved in, and this was the first time I went in since the change. The reflexology office was still there, everything else was changed. I talked with the clerk, who pointed me to the honey, and found the good stuff right in front of the door. I cringed at the price a little, but frankly, $6 for a half-pint of REAL honey isn't too bad. A cup of honey can last a long time if you are careful and don't waste a drop.

One of my other assignments for all this week was to check each day for people who have filed as a candidate in any of the local races up for election this fall and do a report, with quotes from people if possible. I'm splitting the job with a co-worker, and we determined there are 25 races to follow. Six people filed on the first day, including one in our city who was the very first person in the county to file. My co-worker tackled the job of contacting people and getting quotes for the first day, but I noticed when I got home from the interview that I had an e-mail from my co-worker asking me to interview one of the candidates if she showed up at city council.

That wasn't my only job at council. I was also asked by the editor to get a picture of the pastor saying the opening prayer, and also to interview a new employee if he showed up. The pastor in question didn't show, but the new city employee and the candidate both showed up, so I did two very quick interviews before the council meeting, which actually turned out to be somewhat fun. The meeting itself was shorter than usual, and the main topic was a presentation on emergency management. There were two new pieces of information in the presentation, so it made for a good lead story. Leaving after a shorter meeting is also refreshing, and I got home in a good mood.

The weather... hot and muggy. Add in some rain Monday night, and I was unable to sleep for a good portion of it. I got up with the alarm on Tuesday and stumbled to the shower, determined to get to work a little early, before 6:30, to get a jump on my city council stories. I got to work about five minutes early, with one of the other reporters ahead of me. Meh. It was not my finest hour. Still, I made the new deadline thanks to a very short county sheriff report. After deadline, snacktime. Then I started work on stuff for Wednesday and Thursday. And, surprisingly, got a lot done before heading off to lunch. I even finished work on the photo page for Thursday, of the wildflowers of Mount Rainier. It's always good to get assignments finished a day early.

Tuesday afternoon I headed to the baseball game at the local Christian School. A half-hour after the start of the baseball game I needed to head over to a softball game for the high school, so I hoped to get my photos quickly in the first inning of the baseball game. There was a light drizzle and a cold wind. On my way to the game, I drove to the four-way stop near the baseball field and stopped. I was turning right. A car came through the intersection from my left, and I was about to turn but a kid walked into the crosswalk where I was turning so I waited for him. Another car at my left didn't wait and nearly hit the kid as the car raced through the intersection. The impatient driver also nearly hit my car, as I was pulled out a little waiting for the kid to pass. I grumbled some choice words at the driver of the other car as I finally made my turn. I watched the car turn ahead of me into the parking lot for the game. I tried not to look, I didn't want to yell at the driver. Whoever it was opened the truck of the car and so I headed out to the field, figuring it was a parent getting a chair out. When I looked again, it was the umpire pulling on his gear. Yup, I watched the ump nearly kill a kid in a crosswalk.

I got into position, figuring the game would start soon, right? It was 3:30 and I snagged a roster from the scorekeeper then watched as the ump came up, said something to one of the coaches, then headed back to his car...where he took off his gear and got on his cell phone. What? The home team coach said, "he's calling the other ump." and I realized that, this being a high school game, there are usually two umpires. Only one had shown up. The ump came back over, with his gear now removed, and told the coach the other umpire would arrive in ten minutes. Then the game would start. I internally groaned, thinking how hard it was going to be to get my shots and still have time to get to the softball game, but waited patiently. It was 20 minutes later that the home coach went over to the umpire and told him to get the game going, he was gonna have to ump it solo. The umpire took his dear, sweet time putting his gear back on, but at about 4 p.m., the time I needed to be at the softball game, he finally started the baseball game.

My photo shooting was tough with the rain and how cold I was getting. I was stressed out and the angles were bad and I was sure I didn't get a decent shot. Normally I would have stayed two innings, but I ended up leaving for the softball game at 4:30 p.m. The second ump never showed up. I later learned that, due to the late start, the doubleheader turned into a single game. We also found two ok shots to use in the paper, so it wasn't a total loss.

Fortunately, the weather cleared up a bit by the time I reached the softball field and I got what I think is a decent shot of a batter smacking a foul ball with a look of intense concentration on her face. Then I headed home to relax.

Late Tuesday night the rain really started. I could hear it while in bed, and Inkwell came into the bedroom and made little upset noises at it before deciding the humans weren't going to bother stopping the wet noises. But the rain continued until mid-morning on Wednesday, with lots of local roads getting slightly flooded. When I went out to an interview at 9 a.m. I was terribly tempted to drive through the bigger puddles, but managed to mostly stop myself. Ok, there was one that I knew was fairly safe *and* it was in the middle of the road, so I went through that one. But I didn't go out of my way to splash.

Deadline Wednesday was tough for everyone, although I think I had it easier than my co-workers. I had a single story on candidate filing to do, and only one candidate to worry about for some reason. I got his comments in the morning and tossed together a quick piece, got my police logs written up in good time, got my scores and stats from my softball coach, and finished before deadline so I could go to my 9 a.m. interview. My co-workers were having a more difficult time adjusting to the new schedule, and the gal reporters went to lunch together so we could have a nice venting session. We had a great meal at Cactus Juice, meatloaf sandwiches and whining, a good combo.

The afternoon wasn't bad, with only two candidates filing before I left work, one of which called my cell phone as soon as I arrived home. A third candidate filed later in the afternoon, and I got him to email me comments. Thanks to the rain, the house had cooled down and Inkwell was in a good mood. Eric and I watched TV together and relaxed, which was nice.

Thursday morning I felt the full weight of a week of getting up earlier and getting to work earlier. Fortunately for me, I'd already been getting up very early. However, the earlier start time means I don't have as much time in the morning to accomplish things as I am accustomed to doing at home, which causes stress. I don't dare wake up any earlier... there's a point at which diminishing returns makes it pointless and I think I'm balanced on the knife's edge as it is. But Thursday I felt the stress full-on and had a miserable time getting to work.

Once at work, it wasn't difficult. I had the candidate story and the police logs, and the only other problem was a bit of office drama caused by the stress of the earlier deadline. On a lark I checked the new candidates early... and they'd been posted early. In fact, we had a new one that I was able to call and talk with before lunch, which was nice. Three more joined the race while I was at lunch, which was a long one because I was killing time for an afternoon meeting. I managed to reach two of the three immediately, and left a message for the last one, who got back to me in great time.

Then came the bombshell. Now, I had been hearing mutterings from my co-worker who shares my "cubicle" for awhile that she wanted to run for city council. Personally, I don't see the appeal, but she'd been making noises about stepping up and running for the position. She's been on a different city council before, many many years ago, so she has an idea what she'd be getting herself into. Anyway, on Thursday she filed for the seat. While it wasn't a complete shock to me, it was to another co-worker who, when he heard the news, ranted a bit about how difficult this is going to make life for us.

It's true, the problems with having someone who is a reporter at a newspaper running for public office are difficult. For one thing, she can't cover anything related to the council or city, which cuts out an awful lot of reporting. For another, the rest of the reporters have to work even harder at being objective, one of the most difficult parts of our job as it is. It can be horribly difficult to set aside personal feelings to write about certain subjects, and with her running for office we will have to go even further to keep our potential biases and any appearance of bias out of our reporting. Add in the fact that it's well known I'm not a big fan of the guy currently holding the seat she's running for, and it puts me into a bind. Especially since I'm the person who is going to have to interview her and anyone she's running against.

As it happened, the editor asked me to wait to interview her until the morning, so I did. I went to the afternoon meeting, which thankfully turned out to be less acrimonious than had been promised, Whew. Then went home and pondered the difficulties of reporting on my co-worker during what promised to be a difficult election.

Friday morning was hard. I will get adjusted, but Friday was definitely hard. Getting up and going was more difficult than usual, but I got to work almost 15 minutes early to start on a track story and the story about the meeting. To my delight, the editor had already written the track story, I just needed to add my comments from my coach. The meeting story was an easy one to write because, thank goodness, it was positive. We'd been expecting something negative.

My other big story was about the candidates who had filed on Thursday, including my co-worker. It was one of those surreal moments in life when you step outside your normal roles in the office and suddenly instead of co-workers I was doing my job and she was a candidate answering questions. At least I didn't have to hunt her down. She gave the usual canned answers of a candidate, which I handled all week, and it worked out well.

Then came the waiting game. I was NOT looking forward to interviewing her likely opponent, but I was bracing myself for it. I was obsessively checking the updates to the candidate filing list for new names all morning. We got a couple before lunch, and I called them. I then took a long lunch because I intended to stay in the office until I finished calling all the candidates from Friday so I wouldn't have to make any calls over the weekend.

Lunch was interesting, because Eric was home due to a day off at the schools. After lunch I decided to run down to the frame shop and take my Nick Cardy page to see what kind of framing we could get done. It has been poorly set in the frame I bought for it years ago for... well, years. I have been worried that it's deteriorating, so I wanted acid-free paper and a protective glass over it. I got there and we took off the old glass and found we could see a very faint version of the page on the glass. I cringed, and decided right there it needed to be properly mounted. She was happy to make the changes and properly mat it as well, and gave me what I feel is a very good price for the work. I'm pleased with the result:


My wall of Aquaman... at the right is my newly protected Nick Cardy page.

Anyway, after my visit to the frame shop and arranging to pick it up at 5 p.m., I got back to work and made some candidate calls. I also worked on my dairy story, which kept clinging to the inside of my brain and refusing to come out and turn into words on the page. I got steadily more frustrated as the afternoon went on since the last candidate update was at 1:20 p.m. and I really wanted to get the rest of the interviews over with. Finally I gave up trying to write and just kept hitting the refresh button until, at 3:45 p.m., the final list of candidates was posted.

I scrolled down and ... "JULIA!!" I yelled, summoning my co-worker to my desk at a pace I wouldn't have thought possible. There was no one running against her. The incumbent had not filed for the office. I was stunned and a little amazed. And dazed. It was a moment of shock followed by calculations on how it would affect us. In the meantime, Julia was also shocked. She'd been gearing up for what she feared might be a nasty campaign, and was as puzzled as me.

In any case, I only had one more call to make, that one for a different city council seat. So after Julia left for the day and I calmed down a little, I made my call then wrote up the candidate story ahead of time so the editor could rip it apart at his leisure over the weekend. Then I attempted and failed to finish my dairy story, but got far enough along that I didn't feel as guilty as I could have for leaving the office at 5 to go pick up my artwork.

I've had a relaxing Saturday so far, I guess. I'm still a bit overwhelmed by the candidate stuff. There's a lot to think about for the next few months, and there's more that can happen between now and election day. This is going to be an interesting year.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Ok, That's a different version of Aquaman...

I'm all for seeing every male DC hero get this treatment. And, frankly, I think he looks great.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

I wish I had something to say

But this is one of those days that I can't even process what has happened, and I'm not sure I want to process it. I have a mega-headache forming and I think I'm going to go to bed and hope I wake up and today was a dream or something. We'll just have to see. I don't know if I can handle any more from this week. It's killing me.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Justice League Boxer Shorts


Is it wrong that I really want these?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Linkdump

Adam Savage talks about cosplaying. I love this little story.

Check out this comment on Reddit that explains how people find it easier to eat out and why it's often a surprise to folks to find they can eat at home cheaper.

You heard about that woman that got $2 million for spilling McDonalds coffee on herself? Well, here's the real story, which is far more nuanced and reasonable than people who constantly repeat the lie about her getting $2 million. Don't have time to read it? She didn't get $2 million, only enough to cover her very real medical bills caused by third degree burns from coffee that McDonalds knew was too hot, due to hundreds of complaints. And she didn't spill because she was driving, the car was parked and she was a passenger. Read the first comment on the post, as well. I do wonder how often the lie will be repeated before more people say, "um, she didn't get that much money" than say "that's outrageous!"

My feelings on this project are so very mixed I have no idea how to respond to it. I am linking to it for your edification.

Listen to Wikipedia. Nice background sounds, actually, driven by something happening out there in cyberspace.

There's something very, very frightening to me about having calls for boycotts treated as hate speech. Incitement to not buy? How is that "political terror"?

Easy to read parking signs are easy to read. I like 'em.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Neat little promo

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Sunday Review

DCBS
Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Apr 8th
  • Convergence #1 - And... it's just what I feared. A big old arena story. I hate stories in which heroes are forced to fight to the death. I'm hoping for some decent twists in this, or I'm going to be bored out of my gourd by this entire event.
  • Convergence: Harley Quinn #1 - I think the most interesting thing about this is how Harley pulls herself together while everyone else around her is falling apart. That, and the fishes swimming around her fingers.
  • Convergence: Justice League #1 - This might as well have been the Aquaman Convergence issue... it focuses heavily on Mera and the Flashpoint Atlantis. Good stuff for an Aquaman fan.
  • Arrow: Season 2.5 #7 - Still being thrown off by the timing of this, especially since I'm currently watching shows that are a month later than from when this was originally published. My mind is kind of playing ping pong with it all.
  • Astro City #22 - Another story about life moving on. I enjoyed the tale, but the hints of a new danger coming are a little frightening. Astro City generally doesn't seem like a book with huge storyarcs, but it's all connected. So when do we get the finish of these plot threads?
  • Spider-Man 2099 #11 - Huh. Lots of little plot threads running around being obnoxious... but the best is, of course, no good deed going unpunished. Ouch. Poor Miguel.
  • Rebels #1 - Well, that's a good start to the series. I know almost nothing about Ethan Allen or the Green Mountain boys, so I expect this could be an education. I have high hopes for this series.
  • Spongebob Comics #43 - Pretty average issue. No Mermaid Man.



Saturday, May 09, 2015

The Week in Review

Where do I start?

I suppose we should go back to May Day. That was a vertigo day for me. Hubby-Eric and I had taken his car to the shop to get a repair done on Thursday and left it overnight, but on Friday we got the word that the part hadn't come in yet. It didn't actually change our plans much... Eric had originally planned to leave for the Seattle area on Friday afternoon after I dropped him off at the shop. Well, same thing, just no fix for the car. But I was having vertigo, so the trip to the shop and home was unpleasant for me.

Still, I made it, then Eric got over the mountains safely. Inkwell and I settled in for another weekend without Inky's other slave. It's been a very confusing two weekends for the cat.

It was hovering around 80F outside, and inside it was a little warmer. I opened all the windows in the house as soon as the sun went down, which also confused little Inkwell a lot. He scampered from window to window, sniffing the outside and growling at anything that moved. He even barked every once in awhile... which is a little strange for a cat. I think the neighbors' Chihuahuas were out again, although I'm not sure if any of them were still wearing dresses. And I know the neighbor kids came into my yard a few times to get stuff they accidentally threw over the fence, because I saw a variety of balls in the yard over the course of the weekend. The numbers and types changed hour-by-hour.

Saturday was my day to do the Cinco de Mayo Festival in Sunnyside. It's a big annual event here, though I've never quite been able to figure out why. It's not celebrated like this in Mexico. I think it's just a good excuse for a street fair.

In any case, I got out there early and hit the fire station for the veterans' breakfast. I had a hearty meal of pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausages and hashbrowns. It was very filling and yummy. I don't know what it is about eating in the fire engine bay of a local fire station, but the food always tastes better there. After eating, I snagged my photos, including a couple of the girl scout servers.

From there I headed downtown (a couple of block away) and started to snap photos of the vendors and events. I was told the food eating contests were at noon, so I wandered for a bit and met a few people, then headed to the center of the action... only there was no action. Apparently the people running the food eating contests thought started at 1 pm, so I ended up waiting another hour before the action started with the jalapeno eating contest. At the exact same time, the high school mariachi band was playing... much to both group's annoyance. During the mango eating contest, I was offered a mango by the announcer, who kept up a patter in Spanish that I couldn't keep up with. So I just said "No hablo espanol" to him and smiled.

An aside about some of these photo links... we have a system we call "blue dot" that supposedly brings in more money for the company when people buy our photos. The photographers are then supposed to get a share of the proceeds. I do not recall ever getting any proceeds, but then, I don't know if any of my photos have ever actually sold from that site. Any photo name with "LG" in it is mine, along with a few others.

In addition to getting photos of the food contests and some of the other events, I also took a picture of the local high school principal in the dunk tank. I tried to get a good shot of him getting dunked, but failed. I did get a good photo of a girl on the bungee jump with her ponytail flailing out behind her. A lucky shot I got of young dancers downtown made the front page because it was nice and colorful.

It made for a longish day, and the photo-ops weren't great. I was actually disappointed in how few people were at the event. I'd only been on Sunday before, and it turns out Sunday is always the big day because of the parade and horses. I got a bit of food at the festival, eating a couple of tacos and drinking horchata.

When I finally got home I had a very angry/hungry cat to deal with. Then I rested again, mostly due to my foot hurting. The ol' heel spur was acting up again after I spent the day walking around downtown. Sunday was similarly quiet, although I got a little nervous when Eric was late returning from the wet-side. Turned out he had intelligently decided to take a nap at a rest area when he started to feel a little drowsy.

Monday was just odd. I drove Eric's car to work in case the shop called to tell us they had the part. Since I was headed out to where the shop is, I figured I could drop the car off on the way if they called. But they didn't.

I had pretty much all my sports teams to write, and that took some time and effort. But I also had to get cutlines (captions) on the photos from Cinco. I let the usual office talk wash over me, trying to go about my day as oblivious as possible. Sometimes it works. After deadline, a co-worker and I headed out to the Toppenish Livestock Show to get some good stories of local youngsters raising animals. It was actually pretty fun. I knew where the fairgrounds were, so we got there easily. Then once we parked we ran into one of the local teachers, who told us where to find students from our coverage area. I got to work on a couple of stories about lambs while my co-worker headed out to find the beef and pork stories.

I somehow managed to get through the entire show without stepping in any manure, despite the proliferation of it all around the fairgrounds. Indeed, I quickly became an expert in which type of animal left which type of mess on the ground. It was a surprisingly relaxed morning/afternoon and I didn't even realize it was way past lunchtime when we got back to the office.

I headed home for lunch to a yet again angry cat, who asked why I was tormenting him by coming home late from work so often. I fed him then played with him a bit and he mostly forgave me.

When I got back to work I had a couple of extra assignments, including one for that afternoon, waiting on my desk. So I tried to do the first and ran into the most frustrating person to talk to on the phone ever. Well, no probably not, but a very frustrating person for sure. He mumbled. A lot. I believe his grasp of English is a little weak, because he would say something mumbled, then try again when I asked him to repeat himself and say something that I know was completely different. It was a difficult task, and in the end he did not provide a photo that we needed in order to print the story he wanted us to run. That made it doubly-frustrating.

Another assignment was to go out that afternoon and get a photo of two middle school baseball players. The boss said the photos were for a story on Friday, but didn't give me any other details except the names of the kids. So I got to the school and there were multiple sporting events going on. Softball, soccer, and two baseball games! Ack. I asked the various spectators and was not only pointed at the right game, but also had the two players helpfully pointed out to me along with facts about their stats, how great they were and where their parents were sitting. I thanked everyone and immediately got to work, because one of the players was the runner on first base and the other was at bat.

The game was marked by a nasty strong wind, and I sometimes actually had trouble keeping the lens on the kid I was following thanks to gusts. I got dust in my eyes at a critical moment and missed a shot that might have been awesome (or I might have missed it anyway, who can tell?). I got both of the players in the field then decided to wait for them to bat around so I could get them both at bat. That's when things got annoying. Apparently, these games weren't being played by normal rules. There were substitutions every inning. And so the coach was having all his kids bat... all dozen or so. Which added a chunk of time to how long I had to wait for my two boys to get back up to bat.

When they finally came up to bat I realized the first kid was a lefty and had to race around the field to get to the other side. I got in position just as he walked to the plate. He took a swing at the first pitch... and looped it into center field for a base hit. No, I did not get the shot. So I just tried to get a photo of him running the bases. It was annoying and I was not terribly successful. I decided there was no way I was waiting another hour and a half for them to come up to bat again... if they came up to bat again, since the game might well be over long before then. Fortunately, the photo editing guy found two decent shots among the ones I took of them in the field. Whew.

I went to bed early on Monday because Tuesday was a dry run for our new deadline, due to the pressman being out of the office. All reporters had to be at work at 6:30 a.m. instead of our usual 8 a.m. start time. For an early start, it went pretty well. The editorial deadline was 9 a.m., but we finished the entire paper, including layouts, just after 9 a.m. and sent it to the printers well before the 11 a.m. production deadline. Not so shabby. The real test will be next week when we start the new deadline for real. On June 1st the actual changeover will happen, but next week we go to the new schedule to work out any issues. Anyway, one thing we learned on Tuesday is that once we were done with the layout, all of us wanted to go to lunch... since it's usually lunchtime when we finish. But being just after 9 a.m., it was way too early. I may need to plan on bringing a snack to work in the future.

On Tuesday I also learned what my responsibilities are as the editorial person who gets to post to the newspaper's Facebook page. In short, if there's a story that we want to get a little more exposure, I'm supposed to post it so people will share it and such. I'm also supposed to give the editor feedback on what stories get the most attention (most shares, most likes). How we use that data kind of depends on what the data shows, but I ended up spending most of Tuesday after deadline playing around with the Facebook demographics and figuring out how to post.

A local restaurant, Cactus Juice, closed unexpectedly two months ago when one of the two women running it had a medical problem. On Monday, the place opened up again thanks to her recovery. On Tuesday, I went out to eat there with a co-worker. The special was turkey, bacon and avocado sandwich, and it was really, really good. It was also nice to see the crowds come back and support her after two months. I swear, in some ways it was like they'd never gone away while in others there was a kind of overall joy that they were back.

In the afternoon I learned that a story I was casually working on had been assigned to a co-worker... but the teacher involved contacted me to ask if I could come in that day to talk with the kids. I ended up going to the school and poaching the assignment out from under my co-worker, which isn't a nice thing to do... but meant the details got covered a little better, since I've been following the story from the beginning as part of my general schools coverage.

One advantage to getting to work earlier is that I get to go home earlier. In this case, all the reporters left the office at 3:30 p.m. I was still working on the school story, but took off because I don't get overtime. That meant a couple of extra hours at home with Eric and Inkwell.

On Wednesday I confused myself. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to get to work early or not. I ended up heading to the office about 7 a.m. to make sure I had time to write my sports story. As it turned out, the editor had already written it before I got there. All I had to do was add some comments from my coach. I spent a bit of time working on other stuff until the police logs became available and I was able to get through deadline. Just after deadline I received word that there would be carrot cake at Cactus Juice. Since I haven't had it for months, I drove out there and got some slices for Eric and I at lunch time.

Wednesday afternoon was another softball game to attend. It's been warm around here, and at lunch I abandoned my jacket at home since it was getting warmer. Sometime between lunchtime and when I left for the game at 4 p.m., a thunderstorm moved in. As I was leaving the office to head down to the neighboring town for the game a downpour started. It lasted less than a minute, but I started to get concerned about getting wet. But I shouldn't have worried about the rain...it was the wind and cold that got to me. I was practically freezing while I took my less-than-stellar shots. I eventually got too cold to continue and headed over to another local food joint to pick up dinner for us. This time I remembered to get onion rings and chocolate shakes. Once home, I shivered for a good 20 minutes before I started to feel comfortable again.

Thursday I managed to go to work close to 8 a.m., which was nice. It may well be the last time, as well. Not a lot to do... get the photos processed, contact the coach to see how the game went after I left (not well), check the police logs... After deadline, a couple of stories to finish for Friday, including a book review of Migrant Earth and the two pieces from the Toppenish Livestock show.

Eric wanted to try again with the car, so I talked a co-worker into covering for me for an hour in the afternoon once Eric got off work. I drove down to pick him up, heading along SR22 into Toppenish.

Almost into town, I noticed a traffic situation developing in front of me. The speed limit is 60MPH along that stretch. There was a semi-truck apparently parked on the shoulder of the oncoming lane, and at least two semis behind him at full-speed headed toward me. The parked semi pulled out into the road... into the path of the first semi, which literally could not stop. No way. So he pulled into my lane.

If I hadn't been paying attention or had been just a few yards further down the road, it would have been a disaster for me. As it was, I had enough time to brake hard and hit the shoulder on my lane. Thank goodness for the shoulder, too, because if it hadn't been there, I would not have had anywhere safe to go. I drove around the mess on the shoulder and managed to safely get back on the road without any mishap. Looking in my rearview mirror I saw the second semi swerve around the formerly parked semi. Fortunately, there wasn't any traffic in my lane behind me, or there might have been other problems. My heart slowed down enough before I got to the shop to pick up Eric that I forgot to tell him about it right away.

However, I did tell him he owed my boss a maple bar. And he owed me some chocolate. So he duly walked across the street to Safeway once we got back to town and got donuts. Once I got home, the evening was quiet and restful, mostly. I ended up wasting time just trying to zone out, and didn't get anything productive done.

Friday morning I got in early and went across the street myself to buy some donuts. I got 10 maple bars and two other donuts, because almost everyone in the office prefers maple bars for some reason. Personally, I'm not fond of them. I don't hate them, I just prefer other donuts. But I bought donuts, picking them off the rolling rack fresh out of the oven instead of getting ones already put in the display cases, much to the amusement of the bakers. Hey, at least I asked permission first.

Friday was our last day on the old deadline, and I didn't have any issues. I did get a late assignment and managed to get it out the door, which was nice. I also seemed to end up correcting everyone else's work, as in taking their files and making the editor's fixes before moving them to the correct folder. I was probably imagining that everyone was getting me to do that while they ran out to do interviews. Late in the morning I got a call from the shop... they had the wrong part for Eric's car and wouldn't be able to fix it yet. Once again, it didn't really change our plans. We still need to pick up the car in the afternoon. So we did that, and then I got back to the office and handled the last hour and change on the old schedule.

For once I had no Friday sports and nothing scheduled for the weekend at all. In addition, Eric stayed in town. So this morning I actually slept in without a fuzzy alarm clock meyowling in my face at 5 a.m. demanding breakfast. I have no real plans for the weekend, except doing all the chores we've not been doing properly. I've got to get more "grass" growing for Inkwell, since I'm trying to alternate the mugs so he always has some catgrass growing when he gets a craving. The bad news this morning is that we ran out of the raw honey I got at the meet a farmer event. Now I must muster the courage to go into the health food store and see if they have it and how much it costs.

Not much else to say, except I probably forgot lots of things that happened. Ah well, on to the next week.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Children will listen

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Linkdump for a Thursday night

A study has determined measles makes people more susceptible to other diseases, probably because it kills off white blood cells that are programmed to defend against other diseases. So, all those parents who claim that "natural" immunity is better than vaccines... well, they are idiots. But then, we already knew that.

A Florida woman called for help via Pizza Hut, using the comments on the online ordering system to tell employees that she was in trouble. Heck, I just use those comment spots to ask employees to draw something for me or thank them for being awesome.

If you haven't seen the Amy Schumer video, check it out. It's spot on satire about the War on Women currently being conducted in the name of religion, mostly by far-right extremists supported by folks who should know better.

Usually we don't hear about school districts that do the right thing by their students, which is why I'm linking to this awesome story about a young man who recognized a problem, complained, and got a swift and positive response from district officials. Good job, Alex!

I'm not sure whether to giggle or cry when I read about Apple watches having trouble with tattoos. It reminds me a bit of this story about how photography was optimized for people with light skin.

Gush. This one kind of hit me hard, be warned.

Boing Boing has a Not Safe For Work story about an unusual way to draw attention to potholes to get them fixed. Pun intended.

A neat use for the Raspberry Pi computer is making the Tin Man's heart glow.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Nothing to say, really

I'm tired, I had a long day, and I just haven't got much to say right now.

At least, I think I don't have much to say. If I keep typing long enough, I'm sure something will come out. It might be utter nonsense, but it could be something.

My post yesterday about how people who use violence to suppress blasphemy against their religion is how I truly feel about the subject, but in the most recent incident there's another twist, of course. The folks who were the target of the violence are also, in my not-so humble opinion, idiots. They aren't nearly the hypocritical faithless idiots that the gunmen coming after them are, but they are still idiots. The reason being that they intentionally attempted to provoke the violence. I'm not saying that free speech should be limited, not by a long shot. But I think it's absolutely reasonable to call people idiots who use their free speech in such a way that they know it's going to provoke people. And yeah, they maybe are pushing the boundaries and allowing the conversation about violence to move forward... but they are also deliberately poking the rabid dog with a stick. That makes them idiots.

In addition, this particular group of idiots has been acting in bad faith in many ways for a long time, so that just adds to their idiocy.

Still, it doesn't justify the violence.

I was on a bus in West Seattle many years ago, headed home from work. There was an altercation in the back of the bus. The driver stopped the bus and a skinny white boy ran forward and jumped off. I heard the driver ask him if he should call the police. The boy shook his head and ran away. Two black kids, about the same age, were being castigated by an old man, also black, in the back of the bus. One of the boys said, "But he called us n****s!" There was a sort of gasp all along the bus to that, and the old man suddenly looked very sad and even older. He said, "That's still no excuse for hitting him." The driver refused to move the bus until the two boys got off, which they eventually did, although they took their time about it.

I've never forgotten the look in the man's eyes. The sadness, the weight of years of abuse. The quiet response, "That's still no excuse."

I wonder how many times some idiot did the same thing to him, trying to provoke him. Trying to make him hate. Trying to make him less of a person somehow. How many times did he have to put up with that same garbage throughout his life? Looking back, I'm impressed he could be so calm.

The proper response to nasty words is reasoned, sharp words. The proper response to ridicule is counter-ridicule. The proper response to blasphemy in the form of cartoons is probably cartoons making fun of the cartoonists or something they hold dear. You don't bring a gun to a war of ideas and expect to win more than a temporary battle.

But it's also good to not go around intentionally provoking people.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Free Speech and Shootings?

The Daily Show had a good piece on not shooting people you disagree with... (trying to embed the video here)


While the whole piece is interesting, the bit I want to address is the idiocy of supposedly religious people murdering those who insult their religion. In short, if your religion is threatened by people making fun of it, then either you have no faith or your religion is false. By attempting to silence critics by violence, you are saying, "my religion is so weak and false that I have to defend it by hurting people." People who are secure in their faith can laugh off insults and ignore blasphemy from non-believers. Only those who have no faith use weapons to defend their beliefs. That goes for any religion at all.

So every time I see a report of "Islamic Terrorists" I just think, those guys don't actually have any God except Death. They don't follow the prophet, they follow hate. Same thing with Christians who use violence. We don't hear about it as much, but there's plenty of nutcases out there who want to kill people who aren't Christians or the right kind of Christians. Those people aren't followers of Jesus, they believe in Death. Every time they use violence they undermine the religion they claim to believe in and prove that they, themselves, are weak-willed idiots.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Off to the Livestock Show today...


Yes, lambs can jump.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

No Sunday Review

I was going to try to write something up on the Fortean Times I got this week, but I really need more time to enjoy it. Then I thought I'd do a general review of Arrow, Gotham and The Flash, but I just found I want to see the end of the current arcs before doing that. So I thought about reviewing some books, but there's nothing I've read recently that is begging for a review. So I decided to just take a week off instead.

I hope you don't mind.