Saturday, January 13, 2018

Computer repair?

I have been using my laptop quite a lot the past couple of years, and some time ago it developed an annoying glitch. The screen would flicker, get slightly pixelated, and then change colors to an almost negative.

This was annoying, to put it mildly.

What was even more annoying was that any movement could trigger it. I could be typing furiously and suddenly the screen would flicker. I found that I could tap the side or top of the screen to "fix" it, but found I was hitting my poor computer more and more. In fact, recently, it would take five minutes of adjusting the angle the screen was at and tapping the side until it snapped into a clear resolution. Then, after a few minutes of computing, it would start flickering again. It was driving me crazy.

I used to build my own computers, but since I switched pretty much exclusively to laptops, I haven't opened a computer. I knew laptops are crammed together more tightly and thus considerably more difficult to put back together, so I didn't mess with them. Until now, I haven't had a good reason to try. But we're broke - more than broke - and so a new computer or a proper repair by a qualified tech are not really options.

So this afternoon I prepared myself for possible utter failure, watched several YouTube videos, and cracked open my laptop. Thanks to the videos, I knew there are more than a dozen screws on the bottom of this machine, holding the keyboard to the rest of the computer. However, this computer is really easy to open once those screws are removed. So I got to work, carefully pulling each one out. But I got to two of them that just would not cooperate. They seemed to be stripped already. The machine is refurbished, so I suspected I may have gotten it that way.

With all but two of the screws out, and those two absolutely refusing to be removed, I decided to remove the keyboard and hope for the best. To my astonishment, it wasn't really hard at all. The only bit that didn't want to pull up is the area that my left hand rests on when I play my game. I guess being pushed down ALL the time made it more difficult to remove.

As I suspected, the two screws were stripped and would never have come out. I debated briefly on whether or not I wanted to remove them, and finally left them in. They aren't in the way. The keyboard itself had only three connectors to the motherboard - the keyboard, the touchpad and the keyboard lights. Easy to remove. I carefully noted where each one went, and removed the keyboard completely.

Whoa, everything is really packed tight in a laptop. However, there was a little bit of wasted space, and little baby dust bunnies had formed in some of that space. A blast from canned air removed the offenders.

I then spent the next few minutes attempting to figure out what was loose that was causing the flickering. I couldn't find anything. So I turned the computer on, crossing my fingers that I wouldn't damage it by doing so, and then messed with the cables, trying to duplicate the flickering. But it all seemed completely stable, so I finally shut the computer down, reattached the keyboard and sealed it back up.

Then I went upstairs to write a bit. And about five minutes into writing... the screen started to flicker again. Angry now, I took the thing apart again. Again, no obvious issues. All the cables are secure. All the connections are clean. Instead of sealing it this time, I snapped the keyboard back into place and decided to use it for awhile without all the screws in place. I'm hoping that if the problem occurs again, I can simply snap the keyboard out and troubleshoot.

Still, for the moment I've got a working machine, and I know what to do to temporarily fix it. I wonder if the cable itself is bad? And how do I determine which cable is the problem and how to fix it? *sigh*

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Jury Duty!

I have been called for jury duty several times. In this state, there's a lovely call-in program. You are given a phone number to call to find out if you have to report in person. When I got the call this time, my call-in dates were 12-26-2017 to 1-05-2018, so I was fairly sure I wouldn't be called to the courthouse the first week, and relatively sure I'd be safe the second week.

Well, I was wrong. Last night I was ordered to report to the courthouse.

I wasn't the only one. In fact, a friend who teaches at the high school got called, and she offered me a lift to the courthouse. Not thinking it through, I accepted and we carpooled this morning. A number of other people from town got called as well, including the teacher that Eric subbed for today and a parapro at the same school. We also had a few other folks we knew from town show up in the courtroom.

I've been to the courthouse before, as a reporter, and I have sat in a LOT of different courtrooms as a reporter. That part of the process, getting scanned and up into a courtroom, was not at all nerve-wracking for me. After checking in at the door to courtroom #6, my friend and I ended up sitting in the comfy jury seats instead of on the benches because the benches were already full. After waiting for stragglers, the woman who checked us in set up a video on jury service and said they were seating for two cases.

The half-hour video was mostly interesting for the bad direction and sometimes poor acting, but it provided a good overview of jury service. When it was over, we sat around for quite awhile before the bailiff came in to give us our jury numbers. My friend was given #10, and I got #38. The bailiff made us sit in number order, and because a few people had been sent to another courtroom due to overflow, we had to leave gaps for people from the other room. I thought I was on the end of a row, but it turned out juror #39 was supposed to sit next to me, so we had to squeeze up for him. He smelled like cigarette smoke.

Juror #37, on my other side, thought both cases we were called for were murder cases. I didn't know what to think, especially when they gave out 70 numbers and dismissed the remaining 19 people. I later learned (via hearsay) that there was a murder case, and it was one of the two cases, but it was settled literally minutes before the jury selection was to start. So there was only one case that was being seated. Good thing, too, because the murder case was expected to last 8 weeks.

Once the bailiff got everyone numbered and in order, he marched us - in order - to another courtroom. It felt like elementary school. In that courtroom we were introduced to the judge, the prosecutor and the defense attorney, as well as the defendant. The judge read the charges to us: robbery, attempted robbery and a felon in possession of a firearm. The last charge was of interest because the judge basically said "this guy has been convicted of a crime before" - which I generally thought we aren't supposed to know.

After reading the charges, the judge said the case would probably take five days, and asked if anyone had any reason they couldn't serve for five days. There were plenty of people. My friend (and ride home) said she has a trip next week starting on Thursday, and the judge said he couldn't guarantee the trial would only last five days and dismissed her.

About 20 people were dismissed in the first round. The rest of us were asked to give our bios by answering questions from a sheet of paper they'd given us. The questions included what town we are from, occupation, spouse's occupation, hobbies and whether or not we've every been involved in a court case before. I am not sure how I answered because I was embarrassed and blanked it out a bit, but I mentioned I was a former reporter. A juror just a few down from me was also a former reporter.

After everyone gave their bios, the prosecutor started asking people about their previous jury experiences and whether or not they watched crime dramas on TV. One lady loudly announced, "I watch Judge Judy" and got a laugh from almost everyone in the courtroom. The prosecutor only had about 15 minutes before noon hit and we were dismissed for lunch.

As we left the courtroom, I asked the teacher Eric subbed for today if he could give me a lift back to Sunnyside so we could let my other friend go home. As she's a mutual friend, he agreed and so I ended up going home in a different car than I came - but my friend who gave me a ride out didn't have to wait another 4 hours to go home. If I'd been thinking in the first place, I would have realized that one of us might get seated and the other not, and would have driven myself out.

We had an hour and a half for lunch, and I went with my ride home and the parapro to Jimmy John's for lunch. I've never had a sub sandwich shaped quite as rudely as that one was, but I don't think it was deliberate. We chatted about substitute teaching and the concept of jury duty. We got back to the "holding" courtroom in plenty of time.

Again we waited for quite awhile until it was time to head back into the courtroom for final jury selection. The prosecuting attorney had 15 more minutes to work with, and he started with juror #7, who said he was an engineer, asking him if he believed DNA evidence was always right. The juror said he understood that DNA evidence wasn't always a sure thing and said he would rely on expert advice if asked to judge it.

I was the next juror called to answer questions, and he asked me essentially the same thing, and I gave essentially the same answer. Then he asked about me being a reporter, and I confirmed that I had been, but was not currently, a reporter. He gave me a very knowing look and asked if I could judge a case by only the information presented in court. I affirmed that I could. I have covered court cases where I, as the reporter, knew that evidence was being withheld. Also, I suspect the nature of reporters - to pry and find out as much as we can - might have been working against me there.

Next he called up the other former reporter and asked pretty much the same questions. That juror gave pretty much the same answers as I did.

Then the prosecutor asked all jurors if they understood that DNA evidence is not always perfect. There were some confused looks, including myself, and so he had me stand up again and asked me if I understood what he'd asked. "I think so," I said. He asked me to restate it in my own words. I said something along the lines of: "Do we understand that DNA is not a magic pill that will automatically do the job for us and make the decision in the case easy, and are we ok with that."

He said, "What she said!" to laughter, and gestured jokingly for me to take his place up front - at which point I shook my head and handed the microphone back to the bailiff before sitting quickly.

He asked quite a few more questions, and then the defense got his turn. The defense attorney started by focusing in on people who had said they had been victims of a crime before and asking them if they felt their prior experiences would make it harder for them to be impartial. The defense attorney also asked people if they had any sort of relationship with police and if they would give more credence to an officer's testimony than to a lay person. During that portion of questioning I stood up and noted that I had worked closely with police as a reporter and probably would give their testimony a little more credence.

I'm not entirely sure that's true, after some serious pondering on it. But it was too late to call back my words.

Finally, the attorneys and judge went into a flurry of activity to eliminate jurors and the bailiff got a new set of numbers out - the actual seated jury numbers. When the judge called for order again, he read off the numbers of the people who had been selected, and they were seated in the nice comfy jury chairs. They started with potential juror #1, who became actual juror #1, and went up through the numbers, skipping the rejected people.

I know I was rejected because the last juror seated was #39 - the one right after me who smelled like cigarette smoke.

The rest of us were released then, but informed we still have to call in tonight for potential seating tomorrow and tomorrow night for potential jury seating on Friday. The judge said he didn't think they would be seating any more juries this week, but to call anyway (I just called, no jury duty tomorrow).

It was an intriguing experience, and I will probably be checking the newspaper to find out what happens in the trial. There was a lot of waiting around with enough noise and distractions that I didn't even try to read before lunch. My efforts to read after lunch were derailed because I started to wither from lack of energy and couldn't concentrate. I was never bored, but there were times I wished the process would move along more quickly. Pretty much all of the action took place in courtrooms in the uncomfortable audience seating. We were basically in rows and usually next to complete strangers. It was not conducive to reading or relaxing. After sitting on the benches for a few hours, I was really sore and wanted to go home. I found, to my surprise, that I really did want to serve on the jury and was both relieved and disappointed that I wasn't picked.

I would gladly go in again, though I might hope for a stadium cushion to make the sitting easier.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Sunday Comic Books Review

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • May 31st
  • Teen Titans Lazarus Contract Special #1 - I've never liked Damian Robin, and now I like him even less than I did before, if that's possible. Seriously, that guy needs to be put away like a super villain, because that's basically what he is. Degrading and permanently damaging his teammates, ignoring people who need help, acting like a self-important twit. Can we have another vote to kill off Robin?
  • Doctor Strange #20 - So the doc gets a new apprentice while Wong just gives up and leaves? It's not a bad story, mind you, just feels a little off.
  • Back To The Future: Biff to the Future #5 - And now we have some time travel, as the doc and his band of rebels attempt to stop Biff from becoming ... well, Biff. It would have been a little better if they'd known the change point, I guess. Fighting him in ignorance didn't do much.
  • Doctor Who 9th #13 - A Captain Jack story that delves into Jack's missing time, looking at his rebellion against the time agents. It's a little disjointed, but it seems any story involving Jack is disjointed. Nice cliffhanger at the end, though!
  • Jun 7th
  • Aquaman #24 - Atlantis is a thorny issue for Aquaman, no pun intended. To be its king, Arthur has to spend time in the city - which cuts into his time for adventures as Aquaman. So every writer has to decide if he's going to be king or not and how to deal with him not being king if that's the road that's picked. Which tends to lead to the same story of rebellion being told in different ways each time. Oh, I'll see how this plays out, but it's a familiar tune and even the shock ending isn't quite enough to endear the story to me.
  • Justice League #22 - Green Lanterns trying to prove themselves, and apparently messing up a bit. I was amused by the cameos by Aquaman and the Flash.
  • Green Lanterns #24 - Green Lanterns trying to prove themselves, unaware of the bigger threat hiding in their midst. I really wish I hadn't read this and Justice League back-to-back. I'm kind of Green Lantern'ed out, now.
  • DC Comics Bombshells #28 - I don't really know what's going on in this book any more, except it's focusing on Leningrad and there's only a passing reference to Atlantis. I'm enjoying it, I think, I'm just not real certain what I'm reading.
  • Doctor Strange #21 - Ug. A crossover. Pass.
  • Doctor Who Ghost Stories #3 - Wow, feels like a long time since I've read this. The Doctor is on a quest to get the brother crystals to the one that gave Grant his powers, and it turns out the crystals can nullify each other's effects... who knew? But we get more familiar bad guys as the story progresses and it's actually decent. A nice fun, light-hearted tale.
  • Jun 14th
  • Titans #12 - I'm not really sure what I think about this one. I mean... Omen and Garth? It seems so out-of-nowhere to me. I didn't much like the art in this one, lots of overly sketchy bits that seemed to obscure the faces and actions. Overall, a good step forward in the story with a lot of loose ends mentioned, if not tied up.
  • Dark Days: The Forge #1 - I'm not sure why I ordered this, but with Doomsday Clock on my mind, I thought the voice in the dark was a completely different person. I won't be reviewing most of this crossover, but this was an intriging hint. And hey, Aquaman appearance (which is probably why I ordered it?).
  • Scooby Apocalypse #14 - Ug, Scrappy is in the main storyline now. Still enjoying this, and I like the Fallout vibe I'm getting from the survivors. I didn't expect the new girl to last a full issue, so that was a nice surprise. Definitely not my childhood Scooby, but I like it anyway.
  • Planet of the Apes/Green Lanterns #5 - That was brutal. I'm not sure what's going to happen with this ring, but it ought not to exist, I think.
  • Back To The Future #20 - When Marty attempts to learn more about his uncle's crime - which sent him to prison for a long time - things go wrong. They really should have waited for Doc, since he clearly knew something about it.
  • Dirk Gently: Salmon of Doubt #8 - Finally, the title of this series is explained. I'm not sure much else is, though. Dirk Gently is always confusing.
  • Doctor Who 11th #3.6 - Ok, the Doctor might have figured everything out, but I'm still in the dark on what caused this. Still, the story gripped me enough that I want to know, so that's good.
  • Spongebob Comics #69 - A nice Mermaid Man story that shows just how shallow (pun intended) that superhero actually is, and more of an ongoing epic that is apparently going to end up in a real and very sad place in the ocean. I'd call this a good issue, yeah.
Hey! I'm only six months behind! At this rate by next December 31st, I'll be a year back!

Saturday, December 30, 2017



Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Really Short Review - Atlantis Chronicles Hardcover

Considering that I never thought I'd see this book in my lifetime, I pre-ordered it with a great deal of joy.

And it's GORGEOUS.

The story is a wonderful epic, the art has been reproduced fantastically and the small amount of supplemental material was interesting to read. It did justice to the work, which was my biggest concern. And now the book is available for more readers to check out.

Aquaman fans ought to go get it. People who like interesting comic book art ought to go get it. People who are interested in one amazing interpretation of the backstory of DC's Atlantis definitely should get it.

The Atlantis Chronicles

Monday, November 27, 2017

Visual Oddities

I'm pretty good at spotting things that are out-of-place in photos or drawings. I'm not perfect at it, but I generally can spot the anomaly pretty well. I'm curious, how good are you are seeing the out-of-place thing? In the first four images, find the panda. In the final image, find the dog. If you feel like it, leave a comment (here or on Facebook) to indicate how difficult you found them. I found 1-3 easy, 4 mildly difficult, and 5 mostly easy.

Click Each Image To Make It Bigger

1. Find the Panda

2. Find the Panda

3. Find the Panda

4. Find the Panda

5. Find the Duplo Dog

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

More Inkwell Tales

Last night as I was watching a documentary on Amazon Prime, I suddenly heard hubby-Eric yell - a growling yell he usually reserves for scaring Inkwell the cat - and then a number of loud thumps, as if he were deliberately pounding his feet as he chased Inkwell. The yelling and pounding continued, surprising me enough to pause my video and start to get out of my chair. But the thumps were coming up the stairs, so I waited. Sure enough, Eric popped his head in and said, "Inkwell has vanished!"

I was terribly bemused and unsure what to say, so hubby continued, "I chased him up the stairs and was about to chase him down again, then he just *poof* vanished!"

As I tried to figure out a response, hubby said, "Oh, there he is." and the chase continued.

I love my boys.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Inkwell the Magnificent

There is something that Inkwell the cat does that I would love to get video of (since a still photo would never do it justice), but because of the circumstances it's impossible for me to record.

He did it to me again this morning.

I was waking up late after staying up until 2 am and he did a half-meow half-purr as he jumped up onto the bed. I was lying under the covers on my back, and he quickly made his way onto my chest, then started "tucking me in" by massaging the blankets in my neck area while purring EXTREMELY loud. I peeked up at him and his face was next to mine, purring away in wonderful bliss as he kneaded the blankets.

After a few minutes of this, I put my left hand up to pet him a little on the top of his head. He responded by rubbing up against my hand, directing me to the best places to rub. He wanted me to rub his jaw and behind his ear. Then he glanced over to where my other hand ought to be, so I hastily put it out and he rubbed up against that hand as well. Suddenly we were locked in a mutual moment of comforting each other. He was kneading me while directing my hands to the best places to rub him - mostly his jaw, behind his ears and on top of his head.

I'm not entirely sure how long that lasted, but finally he made a few murping meows and stepped off my chest, walking to the foot of the bed and looking back at me. I checked the clock and realized it was time to feed him. I got up and went downstairs with him at my ankles giving me what sounded like instructions all the way.

But I have to admit, for a short time there I truly felt completely in tune with Inkwell. He's been my owner for many years now, but this may be the first time I felt like we completely connected.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

A Sunday Comic Books Review

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • May 17th
  • Aquaman #23 - The Atlantean Council has a funny way of showing that law and order rule their actions. Putting Rath up to fight Arthur the instant he got back was a provocation instead of an invitation to discussion. In short, the actions of the council undercut their own argument, leaving Arthur undeniably in the right. Of course, people picking a stupid person as a leader happens, but the Atlanteans are being exceptionally dumb about this whole thing. I'm not sure I like where this story is headed.
  • Justice League #21 - Well, that was a nice finish to the Groundhog Day Flash storyline. I didn't find it wonderful, but it wasn't bad. The art bothers me slightly for some reason I cannot put my finger on - there's a softness to it that doesn't work for me, I guess. Still, solid enough and the continuing mystery of what the heck is coming is also built up.
  • Green Lanterns #23 - Jessica is definitely a match for Guy, even if she didn't know it. And Baz... well, Kyle is a match for him. I like the training stuff, it's funny, but I could do without the evil not-Guardian plotting.
  • Teen Titans #8 - My almost complete lack of interest in Slade Wilson's story meant I spent most of this issue looking for Aqualad moments, and there were a few good ones. I particularly like when Garth meets Jackson and offers help. I hope we get to see more of that relationship forming.
  • DC Comics Bombshells #27 - That's a different take on Trigon than I've seen before. But lots of potential there for both mischief and joy. Harley lives up to her reputation in this issue as well. I'm a little less enamored of Kara's plotline, but I guess it's fine.
  • Astro City #44 - I'm in love with Kittyhawk the fantastic feline. And I adored the team-up with Rocket Dog, although it was pretty clear it wasn't exactly a willing team up on the pup's part. This issue just sang with wonderful moments and I had to got back and reread it several times, watching the cat each time. So cool. More like this!
  • Wonder Woman '77 and Bionic Woman #4 - Still not sure about the various bad guys, but the origin summaries were a fun moment. And the final fight was a bit strange... I had to go back and see how the bots removed the bracelets so the final moment could happen. A good book, a little heavy on dialogue in this issue.
  • Forever War #4 - Every issue I remember more of the book and what comes next. This one ends on a bad note, but I realized it was about to happen as I read. It's very odd to be reading a new format of something you read a long time ago and have bits and pieces of the original drift in as you read.
  • Torchwood #2.4 - While I'm mostly following the plot, I'm not really sure I'm getting the point of the plot - if there is one. Perhaps it's just not my cuppa.
  • Doctor Who 10th #3.5 - Pretty solid little done-in-one story that references a lot of the Doctor's past and also manages to emphasize how alien he is at the same time. Not bad at all.
  • Doctor Who 12th #3.3 - I generally like siege tales, and this is a decent one so far. Nice cliffhanger.
  • May 24th
  • Deathstroke #19 - I admit I know very little about any version of Deathstroke, so this whole storyline is mildly frustrating to me. Oh, I'm getting enough background to follow the story, but not really enough for it to have a real impact on me. I just want to see more of the aqua-characters getting to know each other. Also, Robin is a real twit in this story. I hope he gets Guy Gardnered at some point.
  • Batman Beyond #8 - Ok, I wasn't expecting that final page. As for the rest, I can see how that suit could definitely be fatal to the wearer - but at least it's not fatal in the way I was expecting it to be. This isn't going to end well.
  • Batman '66 Meets Wonder Woman '77 #5 - Oooh, Bruce Wayne has shoulder angels and devils! And one of them reminds me of a recent video game. Lovely stuff. Looks like the future of Gotham is in good hands in this universe... except for the current problem. It'll be fun to see how this turns out.
  • Scooby-Doo Team-Up #26 - The silliness of this one will not leave quickly. Danger-prone Daphne is the hero of the day, while the rest is bizarre all the way through. I felt like this was one of those stories you just have to roll with, instead of think about. Read that way, it was funny. Think about it too hard and you will regret it.
  • Saucer State #1 - I was a little surprised at how quickly the first series filled itself in for me while reading this, as I recall being a bit confused while reading the first series. Still, I remembered enough to enjoy the story and get even more confused - which is kind of what the book is aiming for, as it's a confusing situation.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Veterans Day - Aquaman

Veterans Day - Doctor Who

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Did You?

I Voted

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Halloween 2017 Post-Mortem

It may be time for another Halloween Fundraiser next year. I'm seriously considering doing a fundraiser in the spring to get enough money to get comic books and candy bars for the 800-1,000 kids who visit us every year. My post about it on Facebook garnered some positive thoughts, so it might be worth doing. And if I push it back to spring, I won't be nearly as frantic as I was in 2014 when I did it in the summer.

If we do this again, I really really want a front-door security cam that I can set to streaming so everyone who contributes can join the fun of watching the hordes descend upon our house. But the cost of a decent (doesn't have to be great) wi-fi cam is as much as the cost of buying comic books and candy bars for 1,000 kids, so I'm not sure it's the best use of time and money. I can always take video with my iPad again - but a live-stream would be SO MUCH fun. Especially if I limited it to people who contributed to the fund... hmmmm...

Well, that's all dream-stuff for the moment. I will ask that any of my friends who might have extra mini-comics from this or previous Halloweens sitting around to feel free to send them to me. That way I can give them out next year regardless of whether or not I run a fundraiser or livestream.

A total of 800 children wasn't bad. I like having extra candy, if only because it means everyone got something. I wish I could give out handfuls and not just one piece per kid. But when you've had crowds of more than 1,000 children, it's hard to justify giving out more than a single piece.

I'll have to retire to my Laura-lair to decide what to do next. But don't be surprised if I post a fundraising link at some point.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Hallowe'en 2017

4:45 pm - first trick or treaters. Two young'uns. A construction worker and a soldier (Eric says 2/5 of the Village People). Still very light out. Inkwell raced up the stairs and is now locked away safely in the bedroom for the duration.

5:12 pm - Five more, including a couple of superheroes and a Dalmatian in a firefighter outfit.

5:14 pm - Three more. One was a very little girl pink Supergirl outfit and also a Spider-Man. I suspect the flow will be getting intense shortly, as it's a school night so most people are trying to get ToTing done early.

5:23 pm - Lost count already. That's fine, they are dribbling in. We got a very cute minion, then a handful more. The last rays of the sun are hitting the houses down the street. Lots of cars in the neighborhood already, and plenty of people walking around. It'll just get more crazy from here on out tonight.

5:27 pm - Another run, including two little cowboys, and a family of Things (Thing 1, Thing 2, and Thing Mom, dad was NOT dressed as the Cat in the Hat).

5:38 pm - A serious run with lots of children, including one that said "Hi Mr. Gjovaag!" It was the first serious run, but tiny compared to what we've become used to here.

5:44 pm - A break in the action, Cheese Zombies are in the oven. Inkwell wants out of the bedroom. I'm playing a song selection from Amazon Prime. Lots of people out in the neighborhood.

5:58 pm - Lots of kids, some really good make-up and some not so good. Pennywise! A child dressed as a box! Ninjas! Superheroes! More make-up! Ack! Crowds! Almost out of first bowl (about 75 candies).

6:06 pm - Another run of LOTS of kids with a large scary clown at the end that I didn't see until he said the magic words because of a group of little and very cute children ahead of him behind held by their parents. I had a minor heart palpitation... Then we got another long run after that.

6:16 pm - Through the first bag of 150 candies. Zombies ready and Eric is heating up the soup. Lots of kids.

6:17 pm - First Wonder Woman.

6:21 pm - First kid with the nerve to ask for a second piece of candy. I explained that we get 1,000 kids and don't have enough candy.

6:28 pm - Almost through 3rd bowl, which would be about 225 candies. Roughly.

6:38 pm - We are working in shifts now with one sneaking up to grab the bowl and take the place when one of us gets tired. Lines and lines of kids. I will need to jump up and replace the bowl soon.

6:40 pm - Poop emoji, tiny Scooby, Vampire, lots of Day of the Dead make-up. Through two Costco bags. 300 kids. Hubby said, "Only 300?" and I'm also in agreement. Seems to be slow this year.

6:56 pm - Long stream of kids. So many kids. So many... so many... so many...

7:06 pm - Lots and lots of spider-man. Lots.

7:08 pm - Through three Costco bags. That's 450. Long runs during which we can't close the door. One child attempted to grab the bowl of candy. Several smaller ones have tried to come into the house. Several without costumes had to be coached to say "I'm an undercover cop" or "I'm a teacher on his/her day off". So many children. So so many.

7:12 pm - Some clowns with make-up and masks. I asked them what their costumes were.

7:16 pm - Traffic jam in the neighborhood. Amazon Prime party music is playing "I Want Candy" and both of us are dancing.

7:24 pm - Opening smaller bags now.

7:29 pm - More than 600 now. Last year it slowed down about 7:50... so we will probably have a little leftover candy this year.

7:38 pm - The doorbell toy is a hit. Little ones are pressing the buttons to hear the various monsters.

7:51 pm - More runs, including teenagers. Fortunately, the teenagers were in costume. Lots more. I have no idea how many bags we've gone through. I will need to count eventually.

7:58 pm - A few kids that were just starting out with empty buckets. Either that or they'd emptied their baskets somewhere along the way. I'm thinking we're over 700 now. Some have tried to sneak back for seconds.

8:03 pm - Lots of Harley Quinn, the neighborhood is crawling with Spider-Men, lots of various Super-family members, lots of Batman, tons of Ninja Turtles, quite a few Disney Princesses (mostly Elsa), Clowns, a couple of monkeys... But they are still coming. More time in between kids, but there's still plenty and we still have some runs where we leave the door open for awhile.

8:11 pm - They are still coming. Like hordes of zombies. By the way, we had the cheese zombies and tomato soup for dinner in between runs of children. Basically, Eric made dinner while I manned the door.

8:16 pm - After reading my updates, Eric noted we've also had a lot of Minnie Mouses.

8:22 pm - Eric and I each had a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. Then a really scary gargoyle came to the door. I hope it wasn't related.

8:30 pm - A fellow in a scary mask just came to the door. He was WAY taller than me. I gave him candy anyway. He was scary.

8:32 pm - A group of teenagers, about 10 all told in two groups. Good costumes.

8:39 pm - Wow... we've had nearly ten minutes without a ToT'er.

8:45 pm - Another run of about ten kids, mostly teenagers... and here come some more.

8:47 pm - After a bag count, we think we've hit at least 800.

9:00 pm - It's definitely winding down. I shall leave the lights on some time more since I had a Dr Pepper and won't be falling asleep any time soon. But I think we're close to the end. It *IS* a school night.

9:05 pm - Inkwell has been released from the bedroom and is wandering the house in befuddlement.

9:15 pm - No one for half and hour. It may just be over this year.

9:28 pm - Still no one. I took down the Halloween lights and closed the shades. Porch lights are still on, along with indoor lights. But I think it's just about over. I'm tempted to jump into the candy and gorge myself, but I'll be good.

9:30 pm - Doorbell rang - it wasn't even a teenager... Then another two in baseball outfits. Inkwell ran and hid both times.

9:35 pm - Inkwell is guarding the front door. I'm amused.

9:55 pm - Lights are mostly out, just the front window light which is on a timer still on. I turned off the porch lights and am ready to hit the hay soon. Eric has already gone upstairs. Inkwell is prowling the front of the house, checking for strangers or any bugs that got in. I had a fun-size Snickers bar... mmm.

10:30 pm - And Halloween is officially over at the Gjovaag House. I'm headed to bed now, where I will buzz around on a caffeine high for a few hours listening to Eric snore. G'night all!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

A Seattle Aside to my Sister

I was telling you about those books I read that featured steampunk versions of Seattle?

Ok, one was Boneshaker by Cherie Priest and the other (with the seamstresses) was Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear. Also, there are TWO notable "seamstresses" that helped early Seattle - Mary Ann Conklin and Lou Graham. Karen Memory features a character based on the former and includes quite a bit about the raising of the streets and those ladders we learned about, if I recall correctly. All very fun and very Seattle. Both books are worth a read if you find the time.

A Nightmare

I woke up from a nightmare about 3 am this morning.

At first I didn't know where I was. I had family - not my family, dream family - and neighbors. All of us were thirsty and hungry. All of us were suffering and more than a few were dying. I understood everything, but we weren't speaking English.

I've never been to Puerto Rico. My Spanish is weak, at best, nonexistent at worst. I don't know what an inland village looks like. My subconscious was clearly creating and filling in the details I couldn't possibly know.

This place had one building that appeared to be partially built with brick or stone that was intact, all other buildings were either destroyed or badly damaged by Hurricane Maria. We'd made efforts to rebuild whatever we could, but water was a big problem. Everyone needed more water and there wasn't any clean water to be had. Food was less of a problem, but still a huge worry.

We were suffering. We wondered when help would arrive. The roads couldn't be completely gone, could they? Some people had left the village, and hadn't come back, so they must have gotten through. Cell phones didn't work. We didn't have power.

But mostly I remember the thirst.

I remember the feeling of being abandoned and forgotten, the despair of watching another person dying while we couldn't help. I remember thinking of leaving and finding a safer place to live - although when I thought that I felt a horrible pang in my heart that told me I loved my home. I remember wondering if I would die before I had a chance to leave, and thinking of trying to get out and find help before I was too weak to go.

I woke up so thirsty I thought I was dying and looked at my clock. The thirst faded so quickly I wanted to cry. I am safe and protected. I'm not in the middle of a disaster zone that is being ignored by my countrymen. But people who should be protected and safe are not - they aren't just being ignored, they are being intentionally insulted and demeaned. People who are also Americans.

This is truly a nightmare.

Friday, October 20, 2017

My Sister's Birthday!

Yesterday, Inkwell and I set off across the mountains to visit my family in the ancestral home in Renton. My sister's birthday is today, and I planned to spend it with her.

As many of you know, Inkwell the cat does not travel willingly, and he got a little suspicious on Wednesday when I cleaned up and closed off the guest room, then packed a bag. On Thursday he hid for a bit until I fed him, then tried to keep an eye on me while being ready to hide as I got ready to travel. I quietly closed all the doors upstairs to cut off his potential hiding spaces, and when I got out the carrier he did what I expected and bolted for the stairs - only to find the bedrooms and the nice hiding places under the beds cut off. I caught him as he came back down the stairs, and the look he gave me is not one I will soon forget.

He settled down quickly once in the car, especially after I pulled the towel over his carrier. Along the way I only stopped twice to rest, and checked on him both times. A little unsettled, but he wasn't too upset. Once at our destination he almost couldn't wait to get out of the carrier, throwing my balance off as I hauled him up the hill to my parents' front door. Once inside, I opened the carrier immediately and he darted out, pleased to find himself in the big house he loves.

My sister arrived home later that night from a work site in Oregon, and we had dinner together and caught up. Her first choice of destination for her birthday turned out to be closed for the winter, so she suggested the Underground Tour in Seattle, and I enthusiastically agreed, since I have lived in the Seattle area most of my life but had never been on the tour.

The next morning we got ready to go and Inkwell hid, afraid to be caught and stuffed back into his carrier. He was still a bit worried when Lisa and I left.

We got downtown before 11 a.m. and parked in a garage, then as we started the walk to Pioneer Square we spotted a fellow selling the Real Change newspaper and pulled out the $2 to buy one. He looked at us and said, "Wait, you're sisters, right?" We nodded, and he looked back and forth between us, carefully, then pointed at Lisa and said, "You're the younger one!" We laughed and confirmed it, then I said, "Yeah, and it's her birthday!" Immediately he said he had a gift, and sang a beautiful rendition of "Happy Birthday" for her, right there on the sidewalk. It was great.

We thanked him and headed down to the tour, with Lisa quickly learning that I cannot walk quite as fast as she can. Once there, we learned the 11 am tour was sold out and they were selling tickets to the noon tour. We bought them, and, with about 45 minutes to spare, headed out to first get some Cow Chip Cookies, then visited Magic Mouse Toys, a place my husband worked at some years ago, while he was still in high school.

We got back to the Tour spot a little early and I read Real Change while waiting for the tour to start. We were called down to the theater and listened to a nifty 15 minute tale of the early days of Seattle to start the tour.

Now, I knew most of the information in the tour. Like I said, I've lived in Seattle a long time, and I paid attention to the history because, frankly, it's hilarious. But there were some great tidbits I didn't know for sure. Like Yesler becoming mayor and suing the city over his taxes, then settling out of court with himself. And everyone who grew up here knows about the Denny regrade, but I didn't realize just how they did it to not cover the sidewalks. In short, it was fun, punny and informative.

Then we split into smaller groups to go on the tour itself. There were a lot of people in each group. It turned out that there was a cruise in town and a lot of people from the cruise were doing the tour.

I hadn't realized that the tour goes outside and aboveground, then heads down into different sections. I think we went up or down stairs at least 10 times, maybe more, and crossed a lot of heavily trafficked streets. Each time we emerged it was wonderful to come up into cool air - by the end of the tour I'd taken off my coat and didn't need it at all walking back to the car.

The tour group looks at an old photo of Seattle before the fire and learns about the dangers of flushing toilets at high tide.

The tour started in a small gallery with a photo of Seattle before the fire, when the toilets were such a big problem that a person was almost risking their life if they flushed at high tide. The group then moved to a corner spot underneath a set of purple tiles, which we learned were original skylights that had kept the underground usable in a time before electric lights were practical. The tour guide actually turned out the lights so we could see how much light the now grungy tiles provided, and it was actually quite nice.


The tour guide also told us about the teller's ghost in that area - a young man shot in his teller's cage while reaching to for the keys to give them to the robbers so he wouldn't get shot. They apparently misinterpreted his move as reaching for a gun. The guide said he'd never seen a ghost in all the time he'd been working in the Underground, and he's been there since 1879. That is, indeed, the level of the jokes on the tour.

The ghost of a man shot inside the teller's cage is said to haunt this area.

The city was originally built on what were basically tide flats, and flooded frequently. Particularly the sewage pipes. The problems were bad and getting worse when the city burned down. Most businesses wanted to immediately rebuild, for obvious reasons, but were told to have entrances on the second floor of the building. But for a time, folks still used the ground floor of the buildings - and because the sewage problems were no better, the toilets were usually up on platforms.

A crapper device on a platform in the underground.

The guide also showed us an image of the building we were in, and showed how the building originally looked, before the streets were all raised to the second story and filled with dirt from Denny Hill.

Our guide Thad shows where the street is now on the Korn Building

After the streets were raised, people were still using the sidewalks that were now, sort of, below ground. This is because the city owned the streets while the sidewalks belonged to the buildings. The city provided ladders for people to climb up at each corner to get up to street level to cross streets. As you can imagine, this was not an ideal situation. Eventually, the sidewalks were covered with a series of Roman arches supported at the base with metal beams.

Roman arches supported by I-beams covered the "sunken" sidewalks.

The beams and the arches have withstood earthquakes and such better than the upper levels of Pioneer Square.

The underground sidewalks remained in use until an explosion of the rat population encouraged the city to shut them down and seal them off. Of course, not everything got sealed - some businesses continued to use their areas. And the sidewalks no longer connect around every block as they once did. In the 1960s, Bill Speidel started a crusade to save the underground part of Seattle's history and created the tour we went on. My mother apparently went on the tour only a couple of years after it opened.

The tour lasted about 90 minutes, and Lisa and I were tired from all the walking. We headed to her office to pick up a couple of things she needs when she heads back to her work site, and then headed back to Renton, stopping only long enough to get a light meal from Taco Time. Once home, Inkwell greeted us with much sniffing of the shoes and cautious optimism that he didn't have to deal with any travel. We had a family meal with four of the seven siblings and a spouse along with my mother and father, making us seven around the table. Inkwell was overwhelmed with all the scary, loud humans.

After dinner and cake, Lisa and I started to work on a puzzle. Then she went out with our brother-in-law to catch Pokemon while I came up here to write this...

...and now I think I will get a nice glass of chocolate milk and head to bed, since I'm wiped - yet again.

Monday, October 16, 2017

An Imaginary Conversation Between Inkwell and Myself

"Hey, mom, I can smell some food. Can I have some?" Inkwell slinks under my chair and then around my table and looks up at me with wistful eyes.

"I'm eating, leave me alone." I say, stuffing my face.

"No, seriously, I can smell something. Let me try it!" Inkwell attempts to jump into my lap but fails due to strategically placed hand at the right moment.

"MMMffphh, mmm meedgph." I say, with my mouth full.

"At least let me sniff it!" Inkwell says, attempting again to climb onto the chair.

"No! I'm nearly done and you wouldn't like it anyway."

"Let me be the judge of that!" Inkwell whines, making sad mewling noises as he stalks around, looking for a way to the food.

I finish up, and look at the hopeful cat. "You really wouldn't like this. It's just veggies and rice." He gives me 'the stare'. I sigh.

I put the bowl down next to him and he eagerly leans forward ---

---only to jump back in disgust after getting a good whiff of the sweet and sour sauce.


"I told you you wouldn't like it," I say, picking up the bowl and starting down the stairs. He walks along beside me and meows when we get to the kitchen.

I put the bowl in the sink and start back up the stairs. A moment later there is 16 pounds of annoyed cat rushing into my ankle.

Failing to make me fall, the cat then spent the next 20 minutes running at top speed around the house while I calmly got back to my computer. Now he's at the doorway of the room, sulking.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Various Bits and Bobs from the last few weeks

Whew. With my internet problems solved, my life got a lot easier. I get through my morning 'netting much faster when I'm not being interrupted by the internet failing every ten minutes or so.

I've been doing some stuff recently, but I have mostly been posting about it all on Facebook, because it's easier than writing out a blog post for whatever reason. Still, I owe it to my couple of readers to let them know what I've been up to...

In September I went to Adam West Day in Walla Walla, and I wrote a decent article about it for File 770. At least, I think it's a decent article. I meant to write a more personal account and post it here, but my old problems resurfaced and I'm not sure I'll ever finish it. At the very least, check out the article and enjoy me slightly professional write-up of events.


Just yesterday I received my prizes for the History Goes Bump flash fiction contest. I came in third place, which was lovely. You can listen to the episode by clicking here. If you only want to hear my story, it starts about 24 and a half minutes in.

My prizes were a medal and a t-shirt, which I adore. I also got a couple of awesome History Goes Bump stickers.

In addition to the story I wrote for the contest, my brain pumped out three more not-very-horrific stories as well, which I'm willing to share if people are at all interested. Considering the lack of response to my previous posting of fiction, I feel that's not likely.


In addition to winning a contest for my actual writing, I also won a sweepstakes prize of $50 at Spirit Halloween, which I promptly spent on my first ever animatronic, a sound-activated skeleton. Hubby-Eric and I tested it by screaming at it and having it scream back. Then Eric forgot I turned it off and kept screaming at it, which really amused me.

I also got a Haunted Manor Greeter, which is a doorbell set that little kids at our porch at likely to get a kick out of, as there will be a ton of them, I'm sure. If it doesn't drive us crazy first.

I filled out my order with a Hand Held Candelabra which was unfortunately broken on arrival. When I contacted the company for support, they were less than helpful. I'm much less likely to buy from them again. As it happened, I spent a little money on Crazy Glue and some time with a file and managed to fix the main problem with the candle, making it usable. There are other issues with it that make me think the quality control on the thing is non-existent.


Anyway, that's been the big events of life. I've also had some bouts of insomnia and an ankle that didn't want to work properly. I also joined a study on depression, and part of the study was a DNA test. I got the results from the test back and am about as white as it's possible to be, I guess. That's sort of depressing on its own, as I'd rather be a mutt. Oh, I'm also looking forward to the Justice League movie and seeing this new interpretation of Aquaman. And if you really want to see my political rantings, I keep those on Facebook and Twitter for the most part, now.