Friday, May 29, 2015

Mini Friday Linkdump

Bleeding Cool has more on the women in comics panel at Denver Comic Con that had no women.

But Denver overreached in their programming, clearly, because the checks weren’t in place to prevent this panel from happening. If Denver Comic Con is becoming a force to be reckoned with in the geek community (and they are), this was their youthful pratfall. One panel out of 300-400 went wrong. I think we can talk about it, use it as an example, but also forgive them and stop acting like this mishap was somehow intentionally organized by Denver Comic Con.
The people who wrote Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew.


I always wanted a complete set.

I think I want this USB charger.

I've been reading HP Lovecraft's works, fairly steadily now. I'm not even halfway done, but I have read enough to understand this reference:


I kind of want it on a t-shirt, to be honest.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Ack! Monkeys!


Enjoy these flying monkeys for no reason.

Response to Buzzfeed...

I have no idea why I just wrote this, but hey... These are actually pretty good questions. Here's my answers.

1) I stopped adding ice to my drinks after a visit to Washington D.C. in which every drink was basically ice with a tiny bit of whatever I'd ordered. If I said "no ice" then I actually got to drink something.

2) I use them a little, but I'm not sure what over-usage this is referring to. I like reusable containers to carry stuff.

3) I love the metric system and wish we would switch over to it, because it makes MUCH more sense.

4) Bite-sized, I guess. Mostly, I'm not that into cupcakes.

5) I used to wear cycling pants designed to keep my legs warm when I commuted. I never looked like a racer, nor did I try.

6) I guess people would say it's all about allergies and protecting people. Personally, I don't have too much of a problem with people taking animals around with them as long as they clean up after the animals if there's an accident.

7) It's called a lack of money for infrastructure. If we actually invested in infrastructure, we'd see better results with public transportation, and people would use it more and we'd have less of a problem with traffic and all that AND it would be on time. But that would require spending money to help others, and we no longer do that.

8) I'm not scared of germs. Most germs. There are a few I'd rather not meet, but overall, I'm not one of those folks who does the anibacterial soap constantly.

9) The AC works best when it's set at a fairly high temperature so the difference is not numbing when you enter a building. I have mine set to a high temp except when we have lots of guests, then it's a matter of allowing the AC to keep up with the crowd.

10) I wish this wasn't a thing. I really don't want to see 99% of the guys who think it's ok to run around shirtless.

11) I'm not. I'd rather walk.

12) Because the puritans who decide public policy want to make sure no one underage EVER has access to alcohol. Ever. Because that would be wrong.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Guide to Strange or Obscure Places

My attention was first drawn to Atlas Obscura by the story of the man who never was. I quickly learned that it's a fascinating site with stories that you aren't likely to read elsewhere. The site calls itself "...the definitive guide to the world's wondrous and curious places," and it seems to live up to the description.

I also enjoyed the articles on the Mississippi River Basin Model, Jefferson Davis Capture Site, the Myra Necropolis and Indian Key... in particular. I've found very few of the articles on the site disappoint me.

I found the report on Jimi Hendrix's Grave to be a bit close to home. Literally. His grave is within walking distance of where I grew up. Well, more like an easy bike ride, but Greenwood Memorial Park is definitely in my old stomping grounds.


This picture doesn't look accurate to me. It's not raining.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Linky-Dinky-Doo

The New York Public Library's Instagram Account has some really neat stuff on it, including reference desk questions from before the days of the internet.


"Please give me the name of a book that dramatizes bedbugs?"

The Internetest safety video on the Internet

Reports from a Medieval War

I wish I had the skills and tools to make this for my cat (and for me).

Justice League Unlimited: The Lost Episode. I don't remember if I've posted this link before. If I have, it's still fun enough to share again.

Stupid Google Tricks. A couple there worth remembering.


"What does it mean when you dream you're being chased by an elephant?"

I am not opposed to people using marijuana, and this article definitely suggests we should be studying the medical potential of pot more. I want to say I would never use the stuff, but if I were in a situation like Xeni's? Maybe. Just... maybe. I don't know.

I want more Battlebots. Apparently, the new series will be airing starting June 21st, 9 p.m. on ABC. Get out the popcorn!

I was unaware that The Wiz almost had a comic book adaptation by Mark Evanier. Huh.

I can't really listen to the song without cringing, but Rolling Stone had a great retrospective on the making of Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?"

Cliff Mass corrects the media on the notion that we're having a super-drought. Of particular interest is the fact that precipitation is normal, it just didn't collect as snow.


Bleeding Cool noted not long ago that DC's latest campaign is really ripe for photoshopping. Ouch. You know, at first I was disappointed there was no Aquaman ad, now I'm just relieved.

Do Not Disturb.

Stress doesn't make rewards any better.

GunFail, which collects news stories of people who really shouldn't have had access to guns, is on Pinterest, Facebook, and Tumblr. The guy who collects these stories noted on Daily Kos that his Pinterest page was disabled for awhile, but he doesn't know why.

DuoLingo now has Norwegian.


Well, time to start learning the language that matches my name.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Galapagos Eruption


Wolf volcano in the Galapagos islands has erupted for the first time in more than 30 years. Volcano erupts on Galapagos island home to unique pink iguanas, New Eruption Started in the Galapagos Islands and Golondrina Yacht's FB page has photos and links.

Memorial Day


Lower Valley Memorial Gardens, 26 May 2014

Let us not forget those who have sacrificed in our name.



Sunday, May 24, 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 22nd
  • Convergence #3 - Huh, so that's why there was all that Grayson purple prose in the last issue. What a dumb idea. Still... and the bad guy leads the heroes to Skartaris. Yay?
  • Convergence: Green Lantern Corps #1 - Wow, Guy really is an idiot. But this could still be fun.
  • Convergence: Justice League America #1 - That's an interesting version of the Secret Six. Lots of strange art in this one. I'm not sure I like it, but I don't hate it.
  • Batman '66 #22 - I find the whole concept of themed villains to be mildly boring, but this made for a nice change of pace.
  • Galaxy Quest: The Journey Continues #4 - You know, that was NOT the result I was expecting when they finished this whole thing. I mean, yeah, I expected a follow-up, but not a set-up!
  • Empire Uprising #1 - Wow. I really have to go back and find my original Empire issues and reread, but ... wow. That was disturbing.



Fortean Times #326
Fortean Times #326 (April 2015). Nice Nosferatu cover, and the cover story promises juicy information about links with the occult within the movie. Well, the article delivered on the history of the movie, some of which I wasn't fully aware of, but it missed the occult links in my opinion. It talks about the heavy influence of the occult, then gives two examples, only one of them with any detail. I expected more than some of the wardrobe borrowed from an occult group and a document shown very briefly onscreen. There may have been more, but the article as printed didn't deliver on that particular promise.

The next main article, about crucifixion science, was disturbing on so many levels that I really wanted to just stop reading. Like watching a train crash, I couldn't quite look away. There are really no conclusions to be drawn on the subject, just loads of conjecture. I admit a minor fascination with the idea of nailing or tying people to trees to kill them, but only as much as I wonder about all the other horrible ways people hurt others. The fact that this particular method has received so much attention is just another black mark against humanity as a whole.

The third main article is about crazy British politicians. Considering the nutcases the U.S. has, I wasn't really expecting the Brits to outdo us... but some of these folks are truly so far out there that I'm not even sure our reindeer herder beats them. It does occur to me that you've got to be some level of insane to run for public office at any level, and that insanity has to increase based on the level of the office, so it's not really that strange that politicians are totally nuts. They are just pretty good at hiding it.

The editorial starts off addressing a major subscription snafu that screwed up a bunch of people in the UK, who didn't get their copies of Fortean Times 324. The mailing house sent copies to an old subscription list. Eventually the run had to be reprinted due to the massive screw-up. Fortunately, it didn't affect U.S. subscribers, but it did cause quite a stir on social media.

Strangedays had the usual mix of stuff, ranging from stone UFOs dug up in Siberia to dolls representing people that outnumber the living in some places. The Conspirasphere is about blood moons. No, I don't want to try to explain it. Archaeology is about the discovery of a carving of an unknown god found in south-eastern Turkey, a solar alignment in a Roman fort in Cumbria and another carving of a goddess found in northeastern England. Classical Corner is about... um... self pleasure. Ghostwatch visits Hampton Court and a modern photo that seems to be a digital glitch but could be a ghost, yup, sure. Alien Zoo covers a salamander hoax and polar bears in the Himalayas. Fairies, Folklore and Forteana is about boggarts and placenames.

The UFO Files goes back to its usual format and has more on Roswell and a "new" revelation and part two of an investigation of a strange anomaly that was perceived as a UFO encounter. Blasts from the Past talks about a devil man scare in New Orleans in 1938. The Random Dictionary continues its look at forteanism and the nature of humanity. The Forum starts with a great article on a theory of where Biblical manna came from. The second article talks about the destruction done to historical monuments and sculpture by the so-called Islamic state.

The reviews are lovely, with one book getting a 10 and others getting high marks. Not a lot to add to my wishlist, but a couple might eventually make it. The letters were also fun, but nothing jumped out at me that needs particular mentioning. It happened to me was also interesting, but not outstanding. Fortean Traveller visits Dracula's castle and finds almost a paradox of attitudes among scholars and locals about it. And lastly, Phenomenomix is about Orson Welles and his occult connections.



What.


If humans did this to me, I'd bark incessantly, too.

Finally, I have photographic proof of the little dog in a dress that has spent entirely too much time in our yard, barking at my cat lounging in the window. After taking the picture, I went into the yard and it growled at me and ran to a spot in the fence. I figured out it was getting under the fence through a hole it and its fellow barkies had dug. I put a small planter and a piece of concrete in the spot to discourage them from coming in my yard, although I suspect that won't do much at all.

Inkwell, in the meantime, is meowing and prowling the back windows, looking very upset indeed. I don't know if it's because of the dog, because I scared the dog off, or because Inky was offended by the dress.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Week in Review

Comics Screw-up

Let's start this week's review with something that happened the week before. I get my comics via mail order from DCBS, since there are no comic shops within an easy drive from here. As with any mail order service that a person uses monthly for going on seven years, there are small problems here and there. The company has always done its best to solve them quickly. With one exception. That's the Halloween fiasco. That was a combination of truly bad luck mixed with misunderstanding and lack of communication that resulted in me being short of mini-comics for Halloween.

Unfortunately, not all the stuff from that was settled, as I learned last week... apparently a note had been left in my account to ship my comics via USPS flat rate boxes at a higher price. I did not request it... it was part of the mess to try get the Halloween comics to me in time. The note should have been erased after the Halloween comics were sent, but wasn't. Oops. This meant I was getting my comics faster, but I didn't know why. I have checked the shipping costs, and apparently they haven't actually been charging me extra. I just assumed the change had something to do with the company moving, which was the main excuse/explanation I got for the Halloween fiasco.

I learned that this wasn't the case when I got a note telling me my order wouldn't fit in a flat rate box and they were going to charge me $x more for a larger box at the same speed. That got my attention, I asked what was going on, and they sorted it out on their end. Whew. Very strange. But not the end. No. I got a my comics just fine as usual, then I got a second box. It was clearly addressed to me, the label had my name and everything. But when I opened it, there was another person's name on the packing list. I quickly notified DCBS, who had me check and make sure none of the order was mine (no, I'm pretty sure it wasn't) and then emailed a label to send the box to the right person.

Unfortunately, the local mailing place couldn't print out the label from the barcode in the email (like the email claimed they could), so I had to find a printer to get it printed (my computer isn't hooked up to a printer), which meant it took me an extra day to send it due to timing issues. I got it sent as quickly as possible, but I still feel bad for the guy who was waiting for his comics because they accidentally got sent to someone else. To that guy, I'm sorry it took me an extra day. I know how annoying it can be to wait for comics.

Relay for Life Weekend

Last weekend was the Relay for Life here in the Lower Valley. Eric and I made an appearance, but didn't spend much time there because Eric was coming down with a cold and I didn't want to make him more sick. In addition, my attempt to walk was foiled as I tired far too quickly. I need to get out and exercise, but I need some proper motivation... a destination for walking. I need to think about this. There must be some way to fit it in. I can't allow myself to get sick after two laps.

I slept in on Sunday and thought Eric had too. I later learned he got up and insomnia'd for a bit before going back to bed before I woke up. Poor guy. He definitely was feeling sick. When I got up I played with Inky, who had been shut out of the bedroom for most of the morning. He finally got enough of me that he was no longer upset at being locked out from his humans. Then I got online and tried to utterly blank myself from reality for a few hours.

Weekday Blues

Monday was tough. Not as bad as Friday, oddly enough, but still difficult. We're all having trouble adjusting to the new schedule. My work wasn't hard: the coach came through with detailed notes (thank you Scott!) and my other assignments were minor. I attempted to salvage the dairy section story I'd written with much distraction on Friday, but it was pathetic. I decided to sleep on it because it was so bad I couldn't bear to face it. Instead, I worked on other assignments, getting things done. There were some last-minute assignment changes due to Julia's new status as a council woman designate, although she won't take office until January 1st. The editor is still working out how to deal with the situation. Yay.

It was strange heading home at 3:30pm instead of later. Poor Eric was fast asleep on the couch, having succumbed to his cold. I let him sleep and played with Inkwell, who wasn't sure whether or not to play "Dr. Inkwell" with Eric. We had a quiet night, although it was WAY too hot in the house. I left windows open to try to get some air flow, and it helped. It cooled down a lot overnight as the predicted storm finally started to move into the area.

As an aside, I had a problem with my emotions Monday morning. I was absolutely furious. Raging angry. At nothing. There was no cause, no reason, nothing that the anger was aimed at. It was just pure rage and really hard to hide and subdue, but I managed, and it slowly subsided.

Tuesday felt like I had no time to get ready, despite having gotten up at the same time as the last week. I guess I was just moving more slowly. Once at work I couldn't do my police logs due to lack of information, so I worked on the dairy story. It was much improved after a complete rewrite, although it still was very weak. At least it was improved enough I wasn't ashamed to turn it in.

Breaking News!

Just before deadline, one of the production crew alerted me to a development in the recreational marijuana issue... the city is getting sued. I duly informed the editor and then started to track down the people necessary to find out more. I really really wanted to talk to the lawyer for the plaintiff, because I knew the owner of the marijuana shop would be smart enough to not say anything. Sure enough, when I called him he was willing to confirm that claim against the city had been filed, but nothing else. He also didn't give me the lawyer's name. Grr. Well, it's a public filing, and the public is allowed to ask about such things, so I called the court and asked. An incredibly nice and helpful clerk with a bad cold not only got the lawyer's name, she also gave me the phone number provided on the documents. Now I was cooking with gas! I called the lawyer up and left a message for her, then called the city to find out if they knew they were being sued yet (no, they didn't).

A few brief minutes later the lawyer called, and I got a lesson in legal terms and legal reasoning. I asked a number of clarifying questions, because this is one subject I don't already have a good knowledge of and I don't want to get it wrong. At the end of the call, I felt pretty confident I understood the position the lawyer is taking. I promptly wrote the story up, and we posted it as breaking news on the website. I debated posting it to Facebook, but since that's where the story started... well, we did. Within five minutes we got a comment from the store owner on FB. I believe we not only scooped the other major media in the area, I'm pretty sure we got the story up before the city got served.

The rest of the day wasn't nearly as pleasant, although I managed to get out of the office earlier than I'd planned so I could get a photo. There was a meeting in the afternoon that I attended that was also attended by the mayor and city manager, so I was able to chat with both of them about the lawsuit. Neither was willing to go on the record because they hadn't had time to review the suit yet. That meant we could run the story on Wednesday as it ran on the website. A first for us, to have the print copy out more than 24 hours after we broke the news online.

Black Marks on my Record

Everything sort of fell apart for me on Wednesday. I had bad luck with a couple of sources who didn't provide me with photos in time for my deadlines for Thursday. Since we haven't gone "live" yet with the new schedule (we're technically still testing it out) we're getting "graded" on whether or not we make our deadlines. I got a couple of big black marks. And it kind of hurts, because it was me relying too heavily on someone else and not making back-up plans. Lesson learned. Painfully.

It was muggy-hot on Wednesday afternoon. I walked to city hall for a meeting because I could and because I needed to let off some steam from missed deadlines and other office stress. I still had a vain hope that people would get back to me in time to get stuff in Thursday's paper... didn't happen.

I was probably more grumpy Wednesday night than I needed to be. It was still too hot in the house with no AC and I was depressed (with a small "d") about missing the deadlines. To make matters more annoying, our internet was at a crawl. I restarted my computers and the router, but it was clearly further down the line. I gave up troubleshooting, it just wasn't worth it. But it added to an already grumpy night.

Poor Inky wanted us to turn down the heat. And feed him. Mostly just feed him, but hey, if we could turn down the heat, that would be good too. He was terribly grumpy too, making it two of us. Eric still had his cold, but he managed to hold it together better than Inky or me. I left some of the windows open overnight, and that helped a bit, but it was still very warm and stuffy in the house in the morning.

Because of the missed deadlines, I was at work early on Thursday, hoping to make up for some of my screw-ups. I did my level best, but it wasn't really enough. I was still firmly in the doghouse as of Thursday afternoon. I did figure out that the back of my chair can double as a punching bag in a pinch. I used it quite a bit that day, actually.

My editor took a strange call about wild horses being sent for slaughter, and had me head out to see if I could find said horses. I went to the location indicated and, unless the horses were cleverly disguised as a herd of cows, saw nothing of note. It is a distinct possibility that the horses are kept elsewhere, but there was no simple way to quickly verify the story from the places I am allowed to go. In short, I got sent on a wild horse chase.

In the meantime, a co-worker was frantically trying to get a scoop on another area story. We'd been sitting on the information for some time, knowing something was going to happen, but not knowing exactly what. When it went down, we were alerted, but the people who had promised us information suddenly became unavailable. The reasons for the unavailability seem legit to me, but it doesn't make the timing any better. She eventually got the story online, our second breaking news story in a week.

Lunch on Thursday was at Cactus Juice because the special was grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup and I desperately needed to have a whine session with my co-worker and comfort food sounded like a good way to do it. I was getting near the end of my rope on certain issues, including an unsigned editorial in the paper on Wednesday that I found offensive and, to a degree, petty. It was going to get much worse, but I didn't find that out until Friday morning.

Keeping Cool (and failing)

Thursday afternoon the local AC specialist came and did the necessary cleaning and check of our AC... and we turned it on. Inkwell was delighted. Oh goodness, was he delighted. He found a vent right away and spread out on it to get the best of the cool, dry air. Once the technician was finished and the air spread throughout the house, Inkwell started to bounce around like he hasn't for a couple of weeks. Yeah, it really does make a difference, although the difference in temperature is really only a few degrees. I had my first really good night of sleep in a week Thursday night. Which is good, because I needed it to face Friday.

I'm tempted to say that Friday didn't happen. Parts of it I certainly want to erase from my memory. Oh, deadline wasn't tough... my coach got to me in good time and I got the track story written nicely. And even the police logs were fine. I strongly objected to an editorial column we were running and let the editor know I objected. We had a long and somewhat difficult discussion about the ethics of journalism, the professionalism of criticizing co-workers and the necessity of protecting free speech. We ended up having to agree to disagree, but I feel very strongly that running that column was a bad choice for the newspaper. Because I was still on deadline, I didn't have time to confront the publisher about it, which was probably a good thing in retrospect. After reading the column, before I confronted the editor, I used my chair as a punching bag for a bit again. It was just too much to handle. I hope the chair can hold up.

Learning About Irrigation

Right after deadline I went to my first ever irrigation district meeting.

Ok, if you already live in an irrigated area, you probably have a decent grasp of how the irrigation systems work. Water goes into a canal, usually fed by reservoirs or the snowpack or the combination... and the water goes from the large canals to smaller canals to the fields of agriculture where farmers grow plants to feed humans and the other things, like cows and pigs, that go to feed humans.

So far so simple, right? Water in, plants out. Seems clear. But we're talking about an irrigation system that runs practically from the mountains through a couple of counties. Miles and miles of canals. Acres and acres of fields. And there's a water shortage this year. This particular irrigation district has shut off the water to all its farmers for two weeks. The meeting was to decide when to turn the water back on.

I went into the meeting with only the slightest understanding of how the system works beyond the fact that it gets water to farmers. Lucky for me, one of the port commissioners was in the room when I arrived... always good to see a familiar face. After he introduced me to a guy that I'm going to mention further in a moment, Arnold sat next to me and I got "irrigation 101" from him. He was willing to talk freely as long as I didn't quote him in the paper, which made me happy because I really needed to catch up on the subject if I'm going to report on it. My feeling is that my reporting is only ever going to be as good as my understanding of a subject. If I can't comprehend what I'm reporting on, then I can't explain it to other people.

So Arnold and I looked at the handout, which had a table that gave the estimated end date of the watering season depending on when they turned the water back on. What I couldn't understand was why the farmers want the water late in the season instead of early on. The water is needed to get crops started, right? So why was the emphasis on making sure the farmers have water in September?

Arnold, who is a mint farmer, explained that the vast majority of farms in the district have crops that are "permanent" and need to be strengthened at the end of the summer so they have the roots to survive the winter. Mint, hops, and most orchard trees all need water in September or there's a chance the growers will lose the plants... which, because they last more than one year, means they will lose a significant investment. The choice was between a bad harvest this year and losing all their plants. That's not a choice.

Other farmers in the district without permanent plants have decided not to plant this year and are instead leasing their land, and more importantly the water rights that go with the land, to other growers. This means that a farmer who specializes in corn and has to plant new each year might have decided, due to the predicted drought, to not plant. Any choice has risks, but with water in the district being predicted at less than half of normal, not planting actually made more sense for some farmers. Leasing the land means they break even on it instead of potentially losing their crop and taking a major hit.

The result is that every single farmer has had to make tough decisions, but the majority of them want to have water as late in the season as possible, because September tends to be dry and they need the water to keep the plants alive. So when it became clear the drought was going to be nasty, the irrigation district decided to shut off the water early in the season instead of late.

Luckily for the farmers, it started raining as soon as the district turned off the water. The rain helped, a lot. So even the cherry farmers, who were the most worried about the water shut-off, survived. The meeting was to determine if the water would flow again on Monday, or if it would be better to keep the water shut off a little longer.

Now, as an aside, the fellow that Arnold introduced me to when I entered the meeting room was a reporter from the New York Times. Yes, the freakin' New York Times. I thought Arnold was joking. Why would anyone from the Times be interested in Sunnyside? Well, for a lot of reasons. The irrigation district is way bigger than just my town. The drought is a huge concern to people all over. And this decision is emblematic of the problems that the nation is facing due to the drought. I didn't talk with him much, but we exchanged business cards, which I found cool.

Moving back to the meeting, when the board came in I recognized two other people on it, so I felt a little more comfortable. Then they reviewed the problems with starting up the water again along with keeping it shut. The biggest problem with keeping the water off is that the canals are "used to having water" and their panels have started to heave and buckle with the heat due to the lack of water flow. The ditch riders have been frantically running around repairing them, which costs the district more money.

Due to that problem, the board basically said that once the water was back on, turning it off again would be an absolute last resort. They just couldn't afford to do it again.

In addition, the length of the closure is effectively the only control over the length of the season that the district has. They've already reduced the flow of water as far as they can to prevent diminishing returns. The loss of water to evaporation will soon outpace the value of reducing water further. So they've got the absolute minimum flow already... so when the district runs out of water depends on how long they keep the water off. They did point out that if we get "significant rain events" the flow can be reduced, but that's entirely up to Mother Nature.

Add in the variables... the Bureau of Reclamation's most positive estimate for the amount of water the district will get is 44 percent of normal. That's down from 47 percent of normal in the last estimates. And that's the BEST scenario. The low scenario is 40 percent of normal, and that's kind of the one they were paying the most attention to. Luckily, that estimate went up from 38 percent. The worst-case scenario also went up, but a lot of the growers were inclined to look at those numbers and be pessimistic. Better to have more water unexpectedly than to not have enough, I guess.

The cherry farmers, whose were already getting fruit when the water was shut off due to the unseasonably warm spring, were most desperate to get water back. But even they acknowledged that water at the end of the season is more important. At least one farmer said he's basically not going to have a crop at all if the shut-off goes into the first week of June. But at least the rain we've had has really helped.

So they decided to delay the opening, but that's for reading about in my story when it's published. One amusing note is that it was raining heavily when we left the building after the meeting, which I can only take as a good omen for the growers. Pray for rain in the Yakima Valley, people. They really need it.

The End of the Week

After the meeting I headed back to work to write it up and get started on my stories for next Tuesday... yes, I get Monday off. I ran home for lunch, fed the cat, got back to work and got my stories written... then started to work on my last Dairy story, which I had been informed MUST be turned in on Friday. The editor told me my deadline had changed and sent me home at 3 p.m. I almost cried because it's really been a long difficult week.

Once home, Eric said we needed to do shopping. If he'd asked me to come along, I would have objected... but he didn't and I ended up going. It was crowded in the store on a Friday afternoon, and I got slightly stressed from it, but we got what we needed and some chocolate to make up for my week. We even got a pizza for dinner. And then we went home and relaxed, and I even slept for a bit.

This morning I have done nothing of note. I don't want to do anything. I have a very rare three-day weekend and no plans, so I'm just going to rest and let myself recover mentally. I have no idea how bad next week is likely to be, so I want to be as strong as possible for Tuesday morning.

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?