They Say it's Your Birthday!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Today is a Red Letter Day. It's a Red Letter Day because today my Fabulous Great Aunt Margie turns 90!

Great Aunt Margie is a class act, and a fabulous human being. She's been a mainstay in my extended family for my entire life, extending her kindness from my Hot Mom, to me, to my own Smart Twins. Everyone should have a Fabulous Great Aunt Margie in their life.

Please join me in wishing my Great Aunt a wonderful birthday. Happy Birthday, Margie! I love you!

Ah, Fall...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011
...where a middle-aged Auntie's fancy turns to thoughts of her AWESOME, AWESOME NIECE.

That's right - soon the Smart Man, my Hot Daughter and I will be flying out to points east to meet our AWESOME, AWESOME NIECE for the very first time. Yippee!

So naturally, my Hot Daughter and I have been spending time looking at CARTER'S. And OSH KOSH B'GOSH. Because our AWESOME, AWESOME NIECE will be nothing if not well dressed.


Cute! Cute! Cute!

My Hot Mom will be holding down the fort here at the Big Yellow House along with the Incomparable Boogie™, fierce guard dog extraordinaire. But you'll forgive me if I'm a bit...distracted this week. And if my Labor Day content will be light. Because I'll be holding my AWESOME, AWESOME NIECE. Who is far more important than being a dancing monkey for the Interwebs. I'm sure you understand.

Wall of Embarrassment - August 27, 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

So the Smart Man and I stopped by our Awesome, Awesome Library on Saturday. Now, our library is always crowded, but never so much as on Saturdays or immediately after school lets out. So when we pulled into the parking lot, we were simply DELIGHTED to see this fucknut taking up TWO parking spots in the lot.

Sporting fleet plate 987-TWP, evidently Ms/Mr. I'm-Very-Important felt that taking up two spots was completely justified rather than parking her/his Very-Important-Penis-Mobile in the outlying parking lot, which always has plenty of room. Because she/he's VERY, VERY IMPORTANT, you see.

So this person gets a spot on the Wall of Embarrassment, rather than the Wall of Shame, which is reserved for those putz-buckets who steal handicapped spaces without benefit of the required placard. So congratulations, 987-TWP! You're not a putz-bucket, just an asshole!

Free Shit Friday Winner...

Sunday, August 28, 2011
...of the black Cole Haan purse is WendyB_09, with a random number of 5. Wendy, I'll get it in the mail when I get a minute. Enjoy!

2011 Wildlower Pr0n

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Free Shit Friday - Cole Haan Purse

Friday, August 26, 2011
Today's Free Shit Friday offering is a black leather Cole Haan purse with dove grey interior. Dimensions are 12" x 9" x 3".

This bag used to be my travel purse because it was small enough to fit into my PC backpack, thus relieving me of the burden of checking my suitcase when I travel on business.

But a trip to the local Coach Outlet Store on Saturday, 30% off coupon in hand, has resulted in its relegation to the ranks of Free Shit Friday fodder. It's in excellent condition.

Da rules.

Reaping what you Sow

Wednesday, August 24, 2011
I'm a materialist. That means that I don't think there's any such thing as fate, or karma, or some supernatural entity who doles out intermittent "justice" as part of their "divine plan."

Such ideas just don't make sense to me. I don't think people get cancer for some esoteric reason pertaining to personal growth - they get cancer because they've been exposed to carcinogens, or they have minute mutations in their genetic makeup that makes them more susceptible, or for any of a hundred reasons that are known or unknown. People don't lose their loved ones in terrible accidents for some higher purpose or because their creator called them home. People die in accidents because someone was driving too fast, or was careless with machinery, or because a critical piece of equipment just wore out. These things don't happen because people deserve to be punished or there's some plan. Shit just happens, and most of the time it sucks.

But I do have a belief that people reap what they sow, and not because of any mystical clap-trap* about how the universe gives you what you ask for.

High quality people attract other high quality people to them. Low quality people attract other low quality people.

If I am the kind of person who deals honestly and forthrightly with others, I will naturally want people around me who do the same, and they will want me in their lives, as well. If I value these characteristics, and integrate them into my life, it's unlikely I will welcome people who do not.

But if I'm the kind of person who lies, who cheats, who manipulates to get my way, then why would the honest and forthright people of the world give me the time of day? The minute they find out who I am, they will drop me like a hot rock, and excise that behavior from their lives.

I think the same is true of all the virtues and vices - generosity versus parsimony. Kindness versus meanness. Curiosity versus dullness. In every case, if I live the virtue I claim to value, my intimate circle will fill with people who also live the virtue, and the dirtbags will fall away.

While culling the dirtbags is always a work in progress, and being a virtuous person is no guarantee that people won't do you wrong, I think attracting high quality people into your life goes a long way in protecting yourself against the dirtbags. A willingness to ban bad behavior from your inner circle, while simultaneously cultivating good behavior in your own choices, more often than not will result in a positive reap/sow experience.

Does that make me a purveyor of mystical clap-trap? I hope not. I just want to be a good person, and have other good people in my life. With no dirtbags.


___________
*Really, Oprah? Really? Why, oh WHY can't you use your powers for GOOD?

Hope is not a Strategy

Tuesday, August 23, 2011
One of the things I love about my job is the fact that even though I work in a presales role, the core of my work is engineering. Yes, I have to perform presales work (which I refer to as "schmoozing"), and that work sometimes makes me throw up in my mouth a little. But at the end of the day I deal in facts and figures, based on accepted theories and statistical analysis. Numbers don't lie, and while someone might be able to use smoke and mirrors to obfuscate the facts, it doesn't change the facts. "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence." Just so, John Adams. Facts care not a wit if they make you look like a complete 'tard, nor do they care if they make you appear so in front of your boss. Reality sucks that way, and even though I have, on occasion, found myself on the wrong side of the facts, I'd not have my work evaluated any other way.

Which brings me to my current frustration regarding the Republican Party, and the moderates therein.

In years past, I considered the Republican party to be the adults in the room. I was a Republican for many, many years, and while my evolving sensibility eventually pushed me into self-identifying as a liberal (not a Democrat), I at least considered them to be serious. Serious about presenting the best candidate for President, serious about evaluating and championing policies that they felt would best serve our nation. I didn't always agree with them, of course, especially on matters of social policy, but they were at least honorable adversaries.

Now? Now they're a fucking joke, and I blame Republican moderates.

Yes, I am looking at you, and you, and you. This is your fault. YOU let your party get so far out of control that the candidates you intend to nominate for President are candidates for the nut farm. YOU chose to select candidates whose grasp on reality was so tenuous the rest of the nation thinks the party (and the Tea Party) is nothing but a fucking joke. YOU allowed your politicians to embrace the "values" of greed, and lust for power, and a desire to have their own way so strong that they'll burn the country to the ground if it means they WIN.

Yes, this is your fault. Embracing these assbags has allowed your party to go so far off the rails that those who hold power in your party will publicly and joyfully bring our country to the brink of ruin in order to protect their super-rich constituents from having to pay the same taxes as the middle class. Letting these greedy motherfuckers speak for you means that even while they're defending the super-rich from having to pay taxes in an equitable way, they want to raise taxes on the middle class, and they want you to like it. And you WILL like it, because they've convinced you that NOT voting in your own interests in the right thing to do.

You've let your party get so far out of control that the only moderate candidate in your field that has even a snowball's chance of actually representing the middle has no chance of getting the nomination. Jon Huntsman, a Republican who actually believes in science and reasonable discourse, is so far removed from the whackos that are Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann that I'm sure the shrill ideologues that run your show will have him eliminated FORTHWITH. After all, we can't have a candidate who's educated, erudite, has foreign policy and domestic executive experience - he's a MODERATE, and that's just crazy talk.

Yes, the state of the Republican Party is a sorry one, indeed. Why don't all you moderate Republicans do us all a big damn favor and take some control? And if the nutbags won't give up control, how about quitting that nonsense and joining us here in the middle?

Because hope is not a strategy, and hoping the screaming, theocratic, anti-American whackadoodles that currently control the dialogue will somehow become moderate and reasonable - that's crazy. Deal in FACTS, moderate Republicans. Deal in REALITY. Face the fact that your party doesn't represent you anymore. You, or anyone, other than those who help your masters stay in power.

Subjectivity

Monday, August 22, 2011
So Friday night was the monthly get together for the ladiez in my family, and as usual, the topics ranged far and wide, from the power of forgiveness to gossiping about people we don't like.

One of the topics that came up was who our celebrity boyfriends were, and the choices were as diverse as my family.

While we all allowed that Jason Momoa was suitable eye candy for anyone, the choices were wildly divergent from there. Patrick Stewart (my Hot Mom). Johnny Depp (my Hot Aunt). Neil deGrasse Tyson (me and my Hot Mom). Shemar Moore (my Hot Cousin). Someone even mentioned Pauly D, which made me throw up in my mouth a little, but whatever - it's all subjective.

But it did get me to thinking. The things I find attractive are far different now than when I was my Hot Daughter's age.
  • Being overweight isn't a deal breaker. But letting yourself go to the point where you can't participate in the activities that give you pleasure is. The Mechanicky Gal and I call this the "Too Fat to Walk" rule.
  • Going bald or grey isn't a deal breaker. But wearing a toupee or dying your hair is.
  • Not having higher formal education isn't a deal breaker. But lacking intellectual curiosity is.
  • Not liking the same kind of books as me isn't a deal breaker. But not liking to read for pleasure is.
  • Being a person of faith isn't a deal breaker. But being intellectually dishonest by denying empirical facts in order to protect your faith is.
  • Not making a ton of money isn't a deal breaker. But lacking generosity of spirit is.
  • Not voting the same way as me isn't a deal breaker. But failing to use your franchise intelligently and defensibly (or at all) is.
  • Not having the same belief system as me isn't a deal breaker. But thinking it's your responsibility to proselytize until I change my mind is.
Your mileage will almost certainly vary - so feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments.

The UCF Makes Good

Sunday, August 21, 2011
Fellow UCFer and all-around good egg Kate Baker is famous. FAMOUS, I SAY.

Kate is a professional narrator and the podcast director of Clarkesworld Magazine. And Clarkesworld won the Hugo Award yesterday for Best Semiprozine at Worldcon in Reno.

Please join me in congratulating our friend - we're so happy for your success! Go, Kate!

Free Shit Friday Winner...

...of the First Edition copy of The Believers is The Mechanicky Gal, with a Random Number of 3.

Enjoy!

2011 Wildflower Pr0n

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Free Shit Friday - The Believers

Friday, August 19, 2011
Today's Free Shit Friday offering is a First Edition copy of The Believers by Zoë Heller, compliments of my awesome local library's used book area.

When radical New York lawyer Joel Litvinoff is felled by a stroke, his wife, Audrey, uncovers a secret that forces her to reexamine everything she thought she knew about their forty-year marriage. Joel’s children will soon have to come to terms with this discovery themselves, but for the meantime, they are struggling with their own dilemmas and doubts.

Rosa, a disillusioned revolutionary, has found herself drawn into the world of Orthodox Judaism and is now being pressed to make a commitment to that religion. Karla, a devoted social worker hoping to adopt a child with her husband, is falling in love with the owner of a newspaper stand outside her office. Ne’er-do-well Lenny is living at home, approaching another relapse into heroin addiction.

In the course of battling their own demons—and one another—the Litvinoff clan is called upon to examine long-held articles of faith that have formed the basis of their lives together and their identities as individuals. In the end, all the family members will have to answer their own questions and decide what—if anything—they still believe in.

I have not read this volume - it's on my list (as is every book on the planet, I think), but I just haven't gotten around to it yet.

Da rules.

Colorado Adventures

Thursday, August 18, 2011
Here lately, the Smart Man and I have been getting a bit...sedentary when it comes to our recreational activities. Eating tasty food and watching good movies and television are fun, but there's more to do.

It's easy to fall into a rut, to get lazy when you're involved in a long term relationship. That's not really the best way to keep things lively and fun, though. So we've decided to make a commitment to participate in more non-couch related activities moving forward, including getaway weekends to various Colorado destinations.

It's a no-brainer, really. We live in Colorado for Pete's sake - a destination that people from all over the world pay big money to visit, and in true native fashion, we've failed to take advantage of the opportunities in our own backyards. We've been having fun exploring the Colorado tourism website, learning about new places and different events we might like.

In support of this endeavor, I'm going to blog about our adventures using the "Colorado Adventures" heading. First up: The Breckenridge Oktoberfest in September, along with a stay in a local Bed and Breakfast.

Westward, ho!

Research This! - A Contest

Wednesday, August 17, 2011
So I've signed up for fall classes at the University of Denver, and now that I'm officially a Senior*, I'm started to perform more of my major-related work. There are a variety of graduation requirements for this program, and one of them is a fairly extensive research project on a topic of my choosing. From the course catalog:
As part of the major, students have the opportunity to pursue a topic of special interest in greater depth. This should be an independent research project that grows out of one or more courses in the major. The purpose of the project is to learn more about a particular topic through library research, explorations via the Internet, or structured interviews with experts. The emphasis is on deepening one's knowledge about a particular topic rather than applying knowledge, which is the focus of the Integrative Project. The Directed Research, done with the guidance of an appropriate faculty member, should result in a report of sufficient length to summarize the findings and comment on their significance.
The topic must be related to my major, which is "Science and Technology," and the courses related to my major include:
  • Quantitative reasoning
  • Business computer applications
  • Research methods
  • Using statistics
  • Science, technology and markets
  • Breakthroughs in science
Since I paid my tuition, I've been trying to determine what topic I'd like to spend time on. It has to be something I'm interested in. If I have to spend 2.5 months and 40 pages on some boring piece of shit that will make me approach my research with dread in my heart, I'm going back to Community College. It has to be something with sufficient available resources to make the research challenging, but not impossible. And it has to be something new to me, as I don't see the point of spending the time and brain power on a topic I've already written about.

I know I have a wide cross section of readers, so I'm proposing a CONTEST. With PRIZES.

Make your suggestions in the comments on what I should research for my directed research project. If I select your topic (and it's approved by my adviser), then you win a PRIZE: Your choice of homemade jam, a handmade hat and scarf for the upcoming winter months, or an Amazon gift card.

So suggest your topics, Hot Chicks and Smart Men! Go! Confront the problem! Fight! Win!


___________
*Yes, at the ripe age of 46, I'm now officially a Senior. Methinks I'm not going to be able to postpone my graduation for much longer - my company narrow-mindedly won't pay my tuition forever. Which means I'll need to start looking at an advanced degree if I want to continue as a student in perpetuity.

"I'm not Religious, but I'm Spiritual"

Tuesday, August 16, 2011
I can't tell you how may times I've heard people say, "I'm not religious, but I'm spiritual," and I have to admit, I have no idea what the fuck they're talking about. None. What does being "spiritual" mean, exactly?

Does it mean that you feel a connection with other living things who share this world, this solar system, this galaxy? From my perspective, any person who has even a rudimentary understanding of science would feel that way. We are, after all, made of "star stuff," as is everything in our known universe, and we have a fundamental molecular connection to everything else. "...for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." A stunning example of poetry imitating the scientific reality of our existence.

Does it mean that you feel there are entities that are larger than us, better equipped than us, to manipulate their environment? As Arthur C. Clarke says, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Just so. If humanity was the peak of sentient existence in our universe, I think that would be sufficient to push me over the edge. So, yes, I think there are those entities that far exceed our capabilities (or even our understanding). But I don't think they're supernatural.

Does it mean that some unexplainable spiritual experience engenders some ecstatic emotional experience within the context of your own existence? Because I really don't get that.

I'm not spiritual. I think there are naturalistic explanations for everything, and there's no need to engender supernatural explanations.

That does not mean, however, that I'm not utterly filled with awe when I contemplate the wonders of our universe, our galaxy, our world. I myself, my very own body, has molecules in it that were once part of stars. If that's not awe-inspiring, I don't know what would be. But I don't consider my connection to that long-dead star "spiritual." Just incredibly, mind-blowingly COOL.

Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History - Nancy Wake

Monday, August 15, 2011

I have a confession to make. I'd never heard of Nancy Wake before her death last week at the age of 98. This embarrasses me, because apparently Ms. Wake was one of the biggest badasses of World War II, male or female.

A native New Zealander, Ms. Wake and her husband were members of the French resistance from 1940 until 1943. She was so effective in her endeavors that she became the Gestapo's "most wanted" person and earned the moniker "The White Mouse" for her ability to elude capture.

In 1943 she fled to Great Britain, where she was recruited into the French Section of the British Special Operations Executive, where she was trained in guerrilla fighting techniques. From April 1944 to the liberation of France, she led 7,000 guerrilla fighters, who collectively fought 22,000 SS soldiers, causing 1,400 casualties, while taking only 100 themselves. She herself was perfectly capable (and willing) to kill German soldiers with her bare hands if it meant advancing her cause. Beautiful and relentless, she was a driving force in the deployment and effective use of the maquis, leading them to victory again and again.

She was qualified to make parachute jumps - and did. "On the night of April 29th, 1944 she was parachuted into the French region of Auvergne. Upon discovering her tangled in a tree, the captain of the local maquis remarked, 'I hope that all the trees in France bear such beautiful fruit this year,' to which she replied, 'Don’t give me that French shit.'" My kind of gal.

Immediately after the war, Wake was awarded the George Medal, the United States Medal of Freedom, the Médaille de la Résistance and thrice the Croix de Guerre. She finished her career with the Intelligence Department of the British Air Ministry.

I've always had enormous respect for the World War II resistance fighters of France. These were some remarkable men and women, brave and daring, and in my mind, their choices and the single-minded execution of their mission helped to make up for the many, many quislings of the time. And I'd always known that many of those fighters were women. But I didn't know that in many cases, they were led by a woman, a woman of amazing gifts and courage, who set the standard for those of us who presumed to take up the profession of arms in their wake.

"I hate wars and violence but if they come then I don't see why we women should just wave our men a proud goodbye and then knit them balaclavas." Just so, Nancy Wake. Fair winds and following seas, my sister.

_______________
Amended 8/15/2011 9:15 a.m. to include the following details about Ms. Wake's amazing husband, Henri Fiocca. I like the way Eric said it, so I'm posting his comment here:

A collateral hat tip from those who still believe in romance and/or are looking for marital inspiration to Ms. Wake's husband, Henri Fiocca: when Ms. Wake helped liberate Paris in '44, she discovered that after her husband was captured, he refused to give up any information about her, preferring to be tortured to death rather than sell her out to the Nazis or Vichy regime. Not that a person is defined by their spouse, but I think it says something about both of them that this was the sort of man she would marry and that she was the sort of woman who would inspire such loyalty. We should all do even half so well in choosing a partner.
Good man. Semper Fidelis, Monsieur Fiocca.

_______________
Wave of the balaclava to my Hot Daughter and my platonic boyfriend Eric, who both sent me links detailing Ms. Wake's life for this feature.

Free Shit Friday Winner...

Sunday, August 14, 2011
...of the...wait. I never posted a Free Shit Friday offer. So there's no winner. Sorry about that.

But wait! Maybe WE'RE ALL WINNERS. Because that paragon of virtue, Texas Governor Rick Perry, IS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT.

Yippee. Or something.

Janiece, Janiece, I hear you say. Rick Perry balanced his budget! Surely that's what America needs! Except he did so by accepting all that socialistic stimulus money, the money that he later claimed was grounds for succession. After he raped social and education spending, I mean.

*cough*hypocrite*cough*

But wait! I hear you say. He stimulated jobs in the Texas market with his AMAZING LEADERSHIP. Yeah. Public jobs. Low income jobs. Because evidently what Texas needs is more people feeding at the public trough. Unless it's swelling the ranks of the working poor. Now that's an accomplishment!

*cough*fucking hypocrite*cough*

But, but, I hear you say, Rick Perry REALLY believes in the FREE MARKET. He'll save us from this rampant socialism! Socialism? Socialism? Like farm subsidies, for example? Subsidies that Perry's family took for years? That kind of socialism? As Jon Stewart notes, "socialism" apparently only applies to entitlements that other people want. When you want the goodies, that's just good old fashioned 'Merican values!

*cough*king of the fucking hypocrites*cough*

Free Shit Friday winners, indeed. WE'RE ALL WINNERS, NOW.

2011 Flower Pr0n

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Taken at the hotel of our recent family reunion in lovely Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

Boogie Blogging Friday, I Hate my Dog Edition

Friday, August 12, 2011
Boogie the Giant Schnauzer had a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day yesterday.

He had been worrying at one of his feet, so we went to see the Good Doctor. He reported that Boogie had developed a benign tumor between his toes, which was weepy and infected.

Due to Boogie's age (ten in November), the Doc strongly recommended the tumor be surgically removed under sedation and a local anesthetic, which we scheduled for yesterday. And as long as he was "under the knife," we also had the surgeon remove a wart from his hip that's been periodically bleeding and bothering him.

I'm happy to say that Boogs tolerated the sedation much better than he has during previous procedures. While we could tell that he didn't feel well, he was maintaining his balance, the whining and moaning was minimal, and he had a good appetite for his dinner.

Today, however, I'm getting the reproachful gaze because morning walkies are obviously off the table for a week or two. I'm just MEAN, and he can't understand why I HATE HIM SO MUCH.

It's a Meme!

Started by the superlative Random Michelle.

NPR’s Top 100 SF/F Books

I've read
Started and abandoned
* Made my top ten list

  1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien. While I recognize that it was a seminal work, I think Tolkien was an extremely poor writer.
  2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
  3. *Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card
  4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert. I read the first one, wasn't interested enough to read the rest.
  5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin. These are on my "to read" list.
  6. 1984, by George Orwell
  7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
  8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov
  9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
  10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
  11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
  12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan. Just could not finish the thing, as I had too many "get to the point, dude" moments.
  13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
  14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson
  15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore
  16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov
  17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein
  18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss. On my "to read" list.
  19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
  20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
  21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick
  22. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
  23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King
  24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke
  25. The Stand, by Stephen King
  26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
  27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury
  28. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
  29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman
  30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
  31. * Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein
  32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams
  33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey
  34. * The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein
  35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller
  36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
  37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne
  38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys
  39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells
  40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny
  41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings
  42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley
  43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson
  44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven
  45. * The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin
  46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien
  47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White
  48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
  49. Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke
  50. Contact, by Carl Sagan
  51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons
  52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
  53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson
  54. World War Z, by Max Brooks. This is on my "to read" list.
  55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
  56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
  57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett
  58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson – This book made me want to hit the main character in the face with a shovel. What a whiner.
  59. * The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold
  60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett
  61. * The Mote In God’s Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
  62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind
  63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
  64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
  65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson
  66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist
  67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks
  68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard
  69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb
  70. The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
  71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson
  72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne
  73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore
  74. Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi
  75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson
  76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke
  77. The Kushiel’s Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey
  78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin
  79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
  80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire
  81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson
  82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
  83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks
  84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart
  85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson
  86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher
  87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe
  88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn
  89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan
  90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock
  91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury
  92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley
  93. * A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge
  94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov
  95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson
  96. Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
  97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
  98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville. This is on my "to read" list.
  99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony. I read the first twelve (or whatever) then lost interest when he apparently did.
  100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis
So I've read 31% of the list, and plan to read a few more. I do loves me some science fiction.

Kansas City

Wednesday, August 10, 2011
I'm in Kansas City today, keeping the world safe from the mindless claptrap that is corporate America.

In my absence, please feel free to talk amongst yourselves, including solving the current political crisis, discussing why Michele Bachmann is the worse political candidate for President in our lifetimes, and why, exactly, anyone thinks that Miley Cyrus and her douchebag father have any kind of talent. At all.

In the meantime, I'll be talking loudly and carrying a big stick. Why, yes, both are necessary in my occupation, thanks for asking.

And get off my lawn!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011
This year, the Smart Man decided to hire a youngster from our neighborhood (hereafter known as "neighbor kid") to mow the lawn here at the Big Yellow House. They agreed upon a price, and determined that the lawn would be mown once a week.

At first everything was hunky-dory. Neighbor kid did as was agreed, under his father's supervision.

But as the summer has progressed, neighbor kid has been coming by to mow less and less frequently. I don't know if that's because he's lost interest, or now has enough money for what he wants to buy, is just a busy little bee with all his sports activities, or has been repeatedly thwarted by the rain.

Well, last week he showed up to mow once again. I was working, and the Smart Man was at his office. I got the money and gave it to my Hot Daughter to fork over when he was done. I heard the mower going out front, and then it started to rain. Neighbor kid then came to the door, told my Hot Daughter he was done, and took the entire amount.

Now, in the past, when he needed to, neighbor kid would mow the front one day, and finish up in back the next. In those cases, the Smart Man would give him some of the money on the first day, and the balance on the second day. So such an eventuality was not outside our experience. However, my Hot Daughter didn't ask if he'd done the back, and unintentionally gave him the entire amount. Which he took.

It's been almost a week, and here's the current state of the back yard:

Does this look "done" to you?

Neighbor kid has not stopped by to tell us when he'll come finish the job. He nor any member of his family is answering the doorbell. And yet, he still has the Smart Man's money.

Now I'm not implying that neighbor kid has a future as a huckster or con man. One unmowed lawn does not a criminal make, and he has plenty of time to become a productive member of society. But unless that kid snaps to and gets this mowed before the weekend, I think it's safe to assume that he'll be unemployed for the rest of the mowing season.

This really shouldn't be that surprising. I know (and work with) plenty of grown men and women who can't be counted on to do the work for which they're paid. But I was hoping we were employing a young entrepreneur in the making, not another potential dirt bag.

Sigh.

Unsettled

Monday, August 8, 2011
I've been feeling a bit...unsettled...lately.

A big part of that is the fact that I feel like I'm living through the fall of the United States. For the first time in our nation's history, our financial rating has been downgraded, and our largest foreign creditor now believes we're a poor credit risk regardless of what S&P thinks. With the exception of our President, no one in Washington appears to have the slightest interest in civic republicanism, since getting reelected is the overriding concern. Large percentages of our voters are apparently undereducated douchebags who feel their high school education makes them at least as qualified to analyze our economy as a Nobel Laureate economist. Those with unearned privilege make it their life's work to retain it, rather than making the moral choice to be inclusive and egalitarian in providing opportunities to others. All of this gives me distress, especially since I don't see that I can have any significant influence over any of these outcomes, even though I'm committed to being an informed, active participant in our political process.

Additionally, I'm not quite sure what I want to do with myself on a professional level. I've been in my current job title for over ten years, and while I still enjoy the work and am well-paid, I'm feeling, well, unsettled. I've been approached by several internal organizations, but all of the opportunities require a commitment to 75% travel, and I'm not really down with that. So I'm looking at another fiscal year of my current gig. I'm hoping that will work out at least as well as it has in years past, but my "Engineer kills customer and account manager then turns gun on self" days are coming a bit more frequently these days, so there's that. Hopefully when my boss does fiscal year 2012 account assignments those days will come less frequently.

And then there's the whole "eat less, move more" initiative. I've lost 12.8 pounds since June 6th, and while I consider that acceptable progress, I still beat myself up over the pace of my progress. Plus there's the fact that my constantly fluctuating weigh is STILL an issue for me, over ten years after I quit smoking. I'd really like to just quit thinking about it, quite frankly, but I know what happens when I do that. It's like the last of the monkeys on my back, and I'd really just like to poison the little fucker.

I think everyone has periods like this, and I'm sure I'll get over it in due time. For right now, though, I'd just as soon go back to bed and sleep for a week.

Free Shit Friday Winner...

Sunday, August 7, 2011
...of the first edition copy of The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror is Karl, with a random number of 14.

Karl, I know I have your address around here SOMEWHERE, but if you want your book before the next turn of the century, you might want to send it again. Enjoy!

2011 Flower Pr0n - Wildflowers!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Free Shit Friday - The Stupidest Angel

Friday, August 5, 2011


Today's Free Shit Friday offering is a First Edition copy of Chritopher Moore's The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror, courtesy of my superlative library's used book store.

I love Christopher Moore's books - the dude never fails to tickle my funny bone, and this volume, while short, made me laugh my ass off.

Da rules.

Mickey!

Thursday, August 4, 2011
I have a new niece. She's AWESOME. Since she came home from the hospital she's been doing extremely well, and I CAN'T WAIT TO MEET HER. Yay!

So I decided to make her a little something for her room, since she's my AWESOME, AWESOME niece and everything. I've done quite a lot of counted cross stitch in the past, and while I haven't done much of it in the last ten years or so (stupid bifocals), she's worth the eye strain. I decided on a Mickey Mouse pattern, since her parents enjoy that motif.


I think it turned out great, and it also matches her existing decor:


I'm a cool auntie!

Whiplash

Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Gabrielle Giffords returned to the House floor to cast her vote to raise the debt ceiling. Yay!

The Congress is still a bunch of childish, whiny gits. Yes, yes, they finally reached an agreement everyone hates. So fucking what? Nobody congratulates me when I finally get off my ass and complete the tasks for which I'm responsible, months later than I was supposed to. Boo!

Boogie the Giant Schnauzer has been in fine form since his return from Doggie Purgatory, otherwise known as the kennel. Go, Boogie, go! Yay!

It's not my job to do your job. Unless, of course, you want to give me a proportionate percentage of your salary for doing so. Then I'll put it in queue. Otherwise? Get off your ass and complete your own tasks. Like Congress! Boo!

I have awesome, awesome friends. Who are awesome. Yay!

How come when a Muslim fundamentalist commits a terrorist act, it's because THEY'RE MUSLIM, YOU KNOW. But when a Christian fundamentalist commits a terrorist act, it's because THEY'RE NOT REALLY CHRISTIAN. When in fact, both acts were committed by extremists. America, thy name is Hypocrisy. Boo!

Boogie and a Bug

Tuesday, August 2, 2011
I'm a busy human today, catching up from my FABULOUS FAMILY REUNION IN GLENWOOD SPRINGS. Which was FABULOUS.

So in lieu of actual content, here's Boogie, who's happy to be home from the kennel, also known as Doggie Purgatory. And a bug that casts a long shadow. Because that's just how I roll.


Free Shit Friday Winners...

Monday, August 1, 2011
...of the Triple Berry Jams are Tom, with a random number of 12, and Beatrice in Paris with a random number of 9. Tom, I have your address. Beatrice, as soon as you return, please send me your address along with any special instructions for mailing homemade canned goods to France.

Enjoy!