Saturday, January 24, 2009

Random Weirdness

Road signs

Austin, Texas’ Roads department was less than amused Thursday when hackers cut the locks on the road signs and changed the signs. In all, five signs were changed to warn motorists of pending Zombie attacks. I wonder how long the spokesperson had to wait until the stopped laughing to deliver a statement on the severity of such pranks. And these aren’t the only ones to have some road sign fun.

Strange Laws:

We have a good number of strange laws in the US, but we’re not alone. There are some pretty odd ones all around.

  • The town of Lucca in Tuscany has passed a law banning ‘ethnic’ restaurants.

  • In Thailand it’s illegal to leave the house without wearing underwear.

  • In Switzerland, a man may not relieve himself while standing up, after 10 P.M.

  • In Australia, it is illegal to roam the streets wearing black clothes, felt shoes and black shoe polish on your face as these items are the tools of a cat burglar.

  • It is an offense for women of "ill repute or evil looks" to enter a cheese factory in Italy's area of Ferrara.

  • In France, between the hours of 8AM and 8PM, 70% of the music in the radio must be by French composers.

  • In Scotland, it is illegal to be drunk while in possession of a cow.

  • In Lebanon, men are legally allowed to have sex with animals -- so long as the animals are female. It is illegal to have sex with a male animal, however.

  • In China, women are prohibited from walking around a hotel room in the nude; a woman may only be naked while in the bathroom.

  • In Hong Kong, a woman is legally allowed to kill her cheating husband -- but only if she uses her bare hands. The husband's lover, however, may be killed in any manner desired.

Z is doing well, but momma has a cold. He's growing so much. It's hard to believe that he is going to be two months old tomorrow. His first week at daycare went well. He seems very happy with his sitter and so are we.

Congratulations Anny Cook, her latest installment in the Mystic Valley series, Love Never Ending, is now available from Ellora's Cave. It's a great series, be sure to check it out.

Also check out the blogs by Sandra Cox, Kelly Marstad and Jenny Beans.

Vampires keep popping up.

In the past couple of days the subject of vampires has come up in my little world several times. A friend and I were discussing how we were looking forward to seeing the third Underworld film. Anny Cook wrote about vampires and their appeal on her blog. (I blogged on the topic a while back.) And several new books came out by writers I enjoy that included vampires.

As it happens, one of my WIPs involves vampires. I started it several months ago I have a place that I store my stories that dates them for me adds some extra copyright oomph by having a date stamp. This is my first foray into vampires beyond one short story. While examining what would happen if these creatures were real isn’t the most original idea, I flatter myself that I have a bit of a different approach on their origin and how things go.

But the truth is, where some ideas are concerned there are a lot of original angles a writer can take, but the basic concepts are anything but new. Time travel, especially historical time travel that lands someone back into the Scottish highlands a the mercy of the great and powerful laird or into Regency England, is not new. Vampires are not new. Weres or shapeshifters are not new. Stories where an author or a reader finds themselves inside one of their books is not new. On and on and on we could list these almost forever.

I agree with Neil Gaiman who once said [paraphrasing here] that there were only so many ideas for stories out there, but it was what each writer did with that idea that made it special and their own.

A bit of my vampire story? It's titled Scion.

Does it seem as strange to you to think of a time when we saw them that way? Scary images on film that would give children nightmares and that charged up adults with rushes of adrenaline as we suspended disbelief for a few moments to pretend they were real? Blood thirsty, horrific, terrible and real?

But then the images changed. Slowly they evolved into something beyond the vicious, monstrous, killers of legend. Hollywood turned them into the quintessential lovers and heroes. The short, squat Bella Legosi with hairy palms and scary eyes was gone and in his place stepped Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise. They became tragic figures whose need for salvation and sad haunted hearts made Romeo seem like a lightweight. So beautiful. So elegant. So sexy. Younger and younger we became obsessed with the idea of them.

They became the romantic heroes of our age. Oh, they still drank our blood and hunted humans, but either they only preyed upon the wicked or we would be the one to save them, to teach them to love. They were the ultimate bad boys who would be forever beautiful, forever young and forever desirable. Even better, they offered to share that fate with us.

I guess that was the true stroke of genius in their plan—taking the proverbial bite out of their image by linking it with the ultimate teen fantasies. And sex. We can’t forget the sex. So the RPGs grew into graphic novels and internet chat sites where people lived out their fantasies. Kids all over where playing games like The Coven, Club Blood and Lilith’s Children. Writing fanfiction, playing dress up and pretending to be one of them. The whole subculture grew up in the larger cities and soon actual clubs and bars were springing up where people could step away from their computers, don their vampiric identities in the flesh and go interact with other wannabees. All just good clean fun. Weird, but no harm done.

And no one knew that this change had been deliberate, that it had been a part of their plan. You see, as we humans evolved, so did they. Only they evolved faster and better, leaving behind many of the limitations they once had and making us forget about even more of them. Garlic and crosses? Strictly the stuff of Hollywood legends. By the time they made their move, just ten years ago, the majority of us were ready to welcome them and to stand against the few remnants of resistance. Human rights now changed and expanded to cover those who were not human. By the time we came to understand just what they meant by “human rights”, it was too late. Maybe if we’d paid more attention to animal rights groups like PETA, karma wouldn’t be kicking us in our collective human asses.

I’ve had some mental breakthrough on another story I’m working on. Now I just have to hope Z lets me do something about it. Sigh. Papers to grade, stuff to write and a Green Bird that is head bobbing at me to remind me that he needs more food in his food dishes.

Z starts with his sitter on Monday. No one here is happy about it. I so wish I could be a stay-at-home mom but it just isn’t possible. Insurance, mortgages, car payments, etc. are all just too much for one of our salaries.

On a good note, Z has been much happier lately. He is actually laughing and smiling. He had a melt down today at JoAnn’s fabric store because he was tired of shopping, but he did very well. He also went to his first baby storytime at my SO’s library. He did well, but they didn’t stay for playtime because he was the youngest baby there.

Oh, anyone know a good way to label bottles and storage containers so that it doesn’t wipe off? We tried permanent marker but it rubs off and tape isn’t waterproof.

Run off to see Anny Cook, Kelly Marstad, Sandra Cox and Jenny Beans. Jenny will be blogging about the Underworld prequel today.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dear Dr. Spock

Dear Dr. Spock or other human puppy doctors,

My name is George and I have a problem. My alpha dog, also known as Momma, recently brought home a human puppy. She says it’s ours and it does sort of smell like the alpha and beta dogs, but no one here witnessed the birth, even the dachshund who has upstairs privileges. I’ve been here longer and don’t have them but that’s another letter. If I mention it Momma just brings up the unfortunate “George ate the soap” incident and harps on how gross it is to step in wet, suddsie doggie vomit in the middle of the night on the way to the bathroom.

Anyway, so assuming the human puppy is ours, that means it’s a part of our pack. The problem, human puppy doctor, is that I can’t figure out why we need it? I mean, I have a job. I point things and watch out the window for things to point out to my Momma in case she wants to hunt them. Shiloh has a job, she guards the house from things like planes and trains which we can hear but not see. Wendell has a job. He guards the upstairs at night and says he protects Momma. I’ve never seen any of these robbers and monsters he’s always saying he drives off in sheer terror, but hey, I’m not there so maybe he does. Gracie, well she says her job is to be a companion; to sit on laps and make people happy. Sounds like a stupid job to me, but it’s a job. Shucks, even Green Bird, who isn’t a dog, has a job. He mimics the sound of the house alarm chime so the Momma doesn’t forget what it sounds like and squawks every morning. He says if he doesn’t the sun won’t come up. I’ve heard it’s better to humor the delusional.

That brings me to the new human puppy. What exactly is thing supposed to do? It’s getting a lot of food and a lot of the alpha and beta dogs’ time but it doesn’t “do” anything. It howls but I can’t figure out what it’s supposed to mean. It’s not howling at doorbells or trains or planes or people on the street or cars or even the moon.

Wendell says when it howls at night, the Momma gets up and goes to feed it and pet it. How unfair is that? When we howl at night Momma yells for us to shut up. Do you think we get food, no way!

So I was wondering if someone could explain to me what exactly this human puppy is supposed to be doing and why we need one.

George the Brittany

George has been rather pensive since the baby’s arrival. We adopted George from the local animal shelter and he has been the most amazing dog. He had been turned in by his owners who said they couldn’t afford to take care of him any longer. Of late we are wondering if the reason his owners turned him over to animal control may have been to do with the birth of a child.

George has always been Mr. Laid-Back and hasn’t blinked as each new pup was added to our family. But since the baby’s arrival he has been nervous and clingy, even to my SO whom George does not recognize as having any pack status at all. In George’s mind, the beta dog is not supposed to even drive him places. The last time that happened he projectile decorated the back seat of the car. If my SO arrives home first, George remains at the kitchen window awaiting me. If I’m home first, George relinquishes his post.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


There can be no doubt that the average man blames much more than he praises. His instinct is to blame. If he is satisfied he says nothing; if he is not, he most illogically kicks up a row. ~Arnold Bennett

I’ve been unsettled by some things I’ve read on blogs targeted at writers and publishers lately. The nature of a blog is that it is one person’s, or a group of persons’, opinions. My grandfather used to say that opinions were like …well, he was known to be a bit crude so let’s just say “noses”…everyone has one and a lot of the time they smell. But everyone is free to have one and make as much of a stink about their opinion as they like.

What is sad is when a group of individuals who are supposed to be articulate cannot find ways to express those opinions without resorting to the lowest common denominator and becoming crass and crude while attacking others in personal ways. We are writers, wordsmiths. We are supposed to be able to create coherent utterances and frame logical arguments. We do not need to get nastily personal or start flinging insults at people because we disagree with them professionally or because we don’t like what they’ve written.

That’s just my own humble opinion.

On the work front:

I discovered that I do get to stay at my school. Enough of the folks with more experience (who would have thought 8 years wasn’t enough to begin with) are leaving that I can stay. That having been said, it won’t be easy. We are dealing with a run-down building, larger class sizes (the state just upped our sizes due to budget constraints), teaching multiple subjects and grade levels. It won’t be easy and our principal has warned us that we won’t be able to complain when he comes to us and tells us we have two, three or even four different subjects/grades next year.

Well, on the mommy front:

Z is now a whopping 9lbs and 4 oz. That’s over two pounds since he was discharged from the hospital so I know we’re feeding him enough. He’s grown and is at 22.5” now.

The bad news from the doctor is that Z has colic and acid reflux. He cried for my SO, he cried for the nurse, he cried for the doctor. When we told the doctor he’ll sometimes cry almost all day with little catnaps, the doctor said, that wasn’t colic. The other questions we’d written down to ask led him to realize Z had acid reflux. He’s given him baby Zantac and said the gas drops and the herbal remedy were right on target only we should be giving him both about six times a day, alternating them in his bottles. I’m not sure yet if it’s helping, the only guarantee seems to be holding him. If Momma is holding him, he’s okay. He sleeps through mass for Momma. The only problem I have is if I put him down.

And he doesn’t cry himself out. He’ll cry nonstop for hours. I’m not kidding or exaggerating.

Samuel 1:27 “For this child I prayed; and the LORD has given me my petition which I asked of him:” And despite the minor problems we praise him and thank him for the granting of our petition and the bonus of giving us a healthy and strong child.

He has the cutest little birthmark on his belly in the shape of a heart. This picture isn't a good one of it, but it's a darkened patch of skin. I've outlined just beyond the borders.

I haven’t written a word and it is almost impossible to find time to even blog at the moment. I know the experienced mommies are shaking their heads at me, but yes, it’s my blog and I’ll whine if I want to.

I had a short story that was being considered for an anthology, but they wanted it to be longer. No problem, I can see just where it can be extended. Problem, I’ve got no time to do it. I’m not a person who can write on demand. I have to get in the right frame of mind.

I hope you’ve been checking out Anny Cook, Kelly Marstad, Sandra Cox and Jenny Beans. They always have good things to say.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Good News. I’m one of the featured writers on Talking TwoLips Reviews. It was fun to answer the questions, though some of them had me blushing a bit.

I’ve said before that we are not a “traditional” family. Tomorrow I start back to work and my SO will be staying home with the Z alone. I’ve gotten some flack from folks who think we should both stay off until he is at least 6 weeks. I agree I don’t want him in daycare, though we have found someone we think will be marvelous, until then. But the new semester has started at school and especially after the mess I found yesterday when I went in for a faculty meeting —my sub had not entered grades into the computer, I have no idea where some of my important information like my meetings’ calendar have gone, and the room was a shambles— I need to be back.

I skipped a staff development day today because Z is still suffering from colic and we are trying a new herbal remedy. If that fails we will have to resort to Ms. Anny Cook’s suggestion that involved onions and sugar.

Progress to report on the dachshund vs baby front. After three weeks of pouting and varying degrees of jealousy on behalf of the dachshund, Wendell, has started to come around. He seems to have realized that he does get Momma time and so it’s okay. Wendell still sleeps with Momma and the purchase of the recliner for the baby room made a big difference. Wendell has a bed in the baby room to curl up in until after feedings and rocking. When we are ready to rock and go to sleep, Wendell can get up on the opposite side of the big overstuffed chair and curl up next to momma and rock too.

Now when Z fusses, Wendell becomes on alert. He has decided Z is his boy and he protects him from the other dogs though they are all bigger than him. Z fell asleep in my bed this morning and when I got up to get dressed I looked back and there was Wendell curled up next to him snoozing too.

Okay, enough Momma stuff though it is hard. Head over to Anny Cook, Sandra Cox, Kelly Marstad or Jenny Beans. I’m sure they have much more interesting things to say.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Losing a family


Merriam Webster 3 a: a group of people united by certain convictions or a common affiliation : fellowship b: the staff of a high official (as the President) a group of persons who form a household under one head including parents, children and servants; a group of people who are not generally blood relations but who share common attitudes, interests or goals and frequently live together.

I received distressing news today when I popped into work for a staff meeting that was called “very important.” It was. We were informed that the district was, in effect, tearing our family apart. And we are a family. I have worked with the bulk of these people for at least eight years. We have a powerful school culture and we work together for our students as one united front. Oh, we disagree and argue and bicker. We have Oh, we disagree and argue and bicker. We have that family member who drives us all crazy. We have the younglings who are just taking their place and finding their way. We have the elders who are experienced and who are always there to help us and guide us all.

Just before Christmas, the head of our family, our principal, was notified that the opening of the new middle school next year was going to have devastating results for our school. The district has drawn lines that mean our numbers will drop from over 900 students to about 400. And that means our staff will drop by a commensurate amount. He asked us today to consider volunteering to go to the new school because where people who had five or six years experience are usually safe in number reductions, those of us who have six, seven, eight or nine will also most likely be forced out.

For those who stay things will change drastically. It will no longer be a matter of teaching a specific subject and grade level. They will be teaching multiple subjects and/or multiple grade levels. It all comes down to the stalling growth in our area due to the economy.

I called home and spoke with the SO. We decided that I really don’t have a choice but to request the move to the new school. If I wait and hope that I’ll have a spot at my current school I could end up a.) being assigned to a school I don’t want to go to or b.) without a spot at all.

The SO had a hard time with Z while I was gone today. Z has more than a bit of colic and he doesn’t want to go to sleep for anyone except Momma. I got home, gave him a bottle and he went to sleep. I’m sitting here now with the monitor listening to him coo and grunt in his sleep.

I’m so grateful for my family. For both of them and it breaks my heart to think that after this year I’ll have to say goodbye to my work family.