Sep 30 2010

things to do while I’m gone


Because I’m wrapped up in overtime on the DayJob this week, I’ve had not a moment to spare.

Actually, I’ve had moments to spare. And then I instantly used them up. Writing. And then I had no more to spare.

I’ve been taking my laptop everywhere, hiding out in the training room at lunch at the DayJob, scribbling in waiting rooms etc.

Thus, no time to blog.

So, I thought I could at least say: “Hey, go look at this cool thing elsewhere on the Internet.”

But I had to quell an impulse to just keep this particular one  to myself, hoarding it, as it were, as if such a thing could be done with something on the internet.   Being greedy, and Not Sharing.

This because it involves the delicious extremely talented Joseph Gordon-Levitt who makes me SQUEE like a fangirl, which in a middle-aged woman is not, believe me, NOT a pretty sight seems to be emerging as one of the more interesting creative artists of our new multi-media, multi-connected 21st century world. directed me here :

Which I then tracked back to here, and this is where it gets REALLY interesting:

Check out the actual website,, and be sure to scroll down to the squibs and reels available for collaboration.

This is such a fascinating idea — if I weren’t wrapped up in an endlessly hair-tearing involving, demanding project already (plus DayJob), I’d be on this like butter on grits.

But I urge all my creative friends (and I have many, many) to check this out.   Especially you, Gabriel Gill.   Yes, you.   Talkin’ to you here.  Hello, draws-at-the-drop-of-a-hat, writes-stuff-too, has-actually-been-to-animation-camp, that Gabriel Gill.

And everyone else as well, of course.

Or, just click on the videos above and go SQUEE admire Mr. Gordon-Levitt, and consider this very interesting approach, made possible by the fact that we live Now.

There’s much talk (some of it from me) about how we are “living in the future.”  In fact, of course, we’re not.  We’re here now.  Now is not the Future, it’s Now.

And as you can see, there are people perfectly at home with Now, and with all the possibilities of what’s available to us, creatively, Now.

Sep 25 2010

Off-site writing locale


In my never-ending search for congenial places to write, I stopped by Gouveia Vineyards on Thursday.


One thing my home office lacks is natural light — The main room here has plenty of that. Great big sky, and sweeping views of the hills.

In a reverse of the BYOB permission of some restaurants, in this place serves no food, and allows you to to bring in whatever food you want to — but forbids you to bring any beverages. No kind of beverages, none. Not even water. Whatever you’re going to drink there, you must buy there.

Which I consider perfectly fair: you’re taking up space in a for-profit establishment — you ought to pay for something.

You can buy wine by the glass or by the bottle, and there’s water, soda and perfectly acceptable coffee, as well. Not gourmet coffee, but good enough.

My favorite of their wines is Stonehouse Red, which is their most popular. This annoys me no end, because I hate to be in the majority on anything. On previous visits I’ve sampled all their wines, hoping to find something bizarre and obscure that I liked better. The weirder the better, says I.

Alas. Stonehouse Red tastes best to me. Me and everyone else. I am awash in my shameful mundanity.

Hey, check out the cool kites they use to scare off the birds and other critters from the ripe grapes!

EEK  a raptor!  Run, run!

The eagle, oddly, has a fish in its claws — presumably to discourage any adventurous fish planning to poach these grapes.

So has the osprey.


Still, these are big bad birds! If I were a blue jay or a squirrel, I’d get the hell outta there!

And the photos do not do the kites justice. They’re so cleverly designed that the wing-fluttering and swooping, and even fish-wriggling are absolutely convincing, in even the slightest wind. I was stunned – I really thought there was an eagle up there, and actually pulled to the side of the entrance road to get a good look.

But they were just kites. Did I say “just” kites? I love kites!

But I can’t help wondering how well they work in the long run. Surely the critters have hard-wired instincts to hide when a raptor appears — but how many times would they need to see a fake raptor before those grapes get just too tempting? Or can the instinct never be overcome?

Our Local Group (the backyard birds) go positively nuts when the neighborhood sharp-shinned hawk appears. It’s amazing to listen to them warn each other, often mimicking the actual call of the hawk as a bird “word” for hawk. But if the hawk perches and sits still long enough, they basically forget it’s there, and go back to the feeder.

Then — Suppertime! And not in a nice way.

(I love birds, but I love all birds, including the hawks. Who to root for?)

Anyway, the vineyards do have some drawbacks:

– They’re popular. Come 6pm, it’s conversations all around, at every table. Date night, forget about it. So unless you can pick your time, solitude is in short supply.

– They’re only open Thursday through Sunday.

– No official wifi (Someone out on the horizon has an open wifi, a fraction of a bar’s worth.)

On the upside:

– Great views, with lots of sky.

– Wine.

– A fireplace, very nice in winter.

– Although everyone talks all around you, no one bothers you directly.

– On the way home from the DayJob.

– High cool factor.

You know, when the leaves turn, this place is going to be absolutely gorgeous.


On Friday, I stopped by one of the many local Dunkin Donuts after work, and tried to do a little writing there.


– Practically next door to the gym, which I am visiting frequently these days.

– Inexpensive


– Worst Coffee Ever. This is not true of all Dunkin’s, and probably not true of this one usually. But that day, I had to take my cup back to the counter and say, “No… Please try again.” “Again” was only marginally better.

– Lovely view of the strip-mall across the street.

– Acoustic entertainment provided by Amtrak, 10 yards behind the parking lot.

So, who wins?

Wrong. Dunkin’ Donuts is just too convenient.


Sep 23 2010

The Hijinks which ensued


My dad was a hypnotist. Have I ever mentioned that? He was. Being a curious lass, I read all his training material. He was not a stage hypnotist, but aspired to be a therapeutic one. Quit smoking, lose weight; that sort of thing.

Anyway, I hate being hypnotized, so I sat in the back row at the company function.

The “comedy hypnotist” was quite good, and professional, and hit the right tone with the level of humor. He didn’t have a large pool to draw on, as most people declined to volunteer, and most volunteers turned out not to be suceptable.

He ended up with just two subjects — let’s call them Mike and Spike. Mike was, to my jaded and skeptical eye, obviously faking; Spike was not.

And that’s where it became interesting to me: watching and comparing the fake with the genuine.

Mike always took it one step further: told to fall asleep, he drooped down dramatically sideways on the chair; told that Spike smelled wonderful, he started nibbling on Spike’s shoulder. The thing that would make it just one touch funnier was exactly what Mike would do.

Spike, told that Mike smelled bad, just changed his seat. Told that he could not remember his last name, he swore under his breath when asked and was annoyed and embarrassed.

When the hypnotist said that Spike and Mike would do whatever the toy doll in the hypnotist’s hand did, Mike’s movements were broad and attention-getting; Spike’s just happened, apparently without him even realizing it.

When the hypnotist then bit the doll on the butt, Mike leapt up and ostentatiously looked around; Spike also leapt up, looked behind and around annoyance, and then somewhat groggily tried to slip out of the room without being noticed. The hypnotist stopped him in time, brought him back, and made absolutely sure Spike was still willing to serve as a volunteer subject.

So, an opportunity to observe the false and genuine side-by-side. An education useful to any steerswoman.

Sep 23 2010



Ah, yes, homegrown vegetables! from sabine's garden

Nothing like ’em. No doubt about it, everyone loves homegrown — hey! Hey YOU!

intruder alert!

Yeah you! That’s right, I’m talkin’ to you!

nom nom nom nom -- wha?

What are you doing? Get outta here!

Cheeze it, the narcs!

Sheesh. Some people.

In other news:

Fingertips still pins-and-needles, although less pointy-sticky ones.
Working lots of DayJob overtime to try to catch up on what wasn’t done while I was out.
Going to the gym. Lots.

Thus, my quiet for the last couple of weeks.

I came back here to find a gazillion (for values of “gazillion” fairly close to 100) spam comments, which I deleted. I did it rather fast. I think they were all real spam, but if your comment accidentally got sent to the spam queue, sorry. You might want to re-comment if you’ve said something within the last two weeks, and I haven’t replied.

Meanwhile, must rush off to the DayJob, where the whole day will be devoted to the annual Company Meeting, which will be first Business, and then some (cough) “fun” events.

It is rumored that a stage hypnotist will appear.

Yah. That was my reaction, too.

Hijinks, as they say, will ensue.

Sure am lookin’ forward to them there hijinks.

Sep 7 2010



Over in the comments, Sean Fagan said (among other things):

I’ve been thinking about that for a while now. I generally have the same feeling — I’ll throw out lots of things easily, but books I have to work to do. … I specifically did so because of ebooks, and the ability to have hundreds of books on a device that takes up less space than a single hardcover … Related to the lack of clutter, the ability to actually find any of the books I want is a huge win for ebooks. Only two of the eight bookcases I have left are alphabetized; the rest are just bad organization.

When I culled my own physical-book collection, one of the criteria was: could this be found in a library? (Ebooks were not yet common — in fact, I don’t think the Kindle was invented yet!) That left me with the rare, the esoteric, the beloved, and the autographed. Oh, and reference volumes, which include things like all science and philosophy books, how-to books, and and classic literature.

But what you say about being able to find a specific book now that they’re automatically organized made me realize something: there are disadvantages to perfect organization — or rather, there are disadvantages to being constrained to approaching your collection solely by means of organizational tools.

You might be able to find any book — but can a book find you?

I’m not trying to be cute here. Has this ever happened to you? :

It’s, say, late Sunday morning; or it’s 1AM Tuesday. Everything’s right with the world, and you feel glad and at peace; or you can’t sleep, can’t settle, despite being exhausted and weary of absolutely everything. The cats are asleep in the sun on the windowsills; or they’re curled up tight, on towels on the floor, close to the radiator.

You want to dream.

You want to embark on a journey to somewhere grand; you want to be swept away from everything. You want to be delighted; you want to be comforted.

With your second cup of coffee/glass of whiskey in hand, you stand in front of one of your bookshelves and —

Do you know the title of the book you want to read?

Do you know the author’s name?

How about the year it was published?

Feel like scrolling down a sequential list on a screen?


You move your gaze across the shelves… up, down: all the shapes and colors, and the sight of each brings enough spark of memory for you to know, No, not that… not that… Perhaps you even put your hand out and run your fingers along the spines —


The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester. That’s the one you need.

You didn’t know it ahead of time, but you know it now.

You’ve been found.

Sep 5 2010

On the up side


Okay, one of the more miserable months of my life. I won’t recap, as it sounds too much like whining. However, I will say that I’m especially glad that August 2010 is over and done with.

On the up side; hey, Kindle! A birthday present from my sister. I piggy-backed on her account for the first month, and have just now liberated my device and downloaded my own choices for the first time. I’ve budgeted a certain amount each month for building up my Kindle library.


One of the things I miss most about my old place in Boston is: books, books, books, books of all sorts, books in every corner of the apartment. When I moved out, 10 big boxes of books went to the neighborhood library, where I hope they are doing all sorts of good, and inspiring people to deep thought and plans for world-spanning adventures.

But I miss being able to just put my hand out and step into alternate world; or curl up with a cup of tea and science book, and seeing how many ideas I can spin out of it; or read something for the second time, and realizing what I missed the first time; or for the third time, and suddenly seeing how its bones work. Or reread something I’ve had since I was a child, and remember the first time, and who I was then, and what the world meant then.

Moving into a much smaller space meant losing about 80% of the books I had. Many of them I don’t miss, not by name, not as individual, specific volumes. Some I do… But what I really most miss the feeling of… I don’t know — wealth? Connection to culture? Security? I’ll have to give this more thought; but there’s something special and wonderful about actually owning books.

Now, owning them in digital form won’t be quite the same thing… but when space is a problem, it’s a nice solution.

Good ol’ 21st century. Gotta love it.

Hand update: Fingertips still numb. Seeing the doc next week. My strength is mostly back, my dexterity is all the way back, but numb fingertips just feel weird. Like zombie fingers, which is not as interesting as it sounds.

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