Good Stuff for YOU

Monday, June 30, 2014

Complete Insanity

Welcome to a look into my life today!

With some luck (and a bit of planning) this will mark a return to my more-or-less regular blogging, something that I have neglected for far, far too long and for which I humbly beg your forgiveness, O Faithful Reader! I won't promise it won't happen again, but let's see what I can do, eh?

Right. I think some explanation is in order.

When last we checked in, I was living in a little two-bedroom apartment in rural Maine, my partner was still stuck across the border, and yet my life was relative uncomplicated.

HA!

First step into insanity: she was able to get across the border on a more-or-less permanent basis AND find a house that she liked.

Here's a picture of it:

Excellent, right? Pied-a-terre? Yes indeed, most excellent - and a serious lump of complexity! Let me ask you, have you ever moved? Yes, of course you have. You remember the chaos involved in moving, trying to coordinate the truck and your friends to help unload; turning on utilities; sorting the boxes, arranging furniture, hanging paintings...
Now multiply that by Border Crossing And Customs Declaration.
Ouch.
And then add in the fact that she has returned to school to update her training. Head spinning yet?

So then I moved in - somewhat simpler, as it was only a couple towns away, but still not fun. Then there was the inevitable Clean The Apartment struggle. But, eventually, finally, we were settled.

Then we figured we needed pets.

See, we had ALWAYS had animals, of one sort or another, through our childhoods and adulthoods as well. Not having a furry member of the family just wasn't right.

A friend of hers mentioned the local animal shelter as a good place to find pets that need homes. That's like saying to a chocoholic, oh look I have some fudge that needs eating! (Just to spread the joy, here's their web site: GAHS )

Suckers.

A perusal of their web page and we found one six-month-old kitten who desperately needed a home: a black cat named Berry who had been in the shelter for five months, on and off. She'd been adopted and returned three times in that period, because she was semi-feral and really didn't want anything to do with people. Well, challenge accepted! We had both rescued cats from a feral state and thought, oh yeah, we can do this again. Thus armed with confidence we marched off claim our cat.

Once there, the staff informed us that they thought Berry (what an unfortunate name for cat!) would do best in a home with another cat. No problem, we thought. We don't have a cat to take her home to, but that's easy enough. There's lots of cats here; we'll just pick another one out.

Now who were the suckers? Right.

First cat didn't want anything to do with us or Berry. Second cat was actively hostile to Berry - bad idea cat; we're sold on her not you! Finally I spotted a scraggly, matted grey-and-black striped tabby named Bruno. He was pressed hard against the glass, doing his best to be forlorn and yet appealing simultaneously.

Fortunately for him, he and Berry got along well enough that we decided he would work.

The ride home - Berry terrified in the cardboard carrier, Bruno carsick *phew* in the one carrier we had brought - was a slice of eternity measured in odorosity (yes I know it's not a word yet dammit but it ought to be!). At last, we arrived and got them out into their cat condo - where Berry crouched for the next two days.

Bruno, after having the worst of the mats shaved off at the vet, became quite the people-cat, never getting enough attention, always burring and buzzing at us, never happier than when he was being fussed over. However...

Berry (now renamed Shadow) wanted nothing to do with us. NOTHING. When we approached her, she would flee. If we moved past her, she would flee. When we looked at her - flee. Tiresome, to say the least.

Bruno, she loved, couldn't get enough of him. Followed him around, rubbed against him, wrestled with him.

Eventually we decided that we had ONE cat, and that he, too, had a cat. But that left us short a pet, though we didn't admit this to ourselves just yet.

Backtrack a bit here: the house came a chicken coop and run, which the previous owners had actually used to keep chickens. We had cleaned it out, repaired the floor (rotten through in a couple places), added windows and back doors, and reinforced the wire around the run, all with the intent of raising chickens for eggs ourselves. So when a couple friends of ours offered us some nearly-feathered chicks, we jumped at it!

A hour drive to their house and back and we had a half-dozen chicks in a large plastic tote. They were installed upstairs, with a sturdy wire cat-resistant cover on top. Now the house was filled with a constant 'cheep-cheep', punctuated by occasional squawks as the pecking order was sorted out.

Still, chickens are not the most cuddly pets, and definitely resistant to house- or litter-training, so our thoughts turned back to other animals.

Goat? No.

Monkey? HELL no!

Well, what about a dog?

A dog would be nice. It would have to be spayed/neutered - we didn't need either a marker or a breeder! Probably a female; despite being snipped, male dogs still mark. And it would have to get along with cats. Oh, and a little bit older might be ideal, a dog that's already trained, or at least house-broken - DEFINITELY not a puppy!

We got a puppy.

Not only did we get a puppy, we waited in line outside the humane society for FOUR HOURS to get this particular puppy, a cute Labrador/Rottweiler mix who came with the unfortunate name of Pancake. Big brown eyes, floppy ears, and a wagging tail that couldn't be stopped - she stole our hearts as soon as she came scampering into the 'meeting' room.

Here she is:

Then came the scramble to get all the puppy gear.

Bruno didn't care for the new addition, but was more-or-less patient with her. A few hisses, some claws-in cuffing, and the now-Charlie had learned who the boss was: Bruno.

However, that left a dilemma: a puppy who desperately needed a companion to play with in the full-bore, rambunctious manner which typifies puppies who definitely lacked a suitable, well, shall we just say 'target'?

Back to the humane society. There was one puppy we had sort-of selected from their mug shots, but when we met here there just wasn't any chemistry. The next puppy, a giant ball of fluff named Buffy (who promised to get even larger), was seriously afraid and cowered under a chair for most of the visit.

Then they brought in a dog named Rado (and what the devil is a RADO?), a shepherd/husky mix. Big ball of fluff, with hints of patterns and colors in his fur that had a long way to go to be defined, but friendly and happy and we were sold.

We got a shock when we were doing the paperwork - this dog, already easily the size of Charlie (four months), was only NINE WEEKS OLD.

That suggested THOR, THE THUNDERDOG would be a good name, but then he showed his true colors: he was a SnugglePuppy (TM). And, since I am of a certain age to remember fondly Saturday morning cartoons, specifically Looney Toons, I immediately thought of George. Specifically, THIS. (And just for you folks who are suddenly nostalgic for more cartoon craziness, here's a link to four HOURS of it: Merrie Melodies).

So now we have a cat (who has a cat), two puppies, five chickens (one flew the coop), and a severe sleep deficiency.

BUT WE'RE HAPPY!

I hope you've enjoyed this brief look into what's been going. We now return you to our regular programming.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Interview With Lee Ryder

So tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a stay at home mom who loves to write in her spare time. That is when I’m not juggling my kids busy schedules hehehe I love music and vampires and am an avid fan of the walking dead. I also love musicals and am an accomplished musician and I love singing at the top of my lungs while driving. I also love to craft and make gifts for my family and friends.
Tell us about your book:
This is my debut book and has been a long time coming. This is my first foray into my own storyline and characters. I am a huge writer of fan fiction and poetry and my passion for writing sort of morphed from them. My story is about a girl named Jess who has survived a viral apocalypse that has claimed her entire family. It’s set in a world where everyone over 25 was killed by this virus that was brought on by heavy industrialization. Jess is surviving alone in a city where life on the street is made dangerous by rival gangs who are vying for control.
What is your favorite genre to write in?
When I started writing I thought I might write children’s stories, but I can’t draw and illustrators are expensive. So what happened was as my children grew I very much wanted to write stories for them. My kids like many of the books that I enjoy so I thought why not write a book for them. That’s when I decided to write in the Young Adult Genre.
Are any of your characters in the books like you?
Mollie is very much like me, however I’m not Irish. I have a bard’s heart and a poetic tongue just like Mollie. I also have a fiery temper and a wicked sense of humor like her.
What is your next book?
My next book will be the continuance of Jess’ journey. Right now I’m playing with titles and covers but I’ll be using the amazing cover artist I used for my first book. That is one thing I know for sure!
Can we get a sneak peek?
For each book in the series I’m going to start it with a bible verse that describes the state of affairs in the lives of our characters. The verse for Broken Earth is "The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, and the earth is moved exceedingly. Isaiah 24:19 I liked this verse because the Earth has changed so much everything is broken down, there’s no governments and no fight for control like times are today. The verse I chose for book 2: But understand this that in the last days there will come times of difficult Timothy Verse 3 I liked this verse because things are going to become more difficult as the journey goes on. While the books are started with bible verses they are not religious centered, this is after the end of days and there is no organized religion.
Do you need special conditions to write?
With 2 teenagers and a preteen in the house NOPE I thrive on the chaos they create.
Are you a typer or longhand writer?
 I do both, whatever is handy at the time.
Who inspires you?
My kids, my mom, princess Diana, Mother Teresa, people fighting cancer, kids overcoming incredible odds. These are dear to my heart. There are so many nay sayers and negative people in the world. If we all took a minute and gave some love our world and humanity would be so very different.
Favorite authors?
Dean Koontz, John Saul, Hans Holzer, Daniel Cohen, John Jakes, Christy Sloat, Raebeth Mcgee-Buda There’s just so many. One of my favorite series is the species intervention series by JK Accinni
Authors who influence your writing?
There’s many authors who influence my writing. I’m touched by each book I read.
Quick Fires:
Favorite Holiday tradition?
Christmas eve with my parents going to church. Spending time with my family going “home for the holidays”
Is your christmas tree up?
Oh you mean the ball of tinsel and lights in my living room, yes the kids and I put up our Christmas tree and it is GLORIOUS!
Favorite color?
Purple
Favorite food?
Cheesecake, Swedish fish, chocolate ice cream, oreos, and those white middle caramels made by goetze’s But not all together that would be gross hehehe
Favorite writing snack?
Ritz club crackers
Favorite Song?
I have so many, Lady Gaga’s music, Doreen Taylor, John Lennon, Garth Brooks, The beatles, dr demento, I just have so many, I love all kinds of music except rap and metal.
Favorite vacation spot?
San Diego, California
Favorite beverage?
Sweet tea
Favorite Holiday song?
'I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas' and 'Dominic the Donkey'
Favorite Holiday?
Halloween and Christmas in that order
If you were a supernatural creature who would you be and why?I
Big fan of vampires, movies like twilight brought so many awesome people into my life.
Favorite books?
The Missing Persons League, The Brown House Series, The Light in the Attic (Shel Silverstein) The Tribe A New World, The North and South Series and Flowers in the Attic series.
Favorite Movies?
Twilight, Pirate Movie, North and South Movies any movie musical. If I had a list of them it would take up 2 or 3 days on your blog
Favorite TV Show?
The Blacklist, Criminal Minds, CSI, NCIS – Both NCIS serie,s Vampire Diaries, Reign, Ghost Adventures, Hawaii 5-0, Survivor, Walking Dead


Lee Ryder

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Ender's Game: First Reactions

Ender's Game: How Does It Stack Up?

WARNING: SPOILERS! Read on at your own risk!

Okay, so I will admit that I was one of the great unwashed. I didn't pick up, and read, Ender's Game until a month or so before the movie came out. Of course, I had a copy – it was a classic, right? - but I hadn't actually read it.

Then I did, finally. And it was good. The development of Ender, the progression from game to game with higher and higher stakes, was well-presented and logical.

Of course, being a political junkie, I also enjoyed the subplot with Val and Peter and their web alter-egos – and wasn't Card prescient in his imagining of the internet and the anonymity it would bring?

I admit, too, that when it was revealed that the final games were actual battles I was quite surprised. Okay, okay, I hadn't seen it coming, I get it. I probably should have, yeah, but I didn't. That speaks to the skill with which Card drew me into his universe.


Moving on, I had the opportunity to go see the movie tonight, at one of the eight o'clock showings. First time I had ever gone to an 'opening' – I usually avoid them like the plague – but this one called to me.

I'm not going to critique the movie, minute by minute; there are many more qualified than I who will be jumping in to do that. Instead, I'm going to just make a few observations.

First, there were only a dozen or so of us in the theatre. Disappointing, to say the least, but given that it was cold, raining, and Halloween night, not entirely surprising.

Second, while the bulk of the book takes place over about a six year period (yes yes, I know, the book continues for many decades after the climactic battle scenes, but most of the meat of the book is Ender's training on Earth, in Battle School and then in Command School), the movie gives the impression that it was about a six-month period. Yes, I get it, it would difficult, even in this CGI era, to start with a six-year-old and progress through to a near-teenager. But by compressing the action to the shorter period much of the depth of the book is lost. Enough is conveyed that my partner stated that she was 'totally carried along with the movie', but by comparison the movie lacked a bit.

Third, the punch of the plot was actually stronger in the movie. Being able to see and hear, instead of reading and imagining, adds so much to the power of the story. A potent message the movie conveys is summed up neatly by Ender after wiping out the enemy:

How you make war is as important as why you make war.

(No, I'm NOT going to go into this. If it resonates with you, then you understand and don't need me to elaborate; if it doesn't resonate, then nothing I say will make a difference. No flame wars here!)

I did appreciate in both the book and the movie the homage to Heinlein's classic Stranger In A Strange Land, that to understand your enemy means you have to know them and in knowing them you will come to love them as they love themselves – and it is only in that moment that you can defeat them.

A wholly worthwhile movie. Thoughtful, but with enough action and motion through the plot to satisfy most.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Have Fun!

A link here for a quiz - what Star Trek character are YOU? Just classic and TNG, though.

I took it, ended up Geordi. What about you? Comment below!

http://www.seabreezecomputers.com/startrek/

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Doctor Who/Amazing Stories cross-pollination

Hey Dan, could you help Lewis out with his radio show that airs on Fridays at 8 PM? He's looking for people to record audio responses to three questions about Doctor Who and email him the mp3 files for an upcoming segment. Thanks. I know he'd appreciate it if you and a few of your scifi lovin' friends helped him out with this.

QUESTION #1
What do you think of Peter Capaldi, the actor chosen to play the new Doctor?

QUESTION #2
What would you like to see happen on Doctor Who this upcoming season?

QUESTION #3
The Doctor has almost used up all of his regenerations. What do you think will happen when he's used up the very last one?

DEADLINE
Get your answers in by October 7 at midnight Eastern Time. 

EMAIL ADDRESS
radio@geekedmind.com



Get in touch with Dan Berger from Foes of Reality if you are interested - dan.berger.2@gmail.com

Monday, September 30, 2013

Just a little note...

There's a new blog out there, just for you fans of The Cassidy Chronicles. You can find it at THIS location.

Or, if that doesn't work for you, you can copy and paste the following link:

http://thecassidychronicle.blogspot.com/





See you there!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

DragonCon 2013

After-Action Report:
DragonCon 2013, Atlanta, GA

So. You've thought and thought about it. You've gone to other Cons, and had a good time. Maybe some were big (ComicCon, WorldCon), maybe some were smaller (LibertyCon, Boskone). And now, you think, it's time to tackle the wildest, weirdest one of them all: DragonCon.

Well. Here's some practical advice, mixed with some reviews, of the latest rendition, from ground level as it were. Please bear in mind this is based on MY experience and are MY opinions; take that as you will.

Getting There: Driving. This might not be practical for you, and that's just fine. It was a two-day, 22 hour, 1250-mile odyssey to get there for me. Unless you plan rest breaks, hotel stops, and have a co-driver, I would not recommend a multi-day drive. That being said – if you can, do it! You never know what you might see on the way! Sticking to highways isn't as boring as you might think, and the overall cost in gasoline, well, that depends on your car. Just make sure that any hotels you book ahead are aware that you might arrive very late. In addition, you have the problem now of what to do with your car while you're at the Con, and if your hotel provides free parking; on the plus side, you now have a car to get to OTHER things in Atlanta.
Alternative: Flying. Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is THE busiest airport on the planet. If you can't find a flight, you haven't looked hard enough. Obvious downsides include (but are not limited to): TSA; cost of the ticket; cost of the luggage (especially if you're an intense cosplayer; have you ever tried to get an eight-foot replica spear through security??); changing planes at a stopover; making sure your luggage arrives; getting to your hotel; not having a car. On the plus side, well, you get there fairly quickly (if not necessarily exactly when you expect to arrive), you don't have to worry about navigating, and now you can just enjoy the Con.

Staying There: There are three alternatives for 95% of the people (the other 5% know someone who lives in Atlanta or nearby and can crash there):
Host Hotel
Overflow Hotel
Other Hotel
The Host Hotels are THE scene – the Westin, Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott, and Sheraton – all within about four blocks in the heart of downtown Atlanta. ALL the tracks, ALL the panels, ALL the events – right inside the hotels. It makes for a GREAT sense of community, as 50,000+ people all come and take over the area. Downsides? Well, trying to get up, down, or around the hotels. Elevators can take, oh, hours to get. The crowds are insane in density (especially in the Hyatt and Marriott), and gods help you if you need to go against the flow. Saturday and Sunday are particularly bad, but NO day is especially good. And these hotels sell out FAST – as in, two of the five are currently sold out. Now. Oh, and the prices are strictly supply and demand – and brother, is there a lot of demand!
Overflow Hotels are those in the immediate area (such as the Melia, Holiday Inn Express, Hilton Garden, Ritz-Carlton, etc) which have a relationship with the Con. These are located close enough to walk easily to the Con, or you can catch a shuttle bus which runs a route around the area. Prices can range from good to exorbitant, but at least you're in the area and can stagger home at 2am. No events take place in these hotels, but there are lots of people trying to get these rooms, too.
Other Hotels are just that. Any other hotel in the Atlanta area will be happy to take your money, though they might well charge you more than any other time of the year – after all, it IS Labor Day weekend. This year, for example, there was a major college football game at the Georgia Dome which pushed the number of available rooms way down. BUT, if you can find a hotel close to a MARTA station (the local underground system), then you have transportation from about 5am to 1am for a couple bucks a ride. And you can pay MUCH less for your hotel, this way. But you are away from the Con, you have to plan your departure, and you can't miss it.

Registration: PRE-REGISTER! I cannot possibly emphasize this too much. Whatever it takes, purchase your membership as soon as possible (the price goes up roughly $10 per month until you get to the full price; as of this writing, the membership will cost you $75)! 'But I'm not sure I'm going!' you might say. Two points to this: First, spending the money and making the commitment makes it more likely you WILL go; and Second, worst case scenario there IS a way to permit someone else to pick up your membership pass (I won't get into that here, as the Con officially frowns on it. But it CAN be done).
Then plan to spend time waiting in line to pick up your badge. Doesn't matter when you arrive, Thursday, Friday, whenever. There WILL be a line (don't worry, you'll get used to it. Or go insane. One or the other). If it's hot (and it probably will be), bring water and dress for the weather, because you're going to be in it for a while. EXPECT a computer glitch or two, but bear with them. With few exceptions, the Con crew are volunteers, doing the very best they can. And once you get inside, you will move through the line pretty quickly.
Talk to your neighbors in the queue. Everyone is there for the same reason; have fun, make friends.

Planning: The Con will send you a guide as soon as they have their guests and the tracks lined up. This is NOT to say there won't be changes; there will be. This is life, people; things happen. Sometimes good, sometimes not. But roll with it; you can't change it.
There's also an Android app, which allows you to view events by date or track or guest and program a schedule. DO THIS!! If not, you might find that you've found two events that are a half hour apart but in the two farthest hotels; or, worse still, you have to get from the Marriott to the Hyatt!
BE FLEXIBLE. Don't lock yourself into the schedule you've planned; if you find something you want to do, DO IT! (Personal experience: I walked into Larry Niven's panel about 20 minutes in, just because I had time to kill – and listened avidly as he dispensed advice based on HIS decades of experience! One piece, which HE got from Heinlein, for all you writers: Once you finish your book, go back and throw out the first hundred pages and redo it.) You never know what you're going to run into, or when.

Okay, so what did I do there?

Friday. Let's look back. Garrett Wong (director of the Trek Track) presenting George Takei in Sulu Solo. Very entertaining, listening to Mr.Takei tell tales of his years in the business, not just on Star Trek but other places.
Top Gear (part of the BritTrack). Well, disappointing is how I felt. I'm a fan, yes, but I had hoped for someone directly connected with the show. Instead, there were three other fans, of a more dedicated bent, expounding on the show. Not quite what I expected.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Great panel, with Garrett again presenting. His guests? Cirroc Lofton, Avery Brooks, and Terry Farrell (making her first appearance at DragonCon). Good discussion of life on and off the set of DS9, with Farrell visibly excited and practically bouncing in her enthusiasm.
Then a break, a tour of the Walk of Fame – which deserves more than a mention, so here goes. The Walk of Fame is a ballroom in the Marriott where the various guests from TV, movies, and authors all gather to schmooze with the fans, sign autographs, and take photos. Don't feel like shelling out $40 for a signed picture? No problem; every one I approached (lessee, Peter Davison, Avery Brooks, Garrett Wong, Tamoh Peniket, Erin Gray, Malcolm McDowell, Richard Hatch, Herbert Jefferson, Edward James Olmos – there were more) was perfectly happy to shake hands and just chat for a minute or five.
And then, to wrap Friday, was a panel with Peter Davison. Again, a lively discussion and Q&A session, with the sense that yes, this is EXACTLY where he wanted to be on Friday night.
Side note: One aspect that D*Con excelled at was allowing questions from the audience directly to the panelists, which made for a much more engaging panel, instead of simply a talking head with a guest.

Saturday. BIG day. I had planned to do SIX panels (of an hour each, with a half-hour in between each) but ran out of steam by 5pm – so only made it to four. But the first was the big enchilada:
William Shatner.
I hate to say it, as a long-time Trek fan though many of its incarnations – but while Shatner had some good things to say (notably: We, as humans, are all hard-wired to be curious, to wonder what is out there, and so we create fantasy and science fiction to try to answer that), too much of his presentation was about himself and his current projects (which I won't mention here). In this case, there really should have been a presenter to channel his energy and enthusiasm. Still, I can now say I've seen him and heard him.
Then Lee Majors – possibly the most down-to-earth actor of the entire weekend.
While waiting for the next panel, I wandered into see Larry Niven – a Professional Writer if ever there was one!
Next, a panel of Battlestar Galactica – Edward James Olmos, Richard Hatch, and Kandyse McClure. VERY thoughtful (McClure's thoughts on playing a character's suicide was moving) and surprising (look up Olmos speaking to the UN regarding the use of the word 'race'). Well-presented!

Sunday, well, that was tied up with friends visiting and a dinner with the Barflies. Then, Monday, was an early departure for the two-day drive back.

COSPLAY!

What, you thought I forgot?

Okay, okay. Cosplay is a MAJOR aspect of DragonCon – all genres, all tracks, all genders and species. People spend dozens of hours perfecting their acts – I can't just say 'costume', because while they are wearing them, they BECOME that character – and then spend the weekend showing off.

I can't do them justice in words. I really can't. You'll just have to look at the pictures.

So. To sum up:

DragonCon is hot, sweaty, tiring, demanding, has endless lines, can feel like a badly-run fire drill – and one of my favorite weekends of all time!

See you there next year!

As always, you can comment below, or directly to me at TheKildaran@yahoo.com – and if you were there, I'd love to hear from you!

 At the Barflies Dinner
Sulu Solo with George Takei and Garrett Wong
Exterminate!
K-9 and some other droid =)
Mermaind Cosplayers at the Georgia Aquarium