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*does a little dance of winner-ness*

Caveats: My word count turned out to be a bit off, thanks to how Scrivener compiles chapter headers and synopses, so I had to sprint-write an extra couple hundred words after I assumed I was already done. BUT I'm done with NaNo...

But not done with the book. And it's shaping up to be a doozy. It started off as a romance, but turned into alt-history fantasy and then I gave all the typical male hero parts to the gay BFF and sent the hero off for the majority of the story so far, so the romance is going to be a long slow burn. (Gay BFF has a crush on the hero, whee. I'll probably give him his own romance later.)

Anyway Lavinia has a lot of other things to occupy her with while her erstwhile husband is off running amok through the front lines.

Plans going forward: Snakes and Ladders is still priority now that NaNo is done with. I'm going to maintain a goal of 750 words a day on that, but give one day a week to Lavinia and Crew so they can stay fresh. (This works out to five days a week on Snakes and one day on Ash and one night for crits.)

I HAVE to halve my word counts because as John can tell you, ain't nothing else in my life happening this month. And life has got to get back on track. My house is a mess. My laundry pile is huge. I haven't cooked food in weeks, besides microwaving and ordering in, which don't count.

Lessons learned: I can't get caught up in editing too much. Perfection paralysis is my enemy. Just sitting down and shitting out a draft is half the battle. Word counts and goals are my friends. Having a weekly goal or a monthly goal I have to hit has been key to consistency.

The whole month has been a vaguely overwhelming and slightly terrifying experience punctuated by a lot of fun, squeals of joy, and gleeful evil chuckles. The terrifying and overwhelming parts came from being certain every day that I was on the verge of running out of ideas and stalling out, and the glee came from sitting down and finding unforeseen connections, fun wordplay, and terrible things to do to Lavinia.

(People you do not want to be: Lavinia. Last I left her she was cleaning up dragon poop and mangled dead dragon. That is about the LEAST traumatic thing to happen to her in this book.)


I've been having fun NaNoing up my war story, but my character is starting to wander into the thorny lands of "do I want to contribute to the war machine?" and "Do I have a choice about this?" It's basically a long extension of the idea that when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail, but reversing that....ie...when you are at war, everybody looks like a soldier, and how do you stop being a soldier.

Foggy View at Kerry Park

Hopefully nifty pictures will be forthcoming in the morning, as I noted to John that I had about 2000 steps to hit 10000 at 10pm, and that I might as well go up to Kerry Park to take pictures of the foggy Needle.

John, after a few seconds of thought, asked, "Are you going to be okay going to a park at night?" I explained that I LIKELY would be okay as I have never gone to Kerry Park and not seen a bazillion photographers BUT I had never gone up there so late before and YES, I would be able to take pictures without THINKING or WORRYING about stuff. (There are all these blogs with male street photographers talking about photography lighting tips and being out at night, and they almost never seem to realise that it's trickier being a woman and doing street photography at night. Particularly since the act of photography usually involves concentration and shutting out externals while you focus on the picture and your aperture and shutter and all that. I HAVE worried while being out late, and one of the reasons I feel semi-ok by myself is because the tripod is a heavy-ass thing to whang somebody in the head with.) So I appreciate my thoughtful husband taking one for the team and accompanying me so I could photograph things to my heart's content.

Of course, there were about three or four photographers up there, and a crowd of tourists and drunk game fans and whatnot. But it was still nice. And the Needle kept fading in and out of the fog, so hopefully I got something nice. :)

HOWEVER....my thighs rather hate me now. I ended the night with 14,473 steps and 40 flights of stairs. If you have never been to Kerry Park in Seattle, it's the overlook of the city that makes the Space Needle look like it's downtown when it's actually a mile out of the downtown core. And it's up on the top of Queen Anne hill and any San Franciscan would feel right at home in terms of hilliness. Queen Anne is probably comparable to climbing the Baker Street steps after hitting the Palace of Fine Arts. There's about three or four streets of steep-osity and then a sharp incline upwards of about four or five flights of stairs just to make the summit. (And then descending it in the dark and trying to avoid slipping on wet leaves is EXTRA FUN.)

FitBit Trauma

FitBit trauma! I took my FitBit off before my bath last night, placed it on my desk AND FORGOT TO PUT IT BACK ON. So I woke up this morning with my arm bare and no immediate recollection of having removed the FitBit. I started looking for it, but of course it wasn't any where in my immediate vicinity. I looked in both bathrooms and under the bed, and briefly at my desk, but in the dim morning light, couldn't see the black FitBit against the black desk. Since I had forgotten about the bath, I honestly was weirded out by the thought that I had gone to sleep with FitBit on and awakened to FitBit missing entirely.

I briefly entertained the notion that the FitBit was actually part of a Dark City sort of plan to put me in a new life, with all the memories of that life, and that I had only been me for approximately 8 hours, and the FitBit was the only vestige of my fading other memories. John was asleep but I was sure that if I asked him, he would deny any knowledge of the FitBit, and look at me in sad puzzlement. We would putter along, believing ourselves to have been in a relationship for nearly nine years, but all along we were strangers with implanted memories. Everyone and all of my siblings were just Dark City-style experiments.

Eventually I found my FitBit, and while I suppose all of you could TECHNICALLY be an experiment in human determinism, I'm now more concerned about the idea that I probably got a few hundred steps while frantically searching for my FitBit AND THEY AREN'T COUNTED.


Moving Again

As I wind up my house hunting adventures (very limited!) I submit that the perfect song to browse Craigslist is Pictures of You AKA Pictures of View.

"I've been staring so long at these pictures of view, that I almost believe that they're real..."

Actually, a lot of places brag about having a view, even include it in the tagline, but fail to unaccountably put the view in at all, instead replacing it with two pictures of the same boring-ass hallway from microscopically differing angles. "This is the hallway as seen from eye level, and this is it as seen from two inches lower. Do you see how the generic beige carpet runs the full length of this boring-ass hallway? DO YOU?" What real estate agent thought, "You know what would sell this? A picture of our popcorn ceiling!"

Although I suppose including the hallway picture does you one better than the people that list their properties but show NO PICTURES WHATSOEVER. I pretty much assume at that point that you are trying to rent me a former meth house.

Then there's the entirely erroneous "minutes to downtown!" posts. Without fail, they are never minutes to downtown, unless you happen to be in a Concorde. While hunting, I saw one place optimistically tout itself as being 15 minutes from downtown. 15 minutes from downtown IF it was 3 in the morning, after the entire city had been put under quarantine and you were driving 90 the entire way. MAAAAAYBE.

Another listing showed off the exciting renovations the owner was making--mid-renovation. Dry wall lay scattered around, the kitchen was gutted, appliances were hanging out willy-nilly, aluminum foil and buckets were artfully staged here and there. I theorised that the rental agent had a friend he was trying to save the apartment for but the owner gave him a deadline to post his ad by. That way he could say he posted it and had X number of responses instead of just telling the agent, "So I got this pal, Bernie."

Furnished houses made up a surprising number of listings. Inevitably furnished houses were furnished with Grandma Furniture. Especially tragic were the cases where the apartment owner had renovated the house and touted the modern fixtures, hanging out incongruously above a chintz-covered sofa with ornate side tables and doilies, all priced far too expensively. I think they thought they could raise the rent if they included Grandma's Furniture?
Then there's Nancy Drew and the Case of the Missing Appliances. For some reason, there are people in this day and age who still rent apartments without refrigerators. Truefax. Or the sneaky landlord who knows that in-unit washer and dryers are in demand, so he lists the unit as having a W/D, but means "coin operated and in a dark dingy room three floors below." I feel that this is a violation of the social contract and punishable by never being allowed to list on Craigslist ever again.

People who ALSO shouldn't be allowed to use Craigslist: The assholes that screw up your sorting algorithms. The mega-housing corps that list their 1 bedroom property costs when listing their 2 bedroom spots, so that when you go in, they say, "Oh, starting at 1600, but a 2 bedroom will run you 3600." The assholes that list every neighbourhood and city you might conceivably want to live in. Nope, when I say Seattle, I mean Seattle, not Burien, Bellevue, Kirkland, Bothell, Lynnwood, or Motherfucking Port Townsend. And when I say I want to live in Fremont, I don't mean a neighbourhood that touches the hindermost part of a neighbourhood that touches Fremont. Two bedrooms means two bedrooms, not one master bedroom and a tiny nook next to the kitchen or under the stairs.

Then there are the self-fancied wordsmiths who abuse architectural terms beyond all meaning. "Opulent" does not mean standard 60s construction with no distinguishing details beyond shag carpet. Victorian and Craftsman are not the same thing, and while you can say that something was made IN the Victorian or Craftsman STYLE if it was made in the last decade, it is duplicitous to say it is the same thing as A Victorian or A Craftsman. A duplex is not a cottage. You can not be "cozy" and "spacious" at the same time--the connotations just don't align. "Tranquility" is not evoked by placing your apartment next to a mall parking lot. "Stunning" can not be applied to anything that looks like it was inspired by stacking a lot of cardboard boxes on top of each other and painting them ecru or taupe.

Anyway, tomorrow or Tuesday puts the period to the thankfully brief phase in my life. Best of luck to fellow house hunters. May the Housing Gods be ever in your favour.

Today I Went To France

Geoguessr has plonked me down in France. Next to a Paleosite! On route d134! (Easy, compared to be dumped on a straight away in Australia.)

I'm somewhere west of Cognac!

French roads are prettier than ours.

The Nebraska of France is still prettier than our Nebraska. Sorry, Nebraska.

Lest you think I'm joking about Nebraska of France:

Where I started:
5 D134
17770 Saint-Césaire, France
45.754989, -0.501550

is where I ended up.

The actual Nebraska-y bit is a bit further away.

Varaize, Poitou-Charentes

RIP Tiny Piglet (Neither Tiny nor a Piglet)

My sister messaged me to let me know that my old cat, Tiny Piglet, wasn't doing so well. By the time I got a hold of her, he had died. She was crying when I called. My big bruiser of a kitty is gone, aged approximately 17 or maybe even 18. We don't exactly know. His previous owner said he was about a year, a year and a half old by her reckoning, when she gave him to me over 16 years ago. And when I couldn't take him to Canada, he was bequeathed to my sister.

I've asked Rae to send a picture when she's feeling better. But things you need to know about Tiny Piglet. He was not Tiny, which was one of his first names. He wasn't precisely a Piglet either--the previous owner's kids tried to call him that after the Pooh character. He was big and brawny, white of fur, except for his raccoon tail and a tiny spot under his chin that looked like a spaghetti stain. He had liquid gold eyes that made me want to paint them. When I lived at my parents' house, he would wake me up by batting the door knob of the door until I would let him out. Then he'd would jump up, tap the door knob, run to the top of the stairs, jump, tap that door knob, and dash back down to rinse and repeat. He would affectionately butt his head against my legs, face, armpit. He was the last cat I owned before I came down with adult onset allergies. (Ironically if I had been able to keep him, I might never have manifested with the allergies. But I lost my exposure.)

He got to watch my nieces grow up and he survived their toddlerhood, which I imagine was no mean feat. He was loved muchly and he will be missed muchly.

DASH and Body Stuff

Health stuff:
I can't recall if I mentioned this but on Monday when I was getting blood drawn AGAIN and the doc took my blood pressure, I was at 120/82. Which is down from 120/92! Yay! I'm slowly inching back to healthy. And it seems like the DASH diet is helping with that.

I've mentioned it before, and I'm about to talk about it again, because I'm already noticing lots of small changes. For one thing it has become easier to resist eating foods that were supposed to be consumed in smaller amounts or avoided altogether because of my fatty liver issue. For another, it is becoming easier to listen to my body's full-or-nearly-full cues. Even when eating out, I'm not plowing through the entire mountain of food. I ate only half my banh mi from yesterday, along with a handful of broccoli* and seriously, that kept me sated ALL afternoon. (One memorable day at Kabam I ate THREE banh mi on sandwich day.) It's been easier to stick to portions, while still getting all the calories I need. (I'm at 1500 calories on days where I don't work out, so don't worry, no deprivation.) Oh, and Greek yogurt is easier to eat. It wasn't sweet enough before...but now that I'm not eating sugary or processed things all day long, it's more palatable than I remember it being.

And without trying to put undue attention on weight loss, I have gone from 185 to 176.7. (If you don't count the first week's water weight fluctuations, I'm losing 2** pounds a week. Because of the ongoing health concern I made sure my doctor knew about this and she seems content that I'm fine and not overdoing it.)

My exercise has been limited to walking (because of said health concern) but John and I have done quite a bit of it lately and it seems to be paying off.

*I wasn't eating raw broccoli or anything from the brassica category, or pears last week because it turns out they are goiterogens, but the doc has said judging by my thyroid panel, it looks like I'm cleared to eat raw foods like that again.

http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/dash/ - if you are interested in checking this out. The primary goal is to control blood pressure, but there are incidental benefits to weight control if that is an issue for you personally. It's fairly easy to follow, I think--the biggest change is just getting more fruits and veggies in, reducing certain processed foods, getting low-fat with dairy but still getting healthy fats from things like olive oil and nuts, and balancing your protein intake instead of making meat the centerpiece of a meal. The biggest thing is limiting your sodium. I like the baked potato option in their provided meal plan and they explain how to make low-sodium versions of things like pasta sauce.

Usual caveats: Every one is different and everyone has different body goals. Some folks don't want or even need to lose weight and can have healthy BP at any size. I'm trying to keep my advocacy limited to "This is what is working for me, and it's helping with these problems (fatty liver, blood pressure) and aiding in a self-set weight loss plan."

John is NOT doing DASH. It doesn't work for him--not because it couldn't, but because he prefers other approaches for maintaining his healthy eating habits. We are both doing pretty well with our respective approaches. (Also I notice that even if he dislikes mornings, he's been really good at getting up in the morning recently, something he'd struggled with.)

**It's not medically advised to lose more than 2lbs of weight in a week consistently. You might have water weight fluctuations, things like that, occasionally, and you don't want to lose the lean muscle mass.

RIP Peter O'Toole


Nooooooo. No. No. No. No. No.

I'm crying as I try to write this.

My dad took me to see Lawrence of Arabia. First, when I was approximately nine and the SCERA ran the 70 mm print as part of a restoration run, and then two years later, on the day of the Loma Prieta earthquake. I'm not sure if we felt the earthquake as far away as Utah because I would have been in my seat, rapt, staring at the screen. The first time I saw Lawrence, I was blown away, impressed by a movie in a way that very rarely has ever occurred since, and in a way which has never been replicated. I left the movie the first time, and checked out Lawrence of Arabia in the encyclopedia. I looked up everything I could about the man, read The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, read autobiographies, watched lesser biopics. (BTW, knowing that Lawrence of Arabia was probably gay was no doubt a huge counterpoint to the ideology I was raised with. I was in junior high or high school when I ran across that explanation in one of his biographies--others had sorta glossed it over in euphemisms I hadn't understood until later--and it sorta tweaked my head for approximately ten minutes, and then I accepted it because, well, he was Lawrence.)

So the movie is in large part a technical masterpiece of cinematography and screenplay and directing and of course, acting. And O'Toole's Lawrence was the linchpin for me. "Certainly it hurts. The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."


I suppose it would be fair to remind you that he acted in other movies. Certainly, he was one of the most nominated and never-winning actors in Hollywood. He even asked Hollywood if they might not delay the lifetime achievement statue since he was still in the game and might yet "win the lovely bugger outright." He lost Lawrence of Arabia to Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird, which is the only reason I can not say he was robbed. He also lost Goodbye Mr. Chips to John Wayne's True Grit. And while he was not nominated for his performance in King Ralph, I'm sure that was a mere oversight on the part of the Academy. I used to worry that he would die too early and that King Ralph would be the last thing he would be known for, but I find that even it has achieved a patina of affection with age. And fortunately for the sake of the epitaphs, there is Lawrence. There will always be Lawrence.

I'm glad I went to the Cinerama just a month or so back to see Lawrence of Arabia again. I always do, whenever I get the chance to see it on the big screen, and a Cinerama screen is one of the biggest you can get, taking full advantage of those amazing 70mm desert shots, where the humans are flyspecks on the edge of a vast horizon. It now takes on the vague flavour in my mind...the same nostalgia I associate with the last trip to Utah before my Grandfather Mitchell died. Being aware, subconciously perhaps, that this would be the last time I would see him while alive. I guess that's how I feel now about that recent viewing of O'Toole's master performance.

It hurts thinking that we've lost him.

And as I think that, I hear in my head, "Certainly it hurts. The trick is not minding that it hurts."
As flu season is upon us, today's friendly message is to wash AND dry your hands properly. Everybody knows to wash (although I side eye you people in public bathrooms who only cursorily flick your hands beneath a stream of water) but not everyone knows that drying properly and thoroughly afterwards is the best way to reduce bacterial transfer.


This link discusses the effects of different drying methods, as well as rubbing your hands together under that air-dryer. (Rubbing hands together inhibits the reduction of bacterial transfer. ie. don't do it, your hands will be more efficiently clean if you don't.)

And per this link from Eli Maffei the Dyson Airblade is more efficient energy-wise than paper towels. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/green-living-blog/2010/aug/05/carbon-footprint-drying-hands

For a combination of green and clean, look for the Dyson airblade, then paper towels, then the regular hand dryer, and don't rub your hands together.

http://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/ - the CDC recommendations for hand-washing.

Happy handwashing!

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