Category Archives: Personal

Sometimes the good guys lose (#SFWApro)

Okay, one week of poor productivity isn’t comparable to being gunned down by Hydra agents, but it did give me an excuse to use this cool Jack Kirby cover (all rights remain with current holder).

Mostly it was a few more the thousand cuts I mentioned last week. Monday I went in for the MRA (like an MRA for artery) to check my small aneurysm hadn’t grown. Raleigh Radiology were awesome, getting me in and out lickety-split, but the drive was long, and that used up most of my morning before time for walkies.

This morning we had to get Trixie to the vet a little after 7am because some of her teeth are a mess so she’s getting a deep cleaning. I feel slightly nervous about having to put her under anesthetic for this so when I got up I spent most of the early morning snuggling and petting her (my body definitely feels stiff from my failure to stretch out, though).

We also have to add AdBlue to our diesel engine every so often (it helps keep down emissions — though given it’s a Volkswagen, that seems almost ironic)) and according to the Warning! on the dashboard the car will shut down if we don’t. While we have time (the amount we drive is small enough 400 miles isn’t a tight deadline) the constant Warning! didn’t turn off so I decided to take it in this morning, after dropping Trixie at the vet. That took a little more time, then I had a quick bit of shopping … so again, a lot of the morning got eaten up. In hindsight I rather wish I’d taken even more and donated blood — enough time has elapsed since my last donation I’m eligible again — but I wasn’t sure when TYG would absolutely have to have the car.

Since then we picked up Trixie, who is completely sacked out. At this point I’m pretty sure nothing but blogging will get done today. I’ll come up about a day short for writing hours this week.

So not much accomplished. My next Screen Rant is done (15 Things You Need to Know About Apokolips, to tie in with the Justice League movie), and I got some work done on Southern Discomfort, but that’s about it. And the latter didn’t go at all well this week. I had a tricky key moment in the plot and I while I eventually figured out how to progress, it took time. More generally my brain just didn’t seem to be plugged in. Oh, well, as I’ve mentioned before, sooner or later returning to the mean is inevitable.

It feels more frustrating though, because with Thanksgiving ahead, I’ll lose part of the next work week. Plus I’m once again doing some online articles for Leaf, which pay well but cut into the time for other writing (I was planning to do some today, but I don’t think I’ll make it). So Southern Discomfort, not to mention short stories such as Angels Hate This Man or Oh the Places You’ll Go! will get shorter shrift.

While I had been planning to take the day after Thanksgiving off, perhaps I’ll use it to catch up on fiction. But Trixie’s fine, and that’s the most important thing.


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Filed under Personal, Screen Rant, Southern Discomfort, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals

If I could catch the ducks, I’d stop them nibbling me to death (#SFWApro)

I am once again falling behind on my non-writing to-do list.

This includes a variety of odds and ends I do around the house (clean, water plants, keep the bird feeder filled); arranging for contractors to fix things and assorted paperwork (reapplying for my pension from my previous employer). I’m doing fine with the stuff that has to be done, such as watering plants or arranging dog medical appointments but not so much the rest of it.

Normally my solution is to do a little thing each day, on morning tea break for example. Then that didn’t seem to be working for me, so I tried catching up on things in one big clump on the weekends. Only I found devoting a large chunk of time to that stuff unsatisfying.

So I thought hmm, maybe I just need a schedule adjustment: I’ll use my morning break to read, then do my task of the day in the evening (unless it involves calling people to make appointments, etc.) in part of my reading time.

Unfortunately it hasn’t worked well so far. Monday I had to work late in the evening to ensure I finished this week’s Screen Rant. And if TYG gets home late, it’s harder to deal with paperwork while I’m still minding the dogs. So presto, I’m already behind my new schedule.

I’ll find a way to catch up eventually, but right now it’s very frustrating as crap remains uncompleted.

Cover by Al Plastino, all rights remain with current holder.

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Filed under Personal, Time management and goals

Visuals for Friday morning (#SFWApro)

Here, have some photos!

My milkshake brings all the birds to my yard.

Dawn through our back window.

Caterpillars and their webbing over a nearby grate.

Christmas cactus still going strong.


And Plush-dog getting a head rub against my foot.

All photos are by me, please credit me if you use them.

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Filed under Personal, The Dog Ate My Homework

No movies but theater! (#SFWApro)

Normally The Grand Duke would have been the Durham Savoyards’ last production this year, but earlier this month TYG and I went to catch a special show, combining Gilbert and Sullivan’s first collaboration, THESPIS, or the Gods Grown Old with their second, a one-act called TRIAL BY JURY. The latter was their first work for D’Oyly Carte, who would go on to supervise their greatest works.

Sullivan’s score for THESPIS is lost, so the Savoyards’ music director wrote his own (not the first time someone’s done that). While not up to Sullivan’s best, he definitely caught the feel and rhythm of Sullivan’s music. The story itself starts with the Olympian gods (Roman, not Greek versions) feeling increasingly old, powerless  and cranky. Hermes is the only one still capable of doing much, so the other deities force him to do most of their work. When a squabbling troupe of actors stumbles into Olympus, the gods appoint them as their replacements, then go off to explore the mortal world (Hermes is stuck behind, continuing as Olympus’ general dogsbody). As you can probably guess, things go horribly wrong, for example having a teetotaller (my friend Ada Milenkovic Brown) chosen to play Bacchus. As a result, grapes now produce nothing but ginger beer. The results were fun and the cast gave it their talented all, but it’s definitely not up to G&S’ D’Oyly Carte work. “He hates you and wants to take your life — now run along and get married.”

The difference is easy to see in TRIAL BY JURY (photo from an earlier Savoyard version, all rights remain with the current holder). The story concerns a young man dragged before a court for failing to honor his promise of marriage to the attractive young plaintiff. This is slightly ironic since the judge is at least as bad, having risen in the legal world by dating a lawyer’s ugly daughter, then throwing her over as soon he’d gained advancement. Switching to targeting British institutions worked much better for G&S than taking shots at the English gods, and I guess they knew it. In subsequent plays they mocked stage pirate dramas (Pirates of Penzance), stage Naval adventures (HMS Pinafore), British exceptionalism (Utopia Limited) and prominent British poets (Patience). Even The Mikado is more about Britain than Japan (Pooh-Bah represents the impoverished British aristocrats trying to monetize their name and title).

Next year the show will be Ruddigore, a delightful satire of British melodrama. TYG and I are looking forward to it.

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Filed under Miscellanea, Personal

RIP Vegetarian Times (#SFWApro)

I’d been wondering why our Vegetarian Times issue for September never came, and this week we got the sad news: the magazine has gone under.

TYG bought be a subscription about four years ago and has kept renewing it ever since; as she said, it’s a gift for me that benefits her. I’ve greatly enjoyed both the magazine and the advice articles (how to roast veggies, how to make a perfect grilled cheese, etc.). And I prefer using a hard copy book or magazine to reading a recipe off my phone.

I’d wondered if the magazine might be in trouble when it reinvented itself as Vegetarian Today a few months back. The magazine was a scaled down version with fewer articles but the same number of recipes, so it was still worth getting.

Other than losing what we paid for the rest of the subscription, it’s no big deal. I have four years of magazines, and as you can see I have no shortage of vegetarian cookbooks. I could make a meal a night for the next two years without repeating myself, and I don’t cook anywhere near that often. Heck, I could probably cook a meal a night and not exhaust the recipes I haven’t used yet. Living by myself for so long, it was kind of hard to work through that many recipes a month.

Plus VT has given us access to its website with a backlog of recipes. So if I do want to get a recipe online, I have that resource. I use online recipes mostly when I need to use some ingredient or vegetable up, and I’d certainly prefer using VT to “random website that looks like it might be reliable. Maybe.”

Still, it was fun getting those recipes every month. But we’ll survive, and still eat well.

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Filed under Personal

Nostalgia for W

Back during the election, the ghost writer on Trump’s The Art of the Deal wrote that Trump was insecure and easily provoked. And those traits were on display this week. Trump can’t stand having less nukes than other presidents. He insists his IQ is really, really high, just like he had that huuuuge electoral college win. He wants you to know those paper towels he threw in Puerto Rico were top quality towels. And plenty of people think his drive to destroy Obamacare (with tricks like this) is partly resentment at the popular, intelligent, articulate black guy who preceded him (ditto terminating Obama’s Iran deal, because he can’t be a better negotiator than Trump).

But then again, it’s hard to imagine another Republican president (or congressional leader) who wouldn’t try to overturn Obamacare. They hate that people who aren’t rich are getting stuff from the government. Their donors hate government doing anything that doesn’t benefit them. They think people use too much healthcare and shouldn’t go to the doctor so much (Rep. Bill Huizinga is proud he didn’t take his kid to the E/R until he was sure his arm was broken). And eliminating Obamacare will allow them and their backers to get bigger tax cuts. Republicans say they’re concerned, but they won’t oppose Trump. And they ain’t models of good government either. Which is why getting nostalgic for George W. Bush is a big mistake.

I’ve heard people do it and I understand the impulse. W was coherent. W didn’t say the quiet parts out loud like Trump does (no matter how badly his administration treated Muslims, W repeatedly insisted we weren’t at war with them). But he was a dreadful president in every way (apologies, I don’t have time to include links):

He ignored warnings about the possibility of a 9/11-style attack. His response to 9/11 was to round up hundreds of Muslims based on nothing but ethnicity. Then to launch a war on Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11. A war justified with talk of weapons of mass destruction despite multiple reports and defector intel that Saddam didn’t have any. And according to Assistant SecDef Paul Wolfowitz, the real agenda was that with Saddam down we could take troops out of Saudi Arabia, where American presence was stirring up trouble.

Bush proclaimed Mission Accomplished in 2003. Following which we lost thousands of soldiers fighting the insurgency. Iraqi civilian deaths numbered in the tens of thousands.

Bush sanctioned torture. He locked up hundreds of people without any trial, due process or review, based solely on his own authority. White House attorney John Yoo asserted the president had a unilateral right to ignore any laws or constitutional principles if he decided it was necessary. The FBI spied on law-abiding Muslims and nonviolent leftwing groups without any probable cause.

Bush appointed the incompetent, inexperienced Michael Brown to FEMA. He assumed office with a budget surplus and openly stated this was a bad thing (because it proved taxes were too high)! He successfully ran us into red ink.

Bush wanted very much to privatize Social Security. He said before his election that if he ever became a war president, he’d use that clout to make big changes in Social Security and other domestic programs.

And many Republicans declared that to so much as question our Glorious Supreme Leader was treasonous.

It didn’t start with Trump. It won’t end with Trump. He might look better than whoever the Republicans inflict on us next — but that won’t make him good.


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Filed under Personal

Time got away from me (#SFWApro)

Yesterday we got a new king-size bed that will hopefully be better suited for TYG, me and the dogs to share than our queen-size.

Then we did some shopping.

Then we went to a party.

So no time to write a book review post.

So instead here’s a look at my new display shelves for things I’ve written/been published in. Originally everything was squeezed onto the top shelves, but I moved all our medical nonfiction from the second shelf elsewhere (over with the science stuff) to give my ego — er, my genius — more space to strut its stuff.


Filed under Personal, Writing