Monthly Archives: November 2012

Radio Silence

I’m moving cities soon, so the blog will be quiet for a while. I’ll try to post something short and quick from time to time, but I doubt I’m going to manage much writing in the next few weeks.

Take care, everyone.

The threat of Madonna

Okay. I’m going to start with the link and the headline that went with it: RUSSIA: Court Acquits Madonna Of Threatening National Birth Rate By Promoting Homosexuality

Hard not to laugh, isn’t it?

The short version is that “homosexual propaganda”, and the promotion thereof is now a crime in St. Petersburg (they’re considering expanding this law to the federal level) and nine claimants brought charges against Madonna for voicing her opinions in public at a concert there.

It’s actually very tempting to just quote the entire Joe My God article here and point and laugh, but it stops being funny when you see what they considered “promoting homosexuality”. Here’s what Madonna said at a concert in August,

I am here to say that the gay community and gay people here and all around the world have the same rights – to be treated with dignity, with respect, with tolerance, with compassion, with love

This is promotion? Saying that gay people are human beings with rights?

I’m pretty sure in one of these blog posts I said that I expected anyone’s rights to be respected, up to and including Space-Zombie Hitler. Was I promoting Undead-Space-Nazism by doing so?

Well, as the headline says, the judge didn’t think so. But it really bothers me that people thought they could win this suit, and though that it was worth even trying to win.

Read the rest of this entry

Giving Thanks

It’s Thanksgiving Day here in the United States. A day where we celebrate the good times by eating too much, arguing with our family, and maybe going off to wait all night in the cold to buy a cheap television. What’s left of my family went to a local hotel that had a lovely buffet dinner with bottomless champagne.

This may be a little unsteady, due to that last part.

This morning Bonita, a Christian acquaintance who writes A Word Fitly Written, posted this to facebook.

Today I’m thinking, though, that if I were to thank God for a thousand things each day this year, it would only account for such a tiny percentage (if even that) of all I’ve been given, and all I have been blessed with.
Every breath is a miracle.
Every day of life.

Every hug from a child is a blessing.
Every note from a friend.
Every enjoyable conversation is something to take note of.
Every good night’s sleep.
Every dream I hold in my heart.
Every bit of love I’ve been given.
For these and an endless number more, I give thanks to the One Who created all good things and freely gives them to us.

Moments after reading that, I read this in my email from the Poem a Day list.

The Thanksgivings
by Harriet Maxwell Converse

Translated from a traditional Iroquois prayer 

We who are here present thank the Great Spirit that we are here to praise Him.

We thank Him that He has created men and women, and ordered that these beings shall always be living to multiply the earth.

We thank Him for making the earth and giving these beings its products to live on.

We thank Him for the water that comes out of the earth and runs for our lands.

We thank Him for all the animals on the earth.

We thank Him for certain timbers that grow and have fluids coming from them for us all.

We thank Him for the branches of the trees that grow shadows for our shelter.

We thank Him for the beings that come from the west, the thunder and lightning that water the earth.

We thank Him for the light which we call our oldest brother, the sun that works for our good.

We thank Him for all the fruits that grow on the trees and vines.

We thank Him for his goodness in making the forests, and thank all its trees.

We thank Him for the darkness that gives us rest, and for the kind Being of the darkness that gives us light, the moon.

We thank Him for the bright spots in the skies that give us signs, the stars.

We give Him thanks for our supporters, who had charge of our harvests.

We give thanks that the voice of the Great Spirit can still be heard through the words of Ga-ne-o-di-o.

We thank the Great Spirit that we have the privilege of this pleasant occasion.

We give thanks for the persons who can sing the Great Spirit’s music, and hope they will be privileged to continue in his faith.

We thank the Great Spirit for all the persons who perform the ceremonies on this occasion.

I was struck by how similar the sentiment is in the two, even though they share almost nothing in common in the details. To human emotions, the whole is indeed greater than the sum of its parts.

As far as I know, all cultures, everywhere, set aside time to look at the good things in life and appreciate them. For all our differences, in many ways we’re all the same.

I can’t really be thankful for these things, (who would I thank?) but there is nothing listed in either of those prayers that I’m not glad for. And I am certainly thankful to you, dear reader, whomever you are, for reading my words.

I am also thankful to the staff where we had dinner, who kept my champagne glass full at all times. Mind you, this post seemed to have a lot more to it before the champagne, I’d have sworn I had some deep and fascinating cultural observation to make that I just couldn’t remember after dinner. Perhaps it’s better this way, though.

Transgender Day Of Remembrance

image

I saw this taking a late night walk last week, and meant to share it much sooner than now. Better almost-late than never, I suppose.

If you’re having trouble reading that poster, it’s announcing that November 20 is Transgender Day of Remembrance. Here in Fresno there’s a candlelight vigil march at 4:30 pm in Fresno Courthouse Park, that’s 1100 Van Ness Ave, and a reception celebration at 6:00 at the Downtown Community Arts Collective, 764 P. Street.

It’s estimated that one in twelve trans-women is murdered. If you only count people of color, that number rises to one in eight. Statistically it’s very likely that at least one of the trans women I’ve met will die by violence. Or already has.

I’m really not okay with that.

I don’t think anyone should be okay with that.  Read the rest of this entry

Another month of search terms.

Spending an evening with friends cooking and canning and drinking mulled wine is a fine thing, a good idea. Continuing until after three in the morning is less good. Then sitting down & chatting is probably not a great plan, but hey, you need to get your laid-back socialization in. But opening the bottle of blackberry brandy was clearly a bad idea.

That was Wednesday night. Yesterday one of these people there fell ill, and today I’m feeling sick. At least there’s rain to cheer me up!

If you’re thinking that I’ve missed my search terms, fear not! I didn’t get the post written yesterday, but I did get the search page loaded up with the proper 30-day period listed. So the post is a day late, but the terms are correct! I’ll be skipping the repeats unless I think of something to say that makes me laugh, and as usual the search terms are bold while my commentary is italic.

Read the rest of this entry

Why Churches?

A conversation on facebook got me thinking about this. Why do people go to churches? I mean, in theory what purpose do churches serve? From my outsider’s point of view churches don’t seem to do anything but bore people, ask for money, and protect child abusers, but clearly people must be getting something out of it.

I only ever attended one church service, when I was about eight years old. I went along with the neighbors after their kids invited me. I don’t remember much, mostly being very bored and very uncomfortable, there was something profoundly creepy to me about all these grownups talking so seriously about stuff that seemed obviously make-believe. I never went back, and I’ve never felt that I was missing anything by it.

But many people go every week, sometimes more than once. Why? This is something I hadn’t really thought of before, it was always just something lots of people did, but the more I think about it the weirder it seems.

If you’re a church-goer I would really appreciate it if you would leave a comment and tell me what you get out of it. From your point of view, what do they actually do?

Uganda set to begin reign of terror.

I hope my title turns out to be hyperbole, but only time will tell. Uganda is apparently going to pass the “Kill the Gays” bill. They’re calling it a “Christmas Present”. Personally, I wouldn’t want a stocking full of injustice for the holidays.

Box Turtle Bulletin has the text of the bill as submitted in 2009 and a summary of its revisions, should you feel like reading it, but it was this post about the 19th clause that inspired my title. The image of a jackbooted corps or queer-hunters led by a man who’s part Robespierre & part Torquemada is a striking one, and sadly sounds far too plausible to me.

In the 1950’s, United States Senator Joseph McCarthy ran a series of witch-hunts which destroyed careers and even lives trying to find communists. Being a communist is not a crime in the United States, and was not at the time, either, yet McCarthy was able to hound people about it anyways with the fear of Soviet spies.

By comparison, this is a law that will imprison people for three years for the crime of not turning in suspected gays within 24 hours. Advocating for gay rights would be a crime, trying to repeal the law might even count. Hell, I’m pretty sure this very blog has enough posts “promoting homosexuality” that I’d be subject to five to seven years imprisonment if I ever went to Uganda.

People convicted of homosexuality itself seem to only have life imprisonment or death as possible sentences, though I may have missed something in there. The death sentence is limited to “aggravated homosexuality”, which requires additional crimes such as “being HIV-positive”.

This is a terrible bill, with terrible purposes, and it sounds like it’s pretty much going to pass. I don’t see what it can possibly accomplish except for an awful lot of human misery. I suppose those in power can use it against their enemies, just call them gay and hang them.

It never ceases to amaze me how much work people will put into causing needless suffering.

NaNoWriMo update, and Chapter 2

I got off to a strong start on National Novel Writing Month, but that didn’t last. I got stuck trying to figure out what to do next, and wound up spinning my wheels a lot. I’m trying to adopt a philosophy of “I’ll fix it in the second draft!” but it’s not coming easily.

I don’t know what my wordcount is right now, but I’m sure that I’m far behind. It may already be too much for me to get to 50,000. And that’s okay, I’m going to keep working on it anyway. For all my whining about this project, I’ve gotten more actual story written than I have for the space opera setting I’ve been planning for over a year and a half now!

Chapter 2 could be subtitled “In which there is much pointless talking, and very little happens.” Neither me nor my characters knew what to do next, so I wound up writing dialogue as they flailed around trying to figure out what to do. There are a few good moments, but mostly it’s just boring.

NaNoWriMo is about quantity, not quality. I’m trying to remember that. When I’m done, if I hate it, I’ll fix it in the second draft!

I honestly hadn’t planned to post any more of this, but since I’ve had multiple people ask me when I’m posting the next chapter I may as well. This means, of course, that you have only yourselves to blame. Read on if you dare!

(Or, go back to Chapter 1)

Read the rest of this entry

Look Down, Look Down, Upon Your Fellow Man!

I was writing this afternoon while listening to Les Misérables on Youtube, and damned if the last hour or so of the musical completely tear me away from the writing. Okay, it’s possible that I was also having a tough time with the writing and was more willing to be distracted than usual, but still… Damn that’s a good show.

Looking forward to the movie, but honestly the all-star cast is going to have a tough time living up to the standards set by the London cast I saw. Javert especially stuck out to me, he was on Darth Vader’s level of scary. Good luck matching that, Russell Crowe!

Anyway, I noticed something about Javert’s last song. Spoilers ahoy from here on out! Read the rest of this entry

Remember that Post-A-Day thing?

Incidentally, I did the math and if I can write two posts per day I can still make my goal of 366 by the end of the year with a dozen to spare.

So that’s something. I’m way behind on my NaNoWriMo project, and I have far too many other things to do right now, but it’s good to know that this one is still within reach.

Now I just need to drop my standards enough to pull this stuff off while still getting everything done…

False Dichotomy

A false dichotomy is a fallacious argument that suggests there are only two possibilities when in fact there are more. I’m stretching this quite a bit here, but the spirit of the thing feels right.

In the wake of the election, you’re probably sick of politics. I know I am. But this is the time when we can actually change things, now that we have some breathing room before the mid-terms start another two fucking years of campaigning. Now is when we can make real changes.

In the United States, there were six candidates for President this election, but only two ever had a chance. Two of them I can’t even name off the top of my head. Read the rest of this entry

Injury Update

It’s been two weeks now since I fell down the stairs. For the most part I’m doing well, I can move with only a slight limp and at this point there’s only any pain if I do something stupid like try to put weight on that toe.

Did you know that when you walk a sizable part of your body weight is supported by your big toe? I didn’t realize that until I couldn’t do it anymore.

Fatigue is now a bigger problem than pain. Today I went shopping, and it was exhausting. I took the cane, even though I’m not using it inside the house anymore. I figured there would probably be a difference between walking around the house, where I can sit down at any moment, and walking around a store where I’m on my feet constantly. I’m very, very glad I did that.

It took more than two hours and I now have a bruise on the palm of my hand from leaning on that stick.

This actually sounds worse than it is. The injury itself is healing quickly, and when I accidentally put some weight on it there weren’t wailing alarms in my head like before, though it still hurt. At this point I’m having much more trouble from secondary aches and pains due to walking funny for the last two weeks.

And I just realized that I’m procrastinating from the NaNoWriMo book by stretching this post out. I’m procrastinating from writing, by writing.

Still losing every battle, but somehow winning the war.

One More Day

California votes tomorrow. Don’t forget! If anyone asks for your ID, you probably don’t need to show them unless you registered by mail after 2003, and maybe not even then. We aren’t a vital state in the big dirty fight, but don’t let that stop you. Get out and exercise your voice, and then let’s spend next few years trying to build a better system, because this two-party shit has got to go.

My opinion of the big dirty fight is best summed up by this.

One Term More – With Subtitles from One Term More on Vimeo.

Uh, Amazon?

Last week I dropped my phone in the supermarket and it popped apart and the battery went skittering across the floor. Everything seems to be okay with it, but it scared me. This phone is literally the most valuable thing I own, both in price and general usefulness, and it would have been devastating to lose it because it slipped out of my shirt pocket when I bent over to pick up a bag of dog food.

So tonight I decided I’d spend some of my writer’s block time shopping for a protective cover for it. I went to Amazon to do this because I’m poor and a little cheap, and also an Amazon Prime member, so I wanted to find a cheap one with free two-day shipping.

I told Amazon to show me only Prime eligible items, to NOT show me “add-on” items, and to sort the list from lowest price to highest.

Now take a look at this screen-shot. Read the rest of this entry

Writing frustrations

I have not done well in NaNoWriMo this weekend. Seems like every time I start to really get moving something, or more often someone, interrupts me and by the time I can sit down again I’ve lost the thread.

I did come to a conclusion on the schizo tech question, I’ve decided that if I want it a certain way and can come up with even the slightest, paper-thin justification for it, that’s the way to go. That way it should be almost entirely the way I want things, but I have rules to guide me when I’m not sure how it should be. Plus rules like that give you nice surprises sometimes.

This post is little more than feeling like I’m doing something worthwhile while stuck on my novel. The awful part is that I was moving along well, and had a good, solid idea of where the scene was going to go before I got interrupted, and now I’m clueless. I don’t even know why the characters said what they said, now.

After November, my next writing project needs to be learning to write an outline.

NaNoWriMo update, and Chapter 1

So here we are, near the end of Day Two of NaNoWriMo. I’ve been setting my word count goals at 2,000 words per day, on the theory that this gives me some leeway for when I inevitably screw up.

Right now my word count is just over 5,000. I’m feeling pretty good about that, and taking the rest of the night off to watch classic (or at least old) horror movies with popcorn & beer. I’m going to post the first chapter of my incredibly rough draft here for your reading… er…. for your reading.

I haven’t really found my tone for this book yet. And that’s okay, NaNoWriMo is about quantity, not quality. So far it’s looking like a sort of fanfic crossover between Discworld and the Dresden Files. I’ve had a lot of fun dreaming up the world these characters live in. This chapter is going to be under the same Creative Commons license all my blog posts are, which means you can share it as long as you take no money, give me credit, and link back here.

This is a real adventure for me. I never learned to write a proper outline, you see, so while I have a few ideas for how things might turn out, I’m really making this up as I go. With only a few exceptions I honestly don’t know what’s foreshadowing and what’s a red herring or just flavor filler.

I don’t know how long I can keep going before I paint myself into a corner, but I have a few ideas for escaping if I get stuck, including radically changing the genre of the book if things get desperate.

Without further ado, here’s the first chapter of my as-yet-unnamed novel. (The footnote might be a little awkward, sorry about that.)

Read the rest of this entry

The Nef Project

Here’s a Kickstarter project I want to promote called the Nef Project. Nefratiri Martinez was expected to die before her fifth birthday. In August 2013 she’ll celebrate her 30th.

Her family kinda thinks this is a big deal and they’re crowdfunding a documentary about her life. Partly to inform and educate people, but mostly as a birthday present to celebrate her living six times longer than anyone expected.

I’ve known this family personally for 20 years now, and it wasn’t terribly uncommon to hear that Nef was in the hospital again. There were times when I expected to hear that she’d died, but she’s hung in there. She’s one of the happiest people I’ve ever met.

(I’ll forgive her for laughing every time I walked into the room during my highschool years. In fairness, I was a gangly teenager then and probably did look pretty funny.)

Go take a look at the project, and if it looks interesting to you toss something in! Don’t think of it as a donation, think of it as pre-ordering slightly overpriced collector’s items!

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