Tuesday, July 31, 2007


I guess I lied. Sorry. I'll post something tomorrow.

I have returned...

...with my suitcase a little heavier.

After work today, I'll make my (probably) final Comic-Con post. Exciting! It will probably cover the highlights of my experience, since the previous posts gave a sort of outline. If there is anything I haven't mentioned that you want to hear about, let me know by commenting here.

I'll also get some pictures up!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Comic-Con Day 3

We wanted to go the Heroes cast panel and screening at 12:45, so planned on getting to the center much earlier and giving up our morning to waiting in line. Looks like a bunch of people had that idea, except that they started arriving before 8:30am to get into Ballroom 20, where most of the BIG TV events were happening. We took the 9:45 Coaster and got to the center around 10:45, and we went inside and followed the line...all the way around Ballroom 20. That is no small thing, believe me; it took us several minutes to walk the length of the line. It started by the entrance to the room and pretty much wrapped all the way back around the door. We decided that Heroes wasn't that important, which was good because there was not way we were going to make it in.

Also, cross off seeing Joss Whedon in the room at 4:45pm; there were probably people in line at 8:30 for that, too.

We chose to instead go to a Voice Actors panel, and that ended up being awesome. My favorites on the panel were the guy...(I'll finish later)

After that we went to lunch, then came back, wandered around the floor some more where I bought Dave McKean's Cages, and then I got to see Ray Bradbury.

Briefest paragraph ever?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Comic-Con Day 2

Another brief post, I'm afraid...I hope I can remember all the details when I get around to filling these posts out.

We wanted to catch the earlier train (9:36) on Friday, so we got up at 8:30. Mmm...that wasn't really enough time. We left the house close 9:20...we did arrive at the station before the train did, but we would have had to park blocks away with about 2 minutes to go, so we decided to drive.

Traffic just sucks, at the time of day, everywhere. Eventually we got to a cleat spot, though, and made it to downtown. Then we had to find parking, which we did before too long, though pretty far away from the convention center.

Found our way there eventually and made it to the last hour of the Comic Book Law School 101 workshop on intellectual property rights. They guy who gave it was really enthusiastic and clear, and it was pretty interesting (there is a 102 workshop today, but we're going to have to miss it to sit in line for Heroes...).

My only other plan for the day was to see Neil Gaiman, so we just wandered around for a little while and found the overpriced crappy food court for me to get lunch.

I took my pizza to where I'd be waiting in line to see Neil; I arrived right before the event that would precede mine. There was no one else waiting outside, so I thought, Why not just go and grab a pretty nice seat inside now, watch this other event, and then move up for Gaiman? So I did.

I'm glad I did, too, because the event was pretty cool--it was the creative team for the upcoming The Spectacular Spidermanl, which will be premiering on Kids WB in 2008. The producer was the guy behind Gargoyles, apparently, and it was great to hear him talk about their plans for this show. I'll say more later, but it looks really awesome and I plan to watch it when it comes out.

I sat in the aisle seat of last row of the front section of the room, which wasn't bad, next these random kids (by kids I mean they were out of college...). During the Spiderman stuff, I learned, via handwritten notes on paper, that the boy next to me, who would stare at me rather intensely from time to time, was named Alan and that he thought I was very pretty. (Exact words "You are very pretty.") So that was fun but also pretty awkward.

What's even more awkward is that when I tried to move up between events, it became clear that finding a new, better seat would be difficult, so I went back to sit next to Alan again. Oh well. We had some weird conversations, weird because of some miscommunication (just about books and things, though), and then Neil Gaiman came on.

It was fantastic. I was probably glowing. I did not get up to ask a question..if I'd had a really pressing question, I would have (I think), but I really just wanted to listen to him speak, because he's so much fun to listen to. I really will fill this out with details later.

Post-Gaiman, I met up with Andrew and we went back onto the trade floor. Saw a girl (hired by the booth) costumed as the girl with the machine gun leg from Planet Terror...and I couldn't figure out how they did it, except to have a real one-legged girl (unless she was holding her leg behind her and I just never got close enough to see). Andrew bought a book he wanted, and we went back to see the Sam & Max guy (Steve Purcell) so I could buy something for Ted. When he saw us coming, Purcell said something like, "Well, now I'm embarrassed that I complimented you yesterday," and I played it off by mentioning that I'd told my friend who was a big fan, and needed to get something for him now. Long story short, bought him a book, and Steve Purcell put an extra special sketch in it for Ted.

We ended the day with two panels, one on how to pitch an animated short to a company, and the other on how to build and sell your intellectual property--so, very close to the same thing. The first one was kind of interesting, but by the second, so much of the information was repeats of what we'd heard both in the prior and in the workshop this morning that I just couldn't keep my eyes open (they were even all in the same room). Plus it was really poorly moderated--more on this later.

We left Comic-Con after this; it officially ends at 7, which it was then 15 minutes after, and we weren't planning to stay for any nighttime events (the Eisner Awards were last night). We drove back up north, stopped at a place for "Chicago Style" pizza on the way (pineapple and bacon for toppings), and basically fell asleep when we got home.

Off to wait in line for Heroes!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Comic-Con Day 1, in brief

Here's what transpired today, in a nutshell (I'll expound later with a nice long post when I haven't been up all day and it isn't 2am on the West coast):

Left the house around 9:30...took the 11:15 Coaster train (it travels along the coast) to downtown San Diego. Arrive around noon, get our professional badges (oh god the line for on-site registration was atrocious--I cannot imagine going without preregistering), head on in.

It's about 12:30; I manage to catch the end of Cory Doctorow's spotlight event thingie, and afterwards I get his autograph. Really nice guy.

Meet up with Andrew and his friend Michael, who is the reason that we didn't have to wait in any lines at all to get in. We go out for some food that is not worth mentioning.

Get back at 2:10. The Torchwood preview event started at 2:15, and this is when I learn which rooms are which, and that if an even is in a certain size room, you should expect to get there a certain amount of time beforehand. I miss the Torchwood panel.

Meet back up with Andrew and Michael, and we head to the trade floor. HolycrapthereisalotofmerchandiseatthisplaceandplustheconventioncenterisHUGE. It was fun to wander around and see everything. We go literally from one end of the hall to the other, kind of trying to find the booth where we'd pick up our tickets to Stardust, but only kind of, and we do indeed miss it and we end up having to backtrack quite a bit.

We saw a lot of fun things, and I got to meet Kelly Vivanco of Patches and saw several other webcomics artists whose work I am familiar with. Unwittingly met the creator of Sam & Max (whose work I am NOT familiar with) and he said I had "the most charming face" he'd seen today.

Then we went and sat down for Lost; he room was pretty full even an hour before showtime. Fun things happen.

Afterwards, sit in a really poorly moderated panel on internet stardom. Head out for Stardust.

Go see Stardust, though you can't possibly enjoy it as much as I enjoyed getting to listen to Neil Gaiman talk about it afterwards.

I promise, a nice, detailed post later. But--tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Because it's all I'm thinking about right now

I don't remember why I bothered to come to work today. I'm not actually doing anything. Instead, I'm reading things like this:

Welcome to Nerd Vegas: A Guide to Visiting and Enjoying Comic Con

I'm glad I read it; it reminded me of some things that hadn't been on my mind that are actually really cool parts of this kind of experience (or so I've heard, as I've never gone to anything like this before). (All this means is that my mind is filled wit twice as much stuff as before.) I definitely need to bring some kind of notebook to get filled with sketches. Or least with the potential.

Do you know what 130,000 people look like? I don't. I don't even have an inkling. That picture below is, I repeat, terrifying. Also, I am so glad I have a camera.

I'm not bringing my computer, so probably only brief blog posts and probably no pictures until I get home. But I'm already feeling...whelmed? Jittery? It will be good to actually get to San Diego and have tonight to chill out with Andrew and talk about what we want to do this weekend, because I can't really think about by myself anymore. AND I seem to have forgotten that the REAL point of going to SD this weekend is to visit Andrew. We're going to do things other than just the convention (it sounds like that's necessary, anyway, for sanity's and one's budget's sake).

I wouldn't have even considered going to Comic Con if Andrew hadn't mentioned it. And I wouldn't have really wanted to go if Mr. Gaiman wasn't going to be there (which isn't to say that there aren't tons of things I'm excited about, but that was really the clincher; everything is just mildly fascinating but necessarily enough to get me to skip this much work and fly out there in July). I knew Neil Gaiman was going to be there because I read about it in his journal before Andrew ever mentioned it, but it didn't register as a possibility for me because I don't go to conventions. Or didn't go. Not a part of my recreational lifestyle.

Two pieces of advice that seem to keep popping are: enjoy the experience you're having, not the one you think you deserve, and decide what kind of Con you want to have before you get there. Those are tied up for me--I really just want to enjoy myself. I pretty sure I'm going be overly excited and shy and awkward at different points of the weekend, but mostly I really just want to come away with really good memories. I don't want my Con to be all movies, I want to learn something new, and I want to have experiences I couldn't have had anywhere else (this will be unavoidable for many reasons, but you know what I mean).

Hmm, I am still at work and planning to leave in an hour and half. Should I maybe do some work-related? Yeah, probably.


...this is slightly terrifying:

Wish me luck!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Slow week for posting

That's my prediction, anyway. I've got a lot of work to do (and Harry Potter VII to finish) in the next couple of days before I leave before San Diego and Comic Con!

I may well bring my computer with me to SD, in which I might be blogging in the evenings about the days' events. Speaking of which, Andrew and I are going to be attending the premier screening of Stardust on Thursday night! As VIPs, no less, through some nice donations to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Pretty exciting!

I've been pouring over the Comic Con schedule since it became available a few weeks ago. Here are the events I am DEFINITELY going to (okay, so I can't go to both the Zombie interview and Lost...I haven't made up my mind yet!):


Spotlight on Cory Doctorow Blogger, journalist, and science fiction author Cory Doctorow is a pioneer in Creative Commons licenses, and his works include
Overclocked: Stories of Future Present and Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town. He has recently moved into comics, too, with adaptations of some of his short stories coming from IDW Publishing.

BBC America: Torchwood Writer Russell T Davies has created a spectacular spin-off TV series from Doctor Who with Torchwood, about a rogue team of investigators who use scavenged alien technology to solve present-day crime—both alien and human. Catch a preview of the new series and a panel discussion with lead writer Chris Chibnall; series writer Noel Clarke who also plays Mickey Smith in Doctor Who; Richard Stokes, producer: and Matt O'Toole, prosthetics supervisor, Doctor Who/Torchwood (Millennium FX). Moderated by TV Guide's West Coast Bureau Chief Craig Tomashoff.

Spotlight on George A. Romero George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead) is the undisputed master of zombie genre films, and Max Brooks (World War Z, Zombie Survival Guide) has written the best-selling zombie novels. Join these two titans of the undead as Max sits down for a personal interview with George, talking about everything zombies!

Lost Season 4— If the Lost finale was any indication of things to come, you will not want to miss this panel! Co-creator/executive producer Damon Lindelof and executive producer Carlton Cuse will discuss the exciting new season of ABC’s Lost, all leading up to the ultimate series finale. They’ll spotlight bonus features from the 3rd season DVD box set, preview the new Lost video game, take questions from the audience, and perhaps serve up more surprises.


Spotlight on Neil Gaiman One of Comic-Con's most popular guests returns to spend his weekend with you. Neil Gaiman talks about this busy year, including upcoming films Beowulf, Coraline, and Stardust (set to premiere Comic-Con weekend in L.A.), that little ditty called Death looming on the horizon, and tons of other great stuff he has in the works.

Kevin Smith— He’s back, and this time not even traffic can stop him! Comic-Con favorite Kevin Smith holds court in another of his no-holds-barred Q&A sessions, talking about just anything he damn well pleases, including the new CW series, Reaper. Kevin directed the pilot episode of this new show, which concerns a young man who finds out his parents sold his soul to the devil before he was born, and because of that, he’s now Satan’s bounty hunter! This special Comic-Con version of the pilot will be shown in its entirety.


Heroes: Exclusive Volume II Clip and Q&A— Heroes chronicles the lives of ordinary people who discover they possess extraordinary abilities. Be the first to see an exclusive clip from Volume II and learn more about the DVD Heroes 360 and more. Participate in a Q&A session moderated by co-executive producer/comic book writer Jeph Loeb, with creator Tim Kring, comic book artist Tim Sale (Batman: The Long Halloween), and the entire cast—Jack Coleman (H.R.G.), Noah Gray-Cabey (Micah Sanders), Greg Grunberg (Matt Parkman), Ali Larter (Niki Sanders), James Kyson Lee (Ando), Masi Oka (Hiro Nakamura), Hayden Panettiere (Claire Bennet), Adrian Pasdar (Nathan Petrelli), Zachary Quinto (Sylar), Sendhil Ramamurthy (Mohinder Suresh), Dania Ramirez (Maya), Milo Ventimiglia (Peter Petrelli), and more.

(Not definite, but would be fun!) Introducing The Film Crew: Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett— Three of the brilliantly insane minds behind Mystery Science Theater 3000 finally reunite to unleash their warped sense of humor on the cinema of yesteryear as The Film Crew. Join Mike, Kevin, and Bill as they preview exclusive excerpts from three upcoming Film Crew DVDs: Killers From Space, Wild Women of Wongo, and Giant Of Marathon—followed by a Q&A session!

There are tons of other events that look fascinating as well, like a Browncoats gathering (Firefly
fans), panels on the literary aspects of comics, and other artists that I am less familiar with but still interested in.

Andrew also promises swing dancing over the weekend, if we want it.

Whether I blog during the trip or not, I will be carrying my camera everywhere with me. Expect awesome photos!

Okay, I don't leave until Wednesday afternoon. I still have an hour poin five left of work today.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


Okay, that's a little dramatic. But on my way home this afternoon, I did have a bit of an incident.

I started across an intersection after the light changed to green. There was a cab behind me that, instead of speeding up to pass me before I go all the way through the intersection, just sort of stayed behind me. Finally, after I was basically past the intersection, the cab decided it was time to pass me--while there are about three cars in the other lane (read: not really enough room for me, the cab, and the cars parked to my right).

I didn't even really have time to weigh my options of hitting the parked cars or the taxi. I tend to ride a safe distance from parked vehicles, so by the time the cab was alongsinde me I just couldn't swerve away in time, and I sideswiped then wiped out.

Not a really terrible fall; I just skinned my elbow. And everyone was nice about it; the cab driver stopped and got out, apologized and offered me a ride. Other drivers called out asking if I was okay. I was only two blocks from home so I just got back on the bike and finished the trip.

Not a fun afternoon, but definitely not as bad as it could have been.

Friday, July 20, 2007


So, Ryan North will in fact be at Comic Con. Gah! How many of my heroes do I get to meet in one weekend?

It's getting difficult for me to talk about my trip to San Diego without sounding like a middle school fan girl, especially since most of the people I'm looking forward to seeing are male (though perhaps that's a (unfortunate) fact of the industry--too bad I don't read Laurell K. Hamilton anymore).
Last night, I had some very meaningful dreams.

And when I woke up, the weather was beautiful and I felt wonderful.

Then, when I realized for certain that the dreams were in fact only dreams, for a split second I felt as thought my life had no meaning.

It's a strange feeling.

And it has set the tone for my day. Though it is gorgeous outside and I am enjoying delicious zucchini bread made by a co-worker and it is Friday, I feel sad.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Machine of Death

This has been a long time coming...

Several months ago, I submitted a story to an anthology being put together by some wonderful folks. All the stories selected for the anthology center around the concept of a machine that can tell you, from a drop of your blood, how you're going to die. For the specifics, read the long quote below, or visit the website, machineofdeath.net (which looks quite nice these days).

Anyway, as I said I submitted a story. I didn't get selected, but that's alright. I enjoyed working on the piece, and it surprised me in some nice ways.

I said I'd make that story available here, so here it is: DIVINE JUSTICE.pdf

The machine had been invented a few years ago: a machine that could tell, from just a sample of your blood, how you were going to die. It didn’t give you the date and it didn’t give you specifics. It just spat out a sliver of paper upon which were printed, in careful block letters, the words “DROWNED” or “CANCER” or “OLD AGE” or “CHOKED ON A HANDFUL OF POPCORN.” It let people know how they were going to die.

The problem with the machine is that nobody really knew how it worked, which wouldn’t actually have been that much of a problem if the machine worked as well as we wished it would. But the machine was frustratingly vague in its predictions: dark, and seemingly delighting in the ambiguities of language. “OLD AGE,” it had already turned out, could mean either dying of natural causes, or shot by an bedridden man in a botched home invasion. The machine captured that old-world sense of irony in death — you can know how it’s going to happen, but you’ll still be surprised when it does.

The realization that we could now know how we were going to die had changed the world: people became at once less fearful and more afraid. There’s no reason not to go skydiving if you know your sliver of paper says “BURIED ALIVE.” The realization that these predictions seemed to revel in turnabout and surprise put a damper on things. It made the predictions more sinister — yes, if you were going to be buried alive you weren’t going to be electrocuted in the bathtub, but what if in skydiving you landed in a gravel pit? What if you were buried alive not in dirt but in something else? And would being caught in a collapsing building count as being buried alive? For every possibility the machine closed, it seemed to open several more, with varying degrees of plausibility.

By that time, of course, the machine had been reverse engineered and duplicated, its internal workings being rather simple to construct, given our example. And yes, we found out that its predictions weren’t as straightforward as they seemed upon initial discovery at about the same time as everyone else did. We tested it before announcing it to the world, but testing took time — too much, since we had to wait for people to die. After four years had gone by and three people died as the machine predicted, we shipped it out the door. There were now machines in every doctor’s office and in booths at the mall. You could pay someone or you could probably get it done for free, but the result was the same no matter what machine you went to. They were, at least, consistent.

I'm looking forward to the publication of the anthology and seeing what other people came up with. In the meantime, enjoy my submission.


Here are a couple of bizarre are funny things to check out:

Speaking of male pregnancy, this has to be the weirdest thing I've seen today: a parasitic fetus, this man's twin, lived inside him for 36 years: http://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/Story?id=2346476&page=1. If you're squeamish I don't suggest reading the article, but the gist is that there are 90 recorded cases of this sort of thing, this fetus-in-fetus business, where one twin develops, deformed, inside of the other one and lives parasitically, sustaining itself through an umbilical cord-like thing. This guy didn't realize that was the problem for over 30 years.

I'm glad my twin and I are two separate individuals. Our relationship is not parasitic at all.

From boingboing.net: The Laws of Software Development

I especially like Clarke's First Law:
When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
Also Conway's Law, Hofstadter's Law, and Augustine's Second Law of Socioscience.

By the way, the stock seems to have turned out well. I haven't decided what to use it for yet.

What a fucking relief!

Sorry for the expletive, but there's been a victory! The House of Representatives voted, overwhelmingly, to protect public broadcasting by rejecting the President's plan to eliminate the federal subsidy for the Corporation for Public Broadcast.

Yay! Or as we say at Renaissance festivals, Huzzah!

I remember hearing something about this awhile ago, the threat of federal funding being cut from programs that really need it. It really warms to my heart to hear that 357-72 voted in favor of maintain support to an organization that protects public broadcasts from political influence. These days, goodness knows we need it.

I try to keep this blog from being political, but I am not afraid to state boldly my support for public broadcasting. Or my lack of support for the current administration, actually.

Ironically, NPR.org doesn't seem to have a story on this.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Dystopian Futures

Today I read the story I, Robot by Cory Doctorow (you can read it too, for free online--Cory Doctorow is one of the pioneers of the Creative Commons license that I myself use on this blog). Cory Doctorow pioneers a lot of information technology stuff, actually, and unsurprisingly technology is often the subject/theme/main character of his fiction.

I'm actually writing a story about technology, too (remember those future pirates I mentioned a couple days ago? Think media piracy, but on a larger scale). Mine is about the internet, and Doctorow's is about robots, but they have something in commom--authoritarian or totalitarian governments.

Dystopian literature has always been one of my favorite genres. A Handmaid's Tale, Blade Runner, Brave New World, 1984 and others were my favorites to read. I don't think I can pinpoint exactly what appeals to me about these kinds of stories; I like the color (usually dingy shades of grey--both physically and figuratively), I like the conflicts; I like the contrast of something gorgeously human in a cold metallic environment.

When I started out writing my pirate story, I didn't really have a regime in mind, or even really a society--just an occupation and a couple pieces of technology, extrapolated from the present and the past. But as I read Doctorow's story, I realized that my work was going to go that way, too, with governmental controls and secrets and freedoms you didn't even know you had being taken away.

I realized this, and I started to feel like, even if the picture hasn't event been gotten exactly right, it must be inevitable for reality to catch up with fiction. You can see it happening all around if you look for it: with every new leap forward, there's a legal retaliation. As soon as some wonder is revealed, regulations are put in place. It's not immediate; it takes the authorities a little awhile to notice all the ways in which new inventions could threaten them (or do threaten them) and also to find an effective way of dealing with them.

I'm not an anti-authoritarian, by the way. I don't hate "the man.' But it's interesting to see things now like anti-piracy PSAs on the front of DVDs and new laws to govern digital media rights, and the like. We widen access to information, we make strides in information technology and design, and then someone comes up with ways to restrict it all.

I guess it doesn't have to be inevitable. But if not, then why isn't there more fiction about utopias of technology? (Well, there is, but it always turns out to a lie.) Sure, it could be because the environment of a totalitarian regime makes a better story, but it is hard to imagine what a techno-utopia would look like. Free market, free access to information, appropriate regulation of digital media... but of course things are only to reach further and further out, and it's hard for the law to catch up.

Alright, I feel like I'm repeating myself. But here is my question: what would the ideal future look like, in terms of technology freedoms and regulation? You're never going to make everyone happy, but what's the best possible scenario?

Also, I might get to meet Cory Doctorow at Comic Con!

My work laptop hates me

Perhaps its slowness and failure to comply with simple requests is a punishment for me spending too much time reading blogs while at work.

In other news, a friend linked to me from his blog with the following text:

She'd knife a man in the back for literary effect.

Hehe. I appreciate the sentiment, though given my proclivities for sci-fi/fantasy elements, I'd probably be likely to make him grow elephant tusks and then get shot by his own family for being a monster.

Or something like that?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Comestible adventures

As I said at dinner tonight, there is no reason not to eat well. I guess there are caveats, like, No reason if you have the time/resources/energy. But I do, so why not?

Last night, it was steak with melted brie, mushroom risotto, and pickled beets followed by pound cake with black raspberries and fresh whipped cream. Tonight, pasta with cheddar sauce and tuna and a mixed greens and spinach salad with yellow and orange bell peppers, tomato, shredded beets (yeah, I like beets), dill, thyme, garlic, oil, and vinegar.

Now there is an experiment taking place: I am attempting to make my own vegetable stock. Or rather, I'm seeing what's going to happen; the only real effort I had to make was to get myself and my roommates to save all of our vegetable leavings for the past couple of weeks. Then I just dumped it all into water, brought it to a boil, and now it gets to sit for an hour. I did have a guide for what kinds of vegetables are best to use (which is most of them). In the pot you'll find bits of tomato, onion, garlic, potato, sweet potato, celery, cucumber, bell pepper, beet, cilantro. It looks like this:

Yes, that's a beet top in the upper right corner of the bottom picture. I've made some delicious food with beets this summer--vegetable borscht, beet risotto (it was bright red)., and now this salad. The first two were kind of by happenstance; a friend gave us some beets and I figured we should do something tasty with them.

I love cooking, by the way. Was that clear?

Monday, July 16, 2007


I really wanted to title this post "That's Wrap...per!" but that would be pretty horrid of me.

I just wanted to let everyone know that I figured out how to adjust what I was calling the margin before but is actually called the wrapper (the margin is something else)--the blank space between the left edge of your browser and the column of text that contains the posts. I successfully widened it in a preview! I haven't yet decided if I actually want to do it, but hooray for me for figuring it out (with a little help from Chapter 3 of my CSS book).

I am going to faintly smell of peaches all day long, thanks to this morning's yogurt incident. Luckily, that's not an odor I mind; I actually owned peach-scented perfume a long time a go (I got to smell like peach Jolly Ranchers).

Monday, Monday

I made sure to start my day right, by losing my headphones and then spilling my peach yogurt on my skirt.

Also, I am thinking about writing a story about pirates--FUTURE pirates!

Friday, July 13, 2007

"You're a linguist"

This is what J. P. declared when I told him I was learning a programming language. I don't know if "programming language" is quite accurate, but for those who are curious, I am learning CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). I need to be familiar with it for a long-term project at work, but since I began working for my school's networking and info-tech organization, mostly on websites, I've been interested in getting more into this kind of thing.

So, I've started reading a pretty awesome book (it has live tutorials and everything!) on CSS, and it's really interesting and fun. Blogger templates use a kind of stylesheet, by the way.

Anyway, I bring this up here because I want to make a change to the format of my blog. Mostly I think it looks nice as is, but I would like to experiment with the side margins, making them narrower so that the text column is wider and thus less scrolling is required to read each post. Unfortunately, even though I can recognize what things are in the template pretty well now, I don't see where I can control the overall margins.

I know this isn't the kind of writing I usually talk about here. Hooray for new and different!

Thursday, July 12, 2007


First thing I did when I got in late to work this morning was read this article about the possibilities and possible consequences of male pregnancy. (Again, like the bird flu article, it's more sociological/editorial than scientific, though the science in the article is cited.)

When I started reading the article I was reminded of something I came across yesterday, an essay about the argument "Woman's body, woman's choice" in the whole abortion debate. The author pointed out how in some respects, saying that it should be solely the mother's decision whether or not to keep a baby does less to empower women and more to reinforce gender roles and the definition of woman as baby-making machine.

I don't know if I agree with that, but it is an interesting point. If what we're really concerned with is gender equality, what could have a more equalizing effect on society than for both men and women to be able to give birth?

As the author of the male pregnancy article says (quoting the movie Junior, actually), an emotional argument against male pregnancy is that men get everything else in this world; they should get to have babies, too. But if couples could choose who bears the children, if that choice is actually available and the role isn't just automatically assigned, I think that the "men have everything" view of society would change. Not that men would have less, but that women would have more, because there would no longer be the same stigmas and stereotypes about pregnancy and childbearing/rearing that are attached to being female in our civilizations. (Down the road a bit, of course--I can only imagine what the immediate culture climate would be in reaction to the first instances of real male pregnancy, and I imagine it would be ugly.)

Of course, male and female pregnancy wouldn't be exactly equivalent. Among other anatomy-related issues, men will only ever be able to get pregnant through in-vitro fertilization (IVF), while women can get pregnant through IVF and sexual intercourse.

[Mmm, I started this post yesterday morning and then stopped thinking about it. I don't remember if I had more to say. Perhaps I'll come back to it.]

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A renewable energy source

When Jess got home, it was dark. After closing the door behind her, she made her way carefully across the room where the Lumabird was sleeping soundly in its cage. Its head was tucked into its chest and its wings were wrapped around its small body.

Reaching a finger in through the bars, Jess stroked it once, gently, on the head. At the touch the rotund animal uncurled itself slowly and rocked back onto its back. Jess caressed the upturned feathery belly once, twice, very softly, always in the same direction of motion. The abdomen of the bird began to glow--faintly at first, but brighter with each successive stroke. Through her fingers Jess could feel its body temperature rise ever so slightly.

At Jess pet the bird, it reached out its wings further and further until they reached the edge of the cage on either side. A surge of energy traveled through its outstretched limbs and into the bars, where it then channeled its way through various wires to the rest of the appliances in Jess' apartment. The apartment was soon filled with light.

"Thank you," Jess whispered to the tiny beast. The Lumabird cooed at her in its sparkly voice, from the mouth in its eyeless face. "Thank you."


...we're going to see how these colors go. I felt like trying something new.

Not much to say right now!

Today, I was pretty sleepy, and I thought about many things that I have thought about before.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

My past is in control of my playlist

Today and yesterday I've been listening to my "Top 25 Played" songs on my iPod, as recorded by iTunes on my computer. And I've discovered that this list is still mostly representative of the summer before I left for college.

Now, I listen to music frequently, and I do occasionally get stuck on a song and listen to it over and over again. (Most recently, Electric Six's "I Buy the Drugs" made it onto the list, about a week after I first heard it.)

However, I usually listen to music over my iPod, while walking places or waiting for things. iTunes only racks up the play count for songs played on my
computer. So, even though I listened to Sufjan Steven's "For The Windows In Paradise, For The Fatherless In Ypsilanti" constantly for a week, it doesn't show up.

My music-listening habits were different during the summer of 2005, however. I was really, incredibly bored that summer. I didn't really get out that much. After I returned from Thailand at the end of June, I really just sat around feeling sorry for myself, a lot. And my misery had a soundtrack that still resides on my "Top 25 Played" list on iTunes.

The songs, in order of playcount (I've marked those from summer '05 or earlier):

Decatur, or a Round of Applaus for your Step-Mother! - Sufjan Stevens
*Love and War (11/11/46) - Rilo Kiley
*Bohemian Like You - The Dandy Warhols
Flamboyant - Pet Shop Boys (I actually don't know why this one is on here)
Manoir de mes reves - Django Reinhardt
*Cells - The Servant
*Walking With a Ghost - Tegan and Sara
*With Arms Outstretched - Rilo Kiley
*All Points North - Beulah
I Buy the Drugs - Electric Six
*I'd Rather Dance with You - Kings of Convenience
*Does He Love You? - Rilo Kiley
*Pink Bullets - The Shins
Chicago - Sufjan Stevens
*Caring is Creepy - The Shins
Ooh La La - The Faces
*The Ballad of Barry Allen - Jim Infantino
*Young Pilgrims - The Shins
*Experimental Film - They Might Be Giants
Futz Said Julie - Pain
Snowball in Hell - They Might Be Giants
*The Good that Won't Come Out - Rilo Kiley
Adagio for Strings (choral version) - Samual Barber (I don't know where this one came from, either)
*Staring at the Sun - Simple Kid
*The Execution of all Things - Rilo Kiley

16/25 of my top-played songs are from before I left for college.

Monday, July 9, 2007

"Is that a giant cucumber in your bag...

...or are you just happy to see me?"

Sometimes, it really is just a giant cucumber. A giant, homegrown cucumber left on the "free stuff" table in my office with a sign reading "Delicious cucumbers! Please take one!" So I did.

Anyway, I stopped by the bookstore on my way home to use a gift certificate I received a little while ago. I bought
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon. The former I have been planning to read for some time now. The latter I know very little about, except that it won the Pulitzer, the characters write comics, and the author is a personal friend of Neil Gaiman.

Speaking of Neil Gaiman, I am officially, for sure-taintly, going to the International Comic Con in San Diego. It was sort of up in the air...the getting into ComicCon, not the going to San Diego...but now it is for sure! So many exciting things to look forward to!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

We Once Were Warriors

We did not tell our parents about our nightmares.

Night after night we suffered alone, in our own beds, and in the mornings we would get up and go to school, or take our bikes out, or play on the computer as if everything were fine and normal.

We were not silent because we were ashamed of our fears. No; it was because we knew exactly how real they were. It was out of bravery, not shame, that we held our tongues.

We did not tell our parents because this was not one of those cases where talking about something makes it all better. To keep our visions to ourselves was the only moral thing to do. To speak of them gave them power. By staying quiet we exercized the only control we had over the terrors. Having even this little bit of control gave us hope.

Bearing this kind of burden alone takes its toll, however. As time passed, we were eaten away from the inside by the sheer force of will it took to keep ourselves from blurting it out--or going mad. Our personalities were consumed, except for the small part in each of us that kept us from allowing these demons to takes control of our physical forms and thus break free of the mental prisons we had constructed from our own psyches.

Our bodies and minds were vessels for the darkness, filled completely, like prison ships. We were hollow, just shells of our former selves, but that was enough to keep the darkness from getting out.

Our parents began to notice changes in our behavior and attitudes. It was clear that we were no longer the joyful and carefree children we once were. But they never grew too suspicious; they simply attributed these changes to our "growing up." They had no idea the kind of responsibilities we had.

When were we out among the public, we would sometimes recognize each other. A certain look in the eyes, that strained gaze focused inward, deep and dark. To realize on occassions such as these that we were not enitrely alone in our task was the only solace we had, save for the knowledge that were the protectors of humanity. It was a role to proud of, even if it necessarily meant isolation and silence. Sacrifice was noble.

In time, we won the war against the darkness. We had kept our secrets ourselves, we had refused to give in, and we had finally defeated evil. Humanity was safe, and our reward was dreamless, tranquil sleep every night for the rest of our lives.

But we could not recover what we had lost. As the war was waged within ourselves, we had continued with the charade of leading normal lives. We left home, went to college, got jobs. Some of us were married, some of us had families, pets. But these were half-lives, and when fighting ceased and evil fled, we did not know how to make ourselves whole.

It may even have been worse than before. Vanquished, the darkness slipped out of us like gas, flushed away, and left us emptier than we had been before. With all of that pressure gone, there was nothing to weight us down anymore. Like ghosts, we floated away and dispersed. Like the threat we had held at bay for decades, we vanished.

Purging the warriors was the final step in eradicating the darkness. The Earth is safe from evil, now. It does not need anyone around to remember what once was.

Friday, July 6, 2007

More bike tales

I successfully got from one workplace to the other this afternoon with barely a hitch. However, the pedals have claimed more of my flesh (they seem insatiable). Perhaps it was retribution for the scratch it got at the bike rack this afternoon (I'm sorry).

Anyway, I am left with a blood-soaked shoe (waterproof, thankfully), a tire tread across my left shin, and a little less skin on my left ankle. Say-lah-vee.

Thoughts on the Fourth of July

Fireworks from such a distance that you cannot hear the crack and boom feel kind of sad. It's like looking back on a memory from childhood as it fades away, something that was once close and familiar but that you can no longer reach.

The cutest burger ever is not necessarily the tastiest burger.

Some show their patriotism by reading aloud the US Constitution. This is not my style.

Cycling update

I have continued to ride the bicycle despite an inclination to stop, and I have the bruises to show for it; mostly they are from me hitting myself against the pedals while walking or stopping rather than actually being from falling off (I have only fallen off once, and I pretty much knew I was going to, and there weren't any cars around at the time).

This morning, I rode to work without a hitch, even considering that the stop lights at the busiest intersections on my route were not working at all.

Hopefully, since it's been almost a week and I haven't run into anything, I'll start trusting that I'm not going to.

Monday, July 2, 2007


I am twenty years old. I just rode my bike to work. It was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life.

(This is not a work of fiction.)

There weren't any occurrences, I didn't fall down or run into anything, but the possibility is aways looming, darkened by the presence of automobiles.

I'll re-write my first line:

I am twenty years old. I just rode my (first bike in a long time) to work (for the first time...not the first time riding this bike but my first time really riding in the streets).