Scene: Geography class, darkened for a film. A news video with an interview of a Russian government spokesperson who has an extremely thick accent PLAYS. The poor guy next to me speaks English as probably his fourth language.
Spokesman: "It is the objective of Putin to deliver Russia from cows and anarchy."
Guy next to me: "Did he say `deliver from cows?'"
Me: "He did. But I think he meant `chaos'."
Spokesman: "Putin is like Russian Charles de Gaulle. He provides Russian Gaullisme to give whole people prosperous."
Guy: "What did he say that time?"
Me: "Um...He said `yay, Putin.'"
(Of the books that no one else I know has mentioned reading, this is my absolute favorite. It's incredible:)
The Miracles of Santo Fico by D.L. Smith (Warner Books/Grand Central, 2003) could be considered mainstream or light literary fiction, perfect for its flavor of rural Northern Italy and menagerie of rich characters. The protagonist, Leo Pizzola, is charming, mischievous, and not above the occasional scam. Upon his return to his village in Tuscany after a two decade absence, he discovers he's not fondly remembered. When one of his plots goes awry, the woman he's yearned for all these years, who is already furious with him, determines it's his fault the town priest has utterly lost his faith. She now demands Leo to restore it. The concept of "You! Perform a miracle! Now!" is hysterical and Leo's attempts are heartwarming if often laugh-out-loud ridiculous. The plot's resolution could not be more perfect. Fans of The Secret of Santa Vittoria by Robert Crichton (another small town Italian setting) or those who love films known for their quirky small town characters (Doc Hollywood, To Wong Foo, Fargo) will most likely adore this. :)
Link for 'Nathan: Chapters/Indigo
Link for Houston folk: Murder by the Book
Indiebound (The page says it's Christian fiction, and I would say that's not wrong, but an odd choice. Would not have been a tag word I would have chosen if you gave me fifty.)
If the neighbors think I'm crazy, they have cause.
The young gray cat (John prefers Squeaky over Grayson. Talkative cat) is not expert at sneaky, but then the lady downstairs feeds him. Thus if he doesn't have experience catching sparrows, there's a reason. Or two. Today Squeaky was sneaking up on splashing sparrows, but I kind of waved my arms a whole lot while his back was turned. The birds flew off.
Squeaky turns and shoots me a look that clearly said, "That was your doing, wasn't it?"
I blinked innocently, then said aloud, "I have no idea what in the world you're talking about."
Okay, obviously I need more actual people to interact with, but here is a big CONTEST.
If you want to win a bunch of erotic romance titles from Excessica, go to their Facebook page and type I LOVE LOVE under the January 28th entry. You'll be entered to win a dozen e-books from authors like Sommer Marsden, Sable Jordan, Candace Blevins, Dakota Trace, Mia Natasha, Giselle Renarde, Parker Ford, Kenn Dahll, Selena Kitt, Vivian Vincent and more. Yay! :)
The geography professor did a lot better today. She was discussing examples of weakness in American infrastructure, and mentioned that how we handled Katrina was disturbing to her. ("If the TV reporters could get to the people who need help, why couldn't the military or medical personnel? They shouldn't have had that two or three day wait.")
Someone asked about the BP spill as another example of trouble with American infrastructure. She paused to consider, and I asked "Could other countries have handled that better?" She immediately said, "no" and then tilted her head and said, "yes." She explained that she knew a bit about this because her husband is in oil, and we learned that the problem would likely not have happened in the North Sea or Australia because of stricter oversight. We allow our (oil rig infrastructure) to continue operating with fewer regulations. Whatever company her husband works for is having to "voluntarily" shut down a rig in Australia at the cost of $180 million or the government will order it shut down (sooner or later?). "The backup system to the backup system to the backup system would not have failed in Australia."
The fact that she challenged her own immediate reaction with a thought-out and informed counter-response is great.
There's a lot more I could write about what I learned today (primary economic activity vs secondary, tertiary, and quartenary) but I'll spare you.
In other news, having a lot of depression issues although nothing that makes sense.
Here is a map of where John has and has not been (in the U.S.)
visited 36 states (72%)
Create your own visited map of The United States or Free iphone travel guide
Here is the same map for me.
visited 32 states (64%)
Create your own visited map of The United States or Free iphone travel guide
Now considering that he can only travel in the fall and that South Dakota is where we'd both like to go but is sort-of off limits (my family wants to go with me), not sure what would be a good choice.
I'm fine with a) going to Mississippi if that's what he would like - Gulfport casinos and such b) Oklahoma and Kansas C) A sci fi/fan conference that's in the fall or winter d) visiting friends in Florida and then going somewhere from Fort Lauderdale or Miami.
Or I could just tell my parents and sister I'll go to South Dakota once with them and once with John.
My community college professor is a disaster this time. She spent forever talking about the snake in her bathroom and her horrible class in Russian history with a brand new professor who had just gotten out of grad school ) and how she managed to wreck that relationship. She also said that climate change in Iceland doesn't matter on a global scale because of the limited population, so really that only matters to penguins.
Right. Penguins are now from Iceland.
So focus on the positive - a list of things I learned in the last hour and fifteen minutes (she ends class 45 minutes early)
1. Geography is a bridge discipline - frustrating to define because it's more than just cartography - it's physical sciences (geology, topography, ecology, climatology) and social sciences (government, sociology, economics, history) as well as other disciplines such as theology and linguistics. Because geography is so huge, it requires specialization more often than not.
2. While climate change through global warming is incontrovertible, anyone who claims to know what changes will occur is not being honest. While current effects such as higher temperatures, rising water levels, and stronger storms are fact and most likely to remain the trend, generalizations aren't useful - meaning that climatological geography needs to be regionally focused. A good example is the difference in regional reaction to Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Ike. Both the Northeast coast and the Gulf coast may need to do more in preparation for large storms, but historical events make resistance to that change more prevalent in, for example, New Jersey.
3. Worst affected region of the world by global warming (in terms of impact on humanity) at present is Sub-Saharan Africa. The Sahara is expanding. Famine is a huge risk.
4. Cartography is a living study since maps change thanks to earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis and through slow change such as the silting of the Mississippi delta.
5. Cartography has been revolutionized by satellite technology, and that will hopefully have local implications in Houston. Most people are familiar with GPS technology now, but city officials need to learn what is known as GIS or Geographical Information Systems (I think GPS is Global Positioning). The difference is that GIS has both historical maps and underground terrain maps. The reason laborers with bulldozers still are frequently destroying water mains or gas lines is that they are not yet consulting GIS technology.
6. Eventually everyone may want to know latitude and longitude of their local regions because absolute direction is more precise language than "five lights after the Jack in the Box". With GPS devices that should be close to a painless transition.
What the teacher failed to demonstrate consistently is why this is relevant. Some of it is obvious (minimizing hurricane damage) but basically, from what I gather, human beings need to be okay (or need to be selfish) so studying demographics can boost sales, studying the decline of animal populations can warn scientists of possible regions to avoid populating and warn realtors of potential market crashes, discovering animals and plants can lead to medical cures.
It's all about us.
There were a bunch of people at the recycling center yesterday, and my thought was, "Hey, we said in January that we'd be more environmental this year, so we're recycling! We kept our resolution! I'm tired. Let's go get take out."
Anyhow, Opus Penguin makes his New Years declarations at Point Resolve. I'll just sit at my desk. Here we go.
1) Write a novel. Does not have to be fantastic, just finished. No worrying about who would want it, who the audience is, or what pseudonym is most logical. Just brainstorm, outline, write, and, hopefully, revise.
(the first is separated to emphasize its alleged importance)
2) Exercise more - not doing that bad, but consistency would be good
3) Eat better - how? Maybe go back to that MyFitnessPal diet. I've kept off 20 pounds since 2010, but I'd like to lose 15 more.
4) Figure out ways to fight ADD - this making lists thing, for example
5) Clean more
6) Take another class - John says I think better when I'm a student.
7) focus on fewer interests and make more headway with them - writing, college matching, being a publicist - that's enough, right? This will be difficult.
8) Study more of a foreign language - improve my Spanish or work more on a different romance language, I guess.
I'll change the names to protect people. The blonde lady who feeds the cats will be called Emmie and the woman who invited Gray Boo to be her indoor pet is Mia. They are good friends, and Emmie would walk Mia's dog (who died several months ago), but I think I see some conflict. Mia would like to be friendly enough with the female cats to be able to take them to the vet and have them spayed, especially if Emmie is going to be feeding them all. I noticed a new interloper today (sturdy, dark gray - we'll call him/her Tank until further notice) and wondered if we're getting overpopulated.
How does one get friendly enough to pick up a cat and carry them to the fix-it vet? If the male cats are the friendlier ones, can you get them fixed or will that make them too docile to fight off the brutes like Otis?
If you have a friendly outdoor cat, would it be happy as an entirely indoor cat or would it be grouchy if it didn't get to go outside? Would it be well-behaved or destructive?
1) I love Miami. The driving is indeed crazy. The security issue makes hotels feel like fortresses. But it's gorgeous, and the people are much friendlier than their reputation. Miami Beach is okay, but the Art Deco district is not as special as I imagined.
2) In Miami Beach, I saw someone I used to know. She's a DJ named Tracy. She's now somewhat famous. I knew her before she was trained, and she's now done remixes for Madonna. I didn't say hi as she wouldn't remember me. I realized I'm no longer friends with anyone who'd have any reaction if I said, "Guess what! I saw Tracy!" My club kid days are officially a lifetime ago. About half an hour afterwards I remembered a DJ character I wrote in a story is named Tracy and "has a gig in Miami".
3) Here is my Official Annual Fussing about wrapping presents. Fuss, fuss, fuss.
4) I'm a lunatic. I got my dad a violin for Christmas. He claims he wants to be a master gardener when he retires, and a master chef, and a master composer of music. The truth is he does not want to retire. At all. But he's getting a violin and a DVD for absolute beginners on violin playing. John pointed out that my mom is going to shoot me if he actually uses the violin and the sound is unbearable. However, she told me not to get him a Bonsai tree which would have been much quieter.
...begins with a shocking revelation! When we last visited with the kittens, we wondered, whatever happened to their mother? Had she been kidnapped (catnapped?) by a foreign prince? Did she run off to Hollywood to seek stardom? Or did she run off with that mean orange tabby, Otis and have an affair?
Well, today we saw the twins, and they were there typical meow-y, semi-shy, semi-flirtatious selves (much like their father), but they seemed distracted by something near the side gate and...lo, there is their mother with a new kitten! That kitten looks a lot like his older half-brother except instead of gray and white patches, he has ORANGE and white patches.
I imagined the older kittens were thinking, "Live it up while you can, half-brother. In about a month, she's going to start chasing you away from the food bowl that the blonde lady puts out for us. I mean, her."
I got some information from Toni, the aforementioned blonde lady, but first we need to come up with names because I'm getting confused.
Apparently established names:
Midnight (the gorgeous black cat)
Gray Boo (father of the kittens)
Names I'm going to have to make up:
Desiree (the mother cat - I've heard a name for her once, but I don't recall it so I'll give her a name that makes me think of someone eating bonbons in bed while wondering which suitor will phone her up next)
Grayson (the older male kitten - the son of Gray Boo)
Misdee (short for Miss Ditto because she looks like a copy of Desiree, she is Grayson's twin sister)
Otis (you've met him, the orange tabby villain of the piece)
Sunny ( the new kitten, I guess because he's orange)
Endora (We'll get to her.)
Okay, so Toni says that yes, Gray Boo and Midnight get along because they are brothers. The question of where Midnight is remains unanswered. I'm hoping he's sequestered in the same apartment as Gray Boo. If I see the woman who took in Gray Boo, I'll have to ask her.
Second, Toni says she was surprised at what a good mother Desiree is/was. (My thought was, "She is? Why do her children look longingly at the food bowl from thirty yards away when she's around?") She said that Desiree was something of a wild child and didn't get along with her mother, whose territory is across the street at a different complex.
Wait, what? There's another generation? Yes, and that matriarch has been sighted once crossing Pin Oak into our complex. Endora is apparently not welcome here, but Toni indicated that she was "the better cat" than Desiree although I don't know how you score cats on parenting skills or morality.
Here are my questions:
1. Where did Desiree go for the last few months? If this were the 1950s, I'd decide that Endora was telling the neighborhood she sent Desiree to a "Swiss finishing school", but I'm guessing she was on the rebound now that Gray Boo is nowhere to be found.
2. Where is Otis? His territory might be the Home Depot parking lot to our west.
3. Why is Desiree back? My guess is that Otis did not want a male heir/potential rival, and Desiree packed her bags and brought Sunny back here.
The question LJ asked was "Which award would you most want on your mantel - an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy, a Tony, or a Pulitzer?" I wonder how many people said, "Ahem. A Nobel." Maybe you don't get a mantel-ready trophy with a Nobel? Also, I thought you got more of a medal that goes around your neck with a Pulitzer, so, hmm.
I'm not really sure what award I'd like to win. I'll look up Joe Keenan and David Sedaris and see what they've won...
Okay, so there's a Thurber Prize for American Humor. That sounds good. Chuckle. If I win a Thurber Prize in 2022, you all can say, "I remember the day he found out there was such a thing as a Thurber Prize."
That review I mentioned where the person read the first five stories and then said she'd had enough in which my story was the fifth and a couple other reviews have made me decide I probably will not be writing as Gavin Atlas anymore. I have pretty close to a second collection completed, but there are at least two stories I'd want to finish, and I think it's understandable if I'm not motivated.
I'm fairly certain, knowing me, that I'll change my mind and write as Gavin Atlas again, but I could give a list of reasons why it makes sense to try something else. The most glaring is that nearly all the male writers of gay erotica I know use their real names, and I do not. If you want to know why that's a reason to switch genres, I can explain, but I bet most of you get it.
I'll keep updating here, I'm sure since I have the most friends here, especially if I need to make lists of things to be cheerful about. Here's one now:
1) I've learned some storytelling craft, so I don't think I'm starting from scratch.
2) I can go back if I need to or want to
3) I will never be bulletproof, but with every story I write, I get closer.