Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry [Holiday of Your Choice]! Five Rooms Clean!

We're utterly secular people, but we celebrate Christmas, a holiday celebrating family ties; generosity; and warmth, light, and love at the frigid yin of the year.

My Christmas present to myself: cleaning the bedroom. So we have the following clean rooms (and, yes, I have kept the others clean -- it's much easier, I've discovered, to clean a room when you last cleaned it a few weeks ago rather than a year ago):
  1. Main floor bathroom
  2. Kitchen
  3. Dining room
  4. Paula's office
  5. Bedroom
That's five -- count 'em 5! -- rooms! I think that's a record since moving into this house ~16 years ago. Next up: the living room. It's the largest and hardest room to do, but then the whole main floor will be clean -- I may faint!

The bedroom doesn't actually have a bed in it. Around the time we got our current two dogs, who are bigger than any previous dogs, our mattress was also giving out. So we got a king-size bed to accommodate everyone. Then we got the main floor of the house remodeled, including having the hardwood floors refinished, and moved all the furniture downstairs to accommodate the work. Moving the king-size mattress down the stairs wasn't terribly hard. (You know what's coming.) Moving it back up? Haven't yet found a way to do it. We've have a bunch of friends over to apply brute force, but I'm afraid someone would throw out their back or slip on the basement steps. The mattress is not only large and heavy but also floppy, and the stairs are steep and narrow and have a low ceiling. So the box springs are stacked against one wall of the "bedroom," where they serve admirably as a shelf, and the mattress lies on the lower-level floor in front of the TV, where it's actually quite comfortable to sleep, especially in the summer when it stays nice and cool downstairs. Someday we'll buy a new mattress and have it delivered to the bedroom, from where we will never move it.

Bootsie the cat loves to "help" with all the cleaning. I swear she engages in parallel play. Whatever I'm doing, she likes to be right next to me doing something similar. When I was sorting clothes onto a shelf, for example, she sharpened her claws on the shelves and then jumped up, kneaded the clothes in a pile, and jumped down, echoing my motions. When I was picking up bits of paper and tissue from the floor, that's when she ran around batting at bits of paper. She also loves to plunge into small dark spaces, and dresser drawers are no exception. Leap! Dig-dig-dig through the clothes! Up over the back of the drawer! Into the great dark unknown of the dresser innards! Finally emerge with a wild look in one's eyes!

Fun:

  • A Very Scary Solstice "finally merges the wonderful tradition of merry holiday carolling with the cosmic horror of the Cthulhu Mythos. The result is a CD and sing-along songbook that features twenty[-]five holiday favorites infused with a liberal dose of madness, horror and otherworldly blasphemies." Three free MP3s are available. The juxtaposition of the tra-la-la melodies and Halloween lyrics works . . . unspeakably.
  • I haven't yet checked out Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog myself, but it's by Joss Whedon (Buffy, Angel, Firefly) and it made the top-ten TV show list (despite not being on TV) of some critic or other who was on NPR and sounded like he had good taste.
  • Finally, here's a posting at MightyGodKing's blog titled "MGK Versus His Adolescent Reading Habits." Check out the hilarious Photoshopped covers of fat-fantasy-novel classics (anticlassics). The comments by readers are interesting, too. (Thanks to Barbara Davies, who in turn got it from Ursula K. Le Guin's site).

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Four Rooms! And some fiction writing news!

Yes, I got four -- count 'em, four! -- rooms clean at the same time. My office is amazing without all that crap in it. Now I just need to get together with Doug and move my real desk -- my nice wooden desk with the credenza with the shelves and cubbyholes -- back upstairs (it's still in the basement from when we had the first floor remodeled -- almost two years ago), and I'll be in heaven.

Now in progress: The bedroom! It shouldn't take long. Cleaning it mostly involves picking up the clothes that are on the floor and then doing the broom-and-vacuum thing.

Fiction news: I recently got the check and contributor's copy for a story I sold ages ago. Felt nice to get things like that in the mail again! The anthology, titled Men on the Edge, is a collection of stories about gay men who participate in extreme BDSM. Oddly, I think this is one of the most emotionally sensitive and nuanced stories I've ever written. I reread it when the book came and had a marvelous moment of "Wow. I wrote that? That's really good." Felt nice. If you want to see the cover and find a link to the publisher, go to my erotica page.

Politics: I'm excited about most of Obama's cabinet and subcabinet team, but I am disappointed with his Secretary of Agriculture appointment, Tom Vilsack, former governor of Iowa. I'm worried that our agriculture policy will continue to be agribusiness as usual without thought to the many, many environmental and personal implications of what we grow.
Fun:


  • LogoDesignLove.com has a piece showing the evolution of the Barack Obama campaign logo. I actually don't care much for the logo. The colors feel all fake and "wrong" to me. And I've never seen an American flag in it except when someone else points it out. To me, it looks like a sunrise viewed over a plowed field, which is all very bucolic but also awfully traditionally Americana for a "change" campaign. Just shows what I know, or don't know, I guess.

  • Here are more of the challenged ballots from the Minnesota Senate race, in which votes are still being counted and recounted and re-recounted. We may be done by the end of the year . . . ?

  • MSNBC has a darling story up as video about service dogs for disabled veterans being trained by other disabled veterans. What really grabbed me was when the vet said he couldn't sleep at night -- until he got his dog-in-training. With the dog in bed with him, no more trouble sleeping. Awesome.

  • Here's a seasonal video about eggnog, the germs that live in it, and the utility of adding alcohol -- all in the interests of advancing science -- from Science Friday.

video

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Monday, December 15, 2008

3.5 Rooms Clean, Bunny, and Near Tragedy

We had a near-tragedy in our family. Jennie Cocco, a long-time family friend, was leaving Doug's parents' house when her vehicle's accelerator stuck. The house fronts on a canal, and her car went into the water. Fortunately, two men, one on either side of the canal, witnessed the accident, jumped into the near-freezing water, and helped pull her out of the car and to safety. She was treated for hypothermia and released later the same day. Needless to say, we're all quite shaken at the near miss. The accident happened very quickly on a road she's driven for 25 years. Here are the news stories here (no family members appear in them -- nobody in the family is a Joe the Plumber type, looking for 15 minutes of fame): To continue the saga of my housecleaning efforts (yes, this feels trivial after the above, but life is made of tragedy, trivia, and hope -- no?), I made slow progress on my office, getting out most of the stuff that didn't belong in that room and sifting out the papers that needed shredding from the rest of the office paper recycling. Then I got a big copyediting project, and now the three rooms that were clean are dirty again (though not as dirty as before). So I'm giving myself credit for three and a half rooms. I may have a couple days of light to no work today and tomorrow, so my hope is to reclean the bathroom, kitchen, and dining room and perhaps finish the office. Maybe I'll get four rooms clean at once after all?

Last week, Doug pointed out a bunny who was visiting under the bird feeder, eating spilled seed. Our backyard used to be a regular thoroughfare for rabbits, but since we put up the privacy fence, they don't come in as often. They probably don't like coming into an enclosed area where they can't see around them for some distance. Anyway, I've been making a point of spilling some seed on the ground every evening, and bunny keeps coming back. The dogs go out a couple of times a night and give chase, but bunny doesn't seem to view this as a deterrent.

Someone else's snail
Yesterday morning, the elder of my two Colombian ramshorn snails decided to take a nap -- on his side in the middle of the tank. I thought he was dead, but he was still curled up tightly in the shell, and I've read that when they die, the curling-up-tightly muscle relaxes. And no one was eating him, including the loaches, whose natural food is snails. So I left him there. Sure enough, he's crawling around now like a healthy snail. ???

I should go out and shovel. It looks like we got 6 inches of snow last night, but it's –5°F. Perhaps the snow fairy will come and take it away. Or maybe I should get out there and shovel. Brrr.

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