The Super-Secret-Blinker Club: Memberships Available Now!

No monetary membership dues!

Low Requirements* for entry!

Membership Benefits** for every day activities!


*Requirements for entry include:

  • utilizing a blinker prior to turning or changing lanes (including turn lanes!);
  • respecting others’ blinkers: allowing them to turn or enter lanes when legally allowed;
  • confirming blinkers turn off properly after a lane change or turn;
  • when parallel parking;
  • when parking in a designated parking spot

** Benefits include:

  • Having others allow you to turn or enter lanes when legally allowed;
  • Avoiding collisions while turning
  • Small air-fives from other members after utilizing blinkers
  • parking in that spot you were waiting for while the person walked their grocery cart to the cart-return
  • bonus: having a passenger hop out and take the grocery cart from you when you are about to take it to the cart return so they can get your spot a little faster!

Politicis: Gun Control

I am pretty far left on most social issues. This is the one exception. I’m not far to the right, but I am definitely more-right than many of my friends (and family).  And everyone I talk to about this will hear me remind them that I think cars are a more dangerous problem which I want addressed first.

My Facebook has been full of posts the past several days. About half of them are “TAKE AWAY THE GUNS!” and half of them are “STOP TRYING TO TAKE MY GUN.”

It is tragic when someone is killed. There is no remedy for that pain. And yes, guns are terrible weapons which can kill many people very quickly, multiplying that pain.

I also know that my friends who own guns are very responsible. They can drone on and on with each other about various lock-box options, why they like the ones they do and which brand(s) are the best for keeping out kids or whoever. They go to their shooting ranges and practice on a regular basis. They giggle over antique guns like a I do over old books. They understand the safety needed to operate this particular hobby without harming others. You’ll generally never know when they have a gun on them (assuming they have a conceal-carry permit) because they don’t need to prove their virility by flaunting it.

I can’t reconcile “take away all the guns” with the talk and actions of my friends. They are good, responsible gun owners who generally (a)enjoy the challenge of accuracy and (b)understand that when seconds count the cops are minutes away…

I DO agree that we have a gun problem. I just don’t think it’s as simple as using words like “all” “always” and “never” – on either side.  There are BAD gun owners out there. Anyone who thinks carrying an AR-15 into Starbucks is appropriate… needs to have their guns taken away until they can start acting like an adult! (or get counseling on how size doesn’t matter…)

Historically, the United States has a violence problem in general, and gun make it easy for people to do massive damage FAST… How do we limit it so that the responsible gun owners can buy, keep, and use their guns while protecting non-gun-owners from the dumb shits who can’t be responsible? (either because of mental health or just being immature jack-asses who feel the need to flaunt) I don’t have an answer. But I don’t think it’s a simple question either.

 


 

Ideas for “gun control”: some of these are in jest – you get to decide which ones I might consider seriously!

  1. Bullets are $5,000 each. If there is a drive-by and there are 6 bullets in someone – they REALLY wanted you dead.  There will also only be 6 bullets because even someone working illegally will pause at a $30,000 bill without guarantee of success…
  2.  

  3. All gun owners have to spend 40 hours (one work week’s worth) a year working as a volunteer in an ER. They have to work a minimum of a six-hour shift at a time.
  4.  

  5. If you are caught with an illegal gun your dominate hand is cut off. If you are caught twice you are sent to Alaska with a GPS implant in your butt and told to live off the land. Oh, and here’s your gun and twenty bullets.
  6.  

  7. We treat every young man (as 99% of mass shootings are perpetrated by young men) wants to buy a gun – mandatory 48 hour waiting period, parental permission, a note from his doctor proving he understands what he’s about to do, a video he has to watch about the effects and wounds from gun violence, an ultrasound wand up his ass (to check his prostate!). Let’s close down all but one gun shop and only run it M-F 10am-4pm in every state so he has to travel hundreds of miles, take time off work, and stay overnight in a strange town to get a gun. Make him walk through a gauntlet of people holding photos of loved ones who were shot to death, people who call him a murderer and beg him not to buy a gun….
  8.  

  9. Include gun classes as part of High school curriculum and require it for every student (minimum of 3 semesters). When they graduate they should be able to fire handguns, rifles, and shot guns; be able to clean and re-assemble these firearms; identify different bullet types; be able to write a 500 word essay on how to store a gun safely in a home;  any non-vegetarian will have shot a cow or pig in the head (why pay people when the labor could be educational!)
  10.  

  11. If someone has had a restraining order placed on them because of potential threat of harm they must turn in their guns for a minimum of 90 days or 90 days after the dispute (e.g. divorce) is completed in the court system.
  12.  

  13. Extend the length of time for the FBI to respond to background checks (I think it’s like 3 days right now… most BUSINESSES can’t turn something around in 3 days…)
  14.  

  15. Empower the A.T.F to do something; you know by having a director who can actually do shhhhtuff.
  16.  

  17. Mandate placement of serial numbers on guns such that it takes specialized equipment to get TO the location and then make that equipment ridiculously expensive (except for law enforcement)
  18.  

  19. Set up a better communication between various law-based agencies (CIA, FBI, Police, etc.) on mental health records/potential threats (would also speed up that whole background check thing!)
  20.  

Writing: The Author Sisyphus Complex

I’m not published. I’ve sent in a few manuscripts, but my own high standards and a few rejections… I know I’m a coward not to “plow through” and “keep sending it out.” I write what I love to write. As much as a piece of me yearns and burns to see my book sitting on Barnes & Nobles shelves (or better yet, see a waiting list of people ordering it!)…

I read this post of Ask Polly and almost started crying. I’m not a successful freelancer. I don’t have spines with my name on the shelf. But I understand exactly what she’s saying. The fear that somehow not achieving “better” than what I have in my life makes me a failure. What happens if my book isn’t successful? How will I handle bad reviews? How do I become Shakespeare? Jane Austen? Charles Dickens? How do I build up a fan base -as an introvert- without being so freaking awesome I can lock myself in cabins but people will still read my books? How do I sell without being a salesperson? (Especially as a woman, but that’s a different post)

When I have those thoughts, I have to remind myself WHY I write:

I write because my fingers twitch when I have ideas. I write because I’ll wake up in the middle of the night with a character who is whispered their story to me. I write because I want to explore a world. A magic system. A character. A concept. I write for therapy. I write for escape. I write for MY entertainment. I write because I love. I write for me.

The thought still whispers, “it will never be enough” and I have to start rolling that rock back up confidence hill again.

Review: The Cipher

The Cipher by Diana Pharaoh Francis

This is an interesting novel I picked up via Scribd. It was, to me, a strong example of a modern fantasy novel.

Synopsis: Lucy Trenton, a customs agent of the magical isle of Crosspointe, finds herself caught in a web of lies & treason. Her own lies catch up with her, her secret to sense majick and the secret of the dangerous cursed objects known as ciphers, named for their creator – the greatest majickar to ever live. Her only hope is ship captain Marten Thorpe, who–by every account–cannot be trusted. With time running out, Lucy must find a way to win a dangerous game or lose everything she holds dear.

  • World building: I can tell D.P. Francis knows the world she is writing, and it seems like it is consistent world building… but…
  • Characters: Lucy & Marten are the only two characters with fully-formed backstories we get to see.  There is a great cast of other characters, with hints that they each have some great stories – but we’re left hanging on what those stories are.
  • Plot: A good tale with several strong lines of danger coming at the protagonist. Occasionally, the plot is a little obvious but not in an un-enjoyable way.

So let me start by saying in big, loud words: I ENJOYED THIS BOOK. I need to say that because I do have some strong criticism. As a writer, I know how hard world building is, but that is the biggest weakness to this book. I felt like it was a possibly rich world, but it took a long time for me to grasp it. Francis sees it, she smells it – she lives in Lucy’s skin so much that I expect Francis feels the world. I know this because Lucy see, smells, & feels the world so well.

The problem is the… concepts. If this was “modern world New York” assumptions on how people get to work and why so-and-so is in their political/corporate position might be able to be assumed. Name dropping is ok in that context. Unfortunately, Francis seemed to struggle with this. The major concepts which under-gird the magic-system (majick) are never really explained. How and when are “majickars” found? What is this “Pale” that might be failing and why does it matter? What is sylveth? Is it a wind? A liquid? Why does this little isle have all these magical “Pilots” and no one else? What’s here?

FYI – I made assumptions and feel like I know the answers to most or all of those questions, but note my language there: feel, maybe, assumptions… I still don’t feel like I really understand the currents which drive the world’s magic system.

Likewise, names are occasionally dropped like I should know them without context of who they are and why they are significant in the moment they are introduced. Usually, it becomes clear later. Francis definitely tries to employ the “show don’t tell” philosophy of storytelling, but (as usual) in a self-contained world we need some different anchors to help us build the world with the author. (She’s like the direct opposite of Tolkien on this front who would describe the building & then tell the story of it’s super-famous architect even though it has nothing to do with the plot).

Now, this was not such a thing that it in any way kept me from reading voraciously. Lucy was great character (brash, stubborn, fun) and definitely kept me reading. The plot built quickly and drew me into wanting to find out “what is going to happen next!” in a very great rhythm.

In fact, the overall flow of the plot – the rises and pauses in action are beautifully done. Even with my occasional “wait, what?” moments, nothing drove me out of the plot or out of the immersion of the book. There were places where I wished she would give a little exposition because I wanted to see better or understand the context of importance, but the plot was moving such that I couldn’t be bothered to gripe.

If you need a good weekend-escape read, I definitely recommend The Cipher. In fact, this weekend I look forward to starting the second in the series and hope to get to further explore the world containing Crosspointe.

Life Memories: My Face

There are two facts about my face that people don’t tend to realize: I have a glass face.

This sentence sums up two things, the first being that I literally have glass in my face. I was in a car accident when I was about 5 and was splattered with glass from the window. Cut up my face really well and sand-sized grains of glass embedded in my face. They used to be more noticeable, but most of the big pieces have fallen out by now.

Glass literally falls out of my face every few years.  One of the spots (which looks like a permanent pimple – ugh!) will get itchy. About three days later, it will fall off.  So slowly over the years, my complexion has cleared from these scars, but I still have a few. I’m probably the only one who notices the ones that are left.

The second reason I say I have a glass face is because I’m (apparently) difficult to read. If you see me five minutes after I’ve been crying – most people can’t tell. Same with illness, I have to be actively sniffling, coughing, or throwing up for most people to notice I’m sick.  I can feel like death is winning the war, but only people who know me well and look closely will even notice.

I don’t actively try to hide my emotions or my illness. Sometimes I am confused that people don’t see “it” [how much they hurt me, how sad I am, how sick I feel]. Other people are like playdough – their faces morph to show everything going on. I see them do this, but I have never been able to do it myself. My face remains glass, smooth and invisible. And littered with glass specks.

Memories: My Couch

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Yesterday I gave away my couch.

My couch was my first “adult” purchase. Before my car. Before my first mattress.

I brought home my kitties to this couch.

This is the couch I cried on when I had my first serious heartbreak.

I know it’s “silly” to get sentimental over a piece of furniture, but this couch has been through the best and worst times of my life. It held a lot of memories. A lot of love. A lot of tears.

Memories: Animal Activism

I am not the greatest animal activist.  I would like to do more to help with things like Lolita – the killer whale in a tiny tank. I would like to save the tigers and elephants and rhinos. I would like to protect habitats being eroded by greedy logging and farming. I think these are important to our future as a people and a planet.

The sheer psychology of the images of the tiger, the wolf, the whale… these creatures have inspired and driven people for millennia. The images, and the myths will lose some of their power when people can not see them or hear them in person.  Seeing 700 pounds of tiger walk towards you with just a thin barrier to keep him back… there is a primal response in the imagination that we will lose if we lose them.

That’s actually why I support zoo’s so much.  Every zoo I’ve been to is working to save animals from extinction.  They have breeding programs.  When I was at the London zoo, they have a special turtle breeding program because no one has ever bred this nearly-extinct-turtle in captivity so the zoo is collecting as many of the turtles as they can to figure out the “secret sauce” for breeding the turtle. (and yes, I’m the nerd who reads the plaques on the wall)

I am spoiled by the Atlanta zoo. Atlanta zoo is very proud that they try to create habitats instead of cages. I visit zoo’s in other cities the way some people go to Hard Rock Cafe’s. Even the most pitiful zoo I’ve been to, most of the animals have enough space to get a modicum of exercise. Most zoo’s are trying to make their animals happy, or at least very comfortable. I remember in the Tokyo zoo they had warthogs and my first reaction was “ugh, look how much cement is in there” and then two of them took off running and went sliding across that cement on their bellies (which was covered with a layer of mud), tails up. I revised my thinking very quickly – those pigs loved their mud-n-slide.

Even the large mammals – lions, tigers, elephants, gorillas – are being given educational and exercise toys in a zoo.  Granted, I think Willie B maxed out at like 800 pounds. Elephants run no more than a few tons (I know, it’s still a lot). Orca average 6 tons. That’s 2 or 3 elephants each.  And they are super-social, so they need each other.

When I go to the Georgia Aquarium we have dolphins and you can see in their bodies they are not unhappy. Hell, the difference in the beluga whales since they arrived is amazing. I remember when I first saw them, they looked tired and sore. Now they are always grinning and playing. Their bodies are so expressive, I can’t imagine the orca are so much less expressive that people can’t see it (when I watched Blackfish, I was appalled). Again belugas are just over a ton or so. So you’re looking at 4-6 belugas per orca.

I think there is a balance. The best option is to leave animals in the wild, but zoos are bringing animals in who wouldn’t survive as well in the wild (one of the cats in the Oklahoma zoo when I went there years and years ago only had 3 legs) and can still help the species through breeding programs. I want to support the best work being done in zoos and aquariums, but I also want to make sure we are always evaluating how to make sure these animals are at least as happy as they would be in the wild – because that is where they really belong.