Friday, December 31, 2004

I've sadly neglected this blog. Thought I should stick my head in here since it's the last day of 2004 (and I can't tell you how glad I am this year is almost gone).

To mop up: I dropped my efforts at 15@15. I'll resume tomorrow, with my intent to ride my Tunturi bike for 15 minutes a day at setting 15 (that's all I have to do to satisfy my pledge; if I do more it's okay, if I don't it's okay. But I'm sick and tired of hating myself for failing all my goals about dieting and exercising. So I ain't gonna do that any more.)

I haven't been writing daily, but I did participate in National Novel Writing Month, and while I didn't finish the novel I was working on, it did get me much farther along in it, and rekindled some of my enthusiasm for it. And this week while I've been on vacation, I've been doing a lot of editing on a novella I sold to Eggplant Publications, hoping to finish it in time to re-send it to the editor tonight. Didn't quite make that, but I shall tomorrow. Or maybe Sunday; if I finish the work tomorrow I'll re-read it Sunday before sending it to her. Then, I'll go back to the novel. I'd like to have that finished, polished, and have query packages going around to agents and publishers starting April 1. It surely would be nice to sell a novel this year!

I hope anyone who's reading this has a great 2005. Remember: Attitude is everything.


Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Whoa, this place is getting dusty!

Well, happy to say, I've been doing a lot better with the 15 @ 15 effort, largely because I committed myself to the National Novel Writing Month (, or, as I like to call it, 30DoM = 30 Days of Madness). The concept of completing 50,000 words in 30 days was so frightening that I prepped myself mentally by committing to 15 @ 15 every night, NO TV during the weeknights, and 1667 words per day for the month.

Am I perfect?


But I've done 15 @ 15 five out of the last 9 nights (a LOT better than before) and the writing is at 8,000+ words. I've got the next two days off so I figure I'll catch up and pass my daily average. So that's not worrying me.

NaNo frees me up to write crap! And crap I'm writing, but even as it comes pouring out I'm thinking of ways to make it better - once the whole thing's done and it's time to edit and re-write and polish.

To be honest I'm not working on a *new* novel; this is one that's been about 2/3 done for over four years. That first 2/3 is *great* (IMNSHO) and I think that's always scared me off of finishing it - how to make the last part live up to the first part? Well--I've set those neurotic worries aside for NaNo and I'm just cranking it out now. This is an excellent exercise for shucking that writer's block jive right offa my back.

So it'll probably be awhile before I log anything here again. Not that there's anyone coming back daily and being crushed when there's nothing new...

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Just a short note this time, to keep me honest. I haven't been doing well on my 15 @ 15 project, nor on my diet. I'm going to keep after myself, though; I know this is just an excuse but I go on vacation Oct. 1 (FRIDAY!!! YAY!!!!) and I've been working like crazy to get things caught up at work before I go, and when I get home I just collapse in a heap. I know it's an excuse. I'm hoping to get a run at it during my vacation and get back into the whole diet-workout mindset again. Not to mention smaller clothes, heh. Besides I feel so much better, so fast!

Anyway. Had to be honest here. Or what's the point?

Thursday, August 26, 2004

I've signed up at to keep track of hits on some of my web pages. It's fascinating! Addicting, even. So far I've had hits from at least 40 different countries! ("At least," because I'm on the free plan at StatCounter so they only track the last 100 hits at any given moment. That's plenty for my uses.)

What's really entertaining is the surprising popularity rankings of some of my pages. For example--my web site's mostly about writing science fiction & my own publication history, and my favorite music (nine inch nails, and Bright Eyes, to name the two chief bands). What's the most popular page? The one with my husband's delicious potato soup recipe on it! (http:/ It gets hits from all over EVERYWHERE! Seems the whole world is on the lookout for a great potato soup recipe. Go figure.

The soup recipe page is in a Warren Buffett-Bill Gates kinda relationship with my Lightbulb Alley page about alcohol toxicity. That one gets a LOT of hits from predominantly Muslim, near-Eastern countries. Isn't that intriguing? Are youngsters yearning for knowledge about the forbidden? Are teachers assigning homework about the evils of alcohol?

Then, running a close third (sometimes charging up to #1 or #2) is the ever-popular ellipsis. I have a Lightbulb Alley page with a Rumor Mill ( discussion about the proper usage of ellipsis (the ". . ." in prose) in English writing. This page, too, has fans from the world over.

The Lightbulb Alley page on Archery is a big hit, lots of UK and British Isles hits at that site.

Another fun thing is to follow the "connecting link" from a particular hit back, oftentimes to google or another search engine. It brings up the very list that your visitor got when he or she did their search. It's fun, and sometimes baffling, to see what kind of company your own listing is keeping.
On the 15 @ 15 front, I'm doing well! The weight loss part is going to be slow (I've marked a small loss so far) but the next-day benefits are continuing, enough to keep me going back downstairs. I've been at it a little over a week now, and this afternoon I have to go troop around in a wetland, when the temps will be around 90 degrees. I'll be paying attention to how I weather that; I've been extremely susceptible to heat sickness the past couple of years (and couple of tens of pounds' increase) so I'm hoping the increased physical fitness level, even this small amount, will show an improvement there. Tomorrow I've got even more time outdoors but the temps will be about 15 degrees cooler (the weatherman says) so it won't be quite as good a test.

I don't know if anyone reads this, but there's my status report anyway.

Monday, August 23, 2004

I'm going to tell you how to lose weight for free. You have everything you need, right this minute, to do it. It requires no drugs, no special clothes, no expensive foods, no restrictive menus, no guru. I know this works because I did it myself: I lost 55 pounds in 4 months. (I've since gained it back, and more, so I'm now re-acquainting myself with this process, sadder and wiser. It wasn't the method that failed, it was me falling back into old habits.) This does require an ability to do simple multiplication and addition, so grab a pencil and some scratch paper.

FIRST: If you decide to give this your best effort, the VERY FIRST THING you need to do is to print this off, the whole article, and go to your physician and have her check it out and you out and give you the go-ahead. Consulting your doctor may sound spooky but it's just common sense. Everything that comes after this paragraph assumes you are in basically good health, and you've consulted your physician before going on, and she has said "Go for it!" I will NOT be responsible if you don't do that!!! I'm NOT a doctor, I'm not a dietician.

Here's the lynchpin of my method: Dieticians say that on average, for a healthy adult, it takes about 15 calories per pound to maintain your body weight. That's a very rough estimate and a scientist will go into fits trying to qualify it to death, but it's a good rule of thumb. What does that mean? It means you only need one number to know how many calories you need to eat each day to lose weight. You need to know your target weight. That's all. You don't need to know your present weight, just the weight you want to be. Now--be sensible. If you're 38 years old with three kids, chances are you're not going to ever look like Imam unless you come down with some dire disease. Go for a weight where you can feel good in (or out of) your clothes, that you can be as active as you need to be, and where you have plenty of energy, and you sleep well. Back in 1994, when I lost that weight, I got down to my ideal weight: 125. I felt better, at age 44, than I ever had in my life. I was bursting with energy, my writing ideas just poured out so fast I couldn't ever possibly write all those stories, I had stamina, and heat didn't bother me. So I'm going to shoot for 125 again.

Got your pencil? Take your target weight times 15. Mine's 125 x 15 = 1875. I'm going to try to keep my calorie intake down to 1875 per day. Often, doctors will hand their patients a 1200-calorie per day diet plan. There is no way on God's green Earth that I am going to be able to stay on a 1200 calorie a day diet. But I can do 1875.

See, given that you're in basically good health, the only reason a person doesn't lose weight is because their calorie OUTPUT(body maintenance plus physical activity) does not exceed their caloric INPUT (eating). That's it, right there. Totally simple. And there are calorie charts galore all over the Internet, free for the looking, to help you add them up.

So, theoretically, if I just reduced my calorie input to 1875, I would lose this excess weight. I'm older now so that's not quite as much of a given as it used to be. Drat it. Back in 1994, though, I learned: add exercise, and those pounds do come off. One by one by one, there they go. And it feels GOOD.

Trouble is I HATE TO EXERCISE! Well--that's not 100% true; I hate to START exercising. I work out in my basement, where we have a very nice Tunturi exercycle, a "businessman's" weight set, and a stationary weight set. Once I get down there, and start working out, my bod loves it. It's the GETTING DOWN THERE that's murder, and played a big part in my dropping off my good program a few years ago and getting back out of shape and overweight. I HATE going down those stairs. It's not logical, it's irrational, but there it is.

So I have to work around my own stupid mind. This time, I've come up with a winner. I've pledged TO MYSELF (the only one who counts in this game) that ALL I have to do to satisfy my promise to me, is "15 @ 15" -- that's 15 minutes on the bike at Nm level 15 (whatever that is; I gave up long ago trying to calculate the ergonomics of our ergonomic bike). That's a pretty low
setting, but it's enough at my current conditon to make me break out in a sweat, and for my legs to have that familiar "giant redwood log" feeling when the bell rings and I finally crawl off. If I make that 15 @ 15, I can be done and I can feel great about myself and go on about my business. Usually, though, I mess around with the weights a little bit, do some stretches. Eventually, when I've lost a few pounds, I expect I'll resume the sit-ups (when I reached my goal weight 10 years ago, I was doing 100 a day). If you can feel your pulse on your wrist or throat, by all means have your doctor help you figure out how many heartbeats per minute you should try for to get aerobic benefits -- *I* can never find my pulse so I just wing it.

So what you need to do is figure out an activity that's easy for you to get TO--whether it's taking a walk around your own block, swimming two laps up and down your pool, doing 100 skips with a jumprope--pick something that doesn't require you to go very far out of your way. Talk to yourself about this for a few days. Let yourself realize that this is something you can do to take care of yourself in a meaningful way. Think about that real hard, because I know for me it's a lot easier to make myself feel better when I'm blue by chomping a Snickers bar, than by dragging my ass down to the basement to ride the bike. But the former will only end up making me sadder, while the latter will really be good for me, really show myself love and concern that I would show anyone else in a heartbeat.

This activity that you choose should be small enough that it's not daunting or intimidating. The instantaneous reward is that when you're done, you have another 24 hours during which you can feel *very* superior and proud of yourself. But there are a lot more rewards than that, very quickly.

The FIRST NIGHT I started this, recently, I slept all night. Big deal? Yeah--if you haven't slept all night for years. The next day my hips, knees, ankles and feet felt better than they had since I don't remember when! I wasn't stiff! I felt - dare I say it -- *limber*! And I actually felt more energized that day. I was astounded. Never did I expect such physical bennies after just ONE session! I can't guarantee that for you--but I can guarantee that you'll feel more empowered, less dragged down emotionally, because you have taken that first step toward helping yourself feel better.

Set yourself intermediate and long-term goals. Use family reunions, graduations, birthdays, as goalposts. This is not so you can beat yourself over the head if you're still ten pounds heavier than you want to be by Aunt Gladys's birthday--it's just another incentive to help you talk yourself into doing your daily "15 @ 15" (or whatever you end up calling it -- that's another trick: give it a catchy title. I might even get a tee shirt made of mine, to wear on the cycle). If you just can't make yourself do your thang one day, don't agonize over it. Just get up the next day and make sure you get back in the saddle. I mean it--two days off is death. Likewise, if you stumble and devour half a gallon of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream (my favorite), don't hate yourself. You're human! We stumble! Next day, though--back to the 1875, or 2000, or however many calories your goal weight requires.

One more bit of advice, you might not see much weight loss in the first couple of weeks. If not, keep at it anyway. If you know you're eating right and you're doing your exercising, it WILL come off. It's simple biology, it has to. What might be happening is (ready for it?) you're increasing muscle mass, and that's masking fat loss. This is a very important concept, because for one thing, it should make you aware that JUST watching the scales is a sucker's game. Those numbers are just dumb numbers, they don't really know what's going on. The most important thing about being aware that you're gaining muscle mass is that you need to be conscious of your body. When you work out every day, that improves your muscle mass, and let me tell you, that is a VERY good thing, even if it makes the scales seem demonically stubborn. Why? Because well-toned muscles use up more calories, even when you're not working out. Even when you're just sitting there reading a novel, if you have well-toned muscles, they're burning calories. What's not to love about that??? So do NOT be discouraged if the scales seem stubborn. Keep at it every day! If you're reducing your calorie intake, and increasing your calorie output -- you're GOING to be a LOSER!! I mean a WINNER! Heh.

Forget deprivation diets (no carbs/low carbs? Are you KIDDING????), single-food diets, blah blah. Eat smaller portions, eat as many fresh fruits and veggies as you can daily. Eat according to the standard food pyramid (they're trying to change it but until the experts have settled their differences and devised a new one, the old one will work). Balanced meals. Nutritious snacks. Measure your food! DOn't trust your eyeballs! *My* eyeballs tell me that enough to feed three people is ONE SERVING!! Train yourself by measuring your food. Have "good" snacks with you so you're not tempted by candy machines. Portion out your lunches and package them up so you can just grab them and go to work in the morning.

This is all winner's stuff. Think ahead. Treat yourself right. You deserve it!

(This was written because when I lost weight before, several women came to me privately to ask how I'd done it. I was taken aback, and I'm afraid I did a poor job of explaining it. Maybe this will help someone, somewhere. Well--I know it will, because I wrote it to help me, too. I hope others find it useful as well.)

Friday, August 06, 2004

This new look is a completely cosmetic change, I have nothing useful or interesting to say. Just whiling away a few minutes. I liked the summery look of this template. Its creator (and I forgot to mark down his name) has a nice sense of color and style.

The links block seems to have been forced down to the lower right-hand corner of this page, in case you're looking for it. Or maybe that's just on this computer.

That's all. Maybe someday I'll be more interesting.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

The most exciting thing that's happened in the past two weeks is that I signed my web site on to for their free services. I inserted their invisible hit counter code on a bunch of my web pages, especially the ones in Light Bulb Alley, a repository for miscellaneous info that I think might be handy for writers or people who just like to pick up trivia. Most of the Alley pages are from the Speculations Rumor Mill, only the best genre writers' online community on the web, IMO.

I had been wondering if maybe I could delete some of the pages under the Alley umbrella, so I thought getting a hit profile of each page would be instructive.

Also, I have a splash page that's ostensibly about Bright Eyes, Conor Oberst's Saddle Creek Records band, but the page for a long time has just had a handful of links to other pages about the band, and to Saddle Creek's site. I was thinking, it's lame to keep that up there when I don't offer any fresh or original or unique material about Bright Eyes. gives you a *bunch* of information about who's visiting your pages. I was astounded to learn that people from all over the world were googling for info and photos of Conor, and finding my site! Norway, England, Australia, Canada...I'd originally thought that my two interests, promoting my science fiction writing and my music favorites (Bright Eyes and nine inch nails) might each augment the other in crossover web page hits--turns out, hey, I was right! That lousy Bright Eyes page is in the top three most popular pages on my site!

So now I'm thinking, I just got this great new digital camera with all kinds of photographic power--I'm hitting me the next Bright Eyes show (probably when they produce their next CD--they've had a tendency to launch supporting tours in Omaha or Lincoln and I can get to such a show easily) for some new and unique photos for my site! As a sort of reward for when people come check it out.

The other two most popular pages (aside from the home page) are one on alcohol toxicity, also in the Light Bulb Alley (hits from the Phillipines, Iran, Thailand, Canada, England...) and a page on which I posted the recipe and a photo of one of my husband's culinary accomplishments, potato soup (from all over the US, Canada, Europe, Southeast Asia...) I can't believe how many people around the world are looking for a good recipe for potato soup! Makes me laugh.

It drives home what I've always believed in general, and that the internet has magnified beyond understanding: you NEVER know whose life you're touching.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

(I wrote this 4/10/04 and tried to upload it to my blog, but couldn't for some reason. I'm trying again now, not because its prose is so deathless but because maybe another procrastinaor will happen upon it and get a chuckle out of it, and not feel so alone. By the way, I finished the story and emailed it in approximately 4 hours before the deadline.)

So I'm going to get to go to BayCon Memorial Day weekend, thanks to the incredible generosity of a lot of my Rumor Mill friends (their gift of the First Ever Middle of Nowhere Fan Fund to *me* of all people, made it affordable. I can never thank them enough!). And there's a Writer's Workshop at BayCon, that's sort of sponsored or shepherded by Kent Brewster, daddy of all Rumor Mill goodness, and it's free--even though pro writers and editors participate and crit us wannabes' work!

So I sez to my self, Self, you cannot pass this up. (This was about a month ago, when I found out about the MiNoFF award). You *must* write a new story to submit to the workshop!!!

The deadline is April 15th.

I am going to write the first draft tomorrow.

I am an idiot.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Weird food.

This is the kind of thing I concoct when I'm hungry but I'm sick (I've got a rotten cold today):

Four corn tortillas

toast them over an open burner or on a griddle.

Mash together 1/4 C. lite cream cheese and 1/4 C. lite red wine vinaigrette until it's well, well-mashed-together.

four or five slices hard salami
a handful of salad mix; today: spinach, arugula and carrots
a Roma tomato (slice it lengthwise several times so you have flat slices)
a handful of black olives, sliced into hollow coins
green onion, 1/4 C (or less), ends snipped into confetti
shredded cheddar cheese

Lay down one tortilla, spread the cream cheese mix over it, lay down the hard salami.
Put the next tortilla on top, spread the cream cheese mix over it, sprinkle the salad mix over it and arrange the tomato slices on top; salt & pepper the tomato to taste. Put the next tortilla on top, spread the cream cheese mix over it, scatter the black olives and shredded cheese over that. Put the last tortilla on top of the whole thing, throw it into the microwave on HIGH for 20 seconds, get out your knife and fork, and chow down.

Healthy but kinda weird, don't you think?

Sunday, February 22, 2004

What *we* do for fun.

I wonder how many other middle-aged couples invest in a pair of walkie-talkies for use around the house? Hubby's had some health problems, and sometimes his knees give out and he ends up on the floor and needs help getting up. Sometimes he's on the back porch and I'm up on the second floor; sometimes he's on the second floor and I'm in the basement doing laundry. So we decided to get walkie-talkies to keep handy, just in case. Also, if he's upstairs and wants me to bring him iced tea my next trip upstairs, they work for that, too.

That is, when you can get them to work. Mine doesn't work reliably. That's what *I* say. *He* says I'm not pressing the Talk button right. Come on! I'm 53 years old! I know how to press a button! He says, You certainly do, but we're talking about the radio unit.

When we first got them home we ripped them out of their package and started fiddling with them immediately. I, superior being, started to read the instructions, but I kept getting interrupted by him talking to me through the walkie-talkie. We were 4 feet apart in our front room chairs.

#%*!static#%*! "What are you doing?" #%*!static#%*! he'd ask.

#%*!static#%*! "I'm reading the instructions, as you can plainly see" #%*!static#%*!

#%*!static#%*! "What do they say?" #%*!static#%*!

#%*!static#%*! "Something about faint signals detection," I answered. #%*!static#%*!

#%*!static#%*! "What's that?" #%*!static#%*!

#%*!static#%*! "I don't know." #%*!static#%*!

You get the idea.

He sent me out to the back porch to see if they worked farther than 4 feet apart. I stood out there with the door shut and he said, #%*!static#%*! "Can you hear me now?" #%*!static#%*!

The first couple of days I kept forgetting to bring mine along in my trips up and down stairs, in and out of rooms. I'd hear him yelling from the back porch, "Turn on your walkie-talkie!"

"Why? I can hear you right now!"

"Because it's fun!"

"Oh, all right." And I'd take another fun trip back upstairs so I could find out via the gizmos that what he wanted was a cheese sandwich and a soda. The kitchen, of course, was ten feet from where he sat and fourteen feet from where I originally answered his yell. (Not that I expected him to go get it himself; he's got a certain amount of disability, remember.)

I'm not sure I can remember seeing anything funnier, or sillier, than two middle aged people volleying:





via walkie-talkies while standing in the same room. I, personally, yearned all during my childhood for walkie-talkies and my yearning was never satisfied. Tin cans connected by butcher's twine just didn't suffice, and my parents weren't about to spend good money on things that would get broken or lost faster than their body heat faded from the coinage they spent on it.

But I'm a grown-up now. I can HAVE walkie-talkies if I want. Grown-ups can do that. And I'm a grown-up. I'll prove it: get on Channel 3...

Friday, February 13, 2004

Do not mistake the collection of stuffed animals by an old lady in a nursing home as a symptom of dementia or childishness. It is a response to loneliness. It is not air that fills the rooms and hallways and stairwells of a nursing home, it is loneliness. There is enough of it in any given nursing home to fill up the galaxy.

My mom had a tiny, light gray, stuffed rabbit with moveable front and hind limbs, and pink linings to its ears, and beady little black eyes that did, somehow, look friendly. She had several other stuffed animals, of various sizes and colors and putative species, but the little rabbit was her favorite. She arranged, and re-arranged them on her bed, so she could see them and touch them any time she wanted. The rabbit she sometimes held and murmured to. She was not senile.

I thought of this as I was going to sleep last night, and was abruptly reminded of an attempt I made thirty years ago to "do good." I went to the nursing home in the small Iowa town we were living in then, and volunteered to "adopt" one of their residents - visit, mostly.

The old lady they chose for me (I can't remember her name) was at least confused, if not suffering Alzheimer's. She thought I was her daughter. She called me by her daughter's name. I spent an hour with her the first meeting, and she never did realize it wasn't her daughter desperately trying to make smalltalk. I went back a second time, with a little bouquet of flowers, and her wrinkled face lit up. She clutched the flowers and said, "It's so good to see you, Eileen! How's that little girl of yours doing?" I'm not Eileen and I only have a son. It broke my heart. I wondered where the hell her *real* daughter was, and why wasn't *she* here, looking after her mother?

This second visit, the old lady fell silent after the first few minutes, and her eyes glazed over and she stared into space unresponsive to anything I said. After awhile, I patted her hand, said "Goodbye," and left, never to return. I was 22 years old and neither I nor most of the world knew much about senile dementia or how to treat its victims. I felt like a total failure; and I felt totally unrewarded. I had envisioned some grateful old person whose dreary and pain-wracked life would be brightened just knowing that such a caring young person was paying attention to them. And for years, I felt guilty for never going back.

Last night this train of thought left me sobbing in grief, for my mom who may have been lonely but whom I did certainly pay plenty of attention to, for that old lady in the tiny Iowa town, for all the people of the world who are lonely, hungry, homeless, terrified, and alone. For a few minutes it felt like all of it was all my fault - if I could just become a better person somehow I would find a way to make all of the pain go away. But after awhile, I came to my senses and reality, and knew again that one person cannot do it, can only hope to do an adequate job of loving and caring for the people in their immediate family, and that's if they're lucky and have tremendous stores of energy.

What baffles me is that so many people don't even make the effort. How can anyone put their mother or dad into a nursing home and then never visit, except maybe at holidays or birthdays? Maybe that's what those old ladies are asking their teddy bears and stuffed rabbits. I hope the cuddlies give them answers, even if I can't hear them.