Sunday, October 30, 2016

Halloween Decorations

I love Halloween. And I love carving little pumpkins.
This year we finally found the perfect spot for the string of skeleton lights: the mantle.  In previous years we've hung them over the front or back windows, where they haven't been as effective.  They need to be next to a background, not hanging next to glass.
The little pumpkins strung up out front.
A spooky picture of Smokey.  Usually he looks much more laid-back.  I think he was annoyed that the camera was interrupting his nap.
Mark found the firework "flashers" from the Fourth of July, so we'll probably put those inside these guys on Halloween night.  Maybe I'll soak some newspaper in isopropyl alcohol and....

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Pre Halloween

The Wordos Halloween Reading was last Tuesday.  It was a lot of fun; folks are encouraged to write 1000 word stories and then read them aloud.  Usually there's a really funny story, a really powerful story, and a really creepy story.  This time around, we had less funny and more powerful and creepy.   I wrote a kind of ghost story set on Venus which was received well.

Halloween has come to our house:  the long table is in the window with pumpkins, the haunted carousel, skulls and the gargoyle on it.  Cicero the black kitten also likes sitting on the table; if there wasn't a fear of him dashing out the front door when Trick-or-Treaters visit, I'd keep him there Halloween night.  Mark prefers decorating for Christmas, but The Child and I are into it.

On a different front, I've been using an iPad for about four years, and it's too old to take the latest iOS update, which means that it's vulnerable to the latest JPEG security flaw that was uncovered a few days ago.  I've been looking around for news, but everything I'm seeing indicates that iOS 10.2 is the only fix for the problem.    I suppose this means that I'll have to uninstall various applications that could display malicious JPEGS (Facebook, Safari, Pinterest, Twitter, e-mail, )  On one hand, that means that I could leave the blog app, SimpleNote, and Scrivener and probably boost my productivity.  On the other hand, arg... my iPad is not _that_ old.  

Working Out:  Went to the gym Saturday (Oct 29).  30 minutes and 300 calories on the elliptical.  3x12x60 on the pec fly (my right shoulder's been bugging me and I figured I should try a lighter weight).  3x12x70 on the lat pulldown.  3x12 hanging curls.  3x12x35lbs with barbell curls.  My back has also been bothering me, so I did some random situp type things on a yoga ball.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Weekend Report

My weekend report got deleted ... so I'm experimenting with other tools. I'm curious how this post will be formatted [edit: well, the line returns didn't go through, so all the paragraphs got mushed together].

Friday was electronics-free reading night at our house. I'm finishing up Foundation's Fear. Saturday was visit with the folks in Corvallis day: We played "Sushi Go!" a card game with rotating hands, with my sister and niece; later we visited my folks and caught up with them. Sunday The Child and I put up the Halloween Decor; Mark helped clean because he's not as into the holiday as we are. 

Working Out: Sunday I went to the gym. 20 minutes and 210 calories on the elliptical. 5 minutes and 50 calories on the rowing machine. 3x12x70 lbs on the pec fly. 3x12x80 lbs on the lat-pulldown. 3x12 hanging curls. 3x12x35 lbx with barbell curls. 2x8x10 lbx oblique curls. 3x12x20 lbs triceps curls.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Kitty Wars

Earlier in the week...

I had a strange mash-up dream involving Carleton College and Scooby-Doo.  I think.  Between Cicero tearing around the house, various cloud-bursts, and probably too much tea yesterday, I didn't sleep as soundly as I would have liked.

Cicero is being a typical kitten, I guess.  He's the only cat I've met who likes to chew on paper, and we're at the point where The Child could say, "The cat ate my homework" and it would be plausible.  Just this Tuesday morning, the wicked little Visigoth chewed the corner off of my copy of Fowler's "Modern English Usage."  

Unfortunately, this also means that he bounds up to Smokey, wraps both front paws around his neck, and gets into Smokey's face.  Or decides that Smokey's tail is a kitten toy.   Smokey's been extremely good natured about all this, but it means we can't leave them alone in the same room.  With the turn in the weather, Smokey shouldn't stay out, with the result that one or the other spends some time locked up in a bedroom.   Our latest strategy -- which Mark is better at that I am -- is to sequester Cicero in our room whenever he gets into Smokey's face.   Cicero seems to be responding to this conditioning... until he's wound up and wants to kitty-wrestle.

I think it will be easier wrangling them when we can let Cicero outside.  He has to finish his immunizations and then get fixed (during which he'll get chipped) and then Halloween has to be over.  We have let him go on supervised jaunts in our back yard; his barn kitten past comes to the fore, as he likes to spend lots of time under our deck.  And zoom in and out of the patio door.

Smokey has been handling this fairly well, but we're pretty sure he's been going over to the neighbors to stress feed.  

Wednesday Workout:  20 minutes on the elliptical for 205 calories.  3x12x70lbs on the pec fly.  3x12x80lbx on the lat pull-down.   2x8x10lbs oblique curls.  3x12x30lbs barbell curls.  3x12 hanging curls.  3x12x30lbs triceps pull-downs.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Workout Report

Sunday Workout:  Virtuously went to the gym Sunday morning.  35 minutes on the elliptical for 320 calories.  3x12x60lbs on the pec fly.  3x12x80lbx on the lat pull-down.   2x8x5lbs oblique curls.  3x12x30lbs barbell curls.  3x12 hanging curls.  Umm.. a bunch of 12.5lb curl-lift-overhead curls.

Mostly cloudy and rainy today.  The high winds and inches of rain didn't materialize, so most of the leaves are still on the neighborhood trees.  We have had a lot of rain, and some of the fallen leaves have clogged the street drains.  But no animals two-by-two yet.  

Friday, October 14, 2016

Storm Prep

The big news locally is that the first of several storm systems blew in last night (Thursday, Oct 13).  There was between a quarter and a half an inch of rain.  The house and the cats got through the night without any mishaps (aside from the garage screen door swinging into something, I think).  One of my friends lost electricity... I'm not sure where in town he lives, so I don't know how widespread the outage was.  The streets weren't too bad, maybe some extra leaves and occasional spots of small twigs.  Mark went for a quick walk this (Friday, Oct 14) morning, and said he say Orion.   As I'm typing this, it's partially cloudy, with the morning sun painting the eastern clouds yellow-orange.

That didn't prevent thunder and lightning later Friday afternoon.  I think our lights flickered once.

An even larger system is blowing in Saturday.  People are stocking up on basics, and I need to go into the store and get things like eggs and cat food (and bacon).  The weather-folks keep invoking the Columbus Day Storm of 1964.  If I remember some story research I did correctly, fifty years ago a huge system swept in, and the air pressure differential set up a kind of funnel effect that had damaging winds blowing through the entire valley.  This (Friday) morning, NOAA reported some places (I'm guessing the Astoria Tilamook area) on the Oregon coast saw winds of 100 mph Thursday night.  And two water-spouts turned into tornadoes on the coast.

Looking at the NOAA site earlier Saturday morning (Oct 15) it looks like Florence weather is hitting Corvallis, and Newport weather is sweeping over to Salem.  I think that means Eugene is getting North Bend weather.  It's hard to tell from the radar images, because they're based out of Portland, but it looks like Portland is getting hammered by the gulf stream.  I suppose if the storms' paths shift south, Eugene will get higher winds and more rain than we have been so far.

Working Out:  25 minutes on the elliptical for about 240 calories.  Jumped onto the rowing machine for five minutes and 50 calories.  3X13X60lb pec-flies.  3X12X80lb lat pull-downs.  3X8 oblique curls on some funny machine, followed by inclined sit-ups and back-curls, mostly to loosen up my lower lumbar.  3X13 hanging curls.   Mark was appreciative later on. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Goal Resets and Colds

I've been set back about a week by a stupid cold, which makes me grumpy.  So time sinks are extra frustrating at the moment.   I also want to do some crafts for Halloween (and Christmas).   I guess I'm going to have to re-set my writing goals.   On top of this, I've misfiled an important document (which I finally found last Saturday (four days ago) paper-cliped to the back of a critique of my dog story).

Yeserday (Oct 4), I went through the critiques from last Tuesday.  Although the ideas and locale of the story were insteresting I'd say that the story setting (30K above the surface of Venus) was enough out of focus that non-astronomers got really confused.   Once again the manuscript got squished between the Twin Towers of Tolkein Sclorisis and Not-Enough-Detail.   It's frustrating, because I don't want the story to be tropey, and I don't want to have to beat the reader over the head with an atlas of Venus.  

Turtleneck weather is back.  Today I put on my black turtleneck  and found my black (well, grey, now) scarf with silver threads and did what I call a Roman wrap around my neck.  The Child opined that I looked like Fred Jones from Scooby-Doo.  I added my black-with-purple highlights coat (which Mark says makes me look like an 80's lesbian).  

The cold kept me out of the gym for a bit.  I went last Monday (Oct 10).  Did the usual elipitcal, pec-fly, lat-pulldown, side-crunches, hanging curls thing.  

Thursday, October 06, 2016

If Eric Copland Wrote Star Trek Music

Right now I'm listening to music from an Original Series Star Trek episode that Eric Copland might have written.  So far we've had the good people have died opening, the bar fight scene, the majestic space-the-final-frontier moment, the pensive exposition, the beautiful girl's entrance, and a few mushy kissing scenes.  

At first The Child and I thought this was originally, "Grandma died of dysentery along the trail, but the rolling hills sure do make a majestic background for her gravesite, from which we will march, hand in hand, into the wilderness so that we might tame it" music.    Ooops, we're having another majestic voyage scene and possibly end-credits.   I'm waiting for Rocky at KWAX to tell us what we've been listening to, because it does sound like Copland, but it might be John Williams.  

And it's... Peter Boyer?  Symphony 1 (2012-13)?  Written in memory for Leonard Bernstein?   I might have to add it to my music to write by selection.

And now I'm imagining the the classic Star Trek fight music (da-da-daah, da-da-daah, da-da-daah daah daah daah daah da-da-daah daah) arranged for Copland's Rodeo.  

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Autmn Colds and the Three Body Problem

It's Autumn.  The leaves are falling and the rain has returned.  Last week I managed to catch the cold The Child caught from his school peers.  The fever dream I had was weird, and I should have written it down.  The cold adversely affected my sex life (cue the verse about being too tired from the song "Life in the Fast Lane"), with resulting oh-so-subtle dreams of making out in the front seat of a roller-coaster while it goes into a tunnel... and some not-so-subtle ones that I'll let folks imagine.

The difficulty with colds is that they reduce my attention span and make me feel stupid.  This makes it difficult to write or to read anything much above the level of Calvin and Hobbes.  During recovery, I did manage to rustle up enough brain power to finish up "The Three Body Problem."  I like the way that the author, Liu Cixin,  can explain scientific ideas.  Sometimes, I noticed blocks of exposition, and I'm on the fence about the use of flashbacks.  I think I'm not understanding his characters' motivations, which is most likely a cultural thing.  The book has a strong totalitarian/we're-doomed feel to it, and I'm wondering if that's a Chinese cultural thing similar to the British cultural "life's-a-bitch-and-then-you-die" theme, or the American cultural "plucky-nerd-saves-the-world-and-is-sexually-fulfilled" theme.   I need to read Mr. Liu's afterward again, because he confesses to being awestruck by science, astrophysics, and math--and I'm only tangentially seeing his wonder in this novel.

Monday night, David Brin visited the Wordos in Eugene.  He's very entertaining and interesting.  Among the many topics he here was a brief discussion about aliens.  Afterward I was thinking that in some ways Liu Cixin's Trisolarian aliens are a return to Gort and Klaatu, with the theme that humanity is collectively unfit to manage itself (and collaterally, life on earth).  I prefer E.T. aliens... or, actually Vulcans.  Hmm.  Or Wookies.  Or Minbari.   Darn, looks like everybody wants prosthetic foreheads for their real heads. 

Saturday, October 01, 2016

OH !

I work at the University of Oregon.  Parking is luck of the draw here; drivers have a choice of paying lots of money for a reserved stall in a lot, or paying lots of money for a "hunting license" that comes with the privilege of circling through lots trying to find an empty stall.  Usually, the empty stall is sandwiched between two SUVs that are barely able to fit within the stall boundaries.  The signal to parking staff that you shouldn't be towed is a plastic dangling permit one hangs from the car's rear view window.

Last year's dangler featured the school's mascot, Puddles the Duck, holding up a white sign where an expiration sticker could be attached.  This year's dangler prominently features two gloved hands making the international sign language sign for vagina, otherwise known as the sports teams' "O."  Incoming comrades -- er, students -- are taught how to pose for pictures with their thumbs and fingers joined into a giant O.  The gloved O-making hands on the dangler have a yellow highlight on them to make the O more visible, and the remaining fabric appears to be some kind of black and white bar code pattern. 

So, in order to park, I have to hang what looks like a yellow vagina surrounded by a bar code tattoo from my rear view window.  I suppose it's subversive... but it really feels like I've become an advertising tool for an athletics business that comes up with phrases like "I love my ducks" and "duck-alicious."  

I suppose this is some sort of competition with the Oregon State University mascot, which is Benny the Beaver.