Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Monday, February 26, 2007

Faux News

How's the writing going? Well, I'm glad you asked. :) I was going to write the "arraignment" scene I'd planned since the beginning of the Work (ahem), so first I pulled out my fat Legal Research folder and found my notes and printouts about arraignments under the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. Then I realized that I had done that research before I had decided (thanks to Pooks' suggestion) to have my protagonist go on the run. Okay, no problem, I thought - I'll just add that crime to the murder charge. Back online I went only to discover that the term "fugitive from justice" only applies to interstate travel, whereas my guy runs intrastate. What's it called when you run from the law without crossing state lines? I tried searching all kinds of terms, to no avail. Something like that can really screw up a whole day. Fortunately, I do have a friend of a friend who's a criminal lawyer (yes, I know, another lawyer joke; sorry) but I wanted to get all of my "legal" scenes written first so that he could review everything at one time instead of bugging him every few days. Eh. For now, I'm just going with the murder rap.

In other news, west Texas blew in over the weekend. I hadn't seen an old-fashioned dust storm in years, and this was a beaut. The wind removed a huge metal awning for us on the balcony - well, almost - it was hanging by three very tired screws when Tomcat got up there to rescue it before it landed on the neighbor's car.

My first tulips are blooming, and the daffodils and other bulbs I planted are coming up. The next freeze can't be too far away!

Happy Monday everyone.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Okay, all the white girls can go home. Last night's American Idol lineup was awesome. So much talent, and it all belonged to the Black gals. We didn't have one white girl who could represent, not one. And the girls' competition is the only one to watch, at least as far as I can tell at this point, because none of the guys even came close to the talent of last night's bunch. I can't believe I never watched this show before this season. I know, I know [beating head against wall] what was I thinking.

And you know what - I actually like Simon. He tells these people the truth, but most of them are too invested in their own egos to see that he's doing them a favor.


Ever since we moved into Maxwell House last summer, we've been trying to get the place changed on the City and County's records from a commercial, multi-tenant property to a residential single-family property. So many times I've been told to do such-and-such and that would take care of it, then we'd get another citation or something for not filing the proper forms. Tomcat even went down to talk to these people once and they told him not to worry, that the court case had been removed from the docket. Well, we shoulda known, because it wasn't, and since we didn't show up, they got a summary judgment against us. [steam coming out ears.]

We received notice of another court date. We also received a letter from the Grand Poobah at Code Compliance recommending the case for dismissal. But we went down to the courthouse on Monday anyway, just in case. Sure enough, they didn't have the letter in their files yet, so the case would have proceeded. It felt SO good to listen to the prosecutor present their case, have the Judge ask what I had to say to that, and then whip that letter out and read it. Heh. After the prosecutor and the guy who was apparently training her looked it over, they sheepishly told the judge that since the letter predated the summary judgment, they had taken that in error, and that they recommended dismissing the whole thing. The judge agreed. Tomcat went up to the bench to get a copy of the dismissal, and then the judge noticed Tom's Masonic pin and asked what lodge he belonged to. :) So now, Tomcat insists that this is yet another piece of evidence that "they" rule the world. [snerking just a little, because ... maybe he's right.]

At our writer's group yesterday we had a sort of show-and-tell meeting. One of the guys brought this wonderful storyboard he made for the novel he's writing. I had only seen a picture of it on Pooks' blog before (btw, Pooks is joining us!), and I had based my own method on that picture (using sticky notes for each scene, and sticking them in my Moleskine.) Well, after seeing his storyboard, I had to have one of my own, so I stopped by Staples on the way home to get one. Basically, you get a science project board - you know the kind that folds out like a triptik - and you put each scene on an index card and stick them on the board. The top row, going across, is Act I, the next two rows are Act II to the Midpoint, then the rest of Act II to the end, and the last row is for Act III. The cards go on the board accordian style so that you can flip each card up to see what the scene is, and what the conflict is. The bottom of the card is the only part showing, and on that you write the name of the scene and the emotional arc of that scene. Way cool. This is going to help me actually *see* the parts of the story that need more fleshing out.

What I've been writing recently is turning out really well - lots of action and tension going on. Nobody liked the fact that I shot the protag, though. I guess that didn't really *need* to happen, come to think of it. (Now I can actually say "back to the drawing board" only it's a storyboard.)

Okay, I'm hitting the boards now. Have a great day!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Not your everyday pub grub, The little ice age, and a blast from the past

For Valentine's Day, Tomcat took me to a local English pub whose chef (I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but they actually do have a chef) prepared a four-course dinner that was divine.

But that's not all Tomcat had up his sleeve to celebrate this romantic holiday. The next night, we had box-seat tickets to the Symphony to hear Tchaikovsky's Romeo & Juliet! [swoon] Actually, it was "just" the overture. They followed with a couple of Ravel pieces (not Bolero, thank God). An Israeli violinist made his Dallas debut playing a 1690 Stradivarius. [where are my smelling salts?]

Of course, for centuries people have tried to find the secret they believed Stradivari must have had in order to make his violins produce their famous "sweet" tone. Recently, scientists have postulated that it had nothing to do with the varnishes or glues that he used - dismissing the theory that he had a secret formula - but it was the unique composition of the wood itself. Europe suffered a mini ice age between 1645 and 1715, which slowed tree growth. This may have produced the ideal cell density for sound resonance in his violins. [Did "Little Ice Age" Create Stradivarius Violins' Famous Tone?]

Speaking of blasts from the past, I received a letter last week from a long-lost friend who had tracked me down after 38 years! I couldn't believe it. We were teenagers when we met, a time when a three-year age difference meant something. Since she was the elder, I looked up to her as the most sophisticated creature I had ever met: she smoked and knew how to drive. It was amazing to see her again. Here we were, both past middle-age, staying up 'til two o'clock in the morning yakking away as if no time had passed at all. People, if you've lost friends from your past, please try to get back in touch with them. It's a good thing.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

One down, 49 to go

State Farm suspends Miss. policy sales
By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN, Associated Press Writer

State Farm Insurance Cos. is suspending sales of any new commercial or homeowner policies in Mississippi effective Friday, citing in part a wave of litigation it has faced after Hurricane Katrina, a company official said Wednesday.

After Katrina, why anyone in any state would buy insurance from State Farm is beyond me.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

And in the If You Can't Beat 'Em

Joint 'Em Department,

Mexico wants to partially decriminalize drugs
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican President Felipe Calderon's government wants to decriminalize first-time possession of small amounts of drugs in a move likely to draw criticism from U.S. anti-narcotics officials.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Ding Dong

Waaaay back in my young and single days, there were two things that really irked me. After being out late on a Friday night and trying to sleep it off in on Saturday morning, the phone would ring (this was in the dark ages before Caller ID) and it would be the (now defunct, heh) Dallas Times Herald asking me for the 37th time that year if I wanted to subscribe to their paper, or the doorbell would ring and there would be two JWs standing there asking if I wanted to subscribe to their religion. [steam coming out ears]

I handled the Times Herald phone calls with a mumbled "No," unless I was really hung over cranky, in which case I'd just slam the phone down.

The JWs were usually handled with a mumbled "Not interested" and a firmly closed door. There was one morning I recall, though, when I was especially cranky and they said "We'd like to take a moment to --" and I said "Take it somewhere else" and slammed the door. (I just know they're still praying for me after all these years.) I did truly feel bad about that, you know, later.

Since then I've tried to be nicer (I mumble "Not interested" and sort of smile before closing the door.) After all, I'm older, gentler, kinder, and the Dallas Times Herald went out of business, and there's not much to complain about on a Saturday morning, anyway, when the night before my husband and I were probably up 'til almost 11:00 after having spent a wild night at the Half Price Book Store.

But this last time, I really, totally blew it. I don't know what got into me:

I. engaged. in. con-ver-sa-tion.

People, do not do this because, because ... they'll keep coming baaaaaaaaaaaaaack.

(the horror)

They've been back three times now. It so happened that Tomcat answered the door each time because I was unavailable. (Once I was out walking Scruffybutt, once I was still in bed, and once I was, um, in another room.) Each time, they left literature for me. (Which reminds me, the City finally delivered our recycling bin.)

Sooner or later, I'm going to have to take. steps. to make them go. away.

Any suggestions?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Cute Captions

"Finally photographed, we find bigfoot is a ... Dork."

That's one of the highest-rated captions for this picture over at Cute Captions. If you're ever looking for something cheerful, browse their pictures, read the captions people have come up with, or even better, try adding your own. You can also add Cute Captions to your blog, as I have!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Silly Views

I've been following this story. You probably remember Dr. Richard Leakey, the famous fossil finder. His team discovered "Turkana Boy," the most complete skeleton of prehistoric man ever found, which is scheduled to go on display in Kenya later this year.

Ever since the announcement of the new exhibit, the Kenyan museum has been under seige to relegate the upcoming 160,000-piece fossil collection to a back room because Bishop Boniface Adoyo, head of Kenya's 35 evangelical denominations, can't stand the fact that he might have been descended from the likes of Turkana Boy, rather than fully-human ancestors created by God 6,000 years ago. He claims to have 10 million followers, and is calling for a boycott of the museum because "These sorts of silly views are killing our faith."

You can read more about it here.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

If Mad King George Won't Listen, Appeal to the Queen

Retired officers: Iran attack would be a disaster
copyright AP

LONDON - Three former high-ranking U.S. military officers have called for Britain to help defuse the crisis over Iran's nuclear program, saying military action against Tehran would be a disaster for the region.

In a letter to the Sunday Times newspaper, the three former officers urged President Bush to open talks, "without preconditions," with the Iranian government in a bid to find a diplomatic solution.

The signatories were retired Lt. Gen. Robert G. Gard, a senior military fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation in Washington, D.C.; retired Marine Gen. Joseph P. Hoar, former head of U.S. Central Command; and Vice Adm. Jack Shanahan, former director of the Center for Defense Information.

- read the rest of the article here.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Super Sunday Tomorrow!

Well, fans, tomorrow's the big day! Yes, I'm talking 'bout some football over on the Animal Planet Channel. It's Puppy Bowl III time already - can you believe it?

Puppy Bowl III, with the Kitty Halftime Show, tomorrow at 2:00 CST. Check it out.

Rant Time #1

Whose fault is this?

Tens of thousands of Iraqis, plus over 3,000 American and Coalition troops have been killed, and thousands more injured.

The country is all but destroyed. Vast sums of U.S. money earmarked for rebuilding Iraq are missing. What construction has been done was shoddy. Many Iraqis are still to this day without basic utilities.

Four years after the invasion of Iraq, what began as a war between Coalition forces and Sadam Hussein's government has now become four wars, including one against al-Qaeda, which now has a base in Iraq.

This quagmire is likely to get much worse. The current Iraqi Army is ineffective. The time for a military solution is long past, and a political solution is highly unlikely. The fighting rages on. Just today, a suicide bomber drove a truck into a crowded marketplace, killing (as of this moment) at least 150 people, and injuring almost 400 more.

NONE of this would have happened had we not invaded Iraq, a sovereign country, that had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11. We allowed an inept cowboy with a messianic complex take revenge on the man who "tried to kill my [Bush's] daddy." Even today, we allow this man to ignore the recommendations of the bipartisan study group and military advisors because not enough of us have held our Congressional representatives' feet to the fire to demand action. Instead, we are settling for an ineffective and nonbinding resolution, maybe, depending on whether or not it passes on Monday.

This is shameful. Shame on us all. I don't know how long it will take for Iraq to recover. I fear America never will.

Friday, February 02, 2007

It's Official

Global Warming: real, man-made, irreversible.
Hmm. Pat Robertson, to whom God speaks personally, said he doesn't "believe in" global warming. Ya think he could have been wrong?

Meanwhile, in civilization, the British will begin showing An Inconvenient Truth to school children. Ya think that would ever happen here?

Finally, as always, please remember what they say about yellow snow.