Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Weird-ass Wednesday

The Halloween Ghost Head Nebula.

Here's how the Japanese prepare for an American vacation:

Japanese survival training video

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tell Us Tuesday #15

Tell us, if you could be the proverbial fly on the wall, where would you go?

Monday, October 29, 2007


So often we see ourselves as a lonely, cultural pinnacle, superior beyond all comparison. But if recent excavations at Stonehenge offer anything, they put our era in perspective, reminding us of an unbroken lineage shared across continents and cultures. We are simply an extension of an ancient age, living now in the next lost civilization.

This is from an article entitled Stonehenges all around us published in the L.A. Times. The author, Craig Childs, invites us to look around, not only at the numerous Neolithic sites that have been discovered around the world, but at the patterns of our own, current civilization. There are similarities. If you think about, why shouldn't there be similarities? After all, we're members of the same species that built Stonehenge and other, similar sites.

Step out of your house and you might notice your street is fixed on a cardinal grid: north, south, east, west. This pattern defines many American and European cities, as well as Neolithic sites such as Anyang in China and the Mexican city of Teotihuacan.

Looking at the way ancient people assembled themselves, archeologists see cults and primitive, celestial religions. But how primitive were these people's beliefs, and how different from them are we?
The same kind of architecture can be seen in Washington, where countless astronomical alignments are constructed into the Capitol and its surrounding buildings and monuments. Most recently, Gerald Ford joined a long line of presidents whose bodies have lain in state inside the majestic, symmetrical Rotunda. Will future archeologists imagine the worship of ancient leaders whose bodies were kept within circular chambers before burial?

Something to think about.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Silly Saturday #15

Have you ever had days where you just sorta ... feel like ...

Me neither. Jeebus.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

This explains a lot

I Stumbled upon this article from the Yale Daily News, written almost two years ago. Take a look at what Dumbya was doing back in 1967:

Cartoon on Bush recalls Yale frat hazing

Yale Daily News
December 1, 2005
Contributing Reporters

Cartoonist Garry Trudeau '70 said he thinks a little-known fact about President George W. Bush '68's past -- that his first mention in The New York Times occurred in 1967 when, as former president of the Delta Kappa Epsilon chapter at Yale, Bush defended the fraternity's practice of branding its pledges with a red-hot coat hanger -- deserves more national attention.

Bush continues to assert that "American doesn't torture." The administration's spin on waterboarding is that it's no worse than hazing. The frat boy brought his "family values" to the highest office in the land and disgraced this country in the eyes of the world.

Making an impression

A friend sent me this joke:

Texas Happy Hour

A cowboy is driving down a back road in Texas and he sees a sign in front of a restaurant.......

Happy Hour Special


"Lord almighty," he says to himself, "my three favorite things!!"

This reminds me of the first dinner I had with my prospective in-laws...

We went to a restaurant called Dick's Last Resort. The waitress asked if we wanted "breasts, thighs, or crabs," while pointing to her own breasts, thighs, and genitalia. You know how in some books the author describes a character as having a smile frozen on their face? That actually happened to my mother-in-law. You know how people say they were so mortified that they nearly died? That actually happened to me! Tomcat and my father-in-law, however, thought it was hilarious.

Then there was the second dinner I ever had with my prospective in-laws...

We were at the Dixie House restaurant. Everyone ordered southern fried chicken. As I'm munching away, I look around the table and realize that Tomcat and his parents are eating fried chicken with a knife and fork, while I, the rube, am holding a chicken leg with my hands in front of my face. Did I mention that Tomcat and his folks are from Buffalo? Only Yankees would eat southern fried chicken with a knife and fork. Even if they knew that, it wouldn't matter, and I realized in that instant there was nothing I could ever do or say to dispel the impression that their son was marrying a barbarian.

Then there was the time I cooked the Thanksgiving turkey upside down...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Welcome to my world

This is our new cat, Shadow, who curled up next to Scruffybutt yesterday (on a gorgeous afghan made by my mother-in-law) while Scruffybutt pretends that this is not happening.

Shadow was given to us by Grace, the artist, because we will keep him as an indoor-only cat. He started climbing up on her neighbors' roof. And staying there. Until her husband had to get the Really Long Ladder, climb up, and coax Shadow back down. Repeat. Repeat again. Then the neighbors started complaining. Grace, the artist's, husband pointed out that the hole in the neighbors' roof was attracting the cat. So, the neighbors had the hole patched. With Shadow inside. For three weeks, while everyone could hear him crying up there. The neighbors refused to do anything about it, saying they had "no access" to the attic. One day, Grace, the artist, found Shadow outside, evidently finally set free by the neighbors.

After his rehabilitation, Shadow needed a home where he could stay indoors. That's where we came in. This little guy is so affectionate! Have you ever heard of a lap cat before? I hadn't. I had no idea they existed. He wants to be in my lap Mostly All The Time. When I'm typing, his head pops up, attracted by the clicking noises from the keyboard. Then he starts trying to catch my fingers with his paws. It's adoramous.

Our other cat is Katy. We inherited her with the house. She used to have a roommate, so we thought she would get along with Shadow. We were wrong. She thinks Shadow is the AntiChrist.

This is Katy enjoying her morning saucer of Half 'n Half. (If she doesn't get her morning saucer of Half 'n Half, someone will have to deal with cat shit in their shoe when they least expect it.)

This is Scruffybutt again, helping her daddy get dressed this morning.

She's not so scruffy at the moment because she went to the groomer's recently. I took her picture through the glass. Her groomer's name is also Candace. (This was taken with a real camera instead of the camera phone, btw.)

Have a good day, everyone!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


There's a case here in Dallas that y'all might not have heard about where apparently the government railroaded a local charity group to trial on charges of funding terrorists. Yesterday, a mistrial was declared and one of the jurors subsequently spoke out about the case.

The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development collects donations to help feed and clothe Palestinian refugees, but it has also provided help to refugees in Bosnia, Kosovo, Turkey, and even the United States after floods, tornadoes, and Oklahoma City bombing disasters. Several years ago the government shut it down, freezing its assets and claiming that the Foundation was funding the terrorist group Hamas. But records showed that funds given to Hamas were donated before Hamas was declared a terrorist organization.

The whole thing just didn't pass the smell test, in my opinion. The Foundation seems to be made up of good and caring people who were trying to do the right thing - relieving human suffering. Well, now it turns out, at least according to the juror who was interviewed yesterday, that the government's case was flimsy at best.

Holy Land juror: 'Too many holes' in case
12:30 AM CDT on Tuesday, October 23, 2007

[article excerpt:]

Neal [the juror] said the government tried to scare them into a guilty verdict by showing them bombings in the Middle East.

"Some jurors were talking about 9/11, the Taliban, Osama Bin Laden and I was going, 'What?'" he said.

The defendants, and the foundation itself, were accused of funneling money to Hamas, a known terrorist group. But Neal said in the end, the jurors couldn't reach guilty verdicts based on the facts and evidence presented.

"[There were] too many holes," he said. "They needed to patch those holes."

While he said he couldn't speak for the entire jury, he said on a personal level, he thought the case was politically motivated.

Typically, the government plans to retry the case.

Certainly I am not supportive of anyone or any group that wants to fund terrorists. But looking at this group's record it really seemed to me from the beginning that this was another case of government grandstanding amid post 9/11 hysteria. These are good people, and I believe they were railroaded. I hope nothing happens to the juror who had the courage to speak out.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

"Silence betokens consent"

In 1968, Willa Michener, a Presidential Scholar, wanted to give President Johnson a piece of her mind about the Vietnam War, but ... she didn't, because a teacher told her that it was just best to remain quiet while in the presence of the president. She regretted her decision for 40 years.

Her daughter, Mari Oye, is also a Presidential Scholar, Class of 2007. When she got the chance to be in the presence of George W. Bush, she handed him her handwritten letter protesting the use of torture of detainees. Her letter was signed by over a third of the 2007 Scholars. When President Bush denied that the U.S. uses torture, Mari said, "Please remove your signing statement to the McCain anti-torture bill."

Mari also told Bush that her grandparents were detainees in a Japanese internment camp during World War II.

What an extraordinary family! The grandparents - Japanese Americans detained in a camp during the war; the mother, a Presidential Scholar during the Vietnam era; and the daughter, a Presidential Scholar during Iraqmire, each brave in their own way, each with a social conscience, each a true American.

Read the article here.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

J.K. Rowling Outs Dumbledore

Dumbledore is Gay

Jo Rowling outed Prof. Dumbledore while speaking Friday night at Carnegie Hall. She was taking audience questions when a fan asked if the rumors about the Hogwarts' Headmaster were true. Yes, she said, Albus Dumbledore is gay.

This is not something she just came up with in response to speculations in the fanfic, where the "Dumbledore is gay" storyline abounds. Back when the Half-Blood Prince movie was being made, she deleted a writer's reference in the script to a female love interest for Dumbledore.

This revelation will no doubt upset the Fundies all over again, which is always a good thing.

More than that, though, Rowling has always said she hopes the Harry Potter story will teach kids to question authority. Teaching tolerance is a nice touch.

Good show, Ms. Rowling, good show.

Friday, October 19, 2007


Does this bug you as much as it does me? I mean, there you are at the anti-war march, and you look over and see ...

October 12, 2007
US agencies are staying tight-lipped about robobug research, writes Rick Weiss.

[article excerpt:]

VANESSA ALARCON saw them at an antiwar rally in Lafayette Square in Washington last month.

"I heard someone say: 'Oh my god, look at those'," the university student recalled. "I look up and I'm like, 'What the hell is that?' They looked kind of like dragonflies or little helicopters. But those are not insects."

Bernard Crane saw them, too. "I'd never seen anything like it in my life," the Washington lawyer said. "I thought: 'Is that mechanical, or is that alive?' "

That is just one of the questions hovering over a handful of similar sightings at political events in Washington and New York.

Some suspect the insect-like drones are high-tech surveillance tools, perhaps for the Department of Homeland Security.

Do you believe this shit? And this is domestic spying, folks.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Pharyngula Mutating Genre Meme

The OCD Gen X Liberal tagged me.

I got tagged with this cool meme, demonstrating evolution in cyberspace:

There are a set of questions below that are all of the form, "The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is...".

Copy the questions, and before answering them, you may modify them in a limited way, carrying out no more than two of these operations:

* You can leave them exactly as is.

* You can delete any one question.

* You can mutate either the genre, medium, or subgenre of any one question. For instance, you could change "The best time travel novel in SF/Fantasy is..." to "The best time travel novel in Westerns is...", or "The best time travel movie in SF/Fantasy is...", or "The best romance novel in SF/Fantasy is...".

* You can add a completely new question of your choice to the end of the list, as long as it is still in the form "The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is...".

* You must have at least one question in your set, or you've gone extinct, and you must be able to answer it yourself, or you're not viable.

Then answer your possibly mutant set of questions. Please do include a link back to the blog you got them from, to simplify tracing the ancestry, and include these instructions.

Finally, pass it along to any number of your fellow bloggers. Remember, though, your success as a Darwinian replicator is going to be measured by the propagation of your variants, which is going to be a function of both the interest your well-honed questions generate and the number of successful attempts at reproducing them.

My great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparent is Pharyngula.
My great-great-great-great-great-grandparent is Metamagician and the Hellfire Clubs
My great-great-great--great-grandparent is Flying Trilobite.
My great-great-great-grandparent is A Blog Around the Clock.
My great-great-grandparent is Shakespeare's Sister.
My great-grandparent is Shayera.
My grandparent is PoliShifter
My parent is The OCD Gen X Liberal

1. The best time travel film in SF/Fantasy is:

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

2. The best scary movie(s) in scientific dystopias is:

Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)

3. The best (cult?) novel in teenage angst is:


4. The best stand-up comedian in American comedy is:

George Carlin

5. The best politician is:


6. The best sexy movie in American film is:

Nine 1/2 Weeks

Let not let this lineage go extinct! I am asking the following to go forth and multiply:

Puppet Show


Modern Science

The Friendly Atheist


Weird-ass Wednesday

Gazing into my crystal ball, I see ...


You've probably seen the movie, The Day After Tomorrow, a mega disaster, end-of-the-world special effects extravaganza. Many people don't realize that it was based on the book, The Coming Global Superstorm.

Here's a blurb from Wikipedia:

The book posits the following theory:

* First, that the Gulf Stream and North Atlantic drift generates a cordon of warm water around the north pole, which in turn creates a cordon of warm air that holds in a frozen mass of arctic air.

* Second, that if the Gulf Stream were to shut down, that barrier would fail, releasing a flood of frozen air into the northern hemisphere, effecting a sudden and drastic temperature shift.

The book discusses a possible cause of the failure of the gulf stream: that the melting of the polar ice caps could drastically affect the salinity of the North Atlantic drift by dumping a large quantity of freshwater into the world's oceans.

The disaster they're talking about is this: The upper atmosphere's frozen air suddenly comes crashing down and instantly flash freezes everything in the northern hemisphere.

The book says this may have happened in ages past, as part of a larger climate cycle we know little about, and that the effects of man-made global warming are hastening the process in the current cycle. You know those flash-frozen green beans in the freezer? Well, it may be that Mother Nature flash froze some woolly mammoths a while back. They were unearthed thousands of years later with fresh food still in their mouths and undigested food in their stomachs. The article I've linked to gives the standard explanation that they "may have been trapped in bogs or quicksands and either died of starvation or exposure, or drowning if they sank under the surface. Though judging by the evidence of undigested food in the stomach and seed pods still in the mouth of many of the specimens, neither starvation nor exposure seem likely."

The movie depicts the same flash-freezing happening to humans and everything else.

So, how could the frozen air in the upper atmosphere suddenly come crashing down and instantly flash freeze every single green bean and human in the northern hemisphere? It's the "cordon of warm air" which prevents that from happening now. But if the air in the barrier is no longer warm, then the super-cold air slams to the earth (remember, warm air rises, cold air falls.)

The warm air barrier exists because of the "conveyor belt" effect of the Gulf Stream and North Atlantic Drift. The Gulf Stream's warm water is pulled northward by the North Atlantic Drift. The warm water sits atop the cold water of the Drift. The evaporation of this warm water as it drifts north warms the air, and thus, most of Europe (remember, England is at the same latitude as Canada, yet it is considerably warmer.) Simultaneously, the further north the warm water travels, the colder it gets. As it cools, it sinks (warm water rises, cold water sinks.)

This cycle of warm water evaporating and warming the air, then cooling and sinking as it travels north, and traveling back down to the Gulf, is called thermohaline circulation. Everything works fine as long as nothing drastically interferes with this cycle.

The disaster in the movie is caused by the shutdown of thermohaline circulation. If it shuts down, then warm water is no longer carried from the Gulf Stream to the North Atlantic Drift because the Drift is no longer circulating. No warm water means no evaporation to warm the air. Instead, only cold water is evaporating, cooling the air. No warm air means no barrier to keep the super-cold frozen air aloft. The super-cold air has nowhere to go but ... down.

What caused the hypothetical shutdown of thermohaline circulation in the movie? A change in seawater density. If you alter salty water by adding freshwater, you change the water's density. Freshwater is less dense than salty water, so it stays on top. What caused the massive influx of cold freshwater into the ocean's seawater in the movie? Melting glaciers.

Of course, that was just a movie, and we don't have anything to worry about. Unless the glaciers start melting. Oh wait. They are.

Unlike the book, the movie didn't take into account what would happen if vast amounts of trapped methane were released into the atmosphere.

Methane is the byproduct of decaying plants. In bodies of water, the gases produced by the decay process can't rise to the surface because the water is too dense. The water keeps the methane trapped.

Runaway Methane Global Warming

This anaerobic decay produces methane which gets trapped in the silt as methane hydrates until the conditions of water temperature and pressure change which can release the methane in vast quantities very quickly. Another form is a frozen slush/ice methane hydrate where the methane is trapped in an ice/water mixture which releases the methane when it warms up or the pressure on the ice is reduced. Frozen methane hydrates can contain 170 times their own volume of methane. These frozen hydrates occur in the seabed deposits of the Arctic Ocean.

The same thing happens in the ground in permafrost.

Methane can also be trapped by permafrost layers which over-lay lower unfrozen layers of vegetable material that is decaying and producing methane which remains trapped by the frozen permafrost on top. If the permafrost layer were to melt then the methane in the layers below would escape into the atmosphere. Given the vast areas of permafrost in northern latitudes there is a significant potential for methane to be trapped that would be released if the permafrost melted as a result of global warming.

Well, it's a good thing the permafrost isn't melting. Oh wait. It is.

Well, have a nice day, everyone.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Tell us Tuesday #14

Tell us,

You have a crystal ball that shows you the future. You gaze into it and see ...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Here's Tomcat and I (Isoko's "Aunt Tomoko" and "Uncle Gennosuke") at the SCBWI Conference Friday night. I made these kimono and thought there was a chance - just a chance - that we could win the costume contest...

until we saw this:

This exceptional White Rabbit won, paws down. Isn't it fabulous? The guy made this himself!

The manuscript page you helped me with came in second by one vote. It would have tied for first place if I had voted for myself. Sigh. I started to do that, but then thought, no ... that would be wrong. I know, I'm such a dork. Everyone votes for themselves, right? D'oh!

The editor who reviewed the first ten pages of my MS was a disappointment, to say the least. For example, where the MS said "Just moments ago," she wrote, "Literally?" in the margin. Where I had "Jiro swaggered to the door," she wrote, "Why is he staggering?"

I'll show you the entire paragraph on this one. I wrote:

A truck rumbled by on the street below. She [Isoko] glanced at the earthquake doll her father gave her years ago. Its round wooden head wobbled in time with the vibrations she felt in the floor through her tabi-clad feet. The doll was all she had to remember him by. Tenderly, she turned the doll's head to face the same direction as before.

She wrote: "What happened to her father?" and "I wanted to know more about the earthquake doll - where did she get it? Why is it so important to her?"

When the editor gave her speech at the conference, I learned that she acquires titles for the mass market (this was not evident when I Googled her.) Her acquisitions are sold in bulk to places like Target, Wal-Mart, and Costco. She explained that Costco, for example, buys children's books four times a year by "footprint," meaning that they tell her, "We need a book that is 12" by 16" [or whatever] for the display table next season."

This explains a lot, doesn't it? Oh well, at least I won a T-shirt. :)

The good thing is that I met an agent to die for. I'm going to send a formal query to her after a final polish of my MS. The cost of the conference was worth this contact alone.

Now I'm going to try to catch up on everyone's blogs.
IF YOU WANT TO VOTE FOR MY BLOG, OR HAVE HAD TROUBLE VOTING FOR IT, someone told me to try this link, then type in Chapterhouse in the search window. (I guess I should go vote for myself now, too...)

Friday, October 12, 2007

Kitchen Sink

Ahem. Chapterhouse has been nominated for Best Blog About Stuff in the Bloggers' Choice Awards. We don't know what to say. Oh wait. Yes, we do.

Hot damn!

If you wish to vote and/or comment, please go here. We thank you very kindly.

The writers' conference is this weekend, and for those of you dying to know which page I chose to submit, with your help, it's Sample #2, the one where Isoko and Koji are in the garden discussing the wife who's been selected for Koji.

Tonight is the hospitality costume party, and people will dress up as their favorite character from a children's book - either their own or someone else's. Tomcat and I are going as Isoko's aunt and uncle. I made kimono for both of us and ordered the zori and tabi (shoes and socks) on the Internets. I'll get some pics and post them for ya.

Yesterday I went to the salon for an estimate. While there, I was subjected to the Maury Povitch show. You know how you might come upon a horrible accident and you want to turn away, but you can't? It was just like that, so I watched. The show's topic seemed to be, "Who's Your Daddy?" complete with a DNA reveal.

Three different women each had a daughter, and each claimed that one guy was the father. He denied it. Then Maury dramatically produces the results of the DNA test (May I have the envelop, please?) and The Truth is revealed. Yep, the guy is the daddy of all three little girls. One mother points to her derrière and says, "Kiss it, M-F-er" (at least, I think that's what she said - not only was the sound bleeped, but everyone's mouths were pixelated - that happened a lot.) Then the show's director, I presume, ordered the crew to try to get a shot of daddy holding all three girls. He could only hold two, but it was touching nonetheless.

Another woman claims her daughter was fathered by an ex, um, liaison, but nope, he's not the daddy. This guy jumps up and starts laughing and pointing at the woman, then proceeds to hop around the stage shimmying his shoulders in a celebratory dance, during which the woman and the guy's current liaison have a pixelated discussion.

The heartbreaker was the 10th grader who wanted to find out which of two boys was the father of her child. Neither was.

What in the name of all gods and goddesses are these people doing having unprotected sex? More importantly, what about the children in all this? They were brought out for show. Their pictures were shown on a large screen, side-by-side with the alleged fathers prior to the reveal, so audience members could see if there was a resemblance. I watched all this, yes I did, and wondered what we have come to, that this is afternoon entertainment.

Speaking of entertainment, a couple of nights ago I went to a Loreena McKennitt concert on her An Ancient Muse Tour. It was a thing of beauty, people. She had nine musicians, including a man who played the hurdy gurdy. There was also a sexpot cellist, and this, my friends, is almost certainly the first time in the history of the English language that those two words have ever been written together. Sexpot cellist. Yes, she was - long blond hair, charismas busting out of a tight black top, black stockings and stilettos. But I digress. Loreena herself plays the harp, piano, and accordian, plus of course, she sings divinely. The violinist was spectacularly talented. The percussion section rocked. The audience was filled with aging hippies. I thought of it as the anti-Meyerson (the Dallas Symphony Centre is called "the Meyerson" after a former mayor, and former friend of H. Ross Perot, who funded the hall on the condition that it be named after his friend. They're no longer friends, I hear, so there ya go - be careful who you name a multi-million dollar facility for.) Anyway, the whole experience was wonderful.

After all this Celtic music, I was in the mood to read more Diana Gabaldon, but does she have a new Outlander book coming out? No she does not. She's torturing us by taking time out to write other books outside the series. The nerve. J.K. Rowling got her series finished, so what's the problem, Diana? What if you get run over by a bus? What are we supposed to do then, huh? So anyway, I decided to reread the whole series while waiting for her to get her act together. (Jeebus, I hope she never Googles and finds this post. If so, Diana: you know I adore you, right? I'm just kidding. Really.)

Any Outlander fans out there who want to commiserate?
Well, that's it from Chapterhouse today. I'll get back with you prolly early next week, with pics.

Rock on.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I Survived

I'm glad to have lived long enough to see that asswipe, Jonny (Dalton) Fairplay, finally get what's coming to him. Survivor fans will remember Fairplay from Survivor 7:Pearl Islands (2003), who is infamous for two things - first, to keep from being voted off the island, he played the sympathy card by telling everyone that his grandmother died (not true), and second, for getting the Survivor All Star Favorite Player of all time, Rupert Boneham, kicked off the island.

Fairplay was recently on a reality awards show with Danny Bonaduce (of "The Partridge Family.") When Fairplay walked out on stage, people started booing. Fairplay pretended to be incredulous. "Are you people booing? Who's booing? Why are you booing?" he wanted to know. Bonaduce tapped him on the shoulder and stage-whispered, "They're booing because they hate you." The audience laughed and cheered. Then Fairplay jumped on Bonaduce, literally, pinning Bonaduce's arms at his sides. Fairplay started trying to hump him. So, Bonaduce flipped Fairplay over his shoulders, and Fairplay landed on his face and broke his front teeth. Here's the video. Watch it as many times as you like. (I did.)

Danny Bonaduce Owns Johnny Fairplay - Watch more free videos

Now, whiny little Jonny is suing for damages to "cover medical expenses, emotional distress, lost earnings, and punitive damages." He won't have much luck with that:

After an investigation, the District Attorney's Office decided not to press charges against Bonaduce.

Bonaduce did not intentionally injure Fairplay and his “actions fell within the realm of self-defense,” Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey Boxer wrote last week.

Dontcha love it when what goes around comes around, and then they whine about it?

Here's a picture of the beloved Rupert. Rupert Boneham was so popular (even though he didn't win, thanks to Fairplay, who came in third, ha-ha) that the producers had an All Star show and gave him a million dollars (it was no secret that the only possible winner would be Rupert, as the award was based on viewer votes.) After Survivor 7, Rupert was even allowed to compete on Survivor 8.

What did Rupert do with that million dollars? He used it to fund his non-profit Rupert's Kids to mentor troubled teens. He's also written a book, Just Being Me, to bring in extra funds for his project. That's what class and real fair play is all about.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Help, please

I'm going to a conference this weekend for children's writers and illustrators. The writers get to bring one page, and the illustrators, one painting or drawing. These will be voted upon by the attendees, including agents and editors. There is no prize, other than, you know, the glory. :) I'm fond of glory.

Since I'm not an illustrator, I can't just take a completed work, like a painting, to be voted on. No. I can only take one double-spaced, Courier New font, type size 12, PAGE of my work. Obvy, that has to be one screamin, bitchin page.

I've narrowed it down to three choices, all from my Young Adult novel, The Earthquake Doll. Will you please take a few minutes to read each page and tell me which one you think I should take?


"How old did you say Rumiko is?"

"She is nineteen, Mother."

"She sounds like a very practical girl."

Isoko suppressed a smile at this description of Rumiko. She had told the family at dinner about Rumiko's enthusiasm for Western ways, but not the wilder statements concerning elders.

"Is she married or betrothed?"

"She isn't married, and she didn't mention a betrothal."

"Does she conduct herself properly, do you think?"

"Yes, of course." How irritating that Mother still seemed to be supervising her choice of friends. Had she not been acknowledged as an adult just this morning?

Mother patted the bun at the nape of her neck. "I'm sure I met her mother at our Widows of the War group. She seemed proper. I remember she mentioned having a daughter, but I did not know the age of the girl. Have you met her mother, as well, Isoko-chan?"

Isoko sighed. "I have not yet met her mother." She wanted to add, How could I? I only met Rumiko today? but thought better of it.

Mother sipped more tea. "Koji-san needs a strong-willed wife," she said. "One who would share his interest
[yes, it stops in the middle of a sentence]


Koji bowed to his aunt and said, "I am most grateful, Hisako-san, that you would do this for me."

To Isoko he said, "Now, please tell me all about her." He gestured for her to join him in the garden.

As soon as the screen closed behind them, he said, "Isoko-chan, I am your faithful cousin! Why did you not tell me of the arrangements?"

"I – "

"And why did you not tell me of her beauty?" He paced back and forth over the stone path. "I could not breathe when I saw her - heeiii! You should have told me."

"Koji-san, be calm. I could tell you nothing. It was forbidden. Besides, no arrangements have been made yet. Your mother wanted to meet her first."

He stopped pacing and his eyes widened. "It isn't final yet?"


"Oh, no – "

"You must be calm. Did you not hear that my mother will speak to them right away about a betrothal?"

"Sorry." He resumed pacing. "On this day I met my future wife." He gasped. "Isoko-chan! What is she like?"

Isoko bit her lip. "You will have to wait," she said, sliding the screen open again, "like any other groom."


Without a word, Tadashi picked Isoko up and carried her like the child she felt she was in his eyes. He looked down and smiled, his face so close to hers that she could feel his breath. She turned her head away, only to face his armpit. She should have turned the other way and pretended to look at the scenery. If she did that now, she'd have to shift her body around in his arms first, then lift her head up and face him again. Maybe she should just keep her eyes fixed on his armpit and thank him for carrying her.

"Are you comfortable?" he asked.

Isoko nodded. His voice was so deep and kind.

"Does it hurt very much?"


"Your ankle, does it hurt very much?"

"Oh! No." She could feel her cheeks burning.

"That can't be comfortable." He hefted her weight, turning her. "Put your arm around my neck. Better?"

"Yes." Isoko stared at the path ahead, heart pounding.

"We will be there soon," he said in that soothing voice.

They passed the last of the rice paddies. The lane broadened as they approached the village. The mist had burned off and the sun peeked out from the clouds. Market crops of squash, beets, and yams grew in a small field on their right. A fence surrounded the village mortuary and crematorium, a
[yes, it ends in the middle of a sentence]

So, which one grabbed you? Made you want to keep reading? Or at least was less ... sucky?


Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Greatest Generation speaks out against torture

Yep, it's a two-fer today at Chapterhouse.

Fort Hunt's Quiet Men Break Silence on WWII
Interrogators Fought 'Battle of Wits'

By Petula Dvorak
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 6, 2007; A01

For six decades, they held their silence.

The group of World War II veterans kept a military code and the decorum of their generation, telling virtually no one of their top-secret work interrogating Nazi prisoners of war at Fort Hunt.

When about two dozen veterans got together yesterday for the first time since the 1940s, many of the proud men lamented the chasm between the way they conducted interrogations during the war and the harsh measures used today in questioning terrorism suspects.

Back then, they and their commanders wrestled with the morality of bugging prisoners' cells with listening devices. They felt bad about censoring letters. They took prisoners out for steak dinners to soften them up. They played games with them.

"We got more information out of a German general with a game of chess or Ping-Pong than they do today, with their torture," said Henry Kolm, 90, an MIT physicist who had been assigned to play chess in Germany with Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess.

Blunt criticism of modern enemy interrogations was a common refrain at the ceremonies held beside the Potomac River near Alexandria. Across the river, President Bush defended his administration's methods of detaining and questioning terrorism suspects during an Oval Office appearance.

Several of the veterans, all men in their 80s and 90s, denounced the controversial techniques. And when the time came for them to accept honors from the Army's Freedom Team Salute, one veteran refused, citing his opposition to the war in Iraq and procedures that have been used at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

[read rest of the article by clicking on the title]

From Whitewater to Blackwater?

Top strategist for Sen. Hillary Clinton was also CEO of Blackwater's PR firm.

This is an article that I received in email this morning. The email linked to Barack Oblogger, who asks, "from Whitewater to Blackwater?" Please click on the title to read the whole article.

Other items in this informative article are enlightening, as well. For instance, did you know that Sen. Obama introduced legislation to make military contractors accountable? Yes, he did that - back in February.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Something to look forward to

Here's something to cheer us all up - a witty article at by "the chive," that takes a "look back" at Dumbya's first year in retirement:

by the chive - Like The Onion, But Smaller