Category Archives: Memes and Quizzes

A Writer-ly Meme

Replicated from just about every writer whose journal, both on LiveJournal and elsewhere, that I read:

Turn to page 123 in your work-in-progress. (If you haven’t gotten to page 123 yet, then turn to page 23. If you haven’t gotten there yet, then get busy and write page 23.) Count down four sentences and then instead of just the fifth sentence, give us the whole paragraph.

This is from page 123 of the crap draft The Solitude of the Tentacled Space Monster.  As always, I’m behind in my writing.

Hector sauntered outside.  This was great.  He even felt taller.  The world could be his; he could have anything he wanted, and anyone.  And, of course, there was only one thing that he wanted right now.

In a way, it bothers me that this is still my crap draft.  I want to have this thing DONE, I don’t want to have to go through another major revision.  I’ve got too many other ideas that desperately want to be written.  But at least I’m seeing it through to the end.

How the mighty hath fallen

For lack of interesting content, I’m reduced to putting up my answers to a questionaire in my journal.

Where were you when…?

When John F. Kennedy was shot (November 22, 1963)
That was a few years before my time.
When Mt. St. Helens blew (May 18, 1980)
Definitely after my time, but I can’t remember anyway. I think I was at my grandparents’ house, watching television.
When the space shuttle Challenger exploded (January 28, 1986)
In homeroom. It was my senior year of high school. The girl who sat in front of me turned around and told me, “Did you hear that the space shuttle exploded?” I didn’t believe her until I saw the footage on television.
When the 7.1 earthquake hit San Francisco (October 17, 1989)
I was at work; at the time, I was working in the Psychology department at UC Davis, compiling anthropological data into a database for a professor. I was on the second floor of the building. Even though I was hundreds of miles away, I could feel the building shake. But I didn’t realize how bad it was until I got back home and stopped by my friend’s apartment, and saw the shots of the Mission District in San Francisco up in flames. At that time, they didn’t know where the epicenter was, and I tried desperately to get through to my family, who lived near the true epicenter.
When the Berlin Wall fell (November 7, 1989)
I’m not sure. I think I was in a Medieval Studies class.
When the Gulf War began (January 16, 1991)
At my house, studying. A friend called me and told me to turn on the TV.
When the first World Trade Center bombing happened (February 26, 1993)
I can’t remember. How sad is that?
When OJ Simpson was chased in his White Bronco (June 17, 1994)
At work, not caring (and now, almost ten years later, I still don’t care).
When the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was bombed (April 19, 1995)
I was working at a cafe in downtown Davis. One of my co-workers was a Muslim, and was worried about whether he was going to be persecuted because of the attack. This was before we figured out it was Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols.
When Princess Di was killed (August 31, 1997)
Working at Labor Relations at UC Davis. And not caring. I mean, it’s always sad when someone dies, but I was never enchanted by Princess Di.
When Bush was first announced President (November 7, 2000)
At work, seething with rage.
When the 6.8 earthquake hit Nisqually, WA (February 28, 2001)
Huh? There was an earthquake?
When terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center (September 11, 2001)
At home, getting ready for work. My wife and I were watching as e-mails kept going back and forth across a mailing list we both belonged to, and we finally figured out that something was up. We finally decided to turn on the morning news, something we never do.
When Columbia disintegrated during re-entry over Texas. (February 1, 2003)
At home, checking the news. I remember going to tell Jennifer, who was in the bathroom. “The space shuttle exploded over the Atlantic,” I said.

“Yay!” she said.

“Um. I said the space shuttle exploded over the Atlantic.”

“Yay!” she repeated.

Apparently, she’d thought I said, “The space shuttle is floating over the Atlantic.”

What? Do They Speak Bocci on What?

I’m amused. For some reason — probably because Evilpheemy took it — I took the How Jedi Are You? quiz. And wound up as Mace Wendu:

I like these quizzes. I wind up with results like Mace Windu, Kermit the Frog… I bet that if I took a "What Star Trek: The Next Generation Character Are You?" quiz, I’d wind up as Jean-Luc Picard. Either him, or William Riker. Being associated, no matter how frivolously, with these characters who are wise, intelligent, brimming over with leadership and bad-assness, is a bit of an ego stroke for me. I’m none of those things, but I like knowing that I test well. I’m the guy who got that disgustingly high score on the SAT when I was in high school. Of course, I’m also the guy who wasn’t able to get a career going when I got out of college. If that isn’t an object lesson in the value of standardized testing, I don’t know what is.

And yes, I did finally see Attack of the Clones. I may have written about that here before. I can’t recall, and I’m too lazy right now to go back through my recent archives and look for it. I can definitely say that I was generally pleased with this film, in the way that I’m generally pleased with 21st century medicine. Despite its faults, 21st century medicine at least isn’t 1th century medicine (people are at least no longer getting their appendix removed by their barber/dentist); and at least Attack of the Clones didn’t have Jar Jar Binks in it. Not much of him, at least.

I have to say that I think George Lucas may have made some serious mistakes. Tonight, Jennifer and I rented the first Star Wars film made, Episode IV: A New Hope (which was released in 1977 as just plain ol’ Star Wars); and there are simply too many overarching storylines that contain self-contradictions for Lucas to easily resolve with just one more film. Obi-Wan Kenobi doesn’t remember ever owning a droid in Episode IV; but in Episodes I and II, R2-D2 is one of Kenobi’s constant companions. And I can’t help wondering how much Luke’s Uncle Owen knew about Darth Vader and Luke’s father? If he knew who Luke’s father really was, would he have ever allowed talk of Luke going off to the Academy ever happen at all? He seemed singularly non-plussed when Luke first mentioned Kenobi to him. And, of course, there’s the issue of C-3PO and R2-D2 knowing Darth Vader. Lucas could say that the two droids simply had their memories erased between the settings of II and IV, but that’s too pat an explanation.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying the storyline so far. I think that producing Episodes I, II, and III as children’s films might be a mistake; the storyline is far too complex and sophisticated to make very good children’s films. Anakin is not going through the Campbellian "Hero’s Journey" that Luke Skywalker did; instead, he’s experiencing a descent into darkness. It is interesting, but such a theme doesn’t have the same mythic resonance with young people that the Hero’s Journey does.

Not to say that Episodes I and II were failures, of course. They’ve made lots of money for Lucas, and lots of people like the films. I just think that they could have been made much more interesting (for me, at least; they probably wouldn’t have succeeded if I’d written them). Ah, well.

But at any rate, I was going to tell you about the presentation I gave on Ximian Evolution, the desktop personal information management tool for Linux. I was not, of course, the only person giving the presentation; it was part of a special class arranged for the City of Davis. There were two other people giving presentations that night, on variations on the topic of "Linux on the Desktop". My presentation was short; probably only about five minutes in length. Nevertheless, I think it went well; I’m scheduled to give a much longer talk on the subject at the LUGOD meeting in mid-October. The subject of Linux for home use is something I’m still finding interesting. I went and applied to be the site guide for Linux.about.com, part of the About.com network, and the focus I gave them in my application was "Linux for the Home". Surprisingly, the editors liked my application enough to move me to the next level; so over the next two weeks or so I’ll be working like mad to pull together a lot of information about Linux and writing up articles in order to make it to the next stage of the application process. Compensation for this job would only be about $100 per month or so, but it should be fun.

And speaking of fun things, I’ve put Outer Darkness on hold for awhile, because my heart just wasn’t into it. Instead, I’ve decided to run a new Dungeons and Dragons campaign. The story is one I’ve been developing since before I got married (heck, I remember talking to one of the guys at my bachelor party about it), but the setting itself has been in development for at least a decade. I already know the introductory scenes I’m going to run for Evilpheemy and for Jennifer. All I need now is time.

The writing continues. "Homeworld" (formerly known as "Homestead") is plodding along slowly. The Troll King’s Daughter is as well. I don’t know what the heck I’m doing with "Mother Tsan Chan". I’ve been having an extremely difficult time keeping up with my resolution to put in 1,000 words per day… although I suppose that this entry will count towards that goal.

And, of course, I still find myself fascinated by the field of ecological systems engineering. It’s kind of an object lesson for me: when I graduated with my BA, I had always assumed that at some point, as soon as I figured out what I wanted to study in graduate school, I’d be able to go back and get in. My dismay at realizing that it wasn’t going to happen at all still hasn’t quite gone away. However, there is a lot of information out there and probably lots of places for people with no aptitude for math or engineering. If I were a billionaire, I’d start something like The Eden Project, which is exactly the sort of thing I had been hoping to do.

On another note, my question of the day is this: if President Bush is willing to commit to a complete overhaul of the federal government by the end of 2002, why isn’t he willing to commit to a timeline of any sort for a Middle East peace process? I suppose that with the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, when it bogs down in Congress past 2002 — as it’s destined to do, I don’t think anyone can deny that — then Bush will be able to point at the Democrats and blame them for "standing in the way of the defense of all Americans" (not that I wouldn’t put it past Gore or Clinton to have done something similar if the parties were reversed, of course — remember that I loathe all politicians equally). When any timetable he commits to for a Middle East process fails (and does anyone seriously believe that Israel and Palestine want peace?), who would he blame? No, staying out would be the safest course for him.

At a party I went to the other night at Evilpheemy’s, I learned that meterologists were predicting winds this past weekend of 30 to 40 miles per hour. Wisely, I avoided telling Jennifer this before our 30 mile bike ride. Yep, a Jedi master. That’s me.

Does it Count?

Yesterday I got home and decided that what I needed to do was go on some sort of bike ride. I enjoy riding in the mornings with Jennifer (once I get past the primordial dawn grumpiness), but sometimes I just feel a need to go a heck of a lot faster down some of those rural roads that Jennifer is too sensible to speed down. So I rode up Pitt School, fighting a wind that wouldn’t let me go more than ten miles an hour or so, then down Porter, taking advantage of a wind that let me go at twenty miles an hour and more. I came back home all sweaty and sore and feeling great. Aside from charcoal dust and the grease from your grill, there is little in the world that can make you feel more manly than the sweat you get from exercising in the hot sun. And when you’re riding your cool 15 speed hybrid bike down rural roads past cows and sheep and haystacks and farms, you can even pretend that the sweat you got is from good honest outdoors work. Though I suppose that might be a bit of a stretch.

So at any rate, when I got back to our street, I pulled up to the mailbox to check the mail. To my surprise, I found that one of the magazines I’d sent my story to last week had sent it back! For a brand new writer, a rejection slip can be almost as exciting in some ways as a check; it’s the magazine acknowledging your existence. "You, yes you, are worthy, if only of rejection. You may now grovel."

So I opened the large manila envelope, expecting my manuscript and a rejection slip to slide out. Instead, it was my manuscript and a piece of paper with a photocopied note on it:

We apologize for not reading your manuscript or poem
XXXXX Magazine has suspended publication and is on
hiatus until further notice.

Good luck with your future endeavors.

In its own way, though, it’s okay. For me, it’s almost like when I first started driving, and noticed that other cars were slowing down or stopping or adjusting their course when I approached in my car. "They’re noticing me!" I would think to myself. The first time it happened, I was almost in awe.

Hey, I’ll authentication wherever I can find it.


I’m getting better as this grilling thing. The last chicken meal I cooked was done perfectly: not dry, nor undercooked. I had prepared a dry rub with cayenne, chili powder, and black and white pepper. I’d never used a rub before, and actually had to go to the web to look up how to apply a dry rub to uncooked meat. When describing the process, I told her, "It’s kind of cold and slimy. It’s just like sex with one of my old girlfriends." To which she appropriately replied, "Ew."

Jennifer’s parents had come for the feast. Her father made the standard jokes about the meal when we were planning to get together ("Should we come by at 7 sharp, or just wait until we hear the firetrucks?"), since the last time I’d grilled with him around, I’d tried to shoot the grill into orbit. However, this time around, he saw that there were no pyrotechnics involved, and the chicken was perfectly done. As were the asparagus (I think I’m addicted now to grilled asparagus) and the corn. I explained the ingredients in the rub I used on the chicken and the sauce I used on the vegetables, and I think he was impressed. This is good. Impressing your father-in-law is never a bad thing.


Here’s one of those silly "what type of x are you?" quizzes. I found the result amusing because even though I answered all of the questions honestly, the answer is entirely inappropriate:


Which Royalty Are You? Find out! By Nishi.
You are the epitomy of what every man should be. What sets you apart from the other men of rank and nobility is you combine every best quality they possess into one. You are skilled, motivated, ambitious, filled with a sense of purpose and morality. You know when to relax and have fun and when to be serious and courageous. You seek peace, prosperity and love in your life, and as a ruler, you seek it for your kingdom. Others follow you because of your ability to move them, and because you earned their respect. You are admired, even envied, but above all else, greatly loved.

Perhaps I can be the Grill King.

Lord of the Grill. That has a nice ring to it.

Someone has already claimed rocketgrill.com. Bastards. I was beginning to map out my own grilling site, complete with tips and recipes and so on. The focus was going to be how grilling fit in with a healthy lifestyle. I’m still not sure how to fit grilling in with being a Linux administrator, but I have faith.

On the other hand, rocket-grill.com — with a hyphen — is still available. I’m still tempted.

The Weather Station

Well, according to this test, I am a chaotic good elven ranger/fighter (see below for more information about that). That works for me. I’m naturally inclined to play that kind of character when I play Dungeons and Dragons anyway. Although I would probably choose a human character rather than an elven character. I just have trouble picturing myself as graceful as

Is this me?
Is this me?

Legolas in Lord of the Rings. I think most of my friends would agree that this just isn’t me.

At any rate, I was supposed to go work at the lab today, but after picking up my car at the service station, I wound up feeling inspired. So I went to Borders Books instead, and spent a good hour or two writing a short story on my Palm Pilot. Stephen King, in his introduction to the audio edition of "LT’s Theory of Pets", explains that he doesn’t always set out to write scary stories; sometimes, they just turn out that way. Likewise, the story that I wrote today, "Ten Foot Tall He Was, with Eyes of Flame", was supposed to be a cheerful little folktale about how people tend to exaggerate the physical traits of people that are important to them. Instead, it wound up being a sort of unholy marriage between Mark Twain and H. P. Lovecraft. Because of copyright concerns and the fact that I’m going to try to get this tale published, I won’t be reproducing it here; but if you want to read it, let me know.

I’ve lamented the fact that I don’t have a laptop computer anymore which is easy to disconnect from our home network and bring with me when I’m out and about. But I think I prefer working on my lowly Palm Pilot, with its spiffy keyboard. My Palm Pilot has no games which are easy to load up and distract me from my work, and it’s a lot easier to carry around. Plus, it’s simplicity itself to download whatever document I’m working on from my Palm Pilot and fix it up on my computer.

Meanwhile, I did some more back road exploration in Yolo Country today. While driving south on Mace Boulevard in Davis, I caught sight of a strange structure in the distance that looked something like a huge golf ball set atop a several-stories-tall wireframe tower. I took a left turn on Road 35, and drove a couple of miles until I was able to get close enough to the structure to see what it was. From up close, it was obvious that it was some sort of huge white sphere set atop a scaffolding tower with a staircase that led from the ground to the base of the sphere. At the base of the structure, there was a barbed wire fence and a small concrete building. On the fence itself was a sign that identified the structure as a weather radar station administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This made me happy, though I have no idea why. Actually, I do know why. Mysterious structures and unusual buildings out in the middle of nowhere are prime food for the imagination. The short story I wrote today, I think, definitely shows some "back roads" influence.

And "Ten Foot Tall He Was…" was a good break for me from "Mother Tsan-Chan". Now, maybe, I’ll be able to get back into that one.

Slow news day. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll have something more interesting to say.