I’mma need you to stop kicking me in the balls, m’kay?

Standard

Mornin’ all.

So I’m sitting here trying to mainline my coffee like a champ and the cat is perched on top of the computer tower staring at me. She’s been there staring at me for a good ten minutes now. Once in awhile, she licks her chops. Other than that one, repeatedly creepy movement, she’s unwaivering in her stoicism.

I’m a bit wigged out, if you wanna know the truth.

Why is she sitting there? What does she want? She’s got food. I just cleaned the litter. Her coffee mug is full of water…

“What?”

Oh, yeah. She won’t drink out of a water dish. She uses a coffee mug that she commandeered right after we got her a few years back. It’s on the living room table, too, because why drink water that’s placed by a food dish? She’s not an uncultured swine, you know.

I thought maybe she wanted me to pet or snuggle her. I thought wrong.

Why is she doing it? She is my first cat, and even though we’ve had her for a couple years, she still flummoxes me. It feels like she’s looking at me like one of those stranded cartoon characters who starts to see his buddy as a hamburger. Think she’s preparing to chase me around the deserted island?

Somewhere out there is a kitty owner who knows what’s going on. Do me a solid and let me know if I should start booking it around the palm tree, k? Thanks.

Today is for finishing up projects. I’ve got a couple that are in states of partial completion. I’ve got to buckle down and get them done so I can make myself sick with nervous worry by putting them up for sale. I would have had them done on Monday if it weren’t for a fantastic game I made the mistake of popping into the life-draining machine.

“So you could have made some money, yet instead you let some aliens kill you over and over, is that what you’re saying?”

GAH no! First off, they were zombies, not aliens. Duh. And second, kill me over and over? Bitch, please. You have no faith in my gaming ability.

“…*blink**blink*…”

Oh.

Oh, I see. I was ‘sposta get the message and I totally missed it and you weren’t really looking for details and… *sigh* You’re right. You are completely correct. I *should* have buckled down and pushed through the creative blocks. One project is being held up by math that’s been hovering just outside my scope of comprehension (angles are a bitch, man. A real bitch.), one is waiting for framing inspiration to hit, and one is just full of fiddly details that have many steps.

In fairness, I have been working on that last one all week. It’s a series of airbrushing, then waiting for that layer to dry before putting on the next. I did not understand just how time consuming that one was going to be when I saw the crappy bookshelf in the free pile of the junk shop across the way and thought, “There’s a decent piece of kitsch somewhere under that coffee-cup-ring crusted paint.”

I have also made a sword this week, if that counts. A wooden one my nine year old designed. Oh! And I wrote fifteen pages of a book.

“Well. That’s something.”

I actually did a lot last weekend and the beginning of this week. Then I had to play my game and watch YouTube videos and make swords with my son and get another damn sunburn somehow. Just needed a break I suppose. A reset. And boy, does bashing in a zombie brain with a modified M.C. Hammer (not kidding…that’s the name of the weapon in my game…heh heh…jokes) make for a remarkable reset.

So does YouTube…probably the very best site on the internet. Hold on. I can see you shaking your head and rolling your eyes, but hear me out. Where else can you look for a silly video clip of a cat with a toilet paper tube on its tail and end up learning about the magnificently moving sound of a Chapman stick because you clicked on one of their suggested vids to the right?

You have an urge to madly search for “Chapman stick” right now, don’t you? You should. Your ears NEED this. I recommend searching for “While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Chapman Stick” on YouTube. Go on. Do it right now. I’ll wait.

……..

…was I right or what?

If you now share this obsession, welcome aboard!

Anyway, where else can that happen but on YouTube? Where else can I giggle at a kitty one minute, then groove to a completely foreign sound the next? It’s like flipping through the tv channels of every single cable company in the history of ever from anywhere on the planet, all in one spot. YouTube is a modern marvel.

Then there was the sword project. You’ve never seen my nine year old. The summer sun has brought out a smattering of freckles across the bridge of his nose and he’s got these crinkles around deep amber eyes when he smiles. How can I say “no” under those circumstances?

It’s a kick ass sword, too. We even cut out a keyhole in the blade, then painted it with gold spray paint. He said, “My brothers are going to be so jelly.”

“Jelly, Bethie? Seriously?”

Hey, he’s a product of modern society. Nothing I can do about it. He’s right, too. The elder larpers will, indeed, be jelly. Totes.

Like I said, I also wrote some this week. I hit a speed bump in plot, then let it mellow for awhile and picked it back up. I’m past the bump, though I know it’ll be a rough transition when I go back and read it over. I’ll have to smooth it out, but at least I’m past that part. You don’t know how long it took for me to be able to produce enough words to push through a sticky scene. For the longest time, I’d hit that road block, and it would totally stop me. I could not make myself just put in a few filler to mark time until my brain kicked back into gear.

Which brings me to an annoying trend I’m seeing with digital books. No, NOT having ANYTHING to do with the authors, so any of my indie friends, take a deep breath. I guarantee you’re going to like this rant.

Writing a book is hard. Even if you’re a fast writer…even if the words flow…even if you nailed NaNoWriMo in the first week, it’s still hard. The process of writing a book is not over once you type “the end.” Or “fin” if you want to feel fancy. In fact, the brutal part of the process has just begun. No matter how quickly you write a story, you still have to edit. You still have to have folks who aren’t in love with the characters that are really just extensions of yourself cut and gut and slash and hack your brainchild in front of your eyes. You still have to rewrite and tweak and reword and rework.

I guess what I’m getting at is every book is work. It’s hard work. It’s work that the majority of the population doesn’t understand because they have never written a book.

Perhaps that’s what’s really responsible for the trend that’s got me pissed. They just don’t know better.

I’m talking about every author’s bane. The review.

Every legit ebook site has a place for user submitted reviews. While authors have a love/hate relationship with this feature, readers rely on it to help guide them in their future purchases. You’ve got the standard reviews of “love this author, have everything they wrote,” which, to be honest, are THE best. You’ve got people who didn’t like the book. Also good, because:

a) A properly written poor review will help you become a better author.

b) If everyone likes everything you write, you’re writing it wrong.

You’ve got illegible reviews written in modern text lingo. Those can be discounted completely, since those readers clearly aren’t literate. You’ve got flame wars for no reason. Those happen whenever a site invites user comments. I saw one over at B&N’s Nook site once that was a 20+ post back and forth about Obama. On a romance book. I feel bad for those authors. Their reviews get hijacked by jackasses and become a turn off for other readers through no fault of the author.

Then you’ve got the reviews I hate. “Great author, but why does she charge for her books?”

Oh! I heard it. The collective sigh, with eye rolls and sympathetic nods from my fellow indies! You’ve gotten this, too, have you? While I’ve yet to have one posted in public, I’ve gotten several emails asking why I charge.

I read one the other day that was particularly offensive. Not on mine, but a book I downloaded and really liked. I went to leave a review and saw this:

“I loved this book! I would definitely read more from this author if they were free. Granted, she only charges like $2.99, so that’s not bad. That’s not the point, though. They should be free. Who’s with me to start a petition to B&N to make all this author’s books free?”

Eye. Twitching.

Why in the hell should that author work for free? NO other artist works for free, they just don’t.

And don’t start with the popular “library” argument. It’s popular, but wrong.

As the daughter of a librarian, I can assure you that libraries definitely pay for the books they lend. People pay for their memberships. Taxes pay for building upkeep… A library is not free. The books you read in the library were not free, not even to you when you get right down to it. They’re a helluva good bargain, to be sure. But the authors are still compensated. They’re still paid for their hard work.

Look, folks. The internet does not entitle you to free shit. It just doesn’t.

“You JUST touted YouTube. That’s free.”

But it’s not. People *can* put up their stuff for free if they choose. They also have the option to sell ad space. To the content creator, there is a way to make money for their work.

That’s not what people want for Nook and Kindle and other eReaders. They want free books. They do not want to join a monthly service, like Netflix. Can you IMAGINE the backlash there would be if ads were coded into the ebooks? Yikes. The kerfuffle a fart in church causes would be mild in comparison. No book lover would tolerate an ad interrupting a good scene, and they shouldn’t. Ads have no place butting into a book, not even a digital one.

So what does that leave?

What it’s always left for authors. People have to buy their books. End of discussion.

“…start a petition to B&N to make all this author’s books free…”

Ya know, if it was just one yahoo saying crap like this, I’d roll my eyes and move on. It’s not, though. It’s a trend I’ve seen over and over, and the popularity of the sentiment seems to be gaining momentum.

Can you go into an art gallery and just take what you like? Or a bakery. Can you tell the baker to make your gorgeous work of art wedding cake for free? You risk going to jail if you download a pirated movie or song, as well you should.

“I loved this book!”

Is that why you think you’re owed more for free? I love it, and I said so, and now you MUST reward me by giving me free shit? Is that the theory you’re working under here?

How about this one?

“Disappointed. Loved this book but the rest in the series you have to pay for. What gives?”

What gives? Oh, I don’t know. Maybe the author wants to feed his kids this week? Or pay his bills? Shit, maybe he’s gonna get real freaky deeky and actually replace that broken lawn mower he’s been limping along with all summer?

That wild man.

“hooked me with this, charged for the rest. will not fall for it. don’t bother.”

Fall for it? Fall for WHAT? You got an entire novel you loved for FREE! You got hours of entertainment that you clearly enjoyed and didn’t have to pay a single dime for it!! How DARE you complain about ANYTHING, you selfish asshole!?! It’s not a ploy. The author is not setting some kind of trap. They gave away their hard work. You should be grateful, not spiteful.

“Another author who gives you a free book, then makes you pay for the rest. Can we stop this trend already?”

Yes, can we stop this trend? Please? Let’s all of us indies band together and stop giving away anything for free. That will certainly curtail these moronic reviews.

Because that’s the other option, folks. For all of you out there who are guilty of writing one of these first-world-problem reviews, that’s what you’re going to bring about if you keep this shit up. That’s the only other option. You are going to whine and bitch your way out of ANYTHING for free. Is that really what you want?

Writing a book is hard. Writing a good book that people like is harder. But writing a good book that people like and getting shit for actually wanting to get paid for the work you put in? That’s got to be the biggest kick in the balls of all.

Thus concludes the Morning Musing for…shit. What the hell day is it, anyway? It’s so hard to keep track in summer. Oh, right. Saturday, August 15, 2015. I’m done with my politically incorrect rand and am now heading off to finish up at least one project, even if it kills me. And if it’s the one with the math, there’s more than a good chance it honestly will…

I didn’t know kitties had pull strings…

Standard

Mornin’ all.

I just unwound my cat.

I got up to find her wagging her tail at me…

*author’s note: Dude, this cat. This cat wags her tail like a dog. All. The. Time. When she’s happy, it thumps. When she’s mad, it sways. When she’s froggy for adventure, it twitches. She also eats trash and drinks out of the toilet. I tell her all the time that she’s a cat…she’s above such banal canine antics. I’ve told her about her proud heritage, that her ancestors were held up as demigods, for cryin’ out loud! Do you think any of that matters? Nope. Not one bit.

…and when I looked closer, I saw about two inches of curling ribbon sticking out of her mouth.

Yesterday was Easter. While we aren’t religious here, I was raised in a Catholic household and there are many Easter traditions I celebrate simply because they were joyous memories I want to have with my kids, too. We don’t go to church, but we have our own way of doing it up. One of the things we do is have one big basket of candy. I wised up and learned a long time ago that when you’ve got four kids, making one huge basket is a helluva lot easier than four separate ones. Plus it really does look epic.

MOUNTAIN. OF. CANDY.

While we were in Oregon, we saw some really cool Easter bouquets of candy. I liked the idea, and decided to make a bouquet of marshmallow Peeps to stick up out of the basket. I skewered those poofy little buggers and then tied curling ribbon around the skewers underneath the impaled Peep asses to make them seem less Vlad-like and more festive.

Now, in years past, the plastic Easter grass that normally fills the bottom of a basket to help make it look like the Easter Bunny isn’t a cheap-o has been nibbled on by our identity-confused kitty, so I changed over to tissue paper. Looks just as pretty, is way more cost effective, and boy, can you fluff that shit and make it seem like there’s a ton of candy! Plus, I’m not going to be sweeping up damn Easter grass five months down the road. I thought it was a brilliant solution all the way around.

I should have thought of the curling ribbon.

So here’s the cat, wagging her tail with no shame, and a couple inches of curling ribbon sticking out of her mouth. I think she wanted me to know. Or maybe she wanted my help. I began to pull, thinking it was just a little bit she needed to spit out. I must have pulled out a foot and a half of kitty spitty, soggy, limp, disgustingly warm ribbon.

See? *shakes my head* No dignity.

Needless to say, the basket is going to be put where kitties dare not tread. Or, if I’m too lazy to figure out how to secure it, I’ll pull off all the ribbons. I can’t imagine it would do her digestive tract any good to have feet of ribbon work its way through.

Easter was nice. Like I said, we don’t do much here. Listen to Jesus Christ Superstar, see if we can sing all the parts (Spoiler: I can. I’d be an embarrassment to my family if I couldn’t). My dad always played it before Easter, either on Good Friday, or Gettin’-a-buzz-on-before-Easter Saturday. Unlike my household of girls when I was a kid, boys turned out to have zero interest in fancy new Easter hats, so there’s some money saved. We do an egg tap with our colored eggs, a nod to their Pop’s traditions, and have a nice dinner. And that’s pretty much it. Not a lot, but nice nonetheless.

For much of the world, yesterday was just another Sunday. While it is without a doubt the most pivotal, crucial, reverent holy day in the Christian religions, the vast majority of the world’s population is not Christian. I get that. I respect that.

What I don’t understand is the need by folks on Ye Olde Booke of Faces to:

a) point out on Easter-celebrators’ posts that they are NOT celebrating Easter

b) post as many atheist memes as possible

c) make zombie jokes

It grinds my gears, folks, it really does. I mean, why? WHY? What is the point? There has to be an end goal in mind. I just can’t figure out what that might be.

Is it to make those who ARE celebrating reconsider their beliefs? Because I gotta be honest…being a dick on their most sacred holy day is not the way to accomplish this goal.

Is it to let the world know that they don’t follow the Christian dogma? Again, why? What the hell does that matter to literally anyone else? No one cares if you donned a bonnet and sat in church, or if you had a sweatpants-wearing Netflix binge Sunday. It’s like those people who have eaten meat their entire lives and see a movie or read a book and suddenly believe they’ve had an epiphany and go vegan and MUST tell you EVERYTHING about it so they can feel morally superior. Same mentality. No one wants to know what you eat, no one wants to know if you don’t celebrate Easter. No one cares.

I guess it would be one thing if someone simply said, “Just an ordinary Sunday here. No bigs.” However, that’s not what happens, is it? No, that can’t be it, because then they can’t get any sick pleasure in pissing people off. No one’s going to get angry and worked up on their special day just because of that innocuous statement.

That’s the real reason I saw so many anti-Easter posts yesterday. People went online to publicly make fun of a religion because in their minds, that would make them seem smarter and make the religious people seem dumb. They do it because it makes them feel superior to belittle people who truly believe in Christianity.

Not cool, bro. Not cool at all.

I hate the zombie jokes. Again, not because I find it offensive to *my* views, but because they are only designed to make good people feel bad on a very special day. There is no other point for these jokes to exist.

And the funny thing is, the people who have no problem making “zombie Jesus” jokes are the SAME people who will jump down the throats of anyone who doesn’t support their particular cause. If you champion for fairness, dignity, and respect for one group of people, how in the hell can you justify NOT offering that same courtesy to another?

There is a difference between being and atheist and being an asshole.

Themoreyouknow

*Bethie steps down from soap box and shoves it back in the corner where she can’t ding her shin on it*

What? Don’t look at me like that. It had to be said.

Hey, did you know that when you move to a desert, it might just be a waste of resources to have a perfectly manicured lawn? Apparently the folks in California are stunned that their wanton lawn-watering has created a massive drought in the reservoirs. H2O is at dangerously low levels, and several news sites have articles on how Californians are “trying to adapt” to not watering their imported sod.

I’m sorry, but is this *really* a concern? Really?? If they wanted a lush, green lawn, why in the HELL did they move to a desert? Did they not learn about deserts in school? Has the Common Core curriculum so crippled the nation’s ability to think that they had no idea at all that deserts are hot and dry? Are there not enough dictionaries to go around anymore??

IT’S A DESERT!! There’s no “adapting” that needs to happen! Let the desert be the friggin’ desert and leave the water alone. Gawd. You read stories like this, of these people actually panicking over having to look outside and be reminded that they live where they CHOSE to live, and THAT’S when you shake your head and say, “…’Merica.”

Don’t get me wrong, now. I love our country. Wouldn’t live anywhere else. But sometimes, people. *sigh* Sometimes.

Did you know…

“Another ‘did you know’? Is this Trivia Monday or something?”

…hm…Trivia Monday?…*strokes beard*…not a bad idea.

“You mean…I thought of something!?”

You may have done at that.

“Yay! Can we get prizes?”

Uh…

“You have to have prizes.”

I was thinking more of imparting random facts to you.

“But I wanna win stuff.”

Oh. In that case, scrap Trivia Monday.

“Awwww.”

We’ll just call it Know-It-All-Monday. The prize you get is the satisfaction of knowing something that others might not.

“…that is literally the shittiest prize ever.”

Yep!

ANYway, as I was saying… Did you know that there was a Society of Biology poll on the sex lives of critters?

Ahhh…got your attention, didn’t I? No use pretending you aren’t intrigued. I know you’re trying to sulk over there, but I saw your ears perk up.

Apparently the Society of Biology- yes, that’s a real thing- was incredibly bored and more than a little randy with Spring in the air. That’s the only reason I can come up with for this poll to exist. They decided to try and determine which creature has the most unusual sexual habits. Though there were many contenders, the Argonaut Octopus has come out on top.

…er…pun only intended if you aren’t offended. Otherwise, pardon the slip of the tongue.

What makes the Argonaut Octopus the world’s weirdest lover? First of all, the male mates with the female who is five times his size. How’s THAT for aiming high? But probably of even more significance in this particular poll is the fact that when they mate, the males leave their penises behind.

It’s detachable.

The penis, I mean. It comes right off.

Not only that, but a female collects them. These Lorena Bobbitts of the deep break off and store the penisis for later fertilization. The males, having literally given their all, die shortly after. And you thought getting your HEART ripped out after a romance was bad!

So there. I’ve now given you three topics to discuss around the water cooler this morning. Nothing too controversial. Just religion, dumb Americans, and unusual sexual habits. Should be a banner day at the office!

You’re welcome.

Thus concludes the Morning Musing for Monday, April 6, 2015. I’ve got to take apart a washing machine today. Huzzah. Oh, and deal with an insurance company about a vehicle I may have sorta dinged up a wee bit… I suppose after 20 years of driving, I was bound to have a blemish on my record somewhere. Still no speeding tickets, though. There is that. *goes to knock wood, but remembers she drives a 30 year old diesel station wagon and speeding is nigh impossible, so skips the knuckle rapping and hopes for the best*

Guerrillas and chickens and headless adventures…

Standard

Mornin’ all.

We had a chest cold here at the house last week. I’m happy to say it’s finally clearing out. A couple kids still sound like baby seals, but the barks are few and far between. I’m fairly certain that no one’s going to track and club them for their fur.

I suppose I can’t complain about this latest spike to our average lozenge consumption. Overall, this winter wasn’t bad in terms of germ warfare. Only a couple bouts, and they were pretty minor on the whole. It’s not like the Great Plague of ought-11 that seriously made me wonder if we’d rise as zombies by week’s end. Spoiler– we didn’t.

…or did we? Perhaps I’ve been a zombie this entire time.

“But Bethie, zombies can’t type. They can’t even talk! They have zero capacity for cohesive thought.”

And how would you know, hm? Have you seen a zombie? Sat with them? Shared life stories over brunch? No, you haven’t. Instead you’ve decided to rely on Hollywood’s skewed version. For all you know, zombies could be warm, caring, unique individuals who, through no fault of their own, simply have physical and metaphysical limitations which make it nigh impossible for them to adequately convey their thoughts and emotions. Let’s see YOU try to smile when YOUR muscles atrophy and give way to systemic decomposition!

Zombies were people, too!

“Oh gawd. Is this your new campaign?”

Now is the time for zombie equality! They used to be your neighbors, your brothers and sisters…in some cases your family pet. Don’t cast them aside. Don’t force them to huddle, hiding as downtrodden masses in the dark. Welcome them. Embrace them. Let them once again feel the light of a new day of hope!

“Did I call it, or what?”

ZOMBIES WERE PEOPLE, TOO! ZOMBIES WERE PEOPLE, TOO!

“…welp…I ‘spose it’s not the worst campaign of yours I’ve backed. Okay, where do I get the bumper sticker?”

You can support this and all my other imaginary calls to arms at the Insanity Dispensary In Oddball Town.

…which I just now decided I should try and make a real thing. How cool/confusing would it be for “Zombies were people, too” stickers to start randomly popping up in places? Or any of the other imaginary causes I’m far too lazy right now to look up and pretend I still support wholeheartedly? I could tag the streets, slap ’em on cars and city buses, make leaflets to leave in random internet cafes. Literary Banksy.

…I suppose I’d actually have to live in an urban area for that to happen, though. There’s a community bulletin board at the local grocery store, but no one actually reads what’s up there. And there’s so much mud on the vehicles right now that I doubt the bumper stickers would stick. We’ve got one form of public transportation here, and that’s a little shuttle bus that’s used to shuffle the people from the elder care facility to the clinic about 50 yards away. I’m not sure they’d be my target audience. And the closest thing we’ve got to an internet cafe is the coffee urn at the gas station.

Small towns aren’t designed for guerrilla marketing campaigns.

Aside from chest colds…

“…oh that’s right. That’s what we were talking about before you went on a wild tangent.”

*achem* As I was saying, aside from cold, a lot of other crap has been going on in the House of Bethie. Life has happened once again, and thrown a speed bump in front of us. I know this is a short Musing, but I just needed a little break from running around like a chicken with my head cut off.

(sidenote: One of my favorite horrifying true stories, BTW. There really, truly, honestly WAS a chicken that lived for nearly 2 years without a fricken head. Farmer got a hankerin’ for chicken, as farmers do, and went and lopped the chicken’s head off. Now, it just so happens that it’s common for bodies of any decapitated animal (and some decapitated vegetation…no joke) to twitch and flop around, muscles spasming from the shock and confusion of suddenly losing the input center. Farmer watched the floppy bird, but then much to his amazement, the bird didn’t just flop, it STOOD THE FUCK UP AND WALKED AWAY. And kept doing that for nearly two years. TWO YEARS. It was fed through the GAPING NECK HOLE. Now that’s a chicken!)

And I wanted to let you all know that I won’t be posting for the next two weeks or so while I live in this thing people keep calling “the real world.” Have you heard of this? It’s a thing that exists when you shut off your computer.

“You can shut off a computer??”

I know, right? I thought the whole thing was a scam, too, but I wikipedia’d it and apparently you can. Experts say you won’t even suffer any adverse effects from doing so, either. I still think it’s sketchy as hell, but I guess I’ve got no choice and have to give it a try.

I’ll be back in a couple weeks, and I hope to have glorious tales of this far away world they call “Real” to share with you.

If you’re lucky, I might even compose a slideshow!

“…*groan*…”

I knew you wouldn’t be able to contain your excitement.

Thus concludes what might possibly be the least long-winded Musing in the history of this blog for Monday, March 23, 2015. I’m about to log off. I think I just have to press the power button, right? *gulp* Okay. I’mma do it. *wipes sweaty brows* Here goes.

Aren’t vacations supposed to be restful? I’m sure I saw that in the brochure…

Standard

Mornin’ all!

IT’S MARCH! And “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” is on the radio! And the snowstorm we were supposed to get only dropped a dusting before moving on! And this batch of coffee is actually GOOD!

And if that wasn’t enough positivity, I was sent a video of a goat eating peanut butter to start my morning. You ever have a great-uncle or hundred-year-old family friend that hangs out in the corner of gatherings gumming the same scoop of Marge’s potato salad for an hour? It was kind of like that. Only, you know, goat.

The teens are off vacation today. They go back to school and I’m doing cartwheels. Er, metaphoric ones, anyway. I used to be good at doing actual cartwheels, but that was *mumble*mutter* years ago. Now I just kind of hint at the joy one feels when one can legitimately pull off gymnastics maneuvers.

It’s been a week, my friends. What a long, long week.

I didn’t get my cover art done, but not because of progenal interference, like I had assumed. No, Fate conspired against my man and ruined four of his five days off. Well, Fate and a bit of our own shortsightedness.

You ever try to do something nice for a friend and it comes back to bite you in the ass tenfold? Yeah, it was one of those scenarios that took several days and a whole lotta dollars to fix.

“Bethie, no good deed goes unpunished.”

Ugh. I hate that expression, I really do.

“Dude, you JUST proved it.”

No, I proved that when you try to do something nice for an asshole, you end up the schmuck. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t still do good deeds or try to help others. It simply means that we should be a little better at spotting the potential twits in the fray. Perhaps I should develop an Application for Friendly Assistance:

1. What assistance do you require at this time?

2. Is this a problem of your own making through lack of foresight, irresponsibility, laziness, or poor self control?

3. Have you ever required this type of assistance from anyone before? If you answered “no,” congratulations! It seems that your life just had a hiccup and we’d be glad to help in any way possible! If you answered “yes,” please explain and continue to question 4.

4. When you required previous assistance, did you end up doing any of the following afterward?

– Screw over family _____

– Screw over friends _____

– Cause irrevocable damage to relationships with your thoughtlessness _____

– Burn bridges _____

– Close doors _____

If you answered “yes” to any of the situations in question 4, kindly piss off. If you answered “no,” please take a moment to consider why it is you need to ask for help from strangers if that’s really the case. Your mother wouldn’t answer her phone when you called HER for help. Don’t you think that just *might* have a little something to do with prior offenses? Put this application in the garbage and spend a little time seriously considering your life choices and the way you treat people.

Heh. What do you think people would say if I actually gave them this?

It’s not like we haven’t needed help ourselves. OH BOY have we, and we’ve been lucky enough to have people be able to bail us out of jams. That’s exactly why we keep trying. At one point, someone was there for us, and now it’s our turn to try and be there for someone else. We’ve just got to learn not to fall for the puppy dog eyes I suppose. I’m not sorry we helped the dude, just sorry he turned around and bit our hand once we fed him.

Ah well. Lesson learned. Time consumed. Cover art fell by the wayside.

…okay, I admit it. SOME of the time that I wasn’t working on cover art was spent playing that video game I mentioned last time we spoke. But only some. Much of the “free” time we were promised was spent outside in the cold at a gas station. And boy, was it cold.

Ah, but that was February, right? Now it’s March! I was jazzed for February, I really was. I thought, “There can’t possibly be a month worse than January.” Boy, was I wrong, eh? So far, March is vastly superior in every way. It’s starting out warmer, the snowfall is less, no rodents are running amok pretending to be meteorologists, and we get to booze it up instead of giving gooey lovey pink hearts.

“Uh, I don’t think it’s politically correct to talk about St. Patrick’s Day as a time to ‘booze it up’.”

Whoa. Who said I was referring to St. Patrick’s Day? March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month. If that’s not a reason to raise our glasses, I don’t know what is.

*pun fistbump*

“NO. You do NOT get to fistbump for puns this early in the morning.”

C’mon. Admit it. That was good.

…no?

…eh, fair enough I suppose. The fact remains, it wasn’t ME who linked drinking with the Irish. That was on you. Maybe you should think before you say things.

“…*sigh*…”

Since it’s a new month, Landlord called to see when she could come collect the rent. She called at a time we’ve told her is too late to reach us, and she said, “Call me back or text me.” As I’ve just mentioned, we’ve told her many times that’s too late at night to call. We close up shop early here, and we don’t answer calls past 7 pm. I think that’s reasonable. And hey, even if it’s not, it’s my house, ya know?

Remember when that mattered? Remember when people felt they had the right to say, “Please don’t call me between the hours of blah and blah blah,” and people totally respected that?

The “text me” thing, that just cracked me up. She called our land line, because that is the only phone we have.

“Aside from your cell, you mean.”

We don’t have a cell phone.

“I’m sorry, Bethie, my eyes must still be blurry from sleep. I thought you typed something about not having a cell phone.”

No, your eyes are fine, though it *is* Workplace Eye Wellness Month, so if you feel you need to get an exam, now’s the time to do it. I did say we don’t have a cell phone. Because we don’t. We have an old fashioned dumb phone, not one’a them new-fangled smart ones. Our set up is single function with absolutely no wifi and zero apps. It can’t take pictures. It can’t play music. The only text it can do is caller ID, and I only get a signal if I stay within 100 ft. of the base. It’s a phone, it’s just a phone, and it will only ever be a phone.

“I just…I don’t…”

Take a moment to process that bombshell. Absorb it. Remember childhood and embrace the past.

We’ve had cell phones before. When our son was sick, we used one my great sister in law got us since we were on the road between hospitals all the time. We didn’t have one before, she insisted it could be a lifeline, and it turned out she was right. There were times that having that was a fantastic lifeline. And then a friend gave us one awhile later when he decided we needed it. We did attempt to keep it up, but that didn’t last. See, we never used it, and more often than not it was forgotten in the key basket instead of coming with us when we left the house.

Why pay for something we don’t remember to use?

“But how can you function in the modern world without a cell phone?”
Easily, thanks!

In spite of what people have been brainwashed to believe these days, 99% of all phone calls do not need to reach me immediately. I do not need to be at everyone else’s beck and call. If you try to call to tell me about a neat chotchkie you found at a Goodwill, I promise the world will not crumble if I don’t answer.

Remember that idiot I mentioned at the beginning of this? He tried to get hold of us before everything went south about something completely unrelated to the impending shitstorm. He saw a car on Craigslist and was wondering what kind of mileage it got. No, he was not going to actually buy it. Dude has no money. He just got bored and was looking at cars and wanted to talk about them. We weren’t here, so he called again. And again. And again. SEVEN calls on our caller ID from him in the span of two hours. Seven. The only message he left was the last call, asking why it was we weren’t calling him back.

Now, I know that’s an extreme example. Extreme or not, it is more and more the prevailing opinion of those who have gotten way too used to instant access. They have a cell phone. They want to talk to us RIGHT FUCKING NOW, so we must be ready, willing, and able to assuage that particular compulsion.

We went grocery shopping and popped in another store, taking our time and generally farting around for a couple hours because it felt good to be out of the house. We weren’t here to get the calls, that’s why we didn’t call him back. And yet, he felt he somehow deserved an immediate answer. He felt that his stupid questions about cars (which could TOTALLY have be Googled, I might add) trumped whatever we happened to be doing right then.

“Drop everything and talk to me right now, and if you don’t, YOU’RE the asshole.” That’s the mentality. And while Tool up there takes it to the nth degree, it’s a common feeling among folks these days.

Landlord has the same mentality, even though she only called once. The confusion and annoyance was still there in her voice. No, we will NOT answer the phone just because you are too self-absorbed to have some consideration for a very reasonable request. Once again, I cannot text you because, as you have been told numerous times, I do not have a cell phone.

Ten bucks says that when I call her back later this morning, I’ll get attitude. Ten bucks says that she will say something passive-aggressive that infers that I’m trying to duck rent just because I didn’t drop everything and call her right back.

Don’t bet me. Really. You’ll lose. This isn’t my first time on this particular carousel and I know how this ride will end.

Look, it’s not anyone’s right to get hold of me whenever they feel like it. It shouldn’t be seen as my responsibility, either. I’m not saying people shouldn’t call. Call and give it a whirl! But just don’t get pissed if I don’t happen to have a free minute to catch up. It’s not personal, in any way. It’s called life, and sometimes mine won’t mesh with yours. Sometimes I can’t be here to take a call. That doesn’t mean that I should rush out and buy and instant communication device. That means I’ll get back to you when I’ve got a sec.

Just because folks have the ability to call someone at any given moment does not mean we should abandon common courtesy. Sometimes the old fashioned way of thinking IS right.

ZOMG. Did I just…did I just come around to seeing a hipster’s point of view on something? *gulps in fear*

“Chill, Bethie. You’re actually thinking like that. Hipsters just pretend to feel that way.”

*sigh of relief* Oh. Oh phew. For a moment there, I was really worried.

Anyway, that’s my babble for today. I think with the kiddies gone and the weather improving, I might just get the cover art banged out. Or perhaps I’ll work on that steampunk lamp I’ve been making from re-purposed found items.

“NOW you’re sounding like a hipster.”

…shit.

Thus concludes the Morning Musing for Monday, March 2, 2015. Did you read that date? Because I’ll say it again. IT’S MARCH!! WOOT and SQUEE and YIPPA-DEE-DEE!!

An empty hook dangles, a kitty cat hides…

Standard

Mornin’ all.

Welp, it happened. The first blown glass casualty of the holiday season was laying in shattered defeat on my floor this morning when I got up. The cat was hiding under the tree with her ears back, though I couldn’t tell if she was contrite, or just pissed that I caught her at the crime scene. I swept up the shards of her victim, and only then did she stalk out as if nothing was amiss. I must say, I’m impressed the full bulb brigade lasted this long. I put the tree up this past weekend, and that was the first broken ornament we’ve had. Last year it wasn’t five minutes before the cat pawed a decoration to its doom.

I put the tree up, and that makes me happy. I love bright lights and shiny things, and I suppose I can’t blame the cat’s obsession with the decorated tannenbaum. If I could get away with climbing up the artificial trunk, I would.

I used to lay under the Christmas trees when I was a kid. It’s cute when you’re little. You scoot under the tree and look up and proclaim to know know what a tree fairy must feel like. People look upon you and press their hand over their heart and say, “Aw, isn’t that adorable!”

Pro tip: they do NOT have the same reaction if you do this as an adult. Apparently only little children are allowed to feel like tree fairies.

I know. TOTALLY unfair.

Ah well. Like I said, we have an artificial tree, anyway, and not a large one. Our living space is tight, and our tree reflects this. I doubt I could scoot myself under it if I tried. The bottom branches would probably snag on my boobs and topple over. Imagine the looks I’d get then.

When we were kids, my dad would always get a real tree, generally one that was actually way too big for the space. It was fantastic. Artificial trees look very nice, and some can even pass as real from a distance. However, no artificial tree has the same feeling as a real one. A fresh tree newly erected RIGHT IN THE LIVING ROOM!! is a magical thing indeed. There’s an aura to it, a smell…the sense of life and age and comfort and wisdom.

Fine. I love trees. What.

…which is why I have an artificial one now. I don’t want to cut down a viable tree that struggled for ten years to make it in the hard knocks life that is Nature simply to make my living room look prettier for a month. I know, I know, I know…there are excellent arguments FOR the Christmas tree industry. I get it. I just don’t want to watch a vibrant, living tree fade and droop and drop its browned needles of life on my floor. I just can’t do it. There is nothing sadder than watching the Christmas tree that entered your home fresh and still thrumming with the life of the forest leave your home on a sheet, a sad, needleless husk of its former glory to be left unceremoniously by the curb, a few crumpled wisps of tinsel blowing over the mummified branches as a stark reminder of what was.

Okay, so maybe there are a few things more sad in life. But you have to admit, that rates right up there.

Some day, perhaps, if we ever get our hands on some of that mythical “money” I keep hearing about, I’ll get one of those living Christmas trees, with the roots carefully ensconced in a sack so you can plant it after the season. I like those.

Besides, my tree sort of looks real. And I certainly had needles aplenty on the floor after I put it up. It’s about a dozen years old now and is starting to shed.

You read that right. It’s shedding. Like a real tree. The sci-fi-ist in me is fascinated and a little terrified. What sorcery is that which has turned an ordinary amalgamation of plastic and wire into a real Christmas tree!? Is it magic? Is it alchemy? Perhaps an experiment in the flocking lab gone horribly awry. Has my tree always been “real”? A Vader-like hybrid after a terrible forest fire?

It’s much more fun than the truth, which is the sad plastic needles can only hold on to the wire through so many of the tugs, fluffs, and twists it takes to make them look anything at all like real branches. I think it’s perhaps the last year for the old gal.

At least it doesn’t have last year’s balled up tinsel entwined in the needles. I like tinsel on a real tree. I HATE it on a fake one. My gram used to have a small faux tree. I think she must have used the same tree for like thirty years, because it had wire bristle branches instead of plastic. Old school. It also had gnarled tinsel wrapped around every branch. By the last year we set it up for her, the thing looked more like some kind of Brillo pad sculpture than a tree. If you sliced a branch, instead of growth rings, you’d see tinsel layers…an archive of Christmases of yesteryear.

Actually, that sounds kind of neat now that I think about it.

Still, as a child, it bugged the shit out of me and I vowed that if I ever had a fake tree, I would NOT use tinsel. I used to pick at the crumpled old strands until Grammie told me to “leave the godammed tree alone!” as she shuffled her feet back and forth in her rocking chair and sipped her highball. Magical times.

…no, really. I say that with a smile and love. Christmases when I was a kid were fantastic times, even when they included gnarled tinsel and swearing Grandmas. Especially when they included swearing Grandmas.

Anyway, I got our tree set up. Hung some other décor around the room, too. When we were kids, my mother would turn the living room into Santa’s freakin’ workshop. A little bit of decor looks sad. Too much looks tacky. But if you cram absolutely everything you can possibly find together and don’t leave a single square inch of surface space bare, it looks amazing.

Remember this. Holiday decorating pro tip: A few tacky things look tacky. ALL the tacky things together = magic.

Though I don’t go quite that far, it’s only because I’ve got a lack of storage space. Trust me, if I had a room to store all the decorations for the other 11 months of the year, I’d wall-to-wall Christmasify this bitch.

“Wow. You must be super religious.”

Well, no. The religious aspect has little to do with my Christmas fervor, if you want to know the truth. I said my Christmases as a kid were fantastic times, and I meant it. They were some of the happiest times of my life. Not specifically just Christmas day, but the season. Getting ready. Making the drab living room sparkle and glitter. Being a tree fairy, or at least doing my best to pretend. Baking cookies. Hearing “Holly and Ivy” read to us by Mum. Visiting people. Pretending to like the little dill cucumber tea sandwiches at Grammie’s Christmas Eve party, actually liking the taste of the oplatki we’d break off and exchange.

*obscure Catholic Polish tradition reference fist bump*

Advent calendars and present shaking and wrapping the necklace I made for someone with excited and terrifying anticipation and hope. I like it all. Why wouldn’t I want to keep doing some of those things now?

And I must admit, the cheery decor has significantly improved my mood. Well, that and some good news that I really didn’t realize I’d been so worked up waiting to hear.

My kid had another PET scan. They call them “routine”, but any parent who’s been through taking care of a child with cancer knows that every one is terrifying, especially if their kid had a previous relapse. Every one is important. There are some, though, that carry even more weight. This one was the critical scan that would mark the fifth year of remission if it came out clear.

See, for those who may not know, the day the doctor declares a patient cancer-free is not really the end. It’s the beginning of an odds game. Remission is marked in years, with relapse odds getting better and better the further out you go. Why? Because a cancer relapse actually just means that not all of the bastard mutant cells were eliminated the first time. All types of cancer multiply at different rates. Sometimes it takes years for a cancer cluster to reproduce and grow to a noticeable size. My son had Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a very aggressive cancer that multiplies extremely quickly and goes from innocuous to lethal in a matter of months.

He relapsed quickly after the first round. In fact, he was declared cancer free during the appointment, and by the time we took the 2 hour trip home riding the high tide of good news, the doctor had called back to leave a message that he was wrong, that the cancer was back, and that my son would need a stem cell transplant and could we kindly turn back around for a biopsy?

No, he didn’t relapse in two hours. The doctor was going off the previous month’s scans while we were there. He relapsed dangerously in just one month.

After that, he had the stem cell transplant (which used to inaccurately be called a bone marrow transplant) and radiation, and has had clear PET scans since. This one, this was the five year mark.

So what makes that so special?

Because after five years of remission, the odds of him relapsing with Hodgkin’s has now dropped into the single digits. It’s a huge deal, an enormous milestone. And he made it.

…and yes, anyone who’s been in the same boat… I know that just means he won’t get Hodgkin’s again and that he’s still susceptible to a myriad number of side effects, other cancers caused by the medicines it took to kill off the Hodgkin’s, blah blah. But honestly, if I let myself dwell on all that stuff, the ulcers would literally eat me away inside. I can’t do that. What I CAN do is look at the good results, the clean scan, and know that we hit THIS milestone and just be glad.

The shiny, happy décor all around me just highlights the relief inside. Yes, my mood has GREATLY improved!

People have put up their Christmas lights around town, and when I went out for milk the other night, I noticed a few displays that are amazing. This weekend if the weather’s good, I’ll pack the kids in the station wagon and ride around to have a look. I don’t know if any of the older ones will be interested, but at least the little one is game. Cookie baking, present making, gift wrapping. They get a full two weeks of vacation this year, and I’ve got enough activities to keep them busy until Christmas. And then…I’m blank. Maybe it’ll storm and I can entertain them all day by shoveling.

Or maybe we’ll just sit on the couch in our jammies surrounded by the Christmas ornaments and decorations for just a bit longer before they have to be tucked away once again. You know what? Sounds like a pretty good way to spend vacation to me.

Thus concludes the Morning Musing for Thursday, December 18, 2014. I’m off to sweep up the second feline victim. I stupidly thought that the cat was somehow more mature this year since it took so long to break an ornament. Nope. She simply forgot how much fun it was. *sigh* And so it begins….

Whiskers in the basin and writers with the blues…

Standard

Mornin’ all.

*sip* Mmmm.

Sorry, I’m just taking an extra minute to enjoy this cup of coffee before we get started. I know it’s rude, but I just can’t help it. Want some?

*siiiip* Ahhhh.

We have a store here in town that sells discount groceries. Some places call them “dent and bents”, some call them “reclaim” stores. Basically, the items within didn’t sell in a real store, so they got dusted off, sold at rock bottom prices to lower quality store, and put back on the shelf for sale attempt #2. Or three. You have to watch it…some of the stuff is so old, it’s got to be at least attempt #3 to foist it off on customers.

Anyway, yesterday I popped in to get some seltzer and hard candy, because apparently I am secretly an 80 year old grandma. I took a gander in their coffee section, too, and found a fancy pants coffee I usually shun at an extremely reasonable [sic: cheap] price.

I’ve mentioned my love/tolerance for coffee. It’s a necessary evil and normally I’ll just chug a cup and move on with my life not really caring on how it tastes. I have a few brands I will not drink. Maxwell House gives me wicked heartburn (see 80-year old Grandma explanation above). We call Chock Full O’Nuts “Chock Full O’Crap” in this house. And I’d much rather drink a cup of twelve-hour old sludge you buy from a gas station coffee urn that probably hasn’t been washed since the Clinton administration than drink a single sip of Starbucks.

“*gasp* Bethie!”

YEP I SAID IT. Even someone with a palate that does not balk at burnt gas station swill knows that Starbucks tastes like shit. I know there are some of you java sommeliers out there who are fuming now, and I don’t want to offend you…more like, open your eyes. Buy a cup of joe from McDonald’s, buy one from Starbucks, and then close your eyes and just taste them without being able to see the label.

See?? See what you’ve been paying way too much for?! You’re welcome.

Aside from those brands, I don’t have much of a preference. I like my coffee to come without flavorings and in a package, and that’s about it.

This stuff, it’s fancy. It has a long description of the “rich, bold flavor” on the side in cursive writing. Ooooh. And it’s actually got the little wire thingie that lets you fold the top over to reseal. Aaaaahhh. And the aroma of it brewing didn’t make me feel slightly queasy, as many of the cheap coffees do. Yep, I knew it was going to be quality.

You can see why I am taking a moment to savor it.

*siiiiip* *slurp*

The moment is being slightly marred by the radio. The kids sleep with the radio on in the background, and the station they listen to (the only station other than country we get here in the house) has decided to play Christmas music around the clock. I don’t mind Christmas music. In fact, I like it. We played a ton of it in my house growing up and I’m fairly well versed in damn near every Christmas song. However, they are playing 25 days of nothing but Christmas music. That’s 600 hours worth of yuletide ditties. Even with my extensive mental holiday catalog, I can think of maybe, MAYBE 50 hours of Christmas music. As you can imagine, the play loop is very small. Because of this, they put on twenty different versions of the same damn songs. Right now, Mariah Carey is doing bad things to “Silent Night”.

Very bad things.

If I was queen, I would outlaw pop stars from singing Christmas music. You know why? Because Bing Crosby and Burl Ives did them best and they will never be topped no matter how many extra notes you throw in there. Night is one syllable. ONE. I can see drawing it out for a few bars for dramatic effect. But when you make that one word contain 738 different tones arranged through all octaves and ten pages of sheet music, that’s a stretch. Sorry, Mariah. You lost me the very first time you shattered my wine glass for no apparent reason. They call it SILENT Night. Take it from the top, but this time, try a bit harder to really embrace the meaning of the song.

*Mariah clears her throat* “Siiii-yi-yi-ya-leeeeennn-t ni-eee-yi-….”

Off with her head!

“No wait! I can do better!”

Last chance.

“…. …… ….. ….”

There now, was that so hard? *waves scepter* You may live. Now bring me the Bieber!

*siiiiiip*

I know I just pissed some of you off. Every good leader has their detractors. I can live with the Starbuck’s-drinking Mariah Carey fans’ disdain. There can’t be more than a handful of you out there, and I really feel like overall I’m gaining support for Queen Bethie. You must admit that you have thought of putting duct tape over pop stars’ mouths before. Wouldn’t be such a bad world, would it?

It’s officially December, hence the Christmas music on my radio. This also means that two things are happening this morning. First, if you listen really closely, you’ll hear the sound of millions of electric razors firing up since No Shave November is officially over. That’s a good thing. I am a beard/mustache/mutton chop lover myself, but only on the right people. Some guys just look silly with facial hair, and those are the ones that actually participate in NSN to have an excuse to once again give the straggly whiskers a try. Most of the people who intentionally refrain from shaving during a designated month are the ones that really, really need to shave today.

If reading this is making you self-consciously touch that sweet ‘stache you just grew, then yes, I am talking directly to you. If you were meant to have facial hair, you wouldn’t need a calendar to tell you to grow it. Shave that sad lip caterpillar off right now and get back to your normal life. Queen Bethie has spoken.

The other thing that’s happening is that thousands of people who participated in NaNoWriMo are feeling a bit let down by the whole process.

…and by thousands, I mean me. And if I’m feeling it, odds are that other new participants are, too.

For those who might not know, NaNoWriMo is the National Novel Writing Month event. They call it a competition, though you actually only compete with yourself. It’s the solitaire of writing challenges. The goal is to write a “novel” of 50,000 words entirely in the month of November. If you “win” (meaning you hit the goal), you get…well, as it turns out, not really much of anything at all. You get to watch a video of people cheering for you. Not you, personally, of course. It’s a form letter…video. You get to copy and paste the “winner” banner on your Facebook or other digital gossip feed. You get many promotional offers, discounts at the sponsor’s sites for reduced self publishing rates. And you get to read an email that congratulates you in one sentence, then tells you that while you’re riding the high of the “win”, you should take a moment to send a $25 donation to support next year’s NaNoWriMo.

Like I said, I’m feeling a bit let down.

I believe in the exercise. My story hit about 68,000 words, and for anyone who’s read even one of these “little” musings of mine, that’s about as short as I can make a “book”. I, personally, put a lot of words into what I write. I’m not saying they’re good words. I need to edit, edit, edit. I also put the initial ramblings down pretty damn fast. I have fingers of fury. In fact, the only parts of my body that are toned and trim are my fingers. I’d enter these puppies in a finger bench press competition in a heart beat. I’m a speedy writer and a tortured editor, that’s what I’m saying.

Not everyone is, though. One of the very cool things about writing is that it’s an art. No matter what kind of writing you do, it’s most definitely an art form. YES, I’m talking about technical manuals, too. YES, I’m talking about history books. YES, I’m talking about reporting and essays and… Hell, even successful regular Tweeting is an art form. There is a craft to writing, no matter what kind of writing it is. As such, every single writer has a different process. Some of the very best novels have taken years to write, while some others in that same “very best” category have been hastily scratched whims.

Because of this, I think that any exercise that challenges a writer to try something different, to change up their process, to throw a wrench in their works and “just see if they can” is a good exercise. NaNoWriMo is a GOOD writing exercise.

…as long as you view it as that, and nothing more.

I decided to try and fully embrace the experience. I joined the forums, talked to other writers, actually read the emails from the local volunteer who kind of lead the people in my region instead of sending them straight to my trashcan. I wrote and updated my total with regularity. I worried over my ending.

(Writing an ending is the WORST part of writing a novel for me. I always, ALWAYS think my closing paragraph is lame. I will write and rewrite until finally I just say “screw it” and end up with whatever was the straw that broke this camel’s back. I never like my endings. Ever. Not once in anything I’ve written.)

I shouldn’t have worried so much about any of it. As it turns out, the only care is that you write 50,000 words. Those words could literally be, “Look at me pretending to write. This shit’s a piece of cake, suckahs,” over and over and over until you reach 50,000 words and you would still “win” the event. I don’t know what I was expecting, but to me the lack of any type of filtering or oversight takes away the very spirit of the event. You’re supposed to write a novel. A novel! And yet anyone who can hit copy and paste can reach the goal.

Another thing that really bothered me was how many people were in the forums bragging about hitting 100,000 words in less than 24 hours. First of all, braggers piss me off, whether they’re bragging about hitting a high amount or bragging that their novel will go triple platinum. But the ones who go on these public forums during an event like this and act like “You’re only at 10,000 words? Pfft. Newb,” probably piss me off the most. Many of the people trying this event are doing it because they know it will be a push for their process, for them personally to hit the mark, and they want to try their hardest to get it done.

It’s like…it’s like that kid in school who got straight A’s all the time and would hold the test up for the people in the back row who worked ten times as hard to get their B- to see. Dicks. They’re just a bunch of dicks. They feel better by making people feel worse, and this event had many of these jackwads.

Besides, 100,000 words in less than 24 hours? Is it *possible*? Yeah, I suppose. Maybe they use the Dragon software, and talk instead of type. I can easily see hitting 100K words in 24 hours that way. Or maybe they wore those space suits that allow them to suck on one tube for liquid nourishment while simultaneously pissing in the built-in waste system, never having to move away from the keyboard. Or maybe they had a story already started and used that instead of making something new and original.

…which some people actually bragged about in the forums, so I know for a fact it happened.

Why participate in something like this if you’re going to cheat? Cheat and then lord it over people? I know, I know, I know. This stuff will happen in ANY event/competition/contest, especially online and when there is absolutely no oversight whatsoever. The whole thing is primed for cheating asshats. It just makes me sad to see, especially when they’re loud enough to really ruin the experience for others. Most of the folks on the forums posted because they hit a writing wall, or were struggling to write every day and looking for encouragement. Invariably one of these superstars-in-their-own-head would muscle their big egos into the post, write a two-page dissertation on why the original poster should not be having trouble at all, in the process crushing the poor sap who just needed a little pep talk under the weight of their superiority complex.

And then you’ve got the begging. NaNoWriMo is a free event. You can participate without giving up a single penny, which is exactly how I played it. However, right from the get, they push you for cash. You get these “badges” by your name for different accomplishments. If you donate $10, you get a halo over your profile pic. Every time you get an email from your local motivator, you’re reminded that if you do not have a halo, now is the time to buy one. Yes, they angel-shame you. Relentlessly.

The second week, there is a push for you to “double down” on your commitment to the goal. You get notices from not only your local motivator, but several other people I assume are higher up in the NaNo chain telling you that it’s time to really prove you’re committed. Not by writing more, but by paying more. The “double down” push is to get you to pay again if you’ve already donated $10, and to pay $20 if you’re one of the evil little trolls who has not yet bought halo-clad acceptance.

If you haven’t given a penny by the third week, you get an email talking about all the money it takes to put on NaNoWriMo. The email is sent by a network of volunteers who do not get paid for their time, and does not actually explain what the money will be used for other than to say that it’ll help next year’s NaNoWriMo. On the NaNo main page, they have a donation bar to show how much people have donated. They do not have a link to say what the money is for. Last time I looked, they were north of a million bucks.

…for what?

Look, I know putting an event like this on does cost money. There’s web hosting, and advertising, and all that jazz. Just tell me though. Let me see where the money is going…ESPECAILLY when you ask for money in one breath, and gush about the network of volunteers who make this all happen free of charge in the next.

So then you finish. You submit the maybe novel/maybe 5th grade punishment for shooting spitballs, get the non-prize prizes, and then you get an email. It says that you did great. You “won”. You’re one of the select few who typed out any combination of coherent or incoherent words that would meet the 50K criteria. Now, if you really want to feel accomplished, you should send them $25 more dollars for the right to feel as accomplished next year. Oh, and while you’re at it, swing by the “winners” page for fabulous offers to spend more money on the corporate sponsors’ pages.

Yes. All this begging, and they already have corporate sponsors.

*sigh*

Now, all of the negatives said, I still support this endeavor. I said I took this challenge and tried my best to really embrace the spirit of the event. I came up with an original idea and typed the first word on November 1st. I carved out writing time through a hectic (and briefly powerless) holiday, and managed to come up with a decent story in the process. It needs editing, sure. It’s rough, sure. It’s shorter than I’d like, and I can easily see where I could inject a few chapters here and there to flesh it out a little better. But it’s written. It’s got characters I like, on a planet I completely made up. It’s got conflict, strife, and resolution. Is it a winner just because it’s over 50,000 words? No. It’s a winner because I made it happen. Even if no one else reads it, I created it in just one month. I took it out of my head and made it real. It’s a winner because it exists.

THAT’S the point of NaNoWriMo. THAT is what even the NaNo organization itself has seemed to have lost under all the dollar signs and advertising banners and halo-shaming. It’s not about money. It’s not about typing 50,000 random words. It’s about writing, challenging yourself to create a new world in such a little span of time. That’s why I still support NaNoWriMo. That’s why I’ll probably do it again next year, no matter how bogged down and disappointed I became with the peripheries.

Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment. Maybe the form-platitudes mean a bit more to me than I’d care to admit. Maybe I’m just one of those suckers who likes to slog through a shitty event to be able to commiserate with the other saps who lived through the same. Or maybe I just like any excuse to tell people to buzz off for a bit and let me write. Whatever it is I actually got out of the experience, it’s enough to make me want to do it again.

*The queen has finished speaking. Go about your day, citizens.*

Thus concludes a Morning Musing for Monday, December 1, 2014. I’m off to make another pot of this coffee even though in all likelihood I’ve had way too much already. This caffeine buzz is incredible. Don’t worry. I’ll switch to seltzer and hard candies if I start actually talking to the little purple men I see standing in the corner…

Sit down, America. We need to talk…

Standard

Mornin’ all.

I know it’s been awhile. After getting the book done and up on Smashwords, I needed a writing break. I caught up on housework, did some needlepoint, and watched girlie movies while the kids were at school and couldn’t ridicule me for actually acting like a girl. I didn’t have any bonbons, but it was damn close to magazine-family living.

It’s okay. I can wear a cardigan and do needlepoint from time to time. I spent last week fixing the house and pounding a new door skin on one of the cars, so I think I earned a little pink and lace. It’s a balance, people.

I didn’t spend much time on the computer this week, so this morning I fired up all the news sites to find out what I missed. I guess I only missed one thing: Ebola is really friggin’ hard to catch.

“Bethie! How can you say that? We’re in a crisis!”

NO. West Africa is in a crisis. We are just being held hostage by the media who sees dollar signs, and by politicians who see this virus as a stepping stone to a senate seat next month.

The ebola story has usurped any other story in the news all week. There’s a whole lot of freaking out, and not much understanding of fact. The news outlets are making bank off fear, and the reasonable voices are being intentionally drowned out by bold headlines of doom. I know I already talked about ebola. I was one of those telling Obama to send people over to help with the crisis. I stand by that, even though now many people are pointing fingers and saying, “See? YOU caused this massive outbreak!!” to the people on my side of the fence. I’m not changing my stance. We should have gone over.

And I’ll be the unpopular one that says it: We should STILL send more help.

Now that the bombshell has dropped, let’s really take a look at the situation.

Outside of West African nations, guess how many cases of ebola have been diagnosed?

17.

I’ll write it out again so you know that’s not a typo. Seventeen. That’s it. That’s everyone outside the West African nations. Eight from the US, three from Spain, three from Germany, and one each from France, Britain, and Norway. Of those infected, four have died. That’s 4. Only 4. The rest have either recovered or are still in treatment.

Now, let’s look at who these people are. Fifteen of them are doctors, nurses, or clergy who were directly treating or counseling ebola patients in the isolation wards. The people getting the disease are the ones who are in direct and repeated close contact with a patient’s urine, feces, vomit, saliva, or blood. Not the people in the victims day to day lives. Not the people who casually passed the infected on the street. Not the 99.9% of people the victims saw before they became bed ridden.

No one has gotten ebola from walking past a sick person.

No one has gotten ebola from riding in the same plane as a sick person.

No one has gotten ebola from just living in the same city as a sick person.

You will NOT get ebola from going grocery shopping.

Your kids will NOT get ebola from going to school.

You will NOT get ebola from riding on a train.

You will NOT get ebola from going to work unless you happen to work in an ebola isolation ward.

Walk outside and take a deep, cleansing breath. Guess what didn’t happen? YOU DIDN’T CATCH EBOLA.

And you won’t. In spite of what the media is telling you, in spite of what the Tea Partiers want you to believe, there isn’t any way the US is dropping the ball here.

“But clearly Obama let ebola into the country.”

*sigh* Okay. We’ll go there, since that’s pretty much what every Average Joe on the comment boards of all the major news sites is saying.

First, “Obama let contaminated medical workers back into the nation.” Absolutely. They were our citizens who came home to be treated because their chances of survival in a US hospital vastly exceeded the odds of living through treatment in the average West African medical facility. If they had stayed overseas, they would have most likely died. Guess how many people became infected from those workers coming home to recover? None.

“Well he let that guy in…”

“That guy” who was asymptomatic at the time of his flight back to Dallas? Yeah. That guy was allowed in. Guess what? The rest of the plane full of people was also allowed in. Not a single one of them got sick, in spite of spending the entire cross Atlantic flight cooped up with the ebola victim.

“Fair enough, Bethie. But NOW, now we know…”

Know what? What we know is what I said earlier. Ebola is actually really fricken hard to catch.

Look, it’s not pretty, but here’s the truth: Ebola is a problem in the West African nations because they do not have the same standards of public sanitation as most of the world’s countries. They are called third world nations for a reason. I’m not saying anything at all derogatory about the people, or even the governments on the whole. They just don’t have the money needed to better their odds against nature.

Out of the seventeen non-West African people who have caught ebola, only four have died. That’s only 23%, when given care in what we would consider standard modern hospitals.

The WHO has come out and said they may have erred when they predicted that this outbreak would claim 50% of victims. Just this week they said their numbers are showing it may actually be as high as 80%…IN THE WEST AFRICAN NATIONS. NOT here. Not in Europe. Not in the countries that have the money and resources to treat the patients.

Now, lets go back to Obama for a moment. Forget all the numbers. Forget the fact that even in West Africa, ebola is FAR from the biggest health threat. Forget all of that, and just look at it from a logical standpoint.

Unleashing a virus on his own nation would make him one of the most diabolical despots in history. But, let’s say for the purposes of this discussion, he is a diabolical despot. What would he gain? He’s not running for an office. He’s on the way out, and by all accounts happy to be so. He wouldn’t get any money, no kickbacks from the drug company since no one has been able to come up with a vaccine yet, proprietary or otherwise. The only thing that seems to really help the ones in great distress is a blood transfusion from someone who beat ebola, and a drug company can hardly patent that. People in his own party are starting to distance themselves from him to become elected, so there’s no coattail riding happening. There is no benefit to him here whatsoever.

Besides, like him or hate him, he’s smart. Even if you don’t like how he uses it, you can’t argue with his intelligence. I’d like to think he’s smart enough to do a modicum of research, at least put a little effort into a world domination plan. If he was going to unleash a virus on the US, don’t you think he’d unleash one that’s easy to catch? Eight US citizens have caught ebola. 8 out of over 315 MILLION. That would make it the least effective diabolical plot ever.

Obama does not want people dying from ebola. He doesn’t want an outbreak. That’s just asinine. Even if he was a despot, it would be a stupid, pointless plan with absolutely no reward at the end. Even despots work for a purpose, a reward, a reason. People saying ebola is his fault are either just scared and lashing out, or buying the Tea Party line without having a single moment of logical reflection on the facts. Period. I’m not an Obama fan overall, but come on, folks. When you blame the president for a virus, you’re just being an idiot.

Okay, now that we’ve discounted the idea that Obama wants the US to be infected, and put ebola into perspective in terms of the US, let’s examine it in the scope of the world.

As of the time of writing this, the WHO says that 4,493 people have died from ebola, with all but 17 of those people being residents of West African nations. That’s a pretty serious number, and my intention is not to diminish the deaths of the victims. That’s just about the entire population of my town. I’m not saying that’s not a lot of people. However, let’s look at some other disease numbers.

Malaria kills an estimated 600,000 people. Complications from the rotavirus, a common ailment in young children, kill around 440,000. Dengue fever claims 22,000. Hell, 55,000 people die from rabies still. Rabies! And all these totals are the death counts for EVERY SINGLE YEAR. Why aren’t we freaking out about those numbers?

Because they are for somewhere else, that’s why. The millions of people dying from what we consider here to be archaic diseases are dying because of poor conditions and lack of health care infrastructures in the third world nations. The few Americans who do get these illnesses are treated in our hospitals and come out of it fairly well, on the whole. We don’t worry about those diseases because in the big picture, they are not a threat here.

And neither is ebola. Not yet.

In the West African nations, that 4,493 number is just going to go up and up exponentially. The aid workers over there are understaffed, overworked, and have few supplies. The US media making a mockery of the African struggle with ebola is causing the supply lines to close out of fear. People are starting to get the hoarding mentality, keeping the medicines, workers, and supplies over here “in case”. We can’t do that. Right now, we can stop ebola from actually becoming a global threat. It’s still so easily contained as long as people understand what’s really going on.

If we keep buying into the media hype, the global pandemic they’re predicting will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Right now we can help to nip the problem in the bud. But that’s not going to happen if people keep letting the money grubbing bozos cover up the facts and scare people into not helping.

Thus concludes the Morning Musing for Saturday, October 18, 2014. There. I hope that’s settled once and for all. Next issue that’s more hyperbole than fact…gay marriage. *cracks knuckles* Listen up, America…