12/22/06

Clown Girl's first review - Publisher's Weekly

Publisher's Weekly has just put out the first "official" review of Clown Girl. It's a generally good review, although I think they're wrong about "not much happens."

I finished the book a couple days ago. I laughed out loud at least five times at the appropriately funny parts, and cringed at the painful parts. Nita tries to be funny, but sometimes she's really a sad clown.

And, on another note, Monica's agent got this email:
CLOWNGIRL by Monica Drake is scheduled for review in the 12/18/06 issue of PUBLISHERS WEEKLY. Can you tell me who controls the film/TV rights to this title, please?

Film rights? That's exciting.
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12/7/06

First government-issued memorial with a Wiccan pentacle

Speaking of symbols being misunderstood, the VA has allowed a widow to have a Wiccan pentacle on the soldier's memorial in a VA cemetery.

Roberta Stewart, widow of Sgt. Patrick Stewart, and Wiccan leaders said it was the first government-issued memorial plaque with a Wiccan pentacle, a five-pointed star enclosed in a circle.
About 1,800 active-duty service members identify themselves as Wiccans, according to 2005 Defense Department statistics, and Wicca is one of the fastest-growing faiths in the country. Its adherents worship the Earth and believe they must give to the community. Some consider themselves "white" or good witches, pagans or neo-pagans.


Clown Girl available at Hawthorne Books

My sister's book is available from the publisher, Hawthorne Books.

If you buy it from them it's only $10 (for a limited time only? Usually it's $15).
Plus, they'll mail it to you now, rather than when the novel's 'released' next February.

Or, you can read an excerpt from the book here.

11/30/06

Finished NaNoWriMo 2006


Whew! I finished writing a novel this month.
Ok, it's a really rough draft, completely unedited, and more than a little rambling. But it's 50,000 words.

That's the second time I've tried my hand at National Novel Writing Month. I started pretty slow this year, and it seems like Thanksgiving came early this year, which sort of messed up my schedule.

Anyway, last year I did a first person viewpoint, so I tried a third person narration this time. Surprisingly, that was simpler than first person, don't know why. But, I thought it constrained my writing so that I was using more pat phrases. Huh.

This year my novel was a space opera. It is sort of derivative of Star Trek (the original series, of course) and 1930's Buck Rogers / Flash Gordon serials (except with more plot). It's a series of connected stories about the crew of a space vessel that is knocked into "unmapped space" and they have to find their way back.

You can read an excerpt here (if it takes too long to load the flash, the link also has a 'text only' excerpt. Look at the bottom of the page).

Now, I'm ready to watch some television.

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11/28/06

Peace = Satan?

A Denver homeowner was ordered to take down a Christmas wreath in the shape of a peace symbol. According to the news report:

Jensen was ordered to take the wreath down when some residents in her 200-home subdivision saw it as a protest of the Iraq war. Bob Kearns, president of the board, also said some saw it as a symbol of Satan.

The homeowners' association demanded Jensen remove the wreath from her house, saying it doesn't allow flags or signs that are considered divisive.

Eventually they let her keep it up after hundreds of people offered to pay the $1000 fine.
Maybe it was a protest of the war? She gets her final say:
"It seems whenever someone tries to say 'Peace on Earth' it is met with so much resistance," she said. "The incredible amount of support we have received over the last couple of days really is proof to us of how many people believe in peace and in our right to say it."
On the other hand, the leader of the Christian Coalition resigned. Apparently, he wanted to expand the agenda to include helping with "issues such as poverty, justice, and creation care." The Christian Coalition board, on the other hand, wasn't interested.
"After initial willingness to consider these changes, the board of the CCA decided, 'that is fine, but that is not who we are,'" Hunter said.

11/27/06

Worst Tipper Ever?

This is a funny site. Keep track of all the slings and arrows you have to bear.

FYI, this guy says: "a shitty tip is, by my definition, any gratuity under 17% for service which one's peers would judge as adequate"

I guess I'm on the list of transgressors, since I usually do 15% (rounded down!).

Also, taking a look around, some other famous bad tippers are Alan Greenspan and Barry (Greg Brady) Williams.

Company Christmas Luncheon

  • Chicken - Seared Chicken with a Chive Buerre Blanc, Served with Caramelized Onion Mashed Potatoes and Steamed Asparagus.
  • Beef - Braised Short Ribs, Served with Caramelized Onion Mashed Potatoes and Steamed Asparagus.
  • Fish - Goat Cheese Stuffed Sole with Grape Buerre Blanc, Served with Caramelized Onion Mashed Potatoes and Steamed Asparagus.
  • Vegetarian - Sweetened Harvest Squash Ravioli Tossed in a White Buree Blanc Sauce, Served with Steamed Asparagus.

I see a pattern here with the carmelized onion mashed potatoes, and the steamed asparagus.
I wonder if the result will look as appetizing as the Google images?

First Virtual World Millionaire

The fortune Anshe Chung commands in Second Life includes virtual real estate that is equivalent to 36 square kilometers of land – this property is supported by 550 servers or land "simulators". In addition to her virtual real estate holdings, Anshe has "cash" holdings of several million Linden Dollars, several virtual shopping malls, virtual store chains, and she has established several virtual brands in Second Life. She also has significant virtual stock market investments in Second Life companies.

Anshe Chung's achievement is all the more remarkable because the fortune was developed over a period of two and a half years from an initial investment of $9.95 for a Second Life account by Anshe's creator, Ailin Graef. Anshe/Ailin achieved her fortune by beginning with small scale purchases of virtual real estate which she then subdivided and developed with landscaping and themed architectural builds for rental and resale. Her operations have since grown to include the development and sale of properties for large scale real world corporations, and have led to a real life "spin off" corporation called Anshe Chung Studios, which develops immersive 3D environments for applications ranging from education to business conferencing and product prototyping.

10/31/06

Election

Here are my endorsements:

Congress, 3rd District: Earl Blumenauer
Oregon Governor: Ted Kulongoski
State Rep, 42nd District: Diane Rosenbaum
Or. Supreme Court Judge Position 6: ??

Measure 39 - Condemn property - No
Measure 40 - Elect Judges by district - No
Measure 41 - Use Federal tax exemption - No
Measure 42 - Prohibit insurance cos from using your credit score No

10/23/06

Why can't vending machines be useful?

All over the world vending machines give out beer, Damm beer and other cool stuff.
All we get are gummi bears.

Street bets on the Democrats

Sounds like Wall Street thinks the Democrats will win big this election cycle.

"The idea of gridlock is not a problem for the market, because it means nothing of real import disturbs the business environment," says Tobias Levkovich, chief U.S. equity strategist at Citigroup. "Businesses can adjust to minor disturbances."

At present, a Democratic win in the House of Representatives is largely priced into the stock market, which has rallied to new highs through the campaign process thus far. Futures markets put the likelihood of a Democratic takeover, or at least 15 net wins in the House, at 63.1%, according to InTrade.

Odds of a Democratic takeover in the Senate have been increasing of late, but remain at 32.6%, according to InTrade. In the Senate, the Democrats must win a net six seats to gain control.

10/20/06

No Child Left Unarmed

OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma (AP) -- A candidate for state superintendent of schools said Thursday he wants thick used textbooks placed under every student's desk so they can use them for self-defense during school shootings.

"People might think it's kind of weird, crazy," said Republican Bill Crozier of Union City, Oklahoma, a teacher and former Air Force security officer. "It is a practical thing; it's something you can do. It might be a way to deflect those bullets until police go there."

Crozier and a group of aides produced a 10-minute video Tuesday in which they shoot math, language and telephone books with a variety of weapons, including an AK-47 assault rifle and a 9mm pistol. The rifle bullet penetrated two books, including a calculus textbook, but the pistol bullet was stopped by a single book.

Crozier said the demonstration shows that a student could effectively use a textbook as protection in a school shooting.

An Oklahoma Highway Patrol spokesman was skeptical.

"He probably needs to take a look at some ballistics tests," Lt. Pete Norwood said. "There are some rifles not even Webster's Dictionary will stop."

10/19/06

Iraq is another Vietnam?

Moreover, they don't even have an exit strategy.

Meanwhile, a legal propaganda program in Iraq... what about the propaganda in the US?

The program is designed to convey...
selected, truthful information to foreign audiences to influence their emotions ... reasoning, and ultimately, the behavior of governments" and other entities, it said.

Republican and Democratic critics had complained that secretly planting stories set a bad example in a country where the U.S. was trying to establish democracy and a free press.



10/4/06

Motley Fool stock picking "game"

Motley Fool has a new web feature. It's called CAPS . It's hard to tell if this is a game, or a way to make money.

How does CAPS work?

Motley Fool CAPS operates from a simple premise: Working together, we can improve our investing results. This revolutionary new service pools the resources of the Motley Fool Community to help you identify the best stocks at the best times to buy them -- and which stocks to avoid, too!

Step 1. Players rate stocks.

At the heart of CAPS are thousands of predictions. Players predict whether stocks will outperform or underperform the S&P 500 and over what time frame this will happen.

We compile the data, showing all the picks you have made and all the picks for individual stocks.


Step 2. We keep score.

As stocks change in value, we evaluate players' predictions. Players receive an accuracy percentage, indicating how often they make correct predictions and a score, which is the percentage by which their picks beat the S&P 500.

Step 3. Players receive CAPS ratings.

Based on the performance of their picks, CAPS players receive a percentile rating (from 1 to 100). This rating indicates the percentage of people that player is outperforming. The higher the rating, the better!

Lying liars

JIDDA, Saudi Arabia, Oct. 2 — A review of White House records has determined that George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, did brief Condoleezza Rice and other top officials on July 10, 2001, about the looming threat from Al Qaeda, a State Department spokesman said Monday.

The account by Sean McCormack came hours after Ms. Rice, the secretary of state, told reporters aboard her airplane that she did not recall the specific meeting on July 10, 2001, noting that she had met repeatedly with Mr. Tenet that summer about terrorist threats. Ms. Rice, the national security adviser at the time, said it was “incomprehensible” she ignored dire terrorist threats two months before the Sept. 11 attacks.

Meanwhile, a hacker has been lying about Firefox vulnerabilities...

A HACKER who told the Toorcon conference that Firefox was a complete security mess and couldn't be fixed has admitted that he made it all up.

Mischa Spiegelmock claimed that there was a serious Javascript bug in the decade old code which made it a doddle to cause stack overflows.


Drinking good for your pocketbook?

According to this article at Yahoo, regular drinkers earn more money. Of course, you're probably spending that on alcohol.
Regular drinkers make 10% to 14% more money than those who do not drink, according to the study, conducted by the Journal of Labor Research, published quarterly by the Department of Economics at George Mason University, and the Reason Foundation, a Los Angeles-based think tank.

The study also concluded that men who drink socially -- defined as visiting a bar at least once a month -- earn an additional 7% more than those who do not. The same correlation was not found for women, however.
On a similar note, this essay mentions an interesting fact about beer advertising in India:
India bans alcohol advertising. Obviously, brewers would prefer to get their message out to consumers if given the chance. (Have you watched a football game on U.S. television lately?)
So the makers of Haywards 5000 beer came up with a shockingly clever idea: They introduced a soda with exactly the same name. Thus, they can now advertise on television for Haywards 5000 -- the soda, of course.

And yet beer drinkers must have found the message persuasive. According to the Wall Street Journal, sales of Haywards 5000 beer tripled after the ad campaign

9/27/06

Separated at birth?

Is it my imagination, or or is Mel Gibson looking more like a crazed Saddam Hussein every day?
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9/26/06

Clown Girl on Amazon.com

My sister's book is now available on Amazon.com. It's not yet released (scheduled for next spring) but you can pre-order it and Amazon will send it to you when it's out.

You'll still have to ask Monica to autograph it for you, since Amazon won't do that.
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9/22/06

Portland Tribune article of TMCM

Here's what the Portland Tribune has to say about Too Much Coffee Man - the Opera.

Such lines include:

“Inspiration abounds, love in my soul,

I haven’t been so excited since my doctor found that mole.”

And

“Coffee is the one true love, the one that will not leave/

Except by force, natural discourse or a nauseous heave/

But for stains, insomnia and stomach pains, it is perfect to please/

Kind of like a library card, but without the yearly fees.”



(news photo)

Too Much Coffee Man - The Opera

I saw Shannon Wheeler at Wordstock last spring and asked him about this. He said he was really excited about it. I listened to a preview of the music on a CD player he had at his table. The segment I heard was a slow part, so I can't say I have much of an opinion about the music. Maybe the sets and the plot will be interesting.

He also had a copy of the libretto, and the part I looked at seemed a bit repetitive. Of course, maybe that's what I think about opera...

Based on the comic book by Shannon Wheeler
Music by Daniel Steven Crafts
Lyrics by Damian Willcox & Shannon Wheeler

4 Performances Only!

September 22, 23, 29, 30 at 8:00pm
Brunish Hall
1111 SW Broadway
Portland, OR
Limited Seating!

9/20/06

Rock, Paper, Scissors Grande

Speaking of Rock, Paper, Scissors, here's one game with high stakes.

Takashi Hashiyama, president of Maspro Denkoh Corporation, an electronics company based outside of Nagoya, Japan, could not decide whether Christie's or Sotheby's should sell the company's art collection, which is worth more than $20 million, at next week's auctions in New York.

he resorted to an ancient method of decision-making that has been time-tested on playgrounds around the world: rock breaks scissors, scissors cuts paper, paper smothers rock.

I like the strategy from Chisties' experts ... the international director of Christie's Impressionist and modern art department twin 11 year-old girls.

"Everybody knows you always start with scissors," she added. "Rock is way too obvious, and scissors beats paper." Flora piped in. "Since they were beginners, scissors was definitely the safest," she said, adding that if the other side were also to choose scissors and another round was required, the correct play would be to stick to scissors - because, as Alice explained, "Everybody expects you to choose rock."

9/14/06

Image Puzzle

This puzzle is pretty cool. I didn't get much past level 8.
Don't ask me for hints...

The text is always written in a clear form, it's just disguised in some way. There are no riddles or such things. The text is always located within the image file. It's never a reference to a place outside this website!
This puzzle is case sensitive

Hot Snacks!

1. Pirate's Booty
2. Little Debbie Boston Creme Rolls
3. Clamato Tortilla Chips
4. Mini Pringles
5. Walkers Sensations Oven Roasted Chicken with Lemon & Thyme
6. Lay's Ketchup Chips
7. Red Vines Original Red Twists
8. Walkers Sensations Thai Sweet Chilli
9. Archer Farms Black Pepper & Sea Salt Potato Chips
10. Rice Krispies Treats with Icy Glacier Gems
11. Deep River Snacks Rosemary & Olive Oil Kettle Cooked Potato Chips
12. Sabritas Papas Fritas Adobadas
13. Archer Farms Maple Barbecue Potato Chips
14. Crown Jewels Delicious Mint Chocolate Truffles
15. Matutano Cheetos Pandilla/Fantasmas Sabor a Queso/Queijo

Speaking of new food, I had the 'Tato Skins Steak & Potato flavored chips out of the vending machine at work. I checked the ingredients. These should be renamed to "worcestershire" flavored chips. Taquitos' commentary is pretty accurate except the chips don't taste very good.

Almost 3000

Bush "honored" the people who died in 9/11 by saluting the "the nearly 3,000 people who were killed on September 11, 2001."

If you look it up, there were actually 2,749 people killed that day, so there are 251 ghosts that never were.

On the other hand, you could also say there have been nearly 3000 soldiers killed in Iraq since the war began there. But, in fact, there have only been 2666 US soldiers killed in Iraq.

That's leaving out the 45,000 iraqis that have been killed so far.

How to reduce the murder rate?

Answer: redefine the problem.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- The U.S. military did not count people killed by bombs, mortars, rockets or other mass attacks when it reported a dramatic drop in the number of murders in the Baghdad area last month, the U.S. command said Monday.

The decision to include only victims of drive-by shootings and those killed by torture and execution, usually at the hands of death squads, allowed U.S. officials to argue that a security crackdown that began in the capital August 7 had more than halved the city's murder rate.

But the types of slayings, including suicide bombings, that the U.S. excluded from the category of "murder" were not made explicit at the time. That led to confusion after Iraqi Health Ministry figures showed that 1,536 people died violently in and around Baghdad in August, nearly the same number as in July.

Ong-Bak

Director Prachya Pinkaew
has a new film out called Protector, or Tom yum goong.
I've heard that his previous film, Ong-bak was a "surprise hit". I've got it on hold at my library.

Ong-bak

SmartFilter

For some reason, SmartFilter won't let me see who was born on my birthday.
What's the simplest way to get around SmartFilter?


You cannot access the following Web address:
http://www.born-today.com/Today/11-09.htm

The site you requested is blocked under the following categories: Provocative Attire

roentgenizdat

This almost makes me nostalgic for the Cold War.
Where is the next source of banned information? The Arab world, or the US?

Owing to the lack of recordings of Western music available in the USSR, people had to rely on records coming through Eastern Europe, where controls on records were less strict, or on the tiny influx of records from beyond the iron curtain. Such restrictions meant the number of recordings would remain small and precious. But enterprising young people with technical skills learned to duplicate records with a converted phonograph that would "press" a record using a very unusual material for the purpose; discarded x-ray plates. This material was both plentiful and cheap, and millions of duplications of Western and Soviet groups were made and distributed by an underground roentgenizdat, or x-ray press, which is akin to the samizdat that was the notorious tradition of self-publication among banned writers in the USSR.