Category Archives: MyWorld

I Saw First-hand that Heroin is Not Fun

Heroin is a big news story in Portland at the moment. KGW, the local NBC affiliate, has made it the feature story of the day; kids as young as 13 are hooked, and people are dying and losing their homes and futures because of it. Apparently the kids have been to parties where Oxycontin was given out like candy, and with the recent government crackdown on opiate painkillers heroin is now cheaper than pills. It’s incredibly sad, because I knew someone who went down this path, and it was not pretty. At all.

I knew this guy in high school who was incredibly smart. He dropped out in junior year because he was bored, but showed up to hang out with his friends, guitar in hand, sitting in the halls playing. At one point he bragged on a full ride scholarship to a very prestigious school — “you see,” he said smiling, “I finally took an IQ test.”

After graduation I didn’t see him again for a long time, because I wasn’t in his circle of friends; he hung out with the kids from the Smokers’ Lounge (and this gives a clue as to how old I am, since these areas aren’t allowed on high school campuses any more). Almost everyone knew that there was more than tobacco smoking going on out there, but they were good at not getting caught, so nobody thought too much about it.

Years later, when I had an apartment in northwest Portland, I ran into him again; he had just moved into my building. And he was literally a shell of the guy I had known. He looked 10-20 years older than I did; the cocky smile was gone, and so was the brilliance. He spoke slowly, carefully, and slurred his words a bit; he explained that he had been hooked on heroin for three years, but had gotten clean, and had just graduated from denture making school, so he had a steady job. I congratulated him, and wished him well — but I never saw him in the building after that. I think he might have avoided me; I know that seeing someone who ‘knew you when’ can be painful after a huge shift in your life. But I spent a lot of time remembering the guy I’d known, and the guy he was now, and vowing that I would never let myself or my friends do anything that self-destructive. Luckily it never came up.

KGW is covering how people get into that kind of trouble, and the damage it’s doing to people’s lives while they’re in it; but this is a case where I think a lot of kids could be ‘scared straight’ if they could see the aftermath, and what they’d be stuck with for the rest of their lives if they continue down this path. I know it scared the heck out of me.

Cat Pictures!

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I still don’t know what to write, so I’ll start off easy — with pictures of Harold, my cat, taken about a year ago.

Harold on his mama

9/12: Yes, that’s me, and that’s my Harold, covering my side hip to shoulders. He’s even bigger than that — this couch has a dip in it, so neither one of us is at full extension. My ‘itty bitty little boy.’

Harold on the side table

11/12: Here he is on one of his favorite spots, the table next to my chair (with my old laptop in the foreground). He looks like such a good kid; you’d never know that he only settles down there after I’ve pushed him off my lap (or my chest) three or four times.

Harold and Draco getting People-warm

12/12: And finally, both the kids in the house — Harold and my stepdaughter’s boy, Draco — getting some peoplewarmth last December. Ignore the derpy look on Draco’s face; he’s a scrapper, and will start a fight with anyone he thinks is in his territory. He’s always coming home with new scrapes.

So there you have it — pictures I’ve been holding on to for over a year because somewhere I’d picked up postphobia. Here’s hoping that this helps turn that around! Have a Happy Sunday!

Camping and Thinking, Courtesy of @fabeku

We went camping! Our friend and her two-year-old daughter took us camping at Beverly Beach, south of Depoe Bay on the Oregon coast. (I spent three days with a 2-year-old, and she still likes me. My mind is blown.) Wonderful campground. I spent solstice morning on the beach, doing what I always do on the beach — collecting rocks! Just the ones that say something to me, by being unusual or pretty or feeling really good in my hand. I’ve got a bag with about two pounds of rocks (mainly pebbles) to go through. It’ll be fun.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about my life in general, in part thanks to @fabeku and his wonderful blog posts. He has one about how you’re Not Your Story, because that story has nothing to do with reality and was created in part by others; he has another about how you’re Not Their Story either, since their story of you is more about their headspace than yours. Then I thought, “Wait a minute. If I’m not My Story (which I’m not; I’ve been tracking down the pieces, and all of them were fed to me by others), and I’m not Their Story, then I can’t really know what I’m capable of! Every ‘I’m Not’ in my head is INVALID! I have no idea how far I can go!” This is liberating and intimidating at the same time. It means the scary proposition of getting my tucchus out of this chair and actually DOING something. Eek. It means actually setting fingers to keyboard and writing as often as I’m supposed to. Yikes. And it means no more excuses — “But I <insert story here>” is no longer an option.

And things are popping out of my online world to poke at me about it, too. “All confidence is acquired, developed. No one is born with confidence. ” — David J. Schartz, The Magic of Thinking Big. “Add value every day.” — Brian Tracy, which brings up “Rust Never Sleeps!” from Flashback. As soon as the back half of my body (from my knees to my shoulders) stops hurting, I’m going to have to do something about that.

Today, however, is a Rest and Catch-up Day, after three days away from the computer having a Real Life. Which was wonderful. So that’s a Good Thing, too. 8-)

BONUS SECRET: The people in the camp spot next to us came over and offered us half a pineapple upside down cake that they couldn’t finish. It was one of the top 10 most wonderful things I’ve ever eaten, which from me is saying quite a bit. It was so good the friend who took us camping went over and asked about the recipe. The lady who cooked it said it was the best one she had ever made, and that the big difference was that she found a PINEAPPLE cake (not a yellow cake) mix in the store and followed the directions on the box. So the next time you need to knock somebody’s socks off through their taste buds, find yourself a box of pineapple cake mix and go to it! MiLady wants to try it in the crockpot, and I can’t wait to play taste tester. It’s one of my favorite jobs! 8-)

We’re Going on a Cruise! 8-)

MiLady’s mother has quite generously paid for her entire extended family go to on an 8-day Alaskan cruise. That means 14 of us are heading up to Seattle tomorrow, so we can board the ship on Sunday morning, and we won’t be back until July 5th. Cool, huh?

We arranged for a friend to stay at our place for the duration, to fend off thieves and feed the kitties. (My only worry about the furkids is the loud noises on July 4th; otherwise, they should be OK. But I still worry.) MiLady’s mom has handled all the travel arrangements, so all we need to do is show up at the train station and follow her. I’m looking forward to glaciers and that wonderful shade of blue that you rarely find anywhere else, four pools that I can go swim in any time I feel like, and loads of wonderful stuff to do, not to mention seeing Alaska for the first time and (briefly) visiting Victoria BC again after nearly 30 years. (Yiee! Has it really been that long? Scarily, yes, it has.)

My biggest problem is that most of my trips for my entire adult life have been to SF conventions and SCA events. I’m used to carrying costumes, props, toys, extra food & drink, and stuff — but not this time. What do “normal” people take on vacation? I have no clue. I guess I’ll find out this week, from my inlaws and fellow travelers on the Princess cruise ship. Never having done this before, it’s certain to be an interesting experience!

So if you don’t see anything from me on Twitter or FriendFeed or FaceBook, it’s because I’m “out of pocket” and won’t be back till the 5th. I may take the 6th to rest up, depending on how it goes. Not that I expect anyone to panic or anything (most won’t even notice), but I wanted to let my friends know what’s going on. Have a great week, and I’ll see you when I return! 8-)

Happy Birthday, Harold!

In July of 2002 I went to the Humane Society to adopt a cat. My Number One Son, Grimalkin, had passed in late September the year before, and I finally felt I could love another kitty.

We walked through the cat section, looking at all of the furkids available for adoption, but I wasn’t really connecting with anybody; then we saw the kitten room, with a couple of tabbies sleeping together and one little black furball perched on the litter box roof like a lion in front of his very own library. We were told that the only kitten available for adoption was the little black guy, and I asked to meet him.

We purelled the heck out of our hands and waited in a little side room, MiLady squatting on the floor, and me on the bench. The volunteer put the little black fuzzball down — and he ran across the room, up my leg, and sat on my shoulder to purr in my ear. And that’s how I met Harold.

See, when my parents were first married, my Dad laid down the law — “No Cats.” Ever. Period. So my Mom got a kitten anyway while Dad was at work; and when he came home that day, the kitten introduced itself by climbing his suit up to the shoulder and purring in his ear. I grew up with cats and with that story; so Harold’s behavior was confirmation that he was coming home with me.

We were told that the people who dropped him off had named him “Royal.” That’s not a name, that’s an adjective! So I renamed him on the spot, and my Anglo-Saxon-addled brain came up with Harold, “the last true King of England.” Since no one knew his birthday, and he was about three months old, we picked a date we’d remember: Tax Day, 4/15. We paid the exorbitant fees, put little Harold in a box, and took him home.

Harold was teeny. He could stand in my two hands held up flat together. He made up for it in boundless energy; he was the terror of the two old lady cats, Tasha and Tabby. And he started growing. And growing. I was told by friends that he looked like a Maine Coon; I was told by others that Maine Coon kitties get HUGE, and that I could expect to own a 20 pound cat. I didn’t believe them; I should have.

See, Harold took two years to stop growing, and he is truly the biggest cat I’ve ever lived with. He overflows my lap. He can sit on my leg and lick my neck. When I’m lying on my side, his butt is on my hip and his front paws curl over my shoulder. And I’m 5’9″. This is a BIG cat. He only weighed 14 pounds the last time I was on the scale with him, but he’s l o n g. He’s also a complete wuss, which is a good thing; he’s scared of cars and trucks and strangers (I suppose I should thank the neighbors for yelling at him when he was teeny, though that’s tough to do when the superstitious twits treat a living being the size of their foot that way) and the elder females of his new clan. And in true Tom Lehrer fashion, at least according to MiLady, he “LOVES his mother.” I’ve never been able to break him of the neck-licking thing; and if you watched him, you’d think he can only ever truly sleep in my lap. It’s not true, but it’s what he wants me to believe.

Today Harold is seven years old. I love “mabuki.” (That’s Huttese for “my boy.”) I just wanted to brag on him a while. Thanks for listening. 8-)

Resistance . . . I Haz It. HELP!!

Before the beginning of the year I wrote some goals for myself: making money online, losing weight, keeping up with Real Life, that type of thing. I was sincere when I wrote them, and still mean to carry them out; but here it is the start of the Second Quarter of the year and I’m still over 200 lbs., my house is still a mess, and I can’t seem to get myself to post anywhere on a regular basis. I spend my days keeping up with the social media I’ve subscribed to, reading my RSS feeds and tweets (and swearing when they come in 6 at a time when I’m trying to get something done — like right now) and keeping up with things to the point that I don’t get anything else done. A great excuse, ain’t it? No it’s not. I hate it. Yet I keep doing it. Ick. (I wrote a blog post about it over on LiveJournal.)

I ran into a book a while back with the title What to Say When You Talk to Yourself, and got to read the first few dozen pages in Google Books. It talked about Resistance, and how your own brain can stop you from making any progress. Of course, the sample at Google stopped before offering any concrete suggestions. I’d go out and buy the thing, if I had any money. Which I don’t because I’ve been frittering. Boo.

I’ve never been any good at the “Sheer Willpower Method” — force yourself to do it, Gorramit! — and apparently trusting myself is SO not working. So I would love any suggestions my wonderful readers might have. Please leave me a comment (let me know this gets read!), or add suggestions to Friendfeed for this post. Please? I need all the help I can get! 8-)

This Week I’m a Babylon 5 SuperFan

My StepDaughter had never seen Babylon 5. What?!? She’d thought she’d seen parts of it, but it turned out she’d gotten it confused with Stargate. WhatTheFrell?!?!? We remedied this situation immediately — we pulled out the pilot movie, The Gathering. She was immediately hooked (no surprise), and in the last week and a half we’ve gone all the way through to Sleeping in Light. Next up: the movies and Crusade.

I wrote an Ezine article on B5 and Social Media that got accepted today; I just put a Babylon 5 post up at Popular Delusions to go with it. Why am I being such a SuperFan, especially when the series is over a decade old, and there is so much else going on in science fiction these days? I can give you three reasons.

One: as someone trying to do the internet marketing thing, the story of how Babylon 5 was made, and the communication lines that Straczynski kept open with the fans, holds a lot of lessons for building a fan base and a personal brand online. jms (as he was known in the newsgroups) constantly kept up with and answered fan question on UseNet, as well a GEnie and CompuServe; things he heard online made their way into the show. He gets credited with creating the first “internet marketing campaign,” before such things even existed. Good stuff.

Two: as a lover of SF, Babylon 5 is simply a smart show. The characters are smart, the human space station and craft are all things that we currently have the technology for, the ships move in space as if they’re really in space. B5’s future is a “real” one; by that I mean that the quarters have bathrooms, the situations have complications, and the answers are never easy. Every action has consequences, and some of them are not pretty — and there’s no “reset” button at the end of the episode either. Consequences continue. Just like real life.

Three: as a quote collector and lover of Good Words, Babylon 5 is a gold mine. There are tons of great quotes and words to live by all over this series, in every season; whether it’s quick one liners (Garibaldi: “You know, if I knew who God was, I’d thank her”) or beautiful thoughts (Delenn’s “Star Stuff” speech), you’ll find an absolute ton of great stuff to think on in this part of the Multiverse. One of these days I’d love to go through the entire series with the pause button and my laptop, and write down all the good stuff to be sent to jms for approval and then published as “Good Words: The Wisdom of Babylon 5.” Whether written chronologically by episode or arranged by character, if nothing else I’d love to own that book. It would sure make quoting things easier!

For example, from Marcus Cole: “You know, I used to think it was awful that Life was so unfair. Then I thought, wouldn’t it be much worse if Life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them? So now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the Universe.” Isn’t that a neat thought? I like it. Just like I like most of the wisdom the charactors spout on Babylon 5. Man, that jms can WRITE!

So I’ll quit now. This should be about enough from me about B5. But the show, the universe, really is that good. I haven’t even mentioned the CGI (incredible for its time), the unique aliens, the incredible space battles, or the truths underlying the whole Earth civil war thread. There is too much — I can’t even sum up. Suffice to say, I highly recommend watching it, beginning to end. Then you’ll love it too. 8-)

Babylon 5’s Declaration of Principles: Good Words

We’ve gotten to Season Five of the Babylon 5 education of my StepDaughter, and I discovered that I still had a file I typed out of the Declaration the first time I heard it. G’Kar (and Straczynski) can really write. In the introduction to the Season 1 on the DVDs, jms mentions that he’s heard from pagan circles that use these words in ritual; and I’m glad to hear it. They’re Good Words, and should be spread around. So I’m sharing with you. Enjoy.

Declaration of Principles, Interstellar Alliance (Opening):

The Universe speaks in many languages, but only one voice. The language is not Narn or Human or Centauri or Gaim or Minbari. It speaks in the language of hope. It speaks in the language of trust. It speaks in the language of strength, and the language of compassion. It is the language of the heart and the language of the soul. But always it is the same voice. It is the voice of our ancestors speaking through us, and the voice of our inheritors waiting to be born. It is the small, still voice that says: ‘We are One. No matter the blood, no matter the skin, no matter the world, no matter the star. We are One. No matter the pain, no matter the darkness, no matter the loss, no matter the fear. We are One.’ Here, gathered together in common cause, we agree to recognize this singular truth and this singular rule: that we must be kind to one another. Because each voice enriches us and ennobles us and each voice lost diminishes us. We are the voice of the Universe, the Soul of Creation, the fire that will light the way to a better future. We are One.

– Citizen G’Kar of Narn, for the Interstellar Alliance (Babylon 5, The Paragon of Animals, 1998)

NewsCrows

I’ve mentioned NewsCrows a couple of times, so I thought I’d explain myself. You’ve probably heard them too, but never thought about it.

You know that crow that sits in the tree three houses over, yelling like his life depended on it, who after a couple of minutes flies a block away and then does the same thing all over again? That’s a NewsCrow, spreading the latest headlines to whoever’s listening. I’m a little more aware of them, since the biggest tree in the neighborhood sits in our back yard. Sometimes half a dozen of them will gather in that tree, all croaking at the same time, catching each other up on the latest news and gossip; at other times, it seems like we get the entire “NE Quadrant News Crew” in the tree having their periodic NewsCrow Union Meeting. Boy, does it get noisy! They sit for about four minutes, catching everyone up on what’s happening, before they all fly off to go do their different routes and keep the neighborhoods informed.

If only I could speak Crow, I’d know what’s going on. Of course, news to a crow is probably a lot different than what I get through the local newsstation RSS feed. They’re probably talking about which critters have new younglings, the weather, which trees are being trimmed and which formerly-empty houses have a new cat in the yard. It’s news the squirrels and raccoons need to know, but not necessarily us humans. Oh, well — I’m just glad they’re around. Listening to them makes me smile. It’s a teeny bit of Mother Nature that carries through the windows and reminds me that there’s a world out there, and other concerns than mine. And that’s a good thing. 8-)

25 Things that Prove I’m Weird

In imitation of the “25 Things You Don’t Know About Me” FriendFeed meme, but without putting it all there . . . here I go! (In no particular order)

  1. At the age of 4, the pastor called my parents to come get me from Sunday School, and suggested that I not come back. (Know anyone else expelled from Sunday School? Glad they didn’t send transcripts when we moved!)
  2. I once went to Girl Scout camp for the weekend, and my family moved. (They kept the same phone number, though, which is why they had to come get me when I got back.)
  3. For high school graduation, I got luggage.
  4. I didn’t start college until I was 22. I ran out of money after a year and a half, and never did get that English degree.
  5. Our pets include four cats and two corn snakes. Past pets have included rats, hamsters, mice, parakeets, and fish (gold and tropical).
  6. We have 1 1/2 rooms of books in the house. A library (floor to ceiling shelves) plus a wall of shelves in the bedroom.
  7. Both my last serious relationship and my current spouse had a relationship with the same person before they got together with me.
  8. There are 5 computers, 2 PDAs and 2 cell phones in this house (3 people). You can often find us all in the living room, each on their own laptop.
  9. I went to 6 grade schools in 7 years. (We moved a LOT.)
  10. We have a Video Wall; there are over 600 movies at last count. Our favorite type of movie? “Previously Viewed.” (Don’t believe me? Take a look for yourself!)
  11. I don’t possess a drivers’ license, and don’t drive. Being at the wheel of 1,000 pounds of moving destruction scares the crud out of me. (So do the other drivers!)
  12. We own the complete sets of Star Trek Classic, Babylon 5, Firefly, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Godzilla movies, and James Bond movies, among others.
  13. I’m into divination: cards, dice, runes, basic numerology and astrology mainly, but have played with others.
  14. I own every song “Weird Al” Yankovic has put on disc. (I may not own the compilation albums; but I do have copies of “Polkamon” and “School Cafeteria!”) I’m particularly proud of my vinyl copy of “Peter and the Wolf.”
  15. I think office supply stores are as much fun as Toys R Us.
  16. I’m a wanna be hippie, and my mother saw that early; she once told me I was born in the wrong decade.
  17. I have three younger brothers, all of whom are leading perfectly normal family lives and have good careers. They don’t talk to me any more.
  18. I’m a Doctor Who fanatic, and have seen episodes from all 10 Doctors. (Favorites: Tom Baker, Paul McGann, and David Tennant, not necessarily in that order.) Also keeping up w/ Torchwood and the Sarah Jane Adventures. And I own two modern Sonic Screwdrivers (One is a flashlight). Why oh why does the classic replica cost $250???
  19. Despite being over 40, some of my favorite music is recent; I like Disturbd, Rammstein, System of a Down, Blink 182, My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy, and stuff like that. My “classic” music can go from Styx to Adam Ant. My shuffle feature brings up some interesting combinations.
  20. I’m diabetic; or at least I was when I last saw a doctor. I’ve lost 50 pounds since then . . .
  21. I’m an Oregonian, but I’ve never seen Crater Lake, and I’m not all that fond of salmon. (Heresy!)
  22. We own every Muppet movie, and are working on owning every original Muppet Show episode.
  23. When watching Ivanhoe or Robin Hood, I always boo the Normans and root for the Saxons. I named my cat Harold after the “last true king of England” and always refer to William “the Conqueror” as “William the Bastard.”
  24. I hate shoes, and only wear them outside the house. I think socks are for cutting off toe freedom, and only wear them when it’s really cold.
  25. I don’t sleep well. I tend to wake up in the middle of the night, and often don’t get back to sleep until nearly sunrise. Which is why this list was written at 4 am. 8-)