aqua fortis

Thursday, December 30, 2004

They Just Want the Precious...

Tired of your friends calling you Frodo because of your hairy, hobbit-like toes? Success is the best revenge! Apply for this job and they'll all be sorry they teased you. Or not.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Blog Hell

Why have I posted nothing new other than the thing about my FINISHED NOVEL (see below)? I'm busy trying to figure out how on earth to put a miniblog in the sidebar of this blog. Blogger's help page on the subject really doesn't answer my question about how to do this with two blogspot-hosted blogs, and when I e-mailed for further assistance, they claimed that everything I needed to know was on that page. Obviously this is not true, and I am now very frustrated. I need something like "multiblogging for semi-idiots." Grr. I think I'll post something on the Blogger Forum and see what happens.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Veni, Vidi, Vici!

It's 12:45 on a Tuesday morning, and I have officially finished the final chapter of my novel. Of course, it's still the first draft, so it really doesn't feel done. But I guess the major work is over. At least, I hope so...More updates soon, I promise. Real blog stuff, not just excuses for not having posted anything.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Happy Days of Fun

I decided that the word "holidays," since it contains the word "holy," is not p.c. enough for me. So, Season's Greetings it is.

I am, of course, kidding. Please enjoy whatever holiday it is you enjoy, or if you hate the holidays, enjoy not celebrating them, and have a fabulous new year.

I Lurned Sumthin'

Did you know that if something is a fact, it is also the truth? I did not know that. But thanks to Donald Rumsfeld, I just learned this is true. And a fact. Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Live Like a King...

...A Damn Hell Ass King. This site is a collection of quirky blogs, zines, forums, and so forth. You could waste hours surfing links here. Hell, you could waste days just browsing Fametracker alone. All the sites are affiliated with Uber Interactive, a Canadian outfit located in the alternately-hella-humid-and-bitterly-freezing city of Toronto. Except for the sweltering/freezing part, it makes moving to Canada seem even more appealing.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

The Blog Is Back

A bit of a hiatus--very disappointing. During said hiatus the following occurred:

  1. I finished my temp job. Yay!
  2. I applied for a freelance writer position--possibly doing advertorials, after reading between the lines of the ad--at the Modesto Bee.
  3. I wrote a separate letter to prod the Modesto Bee Features Editor about the column proposal I sent her in October.
  4. I received a two-line rejection e-mail from Family Circle for a humor piece I wrote. The rejection was terse at best. Not even a salutation or a closing. Not even "Dear Writer." D'oh.
  5. I considered the idea of creating a third blog, a sort of haiku diary of my life. Unfortunately, both the blog names that I thought of were taken: Haiku Diary (the obvious one) and ADHD (Aquafortis' Daily Haiku Diary). So I'm a little at a loss as to what I should name the thing, or whether I should simply incorporate it into this existing blog. Any suggestions appreciated.
  6. Along with Rob and his dad, I participated in the Christmas Tree 5K Run put on by Modesto's ShadowChase Running Club. Much to my surprise, I received a 3rd place medal for women in my 10-year age bracket. On the other hand, I was 3rd out of 3. Not so impressive sounding, although I did beat one guy in my age bracket. According to the race pace calculator, I ran around an 11-min, 20-sec mile (I finished 5K in 35:15). I'm pretty happy, since I kept up a steady pace the entire time. Plus, Rob got 3rd place out of 4 in his age bracket, and Rob's dad won his age bracket--no competitors for him, for some reason, but he still beat the two of us by at least 8 minutes. Rob ran with me, like a nice husband.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Name That Tune!

By the way, the first person to post the next few lines to that quote up in the header gets a prize. Uh, I'll tell you what the prize is later, when I think of it. Just add a comment to this posting. If you know the answer, it should be fairly apparent what lines I'm referring to. No cheating with Google!

Insert "Slam" Pun Here

Last night I went to my very first poetry slam, right here in Modesto! That's right, Modesto has a monthly poetry slam of its own. Amazing. Stupendous. If you're into that sort of thing. I had a pretty good time, actually, though it's really not my scene. It was the 2nd Annual Ill List Invitational, and I must say, the randomly selected judges sure did like everything. Nobody got below an 8.0. It was a bit strange. I might write an article about my experiences sometime--"Adventures of a Poetry Slam Newbie" or the like. (Struggling Writer Inside My Head: "Must...capitalize...on...every...experience...for...writing...purposes....")

Wednesday, December 01, 2004


Here's a pair of boots I will never wear, even if I do get into the Stegner Fellowship Program I applied for.

The truth is, though, I probably would never wear these boots either.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Geeks Gone Wild, Finally Caught Up

I'm going to finish catching up on our adventures, and I'm going to do it right now, so that I can whip out a large eraser and ready my character sheet for additional marginalia.

After discovering that Jibber—formerly Eretria's critter—was gone, we forged ahead to the King's Quarters, where we found nothing at all but debris…until all three doors opened at the same time and admitted 6 ogres. The mayhem! The melee! Dru shot arrows, Delyth sickled (yay, finally got to use my Druid sickle), Wilwarintari (Wilwarindil's nubile nymph sorceress) shot a Cold Ball, Sahel summoned an Astral Construct, and Dipsie sent out a Fireball—SOP for us, DOA for ogres. Ha. Anyway, here are two direct quotes from that battle—quotes that, if they don't life in infamy, will die in obscurity:

Ross, to Dipsie (Rob) in reference to Wilwarintari's Cold Ball (a skill dependent on Charisma) being more effective than Dipsie's Fireball (a skill dependent on Intelligence): "She's more of a babe than you are a genius."
Dungeon Master Mike: "Son of an Ogress!"

That being said, there was much healing and some treasure after the ogres were dispatched. We then followed one of the adjoining passages to a giant chasm with a rope bridge across it. On the bridge was a freaked-out and emaciated goblin, who we rescued using Sahel's telekinesis—during which the bridge went out. The goblin gave us the scoop on the rest of the cavern, and after sending him on his way we flew across the chasm.

From a distance, we saw four ogres who were herding and/or abusing goblins, so we stealthily attacked them. Highlights of this battle included dubbing one of the ogre miniatures "Monkeynut," and watching Sahel psychically dominate two of the ogres to attack one of their buddies. Dipsie bet Sahel 20 gold pieces that one of them—a green figurine—would win, after which Sahel held back that particular ogre. However, our demon ally sided with Dipsie and killed the other ogre. Apparently power is corrupting us; I guess that's what happens when your characters are chaotic…

To be continued!

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Geeks Gone Wild, Delyth Style

I have so unbelievably much updating to do re: our D&D adventures, it isn't even funny, but I've been so occupied writing the conclusion of my novel (still not quite done) and playing Paper Mario 2 that I haven't sat down to blog until now. But I need to do it today, because we're playing again tomorrow and I'm running out of margin space on my character sheet (which is where I keep my cryptic notes about what happened).

So: here's what happened. This covers a span of a few days' worth of gaming. We were still in this weird grimlock hideout and we went to check out the visitors' quarters, where we found a demon in a hot tub and decided to negotiate with him. I forget why. But Lurch (not his real name--a random animated, armored statue who follows us around for some reason we haven't figured out) hates demons, so we discussed putting Lurch into a Portable Hole (which is just what it sounds like). We weren't sure how to accomplish that besides attaching the hole to a board and whacking him over the head with it, but apparently that's what we did. Poor Lurch.

Then we went to take on our archnemesis, the hobgoblin Naroo, but he was already gone and had left us a lovely little present--a golem with nasty faces under his skin. We whupped the golem and found Naroo's journal. Apparently hobgoblins don't keep exciting diaries, because I didn't write anything down about it. But then we found some grimlocks and mindflayers in another tunnel, so we fought them, during which the demon was stunned. Ambivalent allies that we are, we discussed just killing him while he was out, but decided against it. However, we then found out that Jibber--a small animal companion with the party--was gone. There were signs of a scuffle, but no tracks.

I'll leave it at that for now, and hopefully I'll have time to finish freeing up my margins tomorrow morning.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Add It Up

The collaborative project Rob and I are working on--a limited-edition artist's book with etchings he created in response to my short story "Mathematics"--is currently on view (in prototype form) at the Prospect Gallery, located in the Prospect Theatre Project lobby, Modesto, CA.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Three Times and Counting

Today I experienced for the third time the irritation (and benefit) of somebody thinking I look a lot younger than I actually am. Yet again, this was an incident in which I answered the front doorbell and a door-to-door salesman asked, "is your mom or dad home?" I always have a really strong compulsion to inform them that a) I am in fact the homeowner here, and b) I have no clue whether my mom or dad are home since I have not lived with my parents since 1997 (since 1993 if you count college, when I lived away from home 8 months of the year).

But, common sense won out again, and I said, "No, they're not here, sorry" (not exactly a lie), and the guy just told me to tell them that So-and-So stopped by selling Some-Product-or-Other. I have to say, if people are going to persist in irritating me by thinking I'm some 10+ years younger, then I'm sure as hell going to take advantage of it. You just lost a potential sale, buddy.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Geeks Gone Wild--The Blogtastic Return

Here's why I haven't posted in a while--I was out of town, plus (as referenced below), before that, I was working in a Wastewater Treatment Facility located approximately at the intersection of an orchard and another orchard, kitty-corner to a ranch and down the road from an almond sheller. That gives you a rough indication of how far beyond the outskirts of town I've been commuting.

Anyway, I have an unbelievably long waiting list of things to blog, so I'll start with the most outstanding of these--the Geeks Gone Wild adventures. When we last left off, Rob and I had missed a session, but very little had in fact been accomplished the day we were gone (a fairly commonplace occurrence). So we were still fulfilling this favor for some goblins--I really can't recall why--by clearing a cave system that had been overrun by Grimlocks, which are like eyeless (but not blind) goblin-creatures.

These grimlocks had a whole warren of caves, and naturally we decided to check out the monster pens first. But instead of monsters, we found a number of pits housing deadly plants called Dread Blossoms, which feed on corpses. Apparently the Grimlocks were raising these Dread Blossoms, but we made rapid work of them by remaining far away from the pits themselves and dropping things on them, like fire. Unfortunately, this battle attracted some Stone Singers, which are nasty creatures which sing at you so that you have to make a saving throw. We of course attacked them, and one of them Melded into Stone--hey, that's my territory!--so I decided to try Transmute Rock to Mud, which apparently expels the victim and, if properly executed, um, executes it. Unfortunately the latter did not happen, and I was quite disappointed.

But we beat them anyway, and decided to go on to explore the Mushroom Cavern, symbolized on our gaming surface by a conveniently mushroom-shaped Alice-in-Wonderland saltshaker. The next thing I wrote down is "fight zombies in poop room," which I think means the mushroom cavern. We bombarded those zombies with an owl Delyth, an Embiggened Will, Magic Missiles, arrows, and flames until they ate shit and died. Oh, I almost forgot--we also used one of Sahel's Astral Constructs (a.k.a. a large green Poketoken), which some of us affectionately refer to as an Asshole Construct, offending the delicate sensibilities of some of the gaming group. In any case, we killed them zombies, but not without some hurt of our own, so much healing took place before the end of that particular part of the adventure.

So that's that...stay tuned for more Geeks Gone Wild. And in the meantime, buy the Geeks Gone Wild t-shirt! I wish I could say I was responsible for the preceding link, and the shirt, but I'm not--link courtesy of Corey, and t-shirt courtesy of some damn genius who apparently thought of it before I did.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Quote of the Day

This one, courtesy of Tanita, is disturbingly prophetic.

"When a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental--men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack or be lost...All the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre--the man who can most adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."
--H. L. Mencken, in the Baltimore Sun, July 26, 1920

Monday, November 08, 2004

Moral Values and Stuff

I overheard the following disturbing conversation at work* today--a great example of the "moral values" so important to the Bush-electing public:

Employee #1: Did you hear about this guy who was so distraught about Bush winning that he killed himself at Ground Zero?
Employee #2: Well, we probably didn't need him in our society anyways.

How very empathetic. I'd like to counterbalance that bit of ugliness with something much more heartening. Why not pay a visit to It's the best thing to come out of this election, so far.

*I've been working for the past week-plus at a temp job at the Secondary Wastewater Treatment Plant and Composting Facility for the City of Modesto, apparently a stronghold for the Central Valley working man. And I do mean man, as I am one of two women in the entire facility. And I thought IGN was estrogen-deficient.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

You Take the Good, You Take the Bad...

Oh yeah...Right now, on ABC Family, the Facts of Life Reunion movie (which I just learned is not new but was released in 2001--so much for the thrill of discovery). Must...spend...time...productively....

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

And Another Thing

Check out Ben's latest entry on his blog, Who Digs Ben--a rare political rant, and very well-written, -thought-out, and -argued. Explains, from a Republican's perspective (albeit a reasonable, centrist, and, dare I say, liberal one), why the current administration is bad. Click on 11/01/04.

Kill Your Television

I'm really getting depressed. It's not just the mind-numbing, low-paying, slightly skilled labor; the way-too-early mornings; or the incessant sneezing which had better not be heralding a cold. It's the prospect of not having sufficient funds to move to Canada in the event of a Bush emergency, which would raise my personal terror alert level to Infrared (meaning: Out of the Way, Brain About to Explode). Perhaps I could try to flee across the border as an illegal alien, dodging Mounties left and right. I could beg for political asylum. I could found a commune and declare it a sovereign nation. I could try to win that private island they keep talking about on the TV commercial. These are all sounding pretty good right about now. And there I was feeling mild elation all day at actually getting my "I Voted" sticker this time, and hoping that my wearing it might guilt some apathetic person into going to the polls.

I realize nobody in their right mind is reading my blog right now for their political updates or any kind of updates, but here's a really cool, interactive, dynamically updated election map from the BBC.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Halloween Postscript

I was thinking about my costume this year and its uncertain interpretation (see below), and I realized that I have a history of ambiguous costumes, or costumes which are in some way too creative and therefore unintelligible. As evidence, I present the following list (which is in no way complete or in any particular order):

  • Breast implant recipient
  • Laugh-In girl
  • Pirate wench
  • Night sky
  • Heavy metal groupie
  • A shrubbery
  • Spy
  • Wednesday Addams
  • Black cat
  • Evil Mickey Mouse

This list goes all the way back to high school. Man. Apparently this started early on.

Occupied, Both Pre- and Over-

I've been way too busy to justify long blog entries, which is very sad. I still need to update Geeks Gone Wild (speaking of which, check out this link which Corey sent me). But in the meantime, why not download some City of Modesto wallpaper.

Seriously, though, tomorrow and Tuesday I'll be working a temp job at the City of Modesto Public Works Department, reorganizing some files. This will be much more exciting, I hope, than the temp job I had Thursday and Friday, which consisted almost entirely of putting mailing labels on the Annual Report for the Stanislaus County Office of Education. This job was so boring, Rob spaced out halfway through my telling him about it. So I hope I'll have something more exciting to say the next time I post.

I guess I do have some interesting news. Oh crap. Never mind. I already told you about my personalized rejection slip. So instead, I'll let you be amused by my Halloween costume, which was not quite as much of a hit as I'd hoped at the Halloween party we attended.

me and Rob--doctor and patient  Jess, our gracious host

Actually, you can't really see most of the costume, but the relevant part is there. Rob was a plastic surgeon by the name of Augment D. Titté, M.D. I was a post-op breast-augmented person with a t-shirt reading "GAIN CHEST NOW--ASK ME HOW" on the front and "MORE IS MORE" on the back. The part you can't see is the ho-bag tiny skirt and high heels. Rob and I discussed the lukewarm reception of my costume, and we figured out that it was possible many people were unaware that those were not my actual breasts, despite their lumpy appearance (for future reference, socks and tights make for uneven breasts with a tendency to migrate, as well as overheat the frontal area). Oh well. We were amused, anyway. But, damn you, Costume Idea Zone! The second picture there is our friend Jess, host of the party. He liked the costume. It allowed him to grope my chest without actually groping my chest.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Uber-Geek Alert!

Wondering who's behind the mighty Wilwarindil from our Geeks Gone Wild adventures? Okay, so maybe you weren't, but here's a Modesto Bee newspaper article on the man himself. And no, I am NOT playing Magic now. I've successfully resisted that branch of geekdom since my first glimpse of Magic players circa 1994, in the dining area of U.C. Berkeley's Casa Zimbabwe co-op, where I thankfully didn't live. Not that Stebbins, the co-op I spent a semester in, didn't have its minor unsanitary downside, namely the occasional dining room mouse and the questionable hot tub. However, upsides included copious booze and a Nintendo room (downside to Nintendo room: located directly underneath my bedroom. downside to bedroom: scary vegan roommate.).

Okay, enough with the procrastinating. Time to work on the novel.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Votin' 'Round the World

Makin' friends and singin' songs and votin' 'round the world... Sorry, gratuitous South Park reference. Anyway, just a quick update today out of guilt for not updating lately. I heard about this website called The World Votes today on my local NPR station--a chance for people around the world to express their opinion on the upcoming U.S. election. What fascinates me is the fact that there are people here, in this supposed bastion of free speech called the United States, who want the people at The World Votes to just shut up and stay out of our business. I think I'm dying of an overdose of irony.

In other news, I got another rejection slip today. But I'm moving up in the world--this one was actually personalized. Woo hoo!

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Statistics on Traffic Natalities

Yes, that's right, I said natalities, not fatalities. Since when has the word "natality" become an acceptable euphemism for "birth?" It just sounds way too much like a far less joyful event. I hereby refuse to use it except for humorous purposes.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

There's No "W" in "Government"

...Just like there's no "i" in "teamwork." Yep, it's my contention that government with W would be "governmentw," and that just plain makes no sense.

This is why I'm considering a plan to make my house a W-Free Zone. (That's a Dub-Free Zone, not a Drug-Free Zone. Can't make any promises there--I needs my Tylenol PM. Diphenhydramine in the houuuuse!) A W-Free household would mean that every time George W. Bush appeared on the television, someone would be required to change the channel. Any newspapers printing his name or photograph would be immediately disposed of in the proper receptacle. Sample ballots would be allowed, but any offending sections would be censored with a black marker. Anyone speaking the forbidden name would be summarily ejected.

But that's just the beginning. In the ultimate W-Free Zone, you won't even be able to refer to the letter "W." If you are unlucky enough to possess a name that begins with "W," you will be required to adopt a new one at the door--William can become Bill, and Winona could be, oh, Jane or something. Of course, this would play hell with my novel, which has a character named Wendy. I also won't be able to do any journalistic writing because the five W's will be strictly verboten.

In addition, in our newly W-Free Zone we will no longer be able to wash the windows, only to cleanse the panes. The W-Free Zone will also have to be a gluten-free zone, because wheat, beginning with W, would not be allowed. And perhaps most poignant (or perhaps it's simply utter nonsense), in the W-Free Zone there would be no we, only us.

Maybe not. Maybe it's ridiculous to think that at a politically charged time like this, I can completely free myself from W--either the letter or the individual. It's a crazy idea. It'll never see the light of day, but will remain in this blog, buried deeper than a covered-up political scandal. So in tribute, the rest of this paragraph will be a W-Free Zone. I shan't type another utterance containing the offending letter.

One more thing: Find out who novelists are voting for (Thanks, Jennifer!)

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Linguificatory Procrastination

Okay, so I'm just making up words now. Whatever. To me it's an inevitable result of sitting here attempting to create sentences--my brain has descended instead to the word level and pretty soon I'll be sitting here babbling in my own demented version of Esperanto.

The point of all this is that, in researching a concept called "Cymraeg Byw" (Living Welsh - a sort of cleaned-up textbook version of Welsh invented by academics in the 1960s), I found this interesting blog called languagehat--perfect if you're a language or linguistics junkie.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Shake It Up

This Friday night I'll be helping out with a literary event called Litquake; specifically, I'm volunteering to help with the first annual Lit Crawl in the Mission. Drop by Dog Eared Books between 7 and 8:15 and hear readings from Youth Speaks (and maybe you'll see me hiding out in the background).

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Names Revisited

A while ago I wrote about this fact-checking project I was working on for a baby name book. Thanks to Tanita, a most excellent writer friend of mine, my attention has been drawn to a highly amusing website about baby names gone wrong. The commentary is quite choice, as well as the actual poor name decisions. For example:

"I was thinking of naming my son Toolio. Does anyone know the origin on that one?
---[Jane] DeSac
Toolio DeSac. Boy, can't think of any way that kid'll get picked on. That's one taunt-proof name there!"

Good Times...Good Times

A friend just e-mailed me his new phone number, and I was extremely jealous to see that, transformed into alphabetical form, it contained the word SPIT. This reminded me of the time our friend Peter's phone number was 2-Fred-Wu. Then I remembered a website called Phonespell, which I once wrote about on IGN, and decided to finally see if my current phone number spells anything interesting. Sadly, nothing exciting came up. Even worse, I put in my cell phone number and NOTHING came out--nothing at all! You can't spell anything with my cell phone number. This is sad.

On the other hand, something good came of all this. I'd been irritated for a long time that my Weird Wild Web and Quote of the Day Archives from IGN for Men weren't working properly any more (even though I haven't worked there in 3+ years) and then I got the brilliant idea to use the Internet Archive's WayBack Machine, a repository of just about every damn thing that's appeared online since things have been appearing online. I found my really freakin' old website from 1996 on there. Yeek!

Tuesday, October 05, 2004


You've got a thinking man's candidate, and a believing man's candidate. Either way, please just vote.

Veep Debate Cheers 'n' Jeers

Okay, so the debate's not even over yet. I can hear it from here. But I can't just sit there--my opinion must be let out lest I explode with bile all over the minestrone soup I'm cooking. So here we go, bearing in mind that you're hearing the opinions of a self-professed bleeding-heart liberal of the worst kind:

Dick Cheney:
Winner: Highest density of personal insults hurled in a 30-second period
Winner: Most egregious violation of the "start from reliable premises" rule of argument
Winner: "Most sociopathic" award.
Winner: Mr. Meany-Pants award.

John Edwards:
Winner: Mr. Needs-To-Be-Less-Nice-Guy Award.
Winner: Most disarmingly handsome and earnest.
Winner: Second-highest density of personal insults hurled in a 30-second period (bearing in mind that there are only two contestants and the moderator doesn't count)
Winner: Most likely to be pictured as a corncob-pipe-chewing hillbilly when one closes one's eyes (sorry, that's my California-centrism coming through...)

So, back, I guess, to the remainder of the debates. Closing

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Bush, Kerry Take Opposing Stances Re: Choking

Here's something odd I thought about while watching various political commentaries over the past few days. Someone on a talk show--quite possibly Jon Stewart--brought up the time that George W. Bush choked on a pretzel. A moment after hearing it, I couldn't help but notice the bizarre not-quite-symmetry this incident has with something I heard about John Kerry--that he once saved former Republican Senator "Chic" Hecht from choking by giving him the Heimlich maneuver.

What a bizarre piece of cosmic irony. I'm not entirely sure what it means.

Incidentally, I heard that last piece of info about Kerry from the Daily Show, a program which has finally been given its due by CNN.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Geeks Gone Wild, v. 1.3

Oh, man. I have no idea how to go about this, but since I'm attempting a major organizational overhaul of my life at the moment, part of that is catching up on all kinds of crap I have been failing to do, such as update my Adventures in Geekdom. The fun ones, not the ones involving JavaScript and brain meltdowns.

So I borrowed this chart which one of my fellow D&Ders put together noting our daily activities as a party (I told you this was Geeks Gone Wild), which will make a quick summary of our recent adventures much easier. I have to assume that the following, according to Ross's notes, is where I left off with me and Eretria turning to stone: "August 24th: Lizard Negotiations. Fight Medusa. Poor Womenfolk."

Well, we poor womenfolk have been back on our feet and not-so-poor for quite some time. After getting un-stoned by a priest in the big city, we had to repay our debt to the un-stoner by going on a mini-quest for his friend the spymaster and track down a missing spy. In the process, we got to go underwater to find the ship which sank with him on it, and I got to Wild Shape into a Large Shark. That was fun. I got to be bitey. Everyone else had to have Water Breathing cast on them. We fought evil mermen and aquatic elves and other nasties, found the spy on the sunken ship, explored a nearby island for no good reason, and then finally our debt was repaid.

For some reason my memory of the following events is poor. I might have missed a day of gaming. But there's something about negotiating with a party of hobgoblins and then helping them, which I vaguely remember, and then apparently we encountered a dragon at some point (Ross's notes: "Dragon is a Wuss") and fought some more mindflayers. These mindflayers have been a pain in our butts, but we always do fun things to them like Magic Missile and Call Lightning, and beat them with swords, and make our Will saves, and so forth. Then we encountered an Ursinal, which is a divine bear-angel-thing from the Celestial plane, telling us we'd be able to awaken a helpful force underneath the lake. So we go under the lake--mostly me, as a shark--and try to interrogate fishes and sea plants. Instead we find some underwater buildings with evil things lying in wait who apparently got there before us. More bashing.

Then we do find a golden dragon in there, and wake her up so we can defeat the evil lich-dragon that's building its forces in the creepy ruins, but I seem to recall the golden dragon getting killed while we fought something else on the ground. After that, we took a goofy side adventure back in time to the heyday of the giant city (now the creepy ruins) and found out more about the area's past, which may come in handy one day. Upon our return, we had to help solve some intrigue in the town of Redgrove, involving a councilman's werewolf manservant--after breaking into his house while he was gone (we like to shoot first and ask questions later), we found he was housing all manner of dark creatures and was quite possibly undead himself. So we locked his werewolf in a room and finally took off, telling the rest of the court about the councilman's deception. At least I think that's what happened.

The most recent exciting thing, though, is during a routine skirmish at the Grontsburg city wall, Sahel got sucked through a magic mirror and some crazy half-dragon woman came through in her place. She does kick major ass, I'll say that.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

New Addition to Blog List

Please note that I finally put Ben's Temporary Caveman-Like blog, Who Digs Ben, over there in the sidebar. I was under the impression I'd done this already, but apparently not. Oh well. be sure to scroll down in the frameset (argh!) to find the latest entry. Also, don't miss finding out Who, in fact, Digs Ben.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Unemployment Fun

Since I currently don't have a long-term job (my web design fun is almost over), I've been combing the job websites. Mostly it's been an opportunity for me to realize yet again that there's not really much I actually want to do, even for money. But I did find something rather amusing on Craigslist.

On an aside about Craigslist, how come Fresno gets one and Modesto doesn't?

Monday, September 20, 2004

Vile Substances

So, there's this new Mountain Dew Pitch Black flavor--an inferior-tasting yet caffeinated grape soda--which allegedly turns your poop green. The amazing, digestion-altering science of food dyes!

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Beta Testing

Well, after many weeks of kicking my butt, the much-complained-about JavaScript slideshow is now online at the website I've been designing. If you're interested in taking a look, please do so, and let me know if there are any problems.

Please bear in mind that the site is still in progress, and I'm still working on the splash page (scrolling images to come), the intro page (photo to come), various accessibility-compliant features, and the final validation (so I can put that nifty "XHTML, CSS" thing at the bottom next to my name).

Monday, September 13, 2004

Game Geeks Gone Wild

I found this channel called G4TV on our satellite guide this morning. Gave me IGN flashbacks--the good kind. Nothing like watching a show about the top ten controversial video games and feeling nostalgia about playing Doom. Too bad they're in L.A. or I'd apply for a job...

Saturday, September 11, 2004

I Call the Big One "Bitey"

I got this massively itchy bug bite on my right ankle about a week ago. It was pretty good-sized (though not abnormally large) and it itched like hell for a few days. Then it got smaller and stopped itching...until today. I looked at my ankle and saw this 1-inch blotchy red ring around the area of the bug bite. The tiny spot that was the bite itself is now a darker color, and the whole thing is slightly itchy. Too weird. So I went online to make sure I didn't get bitten by something truly hideous, requiring immediate hospitalization (though the chances of that are rather small, considering it's a week after the fact). And I found something truly disgusting: a website with links to pictures of insect bites. The first one I clicked had this horrible series of images of adverse insect bite reactions. Not for the squeamish!

I wouldn't want to leave you with those sorts of thoughts without also providing some useful preventive information. I've concluded that I probably got bitten by a spider, but not a black widow or brown recluse, or else I probably wouldn't be sitting here typing this right now, but spazzing in a nearby hospital.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Rob's Upcoming Solo Show

Rob will be filling the walls of the Modesto Junior College art gallery with new and older works in his first solo exhibition, "Works in Series" (as noted in the Modesto Bee Arts Calendar). Fantastic!

If you're in the area, the opening reception is Thursday, September 9 from 12-3 pm. The show lasts from Sept. 9 - 30. See some great etchings, an experimental animation, and the prototype for a collaborative artist's book featuring his images with my short story, "Mathematics."

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Today's Poetry Selections

Dated 5/7/92:

A man who they thought was sadistic
Turned out to be quite feministic
With women he wished
To, in peace, coexist
In a society quite chauvinistic.

A member of the Viet cong
Once tried smoking pot from a bong
He quickly got stoned
(The people bemoaned)
And danced around in a sarong.

Personally, I give my 15-year-old self kudos for incorporating a parenthetical aside into a limerick. That's pretty good. If you want to read real poetry, you'll have to go somewhere else.

Cross-Cultural Fun

So I've got two things. The first one I've been meaning to post for a couple of days, and it comes from Corey's blog. It made me laugh so hard I just about started crying. The sad thing is, I'm almost cracking up now just thinking about it. Not much amusement in my day today, I guess. See below about JavaScript--I ended up having to accept my personal limitations (a two-day JavaScript self-tutored crash course...meaning I basically still know squat) and then I was much happier and more effective. I'll show you the result in a week or so. Anyway, go visit Rock, Paper, Saddam for some non-PC fun that doesn't actually cross the line into poor taste (at least, not by my standards...).

This PDF file of "Mots d'Heures: Gousses, Rames (French speakers: say that aloud) is also pretty damn funny. Thanks to Google (is there anything those guys can't do?), you can also view an HTML-ified version.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Cup o' JoeScript

I've just spent my evening getting my ass kicked by this JavaScript slideshow I'm trying to put together by combining scripts from A List Apart,, and Rebecca's Beads (all kind, sharing folks), after spending the last couple of days getting generally acquainted with JavaScript. Argh. Time to quit for the night. Time for today's flashback poetry selections.

Dated 5-7-92:

There once was a gal named Suzy
'Twas rumored that she was a floozie [sic].
Till one with no grace
Told her to her face
And she took out the town with an Uzi.

There once was a Communist pig
Who wore quite a nice powdered wig.
Since he had no remorse,
As a matter of course
He assigned all the citizens trig.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

More Blasts from the Past

Something doesn't sound right about that headline. Anyway, before you read some more paroles from my pubescent poison pen, perhaps you might be interested in revisiting the original Quote of the Day article that went with the quote up there in the header. Yeah, apparently I have nothing new to say.

Dated 10-29-91 and titled "So. California Limericks":

A glutton who lived in Tarzana
Once swallowed a quite large banana.
He gasped and he choked,
And finally croaked
While belching in quite a rude manna!

A young Riversider, one day,
Had the gall to come right out and say
That what with the smog
Every time he would jog
His sweats would come back looking gray.

And there you have it. Today's puerile poetry. I hope it was good for you.

Monday, August 30, 2004

And Another Thing...

I have a new favorite TV show. Forget that last "Amish in the City" post--Bravo's "Things I Hate About You" blows it right out of the water. Part of this is due to the show's host, the awesome Mo Rocca, who is a correspondent for the Daily Show as well as making occasional appearances on legitimate "news" shows such as Larry King.

Of course, I found out that Bravo's version of the show is based on a BBC show, but anyway, it still rocks.

Blast from the Past

The things one finds in boxes that have been buried in one's mother's house for years. Honestly. While unpacking one of said boxes, I ran across a notebook of my poetry (if you can call it that) from around age 14-16. While the majority of the notebook's contents consist of crap, angst, crappy angst, crappy bloody angst, and transcribed song lyrics (many of them also crappy), I also found that I apparently had a penchant for writing limericks. Some of these limericks are actually pretty funny, so I've decided to post them here, a few at a time, for your amusement. I will NOT be posting any of the other poetry. Suffice it to say that there was enough death and melodrama to last several lifetimes. Maybe this is why I'm no longer writing poetry...

Dated 10-23-91 (age 14)

A young Texan from Amarillo
Discovered a lump in his pillow
Its cover he rolled,
And lo! and behold,
Out popped a fat armadillo.

Yeah, yeah...Shakespeare it ain't. More soon.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

CRS Disease

I often feel like I'm losing my mind and can't remember, well, shit. At those times, when I have a short list of things I have to do which I know won't make it out of my short-term memory and into something a little more permanent, I find myself using bizarre mnemonic aids to remember my little lists.

Specifically, I often find myself reciting my list (in my head, fortunately) to the tune and rhythm of a song. Now, here's the weird part. There are three songs which somehow seem to get used for this purpose, which for some bizarre reason have been in my head off and on SINCE CHILDHOOD. I kid you not. These songs are:

  1. California, Here I Come
  2. On Top of Old Smokey/Spaghetti
  3. Polly Wolly Doodle.

Now, in addition to these being INCREDIBLY annoying songs in general, and extra irritating to get stuck in one's head, I also have no clue why they would continue to plague me for, oh, going on a couple of decades now. I must be insane. So what happens is, to the tune of "California, Here I Come," I'll sing to myself something akin to the following:
"Boil some water, feed the cat;
Scoop cat box and get the mail;

And so on until I've gone nuts and/or accomplished the list items. It seems to be optimal for a list of between 2 and 6 items; any more than that and I get confused and can't remember them in the proper order, or at all. A lot of the time, though, I end up not singing, but chanting my list under my breath or in my head like some deranged cheerleader exhorting myself to get shit done. Perhaps I'm simply a freak. But it felt good to get this off my chest. It also felt good to be procrastinating...Okay, back to work.

This blog entry is dedicated to the memory of my high school AP/IB Biology teacher, Mr. Carroll, who taught us that Kings Play Cards On Fat Girls' Stomachs. I will never, ever forget, unless I get Alzheimers or somebody excises those particular brain cells, Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus Species.

Jeffrey Zeldman is God

So I've been trying desperately to get a proper handle on CSS so that I can a) finish redesigning my own website and b) design and properly put together a website I'm being paid to design.

In the process, I've discovered an awesome book, Designing with Web Standards--which, although it's a teensy bit technical for someone like me who is very low on the pyramid of geekdom, is just really well written and a major eye-opener in terms of the technology being used and coming into use on the web. Its author, Jeffrey Zeldman, is funny and intelligent and doesn't make me feel like an idiot (at least, not very often. I've only had to go look up a couple of things, which isn't bad). It's a lot more technical than your average book for dummies, but it's also way better.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Bad Sarah!

I've sure been crappy about posting to this thing lately. I had this fear--justified, as it turns out--that blogging would turn into just one more item on my list of "things I gotta do." I can't let that happen! So here's an update on my activities lately:

Went to Seaside, Oregon to meet up with friends from Cal at a beach house for the weekend. Played frisbee, flew kites, roasted weenies and S'mores, barbecued, rented a paddle boat, and all that good stuff.

Wrote Chapters 20 and 21 of my novel and got very sad because I had to write about a death and a funeral.

Stressed out about the fact that I need to get a "real job" and still haven't decided what exactly is my best option, and stressed out about the freelance work I'm doing in the meantime. Doh!

Broke our typewriter. Double doh! Don't even ask.

Finished my first real knitting project--a burpy cloth for our friend Rachel, who is expecting a baby in a month. Next up: a blankie, if I hurry up.

And much stress! Oh, wait, I mentioned that already. Stay tuned, because someday soon (ha!) I plan to not only post major linkage here, but also post a Geeks Gone Wild update--rather futile, since lots has happened since I last posted anything and I'm unlikely to remember it all. In the meantime, if you haven't been to JibJab to check out "This Land is My Land", you HAVE TO. Also highly recommended (from IGN days): the Founding Fathers rap.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Partying Like It's 1899

Amish in the City, a new UPN reality show...sadly, not quite as trashily good as I was hoping it would be.

For some entertaining discussion about it, go to this Fametracker forum.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Fantomas Lives

So here I was browsing the Moe's Books website--partially for old times' sake and partially because I will be helping a direct relation of Moe (daughter or niece? I haven't asked yet) set up a website for her interior design business--and I noticed on their resources page a recommended website: The Fantomas page. Here I was thinking it was a link to Fantomas, the band (which wouldn't necessarily be a surprise in Berkeley), but instead I found this out (ya learn something new every day, as they say): Fantomas is the "Lord of Terror, the anti-hero of the French detective thrillers written by Pierre Souvestre and Marcel Allain."

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Greetings from Canada, Eh.

Yup, been away for the past week at my yearly Welsh course, which as always provided a lot of fun and very little sleep. This year it was in Ottawa, the capital of Canada, which JesseriƱo informed me was quite nice. And he was correct. I took the bus into town and wandered across to Gatineau (technically in Quebec) to visit the Canadian Museum of Civilization. Got a few nice blisters from my not-so-great-for-walking sandals so hope I'm still capable of hobbling around again tomorrow. Or, rather, I hope the hobbling I'm going to be doing tomorrow is minimally painful.

After a week of relatively crappy dorm food, I treated myself to dinner out in the Byward Market at a Japanese restaurant, and it was like I'd died and gone to heaven. This chirashi bowl was beyond belief, probably because I've been good-food-deprived for a week, and sushi-deprived for a little longer than that. Add to that a nice Kirin lager, and a table out on the patio in sunny, breezy early evening weather...not a bad end to the day, despite blisters. I plan to really walk all around the Market tomorrow, and go to the nearby National Gallery of Canada. Maybe I'll have lunch or dinner in a pub--there seem to be many here, and the ones I've passed seem nice. And like Toronto, the buses are so clean and full of seemingly normal, calm people--it's a little bizarre. I feel like Canada is some weird twilight-zone version of the U.S.--only calmer and with more pubs and French-speakers.

Friday, July 16, 2004

What's in a Name?

Well, I sure haven't been very good about posting, considering how much time I've been online this week. Part of it is that I've been working on a freelance project, doing internet research/fact-checking for someone who's writing a baby name book. Weird synchronicity, considering I have one friend who's expecting a boy in September, and someone else (you know who you are!) who might also be producing a shorty next year.

In the process, I've been looking at a ridiculous amount of baby name websites, most of which are kinda crap. But I did find one site--not strictly about baby names per se--that was pretty interesting, called, about the history and etymology of first names. It has all this cool extra stuff besides the lists of names, like categories by country of origin, anagram names, namesakes, and which names were popular which year (of course mine is always towards the top, dammit--not A. Fortis but the real one. Doh!).

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Geeks Gone Wild, v. 1.2

I realize I've skipped a whole lot of geeky gaming since my last post about our D&D group, and I may yet fill y'all in on the intervening adventures, but I just had to vent about last night. What happened last night? Well, we went to fight a Medusa and I just happened to be standing in the wrong place at the wrong time when said gorgon came barging into the room. Then I made the world's crappiest Will save--even considering my modifier is 8 I rolled approximately a 4--and therefore I am a Stone Cold Druid (that's not the official term, but it works).

And GET THIS--now I'm being carried around (along with Eretria, the other petrified party member) in a Bag of Holding. How embarraskin', as Popeye would say.

Opposed to the Government's No-Fly List?

From an e-mail from Sanjeev Bery, Field Organizer, ACLU of Northern California:
"CAPPS II -- the Computer-Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening System -- would assign every airline passenger a red, yellow or green level threat. It would use secret intelligence and law enforcement records, and possibly credit databases and purchasing histories, to create its passenger profiles....Not only that, but even a 99.9% accuracy rate would leave 100,000 passengers a year facing possible wrongful delays or even detentions by law enforcement. And the federal government has admitted to a likely error rate of 4% -- or 4 million passengers."

For more on that, see this post of mine from a few days ago.

To take action by telling your congressperson to oppose CAPPS II, click here.

Friday, July 09, 2004

A Murder of Crow Websites

Okay, two doesn't really constitute a "murder." Apparently the only people who use that term are those who are poetically inclined, anyway--"flock" is the scientifically appropriate term, according to this crow FAQ from Dr. Kevin J. McGowan, Cornell University. If you've ever sought the answers to questions such as "Can crows be shot legally?" and "Do crows taste bad? Is that where 'to eat crow' comes from?" then this is the site for you.

But for my money (a moot point as I have very little and the website is free anyway) I'd rather browse around, which has a number of voluntarily contributed observational logs of crow behavior. The people at are (or were--nothing's newer than two years ago) compiling as many instances as possible of crow behavior and vocalizations in order to better study and interpret them. Crows are much smarter than your average birdbrain (my stepdad informed me that you can teach them several words, much like a parrot). Anyway, it was fascinating to read some of the accounts of people's encounters with crows.

The reason I was looking all this up is that I'm planning a painting that will have crows in it, and I was looking for some good photographs of crows, particularly close-ups of flocks of crows in flight. The painting will be about my grandfather, and will also include depictions of old photos of him painted trompe-l'oeil style, interspersed with the crows in a composition I'm still figuring out. The crows are there because of a strange occurrence which happened the morning my grandfather died:

It was around 7:00 am in June of 1997. I was 20 years old. He died in his bed, in his own house, where he had been receiving hospice care. My mother, stepdad and I had moved in to be with him. That morning we called the mortuary van, and we were all standing outside in the driveway as my grandfather's body was being put into the back of the van. I was standing next to my mom and my stepdad's sister (a former nurse, who'd been helping us care for my grandfather). Suddenly we realized there was a din, a racket, coming from overhead. When we looked up, there were a few dozen crows circling directly above the driveway, cawing loudly and raucously. It was one of the oddest things I'd ever seen and a very surreal moment. Not long after the van containing my grandfather's body had driven away, they dispersed.

On the crow websites, I've read that crows can bond with humans. I've read that they will circle overhead in a flock, cawing, when one of their own has died. I like to think that because my grandfather spent a lot of time outside in his garden, because he could whistle like a bird better than anyone I've ever met, that maybe the neighborhood crows mourned for him in their own way. Or maybe, scavengers that they are, they could simply smell death in the air. No matter what the reason is, though, it's going into my painting in some form.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Welcome to California, Now Go Home

Here's a real horror story from a British journalist traveling to the U.S. New prerequisite for being a journalist: ability to spend 26 hours unfairly "detained" in a holding cell.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

#1 in the Hood, G

So we've developed a possibly unhealthy fascination with the Cartoon Network Adult Swim show Aqua Teen Hunger Force (a show which, as the official Adult Swim site points out, has little if anything to do with water, teens, or even a Hunger Force).

More specifically, for a show featuring an animated milkshake, box of fries, and wad of meat (appropriately named "Meatwad"), we (being Rob and I) noticed that it has a hell of a kick-ass theme song. The credits indicated that it was by Schoolly D, so off I went on a web search--we weren't entirely sure about some of the lyrics, namely the last line about Meatwad. We thought it sounded like the rapper was saying "ice on my fingers and my toes and I'm a 'tard," which would be highly politically incorrect but, bearing in mind Meatwad's personality, not inaccurate.

Fortunately, we found out that the phrase in question is "I'm a Taurus," freeing us from feeling any liberal guilt at enjoying such an obviously insensitive song lyric. Click here for the full song lyrics and mp3s of the theme song. For an amusing interview with the show's creators, click here.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

This Week in Public Radio, Part II

I pretty much just cracked the hell up in my car listening to this segment on NPR's Day to Day about a recent commercial for Ball Park Franks. (At the preceding link you can read the text of the story, which is from ad report card on Slate.) Warning: the topic of girth is discussed in great detail. That's the only spoiler I'm going to give you.

At the end of the NPR segment, I freaked out. No, not from excessive amusement; and no, I haven't had any drugs or even alcohol in the past few days, unless there was something interesting in the mushroom tacos I ate in Mexico on Saturday. What freaked me out is that the name of the guy who wrote the segment is (get ready) Seth Stevenson. And no, I'm not aware of being related to the guy. But a number of thoughts went through my head. Here are some of them:

  1. His name is Stevenson, and he's already funny and famous! No fair! He's funnier than I am! Double no fair! He gets to write about commercials! Triple no fair! AARGH!
  2. Is there room for more than one amusing, writerly Stevenson in the entertainment world at one time, or will it cause some sort of disruption of the space-time continuum? Will I be incapable of success while he still writes and publishes? Is this why nobody has published me yet?
  3. Am I sure he's not related to me through Rob? Because that would be really weird. It might also be cool if I could do some serious coattail-riding.
  4. It's like he's an unholy blend of me and my former boss at IGN, Seth Cooper: Seth Stevenson. Eww--I just imagined Seth's head on my body. The reverse isn't pretty either.
  5. What if I met this guy and he was like a female version of me? That would also be really weird.
So, yeah. It was strange. But read the article--it's funny.

This Week in Public Radio, Part I

Unless you're in on the comics/graphic novel publishing world, you might not be aware that there has been a growing trend in nonfiction--particularly autobiographical--comics. I read several in an independent study class on The Craft of the Graphic Novel (put together by my school friend Natty); the one most people have already heard of is Maus, by Art Spiegelman. Another great one I read recently is Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, an autobiographical account of a childhood in Iran during the Islamic Revolution.

Yesterday on NPR I heard a segment on All Things Considered about a new series of nonfiction comics called Echoes of the Lost Boys of Sudan. The publisher, James Disco (his real name? who knows) wanted a medium that would appeal to American youth. Each book in the four-book series tells the story of a different boy's journey. I think this is a great idea, and I highly recommend listening to the segment, available at the NPR site and linked above.

Monday, June 28, 2004

A Few Good Articles

Today's fiction for young adults is reflecting a readership that is more than just a group of short-attention-span spazzes (actually, maybe that's MY generation), attracting technology-savvy teen readers that still make time in their overcrowded schedules to read a book or two, according to this SFGate article on summer young adult fiction. In particular, novels in verse and text-message novels are increasing in popularity. Thanks to Tanita for passing this on.

Ben, this guy who (like me) also used to write for IGN, has a new posting on his self-described "Temporary Caveman-Like Blog," Scroll down the left-hand side to 6-25-04. He is quite amusing and bitter and writes a hell of a rant--much better than I could ever aspire to.

An article about Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11. Warning: contains spoilers.

And lastly, a tooting of my own horn: I posted a new article this past Friday on my Suite101 Welsh Language site: the second installment of Early Welsh Manuscripts, this one about the Red Book of Hergest, which was a major source for the Welsh folk tale cycle known as the Mabinogion.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Geeks Gone Wild, v. 1.1

There are folks out there for whom I promised I would chronicle my gaming adventures. In Geeks Gone Wild v. 1.0, there is an overview of our adventure party, but I hadn't quite gotten around to setting down our actual heroic exploits until now, so here goes.

For novices to the gaming world, we get together as a group on Thursday and Friday evenings for about four or five hours, probably two or three of which are in fact spent on gaming. The rest of the time involves primarily eating and bullshitting and, for the MJC employees, gossiping about work. Also, a not insignificant amount of time is spent quoting and/or discussing geeky TV and movies, but if you hang out with me at all you won’t be surprised by that.

Gaming-wise, though: Our little party resides in a town the dungeon master has dubbed Grontsberg (from an old Goblin name), on a relatively newly settled (and hence full of unknown adventures) continent called Transcatania. The first gaming session was devoted mainly to our characters getting to know one another and figuring out whether, say, my druid character Delyth ferch Gwydion—a somewhat asocial denizen of the nearby wilderness—would have been likely to have prior awareness of Rob’s character Dipsie Flashpowder, a gnome wizard alchemist (take off the evil horns and replace the little demon familiar with a toad, and there’s Dispie).

In any case, in our first adventure, the dungeon master informed us that a delegation of several Halflings (i.e., hobbits) have come to town, some wearing strange, ornate ceramic armor. While some of the party try to get to know the Halflings, others with more advanced spying skills unsuccessfully try to eavesdrop on what the Halfling leader is saying to the mayor of Grontsberg. After a local lout and known troublemaker steals one of the suits of armor, the party decides to chase after him to get it back. We trace him to an island in the nearby lake, and locate his cabin hideout with the help of my trusty eagle companion, Greywing.

But upon approaching his cabin, we disrupt the impending attack of a small horde of undead—zombies and skeletons. This is decidedly odd, but we have little luck figuring out where they might have come from (the so-called “creepy ruins” on the other side of the lake are a likely possibility) or why. Then, of course, we have to fight them, and I discover that every time I try to attack with my sling, I have the uncanny ability to roll a 4 and therefore miss. (Again for novices, you have to roll over a certain amount with your 20-sided die for the attack to be successful. This is the game part of the role-playing game. Otherwise we’d just all be invincible heroes, and where’s the fun in that?) I do discover that Summon Nature’s Ally is a bad-ass spell and sic a big black bear on one of the zombies. Rob, or rather Dipsie, discovers his rallying cry "protect the gnome!" at around this time.

The undead obviously want something inside the cabin—possibly the armor—which the local lout leaves behind as he flees in cowardice once we have kindly warned him that undead are at his door. Once the undead are dispatched—some escaping into the water from whence they emerged—we recover the armor and several other items stolen from the local townspeople. We return the armor to its rightful owners, who inform us that they have come to Grontsberg because they want to try to move in; a strange hybridized group of Mongrelfolk have taken over the Halfling village. We agree with the mayor that having Halflings move in on us is unacceptable, and so we accept the challenge of freeing their tribe’s land of Mongrelfolk, in exchange for (of course) payment and knowledge.

This is all way behind schedule. I’ll catch y’all up more on our adventures later, though.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Blog Roundup

The fact that I would call anything a "roundup" is a dead giveaway that I've worked in internet journalism, I think. It's probably one of those phrases I need to ditch from my vocabulary, like "shoot me an e-mail" and "FYI." Nonetheless, I have in fact "rounded up" several of my compadres' blogs, and here are some of their recent postings:

On I asked for a car, I got a computer, Corey has posted musings on flags, bikes, and Anti-Monkeybutt Powder. The latter is a must-see.

On Makura no Soshi, Shin Yu has included her take on the Questionnaire of Marcel Proust, various literary happenings, and a new review of her poetry book, Equivalence.

memepool, my old Weird Wild Web standby, has a Friday 6/11 post on Chiff and Fipple's Tinwhistle Internet Experience (more interesting to me than you'd think, since I own an approximately twenty-year-old tinwhistle of--according to this website--dubious quality), and a Wed. 6/9 post of cool Fluxus websites.

On writegrrrl, Rachel has a Friday Top Five and a blurb about the Fametracker website--which looked eerily, disturbingly familiar until I did some surfing around and realized it had been an affiliate website of former site (and sister IGN site), the now-defunct, meaning I had very likely included it in e-mail newsletters and such. Work flashback! AAARGH!

And lastly, to toot my own horn, I've started a blog in Welsh, called Castell Tywod, meaning Sand Castle. I'll be practicing my Welsh by posting several times a week, hopefully.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Some Thoughts on Writing

I was typing up an e-mail to a former classmate from my grad program and ended up articulating several ideas on writing, and the workshopping of writing, that I hadn't really put into words before. Plus, I was fairly impressed by the general decrease in Art-Institute-related bitterness. And since I'm unlikely to either teach a class and ingrain students with my doubtless piercing insights (ha), or to randomly soliloquize to my writing or non-writing friends and thereby alienate them forever, I thought I'd post them here. Enjoy!

On Workshops, and the tendency to emphasize form and literariness over content: I think it's because there's a hesitancy or unwillingness to tackle content because it may be seen as a personal attack on the writer's interests, a critique of the individual's legitimacy as opposed to the quality of their writing....I think that ideally there should be no discernible separation between content, message, and form. That is, a finished piece shouldn't distract the reader with the way it is told, but be a seamless whole in which the writing style is integral to and enhances the story and message. This is something that often seems hard to articulate in a workshop setting--it's easy for discussions to go off on tangents.

On Attracting the Interest of an Audience: My advice is to worry as little as possible about what people gravitate towards. There's no accounting for taste! :) This is sad but true. People will like what they like, and it doesn't necessarily mean a writer is doing something right or wrong, unfortunately. It should, I agree, be different in a writing class--there should be a higher standard of objectivity--but you can't count on that....this is just the way people are, and graduate programs are...

On Bringing Diverse Readers Willingly Into Your World: ...if the writer and reader are both sincere and open, [different perspectives/experiences] shouldn't matter--I read an incredible variety of work by/about people whose lives are entirely unlike mine. I agree with you--that's one of the fascinating parts of reading. You can enter into someone else's world. And, as a writer, you can bring others into yours. I think it can be done, especially if (as I mentioned before) the writing and the content and the message all support and enhance each other, as well as your intent. But you can only offer your reader the experience--it's a two-way street. You can't guarantee what they will bring to the reading of your work, nor can you control how they perceive it or interact with it.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Attn: Travel Addicts

I found an article on MSNBC--excerpted from a book--about Places to See Before You Die (an intimidating prospect at best). I'm not sure how many of them I'm likely to see, though I'd like to. Though maybe I can skip the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. I already live in Modesto. In fact, last night I had a close encounter here in town with several East Bay Dragons.

I am, however, going to Mexico City with Rob this summer, for five days, during which we will be attending a wedding in Celaya--which, coincidentally, is where one of my favorite aunts (by marriage) is from. So it's sort of like a pilgrimage, I guess.

Ego Surfing

We all do it. Whether we admit it or not, most of us have, at one time or another, typed our names into Google just to see what comes up. I used to do this fairly often, when I worked at IGN and spent huge amounts of time in front of the computer.

I tried it today, mainly to see how quickly Google had cataloged--if at all--any of the newly redesigned pages on our deckled edge site (which, I'm warning you, is largely incomplete at this time). In fact, several pages in I did find a listing for Rob's pages on the site. However, I also found out that there is a Sarah Stevenson, British Taekwondo Champion, and a Sarah Stevenson, Canadian Sculptor. My outdated profile also appeared, all on the first page of results.

I decided to see what happened if I typed in my maiden name, in case somebody from my former unmarried life goes looking for me (I just added Sarah Baig to my Meta Keywords today for the deckled edge) and, lo and behold, my IGN fame came back to haunt me. The first two items to pop up were Weird Wild Web articles: the Imaginary Web Page review and the SUV Poseur page review. Yeeks! I also discovered that there is a Sister Sarah Baig (not me!) at the South Bay Islamic Association in San Jose. You'll also see me (the real me) on the page of Heuristic Squelch past editors and on various Welsh-related websites (again, actually me) before the list degenerates into random other Sarahs and Baigs. Fascinating!

Goodbye Productivity, Hello Loafing!

With a codename of "Revolution," it must be cool. According to IGN's FAQ about the new Nintendo console, it will revolutionize the way we play video games. Apparently the advances will not be in technology alone, and considering the artistry involved in Nintendo's proprietary games (i.e., Mario and Zelda), I expect nothing less.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Democratize Me

Thanks to my mom, here is a conveniently capsule-sized Atlantic Monthly article from 1992 summarizing Benjamin Barber's book of the same title, Jihad vs. McWorld. By capsule-sized I mean not book-length (a.k.a. "supersized")--it's still pretty long, but worth reading, even though it made feel like a crappy, capitalist, apathetic loser.

On a less sobering note, this guy's rhetorical and alliterative skills give Jesse Jackson a run for his money. Case in point: The pressures of McWorld "mesmerize the world with fast music, fast computers, and fast food -- with MTV, Macintosh, and McDonald's, pressing nations into one commercially homogenous global network: one McWorld tied together by technology, ecology, communications, and commerce." You go! Amen, bro!

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Geeks Gone Wild

I really should call this post "I hate Internet Explorer," since I just typed two paragraphs and my browser crashed on me. That'll teach me to type directly into the window instead of typing it into Word first. Actually, it won't, since I'm not.

Anyway, Rob and I have finally become certified, card-carrying geeks. Or perhaps I should say dice-carrying, since I'm referring to Dungeons and Dragons. Yes, we've joined a D&D group, and no, I've never visited that D&D website prior to today. That's for y'allz benefit.

So after 8+ years of hiatus, we dug our dice pouches out of dusty boxes, purchased the requisite player's handbook, and obtained appropriate miniatures (which we haven't painted yet, so I guess we haven't quite hit the depths of geekdom). We've joined a group that, in real life, consists of an art professor (Rob), an unemployed artist/writer (me), two math professors, a history student, an art student, a librarian, and one other person whose profession I don't know.

In the game world, we're (respectively) a gnome wizard, a half-elf druid, dungeon master, a half-naked monk, a cleric/blacksmith, a half-demon thief pirate, an urban ranger/rogue, and a psion. We eat snacks, drink soda (though I may soon up the ante to alcoholic beverages), joke around, and generally have a geeky good time. Though I'm somewhat concerned that this endeavor will suck up all of my creative energy, at least I've got someplace to go on a Friday night in Modesto.

Monday, June 07, 2004

The War on Art

Two weeks ago, an SF gallery owner closed her gallery doors indefinitely after suffering attacks--verbal and physical--over a Guy Colwell painting depicting the abuse of prisoners by U.S. soldiers in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. Read the article here.

Go here for clips of the gallery's closing. Oh, and be sure to watch the one called "This man..."

Something is seriously wrong when, in possibly the most liberal city in the U.S., a woman gets a black eye and cut brow just for exhibiting a piece of art that happens to be politically controversial.

I'm starting to think more and more about moving to Canada.

This info courtesy of Julie McNiel, an awesome artist and friend.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Ghost in the Machine

Okay, this is a little weird. I followed a link on PoopReport to a news story on (no joke) about a little device called the WC Ghost:

"Every time someone raises the toilet seat, the "ghost" speaks and warns the visitor that the seat should be put firmly back down. The voice, which assumes it is addressing a man, gives one of a series of warnings."

And as if that weren't enough, I decided to poke around this site, and ran across THIS lovely little tidbit about everyone's favorite humorous ethnic sausage product. What haggis has to do with duck-billed platypus, I'm not sure, even after reading the haggisclopedia.

Monday, May 31, 2004

Ban Comic Sans?

I never realized people felt so strongly about their fonts. But apparently they do, and apparently, inoffensive and cheery little Comic Sans--long favored by elementary school teachers and amateur desktop publishers alike--has overstayed its welcome, at least according to the folks at Ban Comic Sans. Who knew? Anyway, for extra amusement be sure to click on their link that takes you to appropriate usage of Comic Sans.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Help with Good Causes--for Free

The Breast Cancer Site has the admirable aim of donating at least one free mammogram a day to an underprivileged woman. All you have to do to help is go to their site and click on the pink "donating a mammogram" button. It costs nothing--corporate sponsors and advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate a mammogram in exchange for advertising. There are also a few other great causes you can donate to from their website (tab menu at top of their page): the Hunger Site, the Child Health Site, the Rainforest Site, and the Animal Rescue Site.

There's no excuse not to do it!

Friday, May 28, 2004

New Suite101 Article on Welsh Mss.

The latest article on my Suite101 Welsh Language website is now available: Early Welsh Manuscripts, Part I. Read all about the Black Book of Carmarthen and its connection to tales of Arthur, Merlin, and other Welsh heroes.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Cool People Named Graham Besides Jess's Dad

A fellow graduate student brought in a couple of books by Graham Rawle for me to look at. I think he's one of the funniest cartoonist-type people I've encountered in quite a while. Check out his Lost Consonants series in particular. I covet the books! Even more, I wish I'd thought of it first.

Also quite amusing is this interview with Rawle.

"Low Cost Health Care"

Fumi sent me this link and said: "Here's something that I learned in med school. It's called low cost health care."

Top doc backs picking your nose and eating it

Tuesday, May 25, 2004


Actually, I don't know if two items count as an extravaganza, but they're two really funny items, so why not? Damn I love this blogging thing.

Anyway, check out the new and improved George W. Bush or Chimpanzee? website at its latest location. I highly recommend playing the game.

And don't miss the highly amusing (unless you like GWB) bleeding-heart raging liberal stickers at the George W. Bush Store. A couple of choice examples:

"Democracy was getting old anyway."
"Bush-n-Sons Inc. (formerly the United States of America)"

Lastly, if you want to take a ride in the way-back machine, you can read my original IGN Weird Wild Web article on Bush or Chimp.

Who's Writing this Garbage?

Seems appropriate that my very first blog post will be a mini-rant, in light of my past rant writing. My topic of choice for today is a disturbing piece of information passed on to me by Rob's colleague (and our temporary houseguest) David.

After being in our kitchen and seeing our City-of-Modesto-approved recycling setup, David informed us that a friend of his had recently asked his garbage collector whether they really do separate out the blue bags and send them away to be recycled. Regrettably, the guy said no.

I'll admit that I was already having doubts as to whether my blue bags--sitting there in the black can with all the regular trash bags--were being appropriately attended to. But, after going out of my way (well, across the street from my regular supermarket) to the slightly scary New Deal grocery store and picking up the official bags, after dutifully checking my plastics for the right number in the triangle and rinsing out all my bottles and cans, after wrestling with the box cutter to subdue various forms of cardboard, I liked to think that my efforts were in fact being rewarded. I was already feeling a slightly elevated level of self-worth at my contribution to the planet's health and my minor curtailment of wasteful habits.

Now, I feel naive for believing City of Modesto propaganda (though they're probably not responsible for the people sorting the garbage). I feel sheepish at being too lazy to take my recyclables down to a depot of some sort to ensure their re-use. And I wonder if I should write a letter to the editor, or propose a shocking exposé of Waste Management. But probably I won't. I was guiltily throwing away my glass and paper before finding out about the blue bags, so I'll probably take the path of least resistance.