Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Story Inspiration

There was a service dog on the flight I took from Boise to Seattle for my conference earlier this month. I had seen the dog, and its owner, earlier in the airport, but I had no idea that the dog was going to be on my flight until I found my seat and saw him splayed all over the space where my feet belonged.

His owner cajoled him out of the space where I needed to put my feet, and I thanked her, but I am allergic to dogs. Not so much that I couldn't be on a flight with a dog, but enough that I didn't want to be sitting next to one. If I get fur on me, there's a good chance of itchiness to follow. So I told her I'd asked to be moved.

But then I saw my co-worker enter the aisle of the aircraft. I walked up to her and asked if she would switch seats with me, explaining dog, explaining allergy. She agreed and went to the back of the plane, where, while it was loud, she had a pleasant flight chatting with the dog's owner, who turned out to be military.

I sat in her seat, closer to the front, but not much less noisy. We were, after all, in one of those puddle jumper planes- not a prop plane, like we'd get on the way back but a small jet nonetheless. Noise permeated the space, but I didn't care. My focus was drawn inexorably by my nose, which could not help but inhale the disgusting combination of stale cigarette smoke, unwashed body and moldering clothing (that smell that clothes get when they're left in the washing machine for too long after it's done, a nasty, nose pinching foulness).

I tried using the air vent above me to keep my nose awash in freshness to limited effect. I tried burying my nose in my coat, in the collar of my shirt, but that was not very effective and a bit too obvious. I mean, did this guy know how he smelled? Did he mean to smell that way? Maybe he's down on his luck. Maybe this was his cleanest set of clothing. Maybe... I don't care. When spending an hour jammed into a very small metal tube with fifty other people is on your agenda, you should think about not being stinky.

But, I actually have to thank this anonymous smelly guy. Because I was driven to distract myself by any means necessary, and the means that I landed on was writing. I began to write a story on my phone about a character in an airplane, sitting next to a very smelly person. From that point the experience of the character and I diverged. I landed in Seattle without any other events. I have not yet figured out exactly where my character is landing, but I'm going to find out.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


I'm sick and tired of

Actually, I’m not sure that what I’m sick and tired of is or if it is what I purchased last year, which was Gamecenter Live. Even before the All Star break, I was frustrated at the number of times that my Blackhawks would get blacked out for me. As an out of market Blackhawks fan, I expect to be able to watch my team a fair amount. I understand that they, as the reigning Stanley Cup Champions, will be more often on the dreaded NBC Sports Network. I don’t like it, but I understand it.

And, before the app changed, those times would be clearly marked. A nice little logo would appear (either NBCSN or NHLN) and I could curse the fact that I wouldn’t get to watch my team. But ever since that app change, whenever my Blackhawks were being broadcast not only on their normal channels, WGN or CSNC, but also on NHL Network, there would be no convenient warning logo - only NBCSN games are marked. I’ve already complained about that. I still think it stinks.

But what is absolutely ridiculous is that I wasn't able to watch a Blackhawks game from March 3rd until March 22nd. I am paying a lot of money for a service that has blocked me from viewing the 7 straight games of my team:

  • 3/6 - NHLN
  • 3/9  - NBCSN
  • 3/11 - NHLN
  • 3/14 - NBCSN
  • 3/16 - NBCSN
  • 3/18 - NHLN
  • 3/20 - NBCSN

I’m beginning to understand why my husband has decided that his team is the Buffalo Sabres. The only times their games get blacked out are when they’re playing the Blackhawks. Or the Avalanche because Boise, ID is apparently in Colorado when it comes to hockey. Or those Eichel vs McDavid matchups. Still. That’s 5 games of 82 (thanks to McDavid missing one of the games against Buffalo with a broken collar bone).

I’m not even listing all the Blackhawks games that I don’t get to watch over the course of the season. These 7 just happened to be in a row, thereby pointing out their hideous unfairness. No, NHL, I don’t want to get a cable or satellite subscription in addition to Gamecenter/ I want to watch hockey, so I pay for hockey. I want to watch the Blackhawks, and you’re making me mad.

Also, the Blackhawks have been doing awful lately, and I can't help but blame you, Clearly, without my constant ability to watch my team play, they have been suffering. And, because they have been suffering, they have made me suffer with last night's horrible performance. This is not acceptable I've got my eye on you.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


I'm still feeling out of sorts after the conference last week. In the past, I've taken a day or two off the week of the conference to try and get myself back into my regular rhythm, but this year that wasn't an option. There have been staffing shortages for months now, and I feel an obligation to be present as much as possible.

After all, even when I go in every day, there's still more work than I can accomplish in a single day. Taking a day off, even when I rather need the break, hasn't been a good option in the last few months. But I am now running into a peculiarity of the system in which I work. I am approaching the limit on the number of vacation hours I can accrue.

It's time to use it or lose it.

I never thought I'd get there. I've known other people who reached the limit, and, internally, I half scoffed and half awed at them. Never, thought past-me, would I be able to spend so much time working that I'd come up to the use-it-or-lose-it limit.

But here I am. And I have no intention of losing the hours that I have worked hard to earn.

That is going to mean continued breaks to my rhythm. Days that I take off because I have to take something. It's a good thing. Now that I've reached that limit, I can see that I have gotten to the point where I need to be "forced" to take some time off of work. I've scheduled three days in the next five weeks, and I don't have any plans for those days, other than "not working."

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

View from a Hotel Window: Seattle

This post is late. I'm going to back date it to Wednesday, but this post is late. Sure, I have an excuse. I was so busy trying to get my homework done before I left on a business trip that I neglected to preset my blog entries. And of course, at the conference itself, there wasn't time to do much of anything other than work, network and "network." Here is the view from my hotel window in downtown Seattle, three blocks from the Washington State Convention Center: 

 And here is the view from the inside of one of the toilet stalls at the WSCC:

I'm still undecided whether that little sign is uplifting or creepy. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Literature or (the Horror!) Genre?

I could have sworn that the instructor of my Advanced Fiction Writing workshop class told us that we weren't supposed to write science fiction or fantasy, but apparently some people didn't listen. That's the only explanation I can think of for how someone thought it was a good idea to hinge an entire plot on two things that are clearly impossible in our current reality.

First of all, the idea that one could, from a blood draw, determine whether or not a man is sterile is, at the very least, not possible right now. I mean, maybe this character's blood had sperm in it, but I think that would portend larger problems than sterility. Even the use of the word sterile rather than infertile sets my teeth on edge. The tiniest bit of research reveals that even when dealing with low sperm counts, there's no guarantee that a man won't have that one lucky swimmer who could make it through.

Still. No current medical guidelines recommend blood tests for male infertility. Sperm counts, yes. Multiple sperm counts. But not blood. Not unless we're using Star Trek tricorders here.

That, however, is the lesser of the two impossibilities in this piece. The author would have you believe that a doctor, in a hospital, in the United States of America, in the state, in fact, of Texas, would run a "sterility test" on a man who came in with a knife wound and fear of tetanus. Also that this test would be done without patient consultation or consent. Unbelievable, right?

It gets worse.

This author would additionally have you believe that said doctor would run said test, in contravention of patient rights, and not bill said patient.

That, my friends, is pure fantasy.