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My gmail account was hacked this weekend. Apologies to everyone for the spam coming from my address. I think I've taken care of it now, but please don't click on any links from "me", just in case.

a meme to end the year

NaNo participant since 2002
innae posted this, and it seems like a good excuse to get me back into lj-ing, at least for the next 30 days :)

Day 01 → Your favorite song
Day 02 → Your favorite movie
Day 03 → Your favorite television program
Day 04 → Your favorite book
Day 05 → Your favorite quote
Day 06 → Whatever tickles your fancy
Day 07 → A photo that makes you happy
Day 08 → A photo that makes you angry/sad
Day 09 → A photo you took
Day 10 → A photo of you taken over ten years ago
Day 11 → A photo of you taken recently
Day 12 → Whatever tickles your fancy
Day 13 → A fictional book
Day 14 → A non-fictional book
Day 15 → A fanfic
Day 16 → A song that makes you cry (or nearly)
Day 17 → An art piece (painting, drawing, sculpture, etc.)
Day 18 → Whatever tickles your fancy
Day 19 → A talent of yours
Day 20 → A hobby of yours
Day 21 → A recipe
Day 22 → A website
Day 23 → A YouTube video
Day 24 → Whatever tickles your fancy
Day 25 → Your day, in great detail
Day 26 → Your week, in great detail
Day 27 → This month, in great detail
Day 28 → This year, in great detail
Day 29 → Hopes, dreams and plans for the next 365 days
Day 30 → Whatever tickles your fancy

So, day 1 - Your favorite song.

Ugh. Favorites questions always make my brain hurt. My favorites change almost daily, although there are a steady few that stay in the range of the top slot. As of this second in time, I'm going to have to go with One Vision by Queen. Since this year's NaNo was set in the Highlander universe (TV, not movie), the Queen "A Kind of Magic" album was in heavy rotation. Any time Princes of the Universe or One Vision came one, I'd get a burst of inspiration and would be off and running with the word count. I had so much fun writing this year, and my background tunes were a big part of that.

My top two, according to last.fm, are Rush's The Pass and Red Barchetta. I won't argue with that :)

On the eve of NaNoWriMo

NaNo participant since 2002
Ok, we're still a few days off, but it's close enough (and taking up most of my free mental cycles), so here's a very belated update.

I haven't fallen off the face of the earth, but I have been far more busy than usual. I'm now working 3 jobs (total weekly hours varies, but it's in the range of 46+), and still nowhere near my old City salary. The income is worrying, but the work is enjoyable, so things are peachy as far as that goes.

August was the month of many concerts. I caught Journey, Depeche Mode and Def Leppard - the latter two within a week of each other. Mode was incredible, as always, and we ended up scoring a major seat upgrade when tickets didn't sell as well as they anticipated. We started w/ $40 nosebleed seats, but got upgraded to lower bowl seats at the last minute. We had a direct, uninterrupted view of the stage, and the crowd was rockin'. Def Leppard was pretty straightforward and mostly a greatest hits show. I was hoping for a few tracks from the more recent albums, but they stuck to the radio hits. Journey was surprisingly wonderful, and rekindled my love of cheesy 80s arena rock.

September went by in a blur of work, work, and more work. I decided that I wasn't going to ML for NaNo this year, but got involved with some other behind-the-scenes stuff from NaNo Central. I'm also going to the Night of Writing Dangerously, courtesy of The Editorial Department. I cannot wait! San Francisco is one of my favorite cities. I probably won't be able to do much sightseeing, but I'm hoping to at least get to the Coit tower.

This month has been even busier than last with the addition of job #3. (I officially start this Friday, but had the interview and taking up time before). I caught the U2 show in Phoenix last week and came away pretty meh. It was visually lovely, but left me flat. Then I saw the youtube broadcast on Sunday and reverted to my 13-year old fangirl self. I'm also utterly in love w/ Adam Clayton's purple sparkle Fender bass. Purple glitter + a pearl pickguard? Swoon. Yes, it's the little things in life that make me happy. I had forgotten how much better U2 is live. The studio albums tend to feel flat to me, but once you see it live, it...well, comes to life.

NaNoWriMo - yes, I'm back for novel #8 this year. I'm going to be writing a story set in the Highlander universe (the TV show, specifically). It's an idea that's been kicking around since early this year, and seems like it will be a fun project. Two of the women at work are taking the NaNo plunge, too, so I've got partners in crime. Muahahahaha. btw - i've still got a couple of pack of the NaNo shield stickers from last year, so if you want some, just find me @ a write in and ask. They're in my computer bag, so I'll have 'em with me all the time.

It's cool and windy out today - in the 50s with a very cutting breeze. Feels just like Thanksgiving to me, and now I'm craving a warm, steamy house, and the smell of savory things cooking. Despite having a NaNoWriMo with no paid holidays (I used to have up to 4 paid days off every November), I'm rather looking forward to this year. I'm really looking forward to Thanksgiving, too. I've perfected my art of turkey cooking, and mom's stuffing is always incredible.

And, since I can't let a post go by without sharing some pictures, here's some of my latest shots...

A place I housesit has a fountain in the front yard. When the fountain is off, bees flock to the fountain for a drink. I took my chances w/ the stingers and spent about a half hour taking a ton of shots of the bees.

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Same house, back door - a walking stick bug.

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Patches is settling right in at home

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Pixie has taken refuge behind my running shoes. She spent a couple days nestling her chin into the backs of them as seen here. The cats sit at opposite ends of the hallway and stare each other down. Then Patches starts growling and Pixie charges, chasing her back under mom's bed. Rinse, repeat.

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Finally, more fun at the Desert Museum, including some spectacular raptor shots courtesy of a docent out in front.

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(the whole set is at http://www.flickr.com/photos/midwinter-az/sets/72157622530793459/)

Facebook & work

Moulin Rouge - writer
I know quite a few of my friends here have expressed an interest in editorial services w/ The Editorial Department, so I thought I'd cross-post this to lj. We tend to run at least one monthly discount on services, and have a some giveaways and other promotional stuff coming up, and the best way to stay on top of the latest and greatest is to become a fan on Facebook.

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Photo highlights

dorothy parker smiling
I just dumped a metric ton of pictures onto my flickr stream, so to save you some wading, I'll post highlights here. Click through for many, many more :)

First - a turtle from Agua Caliente. Some kids were baiting the turtles with pieces of watermelon on a stick. This one came right up to the surface.
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And a whole mob of turtles rushing to the watermelon.
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Me holding a small sphinx moth
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Then things take a turn for the creepy crawly. Remember me mentioning finding a scorpion in the bathtub where I'm housesitting? Well, since it was safely contained, I set up shop with a tripod and a black light and went to town. Got some fantastic pictures, but I'll put them behind a cut for anyone who is squeamish. By the way, the scorpion was turned loose in the desert last night. As far as I know, it wasn't harmed by the photography experience :)
Read more...Collapse )

On the 4th, I went down to Sahuarita for a picnic with my best friend and her kids. We took in the fireworks in Tubac - a small, but impressive show launched from a golf course. We were very close to the launch site, so the noise was incredible. I brought my tripod and cable release and had a great time taking pictures with a *good* camera this year.

I think this one might make a nice computer desktop image.
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You can see the crowd on the lawn here. Almost everyone appeared to have a camera. Lots of LCDs lighting up the night.
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I love the sparkly effect on this one. The bright spot at the bottom is from a column of ground-based sparklers they launched off periodically.
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And, the finale. I love how the crowd is illuminated here.
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After the show, we went back to my friend's house and played with the 4-week old kittens. She's got a very harried Mama Cat and 7 eternally hungry kittens. The runt is my favorite.

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Mama cat is the blur in the background here.
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Finally, the Runt.
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Back to running?

Good morning Gil
It's too early to say if my knees are up to anything serious, but thanks to edda's inspiration, I hopped on the treadmill and pounded out the first workout of the Couch to 5k plan. My really bad knee was sore, but never did the sharp OMG STOP IMMEDIATELY pain, so maybe I am on the mend. Drove back to the housesitting place w/ the ice pack on my knee, and it seems to be doing pretty well...so far. We'll see if I can move in the morning.

Found a bark scorpion in the tub, too. Sigh. I wrangled it into a big ziploc freezer bag (couldn't find any tupperware, and couldn't bring myself to get close enough to step on it - not after last year's sting). I think my little friend is destined for a trip to said freezer. Eugh. Hopefully this'll be my last encounter of the week.

Oh, and being the dorky shutterbug I am, I did get off a few snaps w/ the good camera before bagging it. More fodder for my creepy crawlies folder on flickr :)

Hello muse. Haven't seen you in a while.

Moulin Rouge - writer
A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about taking a stab at a writing contest. This morning, I started writing. I had forgotten how much fun it is when you have a new idea and it all seems so brilliant. I've got a few great turns of phrase, a couple of strong scenes, and a whole bunch of swirly story bits in my head right now. I have no major conflict, and only a couple of characters, but it's brilliant.

Who? check.
What? half a check.
Where? who cares.
When? dunno.
How? Umm...
Why? Er. Hm. Guess I have a bit more work to do here.

Onward to 4,000 words!

(further updates once the "work" of writing kicks in and gets me off this beginner's high)

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Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Day

Zim doom
Caught wind of this via cardigirl's facebook, and couldn't resist passing it on. The official link + a couple thank yous to my favorite authors are in my post on The Editorial Department's blog. Would love some comments and more shout outs to authors over there, if any of you are so inclined :)

Fantasy writers

sheep
Not too bad, I guess. The quiz itself is typically bad - grammar and spelling to make your head ache, but still kind of fun.


Your result for Which fantasy writer are you?...

Orson Scott Card (b.1951)

-9 High-Brow, -27 Violent, 5 Experimental and 7 Cynical!

Congratulations! You are Low-Brow, Peaceful, Experimental and Cynical! These concepts are defined below.


Although primarily known for his science fiction novels, Orson Scott Card is also a prominent fantasy writer. His suite of books known as The Tales of Alvin Maker are among the finest examples of how fantasy can combine page-turning narration with a discussion of deeper moral messages. The books are set in an alternate world where, among other things, the French Revolution never happened, which has made America look quite different than in the world we're familiar with. Apart from showing a different political map, the world of The Tales of Alvin Maker features functioning magic, the European settlers of North America bringing various forms of folk-magic with them to their new home. Here they confront Native Americans, who also use magic, but of a slightly different type. The protagonist, Alvin, is a seventh son of a seventh son and as such has great magic powers at his disposal. Much of the series comes forth as an attempt to discuss the birth of the US and celebrating its virtues without shunning away from the mistakes that have been made.


Card is one of the most appealing story-tellers alive today and has the ability to combine his light and easy prose with experimenting with what fantasy can be, by bringing up subjects such as racism and slavery, by using alternate world settings and last but not least by letting the "small world" of family-life (complete with sibling envy from those who weren't born with the ability to do magic) have a prominent place in his stories.


Card is also one to propagate against violence, but without falling into the trap of being unrealistic or romantically pacifist. The question of who should be reading Card, those who want to be entertained or those who want to be challenged is easily answered: They all should!


You are also a lot like Katharine Kerr.


If you want some action, try Lian Hearn.


If you'd like a challenge, try your exact opposite, China Miéville.


Your score



This is how to interpret your score: Your attitudes have been measured on four diffent scales, called 1) High-Brow vs. Low-Brow, 2) Violent vs. Peaceful, 3) Experimental vs. Traditional and 4) Cynical vs. Romantic. Imagine that when you were born, you were in a state of innocence, a tabula rasa who would have scored zero on each scale. Since then, a number of circumstances (including genetical, cultural and environmental factors) have pushed you towards either end of these scales. If you're at 45 or -45 you would be almost entirely cynical, low-brow or whatever. The closer to zero you are, the less extreme your attitude. However, you should always be more of either (eg more romantic than cynical). Please note that even though High-Brow, Violent, Experimental and Cynical have positive numbers (1 through 45) and their opposites negative numbers (-1 through -45), this doesn't mean that either quality is better. All attitudes have their positive and negative sides, as explained below.



High-Brow vs. Low-Brow



You received -9 points, making you more Low-Brow than High-Brow. Being high-browed in this context refers to being more fascinated with the sort of art that critics and scholars tend to favour, while a typical low-brow would favour the best-selling kind. At their best, low-brows are honest enough to read what they like, regardless of what "experts" and academics say is good for them. At their worst, they are more likely to read what their neighbours like than what they would choose themselves.


Violent vs. Peaceful



You received -27 points, making you more Peaceful than Violent. This scale is a measurement of a) if you are tolerant to violence in fiction and b) whether you see violence as a means that can be used to achieve a good end. If you aren't, and you don't, then you are peaceful as defined here. At their best, peaceful people are the ones who encourage dialogue and understanding as a means of solving conflicts. At their worst, they are standing passively by as they or third parties are hurt by less scrupulous individuals.



Experimental vs. Traditional



You received 5 points, making you more Experimental than Traditional. Your position on this scale indicates if you're more likely to seek out the new and unexpected or if you are more comfortable with the familiar, especially in regards to culture. Note that traditional as defined here does not equal conservative, in the political sense. At their best, experimental people are the ones who show humanity the way forward. At their worst, they provoke for the sake of provocation only.



Cynical vs. Romantic



You received 7 points, making you more Cynical than Romantic. Your position on this scale indicates if you are more likely to be wary, suspicious and skeptical to people around you and the world at large, or if you are more likely to believe in grand schemes, happy endings and the basic goodness of humankind. It is by far the most vaguely defined scale, which is why you'll find the sentence "you are also a lot like x" above. If you feel that your position on this scale is wrong, then you are probably more like author x. At their best, cynical people are able to see through lies and spot crucial flaws in plans and schemes. At their worst, they are overly negative, bringing everybody else down.


Author picture from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Orson_Scott_Card_at_BYU_Symposium_20080216_closeup.jpg


Click the link for license info.


Take Which fantasy writer are you?
at HelloQuizzy

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Meet Pixel

cat lounging

IMG_8629
Originally uploaded by midwinter.

Mom and I were out running errands yesterday and we ended up at the Ulta next to the Petsmart on Wetmore. I have a habit of always going in to Petsmart to look at the cats up for adoption, so I dragged mom in with me. They have little descriptive tags with information on the cats, their temperaments, and occasionally some information as to how they came to be up for adoption.
This little girl's owner lost her job and had to move back to New Hampshire suddenly. She's had "Pixie" since the cat was 6 months old - Pix is 11 now. Mom took one look at her and said "you're coming home with us." heh.
The Humane Society was running a special on pets this past weekend - any over 5 years old could be adopted for $25 and they'd toss in a free vet exam and a bag of Science Diet cat chow. Deal!
For some reason, her name, Pixie, morphed into "Pixel" in my brain, so that's what I've been calling her. It's close enough to the original to not wig her out, and still fits my geeky naming conventions.
Expect many, many more pictures to come :)

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