Sunday, August 24, 2014

Moving on... on behalf of Tina Downey

On behalf of the Downey family, we want to let Tina's friends and followers know that she went to be with the Lord Saturday night, August 23rd.  As many of you know, Tina struggled each day with pulmonary hypertension and had been in and out of the hospital all year.  She was admitted Tuesday and appeared to be getting better.  Saturday evening she took a turn for the worse and doctors discovered she had sepsis. She fought valiantly but when they attempted dialysis, her body gave out.

We know how much you all meant to her and filled her life with joy every day.  We truly appreciate the special way each one of you brought significance and meaning to her life.  No arrangements have been made at this time.  We will provide updates as details are made known.


Friends and Family of the Downeys

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I Climbed Long's Peak with My Sister the Day I Got Out of the Hospital!

That should have gotten you attention!  Impossible feat.  However, my Swissie, DID climb it, with her husband and his friend who have done it before. She took me with her, though. Sixteen grueling miles, over boulders and along ledges where you can literally fall to your death.  It was a bucket list item for her.  I'm very proud of her.

It's no secret I love sunflowers, so she took one of my artificial ones from some arrangements I made and brought it with her so I could "go there" too. The irony was not lost on either of us that she was climbing one of the most difficult 14,000+ peaks (we call them 14ers) while I was leaving the hospital in a wheelchair with an oxygen tank.

Here is my amazing sister, at the top.  Love you Swissie.

~Tina, who has climbed a 14er, but not this one...I don't have a death wish, I'm afraid of heights, and well, I'm not exactly in the best shape of my life...

©2014 All Rights Reserved
Photo credit: one of her co-horts, don't know which one, but probably her husband

P.S Yes, I'm sorta back.  Posting will be random, I'll return comments as I have the energy, and I've missed you all very much.  Thanks for sticking around!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

College Life: Episode 9: Snorkeling, College Style

For the summer, once a week I'll be sharing a story from my college days at CSU, 1984-1988. I will leave links at the end of each post for previous episodes.

(Mom and Dad, another post to read at your own risk of bursting the bubble of whom you though I was in college...)

The Cheerleader, our suite mate, taught Mary Jo and me to snorkel one Saturday, right before a football game. (There are links below to previous episodes if you want to get caught up and you don't even need to wait for the whole season to be released on Netflix!) It was the only time I ever went snorkeling of this particular nature. Snorkeling on Kauai is much more fun and so much better for your liver...

First, you need the right glass. I considered drawing a picture and thought, “Hey, you could totally find one online! That way if anyone reading this is inclined to get completely drunk in about 10 minutes, then they can order one here!”  Back then, kids, the internet was called going to the library and yeah, you could so not get a snorkeling glass there.

The football game was at noon, and she had talked for DAYS about how her friend had finally followed through on a two year old promise - getting Tara her own snorkel glass. We had to learn, and now, because then we would be able to watch the game buzzed. 

We were 18, drinking age 21 for anything except 3.2% (by weight) beer. It was about 10:30 am, and as one of the cheerleaders, she only had a few minutes to teach us before she had to report for warm-ups.

Let me share how this special glass is used. Pretend you are making a mixed drink. Pour the non-alcoholic part in the bottom of the glass, then pour the alcohol at the top of the glass.  It floats, and they don't mix. I was going to look up density and all that science stuff but you can if you want to know why, but you can see in the picture how they're separate.

The idea then is to drink the whole glass like your chugging a small soda. You don't taste the rum going down, and then you're just drinking pepsi. Turns out that I did it perfectly my fist time. 

Mary Jo had many more problems, because if you don't drink the whole thing all at once, it does combine and then you DO have a mixed drink which inexperienced drinkers can't just chug. It took her a long time to finish her 1st drink, which we made her pour into something else if she was going to take so long.

We needed that glass back! So I, the very inexperienced drinker snorkeled three time. Tara four. I don't know why she thought this was wise considering what I'd already watched her do during games. 

I don't know why I found it wise to drink so early in the morning. Three drinks in ten or so minutes is a lot for anyone. Let's call it peer pressure. Then I'll admit that I have free will and did this to myself, and went and lay on my bed for a while.

My study buddy/Rocky Horror friends came to pick me up for the game (I was asleep) and asked me why I was so drunk. I said snorkeling. They said, “So have you learned your lesson?” I assured them I had. 

They took me, fed me, and said “There there” when I began to sober up and start to feel... not so normal...They made sure I got to my room, where I promptly went to bed, having no idea if Tara fell off the top of the pyramid, could still stand on the guys hands, or do her back-handsprings.and no idea where MJ (Mary Jo) was. At least I wasn't locked out of my room.

Next time I snorkeled was in 1996, in Kauia, no alcohol involved.

~Tina, who learned a lesson the first time for probably the only time in my life...

©2014 All Rights Reserved
Photo credits snorkel glass
Real snorkeling, Swissie or Windex, not sure who took it.  That's me at the top of the picture ;-) with the Engineer.

Episode 5: A Physics Prank
Episode 6:  Marvelous Marble
Episode 7: I Don't Hate My Laptop Quite as Much
Episode 8:  My Days as a Rocky Horror Picture Show Fan

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

IWSG: Paranoid Lunatic at the Keyboard...

For quite a few months I've been writing some encouraging posts, but not this week.  I'm the insecurest (yes, I made up that word, I get to because I'm a writer) I've been in a long time.

Those of you who follow me know that I'm on an indefinite break from blogging because I was in the hospital for pneumonia for 15 days.  It's a very, very slow recovery.  I post when I have some energy.  It's totally random when.

I'm afraid that all my readers will leave and won't notice when I'm back and that five years of building my blog audience will have to be rebooted. I'm probably too vain to be so excited about what I've done here...but the friends I've made are priceless, and I know they'll be with me, but I had so many new, really loyal readers...

Done whining now.  Thanks for listening.

~Tina, slowly recovering, and not really so good at slow...

Alex “Ninja Captain” Cavanaugh  is our leader for this wonderful, supportive group. Don't forget we even have our own website now.  Be sure to check it out if you haven't already, and "like" our facebook page, too. I'm so impressed with what these talented folks are doing to promote this group! Encouragement month long is now just a click away! 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Just a Quick Update

I'm alive, and getting well. I've told you about skinny dipping, how I fell down the stairs at The National Theater, and even how I almost died trying to relieve myself (it's in the “about me” section above.) Might as well tell you his, too.

I spent 15 days in the hospital with pneumonia. Took them a while to figure it out. It was awful. Nice nurses and CNA's took great care of me, and I really like the infectious disease specialist they had to call in.

I'm bouncing back, but it will still be a while until I'm back to blogging. Just thought you might like an update. Thanks for visiting today. I miss this world.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Breakfast Club Comes to Mind...

I'm going on a little blogging break.  I'm in the hospital.  It's for my asthma and its many complications.  I don't know how long I'll be here, I don't know how much energy I'll have.

Some days I may post something, but instead of what used to be a M-W-F blog, then as you saw became a random blog, will now be an even more random blog.

I just don't know what's going to happen to me next.  I have to take it one day at a time. For Schedule Woman not be able to schedule? Torturous...

I, in my vanity and selfishness don't want to do this.  Stupid thoughts run through my head:

"You worked really hard to return almost all of the A-Z comments and got a lot of new readers and they're sticking around and you're going to lose them."

"If you're writing sporadically, only those who use feeders will know when you post."

Then reason and sanity sorta return and say to me, "It's a blog.  Or it's your health. Choose."  So at this time, I'm focusing on my health.

~Tina, who chose that opening song for obvious reasons...I'm a hopeless attention seeker and don't want you to go away...sigh.  

P.S Email returns will be hopelessly late...but that you've probably gotten used to already ;-)

Monday, July 7, 2014

College Life: Episode 8: My Days as a Rocky Horror Picture Show Fan

For the summer, once a week I'll be sharing a story from my college days at CSU, 1984-1988. I will leave links at the end of each post for previous episodes.

(So Mom and Dad, remember how I've referred to antics in college that started me down a path that perhaps wasn't so good for me? This is one of those stories.  So I'm thinking you might not want to read this one...just saying.  Your choice.)

I don't know if college students still observe this cultish ritual, but according to Wikipedia, the tradition is alive and doing well.  They just didn't mention what age group still goes to the movies at midnight, shouts at the screen, throws rice and toast and other things that I'm sure theater employees enjoy cleaning up.  I used to be one of those college students.

I don't really remember how it all started, but one Saturday night my physics study group (remember those great guys who tutored me? link below if you don't) invited me to some movie called the Rocky Horror Picture Show.  I asked them what it was about.  

"Well it's like a horror musical, satire, comedy, farce, sci-fi but quite rated R sorta movie.  It's hysterical and the audience dresses up and participates.  There's nothing like it. You really have to see it to understand."  I went.  

Their's was a pretty good description.  At first I was appalled at some of what I was seeing, but I was also laughing, and the songs were absolutely hysterical, and the movie didn't even try to take itself seriously, and it was a mighty good time.  My stomach muscles were sore the next day from laughing.

We of course weren't REAL fans yet.  We didn't bring anything to throw.  We didn't dress up.  We did make it a regular Saturday night event, though.  It didn't take us long to catch on to what we needed.  I don't remember it all, but there's a wedding scene with a toast to the bride and groom where we all throw toast.  (Yes, you do get hit with the toast coming from behind you.  Most are kind enough not to butter it.)  You also throw rice at the departing couple.  

I remember rolls of toilet paper are tossed at some point - takes practice to make the roll un-roll as you throw it, but I knew how to do that from tp-ing people's trees (um, yeah, Mom and Dad, if you're reading, I did that too...but he deserved it).  You also throw hot dogs (my memory isn't good enough for where that one comes in) nor the squirt guns, but it does rain a lot, and there's an umbrella scene...

As we got better and better at this, we connected with the group of friends of one of the study buddies.  They were practically professionals.  One of them was one of the live actors who stood in front of the screen and acted out the movie along with the actors, at THE theater in downtown Denver.  

We started making pilgrimages.  We met some very interesting people and their interesting friends...and so on and so on.

Have you seen it?  Did you become a fan?  Have you thrown toast in a movie theater?  (See even that part would offend my poor mother, waste of food AND littering AND bad manners...AND not cleaning it up...she really did raise me right...doesn't mean I always obeyed...)

©2014 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit: Movie Poster

Episode 5: A Physics Prank
Episode 6:  Marvelous Marble
Episode 7: I Don't Hate My Laptop Quite as Much

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

College Life: Episode 7: I Don't Hate My Laptop Quite As Much

For the summer, once a week I'll be sharing a story from my college days at CSU, 1984-1988. I will leave links at the end of each post for previous episodes.

"The procrastinators' club has decided to meet another day".  That sign on the door of the meeting room is a classic joke.  When I was in college though, I was the anti-procrastinator.  If the assignment wasn't done at least a week ahead of time, I was in a panic.

There was a reason for this, though.  (I'm not completely crazy.)  I was taking a programming class (Pascal) and there was one computer lab our class was allowed to use, and it was ridiculously packed with desperate students the week before a program was due. That was SO not going to be me.

Some of you who AREN'T of the certain age I am might not know what I'm talking about, sitting there reading this on your laptop. We worked with a mainframe computer (not that we ever saw it).

at terminals

We had to enter our entire program, then print it out on a giant dot-matrix printer (which everyone in the room was using), go find our portion of the long, continuous feed and carefully tear it off, and THEN we could see if our program had worked, was nice and tidy and produced the required answer.  Or, as was the case in 9/10 of my tries, full of error messages.

That meant either stand in line for another chance at the terminal, or go stand in line for help from one of the teaching assistants.  Get help.  THEN go stand in line for a terminal and pray that you understood what Sheldon so condescendingly told you and could fix your work.  

Eventually I'd figure it out, get it done, and it waited in my binder be turned in.  Meanwhile, I got to listen to the horror stories from my classmates who'd been at the lab on the last night until 3am. Not me.  The only time I'd be up that late was for the Rocky Horror Picture Show...

I think back to that now, and how frustrating that was, (not Rocky, the programming, and of course I'm going to tell you about my Rocky adventures) and it makes me not quite as irritated with my W8.1 laptop.  After all, I don't have to share.  I can take it anywhere. My printer is only shared with three other people.  Also, I don't have to write computer programs anymore.  I'm grateful for that.

~Tina, who also had to take BASIC, Fortran, and TAUGHT two semesters of BASIC to 7th graders...that was almost as much fun as taking Pascal...

©2014 All Rights Reserved
Photo credit: main frame
Photo credit: terminal

Episode 1: Rommmates
Episode 5: A Physics Pran
Episode 6:  Marvelous Marble

Monday, June 30, 2014

Doldrums HIt Your Blog? Ideas For You!

Today I'm at the A-Z Challenge Blog!  I'm sharing some ideas for what to do if your blog has hit a place with no wind in the sails...come on over!

~Tina, whom you might have noticed was rather absent last week.  No wind.  

P.S College Life will be here Wednesday. We'll be talking about the world before personal computers...which is almost as much fun as sharing clothes with your roommate.

©2014 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Hilary Melton-Butcher: Great Ocean Coast Road, south Australia …

I've got a treat for you today.  Today's guest hardly needs an introduction here, most of you know my fellow history buff from across the pond, Hilary. She's has agreed to not only guest here today, but is also guesting at the A-Z Challenge Blog. These topics are linked.  Don't miss the other one.  It's about dragons...

Great Ocean Coast Road, south Australia …

"Great Ocean Road carved from the bare rock" 

Art, Science, ‘Down Under’ and bloggers … Tina of Life is Good asked if I’d do a guest post for the A-Z blog and as a guest blogger on her blog … theoretically these might have been on Vikings (these will follow) – but as is the way with my eclectic brain I’ve settled on the Great Ocean Road, south Australia and the Weedy Seadragon.

I expect many of you will have seen or heard of the BBC tv programmes ‘Coast’, where Neil Oliver, archaeologist, historian, author and broadcaster, tells us about Britain and Europe …

he has now moved to Australia (well perhaps he’s travelled there for the programmes!) – this is where these two ideas stemmed from.

The Great Ocean Road ties in with the Great War: the First World War, which I will be writing about, but I have just posted an A-Z on the recent D-Day commemorative events for World War II.

"The Hitchcock Memorial at Defiance Point - in the 1920s"

One thinks about the armed forces and their lives after having spent four or more years at War, probably in another country fighting for our and their own freedom, seeing their comrades fall, be injured or as most would be desperate to be home with their loved ones.

400,000 Australians enlisted for World War I, with appallingly 60,000 paying the ultimate sacrifice … however the work to which some returned to simply cannot have been any better, and may have been worse … I don’t know – I don’t like to think about either much … hanging off a cliff, or fighting in the War …

less than 10 months after War finished, three thousand servicemen went to work on the construction of the new coast road … hewn from the cliff face using explosives, pick and shovel, wheel barrows and some small machinery.

Anecdotal evidence suggested that the workers would rest detonators on their knees during travel, as it was the softest ride?!

They were paid 10 shillings and sixpence for eight hours work a day, also working half-day on Saturday. They had tents for accommodation, a mess tent for meals with food costing ten shillings a week?!

They did have access to a piano, gramophone and records presumably, games, newspapers and magazines … and when in 1924 the steamboat, Casino, was forced to jettison 500 barrels of beer and 120 cases of spirits – there was an unscheduled two-week long drinking break!

Howard Hitchcock, mayor of Geelong, wanted to create the road as a Memorial to the Servicemen killed during World War 1 … the road is the world’s largest war memorial … and in building it – it would open up a fairly inaccessible part of south-eastern Australia.

The route winds 243 kilometres (151 miles) wending its way through varying terrain, incredible scenery and past several prominent landmarks, including the Twelve Apostles limestone stack formations … the road is now an important tourist attraction.

 "The limestone stacks, known as The Twelve Apostles"

Also seeing this part of the programme reminded me about my recent Aspects of the British Coast, that I wrote about in this year’s A-Z Challenge … where sea stacks were meant to be mentioned in greater detail – but ended up with a brief mention under my W post – the wind erodes … these Australian stacks put my ‘weedy’ post into perspective!

The Australian coast looks just beautiful and that road trip, carved out of raw cliffs nearly 100 years ago, is a sight to behold – and one that is definitely on my bucket list.

It is full of sea stacks that are constantly being worn away, or being created … some wonderful and amazing geographical features … it must be just dazzling, raw and stunning …

So the Weedy Seadragon in my other post at the A-Z Blog ties in to some degree with this post, as do other posts I have written recently or in the A-Z Challenge in April …

Here the art is photographic images of magnificent natural scenery, the science that of geology, we are posting on blogs about that place that is down under

Hilary Melton-Butcher

©2014 All Rights Reserved


Don't forget about the dragons over at the A-Z Challenge Blog. These topics are linked.  

Monday, June 23, 2014

College Life: Episode 6: Marvelous Marble

For the summer, once a week I'll be sharing a story from my college days at CSU, 1984-1988. I will leave links at the end of each post for previous episodes.

Despite all the joking, pranks, and my lack of ability in physics, I was a really good student in my other classes.  I was also majoring in English along with the math.  Since I was studying two subjects which don't usually go together (that whole right brain/left brain thing) my classes were ALL over campus.  

I received the privilege of inhabiting buildings old and new, large and small.  I had the chance to attend classes in buildings over 100 years old.  Those were the ones that held my attention and fed the history buff in me.  Today we're going on a bit of an exploration to one of them.

The moment I opened the door to what was now the statistics building, I could scent the history of all those years in a way that touched me.  Not musty - but old paper, old machines still in use, it was the sum of thousands up thousands of people going up and down those amazing stairs, caressing that wooden rail with the brass fixtures, which now is narrower and has a patina.

The inlaid marble stairs were indented.  The impact of all those feet had worn deep marks into the design.  In places the big diamond outlining the pattern was just gone, little by little, until only a slight side or small corner remained.  No longer bright and shiny, the stairs were to most people just the stairs.  

"There's no elevator to the third floor?  Isn't that illegal?"

Hurrying by, on their rushed way, they miss it.  I just stopped and watched.  I super-imposed a scene - men dressed in suits and with hats, ladies in dresses and heels and the stockings with the seam in back. (The building had once been utilized in a public, commercial way, and I'd seen pictures in the library archives, though that's a different story, and I will tell it.)  It had been converted from offices to classrooms for our use.

I know I'm weird - math, words, history - but I love it all. Climbing those stairs to the top floor, I thought about someone coming in another time, and seeing the imprint even further into those stairs, only my feet helped make that impact.  One step at a time, we add our bit to the history, whether we appreciate it or not.


What "gets" you?  Are you into history?  Does a brand new building make you want to check out whatever the latest and greatest is in design?  Do you see if they're using "green" building products?


P.S Some of you saw two posts Friday.  I had written a totally whiny post about my health again, but had decided against it and to focus on my anniversary.  I forgot to delete the old one.  Sorry about that.  Operator error.  Unstable blogger ;-)

©2014 All Rights Reserved
Episode 1: Rommmates

Friday, June 20, 2014

Happy Anniversary, to My Engineer!

Happy Anniversary, to my wonderful Engineer. Thanks for 22 years of patience, love, smiles, special times, camping, hiking, parenting, fighting, making up, adventures, picnics, and time together just being.

Thanks for your tireless work to improve our family. Thanks for bringing home the bacon and a lot of the time being the one to fry it up in the pan.  Thanks for taking care of me in sickness and in (not so much lately) health, and for never giving up on me.

I love you so much.

~Tina, who'd marry you all over again

©2014 All Rights Reserved
Photo credit Emmerich Photography

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

College Life: Episode 5: A Physics Prank

For the summer, once a week I'll be sharing a story from my college days at CSU, 1984-1988. I will leave links at the end of each post for previous episodes.

It was lucky for me that I was right. He was the kind of professor who not only had a wicked sense of humor, but was also a good sport. Otherwise my harmless little prank of a joke might have ended quite differently.

You might recall we were previously in physics, the physics which should have come with the warning, “Physics for Einstein Only, Beware the Rest of You Fools Who Think You Know Anything.”  My college was the large state university, with over 20,000 students. Most of my classes were of normal size, and my honors classes had even fewer students. This class, however, was a herd of a class. We met in an auditorium, seating over 300, and most of the seats were full. 

If you wanted to have a chance at seeing the board (this was back in the days when they still used chalk on blackboards) you'd better get there early. It didn't take me long to realize I was in WAY over my head. I wasn't getting anything from the lectures, but I went anyway, thinking perhaps a smidgen of useful info might drift into my brain by osmosis.

Sitting there, day in and day out, I did notice one thing, though. The professor had only four shirts: blue, white, blue with white stripes, and white with blue stripes. I got to wondering, did he wear them in order, same order, every week? Or was he a fashionista who mixed it up and varied the order? I began an investigation. It did give me a reason for going to class, and I started planning how I was going to present my findings. 

Each day I'd arrive early for my good seat, and await the next data point. In the margin of my totally useless notes, I'd make a note of the color. I used a code: B,W, BS, WS. Which totally nerdy, short sleeved oxford would he have on? To make it even more fun, I started trying to predict the next one. 

Mostly I was wrong. Which got me thinking, does he have multiple copies of each shirt? How else could he manage that random order without doing laundry every night? And he didn't strike me as the laundry every night kind of guy. More like beer and pork-rinds every night while watching wrestling. He was a very educated, intelligent man, but he looked more like Bubba the redneck, with beer belly and shotgun.

About a third of the way into the semester, I was enjoying my game so much that I finally gave in and told Christy what the code was. Now we were betting each other for the next day's shirt. And by now, I'd also found my study buddies of real engineering students who dragged me through that class with lots of patient explanations. I shared my joke with them, too.

In the end we settled on making a graph of our findings, and planned to casually leave it on his overhead projector for him to find before class. I took my time with this, more time than any real assignment, unfortunately. It was a beauty, the line wiggling back and forth, up and down in its randomness. And almost done.

Then the unthinkable occurred. The shirt one day was yellow! With white AND blue stripes! I was crushed. Now my graph was going to have this REALLY out of the norm data point. And horror of horrors, would he wear it on the last day? Because we had quite the bet going. The person who guessed right got not only the satisfaction so well deserved, but also bragging rights AND got to keep the graph to proudly display. I wanted my graph back.

The last day of the semester arrived. I was giddy with anticipation. I got there really early this day. Snuck the graph onto his overhead. And then had to wait through most of the lecture for satisfaction. Finally he noticed it. Stopped talking. “What is this?” And he began to GIGGLE. GIGGLE! Not what I expected AT ALL. 

The class is starting to murmur by now, so he shares the joke. “Someone made me a graph. Let me read you the title. “A Longitudinal Study of the Random Variations of Shirt Colors in Professoria Physica.” He could barely get that out between laughs, and then he's belly laughing when he notices the errant data point. “I guess I messed you up that day, didn't I?”
In the end, no one got to keep the graph. He asked if he could keep it. “Best laugh I've had in a long time. Thanks to whoever took the time to do this. My wife is going to love it!”

~Tina, who yes, recycled this post from 2010, but it has been edited for content, to fit this screen, and to run in the time allowed ;-)

©2014 All Rights Reserved
Episode 1: Rommmates

Monday, June 16, 2014

Happy Father's Day! I LOVE YOU DADDY!

Just finished wonderful Father's Day dinner with the Swede.  Words cannot describe how much fun we had reminiscing and talking about writing, and planning for the future.  I just thought I'd share some of my favorite pictures as a tribute to this amazing man I'm blessed to call Pappa, Dad.

Patiently tutoring me when I spent 4 months in a body cast for a broken hip, 1974.  See A-Z 2013 for stories.

Goofing around with his three kids.  He did this a lot. We loved it.

Traditional Swedish Lucia, celebrated December 13 each year.  See A-Z 2012 for story.

Asleep with DataBoy.  I still have that sweatshirt.  No lectures about how much I save.  Today.  You can tell me tomorrow ;-)

I love you, Daddy.  Happy Father's Day.


P.S College Life will resume Wednesday.

©2014 All Rights Reserved
All precious photos by Momarrazzi.  Thanks, Mom.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The June-a-palooza IWM Blogocalypse Blog Tour continues! Please Welcome The Indie Writers Monthly!

Today I'm hosting some friends promoting their latest endeavor.  It's what this community is all about: helping each other whenever we can. Please welcome Briane Pagel and his buddies....

The June-a-palooza IWM Blogocalypse Blog Tour continues! IWM, as I AM SURE YOU KNOW because you've read all these already, stands for "Indie Writers Monthly," which in turn stands for a blog and magazine put out by 5 great speculative fiction writers, offering you tips on writing and publishing and more, which in turn is the secret behind how Swiss cheese gets its holes. (AND YOU THOUGHT IT WAS MARTIANS? Silly.)

This is a vase full of
Cap'n Crunch Cereal. It has
nothing to do with this post.
This is part THREE of this modestly-titled tour, which presents to you


Part 1 appeared on Sizzling Hot YA Books, and told how reading IWM will teach you how to time travel.

Part 2 appeared on lit, a place for stories, and told how reading IWM will give you super powers.

Part 3 appeared on Laws Of Gravity, and showed how IWM brings your childhood friends to life.

And so we come to number 4, which is a doozy*

*"doozy" comes from the ancient Latin word "deus-e," which, when literally translated, means "Nobody is ever going to speak this language anyway so we may as well make up words"
#4: We have The Blutonian Death Egg.

Now, first off, many people will tell you "Hey, if you have some sort of all-powerful death machine, you don't reveal that in Part IV, you save it for the end, otherwise you're going to have to do something stupid like have them make another all-powerful death machine, and you're going to feel mighty stupid, even before you put in the medieval teddy bears."  DO NOT LISTEN TO THOSE PEOPLE, because they are just jealous of you and George Lucas.

The Blutonian Death Egg, as you have gathered, is an all-powerful universal destruction machine.  Or so I guess.  I guess that because IWM Writer Rusty Carl is the creator and current owner of The Blutonian Death Egg (he even named his blog after it), and he won't tell anyone what it is.

But trust us. It's superpowerful and you don't want to mess with it.

That's not all Rusty has.  Rusty is responsible for inventing Killbots, and unleashed on the world one of the baddest bad guys of all time, the titular (and wrathful) star of his first book:

I understand Rusty posed for the picture himself.

Rusty's contributions to our site include tips on writing and links to and thoughtful discussions of actual mind-blowing science topics, and he is perhaps one of the most-well-read people I've met, judging by the number of tweets in which he mentions books he's reading.

If you want to be a great writer, especially a great speculative fiction writer, you've got to understand the villains, and Rusty does that better than almost every other writer I read. (Er... I mean except the other IWMers who are all exactly the equal of Rusty.)(Sorry, Rusty, I mean you are of course the best.)

*Looks around for side door to slip out of, doesn't find one, sighs.*

And remember, Rusty is just one of the five writers you'll get writing and publishing tips from on IWM.  The MOST DANGEROUS ONE. Don't make me send him to your house with his Killbots and Death Eggs.  Just go ahead and bookmark Indie Writers Monthly.  Click here to go to the site.

The author, demonstrating his inability to master the "selfie."

While we're at it, The IWM June issue is on sale on Amazon for just $0.99 -- a bargain at 10 times the price! Well, not really, but it's a bargain at THIS price. Click here for that.

And there's still time to enter a story in our time travel anthology contest! Win prizes! Details here. (And if you need a bit of extension on the deadline, just ask. We're nice folk.)(Also, get it? Still time?)

Please take some time to visit my buddies.  They are a fun bunch, and I'm happy to have them here promoting their latest.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

It's a War Zone Out There

I decide after being cooped up 
Too long, for sanity to stay
Much longer
I must make a dash
A get-away
A walk-about
Get the hell out of the house

I refuse to wear a mask,
don't want attention
I refuse to wait,
I think I'll explode

The artillery is flying
Almost invisible, those pesky
Mold particles
Pollen pieces, more menacing now

Grass clippings - those I can see

I make a dash for the car, holding my breath
I see it coming
A cloud
It's like's really like cotton

Like the cotton I told the told the doctor
Someone had stuffed,
into my lungs,
which made it hard,
for me to breathe,
so that each sentence,
was about this long,
as I gasped for air,
in his office, and told him
this was ridiculous

He agreed
He gave me drugs
He told me patience
I said I had none
He said that was good, or
I wouldn't be so anxious
To be well
To be whole
To draw a real breath
To play outside
To take a walk
To sit on my front porch
To watch the sunset

To open a window, to the world
And actually be a part of it


Haven't whined about my health in a long time.  Just couldn't take it one more day.  Excuse the rant.  When you can't breathe, nothing else really 

©2014 All Rights Reserved
Photo credit: Greyed out pollen
Photo credit: enhanced pollen (this is a hollyhock, which I have a lot of in my flower beds)
Photo credit: cottonweed blowing in the wind (shut up Bob Dylan, I'm not in the mood)

Monday, June 9, 2014

College Life: Episode 4: Study Buddies

For the summer, once a week I'll be sharing a story from my college days at CSU, 1984-1988. I will leave links at the end of each post for previous episodes.

Since I was a math major, it meant that a lot of my required classes were taken with scientists and engineers.  For example, the required physics class was PH141, Physics for Scientists and Engineers.  It was held in a theater like setting. Sat about 300.  Five grueling credits.  Met three days a week, then a 2 hour lab.

It was brutal.  I could handle it fine once I got to the equation.  The problem was this was for engineers.  You know, those guys who build and design and invent things and work in the real world.

I guess you could call me Sheldon in that I'm a theoretical mathematician. I like the big ideas, the structure, the language, the possibilities.  I'm not Leonard, who uses all that theory to actually do something.  Just let me play with my numbers.  

Not so in this class.  I knew I was in trouble from the first assignment.  Luckily though, the two guys from my tiny high school who were also at CSU were in this class!  They were willing to tutor, along with their friend.

They were truly patient with me as I was over invading their space with some regularity.  I brought snacks, I attempted to be prepared with what I'd tried, so they'd see I wasn't just free-loading.  They literally dragged me through that class.

It wasn't them just handing me their meticulously completed homework.  No, they took turns sitting down with me and explaining.  There were even moments of joy when THEY were stuck on the equation part and I could help!

There was one more huge obstacle to overcome though.  The testing method.  Have you ever been subjected to the following atrocity?  You start the test with a 0.  You get four points for a correct answer.  You lose one point for a wrong answer.  "No answer" to a question does has no effect on your score.  Do you have any idea how agonizing it is to calculate your confidence in an answer using a system like this?

It was a struggle the entire year.  Yes, I had to take two semesters.  I played with the test formula.  I took risks.  I got a 56% in the class.  It was, however, much to our surprise, graded on a curve.  56% netted me a B.  A B!!!  Unbelievable.  I didn't deserve that, but I took it and ran.

Physics and I are still not friends (except on Big Bang Theory, of course) but I survived.  Next time, a little story of another strategy that made it possible.

~Tina, getting by with a little help from my friends

©2014 All Rights Reserved