*grumble grumble*

Still alive, still kicking, back at my WordPress.com blog because I got distracted at the end of January (someone must’ve been shining a nickle in my eyes – that or a nice fluff of pocket lint) and didn’t renew my hosting. So anything that I wrote in January is gone (it’s a good thing I wasn’t updating all that often), but I was smart enough to backup everything at the end of December, so not much is lost. I had my old host point the DNS for my domain to my WordPress.com blog, so this is where I’ll be for awhile. At least until I get off my ass and sign up with Dreamhost again. I’ve been with them before and liked them quite a bit, plus my friend Michelle is with them and will get credit if I say she referred me, so it’s win-win!

Except for losing my January entries.

Anywho, part of the reason that I let my blog lapse was my stupid depression. While things had been going pretty well, especially with HotScienceGuy (seriously, I am constantly amazed by how fantastic he is), I noticed that I was getting very easily wound up over stupid things while having difficulty giving much of a damn about anything of importance. I realized that my Prozac wasn’t working as well as it had previously, which made me nervous because the thought of having to stop using a medication that I knew didn’t give me any side effects and move on to another one which was unknown to me was not a pleasant thought. When I ran out of Prozac in March, I decided to stay off it about a month, then refill the prescription and start taking it again, just to see if I could kickstart things again. I’ve been taking it again for a little over ten days now, so I’ll see how I feel in another couple of weeks. If it doesn’t seem to be doing me any good, I’ll talk to my doctor to see what she recommends.

While getting back on Prozac, I read a blog entry by Keith Wilson, the husband of my lovely friend Kim. Keith has been battling bipolar disorder for most of his life, but didn’t realize it until last year, when he went through a major breakdown. He’s been chronicling his struggle and journey and, while I haven’t followed him every step of the way, I have been reading and catching up when I can.

Back to the blog post – he wrote a sentence which leapt out at me and slapped me in the face:

In a nutshell, I really don’t give a shit about anything. When I do, it’s forced.

A big part of my depression is my brain racing around in circles about all the things I should be doing that I’m not, which digs me further into my depression. But not being arsed to care about things that are important to me and mine – while hating myself for not being arsed to care – is another huge component. When I can rouse myself enough to let people know that I really do care on some level, it’s very difficult and takes way more effort than it should, which brings out the self-loathing and, yes, burrows me deeper into that gawd-awful hole.

The thing is, I know my depression isn’t anywhere near as bad what other people have to suffer. As in many parts of my life, I’ve been relatively lucky in the Mental Illness Lottery – if anyone with any kind of mental illness can be considered “lucky.” But, as Keith wrote in an entry on Wednesday (which happened to be my 46th birthday):

If I’ve learned one thing since this journey started it’s that there are millions of people out there suffering the same thing. Whether it’s Anxiety issues, Panic, Depression, or any of the multitude of other conditions collectively labelled under mental illness, I’m just one in a million. My friends all know someone who suffers, some in silence, some are very vocal. I tend to be one of the vocal ones. Yet I feel alone.

That’s the issue with many of us suffering from depression or any kind of mental illness. Even when I know I’m not alone, it certainly doesn’t feel that way. I feel like I suffer it in the dark and maybe that’s where I should fight it as well.

But I don’t have to.

Not only do I have friends who are going through the same thing and aren’t afraid to talk about it, I have friends who are there to support me and help me, if I would just allow them to do so. They may not suffer from mental illness themselves, but they know others who do, whether it be friends or family members. They may not know what I’m going through exactly, but they are compassionate human beings who understand that my struggle with life is just different from theirs and doesn’t make me a lesser person.

And I have HotScienceGuy.

There is this fear that, the more he sees what a mess I can sometimes be, the more he’ll realize that I’m just too much to deal with and will disappear. But that hasn’t happened. If anything, he’s shown me time and time again how much he loves me and that my issues aren’t going to scare him away.

While my past boyfriends have been good people, I have to say, I really lucked out this time.

I’m trying to think of a pithy way to wrap up this post, but nothing comes to mind (proof positive that I really need to work out my writing muscle). So just a huge shout-out to my awesome friends and to my fantastic boyfriend. In so many ways I’m a very fortunate person. Thank you to all of you.

fair winds and following seas, dear friend…

This morning I received a shocking phone call: a good friend and fellow UCFer had died unexpectedly over the weekend at far too young an age. She was one of the non-blog-having members of our merry band and one who generally kept to herself in all online things that weren’t UCF related, so I’ll respect her wish for privacy and not reveal her name here. But she was a lovely person, full of humor and love and light, and she leaves behind a beloved mother, a loving brother and sister-in-law and many bereft friends. She will be sorely missed.

Fair Winds and Following Seas, Dear Friend.

Photo Scavenger Hunt: Yellow Submarine Edition

The inestimable Michelle posts a photo scavenger hunt every Thursday. And I, like a very bad girl, have participated only once, back in the days before I restarted my blog. I thought, since I seem to take photos damn near every day now, I might as well try the scavenger hunt again. And I got most of the photos on Thursday night, but two more were eluding me. I finally got them yesterday, so here is my entry!

(Edited 9/5/11 @ 12:27am: Two of the “something else yellow” photos I originally included somehow got cut out.)

Yellow flower

Yellow vehicle

Something else yellow (I had no idea how many “somethings else yellow” I would find. The first few were gotten at JPL.)

From whence Silversun Pickups got their name.
From whence Silversun Pickups got their name.

The ladies room at the Grauman Chinese Theater.
The ladies room at the Grauman Chinese Theater.

Summer water

MacArthur Park
MacArthur Park



Me after an hour plus workout.
Me after an hour plus workout.

hey, nice rocket…

The awesome Kate Baker!This weekend has been quite the busy weekend (photos to be posted soon), so I didn’t spend much time on the innerwebs. But I did pop on long enough to find out that the astoundingly awesome Kate Baker – my friend and fellow UCFer – won a Hugo Award for her stellar work as director for the Clarkesworld magazine podcast (video of the Hugo Awards can be seen here). W00t!

Congratulations, Kate! I’m so happy and so proud, I could burst my seams!

feelin’ the peer pressure…

So, there’s this here list being passed around these here interwebs: NPR’s Your Picks: Top 100 Science-Fiction, Fantasy Books. I voted in the original survey, surprised that I had read as many books as I had – as much as I love science fiction, I’ve read precious little of it. And once I cast my votes, I thought that my duty was done.

But then the final list came out and all my UCF friends started posting their selections on their blogs, with Michelle doing the instigation, as she does. So now I’m feeling the pressure, the invisible Afterchool Special, “C’mon, do it! All the cool kids are posting their selections on their blogs! If you don’t do it, you won’t be cool and we’ll all sneer at you and laugh at you and tell the other cool kids that you still wet your bed.”

Well, I can’t have that. I mean, I haven’t wet my bed in years and I don’t even have to wear Depends any more. I can’t have all that hard work dashed!

So here is NPR’s top 100 list, with my notations marked thusly:
bold for books I’ve read
italicized for my personal top ten
(Unlike Michelle and a few others, I won’t be marking books I’ve started and abandoned, mainly because I have a thing against abandoning books – I will finish even some of the crappiest books, such as Wild Animus or The Architects of Hyperspace. Even if I haven’t gotten around to finishing a book just yet, I will eventually pick it up again, else it will nag on my conscience until it’s done.)

1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien

2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
(Note: Douglas Adams. I love the entire series. If I could have his British snarky, off-the-wall baby, I would. ‘Nuff said.)

3. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card

4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert

5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin

6. 1984, by George Orwell
(Note: this was the first book to genuinely blow my mind. I graduated from high school in 1984 and was curious about all the hubbub surrounding the book, so I picked up in my senior year. Once I finished it, I sat staring at a wall for a good fifteen minutes, going over what I had just read. I try to reread it every few years.)

7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov

9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley

10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman

11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
(Note: I’m not a fantasy fan, but I was already a huge fan of the movie. I love the book almost as much.)

12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan

13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
(Note: As soon as I finished 1984, I immediately checked Animal Farm out of the library and devoured it in one day. An amazing book.)

14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson

15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore

16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov

17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein

18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss

19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
(Note: My first Vonnegut book. Instantly I became a devout fan.)

20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
(Note: This barely missed my top ten list. Love the book. Plus it’s just a seminal piece of work.)

21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick

22. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood

23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King
(Note: I read the first book, but didn’t continue the series. Just not my cup of tea.)

24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke
(Note: I also love this book, but it just missed being on my top ten list.)

25. The Stand, by Stephen King

26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson

27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury

28. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut

29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman

30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
(Note: Wonderful, icky, creepy and disturbing as hell. There’s no way I could not love this book, even if I didn’t exactly enjoy it.)

31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein

32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams
(Note: Another book that barely missed out on my top ten list. So sad and disturbing, but so very wonderful.)

33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey

34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein

35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller

36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells

37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne

38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys
(Note: Heartbreaking and wonderful.)

39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells

40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny

41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings

42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley

43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson

44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven

45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin

46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien

47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White

48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman

49. Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke
(Note: This sat in my bookshelf for many years before I finally read it. So happy I finally did.)

50. Contact, by Carl Sagan

51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons

52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman

53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson

54. World War Z, by Max Brooks

55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle

56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman

57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett

58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson

59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold

60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett

61. The Mote In God’s Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
(Note: My first hard science fiction book. Wow. Die-hard Niven/Pournelle fan ever since.)

62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind

63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke

65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson

66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist

67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks

68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard

69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb

70. The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger

71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson

72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne

73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore

74. Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi

75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson

76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke

77. The Kushiel’s Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey

78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin

79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury

80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire

81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson

82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde

83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks

84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart

85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson

86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher

87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe

88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn

89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan

90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock

91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury

92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley

93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge

94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov

95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson

96. Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
(Note: This one hits close to home, as the building in which I work was destroyed in the book. Still a wonderful book.)

97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis

98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville

99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony

100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis

20/100. Not great, but still better than I thought. I have read other SF books, but they didn’t make the list. Needs more Philip K. Dick, for instance. And the little Heinlein that I have read (Job and
The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag
) didn’t make it. However, I now have a list of books to read…right after I read the many books that I currently own and haven’t read.

My SF book list pushers:

gratitudinal december – cutefilmnerd…

I am grateful for CuteFilmNerd.

News alert: I am a mushy romantic. While I’ve never felt that I’m incomplete unless I have a man in my life (which is good, considering I went for nine years without a relationship), I do admit that I like having a companion. A lot.

I’m a very physical person. I love having someone to cuddle with, to hold hands with, to kiss and hug and have lovely, lovely sex with. But it’s not enough to have a warm male body next to me. I need the owner of that warm body to challenge me intellectually even while he shares my general outlook on life. Someone who makes me laugh by being witty and silly and who likes the fact that I’m super silly myself. Someone with compassion, who will hold me when I’m sad and understands my grief at the passing of a beloved pet. A generous man whose tastes in entertainment are fairly similar to mine, but who introduces me to fun and interesting things I’d never experienced and for whom I can do the same.

Luckily enough, I have found a man who pretty much hits all of those notes: CuteFilmNerd. We’ve been together almost three years, which is close to an eternity in my romantic life (I’ve been with only one man longer – that lasted three and a half years). A huge bonus for me? He’s mostly vegan and has helped to get me back on the vegan wagon after several years of consuming eggs and dairy. Which I had wanted to do, but couldn’t find the willpower to do so.

Is our relationship perfect? Of course not. No relationship is. But it’s so chock full of lovely, fabulous things that we’re willing to work on the things that aren’t so fabulous.

At the end of the day, isn’t that what a great relationship is about? No wonder I’m grateful.

graditudinal december – entry #1

Yeah, the blog’s been moribund for quite some time. Not much of a surprise. I could go into all the reasons why I think I’ve been away, but I’ve probably mentioned them the last few times I’ve taken an hiatus. What it boils down to? Just not been in a creative mood is all. Hell, with the exception of an odd day here and there, I’ve not really been in much of a mood to write anywhere. Even in friends’ blogs.

Not that things have been bad, mind you. It’s just that my brain hasn’t wanted to string words together and I haven’t been forcing it to.

But the ever fabulous Jeri has decided to post a new gratitude each day during December and the superb Janiece has followed Jeri’s lead, so I thought I’d give it a shot too. Hey, I’m all about the middle-aged peer pressure, baby!

(Plus I really do think it’s a good idea, even if I’m not quite as displeased with the holiday season as Jeri and Janiece are.)

I’m grateful for my relative good health.

I’ve been experiencing a number of health issues lately (lower back pain, abdominal pain, headaches) and have undergone test and exams to determine the root of these issues.

(BTW, whoever came up with the prep for colonoscopies? Evil. Simply evil. But the person who thought up the sedation for the colonoscopy procedure? You oughta be sainted. Lalalala!)

It turns out that, aside from a completely unsurprising hiatal hernia (oh, Prilosec, how I love your ability to suppress the chronic heartburn I’ve been experiencing since my teen years), my current health issues are fairly minor and easily treatable (though I must say farewell to my beloved ibuprofen – it makes my abdomen very unhappy). I’m working with my doctors and taking positive steps to make me all better.

True, I’m not SuperHealthyWoman. But all things considered, I’m not doing too badly. For that, I am grateful.

please help the powers family…

Cool guy Shawn Powers – good friend, fellow UCFer, Linux Journal editor and just all around great guy – lost his house (and everything inside) in a fire. Thankfully, his family is okay. Unfortunately, they lost their pets in the fire.

It’s never a good time for such a horrible thing to happen, but the middle of a cold Michigan winter is amongst the worst times of all to lose your house.

The good folks over at Linux Journal have set up a fund for donations for Shawn and his family. If you have a few dollars you can spare, please swing by and drop some money in the bucket.

Thinking about you, Shawn hon, and keeping you and your family in my heart and in my thoughts. Take care, darlin’.

more looty goodness!

My Twitter feed has been mostly filled with all things Station Fire, mainly because it’s not far from where I live and even closer to where I work. JPL was initially threatened, but seems to be safe for the moment. After closing the lab yesterday due to poor air quality, it was reopened today, though it’s still looking pretty damned orangey-tan out there. Thank heavens for air conditioning and air filtration systems – makes being inside totally bearable.

However, though I can seem to think of nothing else, I’ve got to divert my mind from the conflagration behind me. And how better to do that than to display some lovely loot?

Once again I opened my front door on a Friday off and found a package at my feet. This time the package was from the ever fabulous Janiece. Sometime ago I won a contest on her site and my prize was a hand knit hat. Having seen Janiece knit in person, I knew it would be special. And it is! Even more special — she made a matching scarf! And both of them match my bedding pretty closely!

August_27-31_2009_024a August_27-31_2009_028aAugust_27-31_2009_030a

Scarf detail
Scarf detail
Hat detail
Hat detail
Wigstand (aka old thermos) modeling the lovely hat and scarf
Wigstand (aka old thermos) modeling the lovely hat and scarf
Me modeling hat and scarf for CuteFilmNerd
Me modeling hat and scarf for CuteFilmNerd
Ooh, makes my hazel eyes browner!
Ooh, makes my hazel eyes browner!

Thank you, Janiece! You dost rawk mucheth!

camera looty goodness…

Back in December, a bunch of things were stolen from CuteFilmNerd’s car. I didn’t mention it in my entry, but one of the things that was stolen was my messenger bag with my digital camera in it. While it wasn’t the most technologically advanced camera, it took nice enough photos and I’ve been missing it ever since, forced to use my crappy camera phone if something visual tickled my fancy.

The beginning of July marked the birthday of The Awesome Michelle, who received an awesome camera from her awesome husband.

(There’s a lot of awesome going on on West (By G-d) Virginia. Who knew?)

Michelle realized that four digital cameras were two too many, so she offered the UCF folks two cameras to a good home. Timorously I raised my hand and thusly I was rewarded with a camera. Yay!

So last Friday I was home – it was one of my Fridays off – and I was puttering around my very hot apartment, trying to get some household chores done without incurring heat stroke. I heard the doorbell ring, but I was in my bedroom in the back, with hands full of stuff. Plus I never like to answer the door when I’m not expecting someone to come over. So I didn’t answer the doorbell.

About five minutes later I went to the front door and opened it, then looked downward to see a box sitting on the doormat.

“Wha-?” my mind said. Packages are rarely received because UPS and FedEx can’t get in unless someone is home and willing to answer the gate buzzer, which rings through to my roommate’s landline. His phone didn’t ring, so I was unaware of package delivery.

I picked it up, hoping there was no ticking or buzzing (because aren’t the only people who send packages through the USPS Unibomber types [says the woman who recently shipped something on CuteFilmNerd’s behalf via USPS]), then I looked at the return address. It was from West (by G-d) Virginia! WooHoo!

And here’s what I found upon opening the box (sorry – these photos were taken with my camera phone – I haven’t figured out how to take a picture of a camera with the camera I’m taking a picture of):
image002a1 image003a1 image004a1

On Friday I played around with it a little, but didn’t really take photos. I had too much to get done. Saturday, on the other hand, I was a photo-taking maniac:

July 18-19_2009 001
Handsome CuteFilmNerd enjoying a basil lemonade at Cafe Flourish.

July 18-19_2009 013
A yummy vegan reuben sandwich from Cafe Flourish. Some say it’s the best vegan reuben sandwich in Los Angeles. It’s CuteFilmNerd’s favorite sandwich. I think it’s good, but not phenomenal – the avocado competes too much with the thousand island dressing and the texture of the tempeh doesn’t quite work for me. However, the accompanying quinoa tabbouleh is amazing – fantastically fresh ingredients that leap on your tongue and do a happy little flavor dance.

July 18-19_2009 029
Vegan ice cream at Sccops near Los Angeles City College. The place is a bit of a hipster hangout, but the ice cream is fantastic, with interesting flavor combinations. Plus they always make four vegan flavors each day. Whether there will be any left when you get there is another matter.

And, of course, I took photos of the boys:

July 18-19_2009 015
Matisse was pretty laid back about the whole thing.

July 18-19_2009 036a
Edison was a little tougher, but I finally got a good photo.

July 18-19_2009 018
Unfortunately, BJ decided he wasn’t in the mood. The best I could get was this somewhat blurry photo. I’ll get him yet, though, I swear…

The new camera also has a panoramic option, as can be evidenced by my attempted panorama of my crowded bedroom.

And, of course, I had to test the video option on the camera, which, while not stunning (it’s not a camcorder, after all), was much better than my previous camera’s, as can be seen in these wholly uninteresting videos:

On the whole, I’d have to say this camera thing is a rousing success. A big thanks to The Awesome Michelle!