Category Archives: Uncategorized

Do. Literally. Anything.

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By Adam S. Keck (Own work; click photo for Creative Commons license)

This blog was never meant to be a political pulpit.

I’m not eloquent when it comes to expressing my opinions, I’m not convinced you can really change anyone’s mind, and I’m uncomfortable with confrontation to the point of phobia. That said, I can’t stay quiet about the gun problem in America. But here’s my rationale for this post: most Americans are in favor of common sense gun control, especially when it comes to assault rifles and universal background checks.

I’m not expecting anyone to change their mind. I’m asking people to start speaking up for what they believe in. If you disagree with me on this, that’s your right. I’m hoping that the multitudes who want meaningful gun control policy will raise their voices to drown yours out.

You can post on social media platforms, but those who agree will already agree, and those who don’t will ignore you (at best) or attack you. You can try writing (or calling) the White House if you think that will work. To the best of my knowledge, the more effective tactic is to call your elected representatives. I use the site 5 Calls to help me keep track of the issues that matter to me, and I recommend it.

The following are some thoughts from a few people (more eloquent than I) regarding gun control.

Cookie:
If you feel the need to own a gun for self-defense or protecting your home, fine, get one; our current interpretation of the Second Amendment permits it. But you don’t need, and shouldn’t have the ability to obtain, a semi-automatic weapon. That is NOT your Second Amendment right. We have speed limits on our roads for public safety and need limits on guns as well. Our government put tight controls on buying decongestants when some clever person figured out how to make meth out of pseudoephedrine, but they can’t seem to manage to regulate guns that are used for mass murders on a frighteningly regular basis in this country. And it makes me sick.

Heidi Stevens, Chicago Tribune:
You want better. You want change. You want it to stop. You wanted it to stop after Virginia Tech. After Sandy Hook Elementary. After Fort Hood. After Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal in Charleston, S.C. After Pulse.
You want your children to live in a world where it’s harder to slaughter people. You want them to live in a country that tries harder to stop the slaughter.
You want to believe one of these mass shootings will be the one. The one that makes us decide assault rifles don’t make us safer. (How can a good guy with a gun stop a bad guy shooting from 32 stories above the ground?)

James Corden, The Late Late Show:
I saw a quote from Robert Kennedy that stayed with me today. He said that “Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live.”
Now is the time for gaining that wisdom. Somewhere, it has to stop. Maybe the time for the thoughts and prayers of Congress members and the president have passed. We need to look to them to actually do something to prevent this from ever happening in the future.

Jimmy Kimmel Live:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, a number of other lawmakers who won’t do anything about this because the NRA has their balls in a money clip, also sent their thoughts and their prayers today, which is good. They should be praying. They should be praying for God to forgive them for letting the gun lobby run this country, because it’s so crazy.
Right now, there are loopholes in the law that let people avoid background checks if they buy a gun privately from another party, if they buy a gun online or at a gun show. So I want to show you something. These are the faces of the senators who, days after the shooting in Orlando, voted against a bill that would have closed those loopholes. These are the 56 senators who didn’t want to do anything about that.

Stephen Colbert, The Late Show:
(Addressing Donald Trump) Want to make America great again? Do something the last two presidents haven’t been able to do. Pass any kind of common-sense gun control legislation that the vast majority of Americans want. Because if we are facing pure evil, then by all means, offer thoughts and prayers. But think about what you need to do and pray for the courage to do it.

Again, 5 Calls. Maybe you’re already subscribed but if not, it’s incredibly easy.

If you have another (constructive) idea, I’ll share it in the comments.

 

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Bike MS Tour de Farms is this weekend!

And How Cookie Achieved her Nom de Voyage

Skippysm

Cookie and I have participated in Tour de Farms since 2013. In addition to raising funds for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, this ride is just plain fun. We’ve enjoyed it so much, we’ve been recruiting others to join us. This year our friend Beth will ride with us for the first time. She has always called Cookie by her given name.

Now it can be told: Cookie’s baptismal name is Eileen.

Anyway, Beth noticed that Eileen always signs her emails about the event with the name “Cookie.” Beth asked if Cookie was Eileen’s “biker name.” Since BK is the one responsible for the fact that Eileen’s nickname has stuck, I suggested that he be the one to explain it to Beth.

Here is his account:

About 3 years ago, on a Sunday morning, Catherine and Eileen were engaged in a bicycling outing with a group from a local bike shop. The path they were riding, as many paths do, crossed a street. Catherine managed to cross successfully. Eileen had the misfortune to catch her front tire in a break in the pavement, whereupon her bicycle, feeling rather unsettled by this unexpected turn of events, refused to roll on. In this instance, the intransigent attitude of her bicycle was in direct opposition to the laws of physics, particularly those dealing with conservation of momentum and angular motion.

Eileen was thrown from her bike into the street, landing principally on her head but not without significant contact with other body areas that led the way in her flight to the asphalt. I cannot fully describe the extent of her injuries. Fortunately, she is a physician and can explain these in detail to you should you ask. For my part, I will say that she had a concussion, an injury to her brain (opposite the point of impact, I think, with the brain compressing against the skull from her momentum at impact, and a broken collar bone.

— A pause for a safety message from BK

Our dear friend Eileen in a sensible woman. She wore sturdy shoes, appropriate garb on arms and legs for protection, and the most beautiful little helmet you ever saw. Now, if you had seen her helmet before the crash, you might have remarked “Nice helmet” but probably walked off thinking “No big deal.” However, if you observed the helmet’s postmortem, you might rather be inclined to walk away in amazement how this selfless piece of attire gave its life – figuratively – to protect our friend, Eileen. If you did not see the pictures on Facebook, it must suffice to say that one of her nurses requested permission to photograph it to show her children why they should wear helmets when riding.

helmet
Eileen’s defunct helmet, with cracked foam circled in red

— Now, back to the story —

Through weeks of rest and care from her doctor and his staff, Eileen recovered. Oh, certainly, there were headaches. Sometimes her neck bothered her (while other times she was able to sleep through it). Bruised and battered limbs, abraded skin, collar bone knitting, cranial swelling slowly returning to normal, she soldiered on.

On a visit to her physician’s office, as is probably standard practice for doctors performing follow-up examinations, her doctor had her sit on an elevated examination table for him to assess her condition and judge the progress of her recovery. Satisfied that she was mending, he completed the exam and told her that she could get down from the table. He no doubt expected her to ease off the table, using the step alongside to relieve stress on her bruised and battered extremities and to help her maintain balance in the transition. He was, therefore, rather surprised when she hopped directly to the floor without trepidation.

“My, you are one tough cookie!” he pronounced.

When Eileen told us the story of her visit, I could only agree that this was perhaps the best, most fitting diagnosis I had ever heard. From there, what else could we call her? So, I guess it is her biker name and one day maybe we will get her a leather jacket with that name tooled across the back. For now, it is our term of endearment for a good friend, a reminder of how important helmets are, and a sign of respect for one tough cookie.

BK’s note: I did not mean this to be so long, but as another great woman once remarked, “My husband never uses one word when three are available.”

CB’s note: I only edited BK’s account slightly, as I wanted to retain the entertaining flavor of his authorial voice.

If you’re inclined to donate to any of our rides, here are our links:
Beth, Cookie, me.

See National Multiple Sclerosis Society Illinois Chapter for helpful information about MS.

Primary!

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I voted.

It’s March 15, 2016 in the United States of America. Do you know where your polling place is?

If you live in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada  (some of y’all), South Carolina, Alabama, Alaska  (some of y’all), American Samoa (some of y’all), Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota  (some of y’all), Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Wyoming (some of y’all), Kansas, Kentucky  (some of y’all), Louisiana, Maine, Nebraska  (some of y’all), Puerto Rico (some of y’all), Hawaii  (some of y’all), Idaho  (some of y’all), Michigan, Mississippi, Virgin Islands  (some of y’all), Guam  (some of y’all), Northern Marianas (some of y’all), or the District of Columbia  (some of y’all):
Thanks for voting already!

If you live in Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, Northern Mariana Islands (some of y’all), Ohio and you already voted:
Thanks! You’re what America is all about!

If you haven’t voted yet:
You still have time! At least, you did when I posted this…

If you live in American Samoa (some of y’all), Arizona, Idaho  (some of y’all), Utah, Alaska  (some of y’all), Hawaii  (some of y’all), Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming  (some of y’all), New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Indiana, Guam  (some of y’all), Nebraska  (some of y’all), West Virginia, Kentucky  (some of y’all), Oregon, Virgin Islands  (some of y’all), Puerto Rico  (some of y’all), California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota  (some of y’all), South Dakota, or the District of Columbia  (some of y’all):
Remember to vote!

For a reward (and/or bribe), here’s a link to a Helpful Chart about Elections and Bitching.

Borderline

Sorry I’ve been MIA lately. It has really been hard to keep up with the blogging, between the writing and the reading I’ve needed to accomplish lately.

Speaking of reading, as soon as I’m finished with some reading I need to do for work, I absolutely know what I’m reading next.

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Borderline by Mishell Baker

I preordered this for Kindle and got it as soon as it was available (March 1). I read the first page aloud to BK, and we’ve both found our next book. He doesn’t do e-books, so I bugged my library to order it. So far it doesn’t show up as being available in my home library, but here’s what the system says about it:

A cynical, paraplegic screenwriter with borderline personality disorder is recruited into a secret organization that oversees relations between Hollywood and Fairyland, receiving as a first assignment a search for a missing film star with ties to Tinseltown’s darkest secrets.

Thank god for interlibrary loan!

Serial Box

This is something I’d like to see The Writing Journey (my local group) attempt. If it ever happens, I’ll be sure to let people know!

Medusa's Library

Serial Box is a new form pf publishing that purports to take the concept of a television season and bring it to the book world. The serials are created by an author and then co-written with a team, much like a writers room for a tv show. The episodes come out weekly and the season has a definite end in sight. You can subscribe to a whole serial or just shop a la carte.
indexingThe model is not entirely new. Kindle serials have been doing this, with Indexing by Seanan McGuire being a delightful example. And, of course, Charles Dickens’ works, along with those of many other writers, were originally released serially in newspapers or periodicles. The digital age has opened up the option to bring serials back in a very big way. The Serial Box episodes can stand alone, but work better in the network of the whole season…

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Three Fun Things

Fun Thing #1: Third Annual Bro Week

Bro came to visit right after Thanksgiving, as he is wont to do. We did tourist activities and saw many wonderful things. Bonus points if you can figure out where the following video came from:

Yes? No? How about this one?

Fun Thing #2: Voices From The Dark

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I just found out the anthology that just came out from eleven Writing Journey authors (including me) is available for pre-order in a number of e-book formats.The print book is already available.

The e-books should be available February 1. It will be available for Kindle here.

This is supposed to be the iTunes link:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/voices-from-the-dark/id1069197259?mt=11

And this is the link for the Barnes and Noble Nook:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/voices-from-the-dark-the-writing-journey/1123150660?ean=2940152529197

Fun Thing #3: Picks

Then, to cap off the month, we got an unexpected present. A small, mysterious padded envelope arrived from China addressed to BK and me. When we opened it, this is what it contained:

Picks

Picks! For the playing of guitars, ukuleles, and the like. It was a wonderful surprise. I have my suspicions regarding our benefactor(s) which I will check out by Christmas. In the meantime, if anyone wants to fess up in the comments section below, feel free!

Diversity Panels I’d Like To See

Annalee has come up with such great suggestions for con panels that I just had to share!

The Bias

Generic “diversity panels” are boring.

I get it: you schedule “Women in Gaming” and “Disability in Genre Fiction” with the best of intentions. You know these are hot topics of discussion in the fandom community right now, and you want your con to add to the conversation.

But these generic panels don’t so much add to the conversation as recap it. It’s impossible to go into a subject as broad as “Race In Science Fiction” in any depth in a one-hour slot, and without knowing how well the audience has educated themselves on the topic, the panelists generally just end up summarizing the background reading.

What makes this worse for panelists is that, as members of underrepresented groups, we’re in high demand for this kind of “diversity homework.” We get scheduled for these panels instead of panels on subjects related to our actual expertise or current projects. While folks with…

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