Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


Because I'm buried...

Too busy to post anything of substance. I failed to get into the Serenity screening yesterday, despite taking the bus across town and wasting two hours out of my day thinking I'd be able to get in. Stupid me. Ah well, our Grubbstreet correspondents got in and report back that all is well. I'll catch the movie this weekend if I can, I suppose. Meanwhile, I took the Firefly quiz. Keeping in mind I haven't even seen the whole series and can't even name all the characters, I'll say that I don't mind ending up as Zoe in this.

Which Serenity character are you?
created with QuizFarm.com



My friend Ruth, recently evacuated from Houston with her three kids, checks in to let us know she's safe and sound in Oklahoma City with this bit of trivia:

It's the birthday of the singer and songwriter Bruce Springsteen, born in
Freehold, New Jersey (1949). ...

Monmouth County, where Bruce Springsteen grew up, lost more people in the World Trade Center than any other county in New Jersey. He read the New York Times obituaries, and he saw how many times one of his songs was played at a memorial service and how many of the articles mentioned that the deceased had loved Springsteen's music. There was a headline for one man, Jim Berger, that read: "Fan of the Boss," so Springsteen called up his widow, Suzanne. Another fan was a firefighter named Joe Farrelly, and Springsteen called his wife as well. She later said, "I got through Joe's memorial and a good month and a half on that phone call."

I've been in a state lately, just too much going on under the surface as I spend another day slogging through the rubble left behind by the little "Osseum Bomb" Adam Williams left for me. Kate caught me holed up in the bedroom crying at the "Victims of Hurricane Katrina" episode of Animal Cops Houston the other night. I could do the same just thinking of Bruce Springsteen calling 9/11 widows.


Angry Mother Earth

My friend in Houston is preparing to take her three kids and seek refuge with her sister in Dallas. I can't help thinking of all those displaced victims of Katrina, still trying to get their feet under them, while another hurricane looms over their temporary homes.

Meanwhile, another friend linked to this January 2005 article about the likelihood of a Pacific Northwest Megathrust Earthquake. We've made the top ten list! The same site also has an article about the Mystery Bulge in Oregon Still Growing. That's right, a "mystery bulge" in the earth's crust, which they think is a large amount of magma, "magma that...is equal in size to a lake 1 mile across and 65 feet deep...rising 10 feet each year, under tremendous pressure, and it deforms the Earth's surface as it expands, causing the bulge."


Summer's End

Even though we can officially squeeze a few more days of summer onto the calendar, the truth is that autumn has its hold on us for a few weeks now. As Kate put it, "Someone turned off the summer switch." Despite what some folks say about Seattle weather, what I love about it is the way the seasons change with the calendar, right on schedule give or take a couple of weeks. On the first day of spring the grass is green, the trees and flowers are blooming, the dull grey of winter has given way to longer days and color everywhere. Same with autumn: the leaves are beginning to turn, days are still comfortably warm while night falls earlier, brisk and damp.

As a kid, summer was always my favorite season. Heat and sunshine, a visit to the lake, fishing and swimming and riding my bike, reading books upon books checked out from the library, freedom from math quizzes and bullies. Summer was the best. Now summer is a blur, an endless slog through constant travel and a series of conventions, nights and weekends too often completely devoured by work or being too drained to do anything but lie around listlessly and dreading the next thing (be it project or convention) hurtling toward us. In three weeks we're having the Green Ronin Summit here in Seattle, two weeks after that it's the Alliance Open House in Ft. Wayne, then November holds a probable trip to England and then GenCon SoCal. Autumn doesn't really hold anything less in the way of deadlines, projects, or travel and yet getting through the summer slog still feels like relief.

We celebrated the last weekend of summer in style, at R&C's making grilled pizzas on their bigass grill and celebrating R's birthday. Saw John and Jenny, who we hadn't seen in months because they're both busy all the time, too. Summer used to be the time to see all my friends, if not at home then at conventions. Now as fewer and fewer friends stay in the business, summer is one big interruption. As a kid I couldn't understand how anyone couldn't just love summer; today, I say bring on autumn!


Good for What Ails Ya

White Bean Soup with Truffle Oil

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced roasted garlic
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 cups vegetable broth
2 (19-ounce) cans cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon truffle oil

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and pepper; sauté 2 minutes or until onion is tender. Add rosemary; sauté 30 seconds. Stir in broth and beans. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in lemon juice. Let stand 5 minutes. Pour half of mixture into a blender; process until smooth. Pour pureed bean mixture into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining bean mixture. Spoon 1 cup soup into bowls, and drizzle each serving with truffle oil.

Since I conveniently had truffle oil (from my excursion with Bruce to Seattle Cooks last year), I whipped up a batch of this and served it with some thick, hot toasted slices of buttered honey wheat bread from the farmer's market.

Pramas may be coming down with this thing I'm just kicking. I hope not! Loading him up with echinacea and Zicam, to be on the safe side.



Laughing nearly made me cough up a lung. Thanks, shawnj!

More here


He loves me

Coming home from Wargame Wednesday, he brought me a big box of tissues and some Robitussin-CF. He told me earlier today that it's not listening to me cough that gets to him, it's the little pitiful noise I can't help making at the end of a coughing fit.

Even though I spent the day feeling winded if I had to walk up and down the stairs and fatigued after a simple phone conversation, I'm feeling like I'm turning the corner on this thing. I've been susceptible since my bout of pneumonia after GenCon a couple of years ago, it's the coughing that wears me out more than anything.

Kate was complaining of congestion and headache tonight, even as I'm feeling slightly improved (or maybe it's just the drugs kicking in). Poor kid, I hope she doesn't get it as bad as I've had it.

I was good for very little tonight, but I did manage to get the sound working on the computer I inherited from our friend John, and fired up some Balder's Gate to pass the time. I never did finish Baldur's Gate, but enjoyed it a lot while I was playing it back in the day. Are there any good PC games like Baldur's Gate out there right now? Playing Nancy Drew mysteries with Kate just isn't cutting it...


Lazy and Productive

Is that possible?

I started the morning by making a lemon-huckleberry coffee cake, using wild huckleberries from last week's farmer's market and based off a Cooking Light recipe for a blueberry coffee cake. Yummy!

The rest of the day was largely a lazy day watching TV with the Katester (she got me hooked on this kid-reality series on Discovery Kids called Endurance and there was a marathon today in preparation for the new season, plus a couple episodes of Monk on the TiVo. Kate loves Monk.) but I managed to kick it into gear later in the afternoon. I put the family to work cleaning up the living room that Kate and her little friends had turned into a disaster area of epic proportions. We sorted stray belongings into three boxes, so each person can be responsible for putting their stuff away, picked up stray laundry, folded blankets that had been used as tents, cleared out all sorts of crap left over from various of Kate's "art" projects, and we can now see the furniture and the floor again! Hooray.

Then I started in on the kitchen, made Kate take out the recycling, and I even scrounged up a halfway decent dinner (basmati rice, steamed fresh brocoli with mornay sauce, and some fried ham). Not bad.


Kate-isms for Today

I shared with Kate the story about the people being turned away from giving food to Katrina refugees. She, too, would have solved the "apple problem" by cutting the apples into quarters.

But this cracked me up:

"How could milk cause a riot?! Ok, well, if some people were lactose intolerant, and other people were forcing them to drink the milk..."

Earlier in the day she cracked me up with this one:

We walked into a department store to shop for a new rain jacket for her and were immediately accosted by a guy handing out scent samples on paper strips. I sniffed politely and handed it to Kate. Her response? "You're right, it does smell good! It smells just like overpriced cologne!" I laughed out loud all the way up the escalator.


"Might cause a riot"

Good people everywhere, seeing a need, have organized together to help people in Katrina's wake. While my friends' families in Mississippi are receiving frozen chickens as aid from official organizations, it's been their sons and daughters (and their sons' and daughters' employers and communities) that have coordinated and distributed boxes of clothing, healthy ready-to-eat foods, and basics like soap and tooth brushes and towels. Similarly, church groups all over Oklahoma have donated their retreat cabins in Falls Church to be used as refugee shelters for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

One woman, her children, and her elderly parents decided to take the initiative and bring donations and supplies to "their" church's cabin, to help make the incoming refugees more comfortable, and posted photos and the story of their experience here (Warning, this link is to a conspiracy message board, so judge accordingly.) Among the many appalling things she says she was told when her family arrived with their donations was that just about every conceiveable thing "could cause a riot" and would not be allowed. Use of kitchen facilities will not be allowed ("liability issues"), meals will be brought in twice a day by FEMA, no one will be allowed to enter the camp "without credentials" and no refugee will be allowed to return if they leave the camp for any reason. Check out the response to the donation of breakfast cereal and fresh apples:

We then lug all food products requiring cooking back to the car. We start unloading our snacks. Mom appeared to have cornered the market in five counties on pop-tarts and apparently that was an acceptable snack so the guy started shoving them under the counter. He said these would be good to tied people over in between their two meals a day. But he tells my mother she must take all the breakfast cereal back. My mother protests that cereal requires no cooking. "There will be no milk, ma'am." My mother points to the huge industrial double-wide refrigerator the church had just purchased in the past year. "Ma'am, you don't understand...

It could cause a riot."

He then points to the vegetables and fruit. "You'll have to take that back as well. It looks like you've got about 10 apples there. I'm about to bring in 40 men. What would we do then?"

My mother, in her sweet, soft voice says, "Quarter them?"

"No ma'am. FEMA said no...

It could cause a riot. You don't understand the type of people that are about to come here...."

You don't understand the type of people that are about to come here. Bad people. Lesser people. Maybe even brown people. People who somehow deserved what happened to them. Right?




Chris just received a ticket in the mail: $101 for "causing" the accident between the van and the cab the other night when he opened the door to get out as Mr. In-a-hurry-pants was trying to squeeze his van by the cab in the dark.


We SO do not have money for this kind of bullshit right now.

[EDIT: This is the exact infraction:

SMC 11.58.050 Opening and closing vehicle doors.

No person shall enter, leave, or open the door of a motor vehicle on the side adjacent to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so, and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic, nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle adjacent to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers. (RCW 46.61.620) ]


Meme Variations

John Kovalic rightly points out that there's gloom and misery aplenty out there, and asks us for three reasons to be cheerful. I've answered and mutated it.

My reasons to be cheerful:

1) My girl. She's outgrown everything that fit her this spring, she's growing every day into a fine young lady who cracks me up, comforts me, frustrates me, challenges me and still loves me.

2) My [edit: he prefers MAN]. Eight years together and every bit my perfect match. He makes me laugh every day and eats whatever I'm cooking. Gush, gush, gush.

3) TiVo. I know, I know, it's quite a jump to go from beloved family to electronic device, but it's true. TiVo means I never miss the Daily Show, no matter how early I fall asleep these days.

Things I'm looking forward to:

1) The Seattle Arts & Lecture Series, Alexander McCall Smith lecture. Jenny turned me onto this series last year and I'm buying myself tickets to this lecture for my birthday.

2) Christmas. I get to go home for Christmas this year. It's been too long since I've seen my dad, I'm really looking forward to spending time with family.

3) Fall Cleaning. Most people do spring cleaning after a long winter. Around here we do fall cleaning after a too-busy summer of travel, suitcases flung around, piles of clothes or papers from one trip set aside in preparation for the next trip. Now that we're home for a spell, I can reclaim my house again.


Frozen chickens and community relations

Some may remember that I flew to Tennessee in July to meet up with members of my mom's group. Some of those moms live in Tennessee and Alabama, and have relatives in the hurricane-affected areas, including Mississippi.

Today two people reported that in Mississippi someone (FEMA or National Guardsmen, reports were conflicting) was passing out frozen chickens and bags of potatoes at the damaged homes of their loved ones. To homes that still do not have electricity... One set of nonplussed recipients were at a loss at what to do with three frozen chickens and a 15 pound bag of potatoes. The others at least had a grill.

Meanwhile, highly trained search and rescue and hazmat-certified firefighters (told to bring their gear and to prepare for "austere conditions") are being put through sexual-harassment training so they can be deputized as community relations teams and stand as props in the backdrop during Bush Administration photo ops. The firefighters, not thrilled about having their time and skills squandered while people still need help all through the region, have been begging to be put to work and amidst the complaining FEMA has warned them not to talk to reporters.

I am reminded of the dust-up in 2004, when the Bush re-election campaign appropriated the images of 9/11 fire fighters for their advertising, while the administration cut funding for "first responders" and for staff and equipment despite the IAFF's angry protests. Republicans at the time claimed the accusations that Bush was just using the firefighters for his photo ops were simply partisan politics in the lead-up to the election. This "using the firefighters for photo ops" thing is becoming something of a theme...


The Non-Policy Policy

In general, I like Kate's school. It is my choice to send her there. I like the environmental educational opportunities, with the Orca community garden, the way the school hatches and releases salmon eggs every year, the outdoor school "get in touch with nature" stuff they do. I was born in Ely, Minnesota and spent my formative years camping and fishing and picking (or eating) gallons of wild blueberries. The wilderness was at my doorstep, particularly the unspoiled Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Kate, on the other hand, is a city girl through and through, familiar with public transit, boundless ethnic cuisines, and the ins and outs of the Starbucks. The focus on the environment as part of her grade school experience may not be an exact substitute for the hands on experiences of my youth, but it's something.

My views are not entirely in alignment with all of the school policies or the concerns of other parents at the schools. I've posted before about the horrific "Cranes over Hiroshima" performance at the "Festival of Lights" that so scarred Pramas a few years ago. Currently sticking in my craw is the new "policy" around names at the school; an excerpt from the Dear Families letter sent home with Kate yesterday:

...Many people have questioned whether the tradition of first names for all adults sends mixed messages to some children and families around important cultural norms of respect. Staff felt differences in honorifics could more explicitly denote respect for different traditions. The following paragraph lists by room numbers staff members' decisions on name use.

Room 1: Mary, Room 14: Marletta, Room 2: Melanie, Room 3: Ms. Tanisha, Room 4: Ms. Laura, Room 5: Liz, Room 6: Ms. Katherine, Room 7: Mr. Donte, Room 8: Ms. Judy, Mr. Ray, Jennifer, Room 9: Phi Ho, Art: Becky, PE: Fran, Office: Mr. Ben, Colleen, Sandy, and Ms. Anita

My reaction: Are they kidding me?! Some of the teachers and staff are going by Ms. or Mr., while others are not changing? And they're expecting this haphazard implementation (where some people in the same room aren't even applying the same nomenclature) to stick with kids who have spent 4 and 5 years calling these same adults by first names?

For fuck sake, just pick one or the other and DO IT. This half-assed attempt to please both camps will please neither. In fact, this non-policy policy is the very definition of "mixed message"!



So, Pramas wrote a little about my experience at our recent convention appearance with a guy who was just a little too friendly. I was talking after the show with Conquest's CCG coordinator, Kristy Mack, about our shared experience of being female company reps who need to be accessible to our fans and customers but then also receive unwanted attentions. Saying hello in the elevator is not an invitation to rub me. The fact that I am manning the booth for hours on end does not necessarily mean that I want to listen to your creepy political rantings on how you have the RV packed and ready to go, how women are out to get men, or the details of your treatment for cancer of the scrotum. [Oh, dear reader, you think I exaggerate for effect here, but it's true, all true...]

In my youth I might have hauled off and smacked the guy; threatening to pound grabby junior high schoolers (putting the fear into them before we reached high school and they grew bigger than me) worked pretty well back in the day. Of course, those were the days when unleashing my righteous fury on the neighborhood bully wasn't something likely to land me in court for assaulting the little delinquent. As a younger adult, I was more sharp-tongued and prone to lashing out verbally (or virtually, as my loving husband will attest -- we met by getting into a fight in an AOL forum). These days, my reactions are slower, I'm not necessarily "wiser" but I'm certainly older. I am aware that people still hold against me things I blabbed off about when I was barely 20 years old and working in the highly stressed Lion Rampant/White Wolf environment. I've seen jackasses threaten to boycott my company because they disagree with my political views. I'm just not so quick to jump to it anymore.

In fact, at this same show I had a long conversation with a guy who had been in business with an industry hothead I'd had run-ins with in the past. He was telling me how the business relationship had finally dissolved and everything he'd been doing to tie up all the debts and loose ends for that company. I laughingly told him the "Vindictive Little Bitch" story: on Dave Nalle's Kick-Me-Off-WZL-Will-You?! anti-WZL mailing list, back around 1999 or 2000, I was cracking wise about some subject, the specifics of which I've long since forgotten except the certainty that I was (in that particular case) being neither vindictive nor particularly bitchy, and this fellow replied to the rest of the list, "Anyone ever notice that Nicole is a vindictive little bitch?" My response: I can be vindictive, I can certainly be a bitch, but don't call me little. Anyway, this story was an eye-opener to the guy I was talking to, because, as it turns out, I maintained my reputation of "bitch" with the people of his company, even though he admitted that he'd never had anything but pleasant dealings with me and couldn't understand the reputation himself.

Interestingly, Pramas didn't tell the punchline of the Mr. Backrub story! Mr. Backrub had wandered up to the booth toward the end of the show while Chris was looking over some goods at one of the other dealers' booths. "Uh, hi," I said, "I thought you said you were leaving at 1:00." "Oh, I got caught up in a game," he says, beginning to rub. Up walks Chris, who gives me one of his typical greetings: "Hello, wife." At that, Mr. Backrub promptly turned and walked away, never to return, without so much as a goodbye.



Why does pundit = asshole?


SF Recap

Long weekend, but Conquest SF was well-organized, well-attended and everyone involved was extremely hospitable. We sold some stuff, sat on some panels, Kate played games in the kids room, made friends with another girl, was very tolerant of our need to do boring adult things.

We took BART into the city one night to have dinner with Book of the Righteous author Aaron Loeb and his lovely wife Kathy and Blue Rose contributor Jeremy Crawford. We got a tour of Aaron's day job at Planet Moon Studios, and briefly met Book of the Righteous artist Ken Capelli, who also works there.

On the other hand, our friend Randy was at the con and he's a docent at the San Francisco Zoo. When he heard about Kate becoming a Zookid, he was really interested and took us to the zoo on Sunday afternoon and gave us a total back-stage/guided tour, loading Kate up with lots of information about the SF zoo programs, introducing her by name to all the animals, telling hilarious stories about their personalities, giving her access to "employee only" areas and introducing her to other employees and teens in the program. It was a VERY cool experience for her. Sadly, we forgot her found peacock feathers in the hotel room when we checked out.

The flight back was trouble-free and recovered our one checked bag promptly and without issue. We were home by cab by 9:30. Unfortunately, as we were getting out of the cab (which was parked angled into the street slightly) a minivan with a family and small children inside tried to squeeze past the cab... the van collided with Chris's door (I was already in the house, turning off the alarm) and after half an hour the cops finally showed up to make a report. Chris reflexively said, "Oh, I'm sorry!" as he got out of the car, and the bitchy woman in the van started in. "It's going to take a lot more than sorry..." Great. Hopefully between the cab's insurance and the van-family's insurance no one is going to try to pin the repairs on us!


Conquest San Francisco

We're off to Conquest San Francisco in the wee hours of the morning tomorrow, where Chris, Kate and I will be Special Guesting with the likes of Ken Hite, my former boss and Mr. Cheapass himself James Ernest, and Keith Baker (among others).

Come by and say hi if you're in the Bay Area!

Have a nice, long weekend and try to be good to each other. I've had entirely too much of people being shitheads to others lately.