Thursday, December 1, 2011

I wish I was sleeping.

I played Skyrim tonight after viewing another house; this one was flooded and it had a strange like... squatter room in the garage or something. I'm calling it human cage #2. Also there were claw/nail scrabblings all over the doorframe of the garage area. TERRIFYING.

Well, I made it to 50k words on Malik's story; though it was a little rough in most places. I have come to really loathe describing things, and there's a terrible amount of description that goes into books. SIGH. I am already seeing parts I will have to go back and edit, or scenes I will have to add in (ugh) or lengthen/shorten. I'm going to go ahead and say that the storyline should probably be split into two books. I don't want to, so maybe I can cut and trim stuff and get it to fit into one... we'll see.

In the interest of finishing Malik and/or getting a move on the world he's in, I think I am going to begin working on a simple website with character designs, world info, species info, images, etc. I'm kind of looking forward to this as a winter project, something to cram in amongst all the other things I do on a normal basis.

So that's... away for work (including drive time) for about 10 hours a day. Mondays at the farm after work taking care of the peafowl. Wednesdays are date nights with Mils. Friday is night out with the guys. Tuesdays and Thursdays may or may not be days I go to visit houses in my grand search for a place to live that is NOT my parents' house, with a possible short raiding opportunity with my WoW guild thursday nights for old content. Saturdays and Sundays may or may not ALSO be work days for 6-7 hours, and saturdays are starting to also end up being farm days to work on the pen/shelter for the peas, and let's not forget that I generally agree to go raiding with my WoW guild on Saturday nights for ~4 hours. I'm intending to spend spare time writing Malik's story, and now I'm adding web design??

Just one question? What happened to being a lazy recluse?? This is surely a spoiled plan.


Monday, November 21, 2011

On Death

I went to a visitation for a friend of mine that died last night. He worked in the lab I used to work in, and was quite old. I think it's very possible working in the lab was one of the things that was keeping him alive, and I am sad to see him go. He was a genuinely nice guy.

As we were driving home (I'd gone with my mom), she wondered aloud if people's spirits hung around watching their visitations/funerals, like seeing who showed up or who cried or whatever. Or if maybe they just didn't care, like whatever I've moved on now. She asked me what I thought. I don't think she liked my answer very much.

What I told to her was that I didn't think there was anything in particular after death. That there was, as a friend put it, an eternity of not existing before I became me, and there is probably an eternity of not existing which will follow after I have stopped being me.

This is not to say that I don't like to think something exists after death, because I do. I just don't see that it's very probable. It's always been one of those things which is very difficult for me to grasp, the thought of something beyond death. She cited that obviously a Creator who went through all the trouble of creating this world for us and giving us life wouldn't just have nothing for us afterward. But, I suppose this view by necessity requires one to believe in a Creator, a god of one sort or another, and also believe that the god is benevolent or actually cares that much about any of us and is not care-taking, say, a human fish tank, where we just get flushed down the toilet.

It is difficult for me to believe either way on the matter of a god existing or not existing. There is a lot in this world that I feel like could really only exist or happen with some outside force interfering. On the other hand, grasping that some all-knowing entity watches over us and has designs on our every move before, during, and after our lives seems a liiiittle far fetched. I'd like to believe something exists after death; not because I am afraid of not existing, but because I enjoy existing and would like to do so again. Maybe as a boy, or a cat, or a hawk. But if not, I feel that I've come to terms with that as well.

I intend to live this life to the fullest extent possible, and if I get another shot, cool. If not, well, I will have done well and enjoyed what I was given and what I was able to find.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Nanowrimo 2011

Figured I would make a post, since it's been a few months. I'm currently up at Deer Camp, the annual tradition of going to BFE, drinking, and attempting to shoot a deer to bring home delicious, delicious venison. So far we have not had much luck with the deer part, but the rest of it has been fun.

We do have another tradition that occurs during Deer Camp, or rather, Deer Camp happens during it! November is National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo for short!). This is the time of the year where over one hundred thousand people the world over are sitting down at their computers and each of them is attempting to write 50,000 words on a story in 30 days.

If you have never tried to write a story and are not sure what that means, it entails writing approximately 3 single spaced pages of a story per day for 30 days in a row (if you stick to doing the daily required word count to finish). It amounts to between 85 and 90 pages, depending on the amount of dialogue and such. On top of just writing 90 pages (which is no easy feat even if you happen to be straight copying pages!), it has to be 90 pages of material you are creating from scratch. Some people choose to write stories with no pre-planned plot, choosing to allow the story to go where it will, so to speak. Others plan very carefully so that all they have to do is write the words. Still others write off the beaten path, choosing to do a story "stream of consciousness" style or by taking challenges from the Nanowrimo site.

Personally, I have chosen a story this year that has a great deal of personal meaning to me. It is one of my oldest stories, and on a personal level it represents my transition from writing fanfiction to writing original stories. On a non-personal level, it's a story I have grown very close to, invested a lot of time in, a lot of effort in, and is the story of all my stories that I would most like to hold in my hands as a book. I care about these characters probably more than I should and I have put off writing this story in its entirety because there was so much of the plot left... well, unplotted.

This past year, I decided that had to end. I sat myself down on more than one night and said Ked, you have to plot this shit out. You HAVE to figure out what is going on when, and how you are going to work this story. You're not going to like it. It's going to be like eating your vegetables or shaving or paying your bills; you don't have to like it but you do have to do it, because it's good for you and because I will kick you if you don't.

So, with self threats like that in mind, I set about plotting out the hard parts of this story, the parts I did not want to write, the areas I was nervous about slogging through because I wasn't sure they were going to be interesting, or that they were going to be 'right'.

But, here I am, about 30k words into the story, and it's going better than its ever gone before. I am in a section I don't particularly want to write through, but I am going to write through it and when I get to the other side, I am going to look back and go well that sucked, but I made it, and I'm going to keep making it right up until I write the last words of this story.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

RIP Laxie


This is Laxie, our family's first dog. She passed away today.

Laxie was a tri-color Australian shepherd border collie mix. My mom took her home after someone found her wandering around my brother's Lacrosse field. She was dehydrated and under weight, but boy was she happy to see anyone that wanted to pet her. This was always her personality, from the day she arrived until the day she passed.

She was always happy to see people. She didn't just wag her tail when she said hello, she wagged her whole body. When you walked in the door, she was there wagging herself, a toy in her mouth as a present to say "WELCOME HOME I MISSED YOU!!" When she first arrived she was a bit naughty, jumping on people or pawing at them. But she was VERY willing to learn how to behave. It did not take very much training at all before she would politely approach people, sit at their feet and beg to be petted. It was this behavior which allowed me to train her to be a certified therapy dog. She passed her canine good citizen test with flying colors (the testers said they'd never seen such a well behaved dog) and her therapy dog certification just as easily- and everyone she visited loved her. She trained at a local elementary school, and the kids that knew her around the block all knew her name and would come say hello when they saw us walking.

You couldn't say "walk" around her (or "ride" after she figured out she could go in the car!) without her doing her happy dance. Her paws would flail, her whole body would wag, and she'd smile like a fool. She could hear the clink of the leash a mile away. She sat neatly in the front seat of my jeep with her head out the window and her tail doing the little tiny happy wag at the tip that she did when she couldn't wag her whole body.

Laxie knew a lot of tricks, too. She came to us knowing how to sit, and from there we taught her how to shake (with either paw we asked for), lay down, belly up, balance food on her nose, heel (on leash... she never did learn how to walk off leash), go on (walk away from us), come, watch out (get up and move if she was laying in someone's walking path), stay, leave it, gentle (for when taking small treats or starting a walk), and Bang (fall over when "shot" at with our fingers). She knew the "no" noise, which served to stop her from doing whatever she was doing if we hadn't taught her a command, and she knew that "ok" meant she could continue doing what she was doing. She never rushed her food bowl, always sat down and waited for the "ok" before she would eat. She took treats with an admirable amount of gentleness. In the beginning she was very bad about begging, but she soon learned not to sit in "kicking distance". She would sit across the room from anyone with food and very pointedly NOT look at you (or your food). If you set your plate on the floor, she did not usually rush it until you said "ok." She also knew her name, and liked to hear us saying it.

She loved chicken most of all, and she was never fond of dry dog food... but she'd wolf it down if mom mixed a little wet dog food in, or put some chicken broth over it. She cleaned up messes in the kitchen (she even helped mom clean up chicken bones from the garbage a lot... how nice of her). She didn't like to take treats from strangers in the beginning, but after a few years she would take the soft treats from them, and even took a hard treat from the vet toward the end. When I took her to Sunday dog playtime at Petco, I would take her down the treat aisle and let her pick her own, and then let her put her front paws up on the doggie treat bar and pick a few kinds of treats for the week. She liked the mint cookies and the ones shaped like food the best, and almost always picked one of the braided cowhide treats from the aisle. She also really loved snow. When we let her outside, she would just start shoveling it into her mouth like a hoover. We brought in a bowl of snow a few times, and she would chow down on it, and even defend the bowl from the cat.

Laxie didn't have a lot of bad habits in her. We never had to crate her at night, because she never chewed on anything. I don't think there was even one time where she had a potty accident inside the house (and she was really good about telling us when she had to "go out"). She didn't do much barking (at least, not unprompted... my brother was fond of saying "What is it Lax? What's out there? GET IT" and pointing out the window, at which point she would bark mindlessly at it until he hugged her and told her it was ok. I don't think she thought there was anything, I think she just liked making him happy). She didn't chase the cats (unless, again, she was prompted by "GET THE KITTY" and even then, she chased them but only with the intention of chasing them, never catching them or hurting them). She did make a run for it if she was off leash, but I don't think she ever meant to run away, I think she just liked to run at full speed and didn't think about how to get back. We had her micro-chipped so she could always come home somehow. I think the thing she did that drove my mom the craziest was that any time my mom vacuumed, the first thing the dog did was flop down and rub all her big black furs back onto the white carpet.

Laxie didn't have many toys, but the ones she had she loved dearly. She selected her first toy from my sister's stuffed animals- a black and white cat that looked just like our black and white cat. Its head was hollow so that it rattled when she shook it. She was with us for over 5 years and she had that toy from the day she arrived until the day she passed. Her first christmas, I got her a Jeep rubber bone with rope running through it for tug of war- but she was terrible at playing it. She just let you win, and then begged to be pet. For other christmases, she got a stuffed squirrel that squeaked and a stuffed sheep that squeaked. Mom regretted my decision to buy these for her. Unlike most dogs that might destroy the toy to get the squeaker, Laxie took exceptional care of her toys, never chewing them. But she loved to sit down in the middle of the family room floor when your favorite TV show came on, and just start chain squeaking her toys. PAY ATTENTION TO ME. She did have a dog bed, but she rarely used it except to bury her treats in it. She was often very careful about the treats she received, as if she was not going to get another one so this one had to be preserved.

I am going to miss Laxie, but I know she had a good time with us. She was always underfoot during the day, making sure she was near us and receiving plenty of love. Everyone that met her liked her, and she liked everyone she met. She was so very spoiled for treats and good food (the boys in the house are suckers for giving her table scraps). Her last days were packed with love, walks, and the best food we could get her to eat. I'm grateful for the time I got to spend with her over her lifetime, and the good times we shared together. There won't be another dog like her, and I'm ok with her being special like that.

Rest in peace, Laxie.
Good dog.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Where Things Stand!

Life is... full at the moment. It's not particularly what I would call busy, but it is full.

I have an incubator full of eggs waiting to hatch- 5 button quail, 2 silver pheasants, around 14 chicken, 2 goose, and the rest I think are ringneck pheasants. They all have different hatching times and I have to find a way to get them back to the west side of the state the weekend they are done hatching (which will be in about 4 weeks). The old batch of 12 blue andalusian chicks went to Andrea's and the 4 that hatched as junk test eggs shortly after have gone home with Moon after her visit this past weekend.

Speaking of Moon, we just had the first bird swap of the year, at which I acquired a female muscovy duck for Ping and three more peafowl. I finally, finally got my grubby little paws on a pied female (I've been to dozens of swaps now and I've only seen a pied female once, the first year I went... the rest have all been males), and I struck great luck with a guy who just wanted to get out of the rain and wasn't allowed to go home with any of the birds he took to the swap. He gifted me a blackshoulder male and an India blue female that had just about beat her own head in trying to jump out of the cramped wire cage he had stashed them in for transport. The male had ripped a claw and was bleeding all over the place, but they both survived to the Farm and are doing well in with Osiris and Blu and Octavian. The females will need names, as soon as I have had some time to sit and think carefully. I am going to be keeping the blackshoulder, but he will be Moon's in spirit so I told her she could name him.

I am still slowly feeding the free mice I seem to have acquired to my snake now that he is FINALLY eating again. He is getting old and I think he's got a lump under his skin that probably means an illness I'm not going to treat. He's almost a decade old (he might even be older... I stopped trying to figure it out, but I think he's 10 now), which is mid to late life for him. For the time being, he's enjoying basking in the heat lamp's rays and hamming it up when I take him out for visits.

I am still on the hunt for a house, but I think today I decided that I will sit back and allow myself to just save money. I'm 2-3 paychecks from paying off my credit card completely and then I can start tucking away a good chunk of change. I don't know if I'll be able to sort myself before the summer is out and I don't want to jump into housing mid winter. I'm tossing about the idea of asking for help from a man I spoke to today, and seeing what he can offer to me.

Things are also going well with Milyardo. We spend a lot of our time together during the week, and it seems there is always something to do. Visiting the farm, driving out west for visits, attending weight watchers every wednesday (followed by our typical inventing-something wednesday dinners... last week was a creamy-tomato sauce tossed with bowties and italian-spiced chopped chicken.... omg delicious), Friday night dinners with the guys, and a weekend of sneaking lounging opportunities when the rest of it isn't keeping us on our toes. It is thoroughly enjoyable, and I'm very glad to have found such peace.

Amongst the adventures above, I have also decided to attempt to finish Malik's story, to see it published. I don't expect I will find anyone else willing to publish it, so I intend to find a way to self-publish it. I have a good enough grasp on the storyline at this point that I think I can finish out the story with enough determination. It helps to have someone holding my hand through the ropes.

As if I even have time for anything else, I'm sure there are other things I'll be caught doing in the next few months. Summer is exciting and I already have some plans made. The beginning of May will be full of time off of work and a mini-vacation spent babysitting the Farm while Liz and Becky are on a cruise. This will mean quality time with my 'kids' and a chance to get a feel for farm life a little better than a single weekend provides. The end of May will launch my birthday and I will be attending a wedding amongst Milyardo's relatives with any luck. The beginning of June brings with it a trip to Mackinac Island during the Lilac Festival. The isle has had every single species of lilac in the world transplanted to it and they all bloom at the same time during a two week span in June. I have always wanted to visit during that time, if only to smell the amazing aroma of so many lilacs in bloom at once in the same place. The end of June brings about Chris and Carla's wedding party, a celebration of the wedding they had in Mexico this past December. Maybe I can get my sand from them then.

Well, I think that's about as much updating on life as I'm feeling up to doing at the moment. I should try to post more regularly or something, but let's face it. I have issues with my memory and I forget this thing exists some days.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

I just want to say that today, I crossed a turning point. There have been other turning points. Some smaller than others. All of them Important in ways I can't explain to someone that hasn't faced it.

The best way to describe this one is how I described it today. Imagine standing at the edge of a cliff, and knowing what is at the bottom is what you want. Imagine that you KNOW the ground is a long way down- a looooong way down. But what is at the bottom, it's what you want, what you need, and you know you have to jump to get there, no matter how scary it is. No matter how far down. The turning point is that moment, the one where you are standing on the edge and you go from being terrified of the fall to deciding to do it because you either do it or you walk away from it, but either way you can't keep standing there being afraid of it.

I decided I'm done standing there being afraid of it, and it's time to jump.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Monday March 14th 2011
Points for the day are as follows: 18

Gala Apple: 0
Mandarin Oranges: 0
Hot cocoa (made with water): 3
Portobello mushroom chicken pot pie: 15

I'll update when I actually eat dinner.... though I suspect I may break into the samoa ice cream and skip dinner >.>

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Saturday and Sunday

Mashing these two together since internet was slow yesterday night.

Saturday March 12th 2011
Points for the day are as follows: 28

Cheesy Biscuits (homemade x3): 9
Smoked Chicken (leg/thigh + 1/3 breast): 6
Cheesy Biscuits (homemade x3): 9
Broccoli and Cheese steamer 1/3: 2
Cherry Coke: 2

Sunday March 13th 2011
Points for the day are as follows: 29

Eggs (x2): 4
Hash Browns (1/2 package): 6
Ketchup: 0
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread: 4
WW smoked string cheese: 1
Smoked Chicken 1.5 breasts: 6
Ruffles Baked Sour Cream and Cheddar chips (damn you eric for leaving them here!): 8

In other news, found the first black copper marans egg in the coop, and the first (probably) seabright egg.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Friday March 11th 2011

Points for the day are as follows: 45 total

1 Gala Apple - 0 points
2 eggs - 4 points
Portion of hash browns - 4 points
16 Oz water w/ Crystal Light (x2) - 0 points
Chicken Enchilada Soup (cup) - probably 5 points
Cheese - 2 points
Tortilla strips - 3 points
Spaghetti (3 cups) - 15 points
Sauce (1 cup) - 4 points
Parmesan - 3 points
Garlic Bread - 5 points
Mint - zero points
3 cups water - 0 points

Ok, so here's where things are interesting. I have gone over my 29 points for the day (which I normally do on Fridays because every Friday I go out to a restaurant with the guys). This means I will be dipping into my 49 extra weekly points.

So with 45 total, I can subtract 29, leaving me with 16. So I've used 16 weekly points, leaving me with 33 for the rest of the week. These, I will probably not use on other days, as the rest of the week I tend to try to stay at just my daily points.

On the old program, we used to get... I want to say it was like 25 extra points... somewhere around there. And it was my general habit to cross off the first ten of them on my tracker. These ten I used as my error points, for the times when my measurement of food was off, or reasoned that they accounted for the partial points I ate when I nibbled things (like 1 mini chocolate egg.... it's not actually a point but if I eat one every day I've eaten a couple points worth).

I still like to consider those points as gone, so I will say there are 23 weekly points, and 39 to start with for other weeks... but it's my own personal habit and shouldn't be listened to if you get easily confused.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Thursday March 10th 2011

This is my tracking post for Thursday March 10th 2011.

I expect my friend to post in the comments how he is spending his points for the day.

I will update my points when I get home from work.

EDIT: My points!
1 Cadburry Dark Chocolate Candy-shell egg (blue) - some fraction of a point
1 Gala Apple - 0 points
16 OZ water w/ Crystal Light packet (grape) - 0 points
Hamburger: 11 points total
(Patty (sirloin)w/ onion and garlic folded in - 8 points
Low Fat American Cheese slice - 1 point
Tomato - 0 points
Ketchup - 0 points
Dill pickle slices (Claussen!) - 0 points
Low fat Meijer hamburger bun - 2 points)
1 stick WW smoked string cheese - 1 point
16 Oz water w/ Crystal Light packet (strawberry) - 0 points
Small cube french bread w/ honey-whipped butter - the other fraction of a point
Hamburger: 11 points
Patty (sirloin) w/ onion and garlic folded in - 8 points
Low Fat American Cheese slice - 1 point
Ketchup - 0 points
Dill pickle slices (Claussen again) - 0 points
Low fat Meijer hamburger bun - 2 points
1 stick WW smoked string cheese - 1 point

Total for today (thus far at time of updating): 25
I'm going to attempt to be held accountable for my actions through this blog. I joined Weight Watchers for the first time when I was in my teens, and I lost something like 30lbs back then. It was great, and then I spent a few weeks in France, there was delicious food, and going back to the program seemed so... difficult. Plus, it was a lot of money and I didn't want my mom to pay for something my heart was not in.

Years later, after graduating college, moving around a few times and eventually ending up back home, I took a step back and looked at my life. When I'd started WW in high school, I'd weighed somewhere in the 180's. Here and now, I was looking at a me that was over 200lbs. As bad as this may sound, I looked at a friend of mine that I knew was somewhere in the 230's the last I'd heard her quote her weight, and I said oh the hell no. I was NOT going to let myself become that.

On my own, I changed some of my eating habits. I cut out fast food, and I started eating fruits and vegetables where I could. It was disorganized at best. I managed to fumble my way down by about 15lbs, and that was where progress stalled. I knew I wasn't going to be able to do it on my own. So I talked to my mother and together we joined up at WW. She'd kill me if I listed her starting weight, so I'll just say she weighed more than she wanted, and she was willing to change.

So we went. The program was still difficult at times. You get a set number of "points" per day, dependent upon factors like height and age and weight and gender. Every food has a points value. You also get a certain number of extra points for the week, which you can use in bits per day or all at once or however you want to spend them, so that things like birthdays or holidays or restaurants don't have to be totally killer. But the smallest number of points you could have in a day was 18... and let me tell you how that's not a lot of food. A Lean Cuisine runs you anywhere from 4 to 8 points, and those portions are tiny. A 100 calorie pack? 2 points. Forget any fast food except the occasional stop to Taco Bell. Big Mac used to be rated something like 25 points... maybe 35 I forget. Good luck, right?

When I got to 18 points a day, I despaired and pretty much surrendered. I still watched what I ate, but I was not driven like I had been. I'd lost nearly 50lbs total and was feeling pretty good. I had been wearing a womens size 18 and was down to a size 4 in normal clothes.

Then I heard WW changed their program, and that it was easier. I had recently changed jobs, changed boyfriends, changed focuses... I thought heck, why not change my habits again. I informed my friend Eric that I would be joining WW, as he had mentioned wanting to lose some weight as well, and he accompanied me to a meeting to see the new program.

It's.... awesome. Fruits and vegetables (well most of them) are free of points. The way they figure points now has changed, as they've learned much more about how a body processes nutrition. Now, the lowest # of points in a day is 29 instead of 18, and many of my favorite foods have stayed the same in value or even GONE DOWN! That's pretty exciting. I can eat things like bagels again without feeling guilty about the huge point load. Dinner out with the guys on Friday's no longer had to be a guilty pleasure either. In fact, I was able to order my Pad Thai AND have it be within just my daily points, no weekly points needed!

So there's the story that leads to my being responsible here. Every day I am supposed to track what I eat. Most days I'm terrible and I don't. I am within 8 lbs of my goal weight, and if I can make it in the next couple of weeks, I don't have to keep paying for meetings; I will become a lifetime member and can go for free. Having someone in real life to be accountable to is infinitely helpful in staying on goal, so I want to give it an honest shot. So I'm going to track here, and hopefully give and take some ideas if anyone stumbles across this that is doing the same, or wants to do the same.

My tracking week starts on Thursday mornings, so tomorrow when I get home from work will be my first report. Wish me luck!