Monday, June 29, 2009

A Slan in Seattle

I belong to three Amateur Press Alliances/Associations, or apas. One is Slan-Apa. Last night I drove to Seattle to join four other Slans and the wife of one to meet a visiting Slan from Florida. After a hilarious drive to the hotel thanks to a difference of opinion between the driver and his wife over the easiest way to get there, we met the visting Slan at the hotel's bar. Hours of happy chatting and a little happy hour eating and drinking wiled the night away. I don't get out much, so this was a great chance for me to do a bit of socializing. Thanks all, for the company.

The names have been omitted to protect the innocent.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Taste of Tacoma

I attended the abovementioned event yesterday. On the way in to Point Defiance Park I was given a little container of hummus and a wooden spoon. I took a couple of bites of hummus later on. Ptui!
For my taste I had a sample of Indian chicken-on-a-stick. That's East Indian. Not bad. For my meal I had a Korean dish. Chicken, rice, broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots. Not bad, but not worth the $7.00 they--and everyone else in an obvious conspiracy--charged for a dish. On stage was a Fleetwood Mac tribute band. Not bad but for two minor things--the girl was no Stevie Nicks and the lead guy was no Lindsay Buckingham. It might have been better if they'd amped up the vocals. I'm also wondering if FM needs a tribute band at this time.
A walk through the games section appalled me. Three bucks to throw one dull dart at one leather-clad balloon to win a prize full of diseased Asian stuffing that retails for 17 cents. I passed on the games. I'm not a fan of rides, either, so I didn't even consider them. The main attraction was the pretty girls in summer clothes.
My mother-in-law lives a block from the park entrance and my young daughter set up a cold drink stand at the corner. I sat with her and her boyfriend for most of the afternoon, watching the passing parade and laughing at some of the clowns in their silly outfits. Do teenage boys have any concept of how assinine they appear? Guess not, or they wouldn't look that way.
To my amazement, bottled water outsold soda by about ten-to-one. I've always been nonplussed about people paying for water, and it amazes me that they'd prefer it over Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, or Sprite. And they all cost the same.

I feel bad about letting June 25 go by without my usual mention of Custer's Last Stand. But yes, it was that day in 1876 that Uncle Georgie and about 260 men of the 7th Cavalry were slain by Sioux, Cheyenne, and some other tribes' warriors. To correct a couple of misconceptions about the engagement: The 7th Cavalry was not wiped out. The regiment's strength was about 1250 officers and men. The number of men in the battle was close to 750, so only about a third of the combatants died in the fight. The faction with Custer was wiped out, true, but the Reno-Benteen factions dug in and held out until June 26, when relief appeared and the Indians retreated. Next, it wasn't a massacre. The men died in battle (okay, the wounded were slaughtered, but we're not supposed to mention that).

Next up: Fourth of July. We'll see how the anti-firecracker ordinance plays here in the City of Destiny, alias Wired City.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

We'll Remember Always, Graduation Day

Last week Kristine (left) graduated high school, with honors. We're busting with pride. My other girl, Stephanie (right), finished her term at TCC with an A in both of her classes. More pride. Kristine will start at the University of Washington in September. Steph will stay at TCC and plans to transfer to the UW when she gets her AA.

Last month I completed the editing on The Toyman Rides Again, which is slated to come out next March. My editor did a good job with the technical parts of the manuscript, but was oddly timid about the use of brand names.

I quit taking guitar lessons at the end of May. My only reason is to decrease expenses now that I have a couple of college girls bleeding me white. Not that I'm complaining. I want these kids to get all the advantages in life they can.

I'm now on Facebook. I'm not sure I understand the need for it, but I don't want to be a Luddite.

I saw the latest Star Trek movie. The plot, characters, and acting were fine but the asinine MTV effects that permeated every action scene and some of the non-action scenes drove me up a wall. Thumbs down just for that.

I just finished Sue Grafton's T is for Trespass, a story of identity theft and a totally amoral woman who passes herself off as a nurse to loot an old neighbor man's estate. Protagonist Kinsey Millhone also handles a couple of smaller cases--finding an auto accident witness and serving eviction papers on deadbeat renters. Kinsey has new wheels; a tough Mustang to replace her trademark VW, lost last time out. I thought on one occasion she went about finding someone in a roundabout way instead of the more direct and simple one (one which she employed later on, btw). In other words, a spot of padding. There were a couple of coincidences that I noticed with a humph and they made me wonder if I would have dismissed them as inconsequential if I'd seen them in a book by a different writer. And by different I mean one who wasn't making an advance of millions. That got me to thinking if it was fair to expect a writer who makes huge advances to write a flawless book while showing forgiveness to one who makes a pittance, like me. Or should every book be judged equally?

I have sleep apnea and have had it for about 30 years. I've had a CPAP machine for maybe 15 years, but except for a short time when I first got it I've rarely used it. But I started using it in April and the result was so startling I have been using it nearly every night ever since. If you don't have apnea here's what you're missing: You never experience deep REM sleep during the night. Loose tissue at the back of your throat clogs your breathing tube, causing thunderous snoring. You have to breathe harder and harder, your heart has to work harder, and once in a while your breathing stops completely. You don't know it, but you wake up dozens or even hundreds of times a night. You wake up groggy and stay that way all day. The mind functions poorly, and in my case I think it made me grumpier than normal. Now, using the CPAP machine, I feel alert and rested all day, even a little smarter. If my bad back would quit bothering me I'd be like a new man.
Anyway, if you are a world-class snorer I suggest you get checked out. Sleep apnea can be a killer, and at best make you a walking zombie. This applies to men and women, although it's more common in men.