A (Very) Brief Biography

Somehow, the idea of writing an author bio is getting to me, right now.

Could be the fact that I’m a little up in the air on it myself. I mean… I’m not where I want to be with life, and I’m not really getting the short-story credits to stack up. And just thinking about it bores the shit out of me.

Karen lives in a completely forgettable place, works a meaningless job, and plays beautician to a depraved cat. She doesn’t have the faintest idea who she is, either.

**Ahem**

In addition to having a well-developed cover, including both a day job and house plants, Karen is an astronaut in the CIA’s ambitious program to place covert operatives on Jupiter.

Well, no. Actually, the CIA will not confirm that. But they probably won’t deny it, either. And that makes it true.

There’s the lifetime activity bio: Karen used to do interesting things, and has recently won her penguin march badge on fitbit.

And the immediate bio: Karen is making a turkey sandwich and trying not to drip mayo on this very important query letter.

I’m a little afraid I’ll have agents asking me to send the sandwich.

I’m not sharing my sandwich.

Okay. All things book-related. I could do that. Unfortunately, Karen was crushed to death in a tragic TBR collapse. Now, she haunts libraries, reading over peoples’ shoulders, and laying cold, icy fingers on the necks of studying freshmen.

Death of a Mustard Yellow Fridge

Time has now murdered the charming, 1970s era refrigerator in my somewhat mustard yellow pied a terre, so I spent most of yesterday and a good chunk of today shopping for replacements. You’d think that wouldn’t be much of an issue. After all, it’s a refrigerator. All it has to do is keep things cold. It doesn’t have to match my shoes or my purse, or–horrors!–the rest of the mustard yellow kitchen.

But… it does have to fit.

There’s a space for it between the cupboard and the wall, and back in the dark ages, when the space was new, it must have seemed enormous.

It’s not quite deep enough for most refrigerators anymore… not if I also want to be able to use the door… and it’s not tall enough for some. (Admittedly, those are shiny space-ship type refrigerators which are mostly out of my refrigerator budget.)

Did I mention it was a balmy 94 degrees here yesterday?

So, a quick trip through local refrigerators turned up nothing. I have specific tastes apparently.

Something that goes in that hole is going to look like a laboratory refrigerator, no question. But will it go in that hole?

The refrigerator is being delivered tomorrow morning. And it doesn’t look too much like a laboratory refrigerator. It’s black. And it doesn’t have a Far Side cartoon scotch taped to the door.

I’m thrilled.

Garlic Bread and Patriotic Socks

Last night, I dreamt I went to a casual dining establishment where–for some reason–they were advertising free patriotic socks with every meal. That’s probably a side-effect of all the explosions. A little less than a week left to Independence Day, and my neighbors are celebrating. Loudly. Why no, as a matter of fact, fireworks aren’t legal to sell or use in my community for a few more days. Never mind, the neighbors are conducting their own private Trinity tests, and I’m dreaming about patriotic socks.

The garlic bread? Well, doesn’t everybody dream about garlic bread?

So I was in this casual dining establishment. The kind where you can look over the counter and watch what’s going on in the kitchen… and I ordered a meal, which should have come with garlic bread and patriotic socks.

I didn’t get the garlic bread, and that left me with the feeling that since I wasn’t given patriotic socks, I should probably complain about those, too. Whether I wanted them, or not. (Possibly not a patriotic socks person.)

I had to complain to get my garlic bread, and then, I had to complain two or three times to get my patriotic socks.

As I’m leaving the restaurant, I had to tell them that if I did not get my patriotic socks, I would not be paying the bill.

So, a manager comes to talk to me, and then, I’m standing there watching while she pulls out an overnight case that is completely full of socks folded into neat little balls in white plastic bags. She hands me my bag of socks and apologizes.

I don’t know what made me check. My subconscious is a strange and suspicious place.

I had to call the manager back. These are not patriotic socks.

What do you mean? Of course, they are.

These socks… are yellow and black.

The manager looked at me like I was crazy. She unrolled the socks, and pointed. Yes, they are. They have pictures of cowboys on them.

Can’t argue with that, so I went away with my yellow and black cowboy socks.

Matchmaker, Matchmaker… I Don’t Know How To Can

I don’t know a thing about canning, and this renders me completely unsuitable for marriage of any kind. The older women in my neighborhood are horrified.

I’m sure you’ve had the conversation:

Older Friend: My wonderful son is getting out of prison after a lengthy sentence involving a misunderstanding about him cutting his horrible wife into seven pieces. He’s single, and all he needs is a good woman to turn his life around.

Me: Sounds great. You do realize I don’t know how to can?

Older Friend: Well, never mind then.

The thing about canning is that done right, you have a jar of asparagus. Done wrong… well, you have a jar of botulism. Canning is the one thing my mother was never willing to try just for fun with instructions out of a book. You have to have someone who knows what they are doing. I got to make jelly as a kid… but not very much, and we always stopped short of putting it in jars.

Someone recently pointed out that you can get anything canned in the United States. I think she meant store-bought and in tin cans, but the truth is… she’s right. And if it isn’t available canned commercially, you can bet there’s some woman down the street who’s doing it. There are a few exceptions. No broccoli. It won’t hold up to the heat, and you’d just wind up with a can of mush. (Or botulism.)

Other than that, yes… I think you can buy anything in cans. Meat (not jut Spam), fish, oysters, vegetables, snails (pause for any Frenchmen listening to recover), pumpkins, nacho cheese… pudding.

It’s a holdover from pioneer days when it took you six months to walk from  Missouri to Oregon and refrigerated rail cars were still a hundred years in the future. Root cellars and grow your own wheat grass days.

You used to can everything you could that you grew yourself, and then you’d buy more cans when you went into town.

Because you really did have to make it through the winter so you can start all over and get to battling locusts in the spring.

Chivalry is a Drunken Contortionist

Men and doors are just plain awkward.

Don’t get me wrong. Opening doors for women is sweet, and when the guy manages to do it right, it’s adorable.

But more often than not, it’s an old-fashioned gesture that turns into a train wreck.

I’m evenly divided between putting up a series of YouTube instructionals: How to Hold a Revolving Door for Three Ladies and a Guide Dog; You’re My Date, Not a Doorman; And How NOT to Look Like a Serial Killer While Waiting for a Pretty Girl to Cross the Dark Parking Lot So You Can Hold the Door For Her Like a Fucking Gentleman.

And just campaigning for the whole world to install those swish-swish doors like on Star Trek.

I was leaving the copy shop yesterday, along with my mother.  Well, maybe a little behind my mother. I do get distracted in copy shops. And when I get to the double glass doors, she’s trying to take the second door from a delivery guy who is trying to hold the door open with one hand while maneuvering a hand truck with the other. He’s more or less spread-eagled across the sidewalk, with his hand truck trailing.

She’d have to climb over him or his hand truck, or both to get out that door, and her obvious assumption was that he was trying to get into the copy shop, not out of it.

So, now…

He’s trying to hold the door for her, she’s trying to hold it for him, and I’m trying to get the second door in the set so that he can just keep right on going, once he gets through the first one.

There are people behind me–who clearly see the situation the way I do–getting out of the way so he can get by, and people queued up behind him, waiting for him to go in the building. (Because, as I may have mentioned… arms and legs and hand-trucks thrown all over the sidewalk.)

I don’t know what finally tipped him off. Maybe my mother said something. You know, “I’ve got it. Come on in.” (Slightly surprised not to hear her say anything about air conditioning the great outdoors.) Or maybe it just finally clicked, but the guy suddenly goes, “No, I’m going the other way.”

And traffic starts moving again.

None of the women can look at each other for fear of laughing out loud.

Because this is a thing. If four men are carrying a load of bricks… through a thunderstorm… in the dark…. on a deadline… One of those men will still decide that he needs to stop and hold the door for the woman who’s dancing in the rain.

Say what you want about chivalry, but… Most women do recognize a Freight Exception.

A-to-Z Challenge: Quantum Mechanics

So, my q for the day is yet another topic I know little to nothing about, but have happily twisted to support both this blog and various nifty plot developments in my novels. On the bright side, I’ve heard people say that if you think you understand Quantum Mechanics, you don’t. So, clearly, I’m right up there with the best and the brightest.

At least when I throw a party for time travelers, it’s wildly popular, they show up and bring space drugs. Anyway, that’s the way I remember it. And that one guy was a hell of a bongo player.

So, basically–and anyone who was ever a child will understand this–the rules for small things are different than the rules for large things.

Quantum Mechanics would be the set of rules that appear to–but might not–apply to very, very, very small objects. Yup. That does sound familiar.

It also sounds like a great name for a band–if you just added a little sex–something like the Quantum Tantric Mechanics–or for the guy who fixes your space ship or your time machine when you break your drive shaft somewhere in the horse head nebula.

The last book I picked up on the subject–a used copy– happened to be signed by a science-fiction writer who didn’t write the book.

A-to-Z Challenge: M&Ms

Here I am, crawling out of bed on three or four hours worth of sleep to bring you this life-altering post on M&M’s candy pieces.  It just seemed natural to do a double M for the day, and that’s what I came up with first.

M&Ms had the chance to star in the ET movie, but they weren’t willing to pay for the product placement, so now all the little green men eat Reese’s Pieces.

I happen to be all about the peanut butter M&Ms. (In a nostalgic, non-diet busting kind of way.)  Aside from the fact that they’re peanuty without that slightly over-roasted flavor that less discerning people might call “burnt” you can also–if you’re very, very careful– bite the chocolate shell off of the peanut butter core and walk away with a perfect, UFO shaped clump of peanut butter.

What? Everybody deserves a sense of accomplishment.

And then, you eat that lump of peanut butter, too.

Nope. That’s about as zen as I get.

This year, my inspired Alphabetical Challenge theme is “The Letter M”. I’m working my way through the alphabet, one M word, M, person, or M place at a time. No, I don’t have any idea what my Muse was thinking on this one.

If you want to learn more about the A-to-Z Challenge, or join in, the website is here.

 

A-to-Z Challenge: Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles

An Intercontinental Ballistic Missile is pretty much exactly what it claims to be. It’s a missile that is capable of bombing the shit out of one continent after having been launched from another continent. The Internet says a minimum range of 3,400 miles, and since most of them use arc-line navigation, that’s pretty impressive. It also mentions that they are typically intended to deliver a thermonuclear warhead. (I say typically, because the optimists among us might want to hold out for chocolate. It’s happened before.)

The good news is, we have lots of them.

The bad news is that taking an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile to an interplanetary war is like taking a knife to a gunfight. Worse. More like taking a spork to a gunfight.

Thermonuclear warhead or not, experts say an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile has less than a 0.ooooooooooooooo72% chance of ever leaving our solar system. And that’s with a good prevailing wind.

The aliens will be back in bed watching I Love Lucy before we ever get a missile past Mars.

It’s just a fact.

What it boils down to is this: We have two options in the upcoming war with the spiral galaxy.

We can go out in our yards, and think about chocolate while we wait to be vaporized, or we can lure them into range by pretending to be an interplanetary sex tourism hot spot.

The Planet Earth needs every patriotic human male to confront this threat head on. Flap those gills a little harder for Mother Earth. Don’t be ashamed to show off those pneumatic bladders. Be generous with that pancreatic cologne. Don’t look at her scolex, and just think of Earth.

Humanity depends on you.

This year, my inspired Alphabetical Challenge theme is “The Letter M”. I’m working my way through the alphabet, one M word, M, person, or M place at a time. No, I don’t have any idea what my Muse was thinking on this one.

If you want to learn more about the A-to-Z Challenge, or join in, the website is here.

A-to-Z Challenge: Harmonices Mundi

I’d like to point out, for the record, that the WordPress spellchecker hates both Harmonices and Mundi. Someone should get on fixing that.

Harmonices Mundi is a book written by Johannes Kepler back in the day, when the dear, educated Elite were all Roman centurions. It took him twenty-one years (or thereabouts) to write the book, following which he immediately took it out and bought it a beer to celebrate.

I should try harder to take this one seriously.

Nope. Not working.

He assigned roles in a choir to planets, based on the shape of their orbits and their velocity. The Earth–for those of us who are musically inclined–is a miserable alto, who can only sing two notes. (He attributes this to the social conditions on Earth.) (And I’m going to blame today’s pop music on the fact. After all, if the Earth can only sing two notes, why should we expect more out of our rockstars?)(Correction, Kepler said that too. Possibly with less cynicism.)

So, clearly I’m spelunking in Wikipedia to find this particular H-M.

My thought is that this sounds a lot like synesthesia, and I’m vaguely reminded of the first synesthete I ever knew–or the first who talked about it–who would sit in church, and listen to the stained glass windows.

Singing planets or not, the math in the book turned out to be very, very close to what actually exists. He did leave out the line of dancing girls that is the asteroid belt, but you know.

This year, my inspired Alphabetical Challenge theme is “The Letter M”. I’m working my way through the alphabet, one M word, M, person, or M place at a time. No, I don’t have any idea what my Muse was thinking on this one.

If you want to learn more about the A-to-Z Challenge, or join in, the website is here.

A-to-Z Challenge: General Motors

The last car my grandfather ever bought my grandmother was made by General Motors. I remember this because the seat belts–which I was required to wear to protect the windshield from my head–were imprinted with the letters GM. I can’t remember the specific model, but it was a deep maroon with red fabric upholstery. Not-quite velvet.

It wasn’t just a grown-up people’s car.

It was a real live, genuine old people’s car.

Old people do not have children. They do not have plastic seats, and their feet go all the way to the ground.

What old people have instead of children is cars, and specifically, this car. Don’t let the fact that it seats six fool you. That extra space is for other old people, and possibly groceries, but certainly not children.

In the event that children are allowed in the Car:

  1. They go in the middle, over the hump… where they will be sitting between two supervising adults, or… where the driver can at least see them. (Rear view mirror adjusted accordingly)
  2. They go to the bathroom before they get in the Car.
  3. They keep their feet off the upholstery.
  4. And they always, always, remember that the Car is very, very important to Grandma. It is the last Car Grandpa ever gave her. There are no other Cars available on this side of Heaven.

Most of my memories of that car involve holding something so that it cannot spill and never, ever eating anything.

Anyway, one day I was sitting in the back seat. On the hump. In the middle, where the driver could see me. Both feet firmly off the upholstery. And holding a bag of Kentucky Fried Chicken. (Because fun grandmothers do drive-throughs, and my grandmother was a fun grandmother.)

As soon as that bag was on my lap–and it was summer, so I was wearing shorts–it began to leak. Hot, viscous gravy slowly burning its way through paper and oozing onto my bare legs.

You know.

Near the Car.

So, I clamp my legs together in hopes that no gravy will escape onto the upholstery. And it burns all the way to the house.

And then… I’m really not sure how you get out of a Car with a lap full of gravy without spilling. Maybe it’s possible, but I didn’t manage. And the gravy hit the upholstery.

After a good scrubbing, there wasn’t a stain, exactly… but there as a texture. A rough patch in the not-quite velvet–that stayed there forever.

This year, my inspired Alphabetical Challenge theme is “The Letter M”. I’m working my way through the alphabet, one M word, M, person, or M place at a time. No, I don’t have any idea what my Muse was thinking on this one.

If you want to learn more about the A-to-Z Challenge, or join in, the website is here.