QC-L Version 4.0

Yes, welcome to my lair of evil thoughts and incorrect speech where I don't let go and move on and I talk about whatever I please. On a blog no one ever tells you to shut up. If you don't like what I say, just go elsewhere.

This blog now has a new background and a new theme. It is also using a remotely loaded style sheet. That is a first. It is lush, heavy, and uses a background that has a theme I have never used here before, though I have used it for pressies. Let the show go on! It always does anyway. And yes, we are powered by Blogger.

I am putting a temporary illustration here until I have a logo for this design. Watch this space.

temporary illustration

LET'S ROLL THOSE OTHER SITES

The Backfile: this blog's archives.

Ajayu, home of my story, The Sneezeweed Chronicles. Yes, I do fiction.

It will have Oneiro, my own little role play.

Unfettered Soul, my flagship site.

The Silk Purse, my play pretend Brainstorms.

Failed Messiah Religious news never sounded so good.

New York Times. Read the news and be smart.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

by Eileen Kramer

I am dissapointed with the new group because it moves slowly. Well everything moves slowly compared to the two boards at my play pretend Brainstorms. Most of the talk is ice breakers. Some of this is a trust issue. Some of this is a basic unsureness with luxurient long prose. Yeah, OK, so maybe Brainstorms was worth fighting for on those grounds. Groups where people are excedingly comfortable with the written word are rare.

I am not up to instigating with the new group. I just don't know it or the people in it well enough. This is why having one's own blog and one's own boards is so important. It dispenses with a lot of these issues, and I can create the feeling of interaction.

Also right now I am disgusted with a lot of the PSP tutorials one finds. They take the hardest way of doing anything. Then often one just does not like the product. One is not sure if the image included has a copyright that transfers, and to make matters worse, many tutorials require that one download a ton of filters and other plug ins or use Blade Pro which I don't need and don't want. As a result, I am very picky about tutorials and often disappointed with them.

Worse yet, the homework on one of my PSP groups uses the cheesiest ugliest and most banal tube images. Gee, the first rule of making anything with PSP is that one wants the actual product. I would not want anything made with those images. I am sure of that. I am not sure what I do in teh group with the image homework short of sticking stuff on the show off board. That is kind of a backwater. It is sad and strange that it is so hard to talk about aesthetics without leaving someone offended.

I am also currently avoiding Etiquette Hell on Delphi Forums. It is not a bad place, but it reminds me way too much of Brainstorms. I'd rather do ice breakers with my new group than hang out with a bunch of people who are so parochial they just sit and defend the status quo. I mean the posts are intelligent, but fearing a "pile on" is a high price to pay for hanging out in such a place.

There may be back plotting going on at Ghostletters. This means two or more scribes are sending plot (letters) privatley among themselves until they get the plot all coordinated. This keeps the plot pure, but for the rest of us there are long gaps in action. The nonscribe readers must be ripping their hair out. The rest of us are filling in. This of course was not how the list was meant to be, but it is what has evolved there. The plot that is being back plotted is of course the one that is being run straight into the ground. If plotted in the open and running with input from everyody, the plot might move in many directions. After all its very premise is shakey. The idea of one human sacrifice every few years to save twenty-thousand human beings is not that awful, even if one is the sacrifice. We do far worse with our all volunteer army (1,300 human sacrifices and counting in Iraq.) And if human sacrifice were part of the whole culture wouldn't it be handled differently than it is on the telegraph? I mean people would not feel it unjust. They would feel it to be noble. Some of that would have rubbed off all over Sondra. A plot done out in the open does not get as internally inconsistent as this one. This also could have been a fantastic plot.

My own Ghostletters plot is sagging but that is just because it is sad. Also the plot moves in real time and two very crucial nontelegraph characters are about to begin their sentences doing time in federal prison for civil disobedience. You don't need magic to show strength in the face of the enemy.

The trip to Atlanta aborted. We had an ice storm last night and early this morning. At 8am something went pop and out went the power. I checked the circuit breakers. They were fine. I also had no heat. Then I lay in bed for two more hours. It was the warmest place. I finally got up. I still had no power or heat. I dressed by candle light because my bathroom is dark and windowless.

I then went out to check the extent of the damage. There were traffic signals working and lights in businesses on University Avenue, the nearest main road. The outage was a neighborhood one, though Maryland Circle gets a lot of these due to the trees. I'd rather have the trees and sometimes live with a power outage.

It was cold wet rain. The trees were all covered with ice that made them look like diamonds. I was glad I had come outside because this ice storm made the landscape incredibly beautiful. I finally reached the mall. I did not have money to go to Atlanta so I hit the ATM machine at my bank which worked fine. I then went into the mall. By now my sneakers had soaked through and my quilted coat was threatening to do the same. I bought a pretzel and a lemonade at Auntie Annes. I decided to console myself and that it was not a good idea to go to Atlanta.

First my apartment had no heat. There was a good chance that the pilot light was out on the furnace and I would need to get Gene, my handy neighbor, or Herb, our superintendent/manager, to help me get it lit again. An unheated apartment means frozen water pipes. I am a good tennant at heart. I headed home instead of to the shuttle house.

I found my heat roaring away. The pilot light had not cut out. I felt very grateful indeed. I took off all the wet things nad crawled into my warm bed and took a three hour nap. I awoke and after doing a bit of research found I could make the trip to Atlanta on Sunday. The MARTA trains will run on a twenty minute schedule, but I can handle that. Other than that, all the stores I visit are open. The shuttle runs on Sundays too so why not. I know I'll have to get up early in the morning to go, but I don't care.

I got on some dry things, and went out to Airport Thruway. I have some unbelievably raunchy apples in the apartment. I knew I had to do something with them besides replace them with good apples in Atlanta so they became apple sauce with some intervention. Many had bad spots and one was all bad. They were raunchy and tasted like soap. For some reason cooking them improves them. I decided I wanted cherry apple sauce and remembered that there were Royal Anne (also known as Queen Anne) cherries for sale in cans at Big Lots.

I headed off to Big Lots to get my cherries and to also get a tube of tooth paste. I told myself that if I felt like it I could go to Wal-Mart's for the tooth paste and eat out at Blimpie's as further consolation over the lost trip. Well, I reached the shopping center and needed to pee at Office Depot where they have nice clean restrooms. I went inside and saw sturdy plastic pencil boxes for sale for a dollar and a half. I bought two of them, one for my pencils and one for my oil pastels. I am going to clean up my art supply bag.

Then I headed in to Big Lots. Sometimes one just finds what one wants. Sometimes it is gone and sometimes one hits pay dirt. I found the last two decent cans of Royal Anne cherries but I also found canned strawberries, my favorite brand of Mandarin oranges, fire roasted crushed tomatoes, salad olives, and artichokes. I killed my back lugging this stuff back. I didn't care. I am glad I did not eat out.

The applesauce is getting cold in the freezer because I want to eat some of it tonight before I go to bed. It is very quiet tonight, no rain, no clattering ice no nothing.


Saturday, January 29, 2005

by Eileen Kramer

It was worth it for me to be kicked out of Brainstorms. My avatars move from strength to strength. They are the best and I love them. It was worth it to be as I am, do what I do, and say what I said, though for the record I was way too polite until after the end when I told them what for. They had that one coming in spades. My play pretend Brainstorms rocks. It is the best and it is the best even if it cost me a slot in the Brat-Pack. Who needs the Brat-Pack anyway!

There are plenty of other groups just begging for members. Just do some exploring at MSN Groups and welcome aboard. It doesn't take fancy caucus software or your own server. Bill Gates is serving the low social capital crowd, in other words my people. Woo hoo Bill Gates even though I want a miniMac.

All of this brings me to tonight's point. I just joined one group and don't know any of its unwritten rules, so here I am groping for the borders of those rules. This group let me in without so much as sending me a letter asking to describe myself. Brainstorms may they rot in the infernal regions at least did that much. Like Brainstorms, however, this group which is going to remain nameless for now since I rather like it, pretty much takes any one who walks in the door. This means that the group itself is subject to an unwritten rule that all groups which are unselective (Brat Pack was selective which is why they turned me down.) is that sooner or later, you are going to take on members who don't think like the founding group.

I am not talking about trolls, vandals, spammers, and other intentionally destructive types, just people who don't think like you. For example, there is a thread on Etiquette Hell, a Delphi Forum in which members complain about kids and adults who come to schol and work sick. Well obviously there are people out there who send kids to school sick or who drag themselves in. I'm in the latter category myself and my mother was somewhat in the former category. My mother hated gold bricks and malingerers so if one of us kids complained of feeling ill, she dosed us up with aspirin, made us dress, gave us something to eat and then asked how we felt. Often even though we might still be sick, we were then well enough to go to school.

Also, when you are staffing a reference desk, particularly a traditional one, librarians need to do their shifts or it inconveniences the entire crew. Since sick leave on that job was done by a handshake, I would drag myself in for desk hours only. Also one simply can't take days off from work for every low grade virus. That is too many days off. It is better to come in to work with the sniffles. I am the official Typhoid Mary of the Columbus Crud. If it weren't me, it would be someone else. I never seem to shake it. I get the cold sore in my mouth to prove I am infected with something. I sniffle a bit and am a bit hoarse, and am probably wonderfully contageous. Any one who doesn't get knocked out of action immediately with the crud, spreads it. Usually this is school children who are nice and resilient, but an adult with a good immune system fills the same role.

Anyway, I did not bring up my point of view on Etiquette Hell. I did not feel it was worth it to be at the bottom of a "pile on." I suppose the piling on keeps the ordinary dissenting newbie quiet and if she feels she would be piled on enough she drifts away. This new community seems pretty pile-on less. The reasons are awkward to explain. It is no-crit for starters which I find means a gentler environment unless some animals in the barnyard get treated more equally then others.

Anyway, someone left the gates of the community wide open and in I walked. I think I am the person who thinks differently. I stopped to post at a "what are you thinking?" thread and said I was thinking about hurrying off to go to schul. After I wrote the post, I realized I may have transgressed against the group's prohibition on religion. It does not have a formal prohibition and even when there are prohibitions in most groups (Neopets is a very odd exception) they are usually against proselytizing. My post, though, poses another problem, well actually two problems.

I clearly showed myself to be someone who thinks differently. With Jews being only two to three percent of the United States population and maybe less worldwide, I wonder if the founders forsaw a Jew applying for membership. Jews are different because they have worship on a different day of the week, celebrate different holidays which gets interesting when it comes to making graphics, and have a bit of their own slang. Some follow kosher laws which means they don't eat the same foods. In other words, Jews think differently.

I also signed my message with a brand new sig-file. I had looked in the sig file area and discovered, I don't share the group's aesthetic. I did not draw a nude or anything remotely transgressive, but my sig-file is different. It uses darker richer colors and no cutesy images that are of questionable copyright. You get the idea. The siggy shows I am thinking differently too.

Well, if you are going to leave a door open, expect different thinkers, but groups often don't and their tolerance can get strained. I am glad I am going to Atlanta tomorrow, because it will get my mind off this group. I need to not fall in love with it too fast. I fear another rejection.

Well, the light in the t-hall is fixed, bills are paid, cat litter pans are clean, the dining room table is set to rights and the waste paper baskets are empty. I also made greens and beans today with part of that big bag of frozen black eyed peas that had sat in the freezer forever. Considering, I slept until nearly noon, I did not do too badly.

I even went to schul tonight. The rabbi's sermon was about the Holocaust and how it all must make us ask who we are as Jews. Presumably it is supposed to reaffirm our loyalty to the team and/or to making the world better or something vague. The rabbi made the mistake of picking a real straw man. I don't want to say I couldn't care less about the Holocaust, but it was sixty years ago. A lot has happened since then. And people often massacre those of a different tribe or ethnicity. That doesn't make us Jews have to do any extra soul searching. Bad things happened. We are through them. We survived. That ought to tell you something right there.

Actually our government here in the United States is on the wrong side of a good many atrocities and if one adds in the multinationals with their sweat shops, well those who are victims in one generation live off the fat of the land in the next, and I don't mean Jews specifically. I mean Americans (who include Jews) and others in the developed world who buy the cheap goods made with slave labor. Let someone else break his/her back because it makes our lives convenient. Let our government go waging pre-emptive war against a country that did nothing to us. Let our military and its "civlilan contractors" commit atrocities in prisons.

Well the barricades are down on the street corner. Go man them. The newspaper awaits your letter. Your Congressperson or his intern would love to hear from you.

And for the record, I think Prince Harry is a stupid twit, not worth wasting pixels of blog space over.

While I was in the bath tonight, I kept hearing snowploughs. No, we don't have snow on the ground, but it is raining and heading toward the thirties if not there already. My landlord fears frozen pipes something she did not bother me about when the weather was much colder at night. I fear an ice storm that will hammer and paralyze this city. If it gets bad enough, it may mean no trip to Atlanta.

I need to get up at a rational hour if I want to go to Atlanta. Of course I may find the city an icey faerieland. Did I spell that right? Oh well....

And here is the graphic I used at the new group.

batik crocus siggy


Friday, January 28, 2005

by Eileen Kramer

Let's talk about the group that did not want me. No I don't mean Brainstorms. I talk about them plenty, but I mean this group with the funny name. It has been over a week since I applied and I heard nothing from them. It cold be they never processed my form, the managers are having a bad week, who knows. I suspect though that they just don't want me.

I feel bad about this, but fortunately I have nothing invested. A private club can be choosey about who it will take and I'm glad this place does not scrape up its members off the street. It bodes well for them. To be allowed in, to find a home, and then be thrown out is far crueler than to have the gate barred. Of course all that said, I should still write a "did you get my application?" email to the manager. She can then give me a ding letter and clear the air.

Actually, I don't need this group to give me what I want. I can use discipline. Remember the old slogan: Discipline beats tears. Well it sure does. I can give myself a weekly graphics assignment, one tailor made to my interests and needs. I have gallery space, a postcard mill, and there are show off boards in nearly all my slow moving PSP groups. I make way more than one graphic per week now.

Right now I am planning on getting a new computer and a scanner of my very own. I can a lot at work. This is very legal since all the images are my own and none are copyrighted and with all the scanning I do, I don't take up an inordinate amount of disk space. I also don't draw nudes. Still, I really don't like having to ask permission every time I go to the scanner which is hooked to a computer over by circulation. This is where scanning at work gets political.

Anyway, MacIntosh came out with a mini-Mac that will use most peripherals from my current machine. I need new speakers and a new microphone. I may also need to attach a floppy disk drive. If it has to be an external one then so be it. I need to find out if my peripherals are too old to use. I also need to clean up this desk. I am also going to buy myself a scanner. I also have to find out what kind of software I need and whether PSP works on a Mac. After the parasite/malware/scumware attack back in October, I don't want another Windows PC. I didn't want one before this. I surely don't want one now.

This machine is fine by the way and it is working better than ever. I did some serious clean up of the boot file in the registry (I don't know what this is called on Windows 98. It's an autoexec.bat on older machines.) and I cleaned up the startup menu on my task bar. I also changed the energy saving features so that my hard drive does not shut off so that the machine has to be restarted by turning its power on and off. I can leave the machine on for hours and it wakes right up now. This lovely computer (and it really is lovely) is a 200mhz Pentium (just a plain Pentium) that connects to the net on a 28.8 modem. This computer is lovely because except for a sour hard drive which was my own fault because I fostered kittens in the computer room (lots of litter pan changes nad litter dust) nothing serious has ever gone wrong with this machine. There is a dead mike due to feline destruction and the external drives are now dead on it, but the CPU itself is golden. By the way, I am going to have to put a new floppy drive on my machine in order to get anything out of it to transfer files to a new machine.

Owning a Mac will bring me full circle. The first nonmainframe computer I ever did anything useful on was a Mac and what I did was MacPaint which they gave away for free and which I loved. MacPaint was a distant ancestor to PSP. I am hoping they make PSP for a Mac platform. I will have to find out if they do. I will buy PSP 9 for the new Mac. I have PSP 5 on this machine. I use PSP 8 at work.

I just think that the Windows platform is too unsafe to keep using for the kind of work that I do. I am head of RAOK's guestbook committee. I am a state director for LOTH. That is why it is faintly amusing when some small and energetic group won't give me the time of day. I'm actually frightfully good news for any group that will have me, unless they just want to make it like high school and hang with their small clique. That is OK. Brainstorms was like that though they also took any one they could scrape up off the street and sorted it out later. Let the Brat-Pack have it's brats. I can pretend I belong and do the same thing they do in there, out on my own. One does not really need community. One only thinks one does.

I hae to clean this apatment. I hae this thing I do when the place gets as raunchy as it currently is. Very neat people don't understand this , ut maybe some of you with messy apartments will. I stare at it and wonder how it got that way. I just wonder a bit and then move on. I think someone will have to clean that. I wonder a bit and then I move on. Of course the next time I look it is always dirtier than the last. Anyway, I also spend a lot of time being tired and telling myself I don't have to clean the apartment. Well the pile of papers on the dining room table is unbearable, the bathroom sink has something growing on it, the kitchen needs a good classic cleaning, the place needs vacuuming. I don't know where to start, but I'm goign to start with the dining room because I want to pay bills and the cat litter pans and if that is as far as I get, things will be a lot better.

Actually the cat litter pans are not that stinky. Hertzel has an efficient digestive tract. The champion for passing foul stools was the late great Georgia who also used to pass gas on my pillow. Sorry if this blog is getting nasty. I would lie awake at night and hear that poor cat's stomach growling. I haven't heard Hertzel's stomach make a sound. Hertzel just leaped to the top of the desk. 3am is kitty prime time. He nudges open the curtains and whips his boy kitty tail which is thick as a broom stick. If I meow he meows back.

Saturday is the planned trip to Atlanta. I hope the weather holds. I do need herbal tea and would like some decent citrus and of all things, pole beans to make peanut butter pole bean soup. Of all the fancy things to be had, I want pole beans. That almost sounds like pearls before swine.

I also would like to go out tomorrow and walk by the river. If I do that though, I won't be able to go to schul unless I leave the house dressed for the occasion and then come back up to Wynton Road in the early evening. That sort of sounds like a plan, provided I get this stinking apartment clean.

I met a young man at work today who sketches in colored pencil. He is much better than I am. I watched. It is a real art. I just do it well enough to provide graphics for my web sites. I have graphics for the front page of Unfettered Soul waiting. I have to scan them at work. Yes, the right and left sides of this blog are bleeding together.

I still haven't spent the Christmas money my father sent me. I have been pricing mesuzot. I checked my Un-Registry and that is the first item listed. I don't know if fifty to seventy dollars is a good price. I mean scribes who write the handwritten sacred scroll that goes inside a mesuza don't come cheap. Oh well...that may be one of tomorrow's jobs.

At least everything is graded for Libr1105 and only a bit of the serials review project at work is dragging. I may go in and fix it up, especially if I have to dress for schul because I go out in the late afternoon/early evening. I have a three day weekend. Tonight at 10:30pm, my ten day week came to an end. To say I am relieved is an under statement. I did not know what hit me this cycle so I guess that is OK. I am glad to have three days off. It feels like such a luxury. I guess it has not sunk in yet.


Tuesday, January 25, 2005

by Eileen Kramer

Well it looks like the font page of Unfettered Soul, the Unfettered Soul Post Card Mill, and the E-Card Education Center are all going to get updates....one of these days. Actually, I got the research for the next E-Card Education Center update done so I may do that tonight. The new graphics for the front page of Unfettered Soul are done. The Post Card Mill is going to need a new logo. That is not going to happen today.

I get to score ZOID tonight. Haldis has a week off from Webleagues and is very relieved. I actually got to bed before midnight last night and slept for eight hours. Web site competition administering is hard work, but I believe that self expression beats community so I shoulder my burden gladly.

I've been writing too much Ghostletters and that is fine. It is winter in Syracuse there just as it is in real life and my characters in their tenament on the Near Southwest side deal with redeeming a lost eleven year old girl who holds the key to the magic that could redeem or destroy mankind as we know it. In fact, it will probably do both but that is a ways off. Redeem Tareisia and you redeem a bit of yourself. I am stuck on redemption as a theme.

I've also been making a lot of graphics. I've watched my skills increase. That is not so bad. My spirit contact is in the garbage pail though. Tonight, when I feel safer, I will write log.

I am dealing with a vengance setback that is not my fault. All my groups have gone slow on me. These are unrelated groups so the slowness is just there. It is not my fault. With the exception of Netdynam where I have been a member since 1995, these are not my groups. And while conversational restriction helps keep order in a group, it can also give me nothing to talk about.

My solution is to keep writing and keep talking where I feel comfortable. If I write every day no one can silence me. That in the long run is the road to vengance victory.

OK, I really dropped the ball with this blog, so I am picking it up again. I teach in about an hour and a half. I am scaird. This is an important class and I don't feel the least bit ready. I know the topic cold, but it is a large class. It meets once a week. Also the students have no paper writing background. My assignments give me a lot of feedback.

In other news I found this great list of free biology journals. No these are not light reading, but remember I work in an academic library.

I get to teach the biology students at the end of February. This High Wire list is going to change the way I teach. It is funny that earth shaking developments at work don't even make a tiny little kaboom.

My apartment is a wreack. I have just not been motivated to clean it. Hertzel's exrement is not the least bit foul so the litter pans are seldom cleaned. Georgia's feces by contrast was pure stench. Her bowels must have been totally corrupted. There was nothing to do for her, so she just died. I still miss my blue cream half Siamese alpha kitty.

I looked in the mirror when I went to the john and did not recognize my face. I thought I had gotten toner under my eyes, but I had not put any toner in the printer in days so it could not have been that. Still I wondered how I had smeared myself, the rings under my eyes were that bad. That is scarey.

I think it has finally sunk in that I am working a ten day week. This is day number eight for those of you who don't know. Yes, I think my students suffer during marathon weeks. At least I'll be able to sleep in tomorrow and Thursday mornings. That is a relief. I work 1-10pm alternate weeks.

I have planned to go to Atlanta this weekend. It is time to replenish the herbal tea stocks and you can not get decent citrus in Columbus. There are clementines for seven dollars a box but that is a lot of money. Also I don't know if they peel decently or have skins that are like dried leather. I have had one bag of tangerines with skins like dried leather that were stuck to the fruit with glue, and a bag of tangelos that bled to death every time someone tried to pull their peels off. I resorted to cutting those up and they still bled all over the place. Is it too much to ask for citrus fruit that can peel.

Apples have been decent if expensive this winter due to my asking Publix on Macon Rd. to stock Cortland apples. I buy those every week. They also had Jonathans and I got those too. One can not have too many apples. Apples are life.

If I go to Atlanta I can buy oil cured olives and olives with fennel both of which are very good and will make excellent egg and olive sandwiches. I do occasinally get tired of nut butter.

But what I really want to do is walk all the way to downtown Columbus and maybe out into Phenix City (which is in Alabama). I want to just walk and walk because I feel like I have been a prisoner in my apartment and at work. I know the apartment needs cleaning and bills need paying and I need to spend the Christmas money my dad gave me. I found one site selling mezuzahs but I'm not sure if the price is good or not. They sell for between forty-eight and seventy dollars. I have enough money to buy a mezuzah for the front door. I'll have to dig out the hammer and nails and find a way to nail it up securely. I may be able to get my neighbor Gene, who is handier than I am, to help.

Here are some graphics I made recently.

hand brushed plate and vase set

a rare framed self portrait


Friday, January 21, 2005

by Eileen Kramer

I have a lot of thoughts about Ghostletters. Basicly they are about writing fiction and plots and a basic view of life. I am one one list where people have a lot of psychology/psychiatry background. They talk about something called the schizoid versus the depressive position. Neither of these names really means what it says. The schizoids have nothing to do with being schizophrenic. I have known some schizophrenics and they basicly don't know which end of the world is up so there is no way they can separate the world in to black and white. Schizophrenics are disorganized not dogmatic. I have also known depressed people who when the depression really got the best of them were so down, the world looked all black not in shades of grey. Basicly the schizoid position folks see the world as black and white, goood and evil, us and them. For them there is the possibility of slaying the dark side and walking in the light. Depressive position folks see the world in shades of grey. The darkness is there mixed with the light and unslayable. You just sort of have to put up with it. The depressive position folks never get rid of the darkness, but the schizoids after slaying one demon usually find another one. Slaying demons gets addictive. As a result the darkness never goes away for either group.

It sounds as if both groups get screwed but that is the human condition. There is a scribe on Ghostletters whose characters are in the schizoid frame of mind. Black and white would be a better term or half moon as in black and white half moon cookies. Her characters are not crazy. Donna, the character in question and now Sondra are boogyman slayers. They have destroyed two boogeymen since I have been writing on this fiction list. Donna feels that she is a professional boogyman destroyer and now Sondra the scribe's new character is about to get in to the same business. Sondra has a problem. She is due to be sacrificed to "the Dark One" whom every one assumes to be the devil (but who could be a lot of things including nonexistent. Sondra's world is ruled by an all powerful priesthood which is why I find the story interesting since many of my characters are either aspiring clergy or very religiously interested.) in about five weeks. The plan of course is to have Sondra rescued and the Dark One Destroyed. In a few months there will be a new boogeyman.

This is what I call running a good plot into the ground. To me what is fascinating is not the Dark One but the corrupt priests who tend him. Are they hiding secrets? Will they betray one another? And what of this culture that has had seven hundred years to develop. You don't need a real Dark One to keep up the rituals. He could be nonexistent and the whole thing could run with a hollow center. All of this would make a fantastic plot though Sondra would have to be a bit less abject. As Sondra travels with the priests from city to city, she begins to sweet talk them and ingratiate herself to them and know them better and slowly they open up their secrets a bit at a time. Slowly Sondra begins a journey in to the real heart of darkness on her world and what she finds....

This is not my plot so I am keeping my characters out of it. Instead, I do a lot of comparative postings, my characters' world where lawyers, doctors, judges, and others who command respect act as the priests do on Sondra's world. It's fun to write that kind of stuff. Describing such routine goings on as plea bargaining to reduce a federal prison sentence that awaits several of my characters, trips to the doctor (Two characters are under a doctor's care.), and the ins and outs of paperwork, make our own world appear corrupt and byzantine. The difference is, no one is going to be killing any Dark Ones. It's just not doable. Sometimes negotiating is the only way to survive. There is no way out.

Alise, Naama, and Vijaya (the three flagship characters) migrated to the depressive position (Let's call it the grey skies position) in August of 2000. These are old characters. They fell out of the half moon cookie club with a thud when they saw on the walls of their enemy's dining room a poster advertising Ithaca, New York and Cornell University. Naama, who is a double legacy, saw the poster and realized that she was perhaps on the wrong side. The enemy such as it was were her people. They shared Naama, Alise, and Vijaya's values of keeping things proper, working hard, and excelling academically. They were not in to the promiscuous but not too promiscuous sex on the telegraph. They were not interested in reproduction.

In short, Naama, Alise and Vijaya switched sides, or rather they recognized that their side and the side of Independent Rainbow conincided. The former enemy was better than the parents who would lock up Alise because she had a psychiatric break when she was fifteen or the parents who tried to lock up Naama at age seventeen or eighteen in a private prison in Maine. They did not beat her with a belt the way Vijaya's father did or blame her for nearly killing her mother the way some of Vijaya's aunts and uncles do. Vijaya's birth was extremely difficult. One takes succor where one can find it.

Living in a grey sky world is indeed a very sad thing. The boogeyman is everywhere. Naama's dreams are haunted by the disappearance of two neighbor girls (They have since turned up alive and well, but their disappearance with no answers of where they had gone and what happened to them was traumatic and learning the truth about them was equally ugly.) There is no way to avenge this crime because what the parents of the girls did was legal. The boogeyman is clever.

The boogey man is also everywhere. The skies turn grey. Equipment breaks and fails and filth and grey skies surround my characters. It is winter in Syracuse, New York now. That means grey skies aplenty and subzero temperatures. You live with the weather. You do not fight it. Magic comes with a horrific price. Alise nearly went insane. Naama is on antipsychotic drugs due to a curse that addled her brain. Nothing will make it all better.

There is no refuge from the boogeyman. Parents betray their children or turn on them when they mistakenly do what is best. Parents throw their children out of the house as happened to Kathleen FitzRoy. Reproduction is especially dangerous. Two of my characters' nearly died in childbirth and Vijaya's mother required an emergency hysterectomy. Kathleen FitzRoy, another character, had an abortion at age fourteen. Naama nearly died having a miscarriage. Marguerite and MO are PAIS female and male respectively, with 46XY chromosomes but nonfunctional or barely functional testes instead of ovaries and a uterus. Vijaya did not menstruate until age fifteen and Naama suffers from secondary amennoreah do to weight loss.

My characters have to go to school. They have always worried about money and earning it. They cook. They tutor. They preach. They study about God. Religion is a big positive part of my fiction. They ponder magic which is frightening and which exerts a huge price. They have male female relations in which they try to be loving and faithful. All of this is tough to do, yet they do it. With the grey skies over head this is all they have.

One character who is not mine summed it up quite neatly in a letter to Naama: "Your lives suck," she said of my characters. Being grey sky characters under a grey sky world, however, has one terrific pay off, that half moon cookie characters never receive. My adolescent characters have a shot at becoming adults. Because they can not slay the boogeyman and they do not live to slay fresh versions of the boogeyman, they have to do something else and that is learn to take care of themselves. Naama Roth walked across the flatlands of Ithaca while wracked with fever and a terrific sore throat. Naama has a habit of running herself in to the ground, but let's save that for another day. This was after Donna, a half moon cookie type complained how an evil mage cursed her with blinding head aches should she try to run away. Naama wondered why Donna did not get something for the pain and just keep on going. What good is slaying a boogeyman if you can not deal with a simple killer head ache. Naama could deal with her sore throat and fever.

The defining moment for Naama becoming an adult character. She was fifteen when I created her and she is now twenty, was when she was on the White River Apache Reservation in Arizona miles from everything and faced with sleeping quarters that were a filthy hogan that had formerly been used as a barn. In that hogan was a dead sheep. Naama could not eat anything in Sandy's house. She had brought out several friends and one very princessy plump Indian girl who sat nursing her four month old baby. Naama had earlier that day figured out how to get scrap paper so that her group could amuse themselves and practice math problems. The Indian girl was to take the Math 1 Regents in August. Still Naama went in to the hogan and dragged out the dead sheep, got the shovels and brooms, and went to work without complaining. Later Naama would tutor Rebeccah and get her to pass the regents with flying colors. She would also have a vision quest that would show her a very decisive piece of magic she is still digesting. Naama would not have had her vision if she had not taken charge when the reins were put in her hands and taken care of herself and others.

Alise is now crossing the line in to adulthood. Marguerite, whom Alise believes to be Moshiach (the Messiah) stood with her on a hill in Burnett Park on the Far West Side of Syracuse and together as they looked down at the fifth largest city in New York State she said that if she goes to jail, Alise will have to do the preaching. Naama is needed to tutor mathematics and cook. Alise who has given up a year of school to help Marguerite (who is jailhouse bound by the way) stared back at the city. She was frightened. She has never done civil disobedience and it has been life times since she preached. She says she wants to be a rabbi some day. Saying that and doing what must be done are two different things. Alise' journey is exciting as are all journeys under grey skies. I know there will be no dead boogeymen at the end of the day, but Alise will be older and stronger and more insightful.

I am flying on five hours sleep. I go to bed late and don't want to sleep. The weather is warm one day here and cold the next. I am debating going to schul tonight. I feel very strung out on caffeine and junk food. All the good resolve goes down the tubes by the end of the week.

I am working on a JSTOR handout because that database changed interface. I have an uneaten apple sitting to the left of the monitor, and I may be desked at 1pm. Let me go check...Yes...that means that this will be a fast and very unbalanced blog. I am kind of glad of that. Who needs balance anyway. I sure don't.

Wait...I think this blog will be a bit more balanced. There, that feels a lot better. My faith in humanity is restored.

I have no weekend plans because I have no weekend. I am working Saturday and Sunday 2-6pm. I know it is only two half days but they cut the day right in half. Moreover, I am so strung out I am not sure I want to go to schul tonight. I remember how much I dislike the rabbi's Friday night sermons, yet I oddly enough miss the fellowship. I also have gotten out of the habit of cleaning the apartment for home worship. That is a very poor reason to go to schul. This schul is strictly an any port in a storm affair. Columbus has a miniscule Jewish population yet somehow manages to support two synagogues, one traditional and one reform. I don't like reform Judaism so traditional is what is left. Having one of anything is better than having none but often not much better. My rabbi is a survivor but that does not mean he is a good rabbi.

I like him as a person which makes me even sadder. It is hard not to feel sorry for rabbis down here. They come in from elsewhere, make less than the people who sit on the board of directors and generally have to look prosperous when they are not so they can put those in power at their ease. This rabbi is a blessed man, handsome, charismatic, smart, musical. It is a shame to see him here in his old age playing father figure and feel good artist to earn a living. I am angry at the culture of my schul that puts him in this situation.

Next weekend, I get to make my monthly pilgrimge to Atlanta. I don't even know what I am buying. I know I want apples and decent citrus. The tangelos I bought here in Columbus don't peel without oozing juice all over the place. Good peelable citrus slips out of its skin. I had some superb fresh mandarin oranges from Atlanta and some excellent blood oranges. Why can't we have such fine citrus in Columbus? Who knows? At least there are Cortland apples because I begged Publix to buy them. They are expensive but I pay the price. Good food is one of life's pleasures.

Here are two graphics I made yesterday that I am proud of. I am shedding grpahics the way a Persian cat sheds fur

green siggy bowl

modernistic siggy with a hole in it

The weird thing is I have no use for sig-tags. I do need to start signing guestbooks again.


Thursday, January 20, 2005

by Eileen Kramer

Well today was a great day for VENGANCE. My play pretend Brainstorms got a great big new revision. It is now free of copyrighted or possibly copyrighted images. I believe in intellectual property and the expansionof copyright. Artists and the companies that distribute their work deserve their due. You might be able to make a case for software, but if you don't want to pay, you can always draw or write your own work. And if you make a movie, build some sets and reenact scenes so that you don't have to renew permissions.

The Third Rail board has been through three archivings and the Run Amuck Board where my avatars hang out has been through two. They are among the most active small boards on the net. They just are which isn't saying much since most people don't realize that the way to keep a board, a mailing list, or anything else active is to get on there and post your heart out. It is interesting and it is a great feeling to know you are not a hog and no one will complain. Play pretend is just so empowering. I invite all of you to give it a try.

Meanwhile, I made two gifts for RAOK's Valentines Day games. I went looking for a PSP Tutorial to do something different, but the only two new ones I saw at Super Packin' PSP were for working with photographs and if you just download a photo, there is a good chance you are using a copyrighted image. The folks at Super Packin' PSP don't know this, but that is too Brainstormish for words. I am learning to make all my graphics from the ground up.

I guess I should learn to watermark them, but I can't see the point of that. I mean, I am obeying copyright and respecting intellectual property by creating my own work. My job is not to police others. If you knew the kind of people who believed cut and paste was cool, you'd never cut and paste again. Those people at Super Packin' PSP have never met any Brainstormers and I hope for their sakes that they don't.

By the way in case any of you are curious. I never got on the "DO NOT CALL" list. I used to do phone sales and I respect any one earning their living that way. I usually am very polite to phone solicitors though usually I have to say no. I'm also really polite to people answering the door. A belief in free enterprise is a belief in the little guy to earn a living.

It was a slow day at work which was good. I am getting used to grading again. I think Libr1105 needs a new first assignment in the worst way. I was bored. I guess there are worse things than being bored.

After work I did a lot of cooking. I made roasted winter vegetables and kidney bean, caulflower, olive soup and brown rice. I had a big dinner and now feel as if I could stay up all night. I probably shouldn't. I'm on the desk first thing in the morning and it may be busy. I am hoping it will pick up. This is the second week of the semester.

My course census has shrunk from twenty-eight to twenty-six. Two drops in two weeks is not bad. I expect a handful more. I wish I could write more about work, but this is a fairly public space.

I work thhis weekend. The fact that this is a ten day week (the first of the semester for me) has not yet sunk all the way in. I wish it would. By this time next week I will be dragging. I hope I am not dragging too badly.

My cold has cleared up though I have some eczema over and around my right eye and all over my fingers. They really itch badly and the skin has turned to scales in some places. I put cream on my hands all the time and it soothes them. The cream is from Bath and Body Works. The cream makes my eyelids burn. Right now my right eye lid feels all swollen and puffy.

I am also many days caffeine free. My IBS is very calm. That is unusual. At least for now I have lost my taste for junk food. It will undoubtedly come back.

Hertzel is in Georgia's old nest to the left of the monitor. He is purring, but he is also impatient. He really wants me to go to bed. I guess I need my sleep. Hertzel needs his snuggle time. I guess this is a mutually agreeable arrangement.

Here are two images I made for the RAOK Valentine's games. Enjoy!

A red out flying on an orange valentine

A batik cat and heart on black velvet


Wednesday, January 19, 2005

by Eileen Kramer

I've suffered a minor vengance set back that is annoying beyond belief. I can not, for reasons that are fairly complicated, discuss it on this blog so I am going to have to leave it at that. I think I am going to need some sort of technical work around, namely in the form of installing a script.

My characters are being iced on Ghostletters again which annoys me, especially since they have been making a good faith effort to respond to anything that is not outright flamage. It feels a bit like no good deed goes unpunished. Also I felt genuinely uninspired today. I guess this is the after effect of posting to Ghostletters like a fiend. I also have a plot that is going to bog down and bottle neck. In a way that is good.

It looks like Haldis has sixty-eight ballots to count at Webleagues so I am going to send her in to score and be back later to write more blog. It is very important for me to write every night. Since I believe that personal experssion is more important than community, this writing is an important daily ritual and part of my life for me. I'll be back for more.

Actually it was only fifty-eight ballots. Actually, I ought to consider any night that I score a vengance victory but I am loathe to consider just taking care of business a victory or defeat of any sort. Scoring, however, is an affirmation of how much I love my avatars and how much they mean to me.

Anyway, I do have two vengance victories to report. The first is that Sunday I dismantled and deleted the project of infinite and endless evil. I could never say what this was on this blog. I had my reasons. At the time I did it, I thought I neededit and well, I don't want to say more but I've had a change of heart about a lot of things since those bastards booted me out of Brainstorms. One of those things is intellectual property. I create my own so I don't have to infringe on any one else's. I really ought to get rid of m MP3 collection also but I am going to leave that for another night. If I had a better computer I would subscribe to one of the services where artists get their dues. Meanwhile, I buy my CD's. I pay for my music and I am proud of it.

The second vengance victory is a drawing I made that isn't quite finished. In the old days I would have just scraped theh background off this, but now I know that is WRONG, so I made a mouse drawn facsimile that is all mine. I don't have to steal other people's art even if I admire it a lot. I'll have more to say about this vengance victory tomorrow.

I nearly washed out at spirit contact last night and I want to get back to bed, but only after writing to Ghostletters. No one is going to silence my characters by isolating them. Onward and upward. Passion and joy are the order of the day. Woo hoo! Put on that happy face and keep marching!

We had twenty-five students for my class today. I can't remember head counts being this extensive. I fortunately had extra paperwork, and all the students got GALILEO passwords. I think I did not do that great a job lecturing them. I have no public speaking style, and public speaking scares me half to death. It still does after all these years.

They are looking for learning community instructors for fall of 2005. I'm not sure I can sign up because we are getting a new information literacy coordinator March 7th. I think I sort of have to clear this with him. I can find out what the deadlines for all this are. I think it would look good on my yearly list of accomplishments, and besides, I think this kind of thing actually interests me.

It is cold at work. Our building is as drafty as a Swiss cheese full of holes. Offices and any place near an outside wall are cold. Up north bildings would be designed differently. We seal our buildings to keep precious heat inside and we place heat vents in the floor near outside walls to keep those inside warm and get the warmth where it counts. I am sure, for example, that the ceilings of both my office and my apartment are tropical paradises. Too bad I don't live on the ceiling.

Hertzel is probably sleeping in his secret nest that smells of other kitties in the closet. I wish I could ask him if he would like another kitty companion. I'm not sure what his answer would be. I greet him now with a kitty broop instead of a human "No Hertzel." He is resting in my smell on the mommy bed. What can you say of a sweet silky whhite creature who worships your odors. He is different yet he has such a need for love, affection, and attention. That is my Hertzel.


Tuesday, January 18, 2005

by Eileen Kramer

It's finally up. You can see it for yourself, a gallery page of pressies. There is not btcb3.html I was determined at the time to make everything as UnBrainstormish as possible. Well, I slipped and this time I did some thinking.

No, it's not time to move on. There is not going to be any moving on, and there is not going to be any moving on for a very good reason. You would not tell a woman (or a man) who was beaten by someone in a relationship or even psychologically abused to move on if they dedicated themselves to abuse awareness as an important part of their lives. Well that is me.

You can guess where Brainstorms fit in. How did it happen? Well, Brainstorms was active. It's population verbose and it promised fairly unrestricted conversation backed up by a rigid code of confidentiality. The community also appeared to be large and diverse. That was enough to get me over the walls and inside for a closer look.

That was how I fell in to its trap. I should have heeded the few warning signs that there were. One of them was the lack of a clear FAQ of rules. I remember reading lots of sessions in the Meta Conference where they threw people out for various offenses such as profanity and reprinting Brainstorms posts in other fora. There was no clearly defined set of rules that a newbie could read. Brainstorms instead worked on the system of thrash, adjudication, and norms. Trnaslate that as either a form of due process or "we make it up as we go along." I found this confusing and decided I was best off shying away from community politics.

There were other places I should have stayed out of. To understand this you have to understand some of what Brainstorms looks like. If you have used the forums at LOTH, a big ultimate BBS or proBooard or even a fairly active MSN Group you will have a rough idea. Brainstorms is a group of web boards called conferences. That is a quirk of the software that Brainstorms uses called Caucus. If you think of them as web boards you will understand the set up better. The web boards were divided by topic and had little blurbs at the top describing them further.

What I did not know was that some cnferences were just plain nastier than others. I knew from reading a bit of the meta threads (Meta was where the due process took place.) was that the political conferences sometimes had ugly arguments in them. I steered clear of those for that reason. I chose the cyberculture conference (It may have had another name and in fact it did. It was called Life Online) instead and the pit opened and swallowed me up.

And yeah I should have seen it coming. Brainstormers in some of the conferences put big images on the server (Brainstorms has storage capability that I never used) and include these huge things in their posts. Nobody complains, but boy did people complain with a little (designed to be lightweight) sig file. Human beings are seldom a hundred percent consistent but should I have smelled intolerence in this hypocrisy?

I ended up telling Brainstorms about Thadea, Orelle, and Haldis in the Life Online conference. I did this for several reasons. First there was a thread on identity in online communities, and I lead a double life. I figure people might want to hear what this was like. Second, I create art and do web work and score a competition under my avatars' identities. It was easier to clear the table and have all this out in the open. Also it prevents blackmail further down the road.

Well it wasn't a mistake. I was only relying on the information Brainstorms gave me that conversation on any topic was all right and that my confession would be protected by the community's strict bonds of confidentiality. The third(Yes, it took three times) I talked about Haldis scoring at the Webleagues, was what started the explosion. Teri Myers made the first threat. I called it ugly and it went from there. It ended up in Meta.

Suddenly the world of public due process had begun. I wish I could say I walked out then and there. I did not. I stayed through the whole thing. I stayed on my best behavior. I was polite. I answered questions. It looked as if my good behavior was going to pay off and...I got kicked out anyway.

I felt and still feel like a spurned wife or lover kicked out by an abusive mate. They don't always stick around to beat on their victim. Due process that does nothing but torture the victim and which ends, not with the decision made in the open, but with a decision made by others behind closed doors is torture. Yes, sometimes the abusive mate kicks out the wife and then goes on to find a fresh victim. Brainstorms is doing that because they are still in business.

What added to the torture was Brainstorms code of confidentiality. Now it is good netiquette not to post other people's words elsewhere without their permission, but confidentiality at Brainstorms goes far beyond that. You are not supposed to tell outsiders what is happening to YOU inside the walls. This leaves the victim isolated and heightens the pain. It also lets those doing the torturing have carte blanche.

And a victim may stay. She'll stay because she is isolated. She can not run what is happening to her by friends and family who may say "what are you doing hanging out with these crazy idiiots?" She'll also stay because Brainstorms is an active noisey community. Most web boards and e-lists are no where near this active. Chances are to accomdate the traffice, she's restructured her online life so that there is not much to go back to.

I do not regret speaking my mind on Brainstorms. If I could not speak my mind there, I might as well have not joined. I do regret joining, but at least I can make others aware of what a rotten group it is. I do regret not walking out before two arduous weeks of "due process" had a chance to take their toll instead of sitting there like a proverbial deer in the headlights. I am glad that I never used Brainstorms' storage capabilities and made sure my life story was transcribed from my blog. This meant that most of my writings and all of my drawings stayed with me. I am angry that some of the members whose life stories I read never wanted anything to do with me, though the rules of confidentiality at Brainstorms make relations with an outsider and particularly an exmember difficult.

Now for the rest of you. Hopefully you'll steer clear of Brainstorms after reading this. I am not linking to them because I don't want to give them any publicity tonight, but Brainstorms can't be the only group out there that operates this way so watch for the red flags.

DO NOT join any group that is strictly confidential (where you can not describe what is happening to you) unless you know some of the members who are there all ready. Even then be aware this form of secrecy isolates and can give cover to some very angry behavior.

DO NOT join any group that lacks clear operating rules. Up front rules, even the dreaded activity requirement and rules forbidding cursing and flaming, are like trail markers that indicate the difficulty of ski slopes. Newbies don't want to find themselves heading for the ski jump. If you can't make head or tail of the FAQ (even a FAQ that has some parts you disagree with) it is time to make tracks.

DO NOT join any group that does not want you to advertise it to the general public, either via text link or proud member banner. If they are afraid of advertisement to all and sundry even though they claim to more or less take any one who asks. If a group fears a simple advertisement, then it is a group with something to hide, and believe me, you don't want to learn what that is.

DO NOT join any group that agrees to bend the rules for your friends or family rather than change the rule or not admit them. I know this sounds weird and the group where I encountered this may not even be around any more. It was not Brainstorms. They agreed to take all faiths but in their operating rules they said "We believe in prayer, angels, and miracles." I pointed out that my mother could not join the group because she is an agnostic and was told to invite her any way. A group that does not follow its own rules is likely to sink in to "we make it up as we go along" a situation that is bad for newbies and if you are a newbie, it will be bad for you.

Generally larger public groups are better than smaller and more secret ones and of course, if there is a conversational restriction, it is there for your protection. Learn to live with it. Blogs are the place to say what you please. I've said what I pleased tonight.

I don't feel like sleeping and I'm going to be a wreack at work tomorrow. I'll even teach as a wreack. Such is life. I'm using caffeine to augment the pain reliever. Mecifully, I'm pain killer free right now and not hurting. I just had a bath so that is good too. I hadn't had a bath since early last week. Yeah...but it's winter so I did not stink too badly.

I ate a whole bag of kale this three day weekend. I also made myself get out and take exercise today. It has gotten cold here. I am glad I went out because I got green pens for grading my class. I learned that though the New York Times magazine celebrated purple as the newest grading color, here in Columbus, Georgia teachers still rely on red. Well I rely on green.

Hertzel tried to drink from the bath tub tonight as it was draining. He could not reach the water and mewed in frustration. He is good natured but he wanted that hot drink do badly. When the weather gets cold, Hertzel makes his nest on an old bedspread in a very inaccessible corner of the closet in the computer room. The spot is sheltered. This apartment is drafty even with the heat going full blast. The ceiling where the heat vents are is toasty warm. This is a deficiency any one from frigid climates notices immediately. It is laughable until one has to live with it.

I was on the phone with my boyfriend tonight and had to give him yet another pep talk about teaching his four session class. He still does not have his syllabus ready. Tomorrow is class #2 for me and it is my first real class for Libr1105. This is where I start teaching searching which is the heart of this course. I also need to make sure tha tall my studnets have their GALILEO passwords for home use.

I am going to recover from this retched virus one of these days, and when I do I'll be glad to find a house with food in it (some food), clean shirts, and a bed that doesn't stink. Also I'll be glad I finally mounted my pressies. The rest can go by the proverbial boards.


Sunday, January 16, 2005

by Eileen Kramer

Ghostletters, Ghostletters uber alis. Even when they hate your characters and you don't bounce off of other scribes, you can write as long as your imagination has wings. My story has turned sad as the winter skies. My characters bear up beneath their sadness. My characters learned long ago that you can not beat the boogeyman to death. He returns. He haunts your dreams. Sometimes he inspires an adventure or two. More often he inspires distrust and anger and a very justified fear.

I have a Ghostletters episode up in another window right now. I thought it would be nice for Naama Roth to visit Jumana Malcha, my youngest active character and since they are both in Westchester County until Wednesday...why not. The episode will also take care of the little problem at least temporarily. I have a world that is getting overrun with easily produced little human beings who are born more developed and grow up faster than babies.

I also have a ton of undone dragging projects. Getting sick derails everything. Unfettered Soul needs a new page for all thoose new pressies. After that I'll be free to wail on Caring Bridge guestbooks or other guestbooks if I am feeling really brave. I'll probablay start out with the Caring Bridge kind. The problem is sick and dying kid stories get boring. They really do. Nursing an invalid, be it a feline or a human one, is awful work. It is work one must do but it is sad, boring, and dreary all the same. I picked Aiden, my Share the Love, adoptee precisely because he isn't dying and his parents pretty much have abandoned the site. You get the idea. The problem is most of my new pressies are not RAOK pressies or Ladies Advance pressies. I'll have to start making some of them. I'll keep my eye out for interesting PSP tutorials to try.

Playing with PSP is much better than working with Neopets and signing guestbooks is useful and needful work. It also is antiBrainstormish since it aids those with low social capital so it is excellent vengance.

I slept eleven hours straight due to this stinking virus. I dosed up on naproxen and had the last of the chayotes and tomatoes and an egg and olive sandwich for lunch/dinner. I think I should go out. Part of me wants to go to Wal-Mart. It is three miles each way and there is a bench where I can rest and drink a twenty-five cent coke. Caffeine enhances the effects of the Naproxen. I'm not in that much pain. It is just the itching around the eyes and the fatigue that are doing a job on me. I look in the mirror, and my eyelids are red and inflamed as is the skin around my eyes. Right now I'd like to crawl back in to bed and sleep.

I don't think that is a good idea because I'm due back at work on Tuesday. Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Yay shopping day!) so I'm off. I really do want to keep a semblance of a normal circadian rhythm. I also need to transcribe the chayote recipe to the Ladies Advance board since it was such a good recipe. I'm glad I managed to do laundry and wash linens yesterday. When I recover from this bug, I am going to be glad to be in a house with plenty of food to eat, clothes to wear, and a nonstinky bed.

One of my students wrote me with questions and it is sad I will not be around until Tuesday. There is no reason we have to be closed Monday. It is the first day of the second week of the semester and if classes are canceled students can use the time off to study in the library. Also staying open for Monday holidays early in the semester is good for retention. I learned this up in Utica, when Utica College stayed open on Labor Day for just this reason.

Actually, I'm not sure being closed for Martin Luther King Day is such a good idea. I am not saying Martin Luther King Jr. is not worthy of commemoration but if you have to move his holiday to a Monday so that people will commemorate it, what is that saying. Most folks will just take advantage of the free shopping day since stores and private businesses have business as usual. Just banks, government offices, schools, an some colleges close. Having Martin Luther King Day on a Monday and asking for a federal holiday on it is almost shooting the holiday in the foot. Well I am going to enjoy my day off.

Actually, being sick, I don't know how much I'll enjoy my day off. Maybe I will get that new web page up on my Unfettered Soul site. I may also go pick up some drawing supplies from work or try my water color paints and come up with a new design for the front page of the Unfettered Soul. I also have to dismantle the project of ultimate evil. I am never going to use it and now I don't believe I would want to. I have had a change of heart as regards many things since I got booted out of Brainstorms and I am going to live my new faith...one of these days.


Saturday, January 15, 2005

by Eileen Kramer

OK it is mast head time. It was worth it to be kicked out of Brainstorms. It is worth it to be who I am and do what I do and say what I said though God knows I was disgustingly polite right up until the end when I told those guys off but good. My Pretend Brainstorms is the best. It puts the original to shame! Boy does this masthead feel good. Passion and joy are the order of the day. Woo hoo! Shout it out loud and proud!

Now that is the way to begin tonight's blog. I haven't blogged in a while due to Ghostletters. I am watching a certain scribe run what could be a very interesting plot right in to the ground. I pulled my characters right out of the way and gave them plot to work on. It is dull, sad, winter plot. Moshiach is about to do jail time for civil disobedience and my two best and brightest characters are taking a year's leave of absence to keep Moshiach from losing her movement. That is sad stuff.

Ghostletters is every bit as addictive as Neopets which I miss. I could go back. I wonder why I should. Playing the same games was fine when I had a sick cat and room for very little on my plate. Now my sick cat, Georgia, has died and what is there to do. There is a space yawning to be filled. Ghostletters fills it.

The PSP User Group is a disappointment, not because the people are bad (I rather like them and admire their work) but simply because the group moves slowly. Going back ever two to three days is what one must do or one sees very little that is new. I'm glad I joined the group but it is not going to take up a lot of space in my online group landscape. In the end it made no difference.

I'm in the mood to talk about copyright and the fact that a lot of people out there think information should be free and all that. This gets into open source software where the argument may be valid and wikis which seem to work out but mainly because they are a tool of the elite. I am waiting for the day a wiki gets persistently vandalized. It is very doable and constantly fixing the thing is a drag. It has to be. For art and music the argument is a piece of dreck.

If anything copyright and long copyrights on music and art ensure creativity flourishes. How does this work? Well, copyright holders can charge for use. A lot of artists of whom members of Super Packin PSP are fond now charge for permissions. People pay, but I don't. One very cheap alternative is to create one's own art work. Many people can draw and all one needs is some art supplies and a scanner for an endless supply of custom drawings. Instead of clipping some picture you found on the net, the whole work is original from beginning to end. How is that for creativity? Of course people say they can't draw, but if they have to, they can learn and the drawings just have to be good enough to use, not to sell.

Now you say fine, that's drawing. What about music. Well there are instruments and people have voices and it is possibleto write one's own music and songs. There is even freeware that will make algorithmic music. I have something called Musinum loaded on the home machine and it creates original midi files that often sound pretty good. Thadea used Musinum for the music at the New Southern Hemisphere.

If we all decided to write our own music and do our own drawings, can you imagine the avalanche of creativity. Well as long as ready made ones cost, there is going to be a huge motive for the average joe and josephine to be creative.

And speaking of being creative, I have such a huge pile of pressies they are out of control. It looks like I am going to need to make a gallery page for them this weekend. I am sort of psyched to do this. I just have to find the time. I'll let all of you know when it is up.

This was a long week and it ended with me sick with a cold or virus. I don't think it is the flu, because I have no fever. It turned grey last night. The skies opened up, and the warm spell ended. It ended just in time for me to be sick.

I am facing a three day weekend due to the Martin Luther King holiday. I then face a ten (normally it would be an eleven) day work week. I am trying not to think about any of this.

I've been staying up too late, eating too much junk food, and generally abusing myself. I guess I am getting old enough that this behavior makes me crash sooner rather than later. I slept on the break room couch for three hours this evening which is probably why I am still awake and bright eyed and reasonably bushy tailed for such a late hour.

I made chayote medley with the last of the canned yellow tomatoes from Big Lots tonight and had an egg and oil cured olive sandwich and a bosc pear for dessert. This was the first decent food all day. I made kidney bean barley soup with lots of parsnips and a bit of habanero sauce last night. I guess I can publish at least one of these recipes on Ladies Advance' food board. Recipes at least are original and creative.

Zucchini or chayote and tomatoes or tomato sauce are a comfort food too. I guess I need to be comforted. Fortunately, Hertzel, my boy of joy kitty is there. He meows for me to go to bed and then after making his nest, he often ends up under the covers and in my arms like a silky coated lover. That feels good. I know I can sleep all day tomorrow. That also feels good. Maybe I'll sleep off the effects of this cold.

Tonight around midnight some jerk knocked on my apartment door. He pounded. I dragged myself over to the door and saw a young man with a baseball cap. I opened the door a crack. The gentleman who must have been drunk said he was looking for a friend. I said there was no one here but me and asked him what he needed in a voice that would have chilled habanero peppers. He was gone in a flash. I think he was a real jerk.


Wednesday, January 12, 2005

by Eileen Kramer

Haldis scored tonight. Do you want to know what this feels like. It feels like the most grinding work imaginable. Haldis must open up each ballot. Casting votes for a hundred sites is comparable though a bit harder. I learned that from Thadea. Haldis opened seventy-five ballots tonight.

This is where MP3's come in handy. I crank up my Winamp and we are off with a mixed list of over a hundred tunes. Soon I find myself singing along, I sing "It's a Long Way to Tipperary," the song I once wanted as the theme for the now long defunct, Site Fights Defenders. I sing "Last Train to Nuremburg." They don't write them like that any more. I did not know "Last Train to Nuremburg," when I was on the Defenders. I sing "I'm Not in Love."

I think the quintessential site fighting song though is Maggie Mae. Like the tale of Nicholas Salmonovich Rubashov in Koestler's Darkness at Noon, Maggie Mae is a song about love and betrayal. One of the choruses sings "You led me away from home just to save you from being alone. You stole my soul. I couldn't leave you if I tried." Of course there are two other great site fighting songs.

One is the ballad of Henry Martin and the other the Golden Vanity. Henry Martin is a ballad about the youngest of three brothers who becomes a pirate to feed his starving family in old Scotland. Henry finds his first quarry, a rich merchant ship. He asks them to pull over. The refuse. Henry threatens to blast them with a cannon which of course he does. Henry is not much of a pirate. The last verse of the song goes: "Sad news, sad news to Old England came. Sad news to fair London town. There's been a rich vessel and she's cast away, cast away, cast away... And all of her merry men drowned." Henry doesn't get any treasure though he does sink a ship.

The Golden Vanity is about a Dutch ship that fears capture by either the Spanish or the Turks. "And up spoke a cabin boy and boldly out spoke he, and he said to the captain what will you give to me if I swim along side of the the Spanish enemy, and I sink her in the Lowland low land low and I sink her in the low land sea." The captain promises the cabin boy silver, gold, and of course the hand of his daughter in marriage. The cabin boy then gets an auger, dives into the sea and proceeds to swim over to the enemy ship, bore it full of holes and sink her. Misison accomplished, the cabin boy returns to the ship only to find a captain who refuses to take him back on board. "Oh I won't take you up, the captain he cried. I'll shoot you and I'll kill you and I'll send you with the tide." The cabin boy then appeals to his mess mates and they haul him up and he dies on the deck or sometimes he just drowns. There are multiple versions of this song. Anyway the song ends almost as it began: "There is a lofty ship and she sails upon the sea, but she sails WITHOUT a cabin boy the age of twelve and three, and she fears she will be taken by the Spanish enemy..."

Most good site fighting songs are about betrayal. I started using the MP3 collection and a wall of silence when Thadea voted at the house. I did that because one night, as Thadea was voting I was singing. I started singing Maggie Mae and soon there were tears all over my face and I could not stop crying. Burn out from site fighting will do this to you. The music coming from somewhere else prevents burn out and distraction...both.

Now is site fighting about betrayal? I think some of it is. Haldis has two somnolent fighters on her team who once had campaigns. One has computer trouble. The other has just stopped self voting. A third, is on leave of absence due to illness. Site fighters almost never say they are burnt out. Any system that leaves its most devoted members burnt out betrays them. I guess that is the long and short of it.

I taught today and faced a house with twenty-six out of twenty-eight students. We had to double two students up and I could not drive the class computer. Eighty percent or more of the students could log in. Most students got something done. I gave out lots of extra credit. Next class, I won't be so friendly. I forgot to show students how to get the GALILEO password for home use. One has to always forget something.

I made and flipped two new handouts today. Actually they were revised handouts. They are about adding attachments to email and forwarding email to a home address. We had these when we had Pegasus mail but now that we have CougarNet web based email, the handouts needed major revision with screen views. This meant lots of screen capturing with Paint Shop pro and then some picky html conversion.

I'm kind of glad I did this now. After class I had to revise my grading spread sheet. Some of the students who no showed were not registered and some of the students who were registered were not listed. I added new rows and then took out the unregistered students. I did not realize that this kind of shuffle takes place so close to the start of classes. I hope that my drop rate is low this semester. Callie, my boss, worries about this. I can't go into all of this on this blog, but she has a right to be worried.

I am on split shift tomorrow whether I like it or not because there is a librarians' meeting in the morning. I may use my few hours off to do laundry. I know that is an awful use of time off, but what can I say. I finally get to spend an evening out on the desk tomorrow night. I am looking forward to it. I've been cooped up in my lovely hole of an office way too long.

I wonder if writing about work on this blog sounds better than writing about holidays. I realize now that I am very glad I went to Atlanta to the zoo during the holiday break. I guess it was a kind of vacation after all. I think of those golden lion tamarins and the bright yellow tropical birds whenver I am down and blue. Too bad the zoo in Atlanta does not have pheasants. Yes, to a city girl pheasants are zoo animals. They have golden pheasants and zebra pheasants etc... the really pretty ones. That is why I liked the pheasants. I also liked that they kept them out of doors. The Bronx Zoo always seemed so big and old fashioned.

Going to the zoo was something I did a lot as a kid. I miss living in town without a zoo, but that is how most people in the United States live without regular zoo visits as part of their time off. I think you lose an appreciation for animals you don't see in the flesh. I even used to call Georgia my "World of Darkness" kitty because in the semi-dark bedroom her big wide open glowing kitty eyes reminded me of the eyes on those nocturnal animals exhibited in the Bronx Zoo's World of Darkness. I rememer when they built the World of Darkness in the early 1970's and they charged ten cents (a token amount) to go inside. Now of course it is free and no big deal, but back in its day an exhibit of all nocturnal animals displayed in glowing red light (just like in the Small Mammal House by the way) was very very special.

Well I still have to get up in the am but not as early as usual. Maybe I'll get to meditate as well as sleep. Stranger things have happened.


Tuesday, January 11, 2005

by Eileen Kramer

I am frustrated with Ghostletters. My characters are getting ignored and snubbed because a long term scribe is working with another scribe and the plot is going to expletive deleted. The idea that Western liberal consumer culture is best is one of the most ethnocentric ideas around. My characters do indeed have other ideas which makes them unpopular. Of course choosing a conservative lifestyle in the United States is quite different from having one imposed upon you, but my characters are in the US so that makes life a bit easier.

This means it's back to my own plot which isn't so bad and right now there is a raging philosophical argument about the meaning of martyrdom, something nuanced that is missing from the main plot. Of course Naama's little has a bit of his own plot. I did some research on Menachem Mendel Schneerson who in my plot is known as Mendel Menachem Schneerson-Roth and found he was a math major in college in Germany and for a time in France before he really got the call. He has also been dead eleven years before he was reborn so for my plot, that means a lot of afterworld history. What did happen those eleven years? Naama, the character who is Mendel's mother, is also a math major. Anyway, enough scribe talk.

I got my multivoice boards all caught up. I had something that the play pretend Brainstormers on the Third Rail could talk about and the avatars are squabbling over site fighting. Haldis' team looks more active. She just scored it.

I also made my first visit as a logged in member to the PSPUG web board. I feel daunted. I am going to take it very easy with this new group. I had a real urge to do PSP today and came up with two images. I uploaded one. The other is good too and I'll get that uploaded at work tomorrow. It's a Tu B'Shevat graphic.

I am going to have my characters dismiss the old scribe's engaging lady in distress character as having lack of depth of soul. Also the plot is going to have a god like ending. I can feel it in my scribal bones. My plots never seem to end, but that is OK.

I teach tomorrow. Do all of you hear that? I teach tomorrow and I am scaird you know what less. I went through the white board markers to see which were fresh. I gave Michele who is teaching on Thursday a rag for white boards. We still have no white board cleaner of our own but I'll get some at Office Max Tuesday after work or Wednesday morning. Wednesday afternoon I'll be grading and xeroxing. Wednesday night I am out on the desk. I am scaird. We start with signage all over the place in the morning to make sure students know to go to Lenoir 126.

We had a job candidate today for an interview. I got to ask her a few questions. I asked her some veiled political stuff. I can't say much about this even though I'm not on the search committee. It is work and I think there is confidentiality involved.

As a result, I did not get much work done or as much as I wanted. Something is going to get done this week. I know that much, and it will be something besides this class. I am initiating this which is good. I feel a lot less burnt out than I used to.

Now if I can only start job hunting again. Side work is no longer getting in the way, but that is because a lot of it ports home. That means I am up late at night and I am going to be dragging at work and juiced with adrenaline and all the rest.

I just realized I need to make sure that my one out of town reference has stayed put and not been caught in a political snare. He got himself a real honey of a job. I just want an ordinary job somewhere else where people care about what I do. Is that such an awful thing for which to ask?

Hertzel my cat was his own sweet self tonight. There are things tonight that I can not write down on this blog. None of them are all that bad but they are work related. I hate nights like this.

I hope my class goes well tomorrow. I did manage to put 10,000 Ideas on reserve. Maybe by tomorrow, I'll have enough presence of mind to put a couple of recipes up on my board. This blog is bleeding between the two sides again. I don't think that is a good sign.

And here is something I made today....

A rolled up calling card


Monday, January 10, 2005

by Eileen Kramer

You can't do the masthead too many nights in a row so let's give it a night off.

I just tried to do my State leaderly duties for LOTH but need to find the email addresses I need missing from the mail I was sent. We have two new members who need welcoming cards. At least all the birthdays are taken care of until March 4th.

I forgot to do the multivoice boards today. I forgot a lot of stuff. This is a short day because it began at close to noon. Even the channeling was late. Hybernation is a vengance set back of the first order. If you can have vengance victories, you can also have vengance set backs. So it goes. Tomorrow I'll try to squeeze in those ten posts or I'll do five tonight and five some time tomorrow.

ZOID is scored and Haldis' team at the Webleagues is open for business. Haldis also forgot to send a roster for the fighters. Oh well, no one missed it and no one sends her a roster to show where she is fighting. Still my conscience as a fighter is sorely pricked. I guess I'd better do something about that roster. Oh I love multitasking. I love it almost as much as multiple identities. Well the comp is open and the roster is out. I feel much better and Haldis is a bit embarassed as she should be in this situation.

I have not created the little girl identity. I am just plain wondering if this one is worth it. I suspect that once the kid infiltrates the web site where I am going to send her, she won't find much. The web site looks spiffy but that is the world's easiest con. What she will find is a place selling stuff and a dead web board. Why she can't see the web board without registering is beyond me. I guess that is just part of the allure of the place. Since I am facing a work week where I teach my first class, the whole project is just not a top priority.

Well I just found the new LOTHlings email addresses so I guess I am multi-tasking again.

I've been doing Ghostletters all night long. That is probably why the multi-voice board got thrown to the winds. Actually without Neopets as a distraction the multi-voice boards are not as necessary. That's a fact, but a sad one and one I am going to fight on the ground. Unfortunately, LOTH and RAOK come first. They just do.

I have my class pretty much ready to go but I did not put 10,000 Ideas on reserve. I am going to do that Monday when I get in to work. That takes top priority. We are also interviewing a candidate Monday. I had to go to the bank and get money to buy lunch and dinner. I like eating with the candidate even if I get the same food every time, a waffle for lunch and tilapia for dinner.

The really weird thing is that I cooked this weekend. I made farfelle and pepitas salad. They actually had frozen cauliflower at Publix. Buying cauliflower frozen is the cheapest way to do it. You get just as much caulilfower as a whole head of the fresh stuff at half the price with no shrinkage and rememer I prefer it cooked. I used one bag of the frozen cauliflower in the pepitas and farfelle (pasta bow ties) salad. I also made a dressing with ginger, cumin seeds, and cinamon in it as well as garlic powder. Publix was out of scallions. Down here in the South they call scallions green onions.

Publix was also out of barley, but I found that at Country Life, my favorite natural food store. I also found sunflower butter. I also bought turds. I did not eat them all and I ate them with cream soda. I dserved a treat I told myself. I have no self control. Turds (aka sesame turds aka sesame sticks) are my downfall.

Tonight I made cole slaw. It was supposed to be blue slaw but my blue cheese which is the excellent goat's milk kind from Atlanta is old and the cabbage was also old and a bit bitter. I decided that only a traditional dressing heavy on salt and acids would do. As a result I have very good cole slaw. Too bad I won't be home to eat it tomorrow night.

I am glad I am NOT on the search committee. Since this is work related, I can't talk about this further.

I have twenty-eight students signed up for this class. I think one of them may not know where it is meeting. I have emailed all of them, but they may not be reading their Cougarnet email. I know I don't read it at home even though I could. The first class is always chaotic and I am dreading it even now.

I did manage to clean out the cat's litter pans. Hertzel does not complain but I could not remember when I did it last. Now that I have one cat who eats dry food, this apartment smells better for a lot longer. It just does. Yes, I still miss Georgia. I still look for her. I still think of myself as someone with two cats, but there is only my sweet white boy kitty, Hertzel, here.

I still have not ordered my FiestaWare. I may do it on Monday on the fast connection at work. I found some FiestaWare flatware on sale and I would love to have all matching silverware. I guess it is time for such luxuries. Some of us don't have pricey registries after all.


Saturday, January 08, 2005

by Eileen Kramer

I slammed a phisher tonight. He sent me a fraudulent warning from Ebay. I figured I'd just as soon let my hardly ever used Ebay account go. The last thing I bought on it was a new winter coat two years ago. Ebay was great for down coats, but by and large I don't think it is very efficient. I prefer dealing directly with merchants I trust than sorting through all the junk on Ebay.

Phishing has me thinking. I would like to drag out a piece of Brainstormish slang to stamp it into the ground. Now for starters, let's talk about me. Well... this is my blog you know. I remember unlearning to curse when I was in graduate school. No one told me to do it. I just did it because I knew I was heading for a professional job and routinely cursing (as oppoosed to what comes out when I'm in shock or very angry) was not a good idea. It is also easier to cure the routine kind of cursing and just hope you don't reach the point where you are so angry out pops a curse. I also think others are more likely to forgive a curse given out in anger than expletives sprinkled in every day speech. Well I cured my cursing, but as a result, I am sensitive to bad language and want others to stay cured.

Well there is a word in Brainstorms slang that is effectively a curse of sorts. That word is "phun." "Phun" is borrowed from hacker lingo. Whoever borrowed it thought hackers were cool. They are not. They break in to other people's computer accounts and wreack havoc. The account that runs ZOID got hacked several years ago. The hacker had the misfortune of breaking in to the account on a late Thursday night/Friday morning of a Friday after an eleven day week at work. In other words, I went to set up ZOID, went to upload the scores, and found my password did not work. I was on the phone to our provider and found some jerk had installed some IRC software and the account was blocked. I got it unblocked, changed the password, and was hard at work. The other time the ZOID account got hacked the password was changed and I had it changed to something else and the poor hacker never got to do any damage. Phun means the great fun hackers have when the go where they shouldn't, steal, vandalize, and otherwise wreack things. A hacker is no more a hero than a burglar. Phun is destruction of another person's property and trespass into another person or company's private space.

You would not like it if it were your private space, yet Brainstorms uses "phun" as their word for a particularly intelligent and sophisticated kind of fun. I guess this means that community members don't care when they have fun at lesser mortals' expense. Phun could mean practical jokes, but I think the meaning as I've heard it applied is too broad for that. Yet, the word has criminal origins. It is an epithet. It means that Brainstormers really don't care at whose expense they have fun. Otherwise they would choose more unsullied language. Boy am I glad that I'm no longer part of Brainstorms. My Play Pretend Version is so much better!

In other news, I'm reactivating the Un-Registry again. My dad sent me Christmas money and I'm going to buy some stuff. More about that on the other side of the blog.

Oh well, I left the house thinking of FiestaWare today. I want some more. I am short two bowls and one mug. Nonplastic dishes always have casualties but FiestaWare is open stock. Anyway, I have Christmas money still mostly unspent so it is shopping spree time but not tonight.

I went grocery shopping today. I went the long way so I could deposit the check of Christmas money from my dad at the bank on Wynton Road. Yes, I use the ATM. I am no Luddite. Anyway, I got to pass through the posh neighborhood on Hilton Road. I mean the houses there are mansions. This used to be Columbus' finest neighborhood. Now most really wealthy people live in Harris County or out near Pine Mountain, but that is another story. The neighborhood still reeks status and today I could not look at those houses without a real pang of anger.

How did this all start? I wrote a letter to the paper. The letter defended the use of Seasons Greetings and Happy Holidays as affirming the American values of separation of church and state and respect for religion as a personal and private affair. Look at the December 26 entry for this blog and you will see it. On Sunday January 2, the Ledger-Enquirer printed my letter. My boss congratulated me as did one of the women who worked at Kerry headquarters. The Deep South may be the Buckle of the Bible Belt, but there is way more to it than this stupid cliche. The people who liked my letter weren't just liberal Christians, nonbelievers, or nonChristians etc... They were middle class women who identified with the upper crust. I know this and it galls the heck out of me with my boss. I could spit in the rich folks' eye. I break all the rules here because I am an outsider. Obeying dietary laws knocks me out of the group who emulates the upper crust, but I'll get to all that.

Columbus, Georgia is one of the most classist places on the planet. Maybe India with its caste system beats it out or maybe England in the nineteenth century does but Columbus is still disgustingly classist. It is possible for places to be very class neutral. In Utica everyone knew good food when they saw it, any one with the cash whether they were clerical staff, blue collar, or blue blood ate at Symeons and other restaurants held in high esteem. No one avoided a place because working class people ate there. That happens here in Columbus.

Class also effects religion. Simply put, the upper classes attend liberal churches or mainline ones that do not put a crimp in their life style. It is the poor and working clas folks who tithe, endure hellfire sermons, give up alcohol and tobacco, practice tsnius (modesty. There is a Baptist church a few blocks from this house where all the women wear bleow the knees skirts.), restrict their diets (The Seventh Day Adventists are vegan and avoid caffeine. They run the best natural food store in Columbus and a pretty good vegetarian restaurant.) etc.... It is easy to mobilize around one's club, one's team, and one's culture. To go to a liberal church if you are poor is like rooting for the Hamilton College Continentals. As the bus driver on the Utica-Clinton bus told me "Those kind of kids go to Hamilton." The nonbelievers who are also the well-to-do are the them. Get behind your pastor on a social issue and you get to take a whack at the them.

Of course, I wonder how much working class Columbusites know about the "them" on Hilton Ave. I wish I had some pictures to show you of this neighborhood. I stopped at St. Thomas' Episcopal Church today and walked its labyrinth. I always sing pop tunes when I walk the labyrynth. I don't know why. It soothed me because I was feeling sad. The rabbi at Shearith Israel (my schul! Yes, we know whose side Eileen is on no matter what I say.) may bash the working class church next door (They have a sportatorium and lots of family programs and a rip roaring revival on New Year's Eve.) but we do our joint Thanksgiving service with St. Thomas'.

I wonder if they gaze at those houses with the envious eyes I have. I wonder if they think of what those people eat and realize they may eat better. I do this routinely because in the South it's probably true. Also I'm a middle class Jew and Jews when they have discretionary money spend it on the best food they can find. My working class grandmother always provided my father with a full fruit bowl that he raided regularly much to her chagrin. I think of the big lawns that could be dug into flower beds or vegetable gardens, but what do working class folks think of? Are those the people they envy or is it the teachers, lawyers, doctors and others who treat them with cold superiority, make them wait in line, don't respect the culture of their children and themselves (religion is a part of culture. Columbus State by the way offers no intro English course that includes the Bible. Think about that. It is also not taught in high school. There is nothing that prohibits the teaching of the Bible as literature, but here in Georgia it is controversial. In New York state it is routine.)?

Anyway, I got kudos for standing up for my class, except it is NOT my class. I'm the poor outsider at my schul and I get sick of it. I frequent Country Life. I congratulate Cassonya and Norma who run Temple of Isis for living their faith. Wicca like bornagain Christianity is a working class phenomenon here in Columbus. I think Wicca is popular because many Christians have become estranged from home worship and Wicca is full of home worship. Also for a working class woman who does not want to become a Bornagain, St. Thomas just won't cut it. She'll feel like a poor relation. She'll never be able to host an event in her apartment or house (It won't be nice enough.) and when the church hosts something the costs will be high, and of course everybody will know everyone else and goes back to the time when Columbus was founded. Temple of Isis is different.

I didn't stand up for the wealthy folks on Wynton Road who just want those Bornagains to quite down and know their proper station. I stood up for the folks who work at Country Life and the folks who shop there paying big prices because good food is an article of faith. I stood up for Cassonya and Norma who run Temple of Isis, Columbus' Metaphysical Church. I stood up for the Jewish soldiers at Fort Benning who are here today and gone who knows where tomorrow. I stood up for me.

I hope Lou gets down here soon. I want him to start a liberal Christian church for working class people to give them an alternative to the bornagain movement. Of course none of that will help the folks who identify with the upper crust who look down on the bornagain working class folks to the point of excluding them. The upper classes are not on my side and I am not on theirs. I wish that could come across somewhere other than this blog.


by Eileen Kramer

I've just done something I swore I never would do. I sought out another community. OK, this doesn't feel like a vengance set back because I am too exhausted, strung out, etc... I joined the PSP Users Group. I realized tonight that I was not getting kicked out of SuperPackin' PSP and I'm sick of feeling like an aesthetic outcast. I figure the PSP User Group is the grand daddy of them all. It is a huge barn of a place. I'm bound to find more diversity than what is just in a little MSN group.

I've been making graphics like crazy. I've been trying tutorials. I just realized that I have to make a page to display everything I made. I may go back to Caringbridge.org and sign guestbooks since their guestbooks are pristine. I mean what else does one do with pressies?

I had no spirit contact today either. I can't tell you how that expletive deleteds. I hope I get some tonight or tomorrow morning. I don't even mind writing log. No one tells me to write log. I just feel it is good to share what I have with other believers.

I also did not hit my multi-voice boards. I'll double up tomorrow. I am not ready to give them up just yet.

By the way, the rules are that if I fall into a group, great! If I don't well too bad. I'm thinking of searching around on MSN Groups for something where I can use all these pressies I'm making. Guestbooks are filthy and MSN for all that it's Bill Gates, Bill Gates did something very right with MSN groups and I support them. I just don't like the crippled html one has to use to set them up. Now if I could find a way to offer free storage besides just offering to host graphics, I'd set up a group on my own web site. It's the storage part that has me baffled.

I am also thinking of creating another personna. This one is going to be a kid, a seven year old girl. I can't say much more about the project. She is Haldis' half sister. Personnae always have purposes. Fortunately, I have a full plate. I don't intend to site fight the child or her web site. I have been looking at places to host the little girl's site and a way to get her an email address. COPPA may present an obvious problem. If it does the whole project goes on hold until spring break. The little girl lives in North White Plains, New York. COPPA often involves a snail mailed letter and the post mark should match the return address. One has to think of details like this. I strongly suspect the outfit into which I will be sending this child is not on the up and up anyway, but that is another story.

Haldis got her team rostered and ready to go and ZOID is in the rostered and locked position. Everything looks pretty slick. That is a good feeling. I guess I'll appreciate all of this when I've had enough sleep.

I got to bed at three thirty am. I did not power nap. I got caffeine poisoned with cherry coke. All I ate at work was cherry coke and chips. It was delicious as such junk food is when one doesn't make a habit of it, but it left me exhausted and somewhat ill. Don't ask me about my IBS. It's already making me more miserable by the minute. I expect I'll spend some of the night sleeping with my hands or arm around my stomach. I may even get skewered by pain if I go walking or grocery shopping. Usually it will happen when I am farthest from the house. It likes to happen at night. IBS cramps have a Murphy's Law predictability about them. The only good part of the whole deal is that very painful IBS cramps are utterly unproductive. The only embarassment they will cause is doubling me over. I've even perfected the art of walking down the street with my arm around my lower abdomen or my hand on the trouble spot. Keeping it warm and supported stops a lot of the pain.

I got a lot done at work despite the junk food binge. It was time to pull a first class angry, but I worked any way. Yay! I flipped four handouts and added two new students to my grading spread sheet and deglitched two other web handouts. We now have lots of new web handouts and are through with the general pile. The whole project is done more than six weeks ahead of schedule, even with the glitches and fixes. Yes, you heard it SIX WEEKS AHEAD of SCHEDULE!

I'll let it drop here because this is a work issue and there is a lot more I could talk about but don't want to here on a fairly public blog.

I took the Christmas tree down tonight. I know you can all say "finally." Well it was a busy week. It took an hour and a half. I dreaded it. I put up the tree while Georgia was still alive. She dragged herself under it the night she died. You get the idea. Plus taking down a Christmas tree means carefully putting away breakable ornaments in their original boxes or special containers. I want this stuff in good order late next fall. The tree is now sleeping in its box in thhe pantry. It is a white tree that was a floor sample that I got for sixty percent off in an after Christmas sale fourteen years ago. Georgia was younger than than Hertzel is now.

Tonight on the phone, Lou said "Hertzel must be quite the pet to you." It's the first time he's really acknowledged what a good boy, my Hertzel kitty is and that there is a nice tight bond between us that needs to be there. I could not have taken the tree down were it not for Hertzel. I am serious. He played with the oraments a bit, but he was very gentle. Yes, I said "no" quite a bit too, but that is what you say when a cat paws the glass ornaments. I have lost quite a few ornaments over the years, but not to Hertzel. In fact, this is his third Christmas and it is the first time he has taken an interest in ornaments.

The important thing is Hertzel never left my side for a minute. I talked to him and petted him whenever I felt rotten. Mostly I was just glad to have him there. He truely is the kitty who soothes the grieving hearts. Hertzel, by the way, means heart in Yiddish. He came to this house to provide companionship for Georgia who was then fourteen and bereft of her two kitty siblings (who were not related to her but they lived here anyway), Sting and Evander. Now I am bereft of Georgia, and Hertzel is soothing my heart.

I am not sure I will make it to schul in the morning. I keep saying I will but I know I want to sleep and meditate. All the world will look better when I have had some serious REM sleep.


Thursday, January 06, 2005

by Eileen Kramer

OK, everything worked today and Haldis scored her team lickety split. I guess that is good news. My life still feels like it is coming down about my ears. I guess that is par for the course. I was a member of Brainstorms last year at this time. It was worth it to be kicked out though, to be who I am and to say what I said though until the end I was so polite my mouth bled from biting my tongue. My pretend Brainstorms rocks. It is much better than the original. I love my Pretend Brainstorms.

Boy it feels good to get that mast head out. There is nothing like a lot of passion, enthusiasm, and joy early in the morning. It is time to put on a happy face and keep it there. Woo-hoo! You bet your bippy!

I don't think there has been a mast head on this blog in a while. That said, I managed to get the Call for Fighters at ZOID out on time and though I'm woefully behind, the graphics for the patter prompter at Ladies Advance are made and ready to go. Now I just have to make the page but not tonight. It is way too late for that. I still have channeling to do.

Being back at work and really working a decent amount is cutting down on all the side work that is important to successful vengance. I finally did put the Seargent's email into my address book and email options so his email will end up in my Inner Circle if he doesn't BCC it. Of course he had to send out 2.2mb of photos to everyone on his list. Er uh...how do you say bandwidth hog? I have to figure out some way to do this tactfully, since supporting the military is a great way to work against Brainstorms.

I am not sure what to write back to David. I know I owe him some kind of a letter. I don't know how good or frequent his email access is and how good it will be once he gets to the Middle East. I keep thinking something horrible will happen to him and he'll end up in Landschtul hospital in Germany which is where they send the wounded. I haven't told Lou about David, the Seargent, and I don't intend to. I'm not involved with David and Lou has a jealous nature.

I am actually getting stuff done at work. I guess this blog is starting on a somewhat optimistic note. There are only six SACS handouts left to flip into html. I won't get them all done before my course starts but I'll get them done way ahead of the usual fuzzy deadline.

That said the vita still needs work and the Christmas tree is still up. I did pay my bills. I got emergency checks. The ID'ing process at the bank was arduous but I am one of those people with the banking equivalent of a strange birthmark. My account goes all the way back to 1973. It is the latest incarnation of the first bank account I ever had. The lady at the bank today said I should switch to a money market account. It pays better interest.

Psychologically this hits me as a very strange idea. My father has a money market account. That is what wealthy people have, not middle class misers who without a house or car tend to accumulate assets in the bank. Direct deposit to your savings account is a great tool for fiscal discipline. You only take out grocery money, travel money, etc... or transfer to pay bills. Anything you don't touch, stays put.

I am the poor relation in my family but I have a big fat nest egg under the bed. I am thinking that maybe I do want to go to Europe. I'm not sure I want to buy a house. That would tie me to this area and I am hoping to get out of here one of these days.

Actually, the nest egg is defensive. Money buys plan B. Money protects you from getting in situations where others who could be emotinally abusive own you. I need money of my own. Money is power.

I made very good pasta with water cress and peanuts tonight. Honey roasted peanuts make pretty good cooking peanuts, though the best cooking peanuts are the blanched raw kind. They finally sell them at Publix along with roasted salted (and shelled) pepitas. Contrary to popular opinion, nuts, seeds, and nut butters will not make you fat unless you pig on them. Anything will make you fat if you pig on it, unless it is celery or something like that. It's not the protein or carbs. It's the portion size. Eat them as part of meals instead of meat and you are fine. In fact you are more than fine since nut products and seeds tend to be IBS friendly, and they keep down the mucus if you have the sniffles. Cheese is not and dairy products make you have more snot.

I know we went from money to snot, but at least we are staying with the green stuff. I need to get some sleep. At least I have another recipe to circulate. I think these are better than forwards, even of good current events articles because at least they are mine and they are original.


Wednesday, January 05, 2005

by Eileen Kramer

Today everything went to expletive deleted. It went that way despite the best intentions. I managed to have spirit contact but wonder if I'll have it tonight. I guess I know when I crawl into bed where I can warm my feet and sulk.

My provider that hosts this fine domain and all its fine web sites, including this blog, was down for six hours today. It is a dubious record. I was on the phone with support twice. All I could do is vent, but they were nice and gave updated news. Anyway at 3:30pm everything came up including my Play Pretend Brainstorms.

I was even able to do my multivoice boards today and I did log. Haldis' scoring went fast. That is sad. Maybe there is something about the holidays or maybe it is losing Georiga in my case but similar things happen and the spell breaks. I feel bad for my Neopets whom I like, but to take them offsite and just write about them any where except Ghostletters is to run afoul of copyyright law. It's called derivative work. My pets are therefore dying. I can see no point in going back and playing games multiple times per day and saving up for the big prize only....to do it again. I woke up.

I think some of the site fighters on Haldis' team also woke up. I have watched two veteran fighters who know their stuff become nonselfvoting. Did they realize it is just an endless treadmill of hours of voting per day. In the end we only go round and round and when we stop there is nothing to show for it. Administrators just set up each week. We are invisible. Fighters sometimes treat us as public conveniences. Fighters sometimes get socialized. Administrators sometimes get lucky. I can administrate forever. I can not fight without getting painfully burnt out. I think two of my fighters burned out.

I then proceeded to conk out on the breakroom couch after work. I sleep well there. I slept for three stinking hours and hurried home. If you want to find out what happened this evening, it's on the other side of this blog. Anyway, suffice it to say I have not revised my vita.

I am working now on putting the seargent I met at Sy's house down near Publix into my address book. He is single, a librarian, and bound for Southern Iraq. I think of him as a penpal. He'll be gone for nearly a year and after that he is way too attactched to New York and I as ensconsed as I am in this apartment, am way too footloose for it ever to work. Still I want to stay in contact and probably will download Yahoo messenger for him. Besides, I'd like to learn if there is a way to custom skin this software.

Today everything turned to expletive deleted. I revised and annotated a list of historical journals that a colleague had gotten together. I like useful work like this but my mouse was having a hard time doing selects for copy. I asked our systems librarian for a new mousepad. It worked a bit better, but I was still struggling and cursing. I went and got the mouse cleaning supplies and gave that mouse the most intense bath any mouse has had. I even showed the mouse ball to my colleague. Anyway, I got the mouse to work but only after struggling all day. I also found that there are only eight handouts left on the shared drive that need hand html conversion. Yes, this is some of what I do for a living. Our library is a hand code shop and proudly so.

The fun started around 6:30pm. I took a nap and awoke three hours later on the break room couch which was warm and comfy. I hurried home; for I had bills to pay and hair to wash. I hurried home, got out the sesame turds (bad girl!) to fortify myself. It will be a long time before there are sesame turds (my name for sesame sticks) in this house again. I bought them for New Year's and they were leftover. Anyway, I found the bills. There was money in the account. Little did I know I had only one check left. I tried my bank's online bill pay and it will be ready for me in one to two business days. Checks take weeks to arrive. I am going to have to go down to the bank during business hours and plead for some emergency checks so I can pay my bills. Needless to say, my Christmas tree is still up, my vita is not updated, and I feel like this was one big wasted day. At least my hair is clean.

I just put the Seargent I met at Sy Zimmerman's house last weekend and at schul on New Year's Eve into my address book and made sure his mail would get routed to my inner circle. He is a Yahoo Instant Messenger user. I guess I get to download this software next. It will probably blow this computer and I'll really be up you know what's creek. It has been some day.


Monday, January 03, 2005

by Eileen Kramer

I need a new graphics group and I think I'm overdoing Ghostletters but I'll let that one go for now. The graphics group is top concern. I am NOT happy with Super Packin' PSP. I don't like cookie cutter tutorials, and yet I want to learn more Paint Shop Pro technique and do it where people care about craftsmanship.

Also I don't share the prevailing aesthetic that idolizes the young, nubile, female form whether it's dressed up in Victorian gear or with just a blanket coyly covering its oh so gorgeous nudity. My is that tasteful! I also loathe Thomas Kinckade and Danny Holbolm. I don't need someone else' art. The reason I loathe Kinckade is his paintings tell you how to feel. I don't need art that tells me how to feel. I'll feel whatever way I please. I can even figure it out. One PSP group I visited (there was a link on someone's web site) used an image with permission that just made me squirm, the image that is, not the permission.

Let me see if I can find a copy of this illustration. I'd love to show you how awful it is. And now you can feast your eyes. I thought long and hard about why I loathe this painting. I think I loathe it because it is a consumate and absolute fake. First, it is photographically real, yet there is nothing of reality in it. I used to live in Upstate New York and I have seen plenty of rural homes in winter. There is nothing cheerful about them. In fact, they are amongst the bleakest things going, even with cute landscape lights and sunlight or moonlight reflecting off snow. There was a very good and realistic picture of a farm house in winter on the cover of JAMA. Have a look for yourself and compare the two.

And yes, the Dale Nichols work on the cover of JAMA plays with your feelings too but it doesn't ask you to feel good when the site of something were it real would not make you feel that way. The house is small and huddled and sad and drawn in to itself the way rural houses get during a northern winter. The hunter looks small. The sky looks big and menacing. It is not a picture designed to put you at your ease.

Most art I admire, Rothko, Lewitt, and Albers is very austere but it is colorful, and those artists don't ask you to feel any way in particular. They just give your eyes a treat to roam around in and then you make up your mind what a pure visual stroking does for you. I can not draw like any of these artists. Anything I put together gets way too elaborate and I have a thing for balance and radial symmetry and lots of little details and dots and shadings, curves, and crennelations. I think it takes a real artist to know when to stop, and I am not a real artist.

Haldis has to score in a bit more than an hour. She just took a new fighter on to her team today who is the owner's sister, except the web site is really half the owner's or more. How do you say page filler? She's a nice enough girl, a year and a half older than Haldis but very sheltered. When I first glanced at the web page I thought she was talking about her boyfriend. Instead she was talking about her brother. It felt very weird to read but Indians have a different culture. I have to remember that and so too does Halids.

In case any one wonders where I've been, I rounded up the RAOK guestbook and attended to my State leaderly duties as State Director for LOTH in Georgia. I got that post for being verbose on my Regional Forum. Region 7 is the American Southeast. Well today I did my duty and that duty is sending out about twenty birthday cards. Allposters.com lets you post date cards so I sent out cards to everyone in the regions whose birthday lies between yesterday and March 4th. In three weeks or so I'll take care of the Marches. I consider this a chore since I loathe having my birthday celebrated online. I usually go out that day or I am working and come home to find a box full of cards for whom I have to thank each sender. I often find the cards when they have grown stale as well, but people really like this sort of thing so it's service with a smile.

I found a spammer in the RAOK guestbook on Sunday. I found his real address using Allwhois.com and wrote him an angry letter. I also contacted his upstream web space provider. He wrote me and apologized. I feel very good about this.

OK, I went back to work today. I was so afraid I would not be able to get up in the morning after a week of using mornings for sleeping that I hardly slept last night and I was dragging. Also work had not been heated for a week. My colleague/supervisor kept her coat on all day. Another colleague wore his "skullie" as ski hats are called in this part of the world. He complained his ears were cold. It took until late afternoon for the building to warm through. Erma and I even went outside where it was nearly seventy degrees to warm up. Brr.... When the day finished, I had colder hands than Erma's. Erma is the one with poor circulation but I am the one who was short a dose of meds.

Yesterday, I gave myself my last Christmas present. I hiked up to Bradley Park Plaza and ate a late lunch/early supper at the Subway. I also went to Petsmart to visit the kitties. I found two who might be good companions for Hertzel but it is too early to even think about this. I went to Michael's Arts and Crafts store and bought some new colored pencils and a sketch pad that isn't going to shed its contents. What I really need is some kind of decent container for all the art supplies that I am accumulating at work. Today I was glad I had them because it is warmer to draw than to read when you can hang meat in the building.

I paid my rent tonight. My landlady (She's actually the owner's agent. This is a complex) was babysitting for four stripper's kids. The strippers make good money if they manage it properly, but they do need sitters at night for their kids. They were all watching a reality show on Fox TV where I woman tried to pick her father whom she had never met out of a field of eight men. She would get a prize of one hundred thousand dollars for picking the right one. She was a gorgous thing all made up with dyed hair and brown roots (whoops). And the whole thing was done at this palatial mansion in California. What this teaches is that performance is dangerous and only to be done by other people. I mean the same grilling could be done at a county office by ordinary folks, no glamor needed. Also this really should be private business and not a spectical on TV.


Saturday, January 01, 2005

by Eileen Kramer

Tomorrow afternoon, I deal with the RAOK guestbook. I probably have twenty entries to round up. I'm not thrilled. Signing guestbooks is dirty business even though ours is clean and professional grade. There is a lot I would like to write about RAOK on this blog but can't. RAOK is a great organization. Nothing I write would contradict that. I just don't feel safe putting down the words that are in my head in public.

I want a new graphics group for 2005. Super Packin' PSP's only virtue is that it is active. That Francine Pucillo poem over their door nearly made me barf. Also they subscribe to a different aesthetic, plus I am not really a sig tag maker. What makes matters worse, is that I used to be a good pressie artist. Guestbooks have become so dirty in the last year though I don't really like signing them.

The whole thing really soured for me back in October, when this computer got overrun with malware from a site that signed the RAOK guestbook. When it gets risky to walk around, people don't go outside. This problem dates back to 1999/2000 when the "dot.com" bubble burst. Providers that had offered good free service, including remotely hosted cgi and at least one ad-free unlimited space provider (Crosswinds.net). What happened? Money got tight and the free stuff started to degrade. Now one must worry about everything from malware to opt-in by deceit. The services most effected are those little people those without clout, cash, or expertise use, guestbooks, remote loading from free web space, free web space, web boards, web based email etc... The communities that this degradation destroys or prevents from forming are not the secret hidden bastions of the elite such as Brainstorms, but your ordinary ladies group, web site competition, MSN group etc...

And there is a special place in the infernal regions for Yahoogroups.com. Topica does not have this spot. Their service got slow but so is Yahoogroups' from time to time too. Slow service doesn't earn you a spot on Satan's roasting spit. Yahoogroups is effectively unindexed. Adult (sex/porn) groups are mixed in with more general fare so that one looking for a teen list or a list about parenting encounters all sorts of ugly stuff that is utterly irrelevent. It's the irrelevent part that makes things tough. MSN Groups and Topica both have clearer indexing. You can find what you want there. Yahoogroups makes finding a free community run by other ordinary users that much harder. Yahoogroups also has reasonably fast service and can run (if groups are forced to plain text) with a small footprint in the privacy of users mailboxes. This is something of which Topica (too slow) and MSN (too heavy and bloated) groups are incapable, but try to find the right Yahoogroup for you.

I also strongly suspect that Yahoogroups uses shils. Now remember I am the world's biggest hypocrite when it comes to fraud. I also have an eagle eye out for the stuff. Remember now Yahoogroups is unindexed but it features groups under various topics on its entry web page. Who runs these groups? Is it ordinary members or is it Yahoo's employees disguised as ordinary members? These groups with top billing are very large. Hopefully once launched, the shil has only to sit back and not do too much but it galls me that he/she is in there in the first place. RAOK and LOTH and for that matter Super Packin PSP are shil free. I loathe and detest shils.

Here I am stuffing my face with sesame turds from Publix. I think Whole Foods' are marginally better but what can I say. I toasted 2005 with nonalcoholic sparkling grape juice. I also went to schul and watched Sy conduct a service. Sy likes any kind of poetry that sounds good. He has a thing for glurge that won't quit. So too does A.J. the other standin when the rabbi is not around. It is good to sing the old tunes that everyone knows for a change, but on the other hand the sermon was about the holocaust and an archbishop who objected to the fact that a lot of countries were not doing enough to take in refugees and nothing about the incredible and horrific tsunami this week. Sy is an old timer, and he could talk about his mother's green wig and get away with it.

Then Sy said they were looking for hospitality homes for soldiers. I asked if I could volunteer even though I have an apartment and he said it was not proper for me to host male soldiers since I was a single woman. I argued back that we were all adults and this was the year 2004 (now 2005). Nobody even in my complex would bat an eyelash if I had a male house guest. I may phone on Monday and get my name added to the list. I'll have to clean up this apartment, but I can handle that.

They had a seargent from the Bronx at schul tonight. He was on three day break and could not afford the time and money to go home to New York. Sy had him for home hospitality. There is currently no Jewish chaplain at Fort Benning. Soldiers in basic also can not get the appropriate night off for services. They have to have services on Sunday. There are about fifty Jewish soldiers who turn out for services at Fort Benning.

Hertzel is sitting next to me on the desk. He washes himself from time to time and purrs quietly. His fur is silky and plush but not as plush as Georgia's was. His body is sleak and well muscled and so always in need of a massage that mommy's hands can give it. He has that lovely clean no smell smell that clean cats have. His eys are sad and green and expressive. He has a very pink nose n paler pink ears like shells. His ears twitch as I type out these words. I think he wants me to go to bed so he can snuggle. He is a very sweet kitty. He is my boy of joy.

I will feel sad when this vacation is over and I am working again. I wish I had done more with this break but what I did surprised me in some ways. Maybe it is all for the best that soon I'll be keeping regular hours and doing mornings again.

And here are two images I made for RAOK's sixth birthday. These use a variety of brushwork and texturing techniques in PSP as well as my own art work made in oil pastels.

first birthday image second birthday image

I like the second image better than the first because it has the soft plastic texture all the way through. It takes some work with layering and layer properties to get that painted on but still bumpy effect.