It’s All in Your Head

Well. Just got off the phone with my gastroenterologist, and I’m not sure what to think.

There’s a lot of good news. I do not have the bacteria that creates ulcers. I don’t have ulcers. My biopsies are normal. I’m going to get some good old Carafate to help my esophagus heal after this flare up. I’ve had it before and it works.

We don’t know what’s causing the gas. This is where things get a little hinky. The nurse told me that I probably swallow air. I’m supposed to chew more slowly, not talk while I eat, continue to avoid carbonation, and that should do it. I also need to lose weight (nothing new there) and experiment with food, seeing what does and doesn’t make me gassy. I suppose I should keep a food diary or something like that.

These guys are the medical professionals. They are supposed to know what they’re doing, so I’m going to go with the program. However, it seems odd to me that belches that shock the gastroenterologist are suddenly written off to poor eating hygiene. I’ll try this plan, but I won’t be afraid to push back if my symptoms don’t improve in a couple of weeks. I’m taking their advice seriously. Part of me, regrettably feels that once they determined my trouble was nothing life-threatening, they could brush me off. I’m..not satisfied with my overall treatment in the system.

My problem is a first world problem. I’m lucky that it’s not more serious. Let’s talk about the other side of serious.

Jim Hines wrote a great post last week about health care. Besides some excellent facts and figures, he talks about the recent death of Melissa Mia Hall, who died of a heart attack because she didn’t have health care and was afraid to go to the doctor to have her chest pain checked.

What a wicked system we have fostered in the US, when people can be brainwashed into the idea that your health is less important than your financial health, to the point that you are afraid to seek help when it’s a matter of life and death. I am ashamed to be part of that system.

Continue reading “It’s All in Your Head”

Hot off the Press and Belated Publicity

I’ve been meaning to do this for a while. Now mass is critical!

J. Kathleen Cheney has a novella in the latest Abyss and Apex. Abyss and Apex has recently updated their whole site, and it looks great. Expect a review of this issue coming as soon as I can get to it. Also, this issue has stories by Vylar Kaftan and C.J. Cherryh.

L.K. Herndon, a fellow VP XIII’er made her first sale with, believe it or not, a were-flamingo story. Showoff is available at Silverblade.

TODAY Lisa Nohealani Morton has a story coming out in Hellebore and Rue, a new anthology from Drollerie. The anthology is edited by Catherine Lundoff and Joselle Vanderhooft.

Get out there and get reading.


State of the Projects: February

I could talk about love, but I’m saving that for Thursday. Yes, Thursday.

Instead, here’s a little update about what’s circulating and what’s percolating.

Expertise Hours: 4086.5. Only 5913.5 left to go!

Sold and In the Wings:
O-Taga-San to Flyleaf press at Drollerie. Waiting for line edits.

Empress Dark out at Abyss and Apex
Mark Twain’s Daughter out at (Probably going to send a query in March, at which point they’ll have had it for a year.)
The Winter the Troll Danced with Old Nick: Currently with 13 agents and 1 publisher.

The Were-humans: Feedback from Vegas suggests it might be a better novel than a novella. I’m thinking about that. Lots of good revision ideas. Gonna dig deep.
The Klarion Books: I’ve done extensive plot notes and background research for the first four, and background research for all five.
Book One: Begun drafting.
The Substance of Shadows: Begun revising substantially.

Putting together trip to Norway to garner information for successive troll and frost elf books.
Purchasing and reading poison references for Klarion books.
Reading psychological profiles of the six-year old and grief.

That’s what I’m doing in my writing time. How’s about you?


Dinner Conversation with Husband

Over spaghetti at Biaggi’s tonight.

Catherine: There’s a workshop in Madison. It features Donald Maas and Nalo Hopkinson.

Bryon: And they are?

Catherine: Famous writer people. Nalo Hopkinson was a guest at Readercon
last year. She’s taught at Clarion as well. Donald Maass is a famous literary agent who is well known for teaching seminars on writing. This seminar will be based on his book The Fire in Fiction. He also wrote Writing the Breakout Novel.

Bryon: Oh. (sips iced tea). Are you going?

Catherine: I’d like to. We really can’t afford it. Not with my trip to Norway. I wish I’d known about this before. It’s not in the budget.

Bryon: You should go.

Catherine: Well, it’s like $550 for the three days of class, and another $350 for the hotel.

Bryon: Could you find another hotel? A cheaper one?

Catherine: Yeah. (Pulls tea bag out of mug) I could. Allison would have to give me that Friday off.

Bryon: You know she would.

Catherine: I don’t know. It’s expensive. I feel like when I got that scholarship to Japan, and I didn’t think I should go, because I needed to earn money.

Bryon: (nods) Maybe we can use part of our tax return for it.

Catherine: I was also thinking about that for Norway debt.

Bryon: We can pay for it.

Catherine: I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize our anniversary trip next year.

Bryon: (shrug) That’s next year.

Catherine: I shouldn’t.

Bryon: Listen, woman, the only chance I have at getting a full-scale Lost in Space robot is if you become a best-selling author. You’d best get started.


So, it looks like I will be going to that workshop in Madison, pending getting the boss to give me the day off. I’ll be seeking out alternative hotels, although if there were someone I knew going who wanted to share a room, I’d consider the Holiday Inn. I’d have to know you fairly well, though, or you’d have to be recommended by someone I did.

And Bryon did talk me into going on the Japan trip as well. FYI.


Long Strange Trip

I started writing this entry yesterday still under the influence of drugs. I was a cranky, unhappy character yesterday, full of little aches and pains. Today=much better, and you will reap the benefits of a much more lucid entry. And no, we don’t know anything about the mystery belches. My personal belief is since we didn’t find any clues in my digestive system, that somewhere inside of me a mystic portal opens to the Hindenburg dimension. Those are my bad days…

What an interesting couple of weeks! This is the first Friday in two weeks that I have not been traveling to or been in Las Vegas. I know that you’re thinking my life is pretty rough, right? Well. you know I like travel, but you do have to recover from it. Two trips to Vegas in a row might not have been the smartest plan. Two trips to Vegas, each one followed by a massive snow storm or a medical test respectively, was really not the best plan.

I’m back, I’m over being exhausted, and I’m ready to talk about the first meeting of the Sin City Scribblers, which may or may not be the name that holds.

Before I do that, however, a couple of links to set the stage.

Gregory Frost on taking your workshops with a spoonful of sugar.

And the Donald Maas workshop that has suddenly appeared close to me in Madison, Wisconsin, which is very tempting, even though I am saving my pennies for Norway. Note that there’s also a master class with Nalo Hopkinson. VERY tempting.

Just how was that workshop in Vegas anyway?

Continue reading “Long Strange Trip”

A Consumer Report on the Virtue of Milk Substitutes

During the time of my uncertain diet, I decided to try a variety of non-dairy milk substitutes, and when the docs put me back on dairy, I followed through with the experiment. For those of you who might have to consider such an option, either temporarily or long term, here are my findings in order of preference from worst to best.

Soy Milk: It was hard for me to decide to put soy milk last. While the taste of soy milk is better than that of rice milk, the problem is texture. This was a more important issue for me. Soy milk has a slimy thickness that oozes down your throat. It also has a runny bleed off that compounds the problem. It is passable on cereals. Heated is probably the worst state for soy milk, as it distills itself more into the slimy and runny components. Probably only useful for putting on your cereal.

Rice Milk: Upon first taste, I thought rice milk would be the one. It has the look, texture, and smell of actual skim milk. But…there’s a weird tinny aftertaste. This sticks with you like the saccharine of old diet sodas. This one deficit alone cost rice milk the victory. It’s a nasty aftertaste.

Coconut Milk: Coconut milk tastes like coconut. The manufactures try to jazz up coconut milk with a little bit of thickener, but in the end, coconut milk finishes more like water or juice. The taste is pretty fresh, but the texture is a little weird. I could drink this if it were the only option available although it doesn’t seem enough like milk to carry off the masquerade.

Almond Milk: For me, the winner of the contest is almond milk. Almond milk is thick, but it tastes more like a skim milk shake than food pretending to be liquid. Mixed with vanilla and sugar, it’s sweet and satisfying. The only pitfall of almond milk is to avoid using it on cereals that are sweet. The combination is a bit cloying.

Those are my recommendations. Your mileage may vary. However, if you ever find yourself in a situation where you have to give up dairy, my advice is to go right to the almond milk.


Next Up: Vegas workshop notes. Some anecdotal commentary on health care.

Links on Fashion and Venice

I’ll tell you more about the workshop later. Right now, trying to squeeze in my writing time, and throwing down some links for Book One!

What Lucy and Helen are wearing

More references

What Carlo and Adrian are wearing:

Since we open our story in 1839, the 1840s are also worth a look:


Now, some Venetian history.

Venice world!

Jewish history in Venice

Venice Highlights

Iowa and House Joint Resolution 6

On the ground here in Iowa, it’s not too much fun watching the state devolve back into the 80s. We are the oldest state in the union for average age, and there can be fall out from this, although I think it would be a mistake to suggest that all our steps backward could be laid at the feet of the elderly. My in-laws, for example, are in their 80s, and would never vote for any kind of constitutional amendment.

Before I talk about the amendment, however, I’d like to suggest that our state will have trouble yet again with moving forward. We had money ear-marked for a light rail in the Eastern Iowa corridor between Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, and we were talking about improving train service to Chicago. Gone. We were talking about developing and investing in our emerging wind power industry. Gone. Taking care of children with a reasonable education budget? Gone. Providing all Iowa children with pre-school education. Gone. Why? Short-sited budget cutting rather than long-term planning. No investment in the state’s future. A singular lack of vision. After the last election I wasn’t worried about the national scene. Try what they might, Republicans in the US House can’t get much past the Senate and, if for some reason, if it gets through that funnel, there’s Obama. In Iowa, the scenario is more troublesome. We have a Republican controlled House and a Republican governor. This means we can get down to some serious conservative trimming.

While my concerns about the rest of the state’s future are troublesome, I find myself less worried about the proposed constitutional amendment. Don’t get me wrong. Gay rights ARE an important issue, and people who argue against them should see marked similarities between themselves and Strom Thurmond. Gay rights are the future. The paradigm is shifting.

What’s up with all the sound and the fury? Well, there’s always someone who doesn’t want that paradigm to shift. A successful advertising campaign ousted 3 of the judges that interpreted that not allowing gay marriage is unconstitutional. One hopes any judge, liberal or conservative, would interpret the law similarly. People are stirred up, but mostly, as usual in such cases, there’s a vocal minority who want to raise the issue.

What would it take for Iowa to make an addition to its constitution?

Continue reading “Iowa and House Joint Resolution 6”