Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Nobel Prize! Nobel Prize!

Science can make life worth living: a North Carolina man has figured out how to bake extra caffeine directly into donuts (and bagels). Clearly he is the Einstein of the 21st century.

According to the article, he is not yet selling the Cornholio specials directly, but is marketing them to some of the big chains. What he ought to do, though, is open a franchise right here on the NerdCo campus. He could amass a fortune of supervillain proportions, and Mike and I would probably be punching and kicking strangers and perhaps even each other over the first place in line.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I won, eh!

I try to go up to Vancouver, B.C. once or twice a year, for a purely self-indulgent vacation of spa visits and art galleries and meandering through the Granville Island markets. You know how people will say, upon visiting a city for the first time, that they felt an immediate affinity for it--completely at home there? I have deep love for New York City, and a swoony infatuation with Paris...but Vancouver is the only place I've ever felt that immediate click. It has the physical beauty of Seattle, but there's something so much more vivid and multicultural and...continental, about it, somehow. I suppose I'm lucky that it's convenient.

So I visit, usually at least in late summer...and every year I pick up the brochure for the Vancouver International Writers' Festival, and then curse myself for not better coordinating my vacations, because I always manage to miss it. This year, I noticed the invitation to their short story contest, in the back. What the hell, I thought, and sent off a story I'd been kicking around for multiple years at this point. It had been a long time since I'd submitted anything anywhere. Despite my 2006 NaNoWriMo total flameout, however, I'd been trying to goad myself into better writing habits again.

I got home to a voicemail last night from one of their coordinators, last night--she'd sent me an e-mail, which the NerdCo servers had blithely routed into junk mail sight unseen. Get this: I won the damn thing.

No, really! No, REALLY! I screamed so loudly the cats leapt and scrambled and crashed into each other, fleeing under the bed. I did the English major's version of a touchdown dance in my kitchen, playing the message over and over again before calling up my e-mail and rescuing the original notification. I called and e-mailed a lot of people and it was kind of late by then so if I woke any of you, jabbering like a monkey...well, I've had 24 hours to calm down and I apologize. I was very, VERY excited.

I still am. This is my first fiction publication, truth be told, and I am over the moon. Bless you, my adopted enlightened city to the north!

"You realize what this means, don't you?" my mother said.

"That I am in the wrong job?" I asked. Don't worry, I have not yet quite planned to retire on my $350 CDN.

"Well, no. you have to keep working towards your dream," she said. "You have to keep writing!" Aw, look at my mommy, coming out of nowhere to play so astute a card!

Full disclosure: this is actually the second contest I've won based on the written word. The first was when I was about 12, and triumphed in my age division in the "Why My Mom Should Be Queen for a Day" essay contest sponsored by a local mall, for Mother's Day. (Steve: the following Avocado Green-tinged memories are for you, man!)

In the early 90s, this particular shopping center, University Village, got a major makeover, with boutique facades, an Apple store, two day spas, a gigantic Barnes and Noble. When I was a kid, though, this was the crap mall, a straggling row of assorted meek dives two blocks from our dentist. We'd go to the Hole in the Wall donut shop after our six-month fluoride treatments. (What do you mean, dentistry + donuts = idiocy? Shut up.) Anyway. I tore the contest entry form out of the back of the weekly sale flier and sent in my essay by stealth; probably I had to steal the stamp from the dish on top of the refrigerator. Heh. I don't remember what I wrote, only that my mom cried when they called to tell her, and hugged me blubbering in a mortifying manner. (Twelve, remember.)

The stores in the then-seedy mall had also donated a variety of gift certificates and other prizes. Most have faded from memory...but I do know that Mom got herself a purple silk blouse--tres chic!--and that she was also allowed to choose from a selection of record albums. She picked Kim Carnes--the one with Bette Davis Eyes on it. On vinyl. Good times! weeks go, it's been a good one.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Frosty the axe murderer

...was a jolly, happy soul! With a corncob pipe and a button nose, and one arm made out of a hatchet. The other one's a rake, and bitch, he will cut you.

Complete with bucket hat, Frosty is close to eight feet tall--an anomaly I don't think I've ever seen on Seattle streets; it's warming rapidly and I was a little afraid to approach Frosty for a closeup, for fear he would topple and smush me.

Also I am now a little scared of the neighbors.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Buddha bubble bath

Taken on my deck, this afternoon.

Note that that's only about an inch of snow; Buddha's maybe five inches tall and sitting in a terracotta pot. Yes, all the plants were well and truly dead before this.

So we are experiencing a second Arctic BLAST!! of the season, with varying amounts of snow whipping the local news media into a froth. Get Jim Foreman into his parka and hip-waders and send him out into the polar conditions, man! Go! People from places that have actual winters like to laugh at us in Seattle...but the terrain is hilly and almost no one has chains or snow tires, and the snow days are infrequent enough that we don't have a lick of sense, or any snow-driving experience to speak of, either. Pretty much the only emergency-preparedness response we're really good at is panicking. This led to a complete, hysterical exodus from NerdCo premises yesterday afternoon, when heavy hail-like snow pellets began pouring out of the sky at 4:00.

My office is about six blocks from the highway; it took me at least 45 minutes to get to the on-ramp. This included an interval where my windshield wipers either froze to the glass or became so overburdened that they gave up, and I had to get out of my car and claw them free by hand. Naturally the people behind me immediately began trying to creep around my car on the ice-packed gentle slope, despite my frantic hand gestures to please not slide and kill me, this would take 30 seconds, we've already sat through 11 cycles of this light for fuck's sake, just WAIT ALREADY. Sigh.

Confidential to you in the Jeep: the best way to regain traction is not necessarily to floor it. Neither is it to floor it and floor it and floor it and floor it and FLOOR IT, standing on the accelerator with both feet until it pops through the bottom of your vehicle. I wonder if you ever got home last night, or simply burned down through the ice and have now reached the Earth's molten core.

It took me 2.5 hours to get home, a distance of about 15 miles. I left at the right point, however; later the frenzy grew until there was an hour's wait, just to get out of the many NerdCo underground garages. Facilities personnel had to go around urging people not to just idle and idle woozily away down there. That would have looked great in the media, no? "Mass Suicides at NerdCo; Will this Impact Hugely Hyped New Product Release?" Film at eleven!

So I'm working from home today, and took the noon hour to walk up to Greenwood again for a mocha, and one of those styrofoam insulating boobies for my outdoor spigot, a vast improvement over my Grandma-esque arrangement of torn-up dishtowels and a plastic bag. A sign on the door of the hardware store read "Sorry, no salt or sand!" This might have been because the city, listening to the local weatherfolk, had dumped what is probably their entire supply on the highways the day before the snow arrived; driving to work yesterday morning was like tooling through Baghdad, my car scoured with a steady flow of hissing grit. At any rate, the huge box of foam doodads was directly inside the doors. I strolled home with one absently hooked over my left hand, and I'll be damned: they totally work. That hand was much warmer when I arrived home.

Oh, THAT giant brown square

I upgraded to Internet Explorer 7 and finally saw the formatting troubles several faitful Pagooey readers have been grumbling about. Bleh. So I've also upgraded to the shiny new Blogger, and fiddled with the template. It's going to look a little sparse around here, maybe, until I get all my pitchers hung back up. Let me know if this is moderately more legible!