Showing posts from 2018

CarZeus and the Female Surcharge

Thursday was a day off work, because I needed to get some work done on the car. It needed an oil change and tire rotation, plus it was time for the 48-month checkup and I was getting some funky error warnings on the dashboard. So I took the day to pile all those appointments on one day.

First stop was CarZeus, the God of Automotives. I have written about CarZeus before, both the original CarZeus (long retired) and the current master of cars, who bought the business from him years ago. Both CarZeus I and II have kept a variety of sorry-ass Detroit iron rolling for me, quoted me fair prices, gotten the work done quickly, never upsold me on shit I don't need, and have never tacked on what I call the Female Surcharge: the strangely higher price we seem to get quoted when it's me doing the discussion, with bonus condescension because we little females don't know cars and frequent attempts to upsell.*

I've been a longtime customer, going back to my dilapidated Chevy and anci…

To dust we shall return

Ash Wednesday is upon us, and that means it's time for the joyous celebration of... Lent.

Yeah, there's not a lot of joy or celebration in traditional Lent. Just check out the hymns and psalms, acknowledging and bewailing our manifold sins and wickedness. Whenever we start chanting in Lent, I hear Monty Python's papier-mache God complaining, "It's like those psalms, they're sooooo depressing."

In years past, and often today, many Christians have chosen to interpret Lent as a season of scourging, of punishing yourself, carrying the woe of humanity's murder of the Christ, etc. "Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return."

Not me, ashes notwithstanding.

To me, Lent is a season of reflection, a forty-da period of meditation and self-improvement. I don't think it helps God or anyone else for me to wear the (metaphorical) hair shirt for seven weeks. I believe that if you give up something for Lent, there should be an actual reason for…

My valentine

I want to tell you about this guy I know.

He was a quiet kid, more than a bit of a geek back in the days when geeks weren't cool, especially in Memphis. He liked D&D and Tolkien, read voraciously and watched Star Trek and Star Wars. You know the type.

Everyone told him he was dumb. He grew up strong, and he had a southern accent. He didn't come from money, and his parents didn't have degrees. People told him he didn't have anything to offer, he wasn't going to make anything of himself. Teachers told him this.

So he went into the Air Force, but that didn't take. After he got out, he got jobs lifting heavy things. He worked on loading docks for trucking companies and grocery stores. Got married, had kids, got divorced. Decades passed.

But his mind didn't let up. He read constantly, worked his way through The Simarillion three or four times, which is more than I ever managed. His imagination worked overtime while his body did the work that paid him. And ev…

Walking with the dinosaurs: Vic Milan

The science fiction world lost another great one tonight, as Victor Milan left us. Pneumonia as a complication of myeloma. Dammit.

Active since the late 1970s, Vic has an impressive bibliography under his own and several other names in a career spanning more than 90 books and 43 years. Winner of the Prometheus Award, Vic divided his time between media tie-ins and original fiction, writing both Star Trek and dinosaurs, romance and BattleTech.

In his own words, he was a cowboy, semi-pro actor, a radio DJ, pizza deliverer, tech support, and oh yeah, a writer. For some reason, I have no problem imagining Vic as a cowboy, and a much harder time imagining him as a pizza boy.

He was well-known as a gracious and passionate writer, a gentleman of the first order. He lived in Albuquerque, but returned to our region every year as the perennial emcee of the Archon masquerade - a role he has held as long as I can remember. Faced with cosplay of all kinds and skits both terrific and... odd ... he h…

And the trophy goes to...

As many of y'all know, the KooperBowl is one of the highlights of our year. We watch the Sportsball Event at the home of our dear friends the Koppenhofers, and each year there is an Iron Chef-style competition for the best yummies.

The Koops pick an ingredient, and we all bring something including it. Then we compete for bragging rights and nifty trophies. I've placed in the past - as high as second place, I think. This year, my two offerings tied for first place. I am queen.

Of course, the ingredient this year was alcohol, and I AM a writer, after all. Obviously I was just in my element.

By popular request, here are the two recipes that helped me bring home the cup this year. And they weren't even hard.

Rum Cream Croissants
This is an adjustment to my mom's recipe for Bailey's cream cheese croissants, which is awesome. But I happened to have a supply of Sangster's Jamaican Rum Cream on hand, and I wanted to see how it worked with this recipe.

6 tubes crescent r…

Reason No. 42 why some animals eat their young

Or, why I have three more gray hairs and another few hours chopped off my life. You're gonna see the end of this one coming.

As the work day wound to a close, Jim texted me that The Amazing Claire was off work today. Since she is his carpool ride, he needed the car to get home at 2 a.m. This meant a side trip to the university on my way home, so Jim would take his dinner break and ride home with me, drop me off and take the car back to the university.

I texted the Spawn and told him I'd be picking him up at Founders Hall tonight instead of the Vadalabene Center where I usually retrieve him. Uh, last night. Because by the time you read this it'll be tomorrow. Post-dated blogs play merry havoc on the old verb tenses.

Spawn replied that he had a ride home, so not to worry about him. I said that was fine, but try not to be out too late.

I retrieved Jim, who was bearing two leftover pizzas to throw at Spawn because we can never have too much food to throw at the Spawn and stave…


JIM: A man was walking to St. Ives and met a man with seven wives -
ME: The guy. Just the guy.
JIM: *crestfallen* I know it from Sesame Street.
ME: I know it from Die Hard 3.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is our relationship in a nutshell.


JIM: How do you spell padawan?
ME: G-O-O-G-L-E.
ME: Why in heaven's name are you asking me? Go ask George Lucas.


Boy passingly refers to himself as a former employee of the Walt Disney Company, clearly referring to his high school orchestra trip to Disney World where they spent a day studying and recording with Hans Zimmer.

ME: You were not an employee. You attended a workshop.
BOY: Hey, they said they would be using our recording in a movie trailer, and that meant that we were musicians with the Walt Disney Company.
ME: You didn't get paid. In fact, you paid! A lot!
BOY: It doesn't matter! We were employee artists!
ME: I think there are words for work without pay...
BOY: Yeah, it's called being…

Cooking: Sous Vide Experiment 1

I wish I could say it was a success, but... alas.

We received the sous vide as a gift, and were really looking forward to using it. But our immediate problem was apparent: None of my soup pots were deep enough to safely use a sous vide. I figured it would require at least a 12-quart stockpot, preferably 16 quarts. So naturally I hunted about and searched for the best, shiniest stockpot because after all I'd like to do bigger batches of chili etc., and then settled for a $12 piece of hammered tinfoil from Walmart because we're poor and it's just holding water, see.

For those who don't know: Sous vide cooking is like slow cooking, but with the food sealed inside a bag and immersed in water that is constantly circulating. It is supposed to keep the juices fresh and avoid the mushy drying-out that often happens with slow cooking.

We picked a roast, and I rubbed it all over with a mixture of rosemary, marjoram, salt and white pepper. We had a heck of a time figuring out how…

Voices in the dark

Our house is more than a century old, and sometimes that shows in weird little design quirks. And I'm not talking about the ghost.

Sure, we have electricity, central heat and air (pretty much - holy Hera it's been cold). But most of that stuff was added on much later, and not always in the most logical fashion. For example: There are no overhead lights in the foyer or living room. There's a switch in the foyer, but it turns on the porch light. There is no switch in the living room at all; we use a floor lamp in the corner behind Jim's chair to light the living room.

That means when you enter the house after dark, you stand a good chance of walking through darkness for a minute.

See, in a normal house you walk in to a foyer, you hit the light switch, the foyer light comes on, and you can proceed from there. In our house, you walk in and fall into a black hole. There's not much in the way of streetlights on our block - which makes me much happier than living under th…

Snippets: New Year edition

PHOTOG: I have the Spice Girls running through my head. Help.
ME: You can always play "It's a Small World." That'll erase it.
PHOTOG: Noooo. Never mind. Change of topic.
ME: I got stuck in that ride for 47 minutes. In the refrain. It caused psychological damage.
PHOTOG: I bet.
ME: I could sing it for -


ME: Would you pull some pork chops out of the freezer before you go to work?
MAN: Ohhh.
ME: ? Why does this merit an oh?
ME: What's with the ohs?
MAN: I'm in an oh mood. Oh oh oh.
ME: Make sense.
MAN: never. don't wanna. oh.
ME: *confused emoji*
MAN: *detective emoji*
ME: Goofball.


ME: Great. That bank robbery is two blocks from my house. I should tell Jim to lock the doors.
EDITOR: Tell him to pop out there and take a picture.
ME: He's home with the stomach flu. He could vomit on the robbers.
EDITOR: He can bring a bucket.
REPORTER: That is the most editor-like response ever.


ME: Good news. A boneless pork chop is only…

Teddy bears and rainbows

I was doing all right until I dropped the sugar.

We'd gotten the bad news at church Sunday morning: Candace had taken a turn for the worse. Candace Sauermann, our dear friend and long-time church family member, who had been battling her third round with cancer when she caught pneumonia. But we thought she'd been doing better.

Candace, who a mutual friend once described as the sweetest, kindest woman in Edwardsville and who my son once described as "teddy bears and rainbows." He knew her better than most of my friends in our grownup-y world, because Candace was his Sunday school teacher from the time he could walk. Her unfailing patience and dedication to the kids of St. Andrew's is reflected in every child who passed through our red doors for the last two generations.

Candace, the engineer who dedicated many years of her life to designing the roads and bridges that carry us through this metro-east, working for the state department of transportation before moving …