Conversation – Clues you’re getting a new roof

PETE: I have looked at all the available clues that the roof work has commenced over my apartment, which are as follows:

1) I suddenly have four cats in my office, who are doing that cat thing where they are freaked out and want to hide underneath you…but still have disdain for you and strive to indicate that really, they just don’t have anywhere better to be right now.

2) I have a son who would really like a nap, except there’s a LOT of noise overhead which keeps him up.

3) I have a number of men on my room, going “BANG BANG BANG BANG!” (hammering) “THUD THUD THUD THUD” (walking in boots)

4) I have looked out the window and seen a large crane rising past my balcony.

And I have ascertained that, yes, they are running ahead of schedule and will be spending from now until 7:00pm tonight over my apartment, making a huge, huge amount of noise.

(Ah, a new clue; there appears to be the sounds of country music radiating down through my ceiling, which normally doesn’t happen since I’m on the top of the building. Shoot me now.)

LORI: No. I will not shoot you now.

Any chance you could take the baby to Jeremy and Amber’s to nap? I know they’re just down the hall, but would it be quieter there?

ETA: Checks timestamp of e-mail. Realizes how untimely the above question is. Sends it anyway.

PETE: Untimely..! 🙂

No, Amber’s working today, and Jeremy’s having a LAN party at work. I thought about going for a walk and trekking to the mall, or Caribou or something. It’s not too cold out and Zach can be bundled (and for once, I have the stroller actually on-hand). But when the wind comes up, as it does, ferociously, it gets pretty cold here.

The community room, which has a nice couch I could sit on and work and which is silent, is unfortunately occupied by a birthday party. So there’s nothing for it but to grit my teeth and live with it.

(The poor cats. I had the foresight to do a big Baily feeding this morning before they started, because there’s no chance I’m going to get him to sit still long enough to do another feeding until later tonight.)

Sigh. They just got back from lunch break. It was so nice and quiet. Now they’re hammering shingles, very loudly and fast. Poor Zach, who dozed off for a bit, is probably about to wake up scared. (Mostly, I don’t worry about him. But the poor cats.)

And how has YOUR morning been?

LORI: I took Zach’s nap for him. Feeling very refreshed. Had nice, but odd, dreams. At least they weren’t prophetic. Just dreams. And now I’m sitting in front of the computer cold.

PETE: I find that the best solution to that is to 1) sit in my office, which takes about five minutes in the morning to warm up and, blessedly, never ever gets too hot, just stays ‘cozy’ 2) have a really good cup of tea.

Both of which I plan to do for you, as a trade for you handling Zach’s nap for him. I’m sure he’s grateful, he had an otherwise full schedule of 1) really enjoying the roof repair 2) creating Haughty Literary Opinions in his diaper.

(He really likes the roof repair and the big blowing tarps over the building and the shingles that go flying in heaps off the building. I put him in his high chair and parked him in front of the window, and he spent happy time watching it.)

(Jesus…they just dropped what sounded like a two hundred pound man on the roof very hard, right above me. The whole room shook.)

LORI: It was probably the new shingles. I forget how much one bundle weighs and they carry multiple bundles up the ladder. I’m glad Zach is enjoying the roof repair. That’s much better than the alternative.

PETE: It is the shingles, yes. I’ve been watching them thud the heavy loads down all week. But when it’s overhead, it sounds very much like a two hundred pound man being body-slammed. Which I hope they aren’t doing up there. (Turns out, I have a Chuck Norris fight scene over my head and never knew it…)

LORI: You should go outside and make notes.

PETE: I’d have to go at least twenty feet away from the building, with the amount of shit they’re throwing off my roof. You should see the amount of debris which, despite their best efforts, has landed on my balcony. The nails alone…!

KRISTINE: Just hope that 200lb man doesn’t suddenly find the ONE spot on the roof that has dry rot !


The guys doing my neighbor’s house landed a ton of crap in my yard. And it was that annoying composite shingle stuff.

Good on the roof, but really annoying in bits in your gardens!


PETE: aaagh!
MAN: Sorry!
CHUCK NORRIS: That’s what I call hammered!
MAN: You’ll be sorry!
CHUCK NORRIS: I am angry, as expressed in this moment by my “acting!”
MAN: Why I outta!

KRISTINE: Last summer the house beside mine got a new roof – and I spent an enjoyable afternoon sipping tea and watching handsome young men lacking shirts who flirted with me and tried to sell me a new roof.

I would have been really upset if they were above me making all that noise! I hate that, because my brain has to picture what they’re doing, so that when I hear a loud noise and can’t figure out what it might have been, I go crazy trying to.

PETE: lol. That’s because you’re neurotic. None of these men are especially attractive, at least by my way of judging (which is a bit flawed). They are very loud. I know what they’re doing because they’ve been doing it all week mostly in front of my windows and I’ve been watching. I’m just surprised how violently loud it can be.

Zach has zero interest in me. He’s found a good position in his crib where he can watch, and so he’s lying there motionless, watching the activity on the part of the roof next to me where they’re also working.

I really hope they’re making good progress and will go away soon.

While they made enough noise that you would have to shout to be heard over it, I went through the house and dug out all four cats and carried them to the far end and put them in the clothes closet, which is dark and has corners to hide in and clothes that muffle the sound somewhat. And then I shut the door most of the way. They’ve all stayed there, except for Baily, who would rather be underneath a big pile of blankets on my bed.

I don’t know why I thought this was a good idea. The last time I carried one of the cats through the house under circumstances that scared them, Runt freaked out and bolted and all ten of his back claws dug into and ripped across my right palm, leaving me with very deep cuts and quite a lot of blood all over the place.

I was very aware, this time, that I haven’t trimmed anyone’s claws in awhile.

Fortunately, nobody panicked (well, they did, they were terrified) and jumped away, and so my hands remain unbloodied. Which is fine by me.

KRISTINE: I hate that – cats never seem to know the right place to run to hide, so you have to move them there and take your life into your own hands! Rumor is one of those who would sit at the window and insist on watching everything they did, while Secret would head straight under my sister’s bed and stay there until two hours after they finished.

Rumor even runs to the window to watch fireworks. He’s nuts.

I realized last night that what really bugs me about not being able to get online at home is not the fact that I can’t get online, but the fact that it’s out of my control. I can go days without going online if it’s my choice, but when that choice is taken out of my hands I get nuts.

And I keep having an interesting recurring vision that may or may not ever turn into a novel – but it might involve using time manipulation. I both love and hate this point between ending one novel and starting the other, because there are all these ideas to pick from, but trying to weed out the best one that needs to be written NOW can be daunting at times.

LORI: Pete’s such a good dad, to all of his kids, human and non-human.

KRISTINE: He is, isn’t he 🙂

PETE: I could see you writing something involving time manipulation, considering how many words we’ve already expended discussing the science and geekery of it… I’d be interested to see how you handled it, because you’ve got a good grasp on what you can and cannot do with it.

(I can also see you getting 20k into the novel and, because of the science, getting stuck in a horrible loop in your own head and the novel dies. Or, er, maybe that’s MY head.)

I know — and hate myself for it occasionally — that I’m compulsive about the internet. Not much of it, but there are things I check compulsively. I think that’s why I relax when the internet breaks and there’s nothing I can do about it. Or I’m somewhere where there is no internet. It’s out of my hands and I can go “That’s all right then” and get on with writing, or something. But I do see why it freaks you out.

Logan was sitting at my feet in my office, fairly calm and cool. Definitely aware of all the noise. Then the worst of the banging started. She remained cool and aloof for ten minutes of it. Then she got up, threw up three times on my carpet, and then made a bee-line to hide in the bathroom, behind the toilet (like that would do any good; that’s when I moved her to the clothes’ closet…). Sigh. Twitcats.

KRISTINE: Awww, poor kitty! Legend used to get angry with me and vomit into my shoes.

LORI: ROFL. She paused long enough to throw up multiple times, just so you would know how stressed she really was?

PETE: I think she was really trying to stick it out in the office with me. It’s what she does. I think it just got too much. So she bolted, it got to her tummy (because during the pause in construction, they all went and ate and drank and stretched out and purred a lot. Probably a bad idea). Poor kitty.

Or it was a “take this, you bastard” throw up…. 🙂


Should I Stay, or Should I Go?

being an article about the trials and tribulations which arise in the course of writing an extended work, e.g. a novel.

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Free Drink Friday, pass the nuts

So, what do you suppose would happen if we looked up in the night sky through our telescopes, and saw large alien ships. Only these alien ships aren’t heading for Earth – they’re landing on Uranus (stop snickering, I didn’t name the planet). Seems they’re from far, far, away, and Uranus is perfect for their needs, so they’re gonna colonize it.

What if they show no indication whatsoever of realizing we’re here? This is not life as we know it, so maybe they don’t even consider us intelligent beings. We can hardly fly right out there and charge rent or anything.

What do we do? What do you suppose is going on, here on Earth, once word spreads? Anyone with a fancy telescope can look up and see this, so there’s no hiding it.

Conversations: But do zombies drink tea?

PETE: Gflurp? urp? Skurp? Tea?

KRISTINE: Yes, I want tea.

So the cable interwebbie people tell me the signal I’m receiving is perfect and strong and lovely, so the issue is MINE ALL MINE! Sheesh. I guess it’s time to go deep system diving this weekend and find out what’s going on.

Then I can b’splode the world!!!

PETE: It’s all on your end, huh? Interesting.

(Of course, it could still be on Wavecable’s end, you never know. I know around here, Charter is less than wonderful about communicating with itself, let alone us. They assured us that the business port we needed was open when, in fact, they hadn’t bothered to check. It was closed. It took a lot of yelling to get them to open it.)

Try unplugging everything and leaving it unplugged for a bit, and then setting it all back up?
Alternatively — assuming you have cable internet — it could be a problem with the wall socket itself that the cable is coming out of. Internet is so much more fickle a thing than TV, if the cable is pulling loose, or there’s a problem inside the socket, that could do it. Like a short-circuit that keeps flickering in and out of existence, except that every time it flickers, it eats your internet connection.

KRISTINE: Well this happened once before, but my green lights were blinking – turned out to be a squirrel had chewed through the cable outside the house.

I’m going to unplug the router when I get home and leave it unplugged for several minutes, maybe even all through dinner, then plug it back in – see if that works. If not, then I’ll try completely reconfiguring the modem/router thingie – start from scratch. If that doesn’t do it, then I’ll have to insist they come out – they’ll charge me though, since they swear it’s not their issue. Friggin’ people.

This is why I don’t have cable TV.

Alternately, I’m going to find an ethenet cable and attach that way, see if that works – if so then it’s my router for sure.

PETE: If it works via Ethernet cable, then it’s your router, or the cable running from your router to the wall.

(I’ve had problems with that more than anything else.)

The green lights blink for so many damn things, I swear they’re useless as status lights…

LORI: Earthquake. Aftershocks. Intermittent power outages. Laptop battery needs replaced. Boil order. Lori’s day.

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Free Drink Friday; Happy Hour

I was telling a couple of people about a movie called Last Night – a Canadian Indy flick that the majority of the population has never heard of, or seen, I’m sure. What I like about this film is not only the concept: The entire world is coming to an end, and everyone knows about it, and has known about it for a while now. But the telling of it is so great because we’re never told what’s happening, or why it’s ending.

The WHAT and WHY aren’t the point of the story, only the WHO. We follow a handful of people during their last 24 hours and see what they’re doing, how they’re using their last 24 hours, how they’re preparing for The End, as well as the people around them. To me, as a writer, this is a fantastic story because we don’t find out what’s going to happen, why they can’t stop it from happening, or what caused it to happen. It’s irrelevant. And it reminds me of that program some of us watched, Life After People. That was interesting, on a contemplative level, but I heard so many people complain “but what happened to the people? Did I miss the first part that showed where the people went?” and I had to keep saying “No, it doesn’t matter. The film was about the planet after we’re gone, it wasn’t about what caused us to all be gone.”

So, I’m curious. How would you spend your last month alive? Your last week? Your final 24 hours? 

Don’t ask what’s about to cause The End. Just assume that everyone, all of us, know it’s all about to end. We all know it’s our last 24 hours on this planet. We’re all in the same boat, as it were, so it’s not just you dying. We’re all about to End.

It’s our Last Night. What are you doing?

Free Drink Friday

“I feel a storm a’comin’. Feel it in my bones.”

“A nor’easter, ya mean? Like a perfect storm? Should we fire up the generator?”

“No, you ninny, a Brainstorm. Yer’ such a twat.”

The world: Earth-like. Polar ice caps, hot equator.

Land: Islands. Nothing but islands.

Quirk: The islands float.

What do you suppose it would be like if your world was composed strictly of islands, say nothing larger than Honolulu, with many smaller ones as well – only these islands we all lived on could float. They drift with currents, move with storms, occasionally bounce off one another and constantly shift about.

What do we have to deal with? What do we have now, here, that we couldn’t have there? In what different ways might cultures develop, assuming from our cave-living days forward we’ve lived on floating islands?

Conversations: Author bios, Cervantes & Shakespeare


Scroll down and read the opening sentences of his biography, under “Birth and Life”

KRISTINE: Sheesh, just try and compete with THAT on your own book jacket!

PETE: I had never read anything about him. But good grief! It just keeps going. He lost his left arm, was shot three times in a battle, was imprisoned, and all sorts of other stuff. Good grief. This can’t compete with Chaffon lives in a fashionable part of New York, of course, and likes his espressos extra dry & is renowned for his poetry slams. He loves shoes.

KRISTINE: Hell, my only claim to uniqueness is having been born on April Fools Day. And my mother was never eaten by my cousin.

PETE: Aw man. I don’t even have that. I’d better start drinking espressos, I guess. 😛

(compared to Ernest Hemingway, Cervantes, Dickens, Shakespeare….man, we suck. Especially on the biography front.)

KRISTINE: At least you’ve lived in interesting places. We’ll have to find ways to spin our bios to make us seem mysterious and exciting, I guess.

PETE: (from the Wiki)

Cervantes’ novel Don Quixote has had a tremendous influence on the development of prose fiction; it has been translated into all modern languages and has appeared in 700 editions. The first translation was in English, made by Thomas Shelton in 1608, but not published until 1612. Shakespeare had evidently read Don Quixote, but it is most unlikely that Cervantes had ever heard of Shakespeare. Carlos FuentesShakespearean authorship question). Francis Carr has suggested that Francis Bacon wrote Shakespeare’s plays and
raised the possibility that Cervantes and Shakespeare were the same person (see Don Quixote.[15] )

….the same person? Seriously? OR Francis Bacon? I guess I’d heard of the Shakespearean authorship question before, but never took it seriously. How weird. Also of interest was, I had never really thought of William Shakespeare and Miguel Cervantes as being contemporaries, but they DID die on the same day. That’s very interesting. At least, to me.

KRISTINE: Perhaps all novels were written by one guy, a dude named Franklin Exavier Bartholemew, and his publisher only trickled his works out over the past 4,000 years in order to avoid that competitive works clause in his contract?

LORI: The Shakespearean scholar I’ve studied with gets quite miffed if you bring up the Shakespearean authorship question. Actually, it’s a fun way to get him started. He assures me that it’s all bunk, that Shakespeare was Shakespeare.

KRISTINE: Unless he was Rosencrantz!

Or Guildenstern!

Or Fred.

PETE: You two are such dorks. 😛
I don’t blame him for getting miffed, I think it’s the silliest question! I can see contention over King Arthur’s true identity (was he Roman? Probably. But that’s a more recent decision, I think.) But Shakespeare? It’s just silly. You can tell the Shakespearean scholar that I think that. He’ll be so happy that some random uneducated bum from Minnesota agrees with him.

KRISTINE: I’ve never thought for a moment Shakespeare wasn’t Shakespeare, and just shake my head at those who believe he wasn’t.

PETE: And even if he wasn’t really a human being, the idea that it was Francis Bacon is just…..weird. It’s like saying that it was actually Alistair Crowley instead of Cervantes. Or something.

Although I can see how the question could be raised, but only sort of. I mean, imagine that one of the playwrights around when Shakespeare was wrote some peculiar pieces of fantasy and comedy and released them under a pseudonym. Well, now we’re several hundred years on, what if we don’t know the difference? Think of the detail that Daniel Handler put into his pseudonym, Lemony Snicket. In four hundred years, if we didn’t have proper documentation, would they know the difference…?