January 3rd, 2010


[links] Link salad wants to be called Deacon Blues

Mary Robinette Kowal is most kind to Green Powell's | Amazon | Kindle | Barnes & Noble | Borders ] — An old post which I'd missed the first time around, it popped up in her year in review.

My Interzone story, "Dreams of the White City", is now a podcast

Artists, thank the automobile — Art guru James Gurney with an interesting connection between the automotive industry and the visual arts.

A Little DecadenceBad Astronomy pisses on the "when does the decade end" fire.

Exoplanetary thoughts for 2010Centauri Dreams on one of my favorite topics.

The Casimir EffectAPOD with a microphotograph illustrating the Casimir Effect (which is explained in the caption).

?otD: Do you want a name when you lose?

Body movement: n/a (60 minute urban walk forthcoming)
Hours slept: 6.5
This morning's weigh-in: 224.5
Currently reading: Bangkok Tattoo by John Burdett


[cancer] Sometimes you hit the wall, sometimes the wall hits you

I've had a lovely holiday season. Right through Christmas I was at Nuevo Rancho Lake with the_child and my family, most of whom live in the immediate area. Boxing Day the_child and I flew to San Francisco, where we did all kinds of cool stuff with calendula_witch and markferrari. The kiddo flew home last Wednesday, after which calendula_witch and I headed for Sea Ranch to spend time with her aunt, the European-American artist Susan Dutton. A glorious drive back yesterday (watch for a photoblog post later), and then to a lovely party hosted by dinogrl and dave_gallaher. I go home today, see a couple of friends tomorrow, then shelly_rae comes to Nuevo Rancho Lake on Tuesday. calendula_witch comes on Thursday. I've been surrounded by family, love, friendship and holiday spirits galore.

All of that was lovely and fun, and except for a few melancholy moments, and one outburst of hysterical crying in the shower, I've managed not to be dwelling in cancerland for nearly two weeks.

On the way home from the party last night in the Witchmobile, that changed.

I hit the wall.

We were talking about this-and-that, as one does after a party, and the conversation drifted into how the near future will work. Sometimes when I'm stressing about cancer I get crazy in the head and start buying trouble in other parts of our life. "But what if this happens?" "You're going to do that, and it will make me upset." That sort of crap. The relationship calendula_witch and I share is very solid, but it's also very considered. We re-examine it constantly. (Sometimes we joke about having staff meetings, but that really isn't a bad description of the process.) The demands of our lifestyle require such continuous monitoring, but we're also both beneficiaries of long-term therapy, and such shared introspection is a jointly acquired lifetime habit.

All in all, this is a very good thing, but my crazy cancerbrain sometimes runs away with it. Displacement, stress, whatever. I'm hitting the chemo chair in five days, and last night the pleasantly insulating holiday spirit finally burned away like fog beneath the sun's bright-bladed rays. By the time we got back to the Witchnest, I was feeling burned out and depressed.

As calendula_witch pointed out last night, I have a history of severe depression. Her suggestion was that perhaps I have a horror of suffering, of returning to those pain channels carved so long ago on my psyche. That my denials and my anger and my refusals are me dancing at the edge of that dark valley. I don't know if she's precisely right or not, but I do know the suggestion made me angry, which is strongly indicative that she's hit on something important.

Last night I capped two weeks of goodness and quiet calm on the cancer front with an hour or two of anguish and idiocy. calendula_witch was loving and thoughtful and careful, and she got me turned around enough to go to sleep peacefully.

I hate it when this disease turns me into a fool, and it very much did last night. I am profoundly humbled and fortunate to be loved as well as I am, by her, by shelly_rae and markferrari and kenscholes, by my family and friends.

Thank you all.


[travel] TSA, now with even less customer service skills

SFO on a Sunday night, at least in Terminal 3 at the United concourse, is a wee bit understaffed for the passenger load. Everything was moving very slowly, stupidly slowly. The four people in front of me all set off the metal detector with the usual array of coins, belts, cell phones and "huh?"s. When I finally got to the metal detector, I walked through clean, and was promptly waved into the holding pen while "male assist" was called.

I then stood there for five minutes. At least half a dozen women were screened. Several men behind me set off the metal detector, were patted down by the guy who had diverted me and sent on their way. I, who had not set off the metal detector, stood and waited until I finally did something I never do — I backtalked the TSA screener.

I went back out of the pen and asked him why he'd diverted me when I hadn't set off the detector. He said, "Random check." I said, "Then could you please randomly screen me?" He turned away and ignored me. I went back into my pen.

About two minutes later a supervisor came by. The screener told him I'd been in there over five minutes. The supervisor told another screener, who had been standing near me the entire time, to check me. I was, of course, clean, and sent on my way. As I am chronically early to airports, and my flight is delayed anyway, no harm done, but I sure hated watching my stuff through a plexiglass wall while dozens of people filed by, looking it over, and it all stood ignored by the TSA screeners.

I know the front line TSA guys don't make policy, but they ought to have service standards. This wasn't a security issue, it was a staffing issue (presumably) compounded by a communications error.

But what kind of fricking security is it to detain someone with no warnings, and pat-and-wave-on the next raft of guys who set off the detectors?