Thursday, May 31, 2012


I think I mentioned that, for Mother's Day, Matt signed me up for a genetic testing service. The results came back recently, and I've been poking around the site in complete fascination ever since. I thought I'd share some of it with you guys.

The analysis is broken down into several sections. The first is Health, in which it describes how your genetics affects your probability of developing certain diseases or reacting to certain drugs.
These are just the top 3 items in each category; the actual listing shows my comparative risk for over 100 diseases and conditions.

You can click on any item to get a page of information. Some of it is very technical and would only make sense to someone who's studied genetic profiling, but the key points are all well-summarized with graphics.
I'm more likely than most to develop arthritis. But then, I knew that already.

It also offers a whole section on what your genetics suggests about how you're put together: your most probable eye color, your hair texture, your probable blood type, whether your muscles are better suited to sprints or endurance, even whether you're genetically disposed to eat more or less.
(Oh well, it's genetic. Guess there's no fighting it. Pass the doughnuts!)

The next section talks about your ancestry. It even provides a nice map that shows you where your ancestors most likely lived, approximately 500 years ago.
This is my maternal ancestry. Lacking a Y chromosome, they can't definitively trace the paternal line.

It even breaks down the location tags by specific chromosome for you.
What we already knew: I am very, very white.
There are pages and pages of stuff you can read about where your ancestors came from and the likelihood of various ethnicities in your background.

For instance, I'd always heard that my grandfather's grandmother was Cherokee -- if you'd seen him, you'd know there was definitely some variety of Native American blood in there... but genetically speaking, I'm probably at least 5 generations away from any Native Americans. So maybe it was Grandad's great-grandmother, instead? Or, given that I'm fair and blue-eyed compared to my parents' and brother's dark hair and brown eyes, it's possible that I just received a combination of chromosomes that simply don't contain those Native American markers. (I'd love to see my brother's results, just for comparison.)

And the final cool thing that the site does is compare you to other people in their database and offer up the possibility that you might be related to some of them, as far out as 5th cousins.

You can fill in your profile with things like family names and locations your family has lived to try to help narrow the search, and the site will forward messages for you if you want to try to contact any of them.

You can fill in surveys to participate in research, too, which is both fun and makes me feel like a good citizen of the scientific community.

Nifty stuff! Cool present, Matt!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Never Ending

Had a nice extra-long weekend that was only somewhat spoiled by my being called in to work on Thursday afternoon to get pulled into working on a proposal.

I hate working on proposals. I'm really hoping that I won't be on the "weekends? what weekends?" team for this one.

But on the plus side, it gets me a charge number to help buffer what was otherwise going to be a pretty slow week, work-wise.

On the other hand, I've now got so much stuff to do, between work and editing and writing and general Life Stuff that I'm at a point where I think, after I finish this blog entry, I'm going to need to make up a work schedule and assign blocks to the day.

Anyway, yeah: good weekend. I went to see Avengers for the fourth time on Friday (probably my last in-theater viewing, alas) and then we went to the Hegemony and played Rock Band until the wee hours. Whoo, Rock Band!

Saturday morning we ran some errands, and then in the afternoon, we took the kids to Busch Gardens. (It was not as crowded as I'd feared it would be, but I'm still looking forward to, say, Wednesday evening visits, when it will be much slower. In fact, I'm wondering if, once school is out, we could get away with just making every Wednesday Busch Gardens night.)

Sunday we actually stayed home all day (aside from running errands) -- a nice rest-and-recover day. And then Monday, we were back at the Hedge for a big Memorial Day cookout. It was supposed to be big, anyway, but one family canceled due to illness, another dropped out because they had something else they'd rather do (and seriously? they needed to come up with a plausible lie, there), and a third failed to get the message entirely until it was too late... so it was, instead, a small Memorial Day cookout.

So, off I go to have some coffee and breakfast and make up my work-block for the day.

Have a good one!

Monday, May 28, 2012

In Honor

In honor of Memorial Day, a PG excerpt from "Dead On Her Feet", my (very much not-PG) story to be included this fall in the Duty and Desire anthology due out this fall from Cleis Press:
Jamie kept her eyes closed, even though the plane was descending and she couldn't sleep. Tired wasn't the word. Exhausted wasn't even the word. Dead on her feet came somewhere close. Non-essential travel, like finally coming home after two years in the God-forsaken desert, was slow. And frustrating. She'd caught a supply truck from her unit's camp that ran three hours into the city base, and then waited around for most of a day for a military transport plane that had room for her, which had flown eight hours to Germany. Then it was a bus to take her to the commercial airport in Munich, where not a single ticketing agent could be found who spoke English. She'd made do, though -- a soldier made do, even in some crazy backwater where a shovel-dug latrine was a luxury and female soldiers couldn't leave base without escort and even the kids you were there to help hated you for the uniform on your back.

But this was Germany, which was friendly and civilized and the only thing in the way was words. That was easy, even allowing for her being tired and discombobulated from travel already. She'd pulled out her Blackberry and loaded up an atlas and pointed and zoomed and pointed and zoomed until she'd finally made the crisply-dressed, ultra-polite young man understand her destination. Then it was commercial transport all the way, with its much more comfortable seats but its annoying security protocols (didn't they understand how goddamn hard it was to get in and out of combat boots?) and its annoyed civilians. Munich to London, London to New York, in and out of customs and security, retrieving and then re-checking her duffel every time she went through customs in a new country...

Thirty-four hours on the move, now, and counting, dead on her feet, but this was the last flight, and her ears were popping with the descent. Maybe another hour, now, and then she'd step out of the Atlanta airport into the lush thick humidity of proper Southern air, maybe even one of those summertime afternoon deluges and she would stand there and just let the rain soak her right to the skin. And then she'd take a bus a couple of hours down into Georgia, to a tiny little town that no one had ever heard of who hadn't been born there, and then it was only a couple of miles from the bus depot to Casey's mama's house. To Casey.

Eyes still closed, Jamie's hand stole up to her shirt pocket where she kept the most important things: her passport, and the receipts for all those planes and busses, and her ID cards, and the cash she'd drawn to pay for food... and the picture of her and Casey at his sister's wedding two years back. She'd looked ridiculous in that bridesmaid's dress with her fresh-from-basic close-cropped hair and those mannish muscles on her bare shoulders, but Casey had looked so very, very fine in that tux, and he'd pulled her close while they danced and told her she was the most beautiful woman there, and they'd snuck off down to the basement and almost not made it back in time to see the cake cut, and luckily the tux jacket had covered where she'd got lipstick on his cummerbund.
Thank you to everyone who's ever served. Thank you for helping to keep this a country where I can do the things I do, write the things I write, and say the things I say. Freedom has never been free, and while I don't often talk of it, I'm a patriot at heart. Today, I publicly honor those who have paid freedom's price -- with your service, with your blood, with your peace of mind, with your lives.

Monday, May 21, 2012


Pretty decent weekend. Penny went to two separate birthday parties and really enjoyed both.

Saturday night was Matt's game at the Hegemony, and that was fun, even if our dice were all on strike and trying to kill us. We didn't get home until late, naturally, so we were good and tired on Sunday.

Sunday morning, Matt said to me, "Hey, let's take the kids to see The Avengers today."

I said, "I'm still not sure they'll sit through it." It's got lots of long talky parts that were going to go over their heads, and I wasn't sure if the PG-13 violence would be just a smidge more than Alex could comfortably take.

But we got the Hegemony into the act, too. So at 3:30, we found ourselves taking over most of a row of seats at the theater, the kids in the middle and the adults anchoring either end. Matt and I kept looking down the row to where Alex and Penny were sitting to see how they were handling things...

And they handled things very well, indeed. All the kids cheered for Black Widow's initial scene of kicking ass, and cheered again for Iron Man's first appearance. They all got more of the jokes than I expected -- Penny even laughed at the "He's adopted" line. I had to take Alex to the bathroom once, and a little while after that, he decided he'd rather sit on my lap than in his chair, but he did seem to be having a great time. When Iron Man was jump-starting the helicarrier's engine, he was urgently chanting, "You can do it! You can do it! You can do it!" under his breath, and he laughed uproariously at the Hulk's scene-stealing moments.

Better still, they were all incredibly enthusiastic about the movie after it had ended. Both of them were still talking about it in the car this morning on the way to school (and asking me for action figures). I've never been so happy to be wrong about whether the kids are ready for something.

As I said on Twitter later: movie tickets: $35. Popcorn and candy: $10. Cementing your kids' destiny as geeks: priceless.

Friday, May 18, 2012


Been sick the last few days. Nothing serious, just a sort of annoying and persistent cold that left me unable to breathe properly and with a mild but constant headache. Your standard spring cold/sinus infection.

I worked from home and didn't engage my brain unless I had to and generally just sort of... existed.

And then Spring Drama happened.

I'd been getting used to drama-free springs, but it's back.

I'm not sure if I'm actually calm and accepting or if I'm just a little numb while it worms its way inward.

Yeah, I'm being vague. Sorry about that. I want to talk about it some, but while it touches me, it's not about me, so I can't. If you don't already know... probably best not to ask. Yes, I'm okay. At least for now. If I get to a point where I'm not okay, you'll probably hear about it.

Anyway. Drama, and me trying to decide if my relative lack of reaction is a good sign or a bad one. I stayed up late last night, drinking and talking things over with one of the other affected parties (who is, for the record, very much not numb or calm or remotely accepting; thus the drinking). So I'm slightly hungover and very tired today, which is probably making the confusion and vagueness even worse than it needs to be.

So I'm kind of not looking forward to this weekend so much. And any lingering desire that I had to stick to any sort of diet may be a bit run off the rails.

...But part of me is wondering if I can get a story out of it.

Monday, May 14, 2012


So KT and crew moved to their new condo on Saturday -- whoo! It's a really nice place, and I hope they enjoy it a lot. It's got a lot of advantages over the old apartment, even besides the whole "equity" question and the obvious bonus of "more space".

My assorted physical issues make me a poor candidate for schlepping boxes, so my contribution to the effort was to take all the kids for the day. We went to the play area at the mall for an hour or so, then ate lunch there (of course each of the three kids wanted a completely different cuisine for lunch!) After lunch, I took them down the road to Kangaroo Jac's (an inflatable bounce-house place), where they ran insane for three hours or so. By the time we were into the third hour, the mutant worrybrain was in full swing, wondering why the hell no one had broken a limb yet, so I decided it was time for a calmer activity, and I took them to Barnes and Noble, where they seemed pretty happy to settle in to read and play with the toy trains in the kids' section. (I think I read Mo Willems' entire repertoire to Alex while we were there, plus an assortment of other books, including some Berenstain Bears, a couple of Cliffords, The Very Busy Spider, and Goodnight, Gorilla.)

I told Matt later that if I'd really thought about it, what I would have done was take all the kids back home. Alex could've gotten a nap and then gone down the street to play with a friend near his own age, lunch wouldn't have been such a cluster, and I would've had a comfortable place to sit while the kids were doing their thing. (Not to mention the headache I would've been saved from the sheer noise at the mall and Kangaroo Jac's.) But for some reason, when I'd made my original plans, I was thinking the moving would be done by 3 or so, and it didn't make sense to drive all the way back home to only be there for a couple of hours. Instead, we spent at least 2 hours at the mall, 3 and a half at Kangaroo Jac's, and more than 2 hours at Barnes and Noble. Oy.

Mother's Day, the kids woke me up at 8:30 with breakfast in bed (oatmeal, Penny's specialty tri-color toast, and a chocolate-covered strawberry) and presents. Alex gave me a little wooden flower with his picture on it, and Penny gave me a "coupon" book that she made in school. And Matt gave me (in addition to the flowers and chocolate-covered strawberries he'd had delivered to my office on Friday) a genetic testing kit. (This is why my husband is awesome. He comes up with these fantastic, nerdy gifts, completely off the beaten path and yet totally cool.) I sent it off this morning, and I can't wait to see what turns up in the results!

(How I'm going to even come close to matching that level of neat for Father's Day, I have no idea.)

Later, I went to Target and bought myself some Avengers toys. Because I'm just that much of a nerd.

We went to my parents' for dinner -- I made beef stew and brought ice cream and berries and cookies for dessert, and my brother brought the bread and salad. It was nice to sit and talk with my family.

Then we came home, got the kids put to bed, and I spent an hour or so doing the first part of the Avengers LEGO set I'd bought. (I also bought this one, because it's the only way to get Captain America. I'll probably get this one, too, for Thor and Hawkeye and Hulk. I'm on the fence about this one -- I'll already have all the characters, but the little truck is cool and also I'm sometimes a bit of a completist. Also: why do they not have a set with Nick Fury?!)

So it was a busy weekend. But good. Definitely good.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Working Backward

"I want to do something simple for Mother's Day dinner," I told my sister-in-law, "because we're helping friends move the day before. Maybe just a nice beef stew."

Beef stew has to cook for a good long while if you want the beef to be tender instead of tough. And then I'm taking it to my parents', so I want some time for the pot to cool down a bit before I try to transport it. So, working backwards: Need to leave for my parents' around 3:30... so I need to take the pot off the stove by 2:00... so I need to start browning meat and chopping veggies by about 9:30... so I need to do the grocery shopping right at 8:30 as soon as I get up.

Except it's Mother's Day, and there has been mention of a breakfast in bed planned. Scratch that. Do the grocery shopping Saturday night?

Nope, nope, nope. We're helping friends move on Saturday, and given the list of friends coming from out of town, I expect we'll stay late enough that I'm not going to want to do the grocery shopping Saturday night.

Saturday morning? Nope. Heading out by 9:00 Saturday morning, not really going to be time to shop before that.

Friday night? That's our usual night to hang out with the Hedge, and we don't generally get home until quite late.

Friday afternoon? Would've been a candidate, except that the cat has a vet appointment.

So... Grocery shopping on Thursday evening it was, then.

Which is all my way of saying: gonna be a busy weekend. Y'all have a good one, and I'll see you on Monday!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

With A Vengeance

I have a Pinterest category for this movie and its predecessors. It's called "Slightly Obsessed", for obvious reasons.
I'm a little bit obsessed now. I saw The Avengers last weekend and loved it, and then on Tuesday, my day off, I went and saw it again, and loved it again.

It feels a little bit like betrayal. I mean, I've never been a hardcore comic book geek. I've collected a few titles, but most of them haven't been superhero books (and the one superhero book I collected was Promethea, which is hardly mainstream). But most of the titles I collected were either independent or they were in the DC universe -- Books of Magic and Sandman and assorted spinoffs, largely. My favorite heroes have always been in the DC universe. Batman and Superman. Green Arrow. John Constantine, for petesake, who more or less single-handedly hooked me on Books of Magic.

You can't walk into a comic book shop regularly and not be aware of the major Marvel characters, but aside from, Spider-Man and a few blips amongst the X-Men, I haven't really ever been all that interested in them. None of the Avengers ever really did anything for me; as a rule, either their premises or their writing struck me as sadly cheesy. I couldn't have told you any of their real names (except for Bruce Banner, but that's because I watched the Hulk TV show when I was a kid, right along with the Batman and Wonder Woman shows).

So when Iron Man came out, I was pretty "meh" about it. Whatever. I certainly didn't make any attempt to see it in the theater. I think I watched it with Matt one afternoon shortly before Iron Man 2's release, just because there wasn't anything else happening, and hey, fun 'splody movie -- why not?

Except it kind of hooked me. And Iron Man 2 drew me further in.

I didn't go see Captain America, but I'd not been opposed to the notion. I wasn't interested in Thor (the stilted language turned me off right in previews) or Hulk (I love the concept of the character, but it's too easy to cross the cheese line), and so even though I was intrigued by the idea of all these movies working toward a common goal, I was pretty lukewarm on the notion of the ensemble film.

But still: Downey's Tony Stark. And also? Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. How could that not be cool? All right.


Then I saw my first trailer. "Take [the Iron Man suit] away, and what are you?" "...Genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist?"

Sold x2.

And then someone told me (I don't follow movie news) that Joss Whedon was writing and directing it.

Sold. Sold. Sold x1,000,000.

As I said, it feels a little bit like betrayal, abandoning the Justice League to fall at the Avengers' feet like this. But this movie is so effing good. Part of me wants to sit down with it on my laptop and do a scene-by-scene analysis and discussion, because every scene had something wonderful to bring to the table. (Even if it was just the eye candy.) Matt's put Captain America in his Netflix queue, retroactively, and I'm looking forward to it. I can't wait for Iron Man 3 and the inevitable Avengers 2. I kind of want to hit the store and buy all the toys, too. (I must have the Legos, if nothing else.)

It's not like I'll be skipping the Batman movie, after all. I can be polyamorous in my superhero love, right? Even across universes.

Monday, May 7, 2012


It was a fairly normal morning -- runaround and kids being alternately grumpy and fantastic, breakfast and packing and stuff. More stuff than usual to carry out to the car, because it's Monday and there's Alex's blankets for naptime, and the daycare check, plus it's "teacher appreciation week" at daycare, so there were cards, and Penny had a diorama project to take to school.

But all in all, pretty much normal.

And then I pulled into the parking lot at work and was nonplussed to see that both of my usual parking spaces had been taken already. Even with me dropping Penny off at school, I'm usually in the first five or so people in the office. Is someone having a meeting that I'd forgotten about?

And then I came in and saw who was setting up in the conference room and remembered that our senior management chain from up at corporate is all in the office today. Which you'd think I wouldn't have forgotten, because I'm the one who set up the catered lunch.

So, uh, today is busy, and I'll have to tell you about my weekend and gush about how awesome The Avengers was another time.

Friday, May 4, 2012


I have a case of the grumps today.

Stayed up a smidge too late last night, maybe. Or the allergies are getting to me. (I did finally refill that prescription, though.)

In any case, I'm hoping to just confine myself to my office today and interact with as few people as possible, and then maybe when evening rolls around, I'll be ready to socialize.

I certainly have to hope I'm feeling more chipper tomorrow, because we're going to leave the kids with Braz after lunch and go see The Avengers. I don't know why I'm so excited about this movie, really. I'm not usually a Marvel reader, and I really have trouble getting on board with the Hulk. But I can't wait for this movie. Is it the hotness? (No, wait, hang on... Ahhhh, yeah.) Maybe it's that Joss Whedon directed it. Whatever. Can't wait. May buy tickets tonight online so we don't have to risk a sellout.

(If it wasn't for the kids, I would totally have taken yesterday and today off from work to do the all-day marathon of single-hero movies and the midnight release. TOTALLY. I even did some shuffling to see if we could do it anyway, but I couldn't make the schedule work out.)

Don't let me down, Joss!

Thursday, May 3, 2012


I ran out of my Allegra prescription and keep forgetting to call it in, which means that while the weather is doing crazy loop-de-loops where it's 65 one day and 88 the next, my ears are filled with fluid and every breath I take is accompanied by a squeaky, crackly noise caused by my eardrum bowing in and out. It's like someone stuffed Saran Wrap in my ear and it's slowly uncrinkling every time I draw or release a breath.

And if you've ever hung out with me in real life, you know that I have a virulent loathing for any kind of crinkly noise. Potato chip bags fill me with hatred. I nearly strangled a kid at diabetes camp last weekend because she had to fish around in her little plastic bag of peanuts for each individual nut. Spill them out into your hand, dammit. People who try to unwrap snacks slowly, with the net result of just making the noise stretch out over a longer period of time? In my mind, they're going to inhabit the same special hell that Shepherd Book threatened Mal with in Firefly.

So this noise in my ear? Utterly intolerable. It was this noise, even more than the actual loss of hearing, that made me go see the allergist in the first place.

So you'd think that its return would make me remember to call in my damn prescription refill so I could get my ears dried out, but no. Apparently not.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

First of May

Happy May Day! And Happy Birthday to KT! And, um. Everything else that fits here.


When I got home from work yesterday, my next-door neighbors -- Melissa and her son Ray, who's just a smidge younger than Penny -- were outside, planting things in their front yard.

So I ambled over and said hello, and asked what they were planting this year. (Most of us keep bushes in our front yard beds; Melissa actually puts veggies in hers during the summer.) They showed me a flat of strawberries, and several enthusiastic-looking zucchini plants.

"We got three zucchinis this year," Ray told me, "because last year we only had one, and something ate it."

"Rabbits, probably," I said. "There's a lot of rabbits that live around here." I see them all the time, especially in the spring.

"Or groundhogs," Ray said.

"I guess it could be groundhogs, but I haven't really seen any of those."

"That's because they live under the ground. It's even in their name!" His tone was carefully informative rather than snarky.

Melissa shot him a sharp look, but despite the implied duh, he'd been very careful not to actually be rude, so all she could do was sigh and say, "One of us is not going to survive his teenage years."

How swiftly they grow.

Six years ago.