Monday, August 25, 2008

Stick Shifts and Safety Belts

There was not much blogging done while dad was here, partly because the "guest bed" obstructs computer access at prime blogging hours. This means I've saved up some topics. Let's see if we can make it through.

In my stack of stuff, I found a letter I wrote to President Bush after the last election. I'm not sure I ever signed and sent a copy as things did not improve. Maybe I'll post it later. I think it's still relevant.


My sleep is not going well. I need naps to recover from my naps. I have an appointment to follow up on the sleep study next week, I hope there's something that can be done. Soon.


I find the Mercenaries 2 video game ads entertaining. The juxtaposition of perky, happy, looking-forward-to-christmas-morning music on top of unbridled violent cartoons gives me joy.


After dad left, I read a couple of enjoyable books. They were Kresley Cole's (sidebar) latest in her immortal series which I'd gotten signed at RWA in San Fran. The previous one felt a little lean, but I rather liked these two. She has a world populated with multiple paranormal beings - mythic and things that go bump in the night. I worry a little that the sheer volume of stuff gets away from her, but each book seems to work on its own well enough. One way in which she's different from S. Kenyon is that her characters come from a more freely distributed time scale, and when she makes a rule she doesn't immediately break it. It's more that she leaves clues about what's possible then expedites it rather than going in a completely different direction.

The series isn't flawless. The degree of integration of previous characters is sometimes excellent, sometimes too much. The scenes are mostly 3rd limited point of view, and every so often someone not central to the story pops in. They are in on the plot, but I find it weird for them just to have a scene or two late in the book. The characters are headed toward their big quincentennial armaggedon like blowout with an unconcern I find a little odd. There's a lot of wiping out of this or that group merely for being, which is the polite way to say, and I really object to the concept. There's also a lot of weird alliances. I can't seem to figure out what marks one for death and how the HEA couples will keep their heads.

But all in all, there are engaging primary and secondary characters. The writing is fun, flirty, and sexy despite routine bloodbaths and beheadings. One character in particular pops up in intriguing places. She could be a really bad deus-ex-machina device, but mostly she's comic relief and generally fits. I love the extreme self confidence of the majority of characters we see. The heroines and heroes spend lots of time getting to know and love each other through the stories, they have to rely on friends and family and familiars, they have sometimes mythic fatal flaws they need to work around (ooh, shiny!), and do actually grow up after their previous periods of dormancy. Dark Needs at Nights Edge was particularly lush, fleshed out (so to speak) and full of growing independently and together and enjoyable. Recommended.


Lastly, my boss tried to kill me on saturday. Actually, she invited me to help carry the one-person sit-on kayaks to the shore as she is pregnant and trying not to lift heavy things and her husband, my college buddy, wanted to go kayaking. I'm guessing she wanted to go kayaking too, but the water was a little rougher than we anticipated; surfers were out en masse. So it wound up just being me and him and the open water. My boss was gave me a pep talk :) "You know how to swim! You have kayaked right? If you fall in try to hold onto the paddle, but naturally, if it's a choice between you and the paddle, lose the paddle." I have watched friends fail to paddle through surf like this so I was skeptical but having dragged that damn kayak over a huge swath of beach, I was going to try. But I was nervous.

Thankfully, these little kayaks plow into surf pretty well and we were able to find a chunk of beach where the waves approached from two directions and more often than not canceled each other out a little bit. My friend and I were able to plow through with fun and splashing and both made it through 3 or 4 breakers unscathed if a little salty. He said we were just going to go out and paddle around for a bit. We cleared the pier and breakwater in no time. I figured we'd just paddle back and forth for a bit, but no, it was much better. We aimed for a bouy a fair distance out.

I was pleased to discover that I could paddle straight and easily. I didn't get tired and there was no chafing. My friends' boats did have these two padded straps on either side to fix the knees inside for whitewater. I actually used them and felt more connected to the boat that way - yep, I want a seatbelt on my bike AND my boat. There were swells and areas of choppy water, but nothing threatening, so we paddled and paddled. We got near enough to see and hear a pack of seals sunning on the buoy, but not near enough to tempt them to play with us. We missed seeing a couple dolphins playing nearby and they scooted out to follow some jet-skis we couldn't miss.

The paddle back in was stranger. It wasn't as laid back and the boats kept going off target. The wind started to kick up at our backs, it was high tide, and the waves got bigger. We decided to head back to shore for lunch with my boss and their 2 yr old, who by this time had decided she was "done outside", but was willing to put on the swimsuit. Which is why my boss missed seeing both our total wipeouts. I made it to within a couple feet of shore and totally got rolled in the sand. I got sand in the everything. In my shirt, in my pants, in my sandals, in my hair, in my... everything. But other than a little bang on the foot, I remembered to grab the paddle, the boats washed to shore and we were fine.

After a bit of a nibble where I contemplated my death and decided it was unlikely as I was sitting on shore, we paddled back out through the waves and rode them back in a bit. I caught one that scooted me very fast toward shore and three little kids only to dump me out by way of braking and decided the shore was too crowded to kayak in through the swimmers and surfers without cracking someones noggin. But I am glad I went back through the surf at least once. It pushed me past my comfort zone but not so much I couldn't enjoy it. I don't know why, but open water swimming kind of freaks me out, but put a tiny piece of plastic under my butt and I have a great time.

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