Instant Gratification Gorilla

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This is a blog post that has been being passed around my Facebook page this week, giving a metaphorical explanation for why procrastinators procrastinate. Both it and it's follow up (about how to beat procrastination) have been interesting reads for me and ring very true for my life.

One thing that the author fails to mention, and perhaps this is not his experience but it has been mine, is that every time you allow the Instant Gratification Monkey take the wheel it grows a little bit. Not enough to really notice on any given time, but still, growth. If you fail to suffer negative consequences for letting it do so, that's a bit more growth. And if you get to the land of "good enough" (or as the blog author calls it, "The Mixed Feelings Park") by letting the monkey drive for a while, still more growth.

I realized that I've let that monkey take the wheel far too frequently in my forty-some years. The number of times that I've suffered negative consequences have been very few, and the number of times I've achieve "good enough" results by waiting until the last possible moment are uncountably large. I've written 30 page college-level term papers in one draft on an electric typewriter (not a word processor), with footnotes and bibliography in the 24 hours before their due. Multiple times. And every time I got an "A".

I always figured it's because I do write well, I know how to structure a paper like that (thank you, Brother Alfred Salz!), and I'm very good at analyzing data to make and support a thesis. I won't say it was easy, but with the panic monster breathing down my neck, I can be amazingly focused. (I've had people I trust tell me that while some people can make this work in their undergrad years, it's not possible in grad school. I'll take them at their word as I've never attended grad school. Now I know not to try until I've beaten the monkey into submission.)

By now, it's no longer a monkey. It's a gorilla. It's King Kong on steroids. Forcing myself to stay on task and focused requires an effort that is physically exhausting. On those days when I manage to force myself to push that monkey gorilla aside for more than a few hours, I end the day feeling wiped. I haven't found a good way to silence that monkey gorilla. And with my "all or nothing" (broken) mindset combined with my guilt complex for spending so much time in the space the blog author titles "The Dark Wood", I just see a never-ending list of things that need to be done, and no-where on that list is anything that is what I'd call "me time". (Because since I've spent so much time indulging the monkey gorilla, I don't have time for "me time". And besides, I'm such a bad person I don't deserve it.)

I did find the blog entries to be insightful, and they give me metaphorical terms to use to describe how I'm feeling and what I'm experiencing. I haven't finished reading his suggested solutions yet. Because that looks like work, and the monkey gorilla has found more interesting things to do for now...

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Money

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A bunch of my friends are in anxiety-inducing life situations that could be easily solved with an influx of cold, hard cash. I sometimes wish I made enough money to be able to help all of my friends not have to deal with these kinds of situations, and I sometimes am sad that I can't help out more. Love of money may be the root of all evil, but lack of money sure seems like the root of a lot of anxiety.

It's a shame too that the planet does have enough resources to give basic food, health, and living security for it's entire population, but human nature is such that we can't help but find ways to ensure that the bulk of those riches are held by a relatively minuscule portion of the people living here. I guess that's part of why I love Roddenberry's vision of the future, one in which the anxieties of trying to ensure that there's enough food to eat and sufficient medical care have been wiped out, allowing people to spend that energy in more creative and productive pursuits.

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Doc Visit

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I had my mandated annual physical for the adoption today. Despite society telling me that since I'm fat, I'm going to drop dead at any moment, I seem to be relatively healthy. My triglycerides are a touch high, but still in the "normal" range. My blood pressure is a touch high, but since it came down during the visit and I had to deal with terrible traffic this morning (and the stress of trying to find the doctor's new office), my doc says it looks fine. Pulse rate fine. My HDL is lower than she'd like, but there's not much I can do to affect that since it is apparently genetic. She urged me to exercise more, and I can't argue with her there, and to cut down on sugar intake. Both will help with both the triglycerides and the HDL (a little).

For a guy who's about to drop dead any moment now from morbid obesity, I guess I'm doing okay... ;-)

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Wedding Thoughts

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Given that it's the eighth anniversary of my proposal to Michael (and his acceptance), it's not surprising that my thoughts turn towards finally getting hitched. For those not in the know, we were ready to pull the trigger on a wedding six and a half years ago, but loss of a job and the need to gut and rebuild our kitchen (which had become contaminated with toxic mold) scuttled those plans. Now that we've moved to the Bay Area, the topic comes up every once in a while, but we've honestly made no progress on it. Some of that has to do with the fact that, well, we tend to move very slowly on big things like this. But another part of it, which we don't talk about, is that I've started to feel guilt about the kind of wedding I had once wanted to have.

Okay, I'll admit I'm foolish and have bought into the fantasy that we as a society have built up around weddings. To me, a wedding is always a solemn occasion, with a touch of the theatric. A chance to look your best, in a beautiful setting, with the person you love, in front of your friends and family, and to make a solemn vow that you will put this one person above all others in your life, sickness, health, richer, poorer, yadda, yadda. And, of course, the fun party afterwards with good food, good music, lots of smiles, and maybe the drunk relative or two. Sure, it can be expensive, but we're both fiscally prudent and, well, we both work in high tech, so it's not like we are impoverished. I wanted something lavish that would fulfill the "grandiose but not over the top" image I'd long had.

But then I started talking about weddings in social media. Frankly, I really should stop talking about such things in public. Such discussions always wind up the same way for me, with the casual destruction of my carefully constructed dreams and images. So too was it with a discussion of getting married. When I made some mention of some of the ideas that were floating around my head, the people in my social circles nearly unanimously suggested weddings on the cheap. "We had the ceremony in our back yard around a keg, and it only cost us the price of the keg!" or "We did a Justice of the Peace ceremony, and then went to a nice dinner with a bunch of friends, and it didn't put is in the poor house!" or "Why have a ceremony at all? It's just a waste of money and will end in tears."

I get that big, formal weddings are not everyone's cup of tea or piece of cake. Really I do. But they kind of were mine. I liked the spectacle of fancy dress, thoughtful music, personal vows, themed cakes, and good food. But now, whenever I think about getting married, I'm finding myself thinking that maybe just going to the JoP and getting married without letting anyone know. I guess, I'm thinking of eloping just to stay under everyone's radar. That way I won't have to hear anyone's post-wedding confusion about why we chose what we chose.

Yes, I realize this is me capitulating to some people's ideas of what a wedding can or should be like. Perhaps it's wrong, but my friends' opinions have a good deal of influence in my thinking. And when the chorus of voices that respond to my thoughts about weddings are all in agreement that spending anything more than absolutely necessary is a BAD IDEA, I kind of have to wonder what was I thinking?

We don't need a lavish ceremony or a rollicking party to cement the relationship we have. We've been together for over 21 years, that's not going to change just because we don't have a big fete. But it was something I wanted to do, and now every time I consider it, I can't help but think, "Why bother? Everyone's going to be thinking we did it wrong..."

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FOGcon Writing Workshop

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I heard today that there are still a few slots open for FOGcon's writing workshop. If you have a manuscript that you want reviewed by a professional writer, and get valuable tips and feedback, take a look at our workshop page.

Interviews with our guests of honor, namely Seanan McGuire and Tim Powers, will be going up on the blog soon. And programming sign-ups are already available to those with FOGcon accounts.

Last year was a lot of fun. I'm getting the feeling this year will be better!
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Experimenting in the Kitchen

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When planning meals over the weekend, I had some ideas of what I wanted for tonight's dinner. I wanted something like beef tips and gravy over egg noodles. Unfortunately, all of the recipes for beef tips and gravy require a couple of hours of baking time and I knew that, on the first day back to work after the holiday break, I would most certainly NOT have that kind of time. So, I thought I'd try something and see how it comes out. Well, it did not come out as I expected but it was yummy enough to try and tinker with it some more.

I started off by thinly slicing some filet mignon (it was on sale) and then sautéing that in a bit of butter. Once it was done, I set it aside, reserving the liquid in the frying pan. I then added a tablespoon of minced shallots and a half cup of (cheap) merlot. (Since I don't drink wine, I just picked the Trader Joe's house brand.) I also added a double handful of chopped-up crimini mushrooms. I cooked this all down until it the liquid was near syrup consistency and then added a cup or so of beef broth. I had wanted stock, but I couldn't find any at my local TJs so I figured broth was better than nothing. I cooked that down until it was about half-cup of liquid, took it off the heat, added a couple of pats of butter, and really liked how the resulting "gravy" looked. I then added the beef back to the pan and stirred it up. I was not expecting the beef to absorb all of the liquid, but it essentially did. So much for my gravy!

Regardless, it was quite tasty. Beefy, with a hint of fruit, and a very rich mouth feel. I went ahead and served it over egg (white) noodles, and the combination was a tasty one. Both Michael and I liked it quite a bit. I just have to figure out better quantities of liquids to use so that I have a sauce left over. :-)

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1. What did you do in 2013 that you'd never done before?

Lots of things. With the new job, there were a lot of new challenges and opportunities. I got to go to WWDC for the first time, learned a new language (though I guess I've done the "learn a new language" a few times before), and was involved in an effort that gave me much higher visibility than ever before. In my personal life there have been many other things I've done that I've never done before, but most of them aren't fit for a public audience. ;-) And to top it off, I painted my nails and gone out in public with them, something I've never done before.

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don't make resolutions.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Other than famous people who I admire, no.

5. What countries did you visit?

None.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?

A child.

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

My brain doesn't take etchings very well.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Got my new job and prospered in it.

9. What was your biggest failure?

We did not move as quickly as I wanted to with the adoption. I had hoped to be listed by my birthday. Now I'll settle for being listed early in the new year.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Nothing significant.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

New flannel PJ bottoms. No, really, of the things I've bought, that was the best.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

For me, it was all of those involved in the fight for GLBT rights, most especially family members like Edie Windsor and Brian Sims, and allies like Boies and Olson. It's been a truly remarkable year for equality.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Oh, the usuals. Brian Brown and Maggie Gallagher, Bryan Fisher and his buddies, Justices Scalia and Thomas, Pope Benedict.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Easy. Mortgage.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Yep, I'll admit it, I was really, really excited about "Star Trek Into Darkness". Unfortunately it was not as excitement-worthy as I had hoped. I enjoyed it, but... Kahn? Really?

16. What song will always remind you of 2013?

Songs don't generally remind me of years, and I don't do a good job of following the pop charts. But there were a few songs I found this year that I really enjoyed:

"Ordinary" by Matt Gold
"Things Can Only Get Better" by Cedric Gervais and Howard Jones
Hunter Valentine
"History Repeating" by Dame Shirley Bassey
"New Constellation" by Toad the Wet Sprocket

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? - Happier
b) thinner or fatter? - About the same
c) richer or poorer? - Probably richer, though we're about to make a purchase that may push us slightly into the "poorer" category.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Writing

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Goof off on Facebook

20. How did you spend Christmas?

Had a very nice dinner with my family.

21. Who did you spend the most time on the phone with?

Probably my Mom, but that doesn't mean much since I rarely use the phone at all.

22. Did you fall in love in 2013?

Depends on what you mean. I'm still deeply in love with my partner of nearly 21 years. I grew more deeply in love with many of my friends (yes, I freely and gratefully acknowledge the true love I have for my friends), and I've met some new people who I may wind up loving in the new year as well.

23. How many one-night stands?

A gentlemen does not keep score. ;-) (How's that for an evasive answer?)

24. What was your favorite TV program?

Doctor Who. Surprise?

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

I don't hate. Hate has no real effect on the hated and only twists my stomach.

26. What was the best book you read?

Hm, I've read so many this year I can't recall one being the "best". I'm quite enjoying Diane Duane's "Young Wizards" books recommended to me by a dear friend. And I know there were several that kept me reading far further into the night than was wise, but I can't recall which ones those were. I really do need to keep a better log of books read...

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?

See number 16 above.

28. What did you want and get?

I acknowledge there was something I wanted that I also got, but I shan't go into the details here.

29. What did you want and not get?

I wanted to get to the point where we were actively searching for an adoptive child. That did not happen in 2013.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?

Saving Mr. Banks, though Pacific Rim and Monsters University were close contenders.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I did nothing on my birthday, did not celebrate it in any way.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Being further along in the adoption process. Yes, this was a big deal to me.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?

"Personal fashion concept"??? What da fuq is that?

34. What kept you sane?

My partner.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Fancy? You mean who did I find sexy? Er... Hm... I'll go with Brian Sims. Handsome, bright, brave, and fighting for my rights.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?

Marriage Equality, for obvious reasons.

37. Who did you miss?

Everyone. I'm a very terrible shot.

38. Who was the best new person you met?

My new friend, Joe. It's good to have someone in your life that gets you out of the house and out of your ruts.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013:

Don't make assumptions about yourself. They're inevitably untrue.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

Sorry, not much for song lyrics.

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Holiday Tuesday

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So, the day didn't start off too well. I woke up out of two dreams that both left me in a troubled frame of mind. The first one involved the start of a nuclear holocaust right after I'd been given a grand tour of Steve Jobs' secret prototype lab (with stuff that won't see the light of day for a couple of decades), and the second was all about me being snubbed by a large number of attractive men in a social setting (if it hadn't been for the unwelcoming glares, I would have assumed I was invisible and inaudible). Not sure which one was worse for my frame of mind.

It doesn't help that we were hoping to be doing touristy stuff this week since we have it off and most of the rest of the valley doesn't. Monterey Bay Aquarium, California Academy of Science, the Exploratorium, stuff like that. But Michael was down most of Monday with a cold and didn't want to push himself too hard today so as to not endanger his recovery. It's a good idea, but I had been looking forward to getting out and seeing some sights. Slightly disappointed, but ah, well.

The overcast weather is also weighing on me, as it always does. I do tend to get blue when the weather turns, and I haven't been using my blue light. It's up on my writing desk, and I've been avoiding my writing. I'm bundled up trying to keep warm, and entertaining myself with TV.

Lots of stuff running around in my head. Too much to make sense of. I need a brain flush. :-)

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Things About Me

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Everyone seems to be doing the whole "X number of things about me" thing on FB these days. I've not been tagged but I'll play along. Let's see how many of these are a surprise to anyone...

1. I spent thirteen years going to college and all I got out of it was a Bachelor's degree.

2. The only seafood I'll eat is tuna out of a can.

3. I'm a big dog person, but it started mostly because my brother had a cat when we were kids and I wanted to be the opposite of him.

4. I've been watching Star Trek since the year I was born.

5. I have never quite come to terms with the fact that I was brought into existence without my consent.

6. I was rabidly anti-Mac until Mac OS X came out, then I completely switched allegiances.

7. "Hunger" is a sensation that has become detached from the thought of "eating" for me. I rarely notice when I'm hungry until someone says something. It's relatively easy for me to go a day forgetting to eat if I have a lot on my mind.

8. I hate the passivity of simply watching TV. I always have to be doing something else while the TV is on. The longer I go without cable/satellite, the happier I am with the decision.

9. I can deal with a messy house in general, but not the kitchen. That has to be spotless all the time.

10. I was almost outed by a roommate in college who, while trying to pull a prank on me, found a couple of unexpected magazines under my bed. He completely freaked out, I found I didn't care much.

11. I studied Klingon in the early 90's and was relatively fluent. I can only remember a few words and phrases now.

12. I have killed a pet through neglect.

13. I won $500 once for being a safe driver.

14. I prefer recorded studio music to live music.

15. I'm a time accuracy fanatic. It's really silly, but I get seriously annoyed by clocks that are off by more than a few seconds. All of my primary time pieces set themselves either by listening to the radio signal from Fort Collins, CO, or communicate with my phone through bluetooth. I "inherited" this trait from my father, who was a "legendary scientist" in the field of time and frequency standards.

Oh, did I mention that some of these are outright lies? I wonder who will be able to tell.

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Introspective Thought of the Day

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I had an insight today... To me, "I don't want to" is never an acceptable reason not to do something. I don't know where I got that, but I think it's been the cause of lots of disappointment in my life.

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Techie Advice Requested

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Over the weekend, I got an email from AT&T letting me know that we had exceeded the download cap on our account and that they were going to start billing us for extra network traffic. I guess I never noticed that we had a 150GB cap on our DSL account, but with all of the new goodies from Apple this past few weeks, I'm not surprised we hit it. It got me thinking and researching, though. We currently have a "high speed" account that gives us a whopping 6Mbps download speed. And we're paying a pretty penny for that combined with plain old telephone service. Now I'm thinking about alternatives.

AT&T also offers something called U-Verse which is recently available on my street. Much better download speeds, and I could bundle VOIP in to the deal. After accounting for the promotional price, it looks like the monthly cost would be lower than our current arrangement. But I don't know much about this "U-Verse" service. Will I need a new modem? Other equipment? I assume that with VOIP, our cordless phone base station will now need to be adjacent to the modem (wherever it winds up being located) instead of the much more convenient location in the kitchen.

I also looked at Comcast. Now, I have a lot of antipathy towards Comcast. They have been big names in the fight against Net Neutrality, they've been happy to help our federal government spy on us, and they have that ridiculous "speed boost" gimmick that makes it impossible to accurately measure the real bandwidth I'd be getting. However, they have a ridiculously high download speed, starting at 25 Mbps and going up from there. And a Internet + VOIP bundle would still be less than what we're currently playing AT&T. I assume we'd need a cable modem then and that our cordless base station would also need to be near the modem. We'd also probably need to relocate our wireless base station down into the living room instead of in the opposite corner of the house. (Cons: Our workstation machines would no longer have wired connections. Pros: Stronger wi-fi signal in the location were we most use wi-fi, would be able to hard-wire the AppleTV and Mac Mini we use for streaming entertainment.)

Does anyone have experience with these services? We really are only looking for high speed internet with high download caps and *possibly* phone service, so don't really care about TV offerings.

P.S. Anyone know if we would be able to keep our current home number if we went with one of these VOIP offerings?

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Day of the Doctor in Theaters

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The 50th Anniversary Doctor Who special will be playing in 3D in select theaters on November 25. Plenty of locations listed here.

Squee!

Any locals want to plan an outing? :-)

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Fall Down

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We've arrived at the time of the year that I dislike the most. The time when the alarm goes off and it's still dark outside, and when the sun does finally come up, it's overcast. The time when my body is absolutely convinced that the house is freezing, even though the thermostat reports it's 67 degrees downstairs (with the temperature upstairs likely a few degrees warmer). The time of the year that my body responds to with dried out skin and increased aches and pains as it complains about having to adjust to the colder climate.

Yeah, time to start hitting the light therapy box in the mornings. It won't help my body's complaints but it does seem to give me mental strength to not listen as much to them, and not succumb as much to the depression that comes along with it.

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NaNoWriMo Advice

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I have some totally unsolicited advice for all those who are setting out to do NaNoWriMo this year. I’ve participated for many years, successfully completed most of them, so I feel somewhat qualified to dispense advice. Of course, my advice works for me and it may not work for you. Caveat emptor and all that.

1. Plan on NaNoWriMo being a big disruption in your life. You have to write 50,000 words in 30 days (or 720 hours). Unless you are a writing speed demon, it’s going to take you quite a bit of focused time. Make sure you have a support team in place to handle the daily chores and other household commitments for which you are responsible. Spouses, housemates, and children can be very helpful in your success if they are willing to work with you. If you spring it on them half-way through November, they probably won’t be.

2. Pick a daily writing target and make sure you hit it each day before you head off to bed. Most people pick 1667 words, but I would urge you to pick 2000 instead. It’s a nice round number, it’s not too much more than 1667, and it gives you a bit of a buffer for those days when words are more difficult.

3. When you can, write more. Frequently on weekends, I would get two writing sessions in, each of 2000 words. Sometimes I’d even get 5000 words in on a weekend day. This will allow you some breathing room as the month rolls steadily towards Thanksgiving and the semi-obligatory family time.

4. Words will sometimes be difficult. This is okay and expected. If you’re ahead on your word-count, it’s okay to take an occasional day where you don’t hit your writing target. Just don’t do that when you’re behind, since that will only put you further behind.

5. When words are being difficult, surprise them by doing something totally unexpected. Have ninjas arrive and fight with your characters, especially if it’s not particularly appropriate for your chosen genre. Or have thugs bust the door down and open fire. Doing something completely unexpected for your story will give your brain a break from pounding on your planned story and can be just the jolt of fun you need to get unstuck. You can always remove that scene in December.

6. Don’t edit. Don’t edit in your mind before you write, and especially don’t edit your words after they’re on paper. It’s okay to go back and fix the occasional misspelling (I hate those red squiggly lines that most word processors use these days), but don’t waste your precious writing time “fixing” stuff you’ve written for NaNoWriMo. That’s what December is for.

7. It’s okay to write stuff you know is garbage. NaNoWriMo is all about quantity, not quality. Send your inner censor on a holiday, and just write whatever comes to mind in your story. You will surprise yourself and on a re-read (in December, or later) will find that some of your trashiest moments contain nuggets of awesomeness.

8. Expect life to not take it easy on you. You never know what November can bring. You might get super busy at work. You might get fired and have to look for a new job. Your family may find itself in a crisis when someone gets severely injured and winds up in the hospital. It’s okay to set your NaNoWriMo aside and deal with life. (On the other hand, if you are suddenly unemployed and use the time to write your 50K and more, enjoy the victory-flavored lemonade you’ve made of life’s lemons!)

9. Be aware of, and get comfortable with the thought that you might not complete your 50,000 words in November. And that’s okay. Even if you have no interruptions, and no real-life crises to deal with, the words might just not flow, or your novel idea may just not work out as well as you had hoped. If you don’t hit your 50K, revel in the knowledge that you tried, which is much more than most other “wannabe” writers have done.

10. I strongly urge all NaNoWriMo participants to NOT write the book they’ve always wanted to write. There are many reasons for this. First is, to get through the month and hit your targets, you will often write garbage. Knowing your “great American novel” is full of garbage can be discouraging for when you think about getting it into shape for publication. Secondly, you might fail to complete NaNoWriMo. While it failing to complete NaNoWriMo should not be a big deal, some people attach negative feelings to it. You don’t want your deam project to be associated with something you feel bad about, so why risk it? Especially if this is your first time writing a project of this size, write something you won’t care that much about when the month is over. Have fun, chew up the scenery, swing from the metaphorical chandelier, but avoid the temptation to write that book you’ve always hoped you could. Save that book for December or later once you have proven to yourself that you can write a lot of words.

Good luck, and most of all, have fun!

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Dental News

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After the dental emergency of a couple weeks ago, I had a "regular" checkup meeting and initial cleaning today.

The hygienist was nice, a bit flighty, but very competent at her job. Unlike dentistry the last time I visited a dentist (seven, maybe eight years ago?), she cared if I was uncomfortable or in pain. Because of the condition of my mouth, she wound up numbing a significant portion of my gums, and in the process, my lips and tongue. I finally have full sensation back now.

Looking at the list of "problem areas", I'm going to be having plenty of return trips to the office over the next couple of years for work beyond cleanings.

Even though there's less pain now, it's far from painless, and knowing I have that much work ahead of me makes me feel queasy. Though that may be also partly due to skipping breakfast and no lunch yet.

I wished I lived far enough into the future for there to be dental nanobots that would just fix everything at a molecular level. *sigh*

Stoked, 2013 Edition

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I'm sitting in a hotel room in Atascadero, California, steeped in the joy and energy that was "Stoke the World 2013". What is "Stoke the World" you ask? Honestly, it's one of those things best experienced than explained, but I'll make an attempt.

There was a man, a great man, named Greg. He was a champion of getting people stoked up to be their ultimate creative and joyful selves. And cancer took him from us far too early. As part of his "last wish" he wanted his friends and family to get together and have a great big party, and to kindle love, joy, and creative energy in each other.

So we did, last October. And it was wonderful.

But once was not enough. Some people dreamed about more stoking, more love, more fun, more creativity. And those people stepped up and said, "Let's do it again!"

And we did.

At a saloon, out in the middle of nearly-nowhere in San Luis Obispo county, around 250 people gathered. There were children, youngsters, adults, middle-aged people, and even some older sages. People camped, brought trailers or motorhomes, or (like us) stayed in nearby hotel rooms. There was a huge stage, where all throughout the festival, DJs were spinning tunes. Scattered around the expansive lawn were clusters of art projects, activity areas, chill-out spots, comfy chairs, and croquet sets. There was a whole area for kids with projects geared to their interests and abilities. There was a tipi. There was a Temple of Fluff (where much cuddling occurred). There was a Hug Booth. In the saloon itself there were board games and role playing games and discussion groups and even a few classes (from candy making to tax resistance). As the sun set, the place lit up with LEDs, glow-sticks, colored lanterns, LED-lit juggling clubs, and a gadget that shot rings of fire into the sky.

If it sounds a bit like "Burning Man" that's not coincidental. One of Greg's passions was the communal art project out at Black Rocks, so parts of Stoke are based on that. But it of course is flavored by the people and the energy that gather at the saloon. Most of the people at Stoke know each other, or are one step removed from knowing each other. It's a chance for friends to reconnect, and a chance to make new friends. It's a chance to learn, and for some of us (myself especially) a place to push personal boundaries in a safe and welcoming environment. And it's an event to remind each other not to be complacent, not to just be comfortable, but to take risks and be creative and inspire other people.

At the peak of the activity on Saturday night, one of the people who knew Greg well offered us his words. He reminded me that we are at war. Our foe is time. We only have so much of it and we need to fight the tendency to mindlessly waste it. And time is a vastly powerful foe. If we allow ourselves to be complacent, comfortable, and not put up a fight, time will take us away and there will be nothing, and the universe will be a sadder, lonelier place. We can choose, however, to stand up and be a spark that brings a bit of light to the world. It can seem an insurmountable task to light up the darkness of night with our tiny little spark. But, and this is important, each of us have allies in our fight. We all find our allies in our own ways, but Stoke is all about making connections with other allies in our fights. And it's all about being sparks for each others' lamps, getting our lamps burning brightly, so that we can go out into the world and try to light even more lamps.

I know, it sounds touchy-feely, and hippy, but perhaps the world needs a lot more touchy-feely, hippy sentiments. Perhaps it needs more people who feel connected to one another in deeply profound ways rather than just as the surface. Perhaps the world needs more inspiration for us to shine out rather than pull inwards.

So, I went to "Stoke". I did a little bit of Stoking by running a table-top RPG for long-time friends and new friends. And I got Stoked a lot by beautiful art, clever stories, inspirational words, and, most importantly to me, letting people reach inside me, through my walls, to tell me I am welcomed, appreciated, and loved.

Will there be a "Stoke the World 2014"? I don't know. I do hope so, and will offer my long-distance help to make it happen if there's sufficient interest.

In the meantime, I'm full of inspiration and creative energy. I'm ready to refocus my time towards creative and inter-personal endeavors. I'm ready to light some lamps.

But maybe, just maybe, I'll get a good night's sleep first.

Thanks, Stokers, for a wonder-filled weekend. See you next time, whenever and wherever that may be.

1776

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Okay, you all know by now I'm a musical theater fan. You may also know that I'm a political junkie and a bit of a American historian. Thus it will come as absolutely no surprise that one of my favorite musicals is 1776. What may be surprising is that I had never seen a live production of the show. But honestly, it is a show that can be difficult to mount given the large cast of predominantly older white men (with only two women). Heretofore, I had only seen the movie version of the show.

So, when I saw that the American Conservatory Theater of San Francisco was mounting a production, I jumped to get tickets.

A couple of days ago, I got an email from A.C.T. about a special opportunity. Apparently on one of the Saturdays of a show's run, A.C.T. does something they call "playtime" immediately prior to the matinee. This time, it would be a bit of a lecture and interaction with the show's musical director. Of course, we R.S.V.P.'d.

That "playtime" was awesome. Michael Rice, the show's musical director (they guy who teaches all of the songs to the cast and then conducts the orchestra) walked us through some of the history of the show and then talked about the musical inspirations for each of the songs. He also threw in a bunch of trivia about some of the historical inaccuracies of the show, which were neat to know. He then went on to teach the hundred or so of us at the event how to sing the opening song ("Sit Down, John"), as he would actors in the show. (It was abbreviated, of course. We only had fifteen minutes or so.) It was fascinating hearing the choices he makes in how he explains it to the cast.

After "playtime" it was time for the play. We had great seats, about 2/3s of the way back from the stage in the Orchestra seats and dead center. The theater was rather full and the age ranges ran from pre-teen to senior citizens. I so love seeing kids attending live theater. The show opens with John Adams complaining about the uselessness of Congress, a joke that seemed all too timely to the audience tonight. Then the curtain opens to reveal the set, a stylistic interpretation of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Having been to Independence Hall a few times, I will say they did a decent job capturing the style of the place though they certainly didn't try to faithfully reproduce it on stage.

Usually when talking about theater productions, I often will talk about which voices where stronger, which were weaker, or who did and did not engage me with inhabiting their character. But honestly, with this production, I was completely swept away. I didn't really find any fault with any of the cast. John Hickok, playing the main character of John Adams, and who is in virtually every scene, played this fictional Adams with completely believable passion, frustration, and love for his wife. Andrew Boyer's Franklin was witty, persuasive, and funny. And I quite liked Brandon Dahlquist's Jefferson, the quiet man of beautiful words and beautiful wife. (I also quite enjoyed Dillon Heape's Robert Livingston, but partly, I must confess, because of more prurient reasons...) Honestly, though, singling out these individual actors demeans the rest of the truly excellent cast.

Unfortunately, the show closes on October 6 (which as I write this is tomorrow) and the last performance is sold out. Otherwise I would strongly encourage any local theater buffs to go check it out.

All in all, a wonderful day of theater.

Not the day I expected...

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Since I'm on vacation next week, I've been trying to get a lot of stuff tied up at work so that nothing falls apart while I'm gone. I've been remarkably focused and getting a lot of stuff done. This afternoon, I got to a good stopping point so I could head out for a quick lunch and then get back to work so I can get out of here at a decent hour.

I step out the front of my building to find a gaggle of engineers standing around taking pictures with their phones. I got close enough to see what they were photographing: a pair of wild parrots (we have quite the flock in the Cupertino/Santa Clara area) had flown into the building's windows and were lying stunned and likely injured on the concrete. I asked the engineers standing there if anyone had called to get help, and they all looked at me as if I were speaking Swahili. (I almost typed Klingon, but there's a chance some of them would have understood *that* language...)

I swear, Engineers! Not a lick of sense in their heads!

I grabbed my phone and called San Jose Animal Services (since they provide service to Cupertino) and talked with their dispatcher. The dispatcher recommended covering the birds with boxes (but warned me not to move them myself) to keep them calm and protected, and that someone would be at the office within an hour. A friend (and a level-headed engineer) and I decided to wait for Animal Services to arrive.

So, rather than heading to lunch, I babysat two wild birds. One of them looked badly hurt, with wings splayed out and breathing very heavily. The other looked better, but was a lot less active, essentially just sitting there breathing and blinking. We got boxes over them and waited. After about half an hour, the one who looked worse off started screeching loudly (as if they could screech softly, eh?) and moving around inside the box. The other remained quiet. We debated checking on them, but didn't want to risk the birds injuring themselves further.

Right at one hour, the guy from Animal Services arrived and took a look. The one we thought more injured was actually standing on its own and both wings were tucked correctly in to place. He/She let us know quick loudly how annoyed it was to be cooped up. The other was also standing on it's own with tucked wings, but seemed less alert, only making noise when the Animal Services guy handled it. He got them both into a carry box and took them to a clearer, sunny area where he opened to box to see if they'd fly off. The one did fairly immediately, joining with other members of the flock, the other stayed in the box. Thinking it best to be cautious, the Animal Services guy boxed the slow-moving one up and took it off to the Vet.

So, late lunch for me, and it will likely be a late night at work, but I'm okay with that. Animals were suffering, I had the ability to do something about it, and I did. I feel good about that.

Property Management Rant

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I occasionally get frustrated with bureaucracies and corporations Michael and I have to deal with, especially in areas about home or car ownership. Both of our names are on the title of our home (and our cars), but when things get reported to various agencies or corporations, somehow only my name makes it to various databases. Since Michael is the one in our relationship who usually makes telephone calls when there are problems (I'm just not good using telephones), we have run into situations somewhat frequently where they refuse to do business with him because their records show he is not an owner (even though he very much is). They need proof before they'll even discuss things with him.

And at times like these, I have to wonder if it's because we're two men in a long-term relationship (registered domestic partners even) that causes them to balk. I have to wonder whether a heterosexual couple who are married and share a last name ever run into problems like these. Do they question when "Mrs. So-and-so" calls in relation to a billing question whether Mrs. So-and-so is a legal owner of the property that is listed only under Mr. So-and-so's name?

I know the legalistic answer they are likely to give, that it's to protect us. But I don't remember my Mom ever having to prove she's the legal co-owner of her home, or of her cars. Her saying that she's my Dad's wife always seemed enough.

It gets tiresome always having to prove that we're good enough.

Syria

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Once again, America is poised to intervene in another country's affairs with military force, and once again the justifications provided are, to me, insufficient.

The extremists in the Middle East don't hate us for our freedoms, they don't hate us for our lifestyles, they don't hate us for allowing women to drive. They hate us because time and time again we intervene in their sovereign states without a welcome. Whether it's selling arms to Saddam Hussein, propping up Israel with truly ridiculous levels of foreign aid, establishing long-term military bases in their countries, and lately our history of invading other countries on flimsy excuses, the extremists have been provoked by our unilateral foreign policies. And here we are, about to invade Syria, possibly topple it's leader and throw the entire country into chaos, and maybe even start a larger international war in the area, and why? Because we think we're the world's playground monitor and we think we have the "right" to do so.

It's terrible that hundreds of thousands of people have been killed there, and many of them by toxic gas. I know it's not a pretty way to die. But we sent UN inspectors in, and they haven't had a chance to report back yet. There's enough doubt as to who launched the attack that I want definitive proof that it was Assad's government. We tried the "speculation" route with WMDs before, and hopefully we remember how well that worked out. The inspectors probably won't until after our Labor Day holiday, and most analysts expect the US will strike before then.

I keep hearing in the news that we will have a limited engagement. Yeah, about that... We were promised a limited engagement in Afghanistan. In that case we've been there for over ten years. We were promised a limited engagement in Iraq. What was that, nine years? In fact, in modern time, the only time we've had "limited" engagement was in Libya where we only used airpower. Libya was also one of the few "success stories" involving our military engagement in the last couple of decades. One could argue that Kosovo was also successful, though I look at what's going on there in the long-term and I have my doubts that it was truly successful. So, we don't have a good track record at "limited engagements" and we certainly don't have a good track record of successful military intervention.

For once I agree with John Boehner (yeah, I'm not thrilled about that). Boehner has requested more detailed information from the President, including long-range plans. He is asking the President to come before Congress and make his case for military action. Even Candidate Obama would agree, stating:

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.

As for the specific question about bombing suspected nuclear sites, I recently introduced S.J. Res. 23, which states in part that “any offensive military action taken by the United States against Iran must be explicitly authorized by Congress.” The recent NIE tells us that Iran in 2003 halted its effort to design a nuclear weapon. While this does not mean that Iran is no longer a threat to the United States or its allies, it does give us time to conduct aggressive and principled personal diplomacy aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.


It was rushing into two wars that we could not pay for that ballooned the deficit to unheard-of degrees in the mid 2000's and was instrumental in the massive economic downturn we're still suffering from. It was rushing into two wars that were not multi-laterally supported that destroyed the reputation of the United States abroad and made trade and diplomacy much more difficult for a decade or more. Have all other avenues for response to Syria actually been exhausted? Or are the bombing-happy hawkish elements in Washington leading us once again into a conflict that is not ours, to fight in a war that is not ours, and to spend blood and treasure that is ours and that we should be awfully reticent to spend?

Fabulous Friday Night Fun

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Last Sunday at dinner, allanh mentioned that a local theater group was staging The Rocky Horror Show and suggested a group outing. Musical theater junkies that thomasm and I immediately said "Yes!". Tonight we all ventured into Downtown San Jose to enjoy the show.

When we got into the theater, we recognized someone we hadn't seen in years. We knew her from our San Diego days when she was the person who made sure the Children's Religious Education program at our church ran smoothly, one of several people who we could not do without. Unbeknownst to us she was up in the area attending a conference and a local friend suggested going to the theater. (And being UU, "Rocky Horror" is a good, fun time.) It was a blast reconnecting with her, finding out what's changed and what hasn't, and letting her know what's going on in our lives.

As we were catching up with her, we recognized a couple from our current church in Sunnyvale. It was quite the Unitarian Universalist night on the town!

The show was quite entertaining with performances that ran from mediocre to outstanding. The gentleman playing Riff-Raff was quite good at being the M.C. for the show, and really carried the majority of the scenes he was in. Frank-n-furter wasn't as strong as I would like. He could sing and strut, but it was a rare moment when his face animated in any way. The woman playing Janet was outstanding, starting off playing the uptight virgin who blossoms into a fully sensual being. Her voice was strong, and she really "inhabited" the character (as they say in the theater biz). But my favorite actor was the one playing the narrator. Perfect sense of comedic accent, perfectly stuffy when needed, and a wonderfully emotive face, the kind of face that "spoke" eloquently without overdoing it.

I'd only ever kissed... er, that's not my line... I've never seen the stage show, though I've seen the movie a number of times. Now, I honestly think the stage show is a more complete story than the movie. There aren't many differences, but some of the additional songs and words fill in the gaps of the film.

Now home to relax and prepare for the weekend. It's going to be a busy one, filled with work, church, and social obligations.

Considering Migration

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Given the situation in Russia, and given that LiveJournal is wholly owned by a Russian company, I'm considering alternatives to LiveJournal. I already have a DreamWidth account, so may move there. Anyone else considering migrating?

Camping with Nessee

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This weekend was the annual church campout down at Big Basin State Park, one of my favorite parks in the area. I've been to Big Basin several times (and the adjacent property, once owned by H-P, known as Little Basin many, many times), but never with the church. When the date of the campout was announced and we saw we had nothing else planned that weekend, we decided to go. And since the park is dog-friendly to a large extent, we thought we'd try to take Nessee with us. It was only for one night, so it seemed like a good idea.

We packed up the car with our usual camping supplies, and brought one of Nessee's beds to put in the middle seat for her to ride in, since it was going to be a good hour's drive. I also sat in the middle seat to keep her company. Unfortunately, 17 South was packed full of people heading to Santa Cruz for beach time, so we decided to take the Hwy 9 route, which means much more travel on winding roads. This turned out not to be our best choice since half-way to the campground, Nessee wound up getting carsick. I had some inclination it was coming, so was able to get a bag around her snout before she made a mess of her bed. But she was feeling *much* better after emptying her tummy.

Of course, with me paying so much attention to the dog, and not enough attention to the passing scenery, I found myself getting somewhat queasy and had to ask Michael to pull over at one point so I could get out and stretch my legs. That queasy feeling has yet to completely go away, even today.

We eventually did get to camp, hung out with the other church people and their friends and family. Nessee behaved herself fairly well, only getting barky when the teen that was with us was giving piggy-back rides to the smaller children. This apparently scared her, especially when said teen with said child came over and loomed above her. We eventually got the point across to the kids and things were better after that.

When it came time to go to bed, Nessee went willingly to the tent. We all got settled in, but she got up and started wandering the tent. She settled briefly at the top of the tent, laying across our pillows. It was at that point I noticed that she was shivering something fierce. So, I was only somewhat surprised that the next place she went was into my sleeping bag. She pushed herself into the bag and crawled towards my legs, managing to push the zipper down as she went. When she finally got to where she wanted to be, she was entirely inside the bag with just her nose and one ear sticking out. If I had access to a camera, I would have snapped a picture.

Unfortunately, while that bag fits me well enough, it doesn't fit me *and* the dog. And not wanting to cast the dog out into the cold, I wound up spending a good portion of the night cramped and unable to sleep. We did occasionally adjust positioning (sometimes she wanted to sleep on top of the bag, other times inside), but I never really had enough room in the sleeping bag for my legs to be in a comfortable position. I didn't really get any good sleep until Michael got up and took her out at around dawn.

It also didn't help that she had decided that the tent was our territory, and being the watchdog that she is, had to defend it any time she heard a noise. She didn't bark, but we did get frequent growling at people passing the tent headed to the restroom, or at another group camp across the way.

Because I was awake most of the night, I wound up sleeping in till 9AM, well after everyone else had had breakfast. I guess I was *that* tired. Most of the morning after I got up is a blur. All I remember is sitting in the camp chair nursing a cup of cocoa. Michael made some breakfast for me, and then got most of the "kitchen" part of our camp cleaned up. Eventually I had enough energy in me to help strike the tent and pack the car. By that point it was noon and everyone else had left.

We made it back down the mountain without any more carsickness, though it looked like we came close at one point. We also took a longer, but less twisty way home, so that probably helped.

It was fun, but before we do that again, we'll need to figure out how to better accommodate the dog. No food the morning of the drive, and maybe some dramamine if we can get Vet approval. Also, we need to find a better sleeping arrangement for Nessee. Something that will allow her to stay warm enough without keeping me awake all night.
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Here is a link to the sermon I gave today at UUFS. This is the "as prepared" version. I always extemporize a bit when giving a presentation...

https://www.dropbox.com/s/t208ag8ers7tx25/ReflectionsOfAnAtheist.pdf

As I said on the book of face, "Well, that went superbly. Everything just worked together far better than I had dared to hope. From comments afterwards, it seems many others thought so too. I'm blissing, and for once I feel I've earned it. — feeling wonderful."

Feeding the JOhn

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Since the topic has come up more than once recently, and since I can't find my old food guidelines that I wrote up for a friend many years ago, I thought I'd cobble together a list of my needs and preferences regarding food. That way I can bookmark it and give it to people when they ask.

There are three over-riding concerns when I'm looking at food. The first are food allergies, of which I have more than a few, with symptoms from simply annoying to potentially fatal. The second is that I have untreated gallstones, and need to be very careful about the kinds of fats I have in my diet. The third is that I have what I call "food neophobia". (There is such a thing, but they claim it rarely happens in adults, and only due to fears of contamination or chemicals. I disagree. I have had full-on panic attacks simply from the thought of going somewhere to eat where all of the food will be new to me.)

Secondary to all that is a list of foods I know I simply do not like, and would rather forgo eating if they are on my plate. We all have foods we strongly dislike, mine just happen to be things that most people either enjoy or have no problems eating.

What follows is rather disorganized right now. I'll clean it up over time.

One other thing I want to state clearly. If you want to judge me for my food preferences, please do so somewhere else. This is not the place to offer suggestions, tell me I should really change my diet, suggest surgery, or anything else. This is simply a record of what I will and won't for my own benefit and the benefit of anyone who wishes to make food or me or invite me to dinner.

On with the list.

Allergies:
- Spinach. This is the big one. I'm generally good at avoiding it, but it does make me eschew anything made with dark green leaves that I can't readily identify. Even just using it as a flavoring can cause me problems.
- Peanuts. It's a minor allergy, it only causes my depression to flare up, and only when I have sufficient quantity, but peanuts are found in all sorts of places. I'm always amazed to find peanuts on the list of ingredients.
- Alcohol. Seriously. Even if it's just used to "flavor" something. If there's any alcohol in something, the taste of it overpowers anything else in a dish (it tastes like burnt rubber smells), and I will feel sick after eating it. Note that it really does take quite a while for alcohol to boil out of food that it's added to, it doesn't happen in a few seconds.
- Shellfish. Never had it, never will, but boy does it show up in my skin tests.
- Lactose. Minor and sufficiently controlled with lactase supplements, but I tend to avoid it when I don't have my pills on me.

Foods that cause Gallstone Issues:
- Generally anything with greasy fats. This includes bacon, deep-fat fried things (oh, how I miss eating onion rings!), fatty meats, etc.
- Eggs. I can have them on occasion, but try to keep it at no more than once a week. Egg substitute is generally acceptable, but few places have that on the menu.
- Avocado
- Mayonnaise
- Sauces made with lots of butter and/or heavy cream
- I can generally have a limited amount of any of these in one meal as long as the several meals before and following them are free of all triggering foods. My system will grumble, but will quiet down again if it's not provoked. When I forget that rule (and I do sometimes forget, or rather let my desires rule my reason) I usually pay a bad price.

Neophobia:
- Well, this pretty much covers any food that I'm not already comfortable with. Some of it is logical: if I don't know what's in a particular dish, I don't know if I will have an allergic or gallstone reaction to it. But mostly it's unreasoned. I'll admit that. I honestly fear food that is unfamiliar to me. Plain old unreasoning fear. I can push myself past it on occasion, but really don't see the need to on most occasions. In most situations where this comes up, I'll either refrain from joining people, or will just get a water and then take care of my own food needs later. Some people have been offended by this, and some simply don't understand. Thankfully, those people I call my close friends have been willing to accept that aspect of me. (Perhaps that's one of the barometers I use to judge who I allow to be a close friend?)

Foods I Won't Eat:
- Most vegetables. With the few exceptions noted elsewhere, the smell or taste or texture of them make me gag. I will carefully eat around them if they show up on my plate. Broccoli, cauliflower, squash, beans (string or otherwise), okra, eggplant, bell peppers, etc., all of them are absolutely vile to my tastebuds.
- Most fruits. I like the occasional apple. Orange pulp gives me cramps (yeah, for reals), so while I like the taste of oranges, I tend to avoid it. I like pineapple. Sometimes I'll eat a few blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, but no strawberries or pretty much any other berry. Anything beyond these few items are off the list.
- Anything from the sea, lake, streams, or rivers. In other words, no seafood of any kind.
- Meats other chicken, turkey, pork, and beef. Some of it is my neophobia, some of it I've tried and not enjoyed. Why eat something you don't enjoy eating?
- Sauces are tricky for me. I can usually deal with a good wine

Foods I Will Eat:
- Many starches, including breads, pasta, rice (prefer white to brown), limited potato (though not yams or sweet potatoes).
- The vegetables I will eat are barely vegetables. Corn I like, as long as it is yellow corn, not white corn. Raw carrots. Tomatoes if they're fully cooked. Likewise onions as long as they're diced finely and fully cooked. I will eat some leafy greens but not frequently. There's no way I could do the whole "salad for lunch every day" thing that everyone seems to think is so hip and trendy.
- Fruits that I will eat are limited (as mentioned previously) to apples, some berries, pineapple, and that's about it.
- In the meat department, I prefer turkey and chicken above beef and pork. Also, only the lean white meat when it comes to poultry. I have to stay away from the fattier cuts of beef and pork (and as mentioned before, no bacon or other greasy fried meats). If there's good tri-tip on the menu, though, it jumps to the top of my list.

Here's an attempt at a table. Very much a work in progress. LJ and I are having a disagreement on how to display borders on the table, at least in my journal's style. *grumble*

Category Yes No Not Tried (and very reluctant to try)
Meats white meat chicken, white meat turkey, beef, pork, maybe bison dark meat chicken, dark meat turkey, lamb, many kinds of fish venison, ostrich, alligator, other exotic meats, shellfish
Vegetables All in limited quantity!: Yellow corn, raw carrots, cabbage, lettuce, black olives, mushrooms (for flavor, not texture), cooked diced onions, cooked tomatoes, endive, garlic (in moderation), scallions, radishes, pumpkin, some potato, jicama arugula, avocado, bell pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, cooked carrots, celery, eggplant, leek, most legumes, parsley, water chestnut artichoke, asparagus, breadfruit, broccoflower, brussels sprouts, calabrese, celeriac, chard, collard greens, daikon, frisee, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, okra, parsnip, rhubarb, rutabaga, squashes, sweet potato, raw tomato, taro, topinambur, turnip, watercress, yam
Fruits Apple, Blackberry, Blackcurrant, Blueberry, Boysenberry, Currant, Cherry (like the flavor, never tried the fruit), Fig (in cookies), Guava (juice only), Lemon, Lime, Orange, Pineapple, Raspberry, Raisins Apricot, Avocado, Banana, Cantaloupe, Coconut, Grape, Honeydew, Pear (pieces in light syrup are okay), Strawberry, Watermelon Date, Grapefruit, Kiwi fruit, Kumquat, Lychee, Mango, Melon, Nectarine, Clementine, Mandarine, Tangerine, Papaya, Peach, Persimmon, Plum/prune, Pomegranate, Pomelo, Quince
Seasonings basil, fennel, rosemary, sage, dill, oregano

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jkusters
John Kusters

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