Category Archives: life

Weird Science

Bottled Lightning recently graduated with her Masters in Statistics. With the requisite mariachi band recessional.

As I said at her celebratory dinner, I should’ve known way back when that she’d end up a statistician.

1. When she was 3 she had a “binky” collection which consisted of cicada skins. First, she had them in a jar. Then, she got a square piece of cardboard and glue-gunned the whole lot in equidistant rows. The affair ended in a horrible tragedy, when the dog we had at the time ate them.

2. We went on a long road trip when Bottled Lightning was 9 or so, during which she kept a running tab of roadkill we passed on the highway. Separated into species. Quantified. Then charted on the computer.

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I know.

Why am I telling you these semi-horrifying tales? Well, to make a point.

Kids do things that make no sense—at the time. Let ’em do stuff that’s weird. Or messy. You never know how it’s gonna pay off.

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not another writer’s new year resolutions post

Geez Louise, I despise New Year’s resolutions. I never keep them, and don’t even remember what I resolved past January 3rd. Usually, along about October I find the notebook I was supposed to write in every morning, stuffed under the car seat or kicked under the washing machine.

Then I despair.

no more writer resolutions

Not this year, bucko!

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I don’t want to generate failure anymore. No more promises to work on habits and goals that I don’t really want, no matter how many Good Writers recommend them. Instead, whatever interests me, I’m just gonna do it.

And when it doesn’t float my boat anymore, I will stop.

Maybe I’ll end up making the same changes in my life that a New Year’s Resolver does, but I won’t feel like I’m being punished, and I sure won’t feel guilty if my self-improvement ideas don’t work out.

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spying on us: how loud does the whistle have to blow?

I don’t give a rat’s ass damn why Edward Snowden blew the whistle–whether he’s a spy, a patriot or a nut.

What I do care about: I have been classified a criminal.

And so have you.

Our government feels it is equally important to collect information on you, me and Al Qaida.

On September 12th, 2001, Americans agreed with an array of security measures in order to feel safe again. So now the government bugs reporters’ phones. I don’t remember agreeing to intimidation of a free press.

Parents of a deceased Navy Seal who have questioned the circumstances of his death, have reason to believe their phone has been surveilled. I didn’t agree to harass grieving parents.

All of the major companies in social media (except Twitter) hand tons of data over to the government. No reason. No warrant. Just because we are all guilty, until proven otherwise.

Think of it. Who you called, when, and for how long. Maybe even what you said. Your photos, your documents, your messages, purchases, bank and credit card transactions, your geographic location. What you surfed on the web.  Information all gathered without rationale, without showing a judge probable cause, without a warrant.

I am damn sure I never agreed to that.

Anybody remember what happened after 9-11 when the FBI tried to demand lists of books that patrons checked out of libraries? The librarians told them to take a flying leap, that’s what happened. ALA’s standards are to protect their customers’ privacy.

Listening, Google?

There have been previous NSA whistle blowers, who contended that U.S authorities were violating Fourth Amendment rights. Nobody cared.

Well, care now.

The IRS goes beyond the scope of its warrant to gather files concerning the financial dealings of an employee of a health institute, and seizes the health records of ten million innocent people, even though workers inform them they are violating HIPPA laws and their own warrant. (Yes, that is a horrible run-on sentence. I am blind passion.) Oh, well. At least the IRS has canceled its spyware purchases. Probably because they got caught.

A 95-year-old lady with leukemia, in a wheelchair, is forced to remove her adult diaper by TSA.

Have a fender bender in New Jersey, and soon the cop might be able to confiscate your cell phone. Ostensibly to see if it contributed to the accident, but what if you’re videoing your interaction for some reason and the cop doesn’t like it? (Which you can do.)

All those laws that chip away at your freedom sound like a great idea at the time, but guess what. If they can be misused, they eventually will be. Because when citizens allow their government to treat all of them like criminals–without reason, without provocation–it isn’t long before disagreeing with the government becomes a crime.

Tell the truth. Since you’ve found out that Google, Yahoo and Facebook turn over aggregated data to the NSA, have you thought twice about retweeting something? Posting something on Facebook?

Writing about certain topics on your blog?

If we really want to be safe, we can allow Homeland Security into all our homes, let them inventory all our stuff and microchip us. After all, that’s what we’re currently allowing, virtually.

I don’t want to be that safe. I want my business to be my own–not because I have anything to hide, but because dammit, it’s none of anyone else’s effin’ concern.

I am a lawful citizen.

I demand privacy from my government.

My life belongs to me.

The IRS, currently in the midst of scandals involving the targeting of conservative groups and lavish taxpayer-funded conferences, is ordering surveillance equipment that includes hidden cameras in coffee trays, plants and clock radios. – See more at: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/irs-buying-spying-equipment-covert-cameras-coffee-trays-plants#sthash.I5PdOztK.dpuf
IRS Buying Spying Equipment: Covert Cameras in Coffee Trays, Plants – See more at: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/irs-buying-spying-equipment-covert-cameras-coffee-trays-plants#sthash.I5PdOztK.dpuf
IRS Buying Spying Equipment: Covert Cameras in Coffee Trays, Plants – See more at: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/irs-buying-spying-equipment-covert-cameras-coffee-trays-plants#sthash.I5PdOztK.dpuf
IRS Buying Spying Equipment: Covert Cameras in Coffee Trays, Plants – See more at: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/irs-buying-spying-equipment-covert-cameras-coffee-trays-plants#sthash.I5PdOztK.dpuf
IRS Buying Spying Equipment: Covert Cameras in Coffee Trays, Plants – See more at: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/irs-buying-spying-equipment-covert-cameras-coffee-trays-plants#sthash.I5PdOztK.dpuf

 

horror in real life is why we write horror in fiction

After a week of non-stop horrible, real-life punches in the gut from Boston and West, Texas, I’ve lost enthusiasm for revising my current manuscript.

I write YA—edgy YA—with foul language, violence, terror and gruesome details, when necessary.

But witnessing real suffering all week has exhausted my capacity for such things. Telling stories seems silly. Useless.

Disrespectful.

But that’s wrong.

In a horrible coincidence, the week before the Boston Marathon Bombing, my daughter saw a woman suffer a “traumatic amputation”. My daughter wouldn’t talk about it, all she did was tell me it happened.

Then the Boston catastrophe occurred. And stories were told through text, video and still picture.

My daughter called. She asked if I had seen the picture of the man in the wheelchair who had lost both his legs. She recounted the story of how the man in the cowboy hat grabbed him up, saved him.

Then she finally let the nightmare out of her head and told me about the day she watched a woman become an amputee.

We need stories.

So tomorrow I will start back again. I will get it all as right as I can.

I write so those who’ve never experienced terrible things can understand those who have.

I write so those who have experienced terrible things can find a way in to talk about it.

marriage for everybody!

GAY MARRIAGE!!!

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Should not even be an issue.

Government needs to get out of the marriage business all together.

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Marriage, after all, is a religious institution. Let the churches handle marriage, let the government handle Civil Partnerships.

See, everybody should have a partner in life, someone who’s got your back. And that person should be designated your “next-of-kin” for legal purposes–insurance, benefits, debts and assets. Health directives.

A Civil Partnership could be two seventy-year-old widowed friends with no family, no interest in remarrying, living a Golden Girls life.

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Maybe two people do not want to marry but are committed to raising children together–for whatever reason. A partnership might be two siblings who must live together and raise six orphaned nephews. Why shouldn’t those siblings have the tax advantages and insurance rates a married couple has? They certainly have the expenses that the married benefits were designed to mitigate.

Conan-Finger-Wave-late-night-with-conan-obrien-9887638-328-284

Yeah. No one’s brought that up. Because they are nimrods.

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Because they are too busy DRAWING PICTURES IN THEIR HEADS OF WHAT PEOPLE ARE DOING IN THE BEDROOM.

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Yes, in my perfect world, just as religiously married people currently are also civilly married, a religiously married person would also have a legal Civil Partnership. But you would not HAVE to be married, to enter into a Civil Partnership.

It’s none of my effin’ business, what floats somebody’s boat. And it’s just plain rude to speculate on such matters.

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So quit waggin’ your collective finger. Quit judging each other. Allow everyone to decide what is best for them, guided by religious, philosophic, and scientific institutions.

The only thing left for the government to decide, is what is equitable.

adam lanza

Please.

Quit saying Adam Lanza had Asperger’s. That was not his problem.

There was a child in my kids’ elementary school who reminds me of Adam Lanza. Weird. Occasional outbursts, when not totally absorbed inside himself. Wore strange outfits. Once, his family was in a procession at church and he didn’t like the way his little brother did something–and he slapped the holy hell out of him all the way down the center aisle, to the horror of the congregation. Other kids did not care to be around him, to say the least. Mom was infinitely patient. (He was just incredibly sensitive, you know.) Until he got big enough to really hurt people, and she started taking him to doctors to find out what was wrong. Surely it was an allergy to wheat or something. Finally, a doctor pinned “Asperger’s” on him. No one had heard of this, and there was an assembly to explain to the children that now they should understand his bizarre behavior and tolerate it.

Bull-effin’-shit.

Because now,15 years later, I have known several people actually and professionally diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. And they aint’ anything like this kid, or Adam Lanza. People with Asperger’s Syndrome are awkward, a little confusing or uncomfortable to talk to in certain situations, perhaps, but they have intelligence and creativity and talents and feelings and empathy, in their own way, (they must be taught social cues, where it comes naturally for non-aspies, I think,) and are REGULAR ACTUAL PEOPLE WITH INDIVIDUAL PERSONALITIES.

Not sociopathic mass-murderers. This is something completely different.

Reports are that the mother stayed home to care for Lanza, home schooling him the last few years of high school because he couldn’t get along.

Oh, and she was a gun enthusiast who owned a cache of firearms she kept in the home. Taught the kid how to handle a weapon.

WHAT?

That’s right. Lanza couldn’t buy the damn things on his own. But his mom not only gave him access to weapons, she taught him how to use them.

I. Am. Without. Speech.

When you are a parent you have to give up a lot of things. The parent of a special needs kid gives up a lot more. And I can’t even imagine what the parent of an unpredictable, mentally ill kid has to give up, but it must be done. It is the responsible path.

You have a mentally ill kid, you don’t keep semi-automatic weapons in the house. I don’t care if you love guns with a passion that knows no bounds, you don’t get to indulge that hobby anymore.

Take up knitting.

beginnings, planned and otherwise

New beginnings.

Sometimes they are planned, a satisfying denouement to a well-lived story.

But other times a new beginning is thrust upon us out of nowhere.

If you’re blindsided, the first reaction is…

…that deer-in-the-headlights feeling–caught. Frozen. Blank.

This is when you must make The Decision:

Choose to turn your face toward the past, long for lost friends, lost loves and lost opportunities.

Or.

Fix your gaze on the future. Create a new adventure with joy and enthusiasm.

I choose Joy.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/chris_gin/3063246217/”>Chris Gin</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

being online safely

I can’t go through the rest of the day without having my brief say. Just to get it off my chest.

Adorable agent, @BookaliciousPam was assaulted last night by a rejected…writer.

You heard me right.

Pam was saved by her dog, a Jack Russel terrier. (Let’s not malign the accompanying bulldog. From what I can gather, it is still a puppy.)

And now comes the hand-wringing about being too available on Social Media. Like we should all hide behind fake names and put masks on our profile pictures a la Michael Jackson.

Let’s reel it in a bit.

Writers, agents, publishers…we are in a public business. And in this day of personal advertising, almost every profession is a public business. We have to accept a certain amount of “being out there”.

Heck. I started out as a lurker. But soon enough, I wanted to connect with people. I wanted them to know who I really am. Fine, I usually have a stupid non-photo Twitter Avatar up that I change pretty often. It amuses me. But if you go to one of my THREE BLOGS you will find a photo or two of my actual person. And my Tumblrs should have Gravatars of actual me, but at this point, I can’t swear to it.

You know where I generally live if you follow my blog and Twitter. But what you DON’T know is my exact address and phone number, because…

  • I don’t call my husband by his real name in my writings. Anywhere. Or my children. I don’t publish pictures of them unless their faces are blobbed out.
  • I have paid the extra bit of filthy lucre for my domain name on my website for teens, lishacauthen.com, to be registered by proxy, which means my personal info such as my street address is not public information. Yes. I didn’t know about this stuff when I first bought my domain. Imagine my shock when I found out that people can look up any domain name and see who owns it. Yeah, fine. But they also see where the domain owner  lives. ACK.  **Check your public domain name info here.** Just have your company register it by proxy–GoDaddy does it on the cheap. Other companies can do it for you as well.
  • FourSquare. Oh, FourSquare. You give handy discounts, but you also tell people where the eff I am. Guess what. YOU CAN TURN OFF THE PART WHERE IT TWEETS WHERE YOU ARE. I still don’t use it, but Freckles does, and I TOLD HER TO TURN OFF THE PART WHERE IT TWEETS WHERE YOU ARE.
  • Facebook I only use for people I actually know. And I have locked it down like Alcatraz. Keep checking it, my friend, to make sure you have your Book of Face tuned correctly on the privacy settings. They keep a’changing. I am always stunned by how people lock a select few things, but miss others. A good snooper, such as myself, can go in the back door and find out a lot of stuff if you don’t check. Every. Setting.
  • And by all that is holy, if you leave an empty house, don’t Tweet vacation pictures. I Tweeted the hell out of my trip to Albuquerque when I took Freckles McYoungest to college. But Big Bopper was home, in our house, with Hairy Beast. Also, Catler, who is probably even more ferocious.

Do not take any of this as a finger-wagging at Pam van Hylckama Vlieg. If someone is crazed, they will hunt you down and it will make no difference what you do to stop them. There are police blotters full of violent stalkers who focused on people NOT on the internet, even people who never had any social interaction with their stalkers at all.

Pam did not bring this on herself. Pam is not responsible for the violence done to her.

This blog is in response to the worry I see on Twitter today about exposing ourselves in our social media interactions. I thought I would share a few things I do to not make it easy for your average nut to harass me and mine.

check your cell phone bills

I know this isn’t about writing or reading or even about Hairy Beast:

(Anything is cute with wacky music.)

But we found something on our phone bill today that makes me want to rent one of those trucks with the speakers and drive down the street ranting like a crazy person.

There’s this thing called “Premium Messaging“. Third parties can bill your phone without your knowledge. This can come from those spam texters, some Facebook contest/survey thingie or a website from your laptop.

My daughter and I watched a video online, on our laptops, that we were led to believe was free. LO AND BEHOLD we were charged $10.00 on our phone bill for it! Scary part? I didn’t give them my phone number.

How did they do that?

ANYWAY.

We called Verizon and they graciously took the charges off. GO VERIZON!

You can have PREMIUM MESSAGING capability turned off on your phone, so no third-party charges can ever be put on your phone bill. That, we have done. Because it’s really easy to miss those extra charges in a long and complicated bill with multiple phones.

You may want to do that yourself.

look into the amazon of your soul

Imma gonna say it.

The Amazon iPhone app.

Not only can you use this app to go to your indie store, try out an item, and THEN see how cheap you can get it on Amazon, YOU CAN REPORT BACK TO AMAZON HOW CHEAP YOU CAN GET IT IN AN INDIE STORE, SO AMAZON CAN LOWER THEIR PRICES.

Wow.

Amazon has made the entire smart-phone-owning public their minions.

AND THERE ARE SUCKERS GOING ALONG WITH THIS.

But here’s the part that’s going to make a whole lot of you angry with me:

Many of you asked for it.

How many times have you gone to a store and checked something out, then gone home and bought it on Amazon for a much lower price?

Where do you think Amazon got the idea for this app, anyway?

Hmmmm?

Amazon just made it so you didn’t have to write the store price down on a piece of paper.

And while providing that service, they tossed in an extra step of allowing you to actually, you know, directly throw every last indie shop out of business.

Hey. I like a bargain just like the next gal. But I buy my books locally, unless I can’t find them here. (Yes, I can hanker after the odd book or two.) I buy used books when I’ve already bought a new copy of the title, or if it’s out of print.

I use Amazon for things I can’t find around here, usually at Christmas. In fact, I ordered something yesterday.

Amazon is not the devil. Don’t let it make you one.

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