Monday, March 31, 2008

Men and the "Nothing Box"

The most boring date of my life was when my date took me to an arcade and I spent two excruciating hours watching him play video games. I definitely gave him the "let's be friends" speech after that, and frankly, I didn't even care that much.

So how is it I married an on-line gamer?

Rob's latest thrill of choice is Lord of the Rings Online. He loves the graphics and the story line, the endless hours of bashing spiders while yelling, "Baruk! Hadda! Idaryu!" Or rather, watching his dwarf bard bash things.

Recently, his high-powered gaming computer went on the fritz, so he's having to make do with his laptop. Since it's just not up to standard, she spends a lot of time crafting instead of fighting.

Yes, crafting. Rob pushes buttons; he watches as his dwarf runs for 10 minutes across the countryside (unless he gets it a horse, then he watches the backside of a pony for 10 minutes as it carried his dwarf across the countryside.) The dwarf gets to town, where it picks up it's mail--stuff his buddies send him to craft with. Then he pushes more buttons and his dwarf runs to a temple or craft house or something--they look alike to me. then he pushes more buttons and sits, mesmerized, while his dwarf swings a hammer for no apparent reason since he's working with gemstones. this continues until the computer has decided he's had enough and declares he's "made" something.

I don't get it.

The other day, however, my friend Ann found a video that explained it all: Men and the "Nothing Box."

One of the things I love most about Rob is his incredible mind. Whether at work or writing, teasing the kids or coming up with a killer pun, he's got this incredible knack for managing details and making them fit in the big picture. If the "nothing box" is the price to pay, then I guess I can live with that.

Just don't take me to the arcade.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Past Predictions for the Future

I've got the flu, the worst case I can remember. I've been mostly off-line, barely keeping up with my groups and such and putting off anything that requires a decision or real thought. I'm just not up to it. On the bright side, I can only sleep so much, so I've been taking the opportunity to rip apart an old manuscript and give it some much-needed editing. This poor thing has been through three major re-writes. At some point, it will be sterling. Maybe then, my agent in shining armor will come.

In the meantime, however, I was contemplating how you'd have thought be now we could cure the common cold, or (for my sake) the flu. Yeah, there are vaccines, but each year, we need to make a new batch based on predictions of how the virus is changing. See article. The problem is that nature adapts, sometimes faster than technology can or humans will.

Plus, there are times when we simply predict wrong. Was it this year or last that the CDC predicted the wrong strains of flu?

Of course, flu bugs aren't the only thing we aren't always good at predicting. Take a look at these 1900 predictions for the 21st century. I've been reading some of Rob's old SF books and while they take moon bases and hovercars for granted, they seemed to have missed cell phones and computer animation. In fact, we're better at prediction bugs than we are ourselves.

Wish I could have predicted this flu hitting me this hard. Not sure what else I'd have done, but lacking a high-tech solution, I think I'll have a nice low-tech orange.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Twins Save Moms Life While In Womb

I've finally succumbed to the flu that's been plaguing the family, so you're spared a diatribe from me. However, Rob came across this article that I wanted to share. I know it was a one-in-a-million chance, yet, I find it a beautiful ending for a woman who was willing to put the lives of her unborn children over her own.

Twins Save Mom's Life, Kick Loose Deadly Tumor From Mom's Cervix While Still in Womb

Hope everyone had a blessed Easter!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spoiled Kids

As a mom of a teenagers, one of my biggest challenges is to convince the kids that they have no real reason to be dissatisfied with their lot. Every time one of them starts with the "I'm depressed" or "Life stinks," I'm right there to disagree. Whether the serious lecture, the sarcastic speech or the rhetorical questions, the points don't change:

1. You have parents in a happy, loving, committed relationship.
2. They love you and do their best for you, listen to you and play with your more than their parents did. (Sorry Mom and Dad, but it's true.)
3. You have siblings who, even with the standard arguments get along with you better than a lot of siblings we know.
4. You have a roof over your head, so much food you can afford to not clean your plate, desert and junk food far too often.
5. You have a good school with teachers that care and kids that, even when snobby, are kinder than many we grew up around.
6. You have computer games, MP3 players, TV and all forms of entertainment in addition to a plethora of other board games, crafts, science kits....
7. Your dad's in a stable job that brings in a good paycheck and gets him home to us, even if not always at a reasonable hour.

It seems to me that the more people have, the easier it is to feel dissatisfied. Now, I've read I'm not the only one to see that. A Generation Tries to Imagine Life Without iPods.

I love the last line in the article:
After my lecture, one young woman walked up to me on her way out and huffed: "What I favor is a radical redistribution of wealth in America." I tried to tell her that America's greatness is a result of our focus on creating wealth, not redistributing it. But it was too late -- she was already tuning in to her iPod.

If it had been me, I would have told her, "OK. empty your wallet and give me your cellphone and iPod so I can hock them and get the money to people in real need." I'll even go one further and find someone who actually believes, despite their impoverished situation, that they are blessed to be alive in this century and this country.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Some fun looks at religion

Been having some interesting conversations about religion lately--from a deep discussion on the Catholic perspective of Heaven and Hell and who goes where (Short answer: Not up to us to say. We're here to put out the rules.) to a rather silly but heated discussion on whether extra-terrestrials can become nuns.

I'll talk more about the nuns issue later. Today, I'm up to my ears in work for the upcoming Catholic Writers Conference Online! (Sign up now! It'll be great!) So I'd like to leave you with two funnies based on the Bible:

The Gnostic writings of the Gospel for Cat Owners:

The Bible in Klingonese Project:

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

LOTR Comic parody

A few posts ago, I blogged about how my family is enjoying read-aloud theater with a Star Wars parody being done as an internet comic. Thought folks might like to know that the same person has done a similar one with Lord of the Rings. I'd call this one PG-13, because there's a lot of talk of brothels, but you're sure to laugh as the gamers run rings around Tolkien's masterpiece.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Catholic Writers Conference Online Update

The Catholic Writers Conference Online will be held May 2-9, 2008 at It's totally free and totally on-line--bring your own conference food!

So far, we have nearly two dozen presentations in chat or forum format. Workshops, lectures and even pitch sessions cover all topics of interest to Catholic writers from query letters to the publishing process, practical tips and theological implications of writing as a Catholic. Here's the line-up so far:

Bert Ghezzi Ins and Outs of Publishing
Carolyn Howard-Johnson 10 ways to let agents know you're an amateur
Carolyn Howard-Johnson Marketing Basics (with Karina Fabian)
Colleen Drippe Driving Writers Crazy--The Editor
Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle Keyword-Balance: writing and household
Heidi Hess Saxton The Good Writer
Hope Clark Shy Writer
Hope Clark Funds for Writers
Karina Fabian Worldbuilding
Karina Fabian Virtual Book Tours
Lea Schizas Writing the Short Story
Mark Shea How Faith Connects to Everything
Maya Bohnhoff Show Me, Don't Tell Me--characters and dialog
Maya Bohnhoff Plotting Through Writer's Gap
Melenie Rigney Ethics of Memoir Writing
Melenie Rigney Book Modeling
Meredith Gould Self-Publishing as a First Resort
Patrice MacArthur Art of Blogging
Patricia Punt Writing for the Inspirational Market
Sylvia Dohram Character Development and Dialogue
Terry Burns Pitching and Working With Agents
Tim Drake So You Want to Write a Book?
Tim Powers SFF and Catholicism
Vinita Wright Making Friends With the Creative/Spiritual Process

We have other presenters as well as publishers and editors who will hear your pitches.

What we need now are attendees. If you're a Catholic writer, this is the conference to attend--and you don't even have to leave home! Go to and sign up today!

Monday, March 03, 2008

ISIG II and Tech Toys

First, I'd like to let all the SF writers out there know that we've extended the submissions period for Infinite Space, Infinite God II to June 30. You can read the full guidelines at In short, however:
Make it Science Fiction
Make it Catholic
Make it Good!
'Nuff said!

Not all sci-fi is tech toys and not all tech toys are science fiction. In fact, there are several sci-fi concepts that we could do today...if we wanted to fork out the dough. Check out this article in Wired Magazine. Of course, we're a little disappointed that the article failed to address that Bigelow Aerospace is already working on an orbital hotel.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Darths, Droids, and Readers' Theater

When I was growing up, I had a couple of Star Wars posters in my room. I'd doctored them up with jokes and the characters saying silly things. Whenever I felt sad, I would look at those posters and laugh. They stayed up for years until we moved.

In January, a friend introduced me to a kindred spirit: the writer of Darths and Droids. Here's someone with too much humor to keep to himself and probably too much time on his hands, but I'm glad he's spending it on this and sharing it with the world.

As I was howling at some of the one-liners, I realized the rest of my family would love it. We'd recently set up our new TV to take input from the internet--Rob's Christmas present--so one evening, we pulled it up on the big screen. Everyone took a part and we had a reader's theater.

We laughed for about 2 hours--56 pages worth. Liam, our youngest and until this year a VERY reluctant reader, took some of the harder parts. We had to help him with some of the words, but he loved it and was mad when we came to the end. We'd have to caution our oldest from scanning instead of reading the words, but some of his snafus were as funny as the cartoon.

We've been holding off until we had a chunk of entries to read. Tonight's the night. I can hardly wait.