Thursday, December 31, 2009

What a year!

What a YEAR 2009 was!  I'm not talking about politics or economics, this is my blog so I'm going to be a little more self-centered because, well, I can. 

In 2009 I learned the ways of facebook and have now joined mafia's while weeding gardens and fighting dragons.  I've learned to tweet, re-tweet, hash-tag, follow and unfollow

I've learned to let my friends know where I'm at by either gowallaing or being all squared with four-square

I've waved, been waved and still have no clue what I'm actually to do with wave

I'm still trying to get the GIST of gist

I decided to take a digital photography class at Clark College and wound up enlisting in Novel Writing Boot Camp that rekindled my love of writing and meeting some pretty damn fine people in the process namely the best teacher in the world Carolyn J Rose who helped me find the best critique group in the world!

Yes I'm talking about YOU Melanie - makes me laugh out loud with every blog entry and has a great story to tell the world, and YOU Carol - the first the only classic one who has helped me get in touch with techie things I never would have and has let me glimpse into the life of Carrie-Ann and Lee, And YOU Pam - who is so kind to let us crash at your place every Thursday and gives such great feedback  YOU Peggy - the fencer with a Y/A story that is out of this world.  And Lisa and Ginger, I met you two only once at the Christmas Dinner but it felt like I'd known you guys for years.

Through these wonderful ladies I've enriched my world with friends of the cyber-kind.  Karen and Harley your adventures always make me laugh, Jenku the twitter conversations and the wave waves have been very enjoyable, Appleberrymount - the nicest lady I've never met!  @BCMystery - it's no mystery that you're a fun guy to chat with sitting on top of a wave or twittering.

And of course MyNorthwestExperience - a co-worker you might be but a comrade in the gullet who opened my eyes to the cart scene in Portland and who's blog I love to read and wait with baited breath for a new installment.

To all my friends be you new, old, or cyber.  Have a great and safe New Year and see you all in 2010!!!

Sharon (and Bear and Boo - I couldn't leave them out!)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Gamer's Guilt

Hi.  My name is Sharon and I'm a gamer.  "Hello Sharon."  I've been gaming most of my life.  I remember vividly in 7th grade math class Gordon Culp brought in these small booklets that had the title Dungeons and Dragon's printed on the front.  Those slim volumes were the original D&D set where halflings were hobbits and there was no such thing as THAC0 (to hit armor class 0).  We didn't get to play then, and long I pined for the chance.  It wasn't until college, actually, that I finally got my chance to play D&D and by then the slim tomes had turned into larger books.  My theatre buds and I would play, staying up late into the night and early into the morning.  We'd lead our band of intrepid heroes into whatever dungeon the Dungeon Master had planned for us.  It was all in our heads, and mabye a little bit on graph paper so we knew where we were standing before we attacked the great grendlackian gundlesnark. 

When I moved to New Jersery I found others that played.  By this time there was not just D&D there were many other Role Playing Gamers (RPGs).  We indulged in playing different ones, Champions - where you were a comic book hero.  Traveler - set in a science fiction universe.

While living in New Jersey I met the future - it was a D&D game that you played on AOL.  Your party was other people who were on AOL.  You didn't have to be in the room with them!  And no more graph paper with x's showing who's who.  You could actually see each other's character and interact with the monsters (although squatty pixelized sprits that they were)

It was then that any first person based supposed RPG paled in comparison to this real life interaction...ok cyber life interaction.  But sadly, AOL didn't keep the D&D game for very long and I fell into a gameless void.  I did play first person RPG's and they were ok.  Wing Commander was my favorite of those, but I never looked up on it as an RPG .. not really.  A true RPG you felt like your actions caused events.  I never really felt that with even Wing Commander.  I mean after all you're given 4 options to reply back to someone and it's pretty clear which reply you want to use.

Time passed and I moved to the Pacific Northwest.  A friend back in NJ told me about a text based roll playing game based on a TV show I liked ..Xena.  It was acutally based on Xena and Hercules and was set in ancient greece - the Golden Age as the shows called it.. when centaurs and humans roamed the land and the gods came down and played. 

I liked the game.  I had a character named Chikara who came from Southern Greece - so of course she talked with a drawl.  I made many good friends. And in fact, after a while, I became a Game Master for the game.  Game Masters are the people that keep on-line games runing.  Mine was a voluntary role, but in it I was able to be creative and write.  I hadn't written in years - a prolonged case of writer's block - so it was nice to write little snippets.  You see in a text based game you don't see anything, you have text on the screen describing what you see.   So you might come into an area and see a small park off to your left with a fountain gurgling.  Tall trees create a nice shaded area in the park...etc.  Then there are mechanisims to allow you to "interact" with say the fountain by typing "Look at fountain" then again you'd be told "The fountain is quite beautiful.  It appears to be made out of a single block of marble.  A carved pan rests ontop of carved stones, water trickles out of his flute.."you get the idea.

But sadly, even though it was a fun job, it was a job that didn't pay.  And I finally had to part ways with it.

Again I was without a game, until World of Warcraft came on the scene 5 years ago.  I'd found that friends at work played it and had a guild and so on.  I joined and played.  This was not really a true RPG since no one REALLY roll played, but the graphics were nice and teh story was good and I was playing with a great bunch of people.

When I took Novel Writing Boot Camp I stopped playing.  I canceled all my subscriptions and I concentrated on writing.  It was odd that since I'd spent so much time playing games that had fantasy or sci-fi components that I would choose to write historical fiction.  But heh, I was actually writing again after about 20 years of not.

So why the guilt?  I missed WoW.  I missed the people.  So the other day I loaded it up on my Mac.  Then I found the RPG game that actually, for the first time, made me feel like I was taking part in a fantasy novel.  It's called Dragon's Age:Origins.  I'm stunned at the detail, the characters, everything about it.  Instead of writing about the civil war I've been fighting dark spawn and trying to stay alive after I was torn from everything I've known and cared for. 

I think I also needed a break from research and writing for a day or three.  Now I'm ready to get back to things and not feel guilty about the occasional trip to Azeroth (world of warcraft) or Fareldin (Dragon's Age).

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I was going to try to write something witty and funy for the season.  But, I figured I'd let da boyz say it

Merry Christmas if you Christmas, Happy Chanukah if you Chanukah, Happy Kwanza if you Kwanza and Happy Solstice if you Solstice

(And thanks Kevin for giving da boyz their hats!)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Trying to understand social media

Ok I understand Face Book, well sort of.  I mean I know it's where I can hook up with friends and get spammed endlessly for help whacking someone in mafia wars or fertilizing a friends farm in farmville.  Yes I've played those games and many more.  But Twitter....twitter is another animal.  Ok no games, that's a plus, and I'm limited to 140 characters - microblogging I get, it's hard but I get it.  I understand retweeting and I'm just starting to understand the # labels on things.  I even understand follow Friday.  Lists - I understand the concept. 
But what I don't understand is why why why I'm being followed?  I currently have 75 followers and they range from people I know like @scupperlout (Melanie) @thefirstcarol (Carol) @theclassiccarol (Carol's sistah) and so on.  There are people that follow me because of the whole writer thing or the foodie thing and then there are the ones I have no clue about.  Portland Roofing is following me.  I don't think I ever mentioned in a tweet I needed a new roof. It's nice to know that if I do I have a follower that is into that sort of thing, but... it's kind of creepy in a way.  I'm piling up followers (and yes I do cull the crew from time to time).  Do people follow to see how many folks they can follow?  Do they have software that will automatically follow anyone in a 25 mile radius?  Do I care?  Should I care?  I mean I follow people I don't know, but I don't do it randomly there's usually a reason I decide to follow.
I followed Mayor Sam Adams and was then stunned when he turned around and followed me.  Poor guys twitter feed is filled with my banal tweets about using Parmesan rinds in soups to add flavor or my retweeting tweets.  I don't even LIVE in Portland!  I guess, in a way, twitter is kind of like writing.  You write a book, or I suppose a blog, and put it out there and then perfect strangers will read it.  But still....a roofing company?

Sunday, December 6, 2009


It began with a fight.  Boo lunged at Bear and the comically horrible sound of two 20 pound dogs in full fight mode filled the house.  I say comically horrible because well they're little and horrible is the sound they make in sends shivers up and down my spine.  This is not a regular occurance, but still it happens with no clue what sets them off.  However this time was different.  When we pulled them apart there was blood.  Blood was dripping down from Bear's right eye.  Boo had taken a divet out of the lower lid.  The vet was closed and so we rushed him to the ER vet.  Thankfully no damage to they eye itself, just the lid.  He'd have a scar to match the other one he got from Boo when a stupid vet technican put the two of them together in a cage when they were puppies.  Bear had to wear the cone of shame for 2 weeks and take antibiotics.  I was out a couple hundred dollars.  But he was safe and sound...this time.

So the agonizing decisions began.  What to do with Boo.  Bear wasn't the instigator, Boo was.  We couldn't have this anymore.  For 3 years since I moved back in with my parents the boys have barked at anyone that came in the door.  Lhasas were bred to be guard dogs in palaces and lamasaries in Tibet, but I'm sure the royals and the monks had visitors.

We were down to our last chance...Boo was down to his last chance..if we didn't find something he'd have to go to a new home and it was tearing my heart up to think of it.  A friend at work had told me of a company called Bark Busters.  They come to the home, work with your dogs, and they will do it for the life of the dog.  It wasn't cheap, but I wanted to give Boo this shot.

I contacted Bark busters and got an e-mail from Jenny - the behaviorist for the Vancouver area.  She said she thought she knew what the problem was and could I call her.  No obligation.  I did.  She began to ask questions no trainer (and I'd been to several) had ever asked.  I started to think that maybe, just maybe she could help.

She came over yesterday.  The doorbell rang.  The dogs went ballistic.  While holding on to Boo Mom was able to open the door and let Jenny in.  I held on to Bear.  She watched as two grown women tried to get control over two 20 pound fur balls.  Then she placed her metal brief case on the floor, took her keys from her pocket and dropped them onto the briefcase exclaiming "BAH!"  The boys shut up.  Bear jumped behind me, Boo wasn't going to take this lying down so he barked again.  Again the keys, again the bang, again the BAH.  He was done.  "Good dog." she said sweetly.  And so began our day.

The problem was we didn't speak dog. She explained to us.  And we needed to learn it.  Boo thought he had to be head of the pack.  Everything he was doing was because he thought he had to do it.  The  nips and the fights with Bear, he was thinking Bear was out of line.  Not following the pack.  Once we showed Boo that WE were in fact Pack leaders he seemed to change before our eyes.  Jenny went outside for about 10 minutes and then rang the doorbell.  No bark!  Nothing!  In fact the mean little furballs were letting her pet them and give them treats!  We went for a walk.  A man on his roof (don't ask) shouted down Hi.  Old Boo would have lunged and barked.  New Boo...not a pip.

I had seen dog training shows before - Me or the Dog, The dog whisperer (which I loath) and I always scoffed at how the dogs reacted with the hosts.  It couldn't be that fast, it couldn't be that easy.  That fast, yes.  That  We're going to need to work with Boo and Bear daily to instill into them that we are the pack leaders.  We can't let up.  But today we have two different dogs.  We rang the door bell.  Boo started to Bark - Mom Bah'd.  Boo stopped and went back into the family room and sat down.  I rang the doorbell again.  A little bark, BAH. bark.

We have two very sweet and lovable puppies and it looks like we're going to be able to keep both our sweet and lovable puppies.  Jenny will be coming back out in a few weeks to check on things.  If we ever have an issue we call her and she'll be right there. 

The training lasted well into the time for the Vancouver Writer's Mixer though so I was forced to miss it and the, no doubt, wonderful talk by Carolyn Rose  my beloved writing teacher.  But I think she'd understand.  I missed her talk, but I saved Boo from having to go to a new family...well Jenny did... but I'll keep at it so that Boo can heave a sigh of relief and let the burden of leading the pack fall to the furless two leggers now.

Friday, December 4, 2009


In the cube rat hierarchy window seats (if you’re in a building that has windows) is a status symbol. It shows you’ve been with said company long enough to have enough seniority that you are deemed worthy enough to be given a desk by the window. In my case, after 15 years, I have a window seat on the 4th floor of our building that has a fantastic view of the Willamette River and, on good days, a view of Mount Hood.

As I’m an early bird (in usually by 5:30 AM) I also get the added pleasure of seeing the sunrise. And since I’m an early bird I hardly EVER see the sunset. Yes I go to bed earlier then a 4 year old.

But there are some drawbacks with a window seat that I didn’t think of. One, temperature. I’m near a window. The window faces East. It is winter, winter is cold. Winter Cold + East Facing window = cold cube. Very cold cube. So cold I’m currently typing with Bob Crachet gloves (fingerless). My toes feel like I’ve been walking up hill both ways in a driving snow storm – barefoot. Now normally I’m a polar bear. I sleep with the AC on in the winter! While people scurry about me bundled up like mini Michelin men I’m walking around in a sweater vest and shirt sleeves. But for some reason, here at my desk with a view I’ve turned into a shivering whimpering cold ninny! What’s up with that!

I refuse to give up my view and my hard earned desk. Maybe I can fine a lump of coal and put it in my heater to warm my hands over. Or maybe I’ll break down and bring in a blanket…hmm I wonder how wearing a snuggie would work.