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a few hardcovers and pbs available from Closed Circle, signed. Latest: Moonlover and the Fountain of Blood, Jane Fancher short story. Chernevog, part 2 of the Rusalka trilogy co-written by CJ and Jane; and Orion's Children, a tetralogy from Lynn. Plus, coming soon: e-books: Yvgenie, and books from Jane.

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CONVENTION APPEARANCES

At Miscon 2013, around Memorial Day, Missoula MT, At SoonerCon, in OKC, around June 15, also Spokon in Spokane, in July/August, Beyond that, we aren't sure.
April 2015
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Doing much better today.

Got an actual 6 hours of sleep, and I can breathe most of the time.

We’re gaining on it!

This year’s flu vaccine? Not so good. Nationally, about 21% effective…

In this household 50%. Jane hasn’t gotten it. I did.

Respiratory crud. I am so tired of coughing.

I sent Jane off after Theraflu, which is the only thing that seems to give much relief: Nyquil, Alkaseltzer cold relief, meh. Benedryl, Sudafed PE (which is not as effective but thanks to the methheads, all we can get now.)..work kinda-sorta. But Theraflu is the best.

And…I took a Ricola coughdrop and thought for a while I might have to dial 911. I know I’m allergic to an over-the-counter herbal diuretic, uvi ursae, or bearberry—rapid heartbeat and tunnel vision—but I read the list of herbals in this one, seemed ok.

Nope. Of course there was a small crisis with the fish tank, which I fixed, but that little exertion had me seeing ripples all around the edges of my vision. This can signal an oncoming migraine—had that happen once. But this was not as bad as bear grapes, but not the time I wanted to be entering a reaction with Jane out of the house. So…I dial her phone. No joy. Not carrying it. Not charged. So I decided the intelligent thing to do was to sit in my working chair which has a phone right by it—in case it got worse. A check of the mirror said, yep, pupils highly contracted. Definite reaction. So I decided atop everything else I’ve had — a Benedryl might be a good idea: it can stop an allergic reaction.

It did. All’s well. Eyes are back to normal vision. And Ricola is off my list of safe things to take. I KNOW I have to be careful of mom and pop herbal remedies. I’d have thought a preparation as old and widely advertised as Ricola would be safe. Wrong-o! It was a very similar reaction to the bearberry: arbutrin is the active agent, which can convert to hydroquinone, which is used in skin lightening or removal of age spots, of all things.

Whatever it was, I certainly don’t want to do that again. Herbal tea is one of those things I regard with as much suspicion as Bren does.

And lest you worry, Jane is back now, and she brought me orange juice and ice cream.

The joys of computer file setup

The Dell Precision laptop is a very ‘business’ machine with practically no ‘offers of software’ included to clutter up the disc. And I decided a nice slow as I feel like it shift of files from my older laptop would be fairly easy. Add a few things, transfer files with Carbonite—this would be a piece of cake if I wanted the whole cluttered mess of the last disk spat out onto this one. I want to do a selective transfer.

So last night I got to wrestling with the Precision. Turns out Norton didn’t like the version of what we’d found in archive, so after I’ve got all my firewall settings where I want them, it decides, at an innocuous, unwarned button push, to remove the old version, put on a new one.

Well, naturally I want to have a window into this process, so I punch ‘full scan,’ which on an ‘empty’ computer shouldn’t take forever, right?

Only half of forever. But I now have it clean, uncookied, and generally happy.

And the Family Tree software that had glitched repeatedly on setup and update — finally loaded with no protest and registered itself, which seems to indicate we are better than we were.

Now my genealogy software, which I have installed, and which the new Norton has finally approved and allowed to update, tells me that the file I want can’t be downloaded because of some other setting, this time on Ancestry, in handshaking with the one on my computer. So now I have to call Ancestry and ask why it’s refusing—I’m pretty sure the refusal is on their end.

Sometimes I just think I should push the button and have Carbonite do the whole thing, but then I’m quite sure I’d STILL have some kinks in the function from things that butt heads, AND I’d have tons of duplicate files. So if I can solve this one, I can have just ONE Ancestry file instead of 20—and they’re monsters.

I can’t wait to tackle my text files, which are a true nest of snakes. I do have a good program for finding duplicate files. But…those archives go back and back and back, and they’re fragmentary: version 3 of take 12 sort of things, two paragraphs long. Many, many, many of them, which are not that organized, and which are duplicated many times. I’d really like to start this new machine clean and organized. Pipe dream, eh?

Y’know what I want? A computer OS that’ll just take a list of what I want to run, suck down the software, hand it my access info, and let the darned thing talk to other cranky computers and negotiate the stuff into useable form. But that would be indistinguishable from magic.

Allergy, the Pineapple Express, and pond pumps…

Waked this morning with the headache from hell after NO party last night, which is not fair at all. I still have a bit, and a nagging post-nasal drip cough. Xyrtec is good, but not that great. Benedryl plus 2 Sudafed seems a better combo for me—they used to sell it in that combination in a capsule, but thanks to the meth problem (makers wanting Sudafed) that went off the market. I have my DIY version, but opted for Xyrtec as a one pill solution, and since it’s one per 24 hours, I’m stuck with it and it’s not working that well. :(

It’s raining…and will rain for days: a surge of Pacific equatorial air, AKA the Pineapple Express, is headed our way, bringing moisture we need, but it’s kind of a drizzly four day event.

So WHEN do we need to a) wash out the Matala filter and b) install the waterfall pump? Of course we didn’t do it yesterday when the sun was shining. We do it today. In the rain.

So I put on my rain suit (if you don’t own one of these, I highly recommend them: Walmart, cheap, but a way to work pretty toasty warm in a blizzard or to stay dry in a monsoon. Goes on over as much coat as you think you need. With hood. Anyway—the Matala spitting water once it needs cleaning and our automatic topoff being disconnected, the pond was down enough to just pump out the waterfall skimmer well, so we could (she says: Jane actually does this miserable job) attach the waterfall pump to the very stiff 3″ hose.

We then had to fuss with the hoses, in the brass octopus of connectors that branch five ways, then have another brass Y connector attached to one of them—it’s a mess, but it let us get the topoff running to refill the pond. The fish are all accounted for, and have grown immensely while asleep—I swear, I think they digest the algae they inhale all winter, and use that for fuel. I otherwise can’t account for it. The fish are tootling about, the Matala filter is running after I washed out all 8 filter pads, some of which were impossibly gunky, as in four times their normal weight. Which is why it was spitting water.

We haven’t fired up the lotus pond yet, but we are now possessed of a functioning koi pond. I stayed dry and relatively clean. The rain suit, totally disgusting, is drying off in the kitchen before I send it through the washing machine.

All this a few days before St. Paddy’s Day, so we’re pretty well on schedule with the pond.

BTW, new CGI anime—Harlock…on Netflix.

We were impressed. Loved the take on new science. If you liked the original you are likely to like this—so to speak. We put it on to take a look, fully intending to see a few minutes…and get to bed at a decent hour.

Nope. We watched the whole thing. And were happy.

We didn’t get to Lowe’s but we tackled the pump…

A water pump has two key specifications, besides whether it’s submersible or not. First is the gph, or gallons per hour…or minute, in the case of really big pumps. The second is ‘head’, or its ability to press that gph up a hose of a certain diameter upward—ie, how far can it push the water and how fast does it come out of a hose or pipe when it gets there?>
The vertical distance between the pump and our tank is a bit more than 10 feet.

Well, we knew this pump had gotten tired, but we didn’t know whether the problem lay in the upward pipe (if it had been in the down-drain pipe the tank would have overflowed, being unable to return the water fast enough) or in the pump itself.

Thanks to Jane’s clever plumbing it was a cinch to remove the pump: first lower the water level in the pump chamber below the bulkhead hole, then unscrew the intervening connector-piece, and lift the pump free. So we disassembled it.

Mmm, yes, nasty. We took out the rotating part of the guts, where the ‘impeller’ is, and found all but one of the six holes blocked by accretions. Well, accretion in saltwater tanks is calcium carbonate (that white stuff you get on your shower curtain or glass or on your showerhead) and what dissolves calcium carbonate is white vinegar, a substance fairly harmless in marine tanks. So…we fill a steep pitcher with straight vinegar and soak the parts.

The heart of the accretions tended to be the remains of several unfortunate small snails. The wonder was that the pump was running at all. So we cleaned it, got flowthrough on all six holes, and reassembled it.

Now when we set up the 105 gallon tank, moving the old 52 over to freshwater, we hadn’t done a pump service. We’d had corals and fish needing to move fast. So ‘fast’ it was.

Shoulda. Coulda. Didn’t. Flow wasn’t what we hoped. I thought the larger tank had just overwhelmed the pump and that was the reason we were having troubles. Mmmm. And we took out the valve that had restrained the pump, and let it run.

I’d forgotten what the gph of this pump is. By the time we finally decided to do something about it, it must have been down to 700 gph. A mere trickle.

Well, we cleaned it, we fired it up. And several other pieces of equipment also have to be plugged back in: the GFO reactor (minor) and the heater and the skimmer (a treacherous bubble column that collects protein waste in a cup for disposal). First we try the pump. So we each have a phone, Jane watching the tank and me standing by to yank the plug if we have a problem.

Jane, upstairs, is yelling something. I, downstairs, have plugged in the skimmer, heater, and reactor, and all of a sudden (I should have known) the damned skimmer is belching foam up and over in a tide of fish-poo sewage headed for the electrical connections. I’m pulling plugs and grabbing towels, Jane is heading downstairs to tell me I have to see what it’s doing upstairs.

Yee–hah! The pump, clean and no longer having a restraining valve in the line, delivers 2236 gph, less a little for 10 feet of 1″ diameter hose, which is, believe me, NOTHING to a 2236 gph pump. OMG. It came in like a tsunami of bubbles and violence, terrifying the fish into the rocks. The good news is the lines are handling it. The bad news is, we need a valve in that line.

Off to hardware. We get the gate valve, get it installed, turn it on and spend a while running upstairs and down and shouting at each other to figure how far to close the valve. We finally got a flow we like, a very brisk flow. The fish are in hiding. The tank is a cloudy mess—and kicking up a sandbed is very dangerous: it can overturn the biological filter of the sandbed, loose hydrogen sulfide and ammonia from decaying waste, and kill the tank. I inserted a 1-micron filter sock in the system really fast, and the water cleared, leaving a really dirty filter sock (a kind of bag of very dense fabric that can be sent through the washing machine).

The fish finally came out in a rage—chasing one another and having a general tantrum on an oxygen rush the like of which they haven’t had here—but they calmed down. Nothing died. The corals remained fluffy and happy during all of this, dirty water and all.

And we finally have the tank behaving as it should. The pump is running, the water is moving, the skimmer is finally valved back into sanity, and fish sewage is being removed as it should be.

The thing that saved the tank from collapse during the slow decline of the pump is the skimmer, which constantly froths the water it intakes, meaning it injects a LOT of oxygen, ditto the mass of cheatomorpha macroalgae I keep in the sump was oxygenating the water, but now we have the oxygen input of crashing waves on a reef, an environment which is often highly bubbled, and extremely oxygen-rich. The fish will be happy, the corals will be even happier, and things should run well.

We were, by this time, ready to go out for a burger and take it easy for the evening. The pump looks good for another 10 years of service, and we plan to pull it whenever the flow decreases and hold a snail hunt.

I think I’m finally on my way to getting my dream tank to look like something other than a pile of rocks equipped with fish.

Foray to Lowes today…our dishwasher door is bowing…

and we are going to take our guarantee and go rain on Lowe’s customer service: they installed it, and they installed our countertop. The two have parted company and the dishwasher is being damaged to the point we now fear the seal cannot be relied upon. We’re really ticked about that. And we’re not willing to flood the house.

Also, the primary pump for the marine tank has slowed to a trickle, and I think this means we have to service it rather than buy a new one: the pump that drives that tank is expensive, and should be nearly indestructible, but it can swallow sealife down its inch-wide gullet and get a problem. So first I have to get a cap I can screw on to the bulkhead connector INSIDE the sump to stop the water…so we can unscrew the coupling that holds the pump to the sump: not as bad as it sounds: it all sits on a table in the basement. The pump is about a foot long, heavy as old guilt, and it is encrusted with salt creep and needs cleanup anyway. We undo about six screws and lift off the front of the pump, to get at the impeller, a single piece of very heavy metal that has a couple of holes bored into it: a magnetic coil causes this thing to spin, and the tiny holes create a 2600 gallons an hour water flow into the tank—or should. I’m also going to get a valve to insert into the hose, because the last time this thing ran properly, it could shoot water across the living room, and I want to be able to control it. Its function has been declining, and we took the valve out, but I am hoping it only needs cleaning—it’s run 24/7 for seven going on eight years, with one cleaning, so we don’t know what we’re getting into. Our other choice is to buy a very spendy replacement. And the real nightmare would be if something happens to the flow worse than what we have, because that tank can only live for 8 hours with that pump shut down.

Kind of a dicey operation, this. But we are pretty confident even if we have to declare the pump moribund, it won’t be defunct. If we can get to limp back into operation even if it’s worn out, we’re good. Otherwise, I’ll be really upset and looking somewhere in this city on a Saturday for something that can drive this system.

Remember when we had the fence installed…our pretty pricey fence?

Well, we saved a little because our installer said he’d deduct some if WE went down to city hall and got the permit, which we did, which was kind of interesting, and they were very nice to us.

Nobody ever mentioned however that there is a part B of the process, which is calling the city inspector out to look at the job.

So yesterday we got a notice our permit is going to expire and be canceled real soon if we don’t get part B done.

We called right away, got a very nice inspector who’s kind of thinking about doing his own backyard pond. ;)

And we are now completely legal. ;)

Silly us. I knew about inspections, but I’d figured since we had a permit and said we were building that an inspector would sort of drive by in a month, say, yep, that’s a fence, and that would be that.

Nope, not automatic. Silly me.

Colder than the 9th hell’s hinges out there…

Pond’s frozen. Our friend Joan is out gardening. Spring fever is starting to hit.

We’re meeting Joan for lunch today if she’s not standing out in her garden as a stiff and frosty garden elf.

Time, however, to get out and get some stuff. If we don’t stop for cat food our lives will be in danger.

We have however, been able to diet the poundage off our two incipient meatloafs—took them off dry kibble and began feeding these little tubs of actual chicken and salmon we get at Petco: grain-free, actual shredded meat that looks like people food, but has what the kitties need in the way of taurine, etc. Our kitties instead of sleeping all day are beginning to climb their cat trees and wrestle — and yowl —

And both of them now have waists.

Come spring, I swear, I’m getting us back to our diets.

Better today.

Feeling pretty good—I think it was a vitamin-mineral shortage.

Went and got the blood draw for the endocrinologist (remember Grant’s favorite word?) and due to the snow last night—no wait. Amazing!