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How NOT to get sick at a con.

1) Buy a box of Emergen-C.

2) Drink a packet every day for the three days leading up to the con.

3) Drink a packet every morning of the con.

4) Drink a packet every day for the three days after the con.

5) Force your husband to comply with the same regimen.

Knock wood, this is the first time I haven’t wound up with a case of con-crud. It’s especially nice because there were airplanes involved, which almost always do me in.



I’m back, more or less. Spent yesterday running around, catching up on little errands that got left behind in the mad run up to SPX. Post office, bank, library, groceries, taking in the last of the digita Wedding pictures for development, finally buying the monster 200G hard drive for the House Backup (Yeah, yeah, I know, shut up, at least we’re finally doing it now — John Gallegher’s panel at SPX scared the bajeebers out of me).

I also did “Harvesting”. We got an awful lot of food out of the garden, considering its tiny size, and now that I have a better understanding of how the light falls on the box, it should be even better next year — I’ll move the more forgiving peas and beans to the shady side, and the peppers over to the sunny side. Still, it’s regularly hitting 45F at night around here, so it’s time to do the last major harvest before things get frosty. I could prolly get one more tiny harvest, but I’d frankly rather be drawing now than dinking around with plants, so I uprooted a lot of the kids when I was done harvesting.

I got a whole lotta peppers, both hot and medium (the sweet ones dinna do well at all!) and chopped and froze those. I made one last batch of pesto, whirled up the dozens of cherry tomatoes into a base for chili or sauce, and snapped green beans. And then I was done. Not a whole lot left, but it was going bad on the vine, and better that it be frozen for the winter than wasted.

The other thing I did was make nut muffins. For those of you with a gluten allergy, these are great. I’m making them because I’m trying to get back to the low carby thing for a while longer, and having something baked really makes it easier.

Nut Muffins (Makes about a dozen small ones)

1 cup blueberries

2 cups nut flour (I used 1C almond and 1C pecan)

2 big eggs

2 big squirts of honey (probably 3 Tablespoons)

1t baking powder

1 c milk or half-and-half

1t salt

Mix the nut flour, baking powder and salt together. Mix the eggs, milk, and honey together. Pour the wet into the dry, stirring. Dump in the blueberries. Stir. Pour into muffin tins. Bake about 40 minutes at 350F or until the tops are golden brown. Mine are showing a propensity to stick to the muffin tins, and because they don’t have any gluten, they don’t have the cohesive strength to be pulled out in one piece. You may want to consider paper muffin cups with this recipe.

The rest of the plan was to finally hit the desk at about 8pm and get crackin’. However, Neighbor Nora gave a call and brought us over Peach Pie, and we talked about plans, weddings, and the jerkoff who’s going round knocking on doors at 7am to see who’s home, presumably so he can break in. Asshole.

So, all in all a very good day, except for the jerk at the end. But at least we got pie.

Tonight: Drawing! Yay!

SPX Report

Wanna see my pix and commentary from SPX? Go here.

It’s what bwings us togevvah, tooday.

We’ve been married for one year, as of yesterday. I guess this means we need to tone down our diabetes-inducing cuteness.

Married life is so very wonderful, if you’re with the right person. This weekend at SPX did nothing but confirm that for me.

Love you, Paul.

Apoplectic again.

From Working For Change:

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, President Bush and Republicans in Congress have refused to consider rolling back the $336 billion in new tax cuts that the richest 1 percent are slated to get over the next five years. They say we need to pay for reconstruction not by asking the wealthiest to sacrifice just a little bit, but by massive cuts to spending. And now we see what that means: The Navy Times today reports that those cuts “include trimming military quality-of-life programs, including health care.” This, while troops are in battle.

And with that, folks, I’m on the plane to SPX. Wish me luck, and if you’re in the area of DC, and not at the protest, swing by on the Metro line and say hey.

Press Release!

Here’s the press release for those three Manga sites that Paul and I built. Paul did all three designs, and I did the HTML coding and Movable Type wrangling. MT rules, by the way.

The folks at Random House were a complete treat to work with. We’re sure hoping that quote about what’ll happen if these previews do well will come true.


(New York, NY; September 20, 2005)-Del Rey Manga, an imprint of The Random

House Publishing Group, announced today the launch of new title-specific

websites, each of which will allow manga readers to preview thirty pages from

the first volume of a new manga title-before the official publication date-in

an innovative ‘page-a-day’ approach.

Cited as the fastest growing category in bookstores today, the graphic novel

market has doubled each year for the past two years, leading to an estimated

$100 million market today. The vast majority of the growth in the market has

been due to the increased popularity of Japanese comics, known as manga, a

genre that Del Rey jumped on in the summer of 2003; Del Rey now has well over

one million manga in print in the United States.

Although other large manga publishers have offered preview content on their

websites, Del Rey’s approach is unique in that each day for thirty days, a

new page of manga content will be added for each individual title. In this

way, Del Rey hopes to encourage readers to come back every day, and to build

buzz for their hottest new properties.

“Our page-a-day concept goes beyond what the other large manga publishers

have offered on their sites,” said Betsy Mitchell, VP & Editor-in-Chief of

Del Rey. “We wanted to give our fans an opportunity-absolutely free-to sample

Del Rey’s new series before laying down hard cash. There’s a lot of manga on

the shelves these days, and this is one way readers can decide whether our

titles are the ones they want to spend money on. Obviously, we think we’ve

got the right stuff.”

“If this promotion is as successful as we anticipate it to be, we hope to be

able to provide preview websites-well in advance of publication-for as many

forthcoming new series as possible,” added Del Rey’s Manga Director Dallas


The first three titles to be featured on the title-specific sites – all

Kodansha properties – are GACHA GACHA by Hiroyuki Tamakoshi (on sale

September 20, 2005; ages 16+), GHOST HUNT by Fuyumi Ono and Shiho Inada (on

sale September 27, 2005; ages 13+), and SUGAR SUGAR RUNE by Moyoco Anno (on

sale September 27, 2005; ages 10+).

The URLs for the first three title-specific sites are,


About Del Rey:

Del Rey Books ( was founded in 1977 as a division

of Ballantine Books under the guidance of the renowned Judy-Lynn del Rey and

her husband, Lester del Rey. Del Rey publishes the best of modern fantasy,

science fiction, alternate history and manga. Ballantine Books is an imprint

of the Random House Publishing Group, which is a publishing group of Random

House, Inc, the U.S. publishing company of Random House, the trade book

publishing division of Bertelsmann AG, one of the world’s leading

international media companies. In the summer of 2003, Random House joined

together with Kodansha in a creative partnership to bring some of Kodansha’s

top properties to the United States, making Random House the first major

trade book publisher in the United States to do so.

About Kodansha Ltd., Publishers :

Kodansha is the largest trade and magazine book publisher in Japan. Founded

in 1909, the company by virtue of its long history, the quality of its

publishing, and its established network of sales and marketing is regarded as

the trade book market leader in the publishing business in Japan. Moreover,

Kodansha has been recognized as the leading publisher with a mission to

introduce Japan through its publishing business.


So September 18th is the Harvest Moon Festival, celebrated by all our Chinese buddies. I am too damn lazy and/or busy to make actual Chinese Mooncakes this year, but I still wanted to use my cool mooncake mold.

So I made Scottish Chinese Shortbread Mooncakes. Yum!


Jar of jam, the thicker the better.

Pound of unsalted butter, the fresher the better. Buy it the day you make the cakes, if you can.

5 cups white pastry flour

1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1 Tablespoon vanilla

Cream the butter. Add sugar, salt, vanilla slowly, then add the flour one cup at a time.

Heavily flour the inside of the wooden mooncake mold, then turn over and tamp out the excess.

Pack a golfball-size wad of the dough into the mooncake mold, and shape it up the sides, leaving a hollow depression in the middle of the mold. Make sure that there’s at least 1/4 inch of dough on the bottom of the mold. Spoon jam into the hollow. Take a smaller piece of dough and flatten it into a disc the same size and shape as the top of the mooncake mold. Press this down gently, compacting the cake into the mold. Trim off excess dough with your fingers and return it to the bowl.

Turn the mooncake mold over, gently, with one hand cupped underneath the cake. Give the far end of the mooncake mold a smart whack on your countertop and the cake should fall out neatly into your palm. Gently transfer the cake to a well-greased cookie sheet — the cakes are very soft and fragile so be careful not to distort them — and give each cake about an inch of space on all sides in case they decide to expand. Reflour the mold at this point — it’s essential that you flour the mold after each cake.

Bake at 350F for 35-45 minutes or until the edges of the cakes turn golden brown.

Makes about 15 cakes.

About that Red Cross thing.

So, I keep getting emails and verbal thank yous from people who saw me give a bunch of hygene products to the American Red Cross. I appreciate the thoughts, and I appreciate those who donated even more. (You know who you are, and you all rock! ) However, I want to be clear about the whole thing:

Instead of thanking me, go out and do something. Yes, I did a nice thing, but I didn’t do it to hear praise, and it makes me a little squicky to keep hearing it. That which I did was small small very small. It makes me even a little embarrased that that was all I could do financially and timewise. However, life is made up of very small gestures. Tiny things that add up into big things. I’m not nacrissistic enough to think that my tiny bit of help would make anyone’s life markedly better, but my little bit added to the little bits that the dozens of ARC volunteers I met in Battle Creek, added to the little bits made by everyone else, adds up to a lot of help.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is, even though your bit is tiny, do your bit. Knit a baby blanket. Cook a meal. Contact your church and see if there’s a family who has moved into your neighborhood and see if there’s some sort of Adopt-A-Family thing for them. You may not be able to help all million-plus victims, but if you reach out to just one family, one community, one person, you can help. It’s just like any large project: If you look too hard at the whole, it’ll melt your brain and send you catatonic and unable to help anyone, least of all yourself. Focus on one small bit, one extended hand, and know that it counts.

Holy Crap.

Katrina: The Gathering. Genius. Pure, unadulterated genius. Hammers the left as hard as the right.

Big Dog Rides Again

You know, Clinton wasn’t the best president we ever had, and God only knows he had his share of fuckups, but Lord above, listen to the man speak and ask yourself if you wouldn’t rather he be in office right now. O for a leader, instead of a glove-puppet.

Best. Venison Stew. EVAH.

So it’s almost hunting season, and we still have a few packages of last year’s doe meat in the freezer. Time for it to go, to make way for the fresh stuff, ergo, time for my favorite venison stew recipe. This makes a big darn pot; enough to feed a large family of hungry people, or two people for several meals.


6-pack of dry hard cider (I like “K”)

1 sweet onion, minced

Double handful of crimini mushrooms, sliced

other vegetables to taste (peas, beans, carrots, baby potatoes — whatever you have lying around)

handful of pearl barley

Miso paste

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 packages venison steaks (elk or moose would also do, for my Alaskan and Canadian buddies)

Place the thawed steaks in a tupperware container and pour in four bottles of the hard cider. Cover tightly and marinate the steaks overnight, turning them over once in the process.

The next day, pour off the marinade into your biggest pot and set it a-boilin’. Trim all the tendons and connective tissue and bones off the steaks. As you do, don’t throw them away. Toss them into the pot so they’ll add to the flavor of the broth. Slice the steaks into bite-size nuggets and brown in a little olive oil. Deglaze the pan with a little of the broth mixture, and add to the pot. Set cooked steak aside. Panfry the mushrooms. Deglaze. Panfry the onions. Deglaze. Set each aside with the steak.

Let the broth simmer while you chop up all the rest of the veggies. When you’re done, strain the broth from your big pot into a smaller pot with a colander in it. Make sure all the marrow’s out of the bones and into the broth; if it’s not, use a knife to poke the marrow out. Set aside the cooked, tendony steaklets and empty bones for your neighbor’s dogs. Pour the now-strained broth from the smaller pot back into the big pot and return to heat. Add miso paste to taste. (I like miso much better than boullion or canned broth — its earthy, fermenty taste goes especially well with this recipe. Add paste until the broth becomes as salty as you like it.)

Dump in the uncooked veggies, the onion, mushrooms, barley, garlic and steak. Cover and cook for several hours.

Eat. Drink the two remaining ciders from the 6-pack with dinner.

Fill the crockpot for the next day, and put any stew that won’t fit in tupperware and freeze. Cook crockpot all night and all day, adding water as necessary. It only gets better, the longer it cooks.

Two-Stroke Invasion Tour

Hey, y’all. Paul’s out doing a signing at Green Brain Comics, one of our favoritest stores in the whole wide world. You should totally go. Know why? In addition to the Moped Army Comic debut, you also get to meet members of the Actual Moped Army: the Noviy Lef branch. You also get Moped Army cookies, which we frosted last night. Dang, wish I’d taken pictures.

Sanity Day

I took today off as a sanity/catchup day, and boy am I glad I did. I got out of the house, did some baking, did some around-the-house tasks and used last night to get caught up on old tasks. Now my desk is clear and I’m gonna spend the rest of the night finishing paintings, and maybe writing one of Jen Contino’s long-lost columns. Paul got signoff on the first Manga site, and I’m ready to start pounding code for it. Woo! We may make it through this month after all.

Acorn Bread

… is yummy. I baked it today after returning from the Great Q-Tip Caper.


Acorn bread

Makes 1 loaf

1 cup acorn flour*

1/2 cup cornmeal

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 egg

1/2 cup honey

3 tablespoons cooking oil

1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. In a small bowl, combine egg, honey, milk and oil. Add wet mixture to the dry ingredients gradually while mixing with a whisk or electric mixer. Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan and bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.


I actually made another (very) small batch of flour last night from the Prospect Park bur oak trees. Their nutmeats were much larger and sweeter than the other oak tree’s, and only required about three changes of water. They tasted better after one boiling than the others did after seven or eight. So yeah, I guess you just gotta make friends with a good old oak tree; find one that gives you nice big sweet acorns and visit her often.

MMmmm, acorny. I *do* need a coffee grinder, though, to make proper acorn flour instead of meal. Anyone got a spare?

The Great Q-tip Caper

So I was finally sick of screaming at the TV and the computer, apoplectic with rage at the handling of Hurricane relief. On Wednesday, I emailed the local branch of American Red Cross to see if there were anything I could do (other than giving cash) to directly help out the 250+ Hurricane Evacuees that are staying at Fort Custer in Augusta Township, near Battle Creek.

They said yes, and forwarded me a list of items they needed, in large quantities. After I touched base with my friends and rounded up some donations for the cause, I settled on two items to provide: deodorant and q-tips. Now, I know that sounds stupid, but when I asked the ARC contact which two items were the most urgently needed, that’s what she told me.

I phoned around on my lunch hour on Thursday and found out that no local chain stores would help me buy the items by offering me a discount. Not Meijer’s, not Kmart, and I was warned by ARC to not even bother with Wal-mart. When I called Meijer’s corporate, the secretary got real snippy with me, too ( Hey, snippy secretary: You suck. I know Meijer donated a ton of product already, but Meijer is a Michigan company, headquartered here, and these are evacuees located in our state. Thanks for the friggin hospitality. ) Yeesh.

I finally got one of the independently-owned grocery stores here in town to agree to sell me the stuff wholesale, but they didn’t call me back with a confirmation until noon Friday, after I’d already left to start shopping. Didn’t really matter in the long run because Dollar Stores RULE, and the Harding’s wholesale price wouldn’t have been much cheaper.

The original game plan was for me to spend Thursday night running around and buying all the stuff, and drive it out on Friday, but I hesitated and waited to see if I could get any corporate sponsorship. So instead of spending today painting and last night running around, I flipped the two; got most of a page painted and studio errands done, then ran around buying stuff today.

So I bought 250 deodorants (125 male, 125 female) and 175 boxes of q-tips. Unsurprisingly, the q-tips were the buggerall to find. Things would have gone faster if I’d have just skipped the Rite Aid, Walgreens and Meijer’s altogether; Thankfully we live in a lower-income part of town, and the Family Dollar, Big Lots and Harding’s-with-the-dollar-aisle were all within 1/2 mile of the house, and each other. Another dollar store netted me 70 boxes of q-tips (score!) and I was off to Battle Creek with my toiletry booty.

The ARC people were, like, overjoyed to see me. Seriously. How awesome is that? I guess they really needed those items. If there was only one lesson to be learned out of The Great Q-Tip Caper, it is this: CALL AHEAD AND ASK WHAT ARC NEEDS. While I was there, I watched the ARC members turn away kindhearted couples who showed up with bags of food and pillows and such. These were ordinary, well-meaning citizens who’d tacked on a few extra necessity items to their shopping list and brought them over, trying to help out their fellow man. Only problem is, the items were one of this thing, or two that thing, and they’d need to be divided among 175 families. Not to mention sparing the manpower to sort and deliver each item as it came in. Because I called ahead, I found out exactly what they needed and how much of each item; I was able to fill a specific need (as dorky as it may have sounded initially) and therefore was able to help the ARC instead of hindering them.

If you have evacuees in your community (and doubtless many of you do if we’ve got some here in Battle Creek, of all places) and you feel moved to help out directly, please follow this advice and call your local ARC chapter to see what they need and where. They may need you to even do administrative stuff like sort toiletries or write thank-you notes to all the donors. Ya never know.

The total came to around $600; thanks to everyone who already agreed to pitch in and share the load. I’ve put the word out to our local Quakers, and they seemed interested in helping fund it too. If you feel moved to throw a couple bux my way though, I won’t say no. Paypal account is


Paul Sizer was on the radio tonight! I even got a shoutout. Here’s the MP3! And guess what else? He’s also Ninth Art’s Book of the Week.

And guess what else what else? Our buddy Emily and her boy Dirk are in today’s NARBONIC. Shaenon, you and Dr. Narbon Rockity Rock Rock.

Acorn meal

There were a bunch of forces conspiring against me getting anything else done tonight, so I decided I’d just set the acorns out to boil and see how they turned out. I checked in on them about once an hour as I did various other things.

1 lb of acorns == 1/2 pound shelled acorns (a lot were bad or iffy).

1/2 lb of acorns required about 15 gallons of water to get them all de-tannined. Now I know why the native americans just dunked their baskets full of shelled nutmeats in a fast-moving river.

At the end of the night I got maybe 1/2 -2/3 of a cup of very dark brown acorn meal that tastes very bland and un-bitter. as the tannin leached out, there was a very distinct, unpleasant taste to the meal, not unlike latex. Latex being a natural plant sap, this is not too terribly weird. Once it was fully leached, however, the latexy taste went almost completely away. Tomorrow I may try baking a loaf of acorn bread, just for kicks.

I learned the following things:

— grind the shelled nutmeats first using your food processor, then leach them. The smaller the pieces, the faster the leaching process went. (duh).

— boil until the water turns a deep dark impenetrable brown before changing. Yeah, the white nutmeats turn the water dark shoe-leather brown. It’s kinda cool.

— look for a different tree. Contrary to the common wisdom, that particular bur oak had very bitter acorns indeed. If I need a decompressor, this weekend I may head down to Burr Oak Street to have a look at their trees.

Quite time consuming, much like making maple syrup. Still, I’ve blown evenings on dumber pursuits before.

Ya know, I gotta go with the big JC on this one.

31″When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34″Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37″Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40″The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

41″Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44″They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45″He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46″Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Urban Wilderness

What happens when you take a farm kid obsessed with gardening and nature and the outdoors and cram her into the city for fifteen years?

She starts going a little crazy.

First, she starts gardening. Then she starts landscaping for edibles. Then she starts eating her weeds. Then she starts roaming the neighborhood looking for other wild edibles.

I wish I were kidding.

Paul and I took a trip to the Kzoo nature center this weekend where I saw that the acorns are out in profusion — and I caught a bug in my ear. I’ve long known that acorns are edible, but I’ve never tried processing them, and after about three weeks of solid work (dayjob, novel, websites) I’m about to die in need of some distraction. Some little fiddly crafty thing I can do with my hands. So I went out looking for a white oak today on my lunch hour. A nearby neighborhood street was happy to oblige, and in no time flat, I’d picked a lunchbag full of tiny bur oak acorns.

I have a recipe to use for Acorn Bread. I’ll let y’all know how it turns out.

This won’t be the first time I’ve flipped out and started trying to eat my neighborhood. Back when I lived in Ypsi I’d bike through Gallup Park and pick the fox grapes growing on the railroad fence. They made outstanding grape jelly. Nice and sour.


After watching last night’s broadcast of The Daily Show, it’s official — I want to have Jon Stewart’s babies. The best part? Paul gave me full permission.

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