radioactive, colorless, odorless, tasteless, noble

I believe only one or two of these adjectives at most appropriately apply to me.

All of them apply to the gas known as Radon (a byproduct of either Uranium or Thorium). Radon is everywhere – inside houses and outside. Average outside levels can be as high as 0.75 pCi/L. (Picocuries per liter. It’s nice that Marie and Pierre Curie have been memorialized forever with a unit of measurement) The national average outside is 0.4. The national average inside homes is 1.3. The average for homes in St. Louis County is 4.0. And the EPA recommends taking action on any home above 4.0.

The home my wife and I are buying currently has radon levels of 4.4. So we will be installing a Radon mitigation device upon moving in.

Here’s an interesting risk chart from the EPA

If 1000 people who never smoked were exposed to radon levels of 4 pCi/L over a lifetime – 7 could get lung cancer. Roughly equivalent to the risk of dying in a car crash. Not exactly a horrific risk level, but on the other hand, reducing the radon level is still a good idea.

The risk is higher for those who have smoked.

Have you checked the radon levels in your home?

We have normality

“…probability factor of one to one…we have normality, I repeat we have normality…Anything you still can’t cope with is therefore your own problem.” – Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Caught up on sleep. Receiving the results of the Radon inspection today, and that should conclude the inspection phase. The house is very well-maintained, and assuming the radon levels are OK, we shouldn’t be asking very much from the owners. The rest of this should be as smooth as the smooth object of your choosing.

Well…except the packing. Why does there have to be packing?

The Inverse Relationship of Sleep and Blood

Wednesday Morning last week:

Basherte: Have you ever had insomnia?
Me: No

Wednesday evening: The Basherte and I put a bid down on a house.

I don’t think I have had a normal night’s sleep since.
I may have gotten close to a normal night last night, but not nearly enough to catch up.

The inspections are coming to an end today and tomorrow. We’ve been told the house is insurable, and the loan is approved. The things for me to be stressed about are being checked off one by one. Packing will be a pain, but that shouldn’t be as stressful, since the outcome is more certain.

Some people might wonder if I lied to my wife, or not. This isn’t really the first time in my life I have had issues with sleeping. But I don’t consider it ‘insomnia’ if the stress that is causing it is so clearly identifiable. The diagnosis for me is ‘stress’ not ‘insomnia,’ and it happens very rarely. (And it usually doesn’t last more than a day or two.)

My nose also bled this week for the first time in several years. I had several nose bleeds around the time I was initially dating my Basherte. She didn’t understand the cause back then, but now she finds that hilarious, and compares me to Stan on South Park.


All-Star Game Prediction – American League

As I posted last year, my whereabouts the evening of the All-Star game have correlated with the winner for nineteen years. The National League has only won if I was home. Once is a fluke. Twice is a coincidence. Nineteen times in a row? (I said 20 last year, but either I miscounted, or rounded up.)

This all began in 1996 when I joined a writer’s group that met on Tuesday nights, and the National League started losing the All-Star game. Of course, in 1994 and 1995 the National League won, and I am fairly certain I was home watching the game those two years. I don’t have evidence for this, but the odds are relatively certain.

In 2010, the Writer’s group switched to Mondays. And guess what happened? I was home, and the National League won! And they continued to win in 2011 and 2012. So, starting in 1994, and for 19 years, my whereabouts have correlated with the winner.

Alas, the group switched back to Tuesdays. I won’t be home tomorrow.

I am rooting for the National League for two reasons.

1) Because I always root for the National League. I am a St. Louis Cardinals fan; they are a National League team; I root for the National League.

2) If the National League wins this year, there is finally proof that my whereabouts are unrelated to the final game result. That will be a wonderful feeling. I will never again feel guilty that I wasn’t home on All-Star game night. Rationally, I know that there can be no real causation between my whereabouts and who wins. But irrationally, the evidence keeps piling up year after year that I am the cause.

But, alas, if I have to make a prediction, judging from past history, I’d have to predict the American League. Of course, my history of predictions hasn’t actually been very good. May that continue. (I need to update that 2005 post on my predictions, but I suspect my record hasn’t improved by much since then.)

Update: The American League won. 3-0. However, I decided to stay home and watch the game. Therefore, I am not responsible for the American League winning. I no longer live in an irrational world; my All-star Game Albatross has flown away and shall bother someone else in the future.

Everyone needs an editor

The Writer’s Guild of America recently released a list of the 101 best written television shows of all time. At #76:

I, Claudius – Written by Rupert Graves and Jack Pulman

Rupert? Rupert?

Rupert Graves (1963-) is a well-known British actor. Robert Graves (1895-1985) was the well-known poet and novelist who penned the original novel, I, Claudius, and its sequel, Claudius the God, upon which Jack Pulman based his writing of the BBC miniseries.

A somewhat embarrassing mistake, I would think, for a guild of writers to make. Did they forget to run the list past an editor? Everyone needs an editor, even editors, as Charles Apple, of the American Copy Editors Society, is fond of pointing out on his blog.

Of course, like most bloggers, I don’t run my posts past an editor before posting. So if I make a mistake in this post, or any other, I’d appreciate it if someone tells me, so I can correct it.

Amazon’s Kindle Worlds

Amazon has announced that they will soon be seeking submissions for Kindle Worlds

Get ready for Kindle Worlds, a place for you to publish fan fiction inspired by popular books, shows, movies, comics, music, and games. With Kindle Worlds, you can write new stories based on featured Worlds, engage an audience of readers, and earn royalties. Amazon Publishing has secured licenses from Warner Bros. for Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and The Vampire Diaries, with licenses for more Worlds on the way.

This isn’t as earth-shattering new as some are portraying it. Pocket Books has been selling Star Trek fan-fiction for decades. Yes, authors have to submit their fan-fiction to Pocket Books/Paramount. Pocket Books/Paramount decides what gets published. Authors will have to submit their fan-fiction to Amazon. Amazon, with input I am certain from the rights holders, will decide what gets published. The website already lists several content restrictions:

  • Pornography: We don’t accept pornography or offensive depictions of graphic sexual acts.
  • Offensive Content: We don’t accept offensive content, including but not limited to racial slurs, excessively graphic or violent material, or excessive use of foul language.
  • Illegal and Infringing Content: We take violations of laws and proprietary rights very seriously. It is the authors’ responsibility to ensure that their content doesn’t violate laws or copyright, trademark, privacy, publicity, or other rights.
  • Poor Customer Experience: We don’t accept books that provide a poor customer experience. Examples include poorly formatted books and books with misleading titles, cover art, or product descriptions. We reserve the right to determine whether content provides a poor customer experience.
  • Excessive Use of Brands: We don’t accept the excessive use of brand names or the inclusion of brand names for paid advertising or promotion.
  • Crossover: No crossovers from other Worlds are permitted, meaning your work may not include elements of any copyright-protected book, movie, or other property outside of the elements of this World.

This will make selling fan-fiction in the specified universes easier. Selling fan-fiction in other universes will still be as illegal as it was previously. Publishing, but not selling, fan-fiction in other universes will remain as illegal as it was previously.

The only legal questions I have are related to the fact that the current acquired universes seem to be television shows based on written works. Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith. Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar. Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard. Amazon says they acquired the rights to the universes from Warner Brothers. Meaning, I think, that in addition to Amazon’s cut, and the fan-fiction author’s cut, Warner Brothers will get a cut. Will the author of the original series get a cut? Did Amazon ask the original authors for permission? Did they need to? If they only have Warner Brother’s permission, do the fan-fiction authors have to be careful about using characters and plot references that only appear in the novels, and not in the television show?

Update: Their press release indicates the rights were obtained from Alloy Entertainment – the book publishing arm of Warner Brothers. This suggests that Warner Brothers/Alloy own the rights to both the novels and television series, in which case there should be no legal issue.

The Red-Billed Oxpecker

I found this poem in my drafts folder. I wrote it back in January of 2011.

The Red-Billed Oxpecker

She builds her nest
with energy
she plucks
from the souls
of her co-workers.

The shortest fine line between Scylla and Charybdis is a tightrope

In my Work-in-Progress I am having a slight issue making certain one of my characters doesn’t appear dumb. I have a distaste for dumb characters wherever I run across them – books, television, or theater. I don’t require all characters to be geniuses, but they need a bare minimum of intelligence. The characters of Phoebe and Joey on Friends always bothered me. As did the character of Rose on Golden Girls. I understand the comedic potential of this type of character. Gracie Allen perfected it. But it’s time to move on.

My character isn’t stupid, but he is naïve, inexperienced, and other synonyms. Several in my critique group thought he sounded stupid in the latest pages I brought. If I could make him a geek, that might be a solution. Everyone knows Sheldon Cooper isn’t stupid. (Or, at least, isn’t supposed to be stupid when the writers are portraying him correctly.)  However, my setting is pre-20th century. There are other things he could be geeky about, but I don’t want to fall back on that as a solution unless no other choices present themselves.

Fixed (not quite)

It took a little longer than I said. A month as opposed to a weekend. However, a cursory look suggests everything was backed up and has been returned. (I know there are posts with broken images; that was the case beforehand.) Feel free to leave comments, and hopefully I will find some time to write some posts. (And to add a little pizzazz to the design)

Correction: everything ended up getting backed up except one thing. Every single comment ever left by any of my readers, or by myself. Now it looks like I’ve been blogging since 2002 without any interaction with my readers. At least one of my readers left a word-count roughly equivalent to a novel in my comments. I think I have some older backups before the comments went screwy, and I might be able to restore some of those.

Update: I found a backup containing comments that was 18 months old. I think that’s pretty good, especially considering how lightly I’ve used this blog in the past 18 months. I am pleased that the WordPress importer recognized that all the posts were duplicates, but still imported the comments.  (pats WordPress on the head.)