Weeklyish Check-in


2,343 words written to finish 1st draft of near-future Kenya story.

6,961 words of near-future Kenya story read to generate 1st edit bug list.

Brainstorming and background reading for Victorian romance novel.


Linda Nagata’s sci-fi murder mystery novelette, Nahiku West. All the elements I loved in Niven’s Gil the Arm Hamilton stories, minus the magical telekinesis.


The Rook, by Daniel O’Malley. Harry Potter meets The Sandbaggers.

How to Be a Victorian, by Ruth Goodman.



2014: Stats, bests, and vomiting seagulls

Story Submission Stats, 2014

Total Subs: 20
Form Rejections: 6
Personal Rejections: 4
Acceptances: 1
Fate TBD in 2015: 9

Best Ego-Stroke

My first-ever published story, “Rubik’s Chromosomes,” got a two-star recommendation from Tangent Online 2014 Recommended Reading List.

Best Conversation Last Wednesday

Me: Everything worked in lab, so I left early and saw birds eating berries in the bushes!
Spouse: I saw a seagull vomiting on our roof.

Top five reasons for blog not being updated

  1. Cat fell asleep on keyboard and didn’t move for three months.
  2. Demons possessed computer mouse.  Every time bought a new mouse, that one got possessed, too.  Finally gave up and learned how to use trackpad while ignoring unnatural crab-like movements of possessed mice.
  3. Forgot password at same time Kosher dietary laws expanded to forbid clicking on Send me new password (NOTE: only applies to Jews and confused Unitarians).
  4. Agreed to act as scientific consultant for megalomaniacs playing God on a Costa Rican island-turned-Disneyland with resurrected, extinct creatures which should have been left extinct, you fools, you mad, mad fools!  Also, velociraptor bites took several months to heal.
  5. Developed eyeball allergy to WordPress logo.  Took Benadryl and got too sleepy to type.

Identity theft

Today I went to Zulily, an online purveyor of cotton and cotton byproducts, to scroll through their catalog for something made out of cotton (or cotton byproducts) with which to clothe my pale scientist flesh.

Like an overeager teenager, Zulily wanted to get serious right there, where anyone could see.  Just going to the goddamn website made it popup a CREATE AN ACCOUNT screen that wouldn’t go away.  “Stop it!” I said; and, “Where’s the goddam ‘X’?  I just want to browse your cotton byproducts!”  But no–Zulily wanted it all.  An email.  Password.  Name.  Only then could capitalism commence.

“Fine, asshole,” I said, with the sort of graciousness for which I’m famous.  I gave Zulily what it asked for–but not quite.

Name: blah blah

Email: blah@blah.com

Password: ********  *

“There, asshole!” I said, feeling the same triumph that must have been experienced by my female ancestors when they survived childbirth on the hot Serengeti plains.  “Now show me the cotton!”

Invalid username and password.  There is already an account with this email address.

“Huh,” I said.  And for the sake of statistical power, I tried the whole thing again–and got the same message.

Which leads me to the inevitable conclusion that any unclothed scientist must make: someone out there has stolen my blah fake identity–and could be using it as I type to browse Zulily’s cotton (and cotton byproducts).  Cotton (and cotton byproducts) which should be mine.


* The password was ‘blahblah,’ because it had to be more than six characters.





We’ve adopted a new kitty!  Mittens is a clever, charming, sweet-tempered, and incredibly inbred Birman.  She has brought joy, happiness, and approximately 70% more poop by mass into our lives.

Naturally, our already-existing cat, Merlin, was Not Thrilled at being non-consensually roommated.  He showed his displeasure with his new roommate in all the ways anyone would: leaving his poop out; trying to bite her on the face; and glaring across the room while heaving passive-aggressive sighs that coalesced into sad faces smelling faintly of Purina.

This ended when he figured out that we’re putting out twice as much cat food as before.  Because Merlin is Big Boned.  He is Big and Tall.  He is–as our vet friend put it once, telling us about the cat body scale that goes from one through five–a 5+.  Merlin will forgive anything and anyone–even Mittens–if they bring more food into his life.

Which loops back around to my original point: that 70% increase in poop is, as we say in academia, the result of Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration.

And as the resident grad student, I naturally get to clean it up.   




Today’s internet search log…

…consists of the following:

  1. taste and odor of arsenic
  2. site:atsdr.cdc.gov arsenic
  3. tissue distribution of acute arsenic dose
  4. cadaver-scenting pigs
  5. truffle-scenting pigs
  6. cadaverine
  7. king arthur ginger cookie recipe

…and is (I swear!) research for a story.  Except for the ginger cookie recipe.

Which reminds me of a few months after I got married, when I inadvertently almost killed my husband with biscotti.  Thanks to all the eggs, raw biscotti dough is as tacky and fun to play with as warm rubber cement.  I like to mix it by hand–literally–before baking it twice and then setting it out to cool overnight for a delightful breakfast.

As I got out of the shower the next morning, I heard a strange ::crunch:: from the kitchen.  A moment later, my husband came into the bathroom.  In one hand, he held a half-eaten biscotti.  In the other, a heat- and tooth-deformed gold band.

To his credit, he kindly inquired if I was missing my wedding ring.

Happy Hogswatchnight! And some WIP

Home for Hogswatch!  Home with family (wonderful), a glazing of snow (wonderful from inside), and a throat full of phlegm tinted with myeloperoxidase heme (wonderfully painful but immunologically fascinating).

As for that work-in-progress: this is the fourth draft of the third incarnation of an idea that’s been kicking around in my head ever since I asked a fellow student to start a company with me to make in vitro meat (company slogan: It’s Mostly Cow).  The story was originally set in a Seattle wallowing in recession; by the second incarnation, it had moved to a twenty-second century Calcutta surging ahead of a world devastated by prion-contaminated meat.  The main character’s changed from a socially isolated scientist to a, um, socially isolated scientist…with a cat.  Speaking of which:

     The cat wanted none of the freshly-decanted burger, even though Rubaiyat waited alone in the damp quiet of her employer’s kitchen courtyard.  High brick walls muted the sound of Calcutta waking up around her: the distant ululating call to dawn prayer; the coughing start of compost digesters; the cracked recording, in Bengali and English and Hindi, cautioning all good desis to avoid animal-grown meats and report any tingling toes, forgetfulness, or sudden death.

     “Tch, tch, come here, little billī,” Rubaiyat said in a sing-song voice.  She ignored the call to prayer.  If God was as rapacious as her dead brother’s debtors–something she had suspected since the deaths of her parents, and dear little Bagheera–then a few words and some washed feet wouldn’t placate Him.  Slowly, she held out the scrap of raw burger.  “Just harvested last night.  I saved some for you…bet you’re tired of alley rats.”