Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter to all who celebrate it!

And may the Easter Bunny leave you plenty of chocolate!

All original writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2011

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Doctor Who Series (Season) 6 Tonight!

And like many Doctor Who fans, I'm eagerly awaiting the new series on BBC America tonight!

All original writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2011

Friday, April 22, 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Lost in Translation, Part II...

Um...I'd be really reluctant to step into a store with THAT name, but I know people who WOULD just to see what it's all about. 

All original writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Farewell, our Sarah Jane...

RIP to Elisabeth Sladen (1948-2011) who played Sarah Jane Smith. Sarah Jane was a journalist and a Companion to the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker). She was the star of the "Sarah Jane Adventures", a DW spinoff and a popular show on the CBBC.

Sarah Jane was the first Companion I saw and identified with. I wanted to be a journalist like Sarah Jane (and have a robot dog like K-9). She proved that a Companion can be smart and sexy, and she didn't let much get in her way in her quest for the truth.

Good-bye, our Sarah Jane. May you rest in peace.

All original writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2011

Monday, April 18, 2011

Kids are on Spring Break...

...and I'm already rapidly running out of spoons.

I took the kids to the Huntersville Athletic Park, one of the few playgrounds I know that's fenced all around. It's ideal for my 3 kids...they get to climb, run and jump to their hearts' content, but I don't have to worry about them running off into the woods somewhere. They needed to run around...a stormy weekend meant being stuck in the house. Talk about kids getting antsy.

After about forty minutes, I took the kids to Northlake Mall for snack time. We dropped by the kids' section in Borders...the two girls played with the toys there, while Michael looked at books. I bought 3 little workbooks (reviewing numbers, counting and letters) off the clearance shelf.

Corn dogs for lunch, and now quiet time. Not for Mum, though...laundry, dishes, vacuum, catching up on writing, etc. When you don't have any help, you end up doing it all yourself. It's impossible to be a complete neat freak with three kids; I've had to let go of the stress of being Suzy Homemaker. It's not worth my sanity and health to put that kind of pressure on myself.

In any case, nap time is near an end. I hope the rest of the week will turn out OK, but we'll see.

All original writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2011

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino

Many people haven't heard about the Spoon Theory, but it's a wonderful analogy of how people with chronic illnesses deal with day-to-day activities. We're called 'spoonies', ones who are painfully aware of our 'spoon supply'.

Think of it like the life bar in a computer/Wii/Facebook game. You use a certain amount of energy to achieve tasks, like fighting an enemy, exploring new territory, or building new buildings on your ranch. That energy bar is set at a certain level. You can gain more points by advancing to higher stages in the game, finding objects or 'eating' virtual food and drink.

Now, we all have an 'energy bar' and for the most part, it's set. The amount depends on the individual; some people have more than others and it can vary day by day. Sometimes you find you can do all these tasks without a problem. Other days, you can't, but it's not a permanent state. We spoonies start out with a certain amount of energy like anyone else, but ours is permanently FIXED. We have to plan out ahead of time HOW we use our energy. Unlike the other players in the game, we can't gain more points. Once that supply is gone, it's gone. If you have one or two points at the end of the day, do you cook dinner or take a shower?

Decisions, decisions.

And some days, there's only one spoon left, and it's bent and tarnished.

But you still have to go on. Somehow.

All original writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Great Deal on Books

I went to Borders and found this book on the clearance shelf: Human Anatomy for Artists. To my shock and delight, it was selling for $9.99. Hardcover. I'm always looking for reference books on art, language and writing, but I'd never seen this before. So I wasted no time in buying a copy for my bookshelf.

Each page is finely drawn and exquisitely detailed with how bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons make up the human body, and how they are all interconnected. There are a few chapters devoted to how those structures change when the body is in motion (running, walking, jumping, etc.). I've always found hands hard to draw because of all the subtle and different angles and surfaces. Luckily, I found a few examples for drawing practice.

This is a great deal. I hadn't realized until later that the original selling price was $49.99, and it's listed as $36.46 on $10.41 isn't bad at all.

All original writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Evil Technological Gnomes Keep Dropping By...

My laptop died today. Again. Without warning. In the middle of a chat with some fellow creatives.

I swear, technology hasn't been my friend the past couple of weeks. First, the fried modem, now this laptop hiccup. The screen died on me, then everything shut down. Permanently, I thought. Considering all the stuff I haven't backed up yet (and the various short stories, fics and articles I was writing), I thought I'd lost them all.

I used my husband's computer to finish the chat and log back onto Twitter. Thank goodness there was nothing wrong with the connection this time. I waited until Hubby got home from work before I tried booting up my laptop again.

And lo and behold, it worked as if nothing was wrong with it. I retrieved the various writing projects that I thought I'd lost. So far, so good  tonight, and looks like whatever evil technological gnome that inhabited my laptop has been exorcised, at least for now.

But I'm keeping some anti-gnome tech close by, just in case.

All original writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2011

Monday, April 11, 2011

Photography Post: Coffee and Cake

Coffee and Cake
© 2011 by A. Dameron

All original writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2011

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Running to Catch Up...

I'm still trying to catch up on blog posts, art, etc. Does you ever feel that you're always falling farther and farther behind when something unexpected happens? "The forwarder I go, the more behinder I get"?

Last month, my son spent 4 days in the children's hospital for dehydration. Of course, during that time, my priority was my none. As a mum, I put my kids' welfare above almost anything else (even my own). Worrying over Internet posts fell by the wayside. It really didn't matter at that point. I sat by my son's beside, watched cartoons and sports with him, and spent the night on a (rather uncomfortable) padded bench.

But at that point, nothing else mattered. Even after he was released to go home, I was still hypervigilant.

A couple of weeks ago, a bad storm tore through Charlotte. Trees fell on driveways and power lines, hail damaged roofs, and people lost power. Almost everyone I knew lost electricity, Internet, phone or all three. Luckily, I still had power and phone, but the storm burnt out the modem on the home network. So again, I had no Internet.

Yeah, inconvenient, but it could have been much worse. I did manage to let people know what was going on (taking my laptop to the local Barnes and Noble to get access). During the three days, I spent more time with Baby Girl and did more sketches. Looking back, a brief time away from my computer benefited me in the long run.

Of course, trying to get back to 'I need to go back to work' mode is easier said than done. So, I'm running to catch up. The life of a mum writer.

All original writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2011

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Playground Problems...

I enjoy taking my kids to the playground, but sometimes things happen.

Baby Girl was on the small children's playset when three older boys rushed past her. They accidentally knocked her off the platform and she fell to the ground. Thank God it wasn't a long fall, and the wood chips cushioned her fall. She was more scared than hurt. I got to her side to comfort her.

The appalling thing was that the boys didn't stop to help. Even worse, they tried to leave the playground, and doubly worse, none of the parents around bothered to help.

I was ticked off. I managed to talk to the boys...they didn't mean to knock her off the playground equipment, but I told them to watch out for the small ones. After all, they had no business being on the little set when the older kids' playground equipment was mostly clear.

Unfortunately, their parents weren't in immediate view. The only way I knew which women were their mothers was when the boys went over to them. They sat on folding chairs close to the parking lot, far away from the playground. I went over to tell them what had happened...but again, I was appalled at how they weren't keeping track of what their kids were doing. Of course, they were very apologetic. I knew their kids didn't have malicious intent, but still...

I got mixed reactions from the parents around me. Some were obviously unhappy, others were surprised that I was willing to address the situation almost immediately after it happened. As I mentioned to another concerned dad, I don't take these things lying down. This is a serious concern.

Maybe I'm a bit old-fashioned, but hurt my child, and Mama Bear comes out. If I hadn't talked to the boys and their parents, nothing would have been done, and those boys wouldn't have been held accountable. What if Baby Girl was seriously hurt? (She wasn't, but Mama Bear's mind works overtime with these kind of scenarios). It sends a strong message about responsibility...if no one does anything about it immediately, it could happen again. And if kids don't understand, they think it's no big deal.

Like I said, call me old-fashioned. But it needs to be addressed.

All original writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2011

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Code of Kings, Mayan Culture and Language

Culture is much more than just the language. It is the architecture, the general mindset of the people, the relationships with others, the many factors. It's hard to separate one from the other because their influence is felt in so many ways. As a linguist, I'm astounded just how complicated the word 'culture' really is.

I'm reading The Code of Kings: The Language of Seven Sacred Maya Temples and Tombs by Linda Schele and Peter Mathews. The Mayan Empire stretched across parts of Mexico, Guatamala, Honduras, El Salvador and Belize. It lasted from about 1000 BC to 1697 AD, when the Spaniards conquered the last independent Mayan kingdom. Archaeologists have discovered many tantalizing glimpses of Mayan life and culture.

The Mayans arranged their temples and holy spaces in geometrically precise layouts. In many cases, new rulers simply designed new buildings on the remains of old ones. They considered open spaces as sacred ground, so most of their religious ceremonies took place in plazas and ballcourts (similar to modern jai alai or basketball courts). Architects designed elaborate friezes and wall decorations to tell the histories of the great cities. Wherever you turned, you were reminded of your past and what was expected for the future.

The seven cities featured in this book are Tikal, Palenque, Copan, Seibal, Chich'en Itza, Uxmal and Iximche'. These places were all important centers of the Mayan Empire, but each city had its own unique style. Each place had its own history, its own triumphs and tragedies. The language used logographs (single signs), syllabic signs, or a combination of both. There were several ways of writing a single word, depending on the sounds involved and how it was used. These stylized pictures tell each city's story, from their earliest rulers to their eventual conquest.

Here is a brief sample of the Mayan language and how to pronounce words.

The word "lord" can be spelled ahaw, ahau, or axaw, depending on the translator. Like Chinese's pinyin or Egyptian hieroglyphs, there can be many different versions of the same word. Some sounds don't exist in English or Spanish; I've marked those with (*). The 'standard' orthography is:

a=pronounced a like 'father'
b=b like 'ball'
c=k like the English 'k'
e=e like 'set'
h=h like 'hello'
i= ee like 'see'
j= hard h sound, like the Spanish j (jabon, jai lai)
k= hard k, but with closed glottis (i.e. don't let the sound vibrate in your throat)
o= o like 'hold'
pp or p'= p with closed glottis
*q= (k deep in the throat. The closest equivalent is the 'r' in Arabic. There is no equiv. in English)
th or t'= t with closed glottis
*tz= no equivalent in English
*dz is pronounced tz'
u= oo sound in 'zoo', or it can stand for the letter 'w'
x=sh sound like 'shell'
z= s sound like 'soon'

All original writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2011

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What am I Reading This Month? (April 2011)

My Reading List for April. Yeah, when do I have time to read? Usually later at night, after the kids go to bed and right before I go to sleep.

1) Ninja: The Shadow Warrior by Joel Levy. Richly descriptive with full-color pictures, this talks about the upbringing, training and the equipment of the ninja (also known as the 'shinobi no mono'). How can you separate the fact from the fiction regarding these shadow warriors?

2) Criminal Investigation: Evidence, Clues and Forensic Science by John D. Wright. How do forensic investigators go about processing a case? This book covers the steps of investigating a crime scene, and the various jobs involved. Other important members of the crime scene team include the photographer/sketch artist, criminal profiler, forensic pathologist, toxicologist, ondontologist (who identifies victim by dental records) and ballistics expert.

Note: This book is mostly focused on the UK, but other international law enforcement organizations are mentioned, like Ireland's The Garda, Scotland's New Scotland Yard, the United States' FBI, Canada's National Police Services (which include the Royal Canadian Mountain Police) and the UK's Forensic Science Service (including the National Firearms Unit in Manchester).

3) The Code of Kings: The Language of Seven Sacred Maya Temples and Tombs by Linda Schele and Peter Mathews. More on this book here.

 All original writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2011

Monday, April 4, 2011

Language Translation Oops of the Day...

Wonder if it's the supermarket that's suspicious or something else?

All original writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2011

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Like Mother, Like Daughter (Blast from the Past)

Christina at the Keyboard (10 months)
"Little Journalist"

'Nuff said.

All original writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2011

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Swollen Hands a Difficult Post Dost Write...

...and very little art doth make. :-(

Having rheumatoid arthritis can be more than an inconvenience. It can be downright crippling, especially when you depend on your hands to write and paint. Although I do take medicine for it (methatrexate and prednisone), some days are worse than others. Unfortunately, it seems like this is one of those times. The side-effects from the meds can often be worse than the actual pain itself. Saturday afternoons are my "methatrexate coma days". I'm usually out for the count for several hours after I take it. It puts a dent in my weekends, but it's the only time I can take it. I need to be fully cognizant during the week, with three kids.

This past month marks 5 years that I've been living with RA. I was diagnosed not long after my older daughter Christina was born in 2005. My elbow froze up on me while I was driving my son to school. At first, the doctors thought it was tennis elbow. Then it was 'De Quervin's Syndrome', a nerve thing that affects people who use their hands, like typists and mothers. The treatments weren't effective, so the osteoarthritis people sent me to the rheumatologist.

And that was when they finally gave me the correct diagnosis: rheumatoid arthritis, with secondary fibromyalgia. And medicines. A lot of medicines that made me sick to my stomach.

A couple of years ago, I visited the rheumatologist's officer every 6-8 weeks for an infusion session. Their infusion room was actually comfortable, with leather recliners, pillows and blankets. My sessions lasted 2 hours and I was one of the last patients to leave. Honestly, it was a break in my hectic routine. Nine times out of ten, it was naptime. The nurses were awesome and helped me not be so nervous about needles.

Upside: my RA improved while I was having the treatments. Downsides: they weren't cheap, and insurance put it in the 'experimental medical treatment' class and therefore (according to them), they weren't required to pick up any of the cost. The Remicade suppressed my immune system to a point where it wasn't attacking my own joints. But it also meant my resistance to other infections was almost nonexistent.

In May 2008, I was hospitalized for bronchitis that had progressed to pneumonia. I don't remember most of that ordeal, but it was really bad. I ended up in the ICU (with a blood pressure that had crashed...all the way down to 80/60, I was told). Complicating things was the fact I found out I was pregnant with my third child...despite the fact the doctors told me that wasn't possible being on methatrexate at the time.

Um...yeah. Oops. But I had Sarah, and she's a joy, so at least some good came out of the bad.

I still struggle with it, especially when the weather's loopy like this. It affects everything from my energy level to my ability to type and paint, and my general emotional mood. I do get "it's only arthritis" from it's 'only a minor condition'. I've also heard, "Are you sure it's only in your head?" See my lab tests and tell me THAT again.

One more time: it's a CHRONIC and PAINFUL condition. It's a part of my life that I have to manage in order to function day to day. And there are times when I feel like I can't do that, but three children force you to do as best as you can. You don't have the option of wallowing in self-pity. You can't just curl up in bed and cry, though you want to. You have to live.

I have to write. I have to paint. It's just me. And RA can try to destroy that, but I won't let it.

All original writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2011

Friday, April 1, 2011

Happy April Fool's Day!

I haven't had any pranks pulled on me so far. Real-life, online, or otherwise.

*shifty eyes* Uh, I'm not paranoid. Not one bit. ;-p

All original writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2011