Not unfriendly.

I haven't done maintenance on my friends list in half of forever. That wasn't a problem until yesterday, when I friends-locked a post for the first time. I tried to update by going through the list of people who'd friended me, but had a buffer overload on pseudonyms.

If you're a friend and I've left you out, could you please give me a nudge?


You're an excessively modest bunch.

Want to know the second-biggest reason I wasn't maintaining my list? It's because I always wind up sitting there, staring at a long column of pseudonyms, trying to figure out who they are. It's not rejection or unfriendliness; it's just buffer overload.

I think I've friended everyone. I'll double-check if I have time.

Thank you all for the nudge.

Further dungeon fun:

I died in the Dungeon of Papersky

I was killed in a narrow torture chamber by Pameladean the cockatrice, whilst carrying...

the Crown of Dhole, the Amulet of Gail Godwin, the Dagger of Tea, the Wand of Vernor Vinge, the Wand of Food, a Figurine of Lisajulie, the Armour of Kate Nepveu, the Wand of Angevin2, the Armour of Aireon, the Shield of Marian Engel, the Dagger of Ianmcdonald, the Wand of Nineweaving, the Amulet of Sovay, the Dagger of Ritaxis, the Crown of Rozk, a Figurine of Redbird, the Crown of Webbob, the Axe of Plato, the Amulet of Montreal, the Crown of Llygoden, the Axe of John Barnes, the Armour of Fivemack, the Wand of Howard Waldrop and 349 gold pieces.

Score: 412

Explore the Dungeon of Papersky and try to beat this score,
or enter your username to generate and explore your own dungeon...

The Surrealist's Dungeon

I escaped from the Dungeon of Tnh!

I killed 2muchexposition the orc, Davidlevine the nymph, Norilana the fire elemental and Benyalow the leprechaun.

I looted a Figurine of Gtrout, the Sceptre of Hamsters, the Crown of Gerisullivan, the Sword of Beamjockey, the Sceptre of Citrus, a Figurine of Ceiliog, the Sword of Mplscorwin, the Armour of Epacris and 120 gold pieces.

Score: 345

Explore the Dungeon of Tnh and try to beat this score,
or enter your username to generate and explore your own dungeon...

(no subject)

Two queries.

First, does anyone know where I can find blackberry or raspberry plants? My local store has sold out of them.

Second, does anyone know how to find contact information for a specific doctor, if you don't know where in the country he is these days?

More garden

1. Keep track.

You know how sometimes you'll get a reminder about Thing Wanted stuck in your mental queue, and a few shopping trips later you'll be wildly oversupplied with worcestershire sauce, or paper towels, or Campbell's chicken broth? If I had to do that with something for my garden, why did it have to be Colocasia esculenta, a.k.a. elephant-ear caladium?

2. Bugger all.

My vasty tray of perfectly seeded and labeled perennials, mentioned last time around? O the dreadful wind and rain: those big fat substantial petals from the magnolia tree next door -- the ones that fell last year during a string of dead-still days, so that I could literally hear them plopping onto the sidewalk -- all came whirling down and plastered themselves over the top of my seeded Jiffy-7 peat pellets. After it stopped raining today, I cleared them off and found flattened dying seedlings underneath them. Except for the Johnny-jump-ups, which were busily justifying their names.

3. Reminder.

If you are an author, and you write scenes in which people use various herbs for mystical purposes, please include mugwort. If enough writers mention mugwort as an essential ingredient in witchy formulations, the woo-woos will start using it, enterprising persons (probably first-generation immigrants) will start gathering it and drying it, and the godawful stuff will become just a tiny bit rarer than it is.

If you want to be politically correct, do the same for purple loosestrife, a gorgeous but invasive perennial that's the bane of northeastern wetlands. You might mention that it forms very sturdy root systems that can look just like creepy monster claws.

4. Jim, Duncan, Meg.

Drunken Lady, completely taking over its area of the garden. I see why your mother was impressed. The Murgy Rose, doing just fine. Jim's hedge rose from his yard in Colebrook, showing distinct imperialist tendencies. Roses, roses, roses.

5. Luck!

And there in the pocket of my gardening overshirt, left over from last fall, a forgotten wad of bills, bastante para dos cenas de pernil! And I am so very tired from digging. I phone out to La Parada for dinner. On top of the pernil, chopped spring onions from the garden. It's perfect.

Buffismo: vampiric true names

Angelus wasn't Angelus; he was Liam. Spike was William. "Darla" wasn't a name when Darla was turned. And we have to assume that a pious Catholic family wouldn't have named a daughter Drusilla. What, then, was Drusilla's name?

Answer: We don't know, but I strongly suspect it was Agnes. Three iterations of the song about the lamb in the blackberry patch is a bit too much for an arbitrary detail.

Predictable outcome

Did I mention that I made my first pro magazine sale a while back? It's nonfiction, of course -- an essay on cliches in book-length works, for the cliche-themed issue John Scalzi is editing for Subterranean.

Today I proofread my galleys. (They may be .pdf files, but they're still galleys.) There are twenty-eight separate items in the corrections I sent John Scalzi. The majority of them are creebs about formatting details, loosely wordspaced lines, and laddered wordbreaks. The last item says:
(You bought a piece of writing from a compulsive rewriter who's also a former typesetter, proofreader, copy editor, managing editor, et cetera. What did you think would happen?)

The life and times of young Porco Bruno

Porco Bruno is my new hamster, successor to the much-missed Arthur. PB's young, high-strung, and athletic. Recently while handling him I noticed what may be a scar across his face, running upward diagonally from the outer edge of his right eye (which eyelid droops a bit) past the centerline up between his ears. If so, I'm mildly impressed that he survived it. I'm wondering now whether his tendency to go into sudden thrashing panics might be a bit of brain damage, or possibly the hamster equivalent of PTSD, or whether he came from a careless hamstery that wasn't good about socializing their young. Hamsters have to be handled, just like kittens, if they're to grow up to be human-friendly pets.

It could be that PB's just young. I'm going with that theory, since it's the one I can work with. I've been cultivating his acquaintance, establishing my character as Nice Human With Lettuce. He's still twitchy, but he's learned the "come here, I have a snack for you" noise. I've moved him to the old CritterTrail cage so I can get hold of him more easily. PB initially foiled this plan by moving his seeds and bedding up to one of the observation areas, from which he could instantly jump down and hide in the access tube. You'd swear he had bat in his ancestry. He's perfectly happy hanging upside-down in his tube, eating sunflower seeds from his seed stash in its bottom right-angled curve.

PB's antics in the tube were fun to watch, but he wasn't getting socialized that way, so I temporarily put domed stoppers over the bottoms of his two access tubes. This limits him to the main cage area. He's rejected the little dome-shaped hamster house I gave him, and instead has bermed up his cage litter and dug a foxhole in the corner under the wheel, with a thicket of paper towel strips stuffed in above it. He makes little noises while he works on it.

That's one of the weirdest things about Porco Bruno: he's vocal. Most hamsters are silent, or nearly silent except for an occasional squeak of dismay. The day I brought him back to Tor from the pet shop, he expressed his displeasure by I-swear-to-ghod roaring -- sounding, as our intern Torie said, either like bad plumbing, or an extremely small velociraptor. He hasn't roared much since he got here, I assume because he's never been that upset again. But he continues to express himself with a wide variety of squeaks, growls, peeps, chirps, and other strange sound effects.

Yesterday afternoon, when I was working at home and he was curled up asleep in his nest, he suddenly let out a seriously distressed hamster-scream, followed by a series of loud squeaks. I went over to see what was the matter and found him hazily thrashing around, feet-up, obviously half-asleep. I cupped my hand around the corner of the cage and held it there so his nest would be dark and warm, and he soon went back to sleep.

I know hamsters dream; all mammals from the marsupials up exhibit REM sleep. Besides, I held Arthur while he was sleeping during his final illness, and he was definitely going in and out of dream sleep. What I want to know is, do hamsters have nightmares? Because that's exactly what this looked like.

That birth date meme thing.

My birth date is March 21st, the first day of the astrological year. It's frequently the date of the vernal equinox (or the autumnal equinox, if you're in the Southern Hemisphere).

Let's see, now. Three each, events, births, deaths, and observances ...


1871, Journalist Henry Morton Stanley set out to find missionary-explorer David Livingstone, who didn't know he was being looked for.

1918, Beginning of the Second Battle of the Somme. It's hard enough to believe they did it once.

1952, Alan Freed presented the Moondog Coronation Ball, the first ever rock and roll concert, in Cleveland, Ohio.


1685, Johann Sebastian Bach

1806, Benito Juarez

1943, Viv Stanshall


1556, Thomas Cranmer was burned at the stake. He made a good death, though Latimer got off the better line.

1487, Saint Nicholas of Flue, patron saint of Switzerland, dead of natural causes on his 70th birthday. He laid the foundations for Swiss neutrality and for the humanitarian treatment of prisoners of war, was a married layman with ten children, and is venerated by Catholics and Protestants alike.

1958, Futurian and SF author Cyril M. Kornbluth died of a heart attack after shoveling snow, then running to catch a commuter train. He was thirty-five.


1. Everyone's vernal equinox celebrations, which in some cases -- f.i. astrologers, Iranians, and followers of the Bahá'í faith -- means it's also their New Year observance. In theory, probably also means that any number of gods, goddesses, and other mythical personages were either born, died, or experienced significant events on this date.

2. Day of Googoo Expressions of Fuzzy Benevolence: Earth Day, International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, World Poetry Day, etc.

3. Feast of Saint Serapion the Scholastic, also known as Sarapion of Thmuis, a fourth-century Egyptian monk. He took part in all the best flame wars of his era, hung out with SS. Anthony and Athanasius, and was admired by Jerome, which should tell you something. Had it in for Manichaeanism, Macedonianism, and Arianism, the last of which got him banished by Constantius II. If Credo were an RPG, lots of characters would be named Serapion.


Seeds: Set out a tray of 120 Jiffy-7 peat pellets seeded with perennials: Achillea millefolium, Achillea m. var. Summer Pastels, Viola cornuta, Viola tricolor, Cheiranthus cheiri (one packet mixed colors, one packet all dark red), Centranthus ruber, Campsis radicans, Helenium autumnale, Lychnis coronaria atrosanguinea, Buddleia alternifolia, Rudbeckia grandiflora, Gaillardia grandiflora, Alcea rosea zebrina, Asclepias tuberosa, Dianthus deltoides, Dianthus superba, Echinacea purpurea, and Echinops ritro. They look cute, each with its popsicle stick on which I've written the seed name with a Sharpie marker.

Soon I'll do a second tray with the tender seedlings, mostly tomatoes and basil. I have a pleasant quantity of different basil seeds: sweet basil, of course, but also cinnamon, lemon, licorice, genovese, ruffled, lettuce leaf, globe, Greek mini, fino verde, dark opal purple, and holy basil.

Other doings: Located all (?) of last year's lilies and transplanted them to the triangle in front of the cherry tree. I'm thinking they'll do better if concentrated in a single area.

Planted two new rosebushes, both Mademoiselle de Sombreuil. Got them at Home Depot for $5.77 each. The trick is knowing that there are always one or two desirable roses in those big shipments of cheap bare-rooted roses HD gets every spring. That's how I got my Caldwell Pink last year.

Okay, the trick is also buying them from HD early in the season: shipped cold, still dormant, and there hasn't been much chance yet for HD's garden department to accumulate plant diseases. By mid-May last year even HD's premium potted roses were going yellow and dropping their leaves en masse, having one and all been zapped by something nasty. The only exception were some potted The Fairy, which I snubbed even though they'd been radically downpriced, as I didn't want to take the plague home with me.

My established roses are fine this spring, except for the miniatures, which all died over the winter. Don't know why. The chrysanthemums don't look like they made it. The Sanguisorba minor did. The horseradish has yet to show itself aboveground, but I don't believe for a minute that it all died off over the winter. Horseradish is one of those plants you'd better be sure you want in the contemplated location, because if you change your mind you'll be years getting rid of it.

The mugwort is rioting, herbaceous cockroach that it is.

Pruned the cherry tree for shape. The pruned branches are in a vase on my dining table, looking elegant.

Pruned the roses: viciously and heavy-handedly with the big red rambler in the corner, as it sends out meaty six-foot-long canes in all directions that can render that end of the garden impassable. Did the same thing to it last year and it bloomed like crazy, so it can't be too discouraged. Didn't prune its genetic twin over by the fence. Instead, switched its new eight-foot cane up into the neighbor's magnolia tree. That rose's incursions into the magnolia tree bloomed very prettily last year. Maybe the new people minding the yard next door will let it keep growing up into the tree this time.

Not sure what's going on next door. Appears the landlord hired a couple of young men to come in, clean up the yard, repaint the fence red and the patio furniture white, and generally get the place spiffed up. That's the yard that goes with the apartment where last year my next-door neighbor was murdered and then not found for a long time. Landlord's doing a complete renovation on the apartment: pretty much had to, under the circumstances.

On the other side of the yard, the Azerbaijanis have planted grapevines alongside the uprights of the crazy tottering wooden structure they put up last year. Thought that might be the idea. I'm not going to tell the city about them, but I have trouble believing their back yard construction projects would pass inspection. That sore-thumb arbor of theirs -- a story and a half tall, stretching from side to side and front to back in their yard -- is going to have a hard time escaping notice.

Next set of tasks: clean up rose prunings. Rake yard. See who wants some of that tradescantia, also some mint. I have way too much mint. Last year's experimental use of it as a groundcover was only successful from the mint's point of view.

Where in NYC can you buy tomato cages? I mean the plain wire kind, not the Deluxe Patio Tomato model HD keeps trying to sell me.