Thursday, October 30, 2014

Unreal Estate VII (Epilogue)

Four days later, Adelle was sitting in her office. She'd finally gotten Steve on the phone, and was savoring the disbelief in his voice. "That's right," she said. "Sold. At our asking price. Yes."

On the other side of her desk, Damon Petrovich smiled and raised an eyebrow.

"He's taking possession today. And, Steve? I quit." She smiled. "...Yes. Well, yes, I suppose I did get a better offer, but mainly I think it's time for me to move on, maybe do some traveling. Emily can keep things in order for another day or two; she has access to your calendar, and she can email you if anything serious comes up. You may be a bit busy when you get back, but I'm sure you'll survive." She paused, listening. "No, Steve. I'm really quitting. Right now, in fact. It's been nice knowing you."

She hung up the phone before he could reply, and turned to look at Damon. "That's it," she said, and took one last look around the room. It felt strange to be here; the chair was far too large for her, and the phone felt comically oversized in her hand. She hopped down from the chair and came around the desk; her eyes were level with its top. It was very, very strange to look at the world from down here.

Her flesh rippled, a line of darkness running up her arm before she got it back under control.

Damon slipped off his chair and offered her his arm. "Shall we?"

Smiling, she slipped her arm through his and walked with him out the door.

Unreal Estate VI

"The body you burned," he said, "her name was Tisilosh, which is something akin to Amber here in this world. She was part of the search, but we never heard back from her. We never knew what became of her, until now."

"We?" asked Adelle.

Damon Petovich hesitated, then said: "We are travelers, explorers. There was an accident, a very long time ago, and some of us were trapped here. Our people sent a rescue craft, but... it has taken us a very long time to find it. We have had to pretend to be native to this world in order to survive... and we have not always succeeded. You owe many of your darker legends to us."

"This house?" asked Adelle. "It's not haunted? It's a spaceship?"

Damon chuckled. "Not space. Still, broadly speaking, yes." He held up a hand. "It would please me to do this correctly. We will bid on this house, and you will act as our representative. Then, when it is no longer your problem, it will be as if this house was never here."

"All right," said Adelle. "Make me an offer. On behalf of my boss, I'll accept it. It'll take a few days to get everything in order and sign the contract, but if you're buying it outright then that should be fine. More than anything else, Steve wants to be rid of this place."

"And you?" asked Damon Petrovich. "Forgive me for intruding, but you don't seem happy here: in your job, in your life, in this world. You will be honored as our rescuer; you could come with us. It would require some... changes... to your body, but those are things that could be done easily before we leave."

Adelle wavered. "Let's just settle the house, for now."

Damon nodded. "Very well," he said.

Unreal Estate V

The kitchen was everything the ballroom was not: dark, grim, crowded with the hulking shapes of antique stoves and ovens, obscured by hanging racks of cooking utensils. Adelle found the light switch, but half the overheads were burned out, and the other half flickered and buzzed with the complaints of elderly florescent bulbs. They obscured as much as they revealed.

"I'm pretty sure this was where we lost the young couple," she said. "They were the ones I mentioned earlier, the ones who loved the idea of living in a haunted house, and found this one. They stayed the night, and then they... vanished. Didn't call us back, didn't answer their phone, didn't anything. Steven eventually tracked them out California, but they wouldn't say what had happened. Wouldn't speak to us at all, in fact."

"I see," said Damon Petrovich. He was barely tall enough to see over the stoves, but he stood straight and looked around, assessing but not afraid.

"I'm not sure you do," said Adelle. "Steve sent me back out here to see what had become of them. I checked through the house, by myself, and found nobody. There were a few things in one of the bedrooms -- a sleeping bag, a tooth brush, and a battery-powered alarm clock -- but no people. I was absolutely certain they'd left, and I was alone... except for the house, of course. So I kept looking, and I came down here to the kitchen. And right there..." She pointed to one of the islands, not so much a counter as a heavy wooden chopping block with cabinets underneath. "...I found..." She shrugged. "I don't know. Parts of it were covered with black fur. Parts of it were smooth, hard but flexible, like an insect. Chitin. I looked it up, later.

"...My boss wouldn't let me report it. He told me to haul it up to the fire pit out back and burn it." She shook her head. "So there's no record of it. I can't prove what I saw. But it was right there."

Damon Petrovich blinked. "Are you loyal to your boss, Ms. Terfield?"

Adelle shook her head, confused by the change of subject. What was he asking? "Steve... he isn't a nice guy. He thinks he is, but he isn't." That was too honest, but she couldn't seem to stop. She'd committed herself to telling everything about the house, and somehow that had grown into a willingness to tell everything. "He's calculating and manipulative, and I'm sure that that's why he gave me a job eight years ago. My husband had just left me, I didn't have any kids to look after, and I'm sure he took one look at me and knew that I'd throw everything I had into my work." She looked away, into the shadows of the empty kitchen. "I still owe him for it."

Damon Petrovich nodded gravely. "I see. Ms. Terfield, I know this is going to seem a very odd question, but... did you do it? Did you burn the body, here on this ground?"

Still frowning, Adelle met his eyes. Grief, confusion, worry -- she couldn't seem to sort out the tangle of emotions behind her sternum. "Yes," she said. "I did."

Damon Petrovich closed his eyes and lowered his head. "It is well," he said. "It is well."

"What?" asked Adelle. "What is well? What do you know about... about all this?"

"Miss Adelle," he said. "I told you that I was interested in seeing a haunted house. That was... not entirely true. I have been looking for a house -- this house. I have been looking for it for a very long time." He paused considering her for a long moment: she nearly twice his height, with dark skin and black hair carefully and thoroughly tamed to look professional. "Miss Adelle, can you keep a secret? As a condition of my agreement to purchase this place?"

"Of course," she said.

Unreal Estate IV

They climbed the steps together, crossed the wooden porch with only the faintest creak of wood beneath their feet, and stepped into the wide front entry. It was large enough for a game of football, but the floor was polished wood and doubtless had been intended as a ballroom. At the far end, a wide stair climbed to a balcony that overlooked the room and opened onto both wings of the second floor.

Adelle glanced at the ornate stone fireplaces, but saw nothing: no hint of movement, no cooling embers, no ashy footprints leading to or from them. She turned her eyes to the pictures, dark-eyed patriarchs and stern matriarchs, all seated stiffly and regarding the room with a mixture of disapproval and rigid dignity. There was nothing there, either; no hint of movement; not even the usual itchy sense of being watched. She frowned, puzzled.

Her client seemed to share something of her reaction. "You said the place was haunted?" he inquired politely.

She looked at him suspiciously, but he wore politeness like a mask; his stance and expression showed mild curiosity, but she couldn't read anything behind it. "Mr. Petrovich," she said, and then cut herself off. She was not going to tell him what it had been like the last time she was here, or what she'd found when she came to see why the young couple had never called them back. Besides, he'd seen the front doors open on their own; he had to know that there was something unusual about this place. So instead she took a breath, and then said: "Why don't we just look the place over, and see what happens?"

"Of course," he said. "Humor me, though, and tell me why you call the place haunted. We can walk as you explain."

Adelle sighed. "I suppose we can," she said, "but we don't have to go far. Steve -- my boss, who owns the house -- once told me that the first person he brought here turned and ran away not three steps inside the door. When he caught up with her outside, she swore she'd seen a shadowy figure dragging a... a struggling woman up one of the chimneys. She wouldn't go back inside. Those pictures on the walls? People say they feel like the pictures are watching them. I've felt it myself, though I suppose it could be just imagination."

"Go on," said Damon Petrovich. His voice was gentle, coaxing.

Adelle started walking. "Several people reported feeling a... presence," she continued. "Something watching them, something reaching for them. I've felt that myself... just a few minutes ago, in fact. One man insisted that something in the house kept brushing against him, but I haven't ever felt that -- thank God. One time, Steve was trying to show this place, and he kept hearing someone moving in nearby rooms, or overhead. It made him half-crazy -- I think he thought that some vagrant was living here, hiding from him, and spoiling his chances of making the sale. He searched for maybe four hours and never found anyone, or any sign of anyone. Just sounds. Somewhere in there, the clients got freaked out and left. Steve didn't leave until it started getting dark outside." She paused, still walking, remembering what he'd said about that. After a time she asked: "Would you like to see the family rooms, the kitchens, or the servants' quarters first?"

"The kitchens, I think," said Damon Petrovich. He sounded uncertain, but Adelle was committed. She was going to tell him everything she remembered, and he would either buy the place, call her a fraud, or run screaming like everyone else had. For a moment, she was completely, irrationally angry: at Steve, for leaving her saddled with this; at Damon, for taking an interest in it; at herself, for being fool enough to come out here again; at the house itself, for being such an utter, unrelenting, terrifying pain in the ass.

"This way," she said, and led him around the stairs, and through the discreet door towards the back of the house.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Music: Do I Want To Know?

Okay, so... by Herculean efforts last night, I have completed Firstborn's Halloween costume. So colossal were these efforts that I went to bed immediately afterwards. I'm hoping to get the rest of Unreal Estate written tonight, but for the moment, I'm just going to throw up some music.

Arctic Monkeys:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Unreal Estate III

The drive to the front door was what Adelle thought of as a Classic Haunted House Approach: through the high stone pillars, past the heavy iron gates, then up a winding gravel drive between dark, twisted trees whose overhanging branches blotted out the sky and reached down to clutch at the passing cars. She occasionally caught glimpses of the rest of the acreage through the trees: overgrown, but never completely wild; just as the stone wall that surrounded the estate somehow managed to be derelict and run down without ever actually being ruined.

The house was cast from the same mold: despite its decrepit appearance -- a few missing shingles here, a broken window there, the steps and floorboards prone to creaking, and vines crawling over half of it -- it was fundamentally solid, a dark and brooding presence overlooking its environs. Adelle slowed as they reached the circle at the end of the drive, and stopped her car between the broken fountain in the center of the circle and the front steps.

She opened the door and stepped out quickly, scanning the windows. Was that a flash of movement on the second floor? By the time she focused, it was gone. She glanced back, but saw nothing in the fountain (just empty stone, overgrown with the remains of a rose garden), and immediately turned her attention back to the house. She couldn't shake the feeling that she was being watched, that something was approaching, just behind her...

Damon Petrovich stepped out of his car, and the house... went still. Adelle glanced around, startled and confused. The house hadn't been moving, of course it hadn't been moving, but that sense of something lurking had suddenly retreated; and the feeling the house was somehow gathering itself suddenly receded. For a moment, it was just a big, old, somewhat battered house.

Then the doors swung open.

"I'm curious," said Damon Petrovich. "Would you consider than an invitation?"

"I... I don't know," said Adelle, genuinely puzzled. Then her voice turned grim. "If it is, it's a probably an invitation that to some special unpleasantness that it's been saving especially for me."

Monday, October 27, 2014

Cello Wars: The Jedi Music Duels

For this morning, I got nothin'. So, here: have a little slice of somebody else's awesome:

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Music: Heaven Knows

The Pretty Reckless:
(Caution: the video isn't work-safe -- or church-safe, for that matter. Might be better to listen to it without watching the video in any case, but then I think that about a lot of music.)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

In which Secondborn inherits my musical tastes

So, we just came back from the grocery store, and I had my Halloween mix playing in the car, and Secondborn is now roaming around the house singing "Pwiests and cannibals, Pwehistowic animals..."

This, ladies and gentlemen, this is my child.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Math Facts 2

Another homemade worksheet which Firstborn can use for his weekly "Math Facts". Again, if you're a parent in a similar situation (i.e. trying to figure out how to do math facts for thirty minutes a week with your video-game-obsessed third grader) feel free to steal this for your own use.

1. In order to create a Grail Of Bubbly Power, you will need 8 silver ore. You will also need twice that much copper ore, and half that much gold ore. How many total pieces of ore will you need to make this item?

2. Your Claptrap unit has been attacked by 7 Scavs. You activate vaulthunter.exe and receive a buzz axe. The buzz axe will take care of 2 Scavs every second. How many seconds will it take for you to get rid of the scavs?

3. Vexx needs 35 wraith-hearts to open the portal to the shadow world so that he can defeat Dark Yabu. If each realm contains 5 wraith-hearts, how many realms will Vexx need to explore before he can open the portal?

4. Laval fell asleep when he was supposed to be guarding the Lion Temple. While he was sleeping, 2 wolves, 4 ravens, and 3 crocodiles snuck into the temple. Each intruder took 3 balls of chi. How many chi balls are missing because of Laval?

5. Texas has been overrun by a plague of zombie chickens. Fortunately, after reading Professor Egalitan’s Comprehensive Guide to Unlikely Undead Beings (Volume 7), you realize that zombie chickens can be satisfied with stalks of wheat or barley. (Zombie chickens: "Grains. Graaaaains…") There are 36 zombie chickens in your neighborhood. Half of them require 5 grains every night; the other half require four grains every night. How many grains will you need each night to keep the zombie chickens from turning on innocent humans?

6. A vampire moves into an apartment building. Each night, he drinks somebody’s blood, and that person turns into a vampire, who also begins drinking people’s blood and turning them into vampires. (So, on the first night, Dracula drinks Alice’s blood. On the second night, Dracula and Alice go out and drain Bob and Bill, turning them into vampires also. On the third night, Dracula, Alice, Bob, and Bill all go out and drain people. This is called a "geometric progression".) How long will it take before all 32 people in the apartment building are vampires?

Music: Everything Stops For Tea

Professor Elemental:

This could be my theme song.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Being a Grown-Up Sucks, part 576

We put one of the cats down last night. He was fifteen years old (which is a full life for a cat), and he'd been adopted by The Beautiful Woman back when he was a kitten, in the days when we just dating (and still professing that it was just a fling and would never go anywhere). When we took him in to the vet today, he was little more than skin and bones, except for his abdomen; his abdomen was little more than tumor. He was still eating, and still drinking his water, but he'd started having trouble getting up and down from things... or even standing up, sometimes. He'd also started... not quite meowing, but making a sort of puzzled mew that suggested that he was kind of uncomfortable and wasn't entirely sure why.

I never know how to call these things. I don't think anybody does. We could maybe have kept him alive longer than we did (but you never know). On the other hand, I think he would have been sliding from "uncomfortable" to "miserable" by imperceptibly tiny degrees (but you never know). Or he might have gone a few more days and then keeled over on his own (but you never know).

I do know that he spent the last two months eating wet cat food and being fussed over, both of which he very much enjoyed. I know he snuggled with my wife and the boys, and that a lot of what our boys know about how to treat animals they learned through him. For all that cats are supposed to be imperious and indifferent, he was very much an affectionate and involved member of the family. He will definitely be missed.

We've done the best we could for him. I hope we've done right.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Gandalf's advice to students

We have these conversations...

Secondborn: {Clicking tongs open and closed: click-click-click-click...}

Me: Secondborn, what are you doing?

Secondborn: Dey are getting weady to eat you.

Me: That's what I was afraid of...

Secondborn: {Chomps my neck with the tongs.} Dey are eating you.

Me: I knew that was coming.

Secondborn: {Runs off clicking the tongs: click-click-click...}

Twenty seconds later...

Me: Secondborn, your sandwich is ready. Get back in here. And stop eating your brother.

Me: (to myself) I knew that was coming, too.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Secondborn has opinions about counting

Someday, when he's a teenager, I will show him this image again. I'm sure he will thank me for it.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Unreal Estate II

Damon Petrovich wasn't at all what Adelle had expected. His voice had given the impression of a somewhat older man, probably portly and definitely genteel. In the flesh, Mr. Petrovich turned out to be slender, well-formed, and extremely petite - not much over four feet tall. He climbed out of his car (a black Honda sedan which struck her as studiously anonymous) and stood looking up at her, unabashed by the difference in their heights. "Ms. Terfield?" He wore a black suit, with a patterned tie and a light blue shirt that matched his eyes.

"Call me Adelle," she replied automatically, with her best professional smile. She offered a hand, and he (of course) took it rather than shaking it. His lips didn't quite brush her knuckles.

"Indeed," he said, "and you must call me Damon."

"Yes, well, Damon, I'd like to warn you now that whatever we find in this house, it isn't anything I've done and it isn't any sort of joke that I, or Better Real Estate, are party to." She was watching for his reaction, but his expression didn't change: bright, penetrating curiosity radiated from an angular, adult face.

"If I may ask," he said after a moment, "what is it you expect to find?"

"I wish I knew," said Adelle. "I've only been out here twice before. My boss wound up owning this place early in his career -- he was just making a name for himself, and he was running one of those 'If We Can't Sell It, We'll Buy It' deals. It looked like a great deal, but it's..." She trailed off.

"Haunted?" asked Damon.

"Haunted," Adelle agreed. "Nobody will buy it. The closest we've ever come was a young couple who loved the idea of living in a haunted house. They stayed the night to try it out, and after that... we never heard from them again. Steve -- my boss -- did some checking, and found that they'd decided to move to California instead."

"Interesting," said Damon. He was looking at the gates: heavy black iron, mounted on stone pillars; the high stone wall that surrounded the property disappeared into a tangle of overgrown bushes in both direction. "No tragic history? No murders? No mysterious deaths?"

Okay, maybe he was a writer or an artist, or at least someone with a hobbyist's interest in the supernatural. "Almost no history at all," Adelle admitted. "We couldn't even find a date when it was built. It must be fairly modern -- it has indoor plumbing, running water, and electricity -- but we have no building permits, and no records of when any of that was built, or added on. This area wasn't incorporated until the sixties, but the county should still have records of something. The earliest record Steve could find showed that Alder Campbell inherited the place from someone named Dominique LeClerque, in nineteen fifty-two. Dominique's ownership of the place was either already well established, or taken for granted."

"Well," said Damon Petrovich, "perhaps it's only waiting for the right sort of owner. If you would, Adelle?"

Adelle nodded her consent, and went to unlock the gates.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Firstborn and the Meat Loaf

Me: "I remember everything. I remember every little thing as if it happened only yesterday. I was barely seventeen, and I once killed a man with a Fender guitar. I don't remember if it was a Telecaster or a Statocaster--"

Firstborn: "Then you don't remember everything."

Me: "Noticed that, did you? Yeah, I don't think Meat Loaf is exactly a reliable narrator."

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Math Worksheet for 3rd Grade

One of the things that has been visited upon us as Firstborn makes his way through Third Grade is the concept of "Math Facts". Apparently, we're supposed to spend half an hour each week going over "math facts". I dunno, maybe they think we own flash cards or something. Mostly, we've been trying to do the sorts of things we see in his homework, except on a more ad hoc basis. I, however, am just about as bored with that as Firstborn is. So, in an effort to make things a bit more interesting, I've created a worksheet. If you're a parent in roughly the same position, feel free to nick it for your own use.
1. A Gunzerker, a Commando, and a Siren follow a stolen power core to a bandit camp. The Commando takes care of 9 bandits. The Siren takes care of 14 bandits. The Gunzerker takes care of 12 bandits. The Commando also tosses out 2 turrets. Each turret takes care of the same number of bandits as the Gunzerker did. When they are done, all the bandits are gone. How many bandits were in the camp? Show your work.

2. Your new, Creeper-proof tower is 8 blocks wide and 12 blocks deep. How many blocks will it take to fill in the floor?

3. In Terraria, your Super-Mystic Ebony Blaster-Wand deals 15 damage every time it hits. If the Eye of Cthulhu has 128 hit points, how many times will you have to hit the Eye of Cthulhu in order to defeat it? Show your work.

4. You have finished your homework and done your chores. You now have 35 minutes to watch YouTube videos. If every video on your favorite channel is 7 minutes long, how many videos can you watch before it's time to go to bed?

5. Speaking of YouTube videos, which will take the longest to watch?
‭ 3 videos which each last 11 minutes
‭ 2 videos which each last 15 minutes
‭ 5 videos which each last 7 minutes
‭Show your work.

‭6. Your new life-form in Spore has 4 arms, each of which has 4 claws. How many creatures will you need in order to have 48 claws? Show your work.

I'll let you know how that works out for us.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Just in time for Halloween: Jack

I know I've put this up before, but we're approaching Halloween and it's one of my favorite (extremely short) horror films.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Halloween in the Ancient Days

A small look back at my youth. I can't remember whether I specified "dinosaur" or "Godzilla", but I think the little tangle of yarn was meant to be fire -- so probably Godzilla.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Unreal Estate I

Adelle Terfield picked up the ringing phone and said, with practiced cheerfulness, "Good morning, you've reached Better Real Estate. How can we help you today?"

The voice on the phone was male, gentle, and faintly accented. "Good morning. I'd like to see the haunted house."

Adelle frowned, then smoothed the expression away. "What haunted house?" she asked politely.

"It's an advertisement on Craigslist," the voice said helpfully. "Genuinely haunted house, just an hour outside of town, could be yours for less than half its estimated value. There's a picture -- it looks a bit decrepit and overgrown -- and then it continues: Contact Better Real Estate for details. It ends with this phone number. I do hope it isn't some sort of joke, as I'd very much like to see the place."

Of course it's a joke, thought Adelle. Steve wouldn't... She hesitated. Oh, yes, he would, replied a nasty little voice in the back of her mind. This close to Halloween? While he just happens to be on a two-week vacation in Italy? He absolutely would have placed an ad like this. She sighed. "If it's the house I think it is," she said slowly, "then it isn't exactly a joke. Could you give me a minute or two to check?"

"Certainly, certainly." The voice remained pleasant and courteous.

She found it on her second keyword search. It was the house -- of course it was. Of course Steve would leave her to take care of that house. She punched the button to make herself audible again, and said: "I found it. It's a real property, and it really is for sale, and Better Real Estate really is representing it. More than that, actually -- we're the ones selling it."

"I'd like to see it. Today, if that's possible."

Adelle hesitated. It would serve him right if you closed up the office and took off to show that house to a potential buyer. If you somehow did manage to sell it... "I believe we can manage that. Would this afternoon work for you? Say, 2:00?"

"That would be lovely."

"Then I'll see you there, mister...?"

"Petrovich. Damon Petrovich."

"Adelle Terfield," she returned. She gave him the address and cautioned him to wait until she arrived to open the gates, then hung up the phone. Okay, then... Shaking her head in a mixture of exasperation and disbelief, she went to look for their -- or, for the moment, her -- secretary.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A link, a thought, and a flashback...

A link:

It seems that The Black Book of Children's Bible Stories will be available free for the Kindle on Wednesday and Thursday, so if you missed it last time, I'd (still) highly recommend picking it up. Come to that, I'd recommend picking it up even if you've missed getting it for free -- it's well worth the three bucks.

A thought:

One of the Bible stories touched on in The Black Book is the story of Noah's Ark -- that charming children's tale about how the truly worthy were saved by their hard work and virtue from the horrible cataclysm that wiped out everyone else. If you're somehow unfamiliar with the scriptural version, then you still might have run across one of the modern retellings of the story: Atlas Shrugged, for example. Its appeal is, I think, understandable; we've all had days where it seems like the only way to make things right would be to burn everything down and start over. (I suspect that's a large part of the fantasy appeal of Zombie Apocalypse stories, too.) The problem is... well, a problem is...

A flashback:

The end was near. We all knew it, though some still screamed denials.

I led my family down the center of the street, staying away from the sidewalks and alleys. We kept the children in the center, while the adults encircled them with weapons ready. We'd fought twice already, once with another family and once with a group of men...
Continued here.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Wisdom Beyond His Meager Years

Teacher: "Is a hippopotamus a pet?"
Secondborn: "No, it's too big and it won't fit in your house."

I can haz girded loinz nao?

Ever wondered what "girding your loins" actually means? Well, it turns out there's an illustrated guide.

Ye gods, I love the Internet.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Music: Slow Knife

I have nothing for today, so have some Roadkill Ghost Choir - a band that I've taken a liking to:

Thursday, October 2, 2014

While I'm riffing on Carly Rae Jepsen...

...If there's anyone in the world who missed this, here you go. You can thank me later.

My musical genius remains unappreciated

The scene: Firstborn is doing his math homework at the kitchen table. He's in third grade, so the worksheet is focused on subtracting three-digit numbers. So, for example:

...Except that, as with so much of current mathematical teaching, the idea isn't just to get the right answer. The assignment also wants him to estimate the answer first, by rounding the ones column and doing a much simpler approximation of the problem. So:

So, if your estimate comes out to 34, and your final answer is somewhere around 340, you probably did it right. I'd make fun of it, but this is actually a good trick to know. Anyway, Firstborn is working on these problems. I, of course, am helping him out...

...By singing.
Me: "Hey, I just met you,
and this is crazy,
but here's my numbers,
so estimate me!

Just round the ones place,
Let's don't get crazy,
so here's my numbers-
just estimate me!"

Firstborn: "Stop. Just stop."

Me: "Before I knew to estimate,
my math was so hard,
my math was so hard,
Before I knew to estimate my math was so, so hard."

Firstborn: "I will sing the Minecraft version at you. Stampy has a song about his dead dog."

Me: "I'll stop."
Victory to Firstborn. I like to think I was ahead on points, though.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Blurb for a book that will never be written...

This is a story idea that popped into my head last night, and clung to me all through today -- that is, through being nauseatedly sick and into Day Two of the The Ticketing Server Upgrade From Beyond The Grave That Just Wouldn't Die. It will never be written, because I do not have the time or the focus to write books, no matter how much they appeal to me or how much I'd like to see them actually written.

...But just in case I ever do get the chance, here's the blurb -- and enough material that I could chart out the associations that have been playing round in my head all day:
Shanna woke up to find her parents dead, her sister going into shock, and her own heart... not beating. Now she has to hide her death - or fake her life - well enough to take care of her sister, come to terms with her new condition, and navigate the dangerous politics of the hidden places where the dead still walk. Some help would be welcome, but not when it comes from a mysterious benefactor who may very well be the same man who killed her... or anyone else in his household, living or dead.

There are all sorts of dead, you see, and all sorts of ways to be dead when you just aren't ready to lie still.