Wednesday, August 31, 2005

My Scooter Stories, Part One: Can't Hold On to a Bike!

Me, my bike,and my blurry house, circa 1981.I wanted a moped.

I can't remember why, but that's what I wanted.  I hadn't had my $115 ten-speed bicycle (as seen here) more than a year or two, and I'd really wanted that, at least until I had it.  But now I wanted something with a motor in it. 

The year, I think, was 1983.  I'm not sure whether we had shut down Rockarama yet, but it was somewhere around that time.  The place:  Columbus, Ohio.

If we had closed down Rockarama by then (the store never did make us any money), that means I was working at Buzzard's Nest on Morse Road, or possibly about to start there.  The new job was a seven mile commute from our duplex on 13th Ave.  It makes sense that I would have wanted a vehicle that made the ride a little easier.  There was no money for a car (I earned $4.00 an hour at the Buzz), but a moped was affordable--barely.

Maybe it was the slick radio ads from Rick Case Honda that got me interested in mopeds.  The ads promised that they would beat anyone else's price, "or give you the Honda for free!"  Even gullible Karen saw through that one.  It would always be more advantageous for the dealer to beat a price than to give the bike away, and yet it wasn't false advertising.  As I said: slick.  But it meant that the price would be low, and that's what I was aiming for.

John said I could get the moped if I sold the bike to help pay for it.  So we set up at one of the drive-in theatre flea markets, and I did sell the bike and some other stuff.  Then we went off to Rick Case.  I came home with my little red moped.  Top speed: 20 mph.  That part was a little frustrating, but otherwise I loved it.  I'm pretty sure I gave it a name, but I don't remember what it was.

You see those blurry blue steps on the right in the photo above?  A couple of feet away from those, on the side of the house, was a length of pipe.  I think it was a drainpipe, but it could have been a gasline, or a water pipe.  I just remember that it was attached to the house at both ends, or else one end went into the ground.  You get the idea, though: both ends were secure.  Therefore, locking my moped to it with a bike lock should have been secure.

Nope.  One evening, while we were home, someone cut off the lock and made away with the moped.  I'd only had it a couple of months.  I reported it to the police, but of course nothing ever came of that.  I don't recall whether it was covered by renters' insurance.  Probably not.  And I don't think Jenny Dog even barked at the thief.

Well, I was fed up with 20 miles per hour anyway.  And now tv was advertising a new kind of Honda, one that made the moped seem like a kid's toy.  It was called an Aero scooter.  It came in 50cc and 80cc models.  Top speed on the 80cc: 40 mph!  Maybe as much as 44 mph, I later discovered, but only while going down a steep hill with a strong tailwind.

I had to have one.

Harry Nilsson's song Me and My Arrow played endlessly in my head as I planned the purchase, made possible by the $4.00 an hour George was paying me.  Maybe my mom or dad chipped in with a loan, but I don't really remember.  The bottom line is, I went to Honda East, where the staff was much more personable and service-oriented, much less pressuring than the other place.  I got my Aero 80.  I had to pass a motorcycle test, but that turned out to be easy to do.

That first scooter was great to ride, especially between 13th Ave and Morse Rd.  The speed limit along my route was pretty much the same speed the Aero could do.  I'd never be able to take the Aero on the Interstate (actually I think I tried it once or twice, for all of one exit), but it worked great for getting to work--as long as it wasn't snowing or icy.

Then one day, perhaps nine months later, I was on Karl Rd as usual, coming up on an intersection.  I know it was near Colleen's Collectibles and the cake shop, but I'm not sure of the street name after all these years.  Olentangy?  Oakland Park?  Lane Ave.?  Something else? Whatever. It may have been where McGuffey Lane sorta-kinda turns into Karl Road.  Don't expect me to remember the exact grid, because I haven't been there in nineteen years.

What I do remember is the layout of that part of the intersection.  Picture this:  I'm going north.  Immediately in front of me, the only northbound lane splits into two lanes, a couple hundred feet before the light.  The right lane is not a "right turn only" lane.  The left lane is not a "left turn only" lane. Both lanes continue after the light.

On the right (SE corner), just at the light, is a gas station.  In the left lane, three cars are backed up, waiting for the first car to  get an opening to turn left.  The light is green.  The right lane, all 200 feet of it, is empty.

Got it?  Now here's what happened.  Since I needed to go straight at the light, and didn't want to sit behind the guy turning left, I got into the right lane as soon as there was one.  Yes, of course I signaled, but people don't watch for 80cc scooters.  Nothing smaller than a car even registers in the brains of some drivers.

The second Aero 80.A woman was leaving the gas station.  The third car in line in the left lane saw her car sitting there, and kindly waved her in.

She never paid attention to the fact that there was another lane between her and the waving driver.  She sure as heck didn't look to see whether there was a scooter in that lane.

I have never been able to remember the moment of impact.

My glasses flew off, even through the used helmet we'd painted silver.  The helmet flew off, too, I think.  I sprained my ankle for approximately the 17th time, and needed stitches in my heel.  The Aero, of course, was totaled.

The woman whose car hit my scooter told me she was afraid to drive in the day or two after the accident.  But she had no clue why she was the one cited for it.  "Because I'm the one with the car," she said.  She had no idea what had really happened, where I'd appeared from.  She didn't understand that it really was her fault, until I explained it to her.

Ironically, this is very similar to the way the 18-year-old in the 1965 Ford pickup totaled my Saturn on March 30th, 2005.  The cop had to explain it to him, too.

The insurance settlement on the Columbus accident got me a 1984 Aero 80, replacing my 1983 model.  The "pain and suffering" check went most of the way toward buying John a Honda motorcycle.

Can you say "road trip?"  I knew you could.

Friday:  An American Castle.


Laborers, Laboring

This week's Round Robin Photo Challenge, "Labor", was suggested by Robbie, of "Robbie's Ruminations."  The game is to post your entry on each theme sometime on the designated day, midnight to midnight.  See the link for details on how to play along!

This one is not going to be my usual over-the-top, pull out the stops extravaganza.  I had an idea about how to make it more interesting, but the person I wanted to photograph and write about had tonight off.  Drat!  I should have remembered that, and grabbed him early.  Maybe I'll add C's story tomorrow night.

1.  Road Crew.

Go around him!

laborers, laboring

more labor


Yes, I know it's a cliché, but here are some pictures of the road crew that was working on the end of Fifth Street at Wilmot last week.  I think they may be done with that stretch now, but I honestly haven't paid attention this week to find out. I've been distracted by other construction.  Wilmot has been a mess for the past few days, with heavy rush hour traffic backed up in both directions due to lane closures.  The spots being worked on are fifty feet long at the most, but traffic backs up for half a mile as people try to guess which lane will get them to work (or home) the fastest.  Should they opt for the very-full middle lane, so that they can scoot either right or left when a break in the traffic opens up?  Should they drive in the lane that's clearly marked as being closed up ahead, trusting that they can merge at the last minute in front of some patsy?  Or should they hit the closest lane to their destination, and stay there if possible?  Too many people, in my opinion, go for the inconsiderate but effective second option.

waiting to flag again.

the fun part of the job.

This is probably the "fun" part of this guy's job.  Still, I imagine even waving a flag in traffic gets tiring and tiresome after a while, especially in 108 degree heat.

There's been a lot of talk here about the danger than Tucson drivers pose for traffic construction workers.  I believe it.  I cross Wilmot quite often, and it's always kind of a dangerous thing to do.  I wait for the WALK signal and then break into a slow run, watching carefully as the cars pull forward beside me.  Because there's no left turn arrow and everyone's in a hurry, most of the time at least one driver ignores Karen the Pedestrian, and turns left immediately in front of her.  I often notice that people are talking on the phone as they do this.  If I'm suddenly killed one of these days, you'll know it's because some driver was even more reckless than usual.  Would they respect me if I wore an orange vest?  I doubt it.  Some of the people who nearly run me down are probably my co-workers.

2.  Paper Pushing

my desk

I did a good job of pushing papers around today!

The only physical labor I do at work, aside from the long, dangerous, hot walk between my car and my desk, involves moving papers around.  I've noticed that a significant number of people at Unnamed Largish Company are fat like me, some even more so. I applaud the company's lack of prejudice against the large, but it makes me wonder whether obesity is really getting as endemic as the media keeps reporting it is.  It certainly seems that way. I look at pictures of me in 1970 through 1972, and I wonder how I could have been considered fat at the time.  But I was.  The standards have certainly changed!  Models are still expected to be practically anorexic, and lead actresses are usually as perfectly proportioned as ever; but about half of the people I see in everyday life now are significantly overweight.  Is it because we're all pushing papers and pixels instead of brooms and shovels?

3.  Mold Test

the mold lady    The mold lady at work.   

Donna here has a job that's a good balance between physical labor and technical and intellectual skill.  She's the certified mold inspector I had in last week.  Although the actual results come from an accredited lab, not her individual office, she needs to be able to observe conditions throughout the building being inspected, identify potential trouble spots, and collect both air and surface samples according to very specific protocols.  She does this inside and out, lugging her special equipment around as needed.  Donna struck me as knowledgeable, competent and friendly, which made the difficult circumstances (snags in the refi) easier to take.

Let's see if I have the fair-mindedness to still say nice things about her when the tests come back!

Speaking of refi woes, the roof guy showed up this morning, unannounced, unexpected and when nobody was home.  I'd been warned that that was how they worked, but I expected him later in the week.  His voicemail said that both parts of the roof were nearing the end of their life expectancy, and should be replaced in the next two years. This was a major blow to John, who's been patching the roof for the past couple of days.  He doesn't think it's that bad. I should make him listen to the voicemail for the expert opinion. 

Fortunately, a co-worker advises me that the bank can write up the loan agreement so that money is set aside to pay for the new roof.  I left a message for my mortgage person, asking to do just that.  But phooey!  And I STILL haven't  remembered to call the appraiser about the furnace thing.

(Update:  the bank people are going to ask the appraiser to come back out and verify the furnace himself.  Should take him two minutes!)

4.  Sorry for Labor Day?

Who is sorry that we are closed on Labor Day?  I know I'm not!  (Incidentally, the labor pool at work is much more diverse than this clip art seems to indicate. Also, one of the clipart people looks just like my second-favorite accounting instructor.  Weird, huh?) 


Now go visit the rest of the Robins:

Robbie:   POSTED!

Carly: POSTED!

Karen:   POSTED!

Chris: will be posting Sunday 9/4/05

Betty: * POSTED!

Kell:   POSTED!

Mary:   POSTED!


Renee: * POSTED!


Dawn:   POSTED!



Celeste:   POSTED!


Phinney: POSTED!


Derek:   POSTED!

Steven:   POSTED!

Becky: ADDED!

Monday, August 29, 2005

When I Went Back to School

Your Monday Photo Shoot: It's back to school season. Show us a picture of something that represents "Back to School" to you. Kids on their way to school, a stack of new text books, school supplies, parents leaping for joy... oh, wait, maybe not that last one.

No, I did not graduate that year.(Hey, look!  I found some more pictures of me with my mom!) 

The picture to the right is a lie - an accidental lie, but a lie nonetheless.  On the basis of four incompletes, all involving English papers I didn't write, I failed to graduate from Syracuse University on May 12th, 1979, exactly one week before my wedding day.  On May 20th, I left Syracuse for Columbus, Ohio with my new husband.  I later made up one of the incompletes from Columbus.  Judging from my transcript, though, Dr. B. never recorded the grade.  It doesn't matter.  The head of the English Lit. department insisted that I would have to take her Chaucer course all over again, "because the scholarship has changed."  I was clearly not going to be able to do that from Columbus, especially not while managing a used record and t-shirt shop and working at McDonald's on the side.  And that, apparently, was that.

But my parents both earned PhDs before I was born.  My dad is a retired dean from Syracuse University, where he was also Director of Continuing Education.  My mom was a clinical psychologist.  And I didn't even have my B.A.!  This made me uneasy, for years and years. 

Still, an English degree didn't seem that important when my master plan was to own a bookstore, and write novels and screenplays between customers.  It seemed even less relevant when I actually co-owned a record store, and wrote music articles at night.  Nevertheless, not having that semi-useless piece of paper felt like a failure.  It rankled.  Nor was I getting anywhere with my non-career as I lived the retail life, just over minimum wage. 

Eventually I did go back to school: not college, but travel agent school, Intensive Trainers Institute.  The year was1987.  From there I made my way into travel agenting.  It wasn't a high-paying job, but it paid much better than my two previous jobs as a video store clerk had.  Years later I became a travel agency bookkeeper instead, but that's a story for another night.

In 2002, my mom was in and out of hospitals and other facilities.  I spent most of my time either at work, asleep, or caring for her in one way or another.  I'd been with Worldwide Travel for nine years, but given the shape of the travel industry after 9-11, the job no longer seemed secure.  After years of thinking about it, and years of seeing and hearing University of Phoenix ads, I decided to do what I had thought I'd never do.  I went back to school.  My goals were to redeem my old failure, to turn a relatively useless almost-degree in English and Film into a highly marketable degree in accounting, and to finally graduate from college while my overachieving parents were still alive.

My dad was cautiously pleased and very supportive of my going to University of Phoenix. He'd never given me grief about not graduating, but he thought this was a good idea, as long as I really wanted to do it and would follow through.

Mom was not at all happy about it, though, and I couldn't figure out why.  Finally I asked her.  There was a long pause, and then she said, "Because I'm afraid you'll fail." That was not at all what I wanted to hear.  But she was clinically depressed and suffering from dementia, and she'd seen me fail to do it once before.  I think there was also some jealousy there.  Every minute spent in class or studying was a minute not spent with her.

GEN 300 textbooks, October-December 2002.These are the textbooks that went with my first UoP course, GEN 300: Skills for Professional Development (11/18/02 - 12/16/02). It was an orientation course, really.  It was all about lifelong learning and learning styles, MLA and APA papers and how not to plagiarize, time management and team dynamics - in other words, all the ground rules for what the University expected of us over a next couple of years.

I have a problem with personality profile stuff, because it usually tries to fit everyone into boxes, and doesn't really take into account the enormous range of human behavior, even within a single individual.  I'd never worked with a team before, but the University believes in learning teams. I found this a little silly and arbitrary, at least at first, but it works pretty well when you're not stuck with slackers or pushy people.  As for the style book, well, I was pleased to discover that I could indeed write a paper according to the assigned format.  I would not be getting any more incompletes.

Aside from some silly metaphors and exercises (e.g. the Six Learning Hats) I was all for the lifelong learning idea itself.  Still am. Learning new and different things throughout life helps to keep the brain functioning and stave off dementia.  It's also interesting.  Besides, I think it's out responsibility as human beings to learn as much as we can, rather than act out of ignorance, or blindly obey authority or our own habits. If I have a vocation in life, it's to disseminate information, even if some of it is information about a fictional world.  An accounting degree would help me to synthesize and disseminate a different kind of information, and get paid reasonably well for doing it.

But I digress.

My biggest problem in that first course had to do with the instructor.  He was a great guy and a very good teacher, but somehow he and I couldn't seem to get on the same page about what he expected from my papers.  I was still upset and worried about this on the weekend before my last class of the course.  Saturday night, December 14th, I griped about the problem at length to my mom, laying most of the blame on my instructor.  My mom, who had spent much of the past month only semi-conscious, was more responsive that night, and listened patiently.

That was the last time my mom ever spoke to me.  The next morning, her caregiver, Rosa, could not wake her.  The doctors thought the cause was a stroke (or possibly overmedication, but that didn't pan out).

My mom died Monday morning, December 16th, 2002.  As I waited for her to die, I read over my paper again, and decided there was nothing more I could do to make it good enough.  I explained this in thevoicemail I left for the instructor about my mom's death.  The rest of the day was taken up with family and funeral arrangements.

But that night, I went back to school, and did my part of a team presentation.  My instructor made an excuse to let me out of class early; apparently, the death of one's mother is not sufficient cause for such lenience under UoP guidelines.  I filled out a course-end questionnaire, and hightailed it for the airport to meet my dad.

This book is still useful.And oh, yeah - I got an A in the course.

I walked in my second college graduation ceremony on March 19th, 2005.  My dad was there to see me do it.

I wish I could say I now have diploma in hand (although that would make it hard to type!), but no, I don't.  See, I still need to fill out a "Financial Aid Exit Interview" form.  I need to go back to school and see the financial aid people, and get that taken care of.  But as with the Chaucer course so long ago, that's a little tricky to do while working full time.

Implements of future study.At this moment, I have no plans for grad school, although it could still happen if I find a pressing reason to do it.  If I go back to school again, it's more likely to be some sort of CPA review course, either online or a self-directed program.  I also have some thick, expensive review books to study from.  But you know what? My drive to study for that exam has largely dissipated, first because I wanted a break after finishing the BS/B-Acc, and later because I got my new job.  Will I ever become a CPA?  I don't know yet.  But if I do, there's a good chance that's I'll have to go back to school after all, one way or another.


My next school may be my computer - for a price. 
My next school may be my laptop!

P.S. I found my scooter pictures!  Tomorrow night after midnight I'll be posting my Round Robin Photo Challenge entry (subject:"labor"), but I'll finally have my scooter stories for you Wednesday night.

Searching for the Past - Or Something Like It

I've spent about two hours tonight searching for a photo that I know is in this house somewhere, but to no avail.  It's a picture of me with my Honda Elite 250 scooter, standing in front of Niagara Falls in 1985.  A matted 8x10 of the photo was in with my mom's stuff, and I'm sure I found other photos from that trip in recent months.  But not tonight.  My scooters are so old and filthy and ruined now that I'd be ashamed to show 'em to you, unless you could also see one or both of them as they looked in better days.

So I'm not doing the scooter entry tonight.  I hate to renege on a self-imposed obligation like that (although I do it all the time), but I'm sure you'll understand.  When I can illustrate them properly, I will tell you all about  my scooter-related adventures.

What will I give you tonight instead?  It will be midnight any second now, literally, so I'm not up for anything too ambitious.  (Ah!  There it is.  Midnight.) So I'm going to give you the fast and superficial version of an entry I've been preparing for photographically since March.  I can always revisit the subject later, properly.

Ace's Hobby Place, next to the Barber Shop.Thirteen months ago,before most of you had ever seen this journal, I wrote an entry called "Shopping by TARDIS."  (A TARDIS is a kind of time machine, as seen on Doctor Who).  In that entry, I expressed a desire "to shop in January and July of each year from 1955 to 1969."  I went on to say that my local Ace Hardware and independent Yikes! Toys were about as close as you can come to shopping in the 1950s and 1960s today.  Not all Ace locations are anything special, but the one I'm about to show you definitely is.

I can't seem to find a Yikes! picture, but here are a few of the many pictures I've taken at Ace this year to illustrate the point.  In this first one, which only shows a small fraction of the nearly block-long building, you can see that the Ace at 22nd and Kolb has a model train-oriented hobby department, next door to another relic of a past era, the barber shop.  The "Hobby Place" has a largish (S scale?) model train that runs around near the ceiling, and a wide variety of model kits, and some Estes rockets, all of which were more commonly seen circa 1968 than they are now.

Inside the main store, you can buy a couple of washers, replace your faucet, or have the staff mix you up a bucket of paint.  You can buy a cookie jar or an ironing board, a smiling teapot or a hurricane lamp, a garden gnome or a large round garden thermometer with a picture of a deer on it.  The housewares are particularly impressive.  Where else, aside from eBay, or possibly an Anchor-Hocking web site, can you buy Jadite baking dishes in this day and age? (Jadite is that green china in the picture.  It was a big deal, a very long time ago.)

When I was four years old, I had a little red wagon.  I expect that a lot of kids had them.  Chances are good that it was a Radio Flyer.  That brand name used to appear on wagons and wheelbarrows, tricycles and sleds.  And guess what!  It still does.

It's also still possible to buy toy trucks, Tinkertoys and even Lincoln Logs.  The packaging is not the same as it was 40 years ago, but one can't have everything.

What has set off my nostalgia binge tonight?  Well, I said on Thursday night that I want a very large, midcentury modern home in Tucson.  And I do.  In case you don't know what that is, it's a house with 1950s/1960s sensibilities: modern and fun, with clean lines, geometric shapes and an open floor plan.  Frank Sinatra's house in Palm Springs (built 1947) is a good early example.

Late Saturday afternoon, I set out to illustrate what I meant by finding a large 50s modern style house in the actual Tucson foothills. I didn't quite find what I  was looking for, but I took pictures of a number of houses that came close.  To preserve the privacy of the homeowners, and because I didn't ask permission to take the pictures, I'm not going to tell you in what part of the foothills area I did my scouting and photographing.

This nice, large house appeared to have just been built.  I liked the combination of round and square shapes. The adobe color is not very retro, though (not midcentury, anyway), and the nearby traffic light kind of spoils our view.  Still, it's probably just about big enough for John, Tuffy, me and all our stuff.

I like this one.  Pink is one of those desert-compatible colors, but it's also quintessentially 1950s.  And Barbie, but let's not go there right now.

Sometime in the last week or so, I showed you a picture of this dilapidated relic of a sign at 22nd and Wilmot.  Here's a better shot, in which you can see that there were once "31 MERCHANTS TO SERVE YOU" at Oxford Plaza shopping center.  It must have been at the edge of town when it was built, but today it's on the near East Side of Tucson.  Very little of the original building still stands.  Most people would consider that no great loss.  It was never especially pretty or wonderful.  At its worst, just before the owners added the section that faces onto 22nd Street, the building was considered downright ugly.  but it was vintage, a definite relic of the past.  This poor old sign is still here to remind us of a time when people in the new Terra Del Sol neighborhood lived out in the boonies.  They probably really needed 31 merchants to serve them.

Same shopping center, different sign.  Cory's Eastside Cafe has been gone for at least a year, replaced by a Pizza Hut and a Wendy's.  But the sign survives.  The spire on it is a very 1950s motif.

And of course, I've written about Kontiki before.  Short version: it's got great food, the original circa 1960 decor, and too many loud yuppies drinking there on Saturday nights.

this photo is actually turned sideways.John and I will be heading out to Disneyland sometime in the next couple of weeks.  This is another relic of the 1950s, of course, celebrating its 50th birthday.  We may take a few of our nostalgia books with us, and take a "Tiki Road Trip" to see what survives of the 1950s and 1960s in good old Southern California.


Sunday, August 28, 2005

Fiction: Mall of Mâvarin, Part Twenty-Four

Before I get on with the serial installment for this week, here's a small head's up about the Thursday and Friday night entries.  Today I went out looking for that fantastic foothills home.  I didn't quite find it, but I posted a few pictures to the original entry of the best houses I did see.  More on that tomorrow.  I also improved on one of the icons in last night's entry.

The easiest way to catch up on past installments of this serial is on Messages from Mâvarin at Synopses to Parts One through Six can be found at the top of Part Seven. Synopses to Parts Eight through Thirteen can be found at the top of Part Fourteen. Synopses to Parts Fourteen through Eighteen are at the top of Part Nineteen.  The installments themselves can be read in order on Blogspot using the sidebar.

Part Nineteen:  Li Ramet, Lee Ramirez and Joshua Wander go off to try to reverse the effects of Li's modified portal spell, which, along with the appearance of Josh's magic castle, apparently caused all the trouble.  Meanwhile, Rani and Randy announce they have successfully returned their own minds and spirits to the right bodies.  Rani sets out to try to help Carl and Carli do the same.  Despite being only a bookish high school student in a strange and magical land, Randy Foster thinks he has acquired sufficient magic and knowledge to sort out Cathma and Cathy as well.  They sit down together to let him try.

Part Twenty: In mindtouch with Randy, the girl who thinks of herself as Cathma is told that she is really Cathy after all. According to Randy, Li's spell is more an accidental "mindpush" (magical brainwashing) than an actual transfer mind and spirit.  Randy takes Cathy on a whirlwind tour through the memories of her own life, until she feels like herself again rather than the Queen of Mâvarin.  At the same time, Randy helps the real Queen Cathma to reclaim her own identity.  The process leaves Randy exhausted—and there are still dozens of people from Dewitt and Mâvarin who need similar help.

Part Twenty-One: Since Rani and Randy are too tired to do mind magic with anyone else for the moment, Cathy suggests going back to "Plan A"--seeing that Li, Lee and Josh successfully reverse Li's spell, getting everyone home both mentally and physically.  Although leaving the castle once again floods Cathy's mind with Cathma's memories, this time it does not overwhelm her sense of who she is.  Shoppingtown Mall now looks intact again, albeit in Mâvarin instead of Dewitt.  Li and Lee are proud of this accomplisment, Josh less so.  Cathy points out that the point is to get the mall and the people back where they belong, not to reassemble the building in the wrong world.

Part Twenty-Two: Li and Lee propose to leave Shoppingtown in Mâvarin, at least temporarily, until the people are restored.  When Cathy and Cathma press them on how that part of the problem is coming along, they say that the people who actually traveled with the mall (as opposed to safely in the castle) are "feeling much better now."  They have mindpushed these people from a state of emotional shock to one of relative normalcy.  The mall employees have even started selling their goods and services to customers--including curious Mâvarinû, who have started coming in from outside.

Part Twenty-Three: Li and his counterpart have convinced the mall personnel to accept Mâvarin coins, on the theory that they will be valuable in the other world for their gold and silver content and as collectible rarities.  They've even worked outan exchange rate with the J.C. Penney manager:  Ruthie Foster, Randy's mom.  Randy rushes off to see her.  Joshua Wander and Fayubi (who still doesn't know he's really Fabian Stockwell) both express an interest in going shopping at the mall, on the theory that they may never have another opportunity to buy 21st century goods from a high-tech society.   Before they go off to do that, however, Rani announces that all these stranded people, aside from the two sets or twins, aren't who they think they are.

Part Twenty-Four: We Are Who You Say We Are

Art by Sherlock.The others just looked at him.

“But we’ve been through all this,” the man who thought he was Fabian said eventually.  “We’re all in each other’s bodies, and even have a bit of each others’ memories because of that.  But we do know who we are.”

Rani shook his head.  “No.  You don’t.  Randy and I figured it out during our mindtouch earlier, and proved it to our own satisfaction.  There is no body swap, no significant transfer of spirit.  You are Fayubi the Seer, not Fabian Stockwell.  Everyone is in his or her own body.”

Lee Ramirez shook his head.  “No, that can’t be right.  I’m definitely Li Ramet, not Lee Ramirez.  I’ve been doing magic all day, as if I’ve been doing it for months instead of hours.”

“Lee Ramirez has magic here, but that doesn’t make him Li Ramet,” Rani said.  “This weird spell has accidentally mindpushed you into thinking you’re Li, and given you some memories to make it plausible.  But it’s not true.”

“But look, Randy Foster galloped in here on four legs a little while ago,” Jamie Barrett protested.  “How could he do that, if there’s no body swap?  Randy doesn’t have tengrem blood.”

Rani grimaced.  “Randy didn’t do that.  I did.  I only thought I was Randy.”

Art by Sherlock Jamie turned to Cathma. “Do you agree with this, Your Majesty?  Have you really been in Mâvarin all along, in your own body?  Have I really never been to Mâvarin before today?”

 Cathma nodded.  “I know it doesn’t sound possible, but Rani’s right,” she said.  “I’m completely myself again. I remember my own life in detail, including everything that happened to me today.  Randy couldn’t accomplish all that in a few minutes of mindtouch, if I wasn’t really Cathma all along.”

“And the same with me,” Carli said. “Even Rani couldn’t give me a lifetime of memories in five minutes, if they weren’t already there.”

“That’s right,” said Carl.

“It was kind of cool, thinking for a while that I was Queen of Mâvarin,” Cathy said.  “But I’m really not.”

“Are you sorry to find out you’re wrong?” Fayubi asked.

Cathy shook her head.  “Not really.  Being Cathy Salazar has its advantages.”

Art by Sherlock “So what are we going to do about all this?” Li asked.  “It’s one thing to tell me I’m Li Ramet, quite another to make me feel like myself again.”

“That’s true,” Rani said.  “That’s why you’re going to return to the origin point of your modified portal spell, and find a way to fix your spell definitions.  If you wait for Randy and me to help everyone here individually, it could take a week.  And other people could be affected in the meantime.”

“Then at least come and help us figure it out,” Lee said. 

“That won’t help,” Rani said.  “I don’t know the portal magic part at all, and I don’t really understand how Li worked this mindpush into it.  The best I can do is help the two of you to be yourselves again.  You’re on your own after that.”

Li tugged at Lee’s sleeve.  “He’s right.  We can do this.”  He looked at Rani.  “If you turn Lee back into Lee, will he still be able to do portal magic?”

“If you show him how, yes.  He’ll remember a little of it, and he’ll still have talent while he’s here.”

“But I barely remember how to do it myself,” Li said.

“The memories are still there,” Rani told him.  “I just have to release them.”

“Then let’s get on with it,” Lee said.

Art by Sherlock Rani nodded.  “Fine.  Let’s use those chairs over by the escalator.” 

“What will the rest of us do in the meantime?” Fabian asked.

Rani shrugged.  “Go shopping, I guess.  Just remember that you’re shopping for your other selves.”

Fabian turned to Fayubi.  “What do you think?  Do you think that together we can pick out a new outfit for Fayubi the Seer?”

Fayubi nodded.  “I think so.  How do you feel about Tommy Hilfiger?”

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Saturday, August 27, 2005

Iconic Images

CarliTonight I was going to regale you with stories of my troubled relationship with Honda scooters, a subject I alluded to briefly last night.  In order to illustrate it, I was going to photograph both some current Honda models and my old, sun-damaged bikes with broken plastic parts. 

Mages coverBut when I stopped by the local Honda dealership after work, it turned out that they aren't allowed to sell Honda scooters any more.  Only dealers who sell Honda exclusively get to carry them.  So I came home, got online, and forgot to go photograph my Hondas until after it was dark outside.  Oh, well.  I'll do that entry for you on Sunday.

Better be nice to me, or my Dalek will exterminate! Instead I got all distracted with catching up on my alerts.  For one comment, I wanted to check the word count on a bad poem I wrote 31 years ago, which I posted on my LiveJournal earlier this year, as an example of how bad my writing sometimes was back in high school.  The comment was about the $6.74 I would have made on that poem at two cents a word, had Ed Ferman taken leave of his senses and bought it for F&SF back in 1974.

Cathma Anyway, it took me hours to find the LiveJournal entry with the Epli poem, during which time I watched SG-1 and added "tags" to a bunch of old LJ entries.  These are basically "metatags," one-word subjects attached to a LiveJournal entry to make it easier to find the entries about penguins - or, in my case, to sort the memes, language, personal and humor entries from the ones about jw, mavarin, serials and so on. Most of my LJ entries are either memes or about how my writing is going.

What are the chances? At one point I did a Google search for "mavarin + honda," to see what I've posted in the past about the scooters.  One of the results was so surprising that I blogged about it in LJ.  That led me back to reading my Friends page in Live Journal.  Sara hasn't posted the result of her cat's operation, but Julie finished a draft of her script, and Shelly's been messing around with icons for LJ.  The service recently expanded the number of icons each member can use (particularly for paid members and permanent accounts), and Shelly's taking advantage of this to design a 100x100 pixel avatar for every mood.

me as Cathma Icons, huh?  Well, I had the old paid account maximum of 9 userpics, and I was happy with them.  But, well, I succumbed.

Here's some of what I came up with, both in the tiny icon size and one larger image for more general use.  Hope you like 'em!

Mages notesNow I've got to decide which ones to actually use.  Shelly's account allows 100.  I only get 15. I think I'll skip  most of the sleepy ones and alternative Cathmas and covers.  But I will keep the rejects on my hard drive and online, just in case I have use for them later.

with or without the glasses.I had 3.5 hours of sleep Thursday night, and it's 2:45 AM now.  Methinks I'm going to  bed soon.  But I've been wrong about that before.


 Cathma  Not using this one.
  Brainy alien.   more mages notes.
the icon version.   another version Heirs notebook.  Pages of Mages.   
Red Devil shot.  My main sleepy shot.  Another tired Karen.  one eye says it all.  

Not an icon, obviously.
Mages cover