Friday, October 31, 2008



1000 ft. under the desert in Mexico, they've discovered a cave filled with enormous crystals.

I mean really enormous. Tree-sized. The longest is 37.5 ft. Wouldn't you love to run around this place?

Unfortunately, the cave stays at 112 °F (50 °C) and has 100% humidity. I don't think they're going to turn this place into Carlsbad Caverns anytime soon.

But wow. This one of those cases where reality did something that you could not put in a book and make people believe was real.

The following YouTube video shows still shots, but they're pretty amazing, regardless.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Wo ist der Trip Report, bitte?

Oh, goodness. A trip report? Did I really promise a trip report? Just making up the photo album was exhausting. Captions for 800 photos; what on Earth was I thinking.

I think, right now, that I'll actually talk about writing for once.

I've decided. I have committed. Yes: I am willing to suffer for my art.

I--a lifelong night-owl--have been getting up at six a.m. every morning to write before going to work.

This is both fun, and not fun, as you can imagine. On one leg o' the chicken, I finally seem to be getting past the dribbles-and-drabs stage of my new project and the words are beginning to flow. But on the other scratcher-de-la-poulet, we're talking six-freakin-a.m. Every day. Including Sunday morning--and you know that six a.m. on Sunday morning is only supposed to be witnessed by those whose Saturday night has been wonderfully epic and untainted by sleep.

Basically, I feel the same way about early mornings that Travis Erwin feels about vegetables.


In other quasi-writing news, I've fallen off the wagon. The internet and I are kanoodling again. This did, however, give me the chance to enjoy Nathan Bransford's recent guest-bloggers' articles. The ones by Michelle Moran (Part 1, Part 2) regarding how to market your book are particularly great, and I do recommend them to all writers.


This weekend was the Surrey International Writers' Conference. It's a wonderful conference that focuses on the craft of writing, but I have one expensive trip and two expensive dental surgeries under my belt this fall, so I bailed on attending.

Hmm... Perhaps the very talented and warm-hearted writer Brenda Carre would like to do a guest blog here on OxyJen and tell us what she thought of SiWC 2008? *slides Brenda a hopeful look*


This last bit of news is very sad, but important: If you've got a moment, please pop by Sandra Cormier (a.k.a. Chumplet)'s blog and wish her strength. Brandon Crisp, the missing Ontario teenager, is her nephew. If you live in the Barrie region of Ontario, Canada, please consider volunteering to be part of a search party, and if you live in Ontario at all, certainly have a look at Brandon's picture so you'll know him if you see him. The police would appreciate any information you might have that would help them locate him.

Best wishes, Sandra, to you and your family. My heart hurts for you, and I hope they find Brandon soon.

Update: They found Brandon's body on Nov. 5th. He apparently died of injuries sustained falling out of a tree, which he may have climbed in order to stay warm or protect himself from wildlife.

Fifteen years old. You can't not feel terribly sad about this. I wish Sandra and her family all the warmth and strength they need to deal with their awful loss.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Back from Vaca! (Part 2)

El Husbando and I just got back from a spectacular almost-3-week trip to Europe, and since I didn't take good enough notes to write a proper trip report this time, I'm going to do a quasi-trip report here for the benefit of friends and family.

Here, on the blog, where you can ignore it without guilt. You see, I firmly believe in giving people the opportunity to show a polite and kind-hearted interest in my life without actually forcing them to look at every stinkin' one of our 867 travel photos or read my blathering 20,000+ word trip report.

A mini-report will be up here in--ooh--the next week or so? I need to look through our 867 (no, I wasn't kidding about that number) photos to remind myself what we did. Heathrow airport didn't lose our luggage, but I'm going to blame them for the fact that I apparently didn't bring my brain home with me.

Nevertheless, it is good to be home. We had a great time, and could have easily gone another week without feeling like it was too much, but it is pleasant knowing where my next pair of clean underwear is coming from.


We walked everywhere (except Iceland, where it was cold.) El Husbando and I estimate we hoofed over 80 km during the trip. It proved a great way to see the various big cities.

Vienna was the prettiest city we went to. I took a ridiculous number of photos of curlicue buildings there, and regretted it later in the trip when we began to run out of memory space for the camera. While in Vienna, we spoke really horrible German at the locals, saw a Mozart concert, found great figs, and watched a pigeon cross the street using the cross-walk. I swear, European pigeons don't fly; they are strictly pedestrians. I am not making this up: the pigeon waited on the corner until the light turned green, and once the people started walking, it walked alongside us to the other side.

Rome had the most historically interesting stuff and was probably our favourite destination (although we had a hard time picking a highlight from the trip.) El Husbando was most excited about going to Rome, since both his parents came from there, and he dragged me out the night we arrived to go walking. We walked to the Vatican, we walked to the Colliseum, we walked everywhere, or so it felt. I'm glad we did it, but at the time, I thought El Husbando had morphed into El Loco. We saw all that territory again, and in more detail, on our tour the next day, but it was great seeing it at night without any crowds.

Italian food proved to be as good as everyone says (especially the gelato), although we were by this point already trying to save money by going to grocery stores and buying bread/rice cakes, cheese and olive paste to eat back at the hotel. Tasty, but we got a lot of pimples from our distinctly-lacking-in-greens diet.

Paris is frilly. The decorations on the historical buildings are more elaborate than we saw in other cities, and they gild a lot of things there. The Eiffel Tower was a short walk from our hotel and looks very pretty lit up with blue lights and white sparkles at night--which it currently is because France is the head of the EU right now, and the EU's flag is blue with gold stars. We went up the tower twice, once during the day and once at night. We also spent sixteen billion years in the Louvre and only saw half of it. What a massive building!

French wine is as good, and cheap, as everyone says. El Husbando bought a bottle that cost the equivalent of $10 Canadian, and it was excellent. He said that in Canada, something that good would cost at least $40. He got another bottle at the duty-free store on our way to the Chunnel, and he's not usually one to polish off two bottles in the space of four days!

London was the city I was most excited to see, and it also had the added bonus that we were meeting my brother (Sarflin), who lives in Iceland now, there. London proved to be the most sprawling city we visited, so walking everywhere didn't prove very practical, but we did a lot of it anyway. Overall impressions? Regent's Park is much prettier than Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace is a teeny-tiny thing compared to some of the other palaces we saw (both in London and in other cities), and Big Ben and the houses of Parliment are waaaay awesomer than they look on TV.

My brother picked up a wicked cold while in London, so I want to thank him again for taking us around in Iceland despite being feverish and making occasional attempts to catapult his lungs at the horizon. Iceland is an amazing place! The scenery is exotic, a cross between desert-like and stark tundra. We did the Golden Circle tour, where we saw Geysir (the word "geyser" came from this place), Goss Fells (a HEE-UGE waterfall), the rift where the North American tectonic plate is separating from the European plate, and a geothermal plant where they produce very cheap electricity and hot water for Reykjavik. We also took a walk along the seawall with Sarflin before sending him home to try to steam-clean his sinuses in the shower.

That night, Reykjavik got the first snowfall of the season, so driving to the airport the next day allowed us to see Iceland in white. This was completely different, but just as beautiful and exotic. The landscape is all jumbled lava rocks and rifts, with mountains in the background, and the snow allows you to see where all the cracks and bumps lie. El Husbando said that, with snow, the scenery looked the way he had always pictured Iceland looking.

So now I am staring at a pile of dirty laundry twice the size of our suitcase and wondering how that's even possible. It was a long trip, and a mighty ding in the wallet, but you know what? 'Twas totally worth it!

Back from Vaca! (Part 1)

Any writer buddies still loitering about here have probably noted I've not been around the blogosphere. This was partly because work got insane, partly because I went on a splendiferous three-week trip, and mostly due to me deciding the internet was eating my life.

So I quit. Cold turkey.

Um, for a given value of "quit". I kept up on email, of course.

Because the internet's attention span is about three seconds, I suspect I've lost all my regular readers by now, so this blog is now going to be mostly for myself (although I will still talk about writing a lot), for friends, and for family.

Speaking of friends, El Husbando and I are blessed to have two who are a pair of the most effortlessly interesting and intelligent people we've ever met. The more energetic half of this couple has leapt into the blogosphere with two blogs, one of which is meant to be a discussion of ideas. Please hop by Chris's ThoughtFood blog and join in. I promise, he's not just a frighteningly energetic thinker, he's also a joy to know.

Pageloads since 01/01/2009: