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I love this blog post by Kashif N. Chaudhry about how the Prophet Muhammad predicted Daesh. What I really love about this post is this particular bit:

"They would speak beautiful words but commit the most heinous of deeds. They would engage in so much prayer and fasting that the worship of the Muslims would appear insignificant in comparison. They would call people to the Quran but would have nothing to do with it in reality. The Quran would not go beyond their throats, meaning they wouldn't understand its essence at all, merely regurgitating it selectively." (Emphasis his)

That sounds about right to me.

And then there are the notes that EVERY developer should have in her scripts. Because, why not? Some of these are so, so, so very true. Documentation, dude. It's all about the documentation.

Lastly, I'd like to draw your attention to this very very very important news article that everyone is apparently ignoring. This needs to be implemented world-wide. Because, KITTEHS! Yes, folks. You really can rent kittens. You just can't rent mine.

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Nope. Not mine.

Kitten update coming later. There's a saga. And I hope it'll get the attention of new pet owners.

When You're Poor... (tags #poverty)

...You pick up every penny off the street, because it might make the difference between paying a bill or buying grocercies. (It's also why you demand your reusable bag discounts from Target / Whole Foods, turn in all your rebates, and count your change while still standing in the checkout lane.)

...You hold off on preventative health care because the copays and deductibles mean not paying a bill or not getting groceries, assuming you even have health insurance. If you don't, you always have the emergency room, which legally can't turn you away.

...You get aggrevated when people around you complain about  being broke, but they always seem to have the latest brand-name sneakers, tech gadget, or collector's item. Or they're always going on trips and eating out.

...You hate feeling shamed by the constant charity requests at work, grocery stores, movie theatres, and even the street corner firemen collection. You give on the rare occasions when you can, but enough is enough already! You need the money too.

...You know to the day how long you can "not pay" a bill before you lose your electriciity / utilities / car, and use that knowledge to play musical chairs with the bills. After all, you're never going to be able to pay all of them in any given month.

...You look forward to getting hand-me-downs from the relatives so the kids have "new" clothes for the coming school year.

...You don't tend to keep a phone line for longer than a few years, or the same phone number / email address for any length of time. Phones, computers, and internet access are luxuries you can't afford for more than a few months at best.

...You consider eating out at a cheap fast food place, or going to the movies, once a year a wildly extravagant expense.

...You pray for a drought so the roof leaks don't get worse. Because you can't afford the house insurance deductible in order to get the darn thing replaced.


Any more you can think of?

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I've been thinking about taking the plunge into more college classes because, why not? I believe the day I stop learning things is the day I'm getting embalmed for my funeral. When discussing the subject with the college admissions coordinator, she told me to have a resume (my entire resume, regardless of link) ready.

A lot of people don't know this, but you can actually get college credits for work experience. That's the purpose of this exercise. To see how much college credit my life is worth. I know this because I've previously worked at two colleges. I remember how surprised people were to find out they could count all those years doing the books for their firm as credit against any accounting courses, and things like that.

But still... I haven't written a resume in ten years. And I'm supposed to remember every single job I've ever had?

After an hour of considering, it occurred to me. I do know what my first job is. Here's my stab at the job description.

Senior Domestic Canine Care Coordinator -
Familair with standard concepts, practices, and procedures within the field of domesticated canine care. Ensured the health, comfort, and safety of the canine while participating in the creation and implementation of nutritional supplementation and physical activity. Coordinates activities with Junior Domestic Canine Care Coordinators. Supervises and assists with canine training. Ensures all care coordinators follow standard protocols. Provides maintenance and advice on issues resulting from unexpected canine-related issues. Must be self-starter. Performs a variety of complicated tasks. A certain degree of creativity and latitude is expected. Typically reports to parental supervisor / manager.

Of course, this doesn't go on the resume. I would have to list the duties I performed and such. Yet, I think this description is a good place to start. I should get college credit for this, right?
I can't count the number of times I've read news articles recently claiming there would be a new Civil War in America if gay marriage is upheld / rejected by the Supreme Court of the United States (a.k.a. SCOTUS). Or the chaos if the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) is torn apart by the subsidies issue. Really, the amount of pandering to mass hysteria would be funny if the people writing these articles didn't actually believe half the things they were saying.

I'm not saying there won't be problems. But let's be honest. Expecting the U.S. to descend into chaos, for states to secede, for a whole 'nother intra-national conflict to explode completely misunderstands the history leading up to the U.S. Civil War and the mindsets of the people involved.

For one, our congressional representatives and U.S. senators aren't physically assaulting each other in the middle of a law-making session. Yes, debates are heated. Yes, there have been the stupid bullseye targeting of politicians on websites. Yet despite this rhetoric and general childishness, everything slung has mostly been verbal. While the "defense of marriage" laws do separate the states, we don't have any federal-level laws that are literally dividing the country into two countrys with one border surrounding them. Modern America is much more diverse than during the late 1800s. We have too many people of different political, ethnic, and religious bents for them to agree enough to form two armies and have at it.

Not to mention the technology issue.

Why does that matter?

Because it's kinda hard to get people worked up enough to dissolve into civil war when they're too busy streaming House of Cards or playing Candy Crush. How in heaven's name do the rabble-rousers expect to pull people away from their video games, Facebook rants, and Twitter convos?

Here's my "threat" to those who want to stoke mass hysteria. I have a voter's registration card, and I know how to use it. So neener to you.
New additions to the family courtesy of the local Humane Society. Littermates, about two months old. Boy, do they love to wrestle with each other.


The black one is a girl. The stripey one is a boy. And he's got the cutest little meow. But she's pretty quiet.



Of course Friendly Feral and Cancer Cat (now eldest cat) are not happy with the new additions. They know SOMETHING is behind that door. And they get cranky every time we abandon them to visit with the kittens.

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Do You Love Your Job? (tags #employment)

When is work a four-letter word? When I actually refer to it as "work" and not my job.

When I was a kid, my mother taught me never to say four-letter words. You know the ones I'm talking about: the F-bomb, the S-word, etc. Mom was raised as an aspirant to high-society. My grandmother went to (what I believe was) a private boarding school with the daughter of Oscar Mayer (yes, the hot-dog empire Oscar). So mom learned all about how to lay a table, how to throw a party, how to properly eat your dinner (no elbows on the table, left hand on your lap unless you're cutting food), etc. That included being polite and not cursing. So no four-letter words, thank you very much, or there would be heck to pay. I vaguely remember threats of washing mouths with soap, but it never came to pass.

Still, there it was.

Over the years the "four-letter word" mantra has become something of my own personal joke. "Mom taught me never to use four-letter words, so I can't be at work today." (Not that the boss ever buys that. @=) And yet, as I think of it, I've only ever had one job I truly hated. One job where it really was WORK, where I could not stand to come into the office day after day. That job lasted a week. I had to quit. I could literally feel my emotions atrophy, my sanity run screaming as I crossed the threshold, and the frustration and anger building each time I got on the phone.

There were jobs that I didn't like. Most of them when I was an hourly employee. But I never hated them. I knew they were work, but it didn't quite have the same impact as the 1-week event. I worked retail when I was in high school and college, and as the front of the company, got a lot of the complaints and hassles from the irate, hard-to-please customers. Because I still lived with the 'rents, my income was mostly discretionary. No rent, few bills. It was glorious. So when the boss tried to schedule me to work a holiday I didn't agree to, I just told her "no." When the boss tried to call me in early or to work a late shift, I would only work if I got paid. No working off the clock for me. Nosiree. Despite my family being part of the working poor, I had no one to support, so I could afford to quit a job I didn't like and go find another.

This isn't the case with most of the working poor. Especially with those teens who's income is the only (or one of the primary) source(s) of support for their family. The economy being what it is, people don't have job mobility. A lot of times, they don't have transport, especially in big, spread-out cities. I was always within walking distance or could bum a ride from the shared family vehicle (when we had a car).

As I got older, I swore to always charge for my time. So it drives me nuts to see the SO doing hourly consulting work and occasionally not charging those extra few hours for the meetings he gets roped into at the last minute. And yet...

I just spent 10 hours today working on SQL Server installs and data restores down to QA environments. I have a release to do in the middle of the night, probably bringing that total up to 12. During month end, I regularly work full days during the weekend as well as the week to support my internal customers. My weekly hours run between 41 to 50 on a "normal" work week. Once I even worked 60. But I'm exempt. I no longer get to bill for hourly wages.

What the heck am I doing? Apparently I love my job. Being a database administrator is one of the greatest challenges of my life. I get to solve problems. I get to code. I get to make things work, and when I have the bit between my teeth, I just don't want to stop.

"Work" really is a four-letter word. At least it is when you don't love your job. What I'm doing isn't work (except on really bad days). It's a passion. A lot like my writing is, only this one actually pays the bills.

What about your job? Love it? Hate it? Tell me why.
"...We have a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark out, and we're wearing sunglasses." - The Blues Brothers, 1980

The Blues Brothers is one of the SO's favorite movies. As we were coming back from Las Vegas and discussing current news (which included some upcoming hits from the 2016 Presidential campaign, or "Blacklash 2016, the Unblackening" as Larry Wilmore calls it), the SO dropped the comment "It's 102 miles to Chicago."

I took it completely the wrong way, of course. Forgot about The Blues Brothers. My thoughts went to Senator Hillary Clinton and her presidentail campaign. So how does this relate to Chicago?

President Obama most recently hails from Chicago and was a senator from Illinois before he became Commander-in-Chief. Senator Clinton lost her 2008 presidential bid against him and has changed her 2016 campaign to reflect lessons learned. But she's still "miles away from Chicago" in the sense that she has, by no means, a guaranteed seat in the Oval Office come January 2017. It was a weird thought. But what was even weirder for me was the realization that Senator Clinton *has* to win the 2016 election if the primary wave of women's rights is to succeed.

Do you remember what Governor Sarah Palin's Vice Presidential campaign did to the feminism movement? The fanaticism that came out of the dark corners? The wardrobe fiasco? Her inability to remember historic events and dates properly? Her gaffes (combined with the media coverage) turned a successful, conservative woman (or one that appeared so at first) into the laughing-stock poster woman for why the women's rights movement should be tucked in a drawer and ignored.

Maybe I'm being a little dramatic here, but there's a counter point. Do you remember Geraldine Ferraro, the FIRST female politician representing a major American political party? I do. I remember being excited when she was picked as Vice President Walter Mondale's VP running mate when he ran for election in 1984. Barely a few months into their campaign, the first breath of scandal torpedoed her political career when her husband's tax record came to someone's attention. Then it became a question about her and his finances, and that was that. We didn't have another female politician (one who could be taken seriously as a vice presidential or presidential candidate) running for a major party until Senator John McCain picked Gov. Palin to be his running mate. That's twenty-four years later, in case you weren't counting. Almost a quarter of a century.

Don't believe me? Check this link for names and tell me which ones you recognize and why they would have been a serious contender against better-known male politicians.

The fact that we had two women, one running for president, the other running for vice-president, in the same campaign? That was a gold mine for the feminist movement. We didn't just have people campaigning for equal pay, better health care, and improved social services. We had two women from two opposite sides of the politicial spectrum who were powerful enough voices to make the men sit up and take notice of our issues. And then... both of them lost.

If the Democrats had another strong male politician in their ranks who could raise the call to arms and get the votes in, you can bet they'd be raising the banner for him instead of Senator Clinton. If the Republicians had a strong female politician in their ranks who could overcome the "Hillary Factor," you can bet they'd be trumpting her name all over the place to steal the news time from Senator Clinton. But the fact is, neither party does have this. At least not at this moment in time.

That doesn't mean Senator Clinton will win election 2016. It just means that if she does lose, it's going to hurt worse than in 1984. Because the strongest female politician in this generation, the one who can break that glass ceiling for us and teach the United States (and the world) what a female U.S. president can do, will have lost a major opportunity. Not just for her, but for the women's rights movement. We won't just lose our moment for getting the equal rights we desire. Her loss would silence an entire generation of female politicians struggling to make a difference.

She doesn't need to win just for herself. She needs to win so women in the White House aren't just a token political appointment. So we can make a stronger bid for our right to stand on our own two feet, make our own decisions, and be taken seriously by the men and other women in our lives.

If Senator Clinton loses 2016, it may well be another twenty-five years or more before we see another woman strong enough to make a bid for the White House. And that's just unacceptable. For all of us.

NOTE: This is not a political endorsement. Just an observation of history, hoping it won't repeat itself.

Recent Projects

So I've spent the past two months working on an awesome project, which had nothing to do with writing (unfortunately) but was still fun.

I'll give you a bit of a tease on and off this week. Here are a couple of pictures.

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Can I just mention that beading can be a pain in the patoski? These are faux pearls and superduo Czech glass.

What do you think so far?

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So I'm doing this a day earlier or two years too late, whichever you prefer. I need a little kick-start myself, so here goes. Today's writing prompt, inspired by my recent Rainforest Village Writers Retreat experience, is as follows.

Da Prompt: Write Cinderella minus the evil stepmother or Little Red Riding Hood minus the wolf. Pick one of the two. See how well the fairy tale holds up without the main bad guy.

Da Extra Credit: Use the below 3 words in the story to spice it up a little.

Da Words: Pizza, Dildo, Postman

Da Wordcount: up to 3000

Have fun!

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Writers are frequently asked the question “Where do you get your ideas?” The question is a hard one to answer because we all find our inspiration in different places. Some people need to be given prompts, little snippets of ideas to spark their imaginations.

With that in mind, I am posting Writing Prompt Wednesdays. The goal is to inspire writers with exercises meant to train their skills and fire up the creative juices. There are rules. Most prompts will have associated word counts or style instructions. These are not meant to restrict the writer, but give the writer a chance to explore different ways of writing.

If you are an author in search of that one juicy idea, I hope these posts help. If you have ideas for writing prompts, please let me know.

Da Rules:

1) Anything goes so long as you stick to the spirit of the prompt.

2) I ask that if you do publish something based on one of my prompts, that you post the good news (and the link) in the comments of the prompt that inspired your success. You want other people to help you celebrate, right?

#sfwapro

There is in Indiana a small pizza restaurant called Memories Pizza who is refusing to cater same-sex weddings. Why they would think anyone would want pizza at their nuptual celebrations escapes me, but if you are from Walkerton and GBLTQ, you won't be getting your wedding pizza from there. The pizzeria owners have beligerantly shouted their intolerance and defiance of cultural change across the airwaves. They don't care that this is costing them business, because they are getting some measure of support from like-minded people.

As this is happening, I come across this "New Women Warriors" article on CNN, which brought home a point that I hadn't considered. Then the SO reminded me of an event that happened back when I lived in Columbia, South Carolina.

Around the year 2000, the NAACP went to media war with the state over a confederate flag flying on the state house building. In all the hub-bub, almost no one noticed (at first, that is) when local chain Maurice's BBQ put the flag over each of its locations. It took a few months for the news to spread outside of South Carolina and part of the reason it did was because Maurice Bessinger made a grand statement that his religious views required him to refuse service to black customers.

There are a few things you should know about the later (if you don't already). First, Bessinger was distributing pro-slavery literature (cobbled together from 1800s literature) in each of his restaurants. I saw that literature myself. Second, a lot of young (high school / college) black men and women worked for Maurice's BBQ. Long hours, low pay (sometimes working off the clock), and they worked in a hostile workplace environment where that literature was required to be out on the counters in front of them while they were working in a building under a confederate flag. See, Bessinger had no problems employing blacks. He just had issues with them eating in his restaurants, though he would let them buy from him if they took it immediately out of his places of business.

Thirdly, Bessinger argued before SCOTUS in 1968 that he was allowed by his religion to discriminate against blacks and (if I read the brief correctly) claimed the Civil Rights Act was unconstitutional. You know, the federal law that made it illegal to discriminate against people of color. So what Bessinger did, what Maurice's BBQ did (but apparently does no longer now that his kids have taken over) was illegal.

What Memories Pizza is doing, refusing to serve the GBLTQ community? Not illegal at all. Not even on a federal level. And unlike Maurice's BBQ's overt racism and hostility, if it weren't for the public announcement by the pizzeria owners, no one would even know Memories Pizza was being discriminatory until a GBLTQ couple tried to buy wedding pizza. <- Which could still be covered up by saying "I'm sorry we don't do wedding pizza" without anyone being the wiser.

Federal law states that private businesses doing business with the public are required to make accomodations and to not discriminate against employees or customers. The problem is that federal law only covers Race, Color, Religion, and National Origin. It does NOT (and never has) covered Gender, Sexual Orientation, or Sexual Identity. (read that CNN article. It's an eye opener).

So even if the Indiana RFRA act gets repealed or fixed, Memories Pizza can still discriminate against the GBLTQ community. Heck, they could discriminate against women too and there is little we could do about it.

Here's the thing, though. Yelling and screaming and threatening people / businesses who indulge in this reprehensible behavior doesn't do anyone any good. By all means, boycott the business. By all means, pull business out of Indiana. Vote with your wallets, then go to the polls. Encourage your local, state, and federal representatives to pass anti-discrimination laws. But let's not give the haters ammo by posting threats of violence. Such behavior opens us up to arrest and harrassment. If the owners of Memories Pizza want to be stupid, let them be stupid. But don't let their stupid be contagious. We're better than that, especially since we're going to win this fight.

After all, history and culture are on our side.

Brandie's Stories

The Monster of Mogahnee Bay (reprint ebook, Coming Soon, Musa Publishing)

The Drunkard's Progress (Coming Soon, Musa Publishing)

Slipping Thru the Cracks, Latchkeys #7 (Sept 2012 Crazy 8 Press)

Legend of the Beemen (June 2012 Musa Publishing)

Feast of the Torn (upcoming Buzzy Magazine)

The Hunt for Liberty Jones (Space Tramps, Flying Pen Press)

The Tales We'll Tell Tomorrow (Shadowrun: Street Legends, Catalyst Game Labs)

Silk and Steam (The Ladies of Trade Town, HarpHaven Press)

Love Me Knot (A Lady Katya Story, Storyportals.com)

Another Day, Another Labor (A Career Guide to Your Job in Hell)

Locke-Down (Blue Kingdoms: Mages & Magic)

The Rose Garden (Shadowrun: Corporate Guide-Mitsuhama Fiction, Catalyst Game Labs)

The Monster of Mogahnee Bay (Blue Kingdoms: Shades & Specters)

Just My Luck (Pirates of the Blue Kingdoms)

Two for the Price of One (Transformers: Legends, iBooks Inc.)

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