I seldom rant in public, but this one is well deserved.

I'm something of an oddity, locally, in that I can't eat spicy foods.


... ... notice that I didn't say I didn't like them (I don't, for the most part) but that I can't eat them.

Oh yes, I like *spice*, salt, garlic, various and assorted herbs, but not hot peppers or anything that has produces capsaicin or any of the various acids so many people seem to enjoy.

According to wikipedia ...

It is common for people to experience pleasurable and even euphoriant effects from eating capsaicin-flavored foods. Folklore among self-described "pepperheads" attributes this to pain-stimulated release of endorphins, a different mechanism from the local receptor overload that makes capsaicin effective as a topical analgesic.

Pardon me!? ... It doesn't seem to me that I'm the one who should be looked at strangely.

Be that as it may, I don't really care what other people eat.

The problem I have is that so many people seem to have a problem with what I don't eat. I've learned I have to be careful when I'm ordering out because nacho rings come standard on a staggering assortment of foods.

- if you order a baked potato at a steak house, they ask if you want cheese and sour cream on it. Is it too much trouble, if you order enchiladas, to ask if you want peppers on them?

The pseudo problem is the eye-rolling and not-so-subtle inference that I'm high-maintenance when I'm careful to avoid peppers.

The real problem:
and I'm going to put this in bold because people don't seem to be able to grasp the concept...

You CAN NOT pick them off because the juice is still in the food. (Like olives. I don't like olives either, but they don't cause me pain. You can't pick olives off because you can still taste them. Mushrooms, you can pick off. No problem.)

If you use a fork to pick peppers out of the jar, do NOT use the same fork for ANYTHING else.

... and I get accused of being too sensitive and over reactive.

So this all came to a head last Friday night.

I'd been on the road since 8am and hadn't eaten since 2pm. At 10pm, I drove thru my favorite Sonic, ordered a Mayo-cheeseburger and continued down the road.

with the first bite, I realized I'd gotten a mustard burger instead. yuck. But, you know, you always get screwed in the drive through. And that seems to go double for me. No matter how polite and/or precise I am, I tend not to get exactly what I ordered.

On the second bite - the mustard seemed a little spicy. I had never had Sonic's mustard before so I wasn't sure what to think. It certainly didn't taste good to me in any way, but I was hungry and already several miles down the road.

On the third bite, I got a mouthful of jalapeƱo. The inside of my mouth felt like it'd been spritzed with acid. (literally, actually, that's about what happened. ..swabbed, not spritzed).

I pulled over, turned the light on and, yes, my burger had a generous handful of pepper slices, seeds and hot stuff and all. I turned around and drove back to the Sonic and had a chat with the manager about it. He was very understanding and sympathetic as was the young lady who had worked the window.

They gave my $4 back and I went on my way.

The problem is that, for a moments inattention by the girl working the window, my mouth burned for nearly 40 minutes. By the next day, the roof of my mouth had blistered.

- I'm assuming she simply grabbed the wrong burger and that it wasn't some kind of sick, malicious joke on the part of the kitchen.

Three days later, the blisters are finally healing.

Now, I don't know if the girl at the window was stressed in some way, if she'd had a bad day, or maybe one that was good enough to keep her distracted, but for whatever reason, she handed that burger out the window. Maybe it wasn't her, maybe the kitchen staff accidentally switched the bags. Who knows?

The girl that served me that burger has probably never considered that it might *really* be important to get the orders right, or that she might have a real influence on someone's day. She probably gets frustrated and even agitated at the complaints she has to put up with. But wouldn't it be great if more servers would take a real personal interest in customer satisfaction?

I'll bet if she had blistered the top of her mouth, she'd start being more careful about what she handed out the window.

(argh - this is getting too long) but to tie it back in to writing, my Sideways class last week was on using intended, as well as unintended, consequences in your plotting. This is certainly the kind of thing that would be guaranteed to cause conflict between characters.

- And this is exactly the kind of thing Holly talks about in using unintended consequences in your plotting ... following a simple, seemingly inconsequential action, to a logical yet unexpected conclusion.

New Blue

At what point does your youngest, your baby, become all grown up?

Because I think that just happened to me. I have this odd feeling of getting caught between a semi and a solid granite cliff-face.

I thought it was pretty scary to take him with me on those long gallops through the woods, and even a little scarier when we started mounted shooting.

But this is a whole 'nuther level.

- it showed up while I was gone to a shooting competition last weekend.

... I left for Ardmore early Saturday morning, they left for Corpus Christi Sunday afternoon. I got in Sunday evening and left for San Jose Monday afternoon. They got in late Monday evening and I didn't get home until very late on Friday night.

so it was yesterday before I got a chance to do more than stare dumbfounded at the thing.

It's just on loan right now, just here for us to try it out. Riiiiiiiiiight.

But the kid is smart.
He let me take it for a spin.
And it's fun.
Dangerous as hell if you forget "DON'T PANIC". But it's really pretty easy to handle and even thought it was the first time I've been on a bike in about 20 years, I was still able to recover from a couple of wobbly moments and some unplanned instances of speed without any real trouble. So, yeah, there's really no chance that it's not staying, but he's had a go-kart for about a year now and done well with that, been reasonaby safe with it and taken care of it, so hopefully this will be a good sport for him to get into.

There's NOTHING on the wing!

So the company sent me to San Jose for a week of training and since I hadn't flown commercially for nearly 20 years, it was both a daunting and (initially) exciting experience.

The security, while understandable, was awkward, difficult and time consuming -- but we managed.

The airline employess (we flew Southwest) were themselves wonderful, but the seats were cramped and uncomfortable for more than a few minutes. I'd brought a short stack of magazines and some writing, but found relaxing enough to enjoy reading or writing to be problematic at best. I did manage to get several thousand words into my new project ("Ice"), but that's not much considering we were in the air most of the day on Monday and again on Friday. So I have it in longhand, and have to weave it in to the disconnected sections I wrote on my laptop during the week, but that shouldn't be too hard.

The trip itself was fun. The training was good and is going to help with how I do my job on a daily basis -- and I had the bonus of dinner with two local friends. One long term internet friend who has been uber-supportive of my writing from the beginning and the other, a long time instructor/mentor who has been that, and a friend and more for many years. It was wonderful to get to see them and those dinners rounded out the week to an overall wonderful experience.

Does this mean that things are back to normal around here? I'm wondering "what passes for normal? Then I remember what I've always said: That 'normal' is highly over-rated. :)

life in general

Life has been coming at me with both barrels lately, but it seems that a lot of people are having the same stresses and strains.

At least I'm going to be able to get away this weekend, going to another CMSA competition. - although, as I told someone earlier today, what I mean is that I'm packed and ready to go. I won't count on getting there until I'm there. Life has been that way lately.

So, two days of shooting, then home, and then off to Sunny San Jose for a week of training for work. I don't like being gone for so long, but I'm looking forward to the workshops and it will be an easier week than I'm used to.

Our house has been coming along, the rock is done except for the posts that will be rocked and some of the trim. We haven't done much at all on the inside yet, but we're having a door made that's going to be very nice, and they're harvesting and peeling cedar posts for the second floor. I tried to take some photos but they didn't come out.

In writing news, I've finished Thunder Jewel and I've very happy with it. I'm getting the synopsis polished and I'll start sending it out next week. That makes two novels compete and making the rounds, and I feel really good about it. I feel tired, in a very good way, about Thunder Jewel, and I have so many different projects screaming at me that it's going to be hard to pick. I honestly think I need to work on two projects at once. I used to always write short stories like that and it's easier for me to flip back and forth than it is to stay on one project. That probably sounds crazy. But instead of double the time it takes for me to finish something, it halves it - because when I start to bog down, I just change gears and keep going instead of trying to fight through the sludge.

The next main project I'm looking at is the novel I've started during Holly's Sideways class and I've *very* excited about it. I've done more prep work on this one than I have before and I've already filled in a lot of the kinds of holes and back-story that I've always had to go back and fix in earlier chapters as I went along with my draft. I've never been able to find a good balance between pantsing and plotting, but Holly may have fixed that for me. I'll find out over the next couple of weeks.