Back in MY day, we bought our Internet around back

When it comes to the Internet, I was what you might call an early adopter.

Back in the Wild West days of the Internet, when you actually had to dial up to your provider with a modem, there were lots and lots of choices for ISPs. These days you more or less have Comcast or Verizon, but back then you could literally just open the phone book and pick a new company.

When I finally got tired of pretending to cancel AOL unless they offered me “50 more hours for free!”, I did exactly that and found a new ISP. In order to sign up for service, I had to drive to their office and pick up an installation disk (and I mean disk, not CD). I wrote down the address and hopped in the car.

When I got to the place, I thought maybe I had written down the wrong address. I drove around the block a few times, but the address clearly pointed to a chinese restaurant. This was a freestanding building, not a strip mall or anything, and there really wasn’t anything else around that could possibly be an Internet provider. Finally, I parked and walked in.

I approached the hostess. “Hi, I, uh, wanted to sign up for the Internet?” I asked, feeling ridiculous. “You have to go around back,” she said, “Knock.”

“Of course!” I thought, gratified that she wasn’t looking at me funny. “You can’t sign up for Internet at a Chinese restaurant; that would be crazy! There must be an office building around back.” But when I got around back there was just a plain, windowless, steel door next to a dumpster. I knocked.

This was the door to the kitchen, and a chef opened it up. I mean a full on chef, with a white apron covered in food stains. “You want Internet?” he asked me. You better believe I wanted his dirty, back-alley Internet.

It did not, unfortunately, come with a side of fried rice, nor did he give me the access numbers inside of a fortune cookie. I filled out a paper with my desired username (an actual piece of paper, your average back door Internet didn’t have fancy-schmancy online forms back then), he gave me an installation disk, and away we went.

And believe it or not, that was probably the best ISP I ever had. They were fast (a blazing 56k!), they were cheap, and when I canceled my service when I went to college, my account was still active for at least 2 years afterwards. When I’d come home for the weekend I used to connect up, and sure enough I was in, despite not paying a dime in years. That back door Internet was the good stuff.

I feel bad for you kids today and your high speed wi fi two step authentication itunes app store. You’ll never get to experience a dial up bulletin board, or get kicked off a chat room because you forgot to disable call waiting, or yell at your little sister for answering the phone to modem squeals even though you clearly told her you were waiting for a friend’s computer to direct dial you so you could play Warcraft II. You’ll buy your Internet from a faceless corporation instead of following your Internet dealer into a dark alley for an installation disk. You probably run virus protection too, and keep all the ports closed on your firewall.


Easter Recap

Relatively low key Easter this year, though we got some beautiful weather. The Easter Bunny brought a few gifts, but the main thing for Evie was a kit where she can mine for her own gemstones…


…and Ollie got a hand drill and has spent most of the time since then drilling, screwing, and hammering nails into a piece of wood.

Evie is in the choir and performed two beautiful songs. It is so fun to see her up there singing her lungs out (there’s no trouble picking out her voice from the crowd) and really enjoying it.

(Side note, I saw someone pause in the communion line and take a selfie on her phone in front of the altar. I wish I were kidding.)

After the service there was an Easter egg hunt but, as usual, all the other kids ran out first and found most of the eggs before we got there. In my experience, Easter egg hunts always seem like a good idea in principle but never quite seem to live up to the hype, and usually end up in a lot of upset kids.
Unfortunately, Ollie thought Easter would be a great day to be a holy terror (pun intended). All day he was stubborn and short tempered as only a kid can be. He took every opportunity he could to spite us at every turn, up to and including dumping a full cup of milk on the floor in protest over…who knows what. I think because I asked him to wash his hands? Or something else equally awful, I don’t know. It was just that sort of day.

Needless to say, I was pretty grumpy and exhausted at the end of the day, and ready to declare no more Easters ever. On the other hand, now that some time has passed, I’m starting to forget about all of that stuff and only remember Ollie happily pounding nails in the wood and Evie bouncing up and down in time to the music as she sang.

That’s the good thing about memory I guess. As long as someone doesn’t record the bad stuff on his blog.

Turns out I write horror too

I’m very pleased to announce the sale of my story “Lullabies for a Clockwork Child” to the horror podcast Pseudopod.

I’ve been listening to Pseudopod for a long time (I first blogged about them going on 3 years ago), and it simply can’t be beat for horror audiofiction. I actually write a decent amount of horror, but this is the first I’ve sold.

I have a very active imagination (you might say over active) and therefore as a child I suffered a deep-seated fear of the dark. I spent most every night of my childhood scared witless, and had all sorts of tricks to “forget” to turn the light off. When I was older I slept with the tv on every night so as not to be alone in the dark. (I should say it was rather being NOT alone in the dark that bothered me, but I digress…)

Naturally, I was drawn to horror like a moth to a flame, tempting fate a little too often even though I knew it was a terrible idea and I would regret it later. I tried to ignore my natural fascination, but unfortunately my best friend Chris was also a bit of a horror buff and he subjected me to hours and hours (and hours) of horror movies until eventually I sort of inoculated myself against the genre.

At that point I sort of threw in the towel and said, “Why not?” immersing myself in horror movies, novels, and short stories, and burning myself on that particular flame over and over and over again. What can I say? I guess on some level I like to be terrified.

As always, I’ll keep you posted when it goes up, and in the meantime feel free to check out some of the other creepy tales over at Pseudopod.

Re-learning to talk

Ollie, like many kids, has historically had a little bit of trouble saying a few letters. For example, he used to say ‘w’ instead of ‘l’, like “ow-iver”, or ‘f’ instead of ‘th’, like “firsty”. With age and a few gentle corrections, these have mostly disappeared. However, there are still a few words that he says that are not quite right.

I don’t remember how it came up exactly, but it turns out that he’s not mispronouncing the words, he actually thinks that’s how they’re said. It was a total revelation to him that some of the words he’s saying are actually different than what he thought they were. When Sara explained that it’s “animal” not “amimol”, he absolutely thought she was putting him on. He kept giving her a look like, “When are you going to say, ‘just teasing!’”

Suddenly this light bulb has gone on. It’s like he’s learning all of his words all over again. I don’t know how he didn’t notice that when we said them we said them differently, but somehow he just didn’t. “Mother”, not “mudder”. “Pitch black” instead of “pinch black”. He knows all of his letters and can even write most of them, but he still says, “…h-i-j-k-em-oh-em-oh-p”.

It’s actually kind of sad; I’m not sure I want him to learn the right way to say things. I never know if I should actually correct him or not. I don’t want my little boy to grow up, I want him to keep saying “hooza-hoop” until he’s 20. So sometimes I correct him when he says something wrong, and sometimes I don’t.  Now that he’s aware of it, he’s paying closer attention to some of the things, so he’s correcting himself whether I like it or not.

As an adult, I would be horrified to learn that I had been saying something so wrong, loudly and often in front of others. That’s actually one of the great things about kids: they have no such self-conscious reflex. He’s actually just really interested in learning the correct way to do it.

Even if he’s got to learn to talk all over again.

“My Heart” in its theatrical debut

Just a friendly reminder: an adaptation of my story “My Heart is a Quadratic Equation” will be featured as part of the Pulp Stage’s upcoming Sci Fi Night show next Thursday, April 24th.

More details are available here, but if you happen to be out Portland way, be sure to stop in at the Jack London Bar and check it out. Tickets are only $5 if you buy them online!


Jesus Christ Muppetstar

What do you get when you combine two of the greatest things ever, Jesus Christ Superstar and the Muppets? Well, I’ll just let you go ahead and answer that question for yourself.

It should be noted that this is an unauthorized adaptation, but they do a pretty good job. Kermit is the obvious choice as Jesus, ditto Miss Piggy as Mary Magdalene, and Gonzo makes an excellent Judas (who else to play the outsider?), but it’s the other little roles that make it.

Pepe the King Prawn as Pilot? Genius. Gonzo’s chickens singing (clucking?) backup? Electric Mayhem as the disciples? And when Beaker came in I about lost my $#it.

Seriously, this is so well done. I love it. There are so many little nods to the source material, like Piggy singing “It’s cool and the oink-ment’s sweet!” that even once you understand the central conceit it’s still enjoyable.

“And now I understand you’re a frog…at least that’s what you said.”

Give it a listen. Highly recommended.

Knitter’s Children

When it’s muddy outside, Ollie likes to get right in. I don’t really mind it; I think it’s good for him, and even if I’m cringing a little bit on the inside, I try to hold my tongue. In any case, he comes home from school with a lot of very dirty outerwear.

The other day I was tossing his snow pants and coat in the washer, and I noticed his nice, knitted mittens were a little worse for the wear. I shrugged and tossed them in with everything else.

“Are you putting my mittens in the washer?” Ollie said doubtfully. “Yeah, I thought I’d wash them. They’re a little dirty.”

Evie was upstairs and heard our conversation through the dryer vent. “Daddy!” she screamed. “Daddy, don’t put them in the washer!” “It’s okay,” I replied, “I’m not going to put them in the dryer, just the washer.” “Noooo! No daddy!” she shouted, starting to sob. “You can’t put them in the washer!” Ollie was tugging on my arm, and he started screaming too. “Evie, they’re already in there! They’re already in the washer!!”

The two of them were screaming like I was putting a kitten in the washer; this was definitely a code red. The only thing we were missing was a revolving red light and blaring klaxons.

Of course I quickly took the mittens out, if only to restore order to the house. Afterwards, Ollie showed me how to wash them in the sink and then put them in a towel and stomp on them to dry them.

I have to admit that I was a little ashamed that, as a knitter, the kids knew more about this than I did. I mean, I knew better than to put them in the dryer, and I guess I knew somewhere in the back of my head that the agitation could felt them as well, but I just didn’t think it was a big deal. Hoo boy did the kids think it was a big deal. So I guess I didn’t know what I was talking about and I had to be schooled by children.

Sara, on the other hand, has never been prouder.


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