The interest rates were sheer hell

Sharon Ashwood
July 9, 2009  •  No Comments

Apparently, in Latvia—the EU nation worst hit by economic crisis—there’s no need to provide more than a first name to get a bank loan. No knuckle-draggers will show up at three a.m. to collect the debt, either. The catch? All you need to do is to put up your soul as collateral.

The article reads: Such a deal is being offered by the Kontora loan company, whose public face is Viktor Mirosiichenko, 34. Clients have to sign a contract, with the words “Agreement” in bold letters at the top. The client agrees to the collateral, “that is, my immortal soul.”

It’s enough to make me eyeball my Visa bill with suspicion. Sure, we’ve become a society that likes to play fast and loose with our credit rating, but what’s with the Brothers Grimm lending terms? Maybe we crave the certainty of a time when our word was our bond and breaking it was unthinkable? Or perhaps we’re blasé enough to scoff at dealing with the devil?

What I do find interesting is the number of people willing to sign on the dotted line. He’s got roughly 200 takers in the last two months.


So Still the Night

Sharon Ashwood
July 8, 2009  •  1 Comment

sostillthenight

Just wanted to share this great read by Kim Lenox, one of my fellow Silk and Shadows crew.

I read it and loved it. Lots of atmosphere, great characters, great worldbuilding. Late Victorian England with immortals and seriously nasty supernatural killers. Some fun archeological bits. Here’s the back copy:

Marcus Helios was a member of the Shadow Guard until one reckless act changed it all, bringing him to the edge of madness. His hope for salvation lies in a cryptic message contained within two cryptic scrolls he believes to be in the possession of an enigmatic beauty named Mina. And Mina is not about to hand over the scrolls’ secrets to a total stranger.

But someone else has designs on the mysterious relics, and on Mark: Jack the Ripper’s jilted bride. Her malevolent embrace will trap everyone within reach, and her dark plans will challenge the powers of all she is destined to destroy.


Finally, an explanation

Sharon Ashwood
June 24, 2009  •  2 Comments

http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2009/06/23/edmonton-research-day-night.html

Scientists at the University of Alberta have arrived at the amazing conclusion that the brains of early risers are different than those of night owls. Ya think? I’ve always suspected that early birds are actually a different species. Now we know.

What’s interesting is this:

“Using magnetic resonance imaging-guided brain stimulation, neuroscientists tested muscle torque and the excitability of pathways through the spinal cord and brain.

“We found that the brains of morning people are more excitable in the morning and evening people are completely opposite,” neurophysiology researcher David Collins said Tuesday.”

So, the spine and brain of night people are in synch, and the spine and brain of morning people are not. In other words, we of the slow start persuasion are more efficient once we finally get moving. Our body and mind are in harmony.

Nice that science has finally vindicated my slowpoke morning performances. Now, if Mr. Collins would just tell my boss ….


Burping cows?

Sharon Ashwood
June 23, 2009  •  No Comments

http://www.infowars.com/paul-mccartney-calls-for-meat-free-day-to-cut-cow-gas/

This article begins:

“Paul McCartney, the former Beatle and vegetarian pop star, asked fans to go meatless on Mondays to help slow global warming by reducing the amount of gaseous emissions from farm animals.”

Yes, according to Paul, belching cows are contributing to the destruction of the environment. Not that I’m against meatless Mondays, since I’m largely vegetarian anyway, but I find it hard to believe that domestic livestock are such a problem. Didn’t North America used to be covered with bison herds? Didn’t they burp? Why are our current herds so much more gassy? Is commercial feed the problem?

Okay, okay, I’m not a scientist and I really don’t know what I’m talking about. I think it’s cool that the feed people are finding a diet that’s more digestible for the cows. If I were a cow, I’d be grateful.

However, the part of me that likes a good conspiracy theory is wondering if this is some media spin sleight-of-hand. I’ve smelled farms and I’ve smelled refineries. If we’re talking global destruction of the environment by pure and simple stinky test, my money is still on big oil, not Bossy the Cow.


Eat the competition. Really.

Sharon Ashwood
June 18, 2009  •  1 Comment

Want your calling card to stand out from your competitors’? Today’s bizarre product is business cards made from beef jerky. Check it out at http://www.meatcards.com/

According to their web site:

We start with 100% beef jerky, and SEAR your contact information into it with a 150 WATT CO2 LASER.
Screw die-cutting. Forget about foil, popups, or UV spot lamination. THESE business cards have two ingredients: MEAT AND LASERS.

Okay, but what exactly does this say about your business? You’re beefy? You’re jerky? You’re tough and chewy, but lightly spiced? You’re covered in pocket lint and leave grease stains?

On the other hand, you can brand your business while your stationery is still on the hoof.


Desperate Werewolves

Sharon Ashwood
June 17, 2009  •  No Comments

Okay, so I’m far from the most up-to-date about what’s upcoming on TV, so this is quite out of date–that is, from last January. However, this tickled my fancy enough that I thought it worth a mention. I came across the mention of a new series being developed on Fox by Michael Dougherty. It sounds like Sex and the City but with werewolves, and it’s called Bitches. Basically, four gals seducing and subsequently munching their way through the NYC dating scene.

I so want to write for this show.

Anyway, according to what I read, this gem is in the hopper for script development. What that means for us viewing audience couch potatoes, I dunno. I think there are about 10,000 opportunities for new shows to die on the vine. Given that the articles I read were already six months old, that might have already happened, but I hope not. This sounds way too funny.


Mission sorta accomplished

Sharon Ashwood
June 15, 2009  •  No Comments

Last week I put my head down and thought–fine, I’ll work non-stop and get through as much icky stuff as I can. No day job, no housekeeping, no errands, just computer time on those due-date have-to items hanging over my head.

The results are in. I accomplished: one set copy edits for SCORCHED, one set teaser pages, one essay for an anthology, and one homework assignment. Bonus amount of homework reading. Deadlines met; obligations fulfilled.

I lived to fight another day. Back to work this morning to shovel paper off my desk.


Now this is an interesting black hole

Sharon Ashwood
June 8, 2009  •  No Comments

I haven’t been doing a lot of blogging outside of my weekly Silk and Shadows gig because I encountered a black hole. This basically means that the gods snicker, make everything in your life time-sensitive and equally urgent and more than you can possibly handle, and leave you to it. Unfortunately, that much pressure tends to send me into hiding. I have a high threshold for business, but I seem to be hell-bent on figuring out where the outside extremes of tolerance are.

Mission accomplished. I found ‘em.

I’m off work this week with a schedule tacked to the fridge with what I’m supposed to accomplish each day. Am I keeping up? About two-thirds’ worth, but I wisely built in a catch-up day next Saturday. Welcome to my summer holidays.

If I meet all my deadlines, I’m going to think up a major reward.


Walking with T-Rex

Sharon Ashwood
May 11, 2009  •  No Comments

Who doesn’t like dinosaurs? I was very into them when I was about six or seven and never quite lot the appetite for learning more about our giant lizard friends.

This Mother’s Day I took my mom (an inveterate nature show buff) to Walking with Dinosaurs, a live show based on the BBC palaeontology series. They held it in the local sports arena. The basic plot is a walk through prehistory, complete with life-sized animatronic (and some human-occupied) dinos. It was very loud, the critters were very big, and it was altogether very impressive. My brain had trouble processing the size of the dinos. The emcee came up to their ankles.

The show’s web site gives a good sense of what it’s like: http://www.dinosaurlive.com/

Although I was well aware these were puppets, they were realistic enough to let myself sink into the experience a bit. I enjoyed the junior high science component fine, but equally interesting were the mechanics involved in wrangling the critters. There was a fleet of semis lined up outside the arena.

There were plenty of dads with kids, no doubt making a Mother’s Day present of their absence. Some of the kids were really little, and I would have thought the whole thing too scary for them. However, once in the parking lot, there were plenty of three-foot-tall T-rexes roaring about the parking lot, so I guess that was all good.

For me, this of course was writing research, maybe on dragons. All very serious stuff. I did feel a bit left out when I realized there were stuffed triceratops for sale, but I was too late to get one. Phooey.


Tales from the furry side

Sharon Ashwood
May 8, 2009  •  2 Comments

My tabby cat has never been Ms. Adventurous, especially since the Demon Lord of Kitty Badness hit town. The bedroom is her domain and, frankly, that’s where she prefers to stay, away from the Demon Lord chaos.

Ergo, for want of exercise she has come to resemble one of the pillows. Or a bowling ball. Bowling balls aren’t great at grooming their hindquarters. We seem to get along with garden-variety brushing for about eleven months and then poof, she’s covered in mats from the hips back.

Happily for all the furry bowling balls out there, Groomer2Go comes to the rescue–directly to my door. Yeah, it’s a titch more cash than a visit to the beauty parlour, but it saves on wear and tear for all concerned. Getting my girl into a carrier gives a whole new meaning to Octopussy.

Of course, the grooming fairy insists I put the cat in a half-nelson and hold her down on the mat for the shaving procedure. Cue the sound effects, calculated to strike terror into our hearts: “Mmmmrrroooowwwowowwoowwwowwww!”

Groomer and I fall into a fit of the giggles. Not the intended effect.

I don’t blame the cat for objecting, since we are giving her private parts a buzz cut. The effect is a bit like a rear-end Mohawk. After twenty torturous minutes, in which I am bitten, peed on, and sworn at in cat, the ordeal is over. I tip the groomer in big-time apology. Tabby lost dignity and enough hair to knit another kitten. I lost flesh. Thank the great feline goddess that’s over with for another year.

Then I fed my girl and she purred and cuddled. I guess getting all those lumps out of her coat counts for something.


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