Rockies Then and Now

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Four years ago, while my brain was still in shock from the shocking US election results, I took a picture of the Rocky Mountains with the intention of taking another one from pretty much the same spot after four years of official climate change denial. What did I expect to see? A return of the brown cloud. Back in the eighties, Denver had an ugly greenish-brown haze of pollution hanging over it. Pretty nasty. One of the first things I noticed when I came back to the state in 2005 for a visit was that it was gone, and the air was really nice. Living here now I know from long experience that it comes and goes with the weather, but that’s still a vast improvement over the constant stinkiness of before. Now it’s mostly from high ozone days, not emissions from dirty industries.
Anyway, what I didn’t expect was three years of what they call “exceptional drought,” an insanely rapid expansion of new subdivisions in the area once contaminated by Rocky Flats, and some absolutely epic wildfires. I wound up taking several pictures from good old Highway 128, most of them downright shocking. I’ll grant you no individual human is responsible for drought and wildfires. But policies, people! Policies. The ones that say “extract every bit of resource from every source imaginable at as fast a pace as possible with no regard for the future” and other stupid crap like that. I can definitely blame that sort of policy for accelerating the pace of climate change.
So here you go, a series of Rocky Mountain photos taken from the same general area of Colorado. And yes, I swear, the mountains are really there. Take my word for it. They’re too dang big to pick up and move, they don’t have feet, so they are actually still there.

November 2016
August 2020. Smoke from the fires in California and Oregon.
September 2020. Those aren’t water vapor clouds.
October 2020. Smoke, plus clouds that turned into a proper snowstorm and pretty much smothered the biggest fires. Whew!
After election, November 2020. Leftover haze from fires, a bit of extra pollution (although nowhere near what I expected), and definitely ready for people to start taking climate change more seriously.

There, I did it.

personal

The nagging of my conscience couldn’t do it, but a bit of extra public embarrassment worked. I wrote today!

Only 250-ish words, true, but that’s a couple hundred more words than I wrote yesterday.

Also, I’ve set myself a goal for my day off:

Saturday, I intend to finish formatting The Apex Mage. I will also complete the update on my website, and get the new version off my damn hard drive. It’s not doing anyone any good there, and the time is rapidly approaching when I need that sucker fully current and functional.

Oh, and by the way, because everything is online this year, I actually get to participate in Mile High Con! Yay for virtual author tables!

Randomness

personal, Random

I’ve been taking more writing classes again, and have come to the conclusion that I’m lazy. I keep whining to myself that I never get anything finished, yet I keep blowing off the daily writing thing. So I will now publicly embarrass myself by admitting it out loud: I play ESO when I should be writing!

There. I said it. Now to break the bad habit and start writing daily again.

Next bit of randomness: a smoky sunrise today. Never mind the dumpster, it insisted on being in the shot.

And the other bit of randomness: my camper got stolen. 😿 All that’s left is the wood I had the tongue resting on.

My Land

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Rather than tell a long, involved story, with too much information, and likely boring the life out of anyone who reads this, I’ll try to keep this simple. I love the desert. I’ve been trying to buy a bit of desert for over twenty years, and failing. This time, it worked!

My criteria for buying land have always been the same. Between two and forty acres, preferably desert, low or no down payment, low monthly payment, residential zoning preferred but recreational will do in a pinch. This time, I found a place that fits all of the above! 2.53 acres, high desert, very far away from anyone else. The price is more than the land is worth, but I don’t care, because the payments are low and it’ll be paid off in six years. Not to mention the “no credit check” part of the financing. That’s worth paying a little extra, because it meant there was no chance they’d say no.

If all goes well, I will pay off the loan, then find a way to plop a mobile home or a cabin on the place, and have a chance to retire from full-time ass-busting sixty hours a week dog grooming. *does happy dance*

If all doesn’t go well, and I can’t put a home on the land anytime soon, no problem! Because it’s up at about 8000 feet, in a high valley that is very far away from any light pollution, and I have a place to take my telescope! *does more happy dance*

The place is located smack up against Wild Horse Mesa, in the San Luis Valley. Wild horses actually live there, so it’s open range. No fences allowed. The whole drive down there I was wondering if there was any way I could get cactus to grow at such a high altitude, where the winters get colder than crap. No worries, the place is covered in little prickly pears! And horse shit! I’m probably the only person that’s not a biologist that gets insanely happy over a pile of shit. But weird or not, I’m totally thrilled to have piles of wild horse crap all over the place. I also spotted elk and deer turds, and of course lots of rabbit crap. I saw tracks from something that might have been either a bighorn sheep–no, I don’t know for sure they live out there–or, more likely, an antelope. No matter what critter left the tracks, I’m happy to have it. Wildlife is awesome.

Enough blabbing. Check out my little piece of the high desert. And, for anyone who cares about such things, I have a decent view of Mount Blanca, one of the Four Sacred Mountains. That is just plain amazing.

Cat Counselor

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Lately I’ve been feeling a little grumpy. Well, maybe a lot grumpy. Working an awful lot, not enough money, the usual. I abandoned my NaNoWriMo project because it kept trying to reflect reality.

So this morning I was saying goodbye to my cats. Tasha blinked at me and gave me the cat look that says, “Whatever.” Goon, on the other hand, purred and gave me a wide-eyed happy look.

Right as I was thinking how nice it is to have a sweet, loving kitty, he pounced.

Whap!

Solid smack, both sides of my head. (No claws.) Totally cracked me up.

I’m not sure what that means, but it seems like a comment on life in general. Maybe I should learn from my kitten and give stress a double-handed smack upside the head.

One Year.

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One year ago today, I almost died. I had a big, fancy post all ready to share, complete with pictures, but I accidentaly deleted it through a series of unfortunate events.

Whatever. I’ll take that as the universe saying I don’t need to bore anyone by talking about the crap I went through. It wasn’t pretty, it was downright disgusting, and I survived. I will point out that the problem I lived with for six years is easily fixed by surgery, but I’m one of those people that falls in the “hole” in Obamacare. I make too much money to get a really good subsidy, not enough to afford a three to four hundred dollar a month payment on an insurance plan with a ridiculously high deductible. ($7500-8000, if you’re curious.) So I couldn’t afford the surgery.

Instead, I’ll bore you with something else. Normal people that have near-death experiences report things like bright lights, tunnels, beloved presences, encounters with divinity. I didn’t get any of that. Although I’ll admit I got ferociously dizzy, my vision got dim, and my brain got really stupid.

What did happen is I got pissed off. And I mean really, truly, deeply pissed off. This happened right about the time I saw the emergency room staff moving quickly, and multiply from one to about half a dozen, and it sunk in that they thought I was actually dying right there in front of them.

Weird feeling, by the way.

And while the ER staff was moving quickly, at a speed you never want to see in real life, I was feeling apologetic for troubling them when I didn’t feel half as shitty as I did back in January.

That was when I got pissed.

There I was, literally dying, and I’d been working. Just like always. That’s most of what I do with my life, after all. Work, work, work. And I felt significantly better that day than I did back in January. I was able to take a couple days off back then, but my boss insisted I had to come in to groom some regular customers that no one else could do, so I tried. Even though I knew I wasn’t safe to drive, I drove. And I worked. And I groomed two dogs.

But then I called my boss and told her I don’t care how bad she needs me working, I can’t do this and have to go home. Now, after the fact, I know why I was so dizzy I couldn’t stand or even see straight. The doctors called it acute anemia, said that I could have died.

And a couple weeks later, I was working with blood clots in my leg and my lungs, and more acute anemia. It was so bad I could feel my heart beating super-fast and erratic. I had to keep taking breaks to let the poor thing calm down before it actually exploded. When I finally got to the doctor, she said I could drop dead at any moment.

And I kept working, and working, and working.

Have you figured out why I got pissed yet? It’s because somewhere along the line, I kind of forgot that I swore I’d never work myself to death like my dad did. So I almost dropped dead, more times than I’ve mentioned here, at work. Doing exactly what I swore not to do.

At least I had the brains to call for help before my heart stopped because there wasn’t any blood left to pump. The doctor at the hospital told me I was almost there. The blood count I had was 5, she said hearts stop at around 4-4.5.

Screw that whole working myself to death thing. I’m pissed, and staying pissed, and using that anger and frustration to get my life sorted out so I can drop back to a more normal amount of work. It’ll take a couple years to clean up my situation so I can afford to stop this 50-60+ hour a week bullshit, but I’m going to do it. I will arrange my life so I can work a normal job, have a home of my own instead of a rental, and spend more time living. I am going to do things I enjoy, including getting out on the weekends to go hiking or find a horse to ride or whatever. I’ve done that a few times already, and it’s a vast improvement over working.

In short, I’m going to take the second chance I was given, and do something a hell of a lot better than work.

Finally!

personal, Random

Something awesome finally happened last night. Ever since I had surgery a year ago, I’ve been trying to get back into bellydance. And… my body’s been stubbornly refusing to cooperate.

But last night, I was in the middle of thinking the usual this sucks, why even bother, I can’t dance, and suddenly my body said oh yeah! I know how to do this!

And I became a bellydancer again.

*does happy dance*

(I know. The picture has nothing to do with dancing. But the silly things make me happy.)

I confess…

personal
I have a confession to make. My conscience demands it.
Every weekend I try to do some extra cleaning. You know the kind, where you really, really clean something on a semi-regular basis in an effort to keep on top of it. Well, last week I did the kitchen, which was disgusting because I figured out I can’t even remember the last time I did it. (Valid excuse: I was sick as hell. When I finally felt strong enough to do something about it, the holidays attacked. I did it as soon as I could!)
Fine. So my kitchen’s clean now. The guilt from leaving it gross for so long doesn’t even begin to compare to what happened today, though.
I intended to do the bathroom. It’s gotten more attention than the kitchen, because it’s smaller and bathrooms get really nasty if you don’t clean ’em. But it wound up being the plants.
I started watering my plants this morning, only to discover that one of them had been knocked clean out of the window and turned upside down, coming to rest on top of the radiator, poor thing. (Wondering how that happened? I have a kitten.)
So I fished it out, set it up with some more dirt, and… I kept hearing these sad little plant-voices.
Stupid human, they were saying. She promised us a good home, they whispered, while I looked around for the source. She even said she’d give us a new pot last week!
And then I realized what happened.
A couple weeks ago, almost three actually, I ran across a bunch of herbs for sale pretty cheap. So I picked some up. Rosemary, thyme, and basil, to replace the rosemary and basil I accidentally murdered by leaving them outside on a night that was way too cold for them. I brought them home, promising them a nice new pot and regular water. You know, the good life for a plant.
But what really happened was I set the poor little buggers down with the other plants, forgot to repot them last weekend, forgot they even existed. I barely remembered to water anyone last week, because it was so busy at work.
And now here they were, all sad and dried out, but still hanging on to life. I immediately found them a new pot, got them into it, gave the poor things water and access to the grow-light. They’re now sitting beside me, all sorts of happy, standing up and singing a little growgrowgrow song. Whew! Plant crisis averted.
And now, conscience clean, I can go on about the weekend. In other words, back to editing The Apex Mage.

Ramblings about 3D stuff

3D, personal

I upgraded my computer recently. Yes, I know, I’ve told everybody in this world and three others about my new computer. That’s because I love it, and I’m proud as hell that I assembled the big beast without messing anything up. But I stuck my old drives in the new case, because there wasn’t anything wrong with them. And… about three weeks later, one of the big old monsters started groaning and complaining, acting like it was way too old to get up in the morning, and saying it wasn’t going to last much longer.

So I got a new drive. Took a chance this time on something new, which I usually don’t. I tend to wait for a new technology to be out in the world for a while before trying it, because it seems like tech companies are in such a rush to get something out there that they don’t neccessarily work out all the bugs first. But what the hell, life’s short. The drive I got is a hybrid between a normal drive and an SSD, called the Seagate Firecuda. And let me tell you, that thing is fast! I don’t regret trying something new this time, that’s for sure.

Which brings my rambling ass back around to the 3D stuff. Imagine that.

When I moved into the new system, it screwed up all my carefully sorted and organized 3D content. My categories didn’t work anymore, what with the new OS and the new SSD holding the new OS and having to re-install all my programs to work with the new OS and… You get the picture. I’d just barely begun getting the mountains of stuff organized when I had to put the new drive in, and move all my content. Again. Breaking all my categories. Again.

“Bugger” was the least of what I said, but I got everything onto the new drive.

I bought a product ages ago when it was on sale for about three bucks called Content Cataloger Easy. I wasn’t initially too impressed with it, because all it does is round up every thumbnail in the content directories and display each and every one of them. It makes a huge batch of images, stretching across many pages, without an easy way to navigate through the things. But I gave it another try out of sheer desperation. Yes, the thing is still a pain, with the endless scrolling through mountains of crap. But it’s also really nice, because it lays out pictures of everything, complete with the path to the whatever. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run across something I forgot I had, or I forgot just how cool it was.

Which brings me to my other problem. Please, people, don’t let me buy any more content! Holy crap, I’ve got enough stuff cluttering up my hard drive to last three lifetimes! If you catch me hinting that I’m looking for more, then please kick me right in the butt. Hard. Because I’ve got plenty.

I blame Daz for that. 😉 They’re the ones that have had some amazing sales right when I’ve had some bucks to spend. And it’s also my boss’s fault, too, because she gave me a nice shiny bonus check that coincided with one of those good sales.

And now, having sufficiently bored people with my randomness, I’m going to get back to sorting my big pile of stuff. Let the agony of sorting be a lesson to me for the future, one all about exercising self-control and using the bonus check for real world things like food, or clothes, or even vehicle repairs.

A Random Memory

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In case you don’t know this already, I love to bellydance. I’m out of practice now, because of that whole sick thing, but I’ll get back to it soon. Work’s far too crazy right now to allow much of anything.

Anyway, I was thinking today about my last public performance. I was up on stage, dancing with my veil. People were okay with it, but not going crazy or anything. The music changed, I let the second veil come out, the crowd went bonkers. Everyone loves double veil, after all.

And then…

One of my veils cut loose and fluttered down to the ground.

Super embarrassing! There I was, spinning like a crazy thing, wearing my “I’m performing” smile, with only one veil. Crappy. But I traveled towards it over three spins, then spun low and grabbed the sneaky bastard and got it going again. Decent enough recovery, but man, it sucked.

And you know what? Despite the embarrassment, I still love to dance. Maybe I’ll get back to performing again, maybe not, but either way I’m going to break those veils out again and let them fly.