Pictures and Weather and Work: Oh My!

Love the weather around here tonight; the first tornadic storms of the season.  Wheee!

Gotta go to work tomorrow.  I hate Mondays.  All I would like to do is sit and write but that’s not happening just yet.  The winter has frozen my brain, so books and articles aren’t going as well as I would like.  I plan to make some more queries soon for Rose’s Hostage, now that I have a Guide to Literary Agents.  Perhaps I can target them a little better this time around.  If the next list doesn’t make it, it will be time to shelve it.  Poo.

I promised you some pictures from my recent trip and here are some I particularly liked.  Keep in mind that I am NOT a professional photographer, or even a talented amateur.  I apologize in advance for any eyestrain or seizures that result from viewing these photos.

Tucson, Arizona has some really cool mountains.  In fact, it’s surrounded by them.  Here are some:

Yes, I took that from Someone’s car. Them’s some pointy mountains.

Tucson also has a lovely little zoo.  Most of its denizens are typical, like these two:

Simba and Nala!

This dude:

African elephant; you can tell by the ears (bigger). Someone special took this one. :)

And this handsome fellow:

Om nom nom...

Here’s a capybara, an unusual animal.  He’s the world’s largest rodent, about the size of a medium dog.  Waaaay bigger than I pictured him; this was the first time I’ve seen one other than National Geographic.

AND…a roseate spoonbill!  I love these birds.  They are so sweet-looking.

Pretty bird. I wanted to pet it soooo bad...

Okay, enough aminals.  Up around Oro Valley sits Biosphere 2, that big greenhouse thing those scientists spent a couple of years in the early 1990s living in while they did experiments.  It’s called that because it’s named after Earth, which is Biosphere 1.

Today the University of Arizona runs it and there are still lots of experiments going on, mostly about climate changes.  You can tour the biomes and even see one of two big air exchange “lung” things that give the biomes a fresh breath now and then.

The outside of Biosphere 2:

Pretty, isn’t it? This is one of my better pictures.

Here is the South Lung room, under Biosphere.

Right above this well is a great big disk attached to a huge rubber membrane.  When they open the doors, the air rushes through and the disk lowers, where legs keep it from hitting the ground.

The disk. See the legs? Is it dark in here or what? Big echo chamber, too.

This is the desert biome.

A lemon growing on a tree in a side area.  I don’t know why, but I found the lemon really funny.

Hee hee...

The beach and a million-gallon ocean! With real Pacific Ocean water! Yes there are fish in it!

And the rain forest.  So pretty…

If you ever get the chance to visit Biosphere 2, please do.  Support research and science wherever you can.  Hopefully current scientists working here will learn more about our carbon dioxide levels and find a way to curb the human factor in climate change.  We are having an effect, even if it’s not as dire as recent predictions have said.

South of Tucson is the Mission San Xavier del Bac, one of the best examples of Spanish Colonial architecture around.  Here’s the outside of the place.  If you go, make sure you try some of the Indian frybread being sold in the parking lot.  Mmmm.

And the inside:

I’m sorry if this is blurry. I FORGOT MY CAMERA (!!!) and had to take them with Someone’s phone.

Traveling is fun (except for flying; see previous post), and I had an interesting idea I might use in a future project.  Writers should get out of the house once in a while and go someplace new.  Living in your head ain’t really living.

5 Ways Flying Sucks Now

Okay, I wrote most of this a week ago, but I wanted to share it. I got my pictures from my trip organized this week and I’ll post some in the next day or so.

I’m actually writing this on an airplane, on the way to see Certain Someone.  Anyone who has flown in the last few years will be able to relate to this post.  So will anyone who is old enough to remember when flying didn’t suck.

It’s kind of  cool that I can actually take a computer on an airplane (wireless disabled, of course), but the surroundings leave much to be desired.  If you haven’t flown in years, you must be warned.  In no particular order, here are five ways flying sucks today.


Tiny Seats

In order to make more money, the airlines have crammed in extra seats.  I’m not a fat girl, but I’m a tall one.  My legs are long, my arms are long, and now there’s nowhere to put them.  Right now I’m in the aisle seat in the back of an S80, by the galley, and the butt and hips of every single person on their way to the bathroom is helping me type this.


No more free food

Want a snack?  Bring one.  Really.  Most airlines are phasing out the peanuts (because of allergies) and even the pretzels aren’t a freebie anymore.  The only thing left is a tiny cup that holds a third of a can of soda, and ice.  If you get hungry, you can purchase a single serving bag of chips for $4.00.  I put a baggie of pears and a little Jack Links snack packet in my backpack.  But on the initial leg of my flight, the plane was so tiny I had to cram it in the overhead compartment and spent the entire time gazing mournfully at the ceiling where my food sat, mocking me.


Fees, fees, fees

A fee for checking a bag.  That used to be free.  A fee for the snacks.  A fee for calling someone on the phone to book your ticket.  (Hint: do it online for free, and don’t go through those travel sites.)  A convenience fee for buying a ticket.  A 9/11 fee, presumably to cover the gubmint’s efforts to squash dem nasty terrorists.  Who the hell knows what that is, anyway?

At least the carryon is still free, but watch out.  Spirit Airlines already tried to stick that one in.  Next they’ll cut off cabin pressure and charge you to use the oxygen masks.  “You wanna breathe? That’ll be $10 for every hour you’re in the air.”



Yes, I know airlines have done this since the beginning of time , and I’m not a frequent flyer, although the long-distance thing has had me crammed into that little metal tube more and more lately.  And nearly every flight I’ve been on has been stuffed to the gills.  Why is overbooking even necessary?  You bump me, and there will be tears.  You don’t want to see that.



Transportation Security Administration!  With checked baggage fees, packing for security sucks.  I managed to get most of my things for a four-day weekend into a duffle and a backpack.   A three-ounce bottle of conditioner won’t cut it for my thick hair.  And just remember, tiny planes don’t hold big bulky carryons, people.  I packed right; your giant rolling bag that just hit me in the head needs to be checked.

A lot of people are calling this security theater.  When Adam Savage of Mythbusters got through the line with two twelve-inch razor blades in his clothing, I had to agree.  (Link contains a bit of language.) It’s very true that it’s a reactive agency, and unfortunately TSA security personnel aren’t experts.   If you want real security, do it the way the Israelis do.

Until we come up with a way that actually works, here are some tips to get through the line, from the horse’s mouth.   This is the first time I’ve flown with a computer too, so I was a nervous wreck worrying someone would nick it.  Luckily I’ve chosen smaller airports with less people and shorter lines, plus I didn’t wear or bring anything TSA peeps would need to stop me for.

I’ll be flying again, and you probably will be too, since we don’t have a better alternative just yet (transporters, anyone?).  Let’s all remember our manners and make it less sucky for the next guy.

Vocabulary – Letter I Wanna go to the beach…

Hope everyone has safely dug out from under Snownami of 2011.  A blizzard where I live is unusual.  Good freaking God what’s going on with the weather!?

Iatrophobia – fear of going to the doctor.  Iatro- from the Greek iatros meaning healer or medicine.   I knew someone who was iatrophobic and didn’t go to the doctor when she found a lump.  In six months she was dead.  Go to the freaking doctor already!

Ibis – a wading bird like herons or egrets. They feed on frogs, reptiles and crustaceans.  Pretty bird, yes you are!

The scarlet ibis, the national bird of Trinidad! (Picture by Elizabeth West)

Ichthyoid – fishlike.  Barney had a pooched, ichthyoid mouth that gave Ellen the creeps; every time she saw him, she wanted to sprinkle goldfish food over his head.

Idiopathic – as in a disease, no known cause.

I.e. – abbreviation of id est, Latin meaning that is.  Used when an explanation or paraphrase will follow.  The brown fox has seven kits–i.e., babies.

Ifrit – a smoke djinn (spirit), in Islamic mythology.  In the Final Fantasy series of videogames, an ifrit could be summoned magically in battle to do fire damage to opponents.

Doesn’t look happy to be here…

Ignoramus – a dunce, someone who is ignorant.  “Daphne’s such an ignoramus,” Velma muttered to Shaggy.  “I wonder what Fred sees in her.  Guess it’s because her boobs are bigger than her brains.”

Ihram (ee-RAHM) – white robes worn by male pilgrims at Mecca.  Two cloths, one wrapped around the waist and one over the shoulder, eliminate any class distinctions and signify a consecrated state.

Illude – to trick or deceive.  Not to be confused with elude, which means to avoid or escape by trickery, or allude, to indirectly refer to something.   Batman knew the Joker liked to illude him, and he enjoyed alluding to the time he eluded capture by setting off a hidden stink bomb and saying Alfred farted.

Impregnable – no, this doesn’t mean you can’t get pregnant.  It means unconquerable, unable to be taken by force or overthrown.

Insouciant (in-SOO-see-ahnt) – carefree.  Han Solo drank and laughed an insouciant laugh, although he knew Boba Fett was hot on his trail. Chewie would protect him, if he could get away from the space hookers combing his shaggy fur.  Surely they didn’t think the Wookie had any money.

Ionosphere – the part of the atmosphere of Earth that radio waves bounce off; it begins about thirty miles above the surface.

Ipomoea (ip-uh-MEE-uh) – plant genus of the morning glory family.

Pretty, but will take over your garden if you don’t stop it NOW!

Irascible (ih-RAS-uh-bul) – irritable, easily provoked.  Now get off my lawn!

Isobar – in meteorology, a line on the map that connects areas of equal barometric pressure.  When you see a bunch of them packed close together, that means it’s gonna be windy.   Hold onto your brelly!

It – a great book by Stephen King.  Touches on the power of childhood and imagination, and of course contains the most viciously frightening clown ever created, Pennywise. I will not include a picture from the miniseries.  Too scary!

Ivoride – a substitute for ivory.  Elephants are the typical prey of ivory poachers, but walrus, hippos, narwhals and mammoths (dug-up tusks) have been used for this toothy substance.  Harvesting and importing ivory is illegal!

Ixodic – related to or pertaining to ticks.  Bleah.

Not the yucky tick, the cool Tick.

Izzat (IZ-uht) – personal dignity, prestige.  Izzat your medal I see there, you dignified thing, you?

That’s all for today, kids.  Until next time!