Archive for March, 2008

Sophie from Shinola – Part 6

As you know, I’m participating in a round-robin writing project called “Sophie from Shinola” – the rules are here. I’m sixth in sequence; links to the parts before and after me are below:

Part 1: Nathan
Part 2: Shawn
Part 3: MWT
Part 4: Eric
Part 5: Matt Warnock
Part 6: Jeri
Part 7: Saqib
Part 8: Michelle K.
Part 9:Vince
Part 10: Kimberly-Ann
Part 11: Tom
Part 12: Kate
Part 13: Justin
Part 14: Bryan (below)
Part 15: Tania
Part 16: Charles


Sophie from Shinola, Part 6

Sophie dreamed that she was falling into a blue, watery gravity well. Instead of hitting the surface, she startled awake, heart racing.

Opening her eyes, she realized she’d probably have preferred the fatal impact to waking up in a low-rent hospital bed. Cheap fluorescent lighting flickered above, shadowing dirty gray walls and glinting off the buckles on her restraints. The scent of stale urine, cheap antiseptic and burning plastic permeated the air. Ancient LCD monitors beeped and buzzed around her.

The doctors had told her she was developing something called “dissociative personality disorder”, whatever that was. From her perspective, it meant blacking out, and waking in unfamiliar clothes with fresh bruises. She was blacking out more and more often lately, in spite being tied down with a poisonous, psychoactive IV brew dripping into her arm.

She knew her parents were broke, but she never imagined they’d sell her to Spaceforce.

Her mom slumped, snoring quietly, in a chair beside the bed, face grey with anxiety. She stirred, blinked. “Sophie, is that you?”

That was odd. Who else would it be? And why couldn’t her mom just leave her alone? All the fussing and guilt was making it worse.

“Sophie, honey, I’m so sorry you’re having to go through this. I had no idea the treatments would be this painful! This cut-rate facility is horrid but it’s all we could afford.”

“Well, check me out and take me home, then!” She bit her tongue; bitterness wouldn’t help matters. “Mom, do you know where Blink is? I can feel him but his thread is almost gone. It would really help if he were here, couldn’t we sneak him in?”

“Honey, I’m sorry, I hate to tell you this: we’ve lost Blink. We were taking him back home and he had a fit, flew off into a radioactive zone. We couldn’t catch him, and I’m afraid mine security might.”

A wave of rage and grief crashed over Sophie. She started to scream at her mother, then started falling again and blacked out.

In a blink of the eye, not-Sophie smoothly took control. It glared at the woman sitting beside the hospital bed. “Was that really necessary? Sophie didn’t need to know about Blink. At all.”

Sophie’s mother straightened, pulled her sweater closer around her. “Yes, it was necessary, I’ve always believed in being honest with my family.” She got up and carefully walked to the doorway, ready to leave. She added, “That doesn’t apply to you, you’re not family.”

Not-Sophie laughed bitterly. “That’s hypocrisy! It’s not like you told Sophie you were going to sell her body, you just fed her Spaceforce propaganda and tried to make her think she was volunteering. At the end of it all, Sophie had no choice. You may hate this procedure, but you signed her up for it.”

Sophie’s mother raised one hand, as if to deflect the words. “If I’d known what it really took to create a Spaceforce Academy candidate, I’d never brought Sophie to this back-alley brainmod shop. This…”she gestured around the room, “and you are just wrong.”

“True. You’re afraid of me!” challenged not-Sophie, eyes glittering.

Sophie’s mother replied “You’re right, I am. You are cold, alien, calculating. You are eating my daughter’s mind and soul from within. You are not Sophie, and can never be!”

Not-Sophie sighed. “True. But it’s me the Spaceforce will want, not your daughter. Her ability to create a symbiosis with that quasi-intelligent flying tarantula you gave her is what made her a candidate for the mod. In one sense, you created me. Mother. ”

Sophie’s mother flinched and turned away.

Not-Sophie pulled at the restraints, watched the relentless IV drip that was feeding it, helping it grow. It was too bad that the metamorphosis would destroy the first Sophie. It was hard on the family. OK, it was pretty tough for Sophie’s symbiote, too, but that was inconsequential.

Posted on Monday, March 31st, 2008 by Jeri
Under: writing | 7 Comments »

Notes on Site Health

As I have mentioned before, I am having a challenge with my comment spam filter. Akismet seems to have gotten more aggressive in the last couple of weeks, corraling perfectly innocuous comments by regular commenters. I’m not sure if I can adjust that in any way.

Also, my site continues to have intermittent slowdowns. I’m not sure if it’s my hosting server, a WP installation or database problem, or what… except I’m pretty confident it’s not network on my end. All other sites resolve fine, and others occasionally report the same slow experience. I’m on hold right now w/ my hosting provider.

Posted on Monday, March 31st, 2008 by Jeri
Under: technology | 1 Comment »

Group Writing Insanity

I am participating in a group writing exercise over the next few days – it’s similar to round robin writing but has some fun, randomizing elements to it.

Nathan has posted the rules and started the story on his site Polybloggimous. He’s also tracking participants and sections posted.

Those who participate will write a 100- to 500-word story section, sequel to the section before. The goal is two sections per day. The twist is that each sequel must change one thing about the story – a major element, like character gender, locale, character point-of-view, etc. If you’re interested in participating, sign up on Nathan’s site. If you don’t have a blog of your own, he’d be happy to host your contributions, as would I on this site.

Join us – or post review comments from the sidelines!

Posted on Friday, March 28th, 2008 by Jeri
Under: writing | Comments Off

iPhone Shuffle

Zach, my mad scientist son, has a new product idea.

The iPhone is cool. The packaging, the features, the gee-whiz graphics all shout “I am an alpha-geek gadget hound”.

But, it’s a little big and clunky, and it’s way expensive. (And it’s locked to freaking AT&T, but that’s a different subject.)

For those that want something smaller, less expensive, but equally as cool: the iPhone ShuffleTM.

iPhone Shuffle

  • Want to look at a photo? Your Shuffle will display a random image from the pictures you’ve uploaded… even has a slideshow functionality.
  • Listening to music? It will use the same music shuffle technology you know and love from your Shuffle.
  • Browsing the web? Don’t worry about typing in those pesky URLs. The Shuffle uses Google’s “I’m feeling lucky” search randomizer to provide you with new, cool content.
  • Want to read email? The Shuffle will display any of your recent emails for you; for more Shuffle fun, try sending a message!
  • And, last but far from least, be adventurous! Your Shuffle has two dialing modes: randomized contact list, and global random number generator. Making calls on your shuffle is more fun than a party line!

Zach’s concept drawing is here. He and I disagree as to whether the Shuffle requires a touch screen.

The new iPhone ShuffleTM will be sold in random AT&T wireless locations. If you see one, snap it up! I’m sure Shawn will review one when they become available for retail purchase.

Posted on Friday, March 28th, 2008 by Jeri
Under: humor, technology | 2 Comments »

Crab & Spinach Stuffed Sole

Tonight I experimented & created a recipe that turned out really good.

We are trying to eat more fish and the grocery store was selling fresh filets of sole really inexpensively. When I got it home, I realized I had no idea how to cook sole.

Cooks Illustrated and Food Network seemed to like sole meuniere – dredged in flour, fried in butter, and drizzled with brown butter & lemon. It seems to me that counteracts any intrinsic healthy qualities of the fish! Plus, I hate the mess that dredging in flour makes.

So, I decided to make the fish more yummy (and less healthy) my way. This would probably work with any similar type of fish. All quantities are approximate – I’m a handful-of-this, pinch-of-that cook.

Crab and Spinach Stuffed Sole

1 6 oz can lump crab meat
4 green onions, minced
2 tbsp grated parmesan
½ c chopped fresh spinach
½ c cooked rice – we keep a little cooked brown rice in the freezer, it breaks down for stuffing nicely
¼ c light mayo
½ – 1 tsp dill weed
1 tsp lemon juice

8 (+/-) skinless sole filets (mine were also very thin, about ¼”)
Salt & pepper

Mix stuffing ingredients together in medium mixing bowl until well blended. Mixture should be a little on the dry side but hold together.

Lightly grease glass sheet cake pan or other glass baking dish with butter. Pat sole filets dry, sprinkle with salt & pepper. Lay half of the filets in the baking dish; fish will shrink so it’s ok to crowd it. Spoon filling onto fish in pan, spread carefully, then top with the remaining filets. Melt a couple tablespoons of butter in microwave, and brush over top of fish.

Bake in 400° oven for 20 minutes, adjusting time for thickness of fish – it should flake, but not be dry and overdone.


Posted on Thursday, March 27th, 2008 by Jeri
Under: cooking | 10 Comments »