Dwindling Time; Shrinking Pants

I can’t believe 2019 is gone already — I honestly don’t know where the time went.  My theory is that aliens have been abducting me for several hours every day, and they’ve masked their nefarious activities with false memories of working at my desk.  Either that, or Dr. Who is hovering above our house and altering time so that I’m working at half-speed relative to the rest of the world.

I’m sure there has to be some sci-fi explanation, because I’m not fond of the thought that I’m working as hard and fast as I can and still falling behind.  So, aliens it is!

Now that we’ve got that sorted out, let’s tackle the conundrum of why pants shrink in December.  I’m sure it must be the shorter hours of daylight and cooler temperatures that make the fabric fibres contract.  (Or maybe that’s caused by aliens, too.)  It can’t possibly be related to that box of chocolates I can’t seem to pass without nibbling.

Speaking of shorter days, we’re in the gloomy depths of winter rain here, which is actually a bit of a relief.  I’m not fond of dark days, but it was a dry autumn and water reservoirs were low, so it’s good to know they’re being replenished now.

I’m ready to look at something besides grey clouds, so here are some cheery views from 2019.

(Click on photos to see a larger version.  Depending on your browser, clicking again on the larger photo might give you a closeup — worth doing for the little pollen-coated bee.)

Ahhhh, beach and blue sky!


Happy garden plants soaking up the sun


Bees hard at work – look at the pollen on this little guy!


Colours so vivid they almost hurt your eyes


Sunny rudbeckia. This is ‘Goldsturm’.


And our tiny rhododendrons bloomed heroically! This is ‘Lee’s Best Purple’, only about 2 feet tall but with flower trusses the size of basketballs.


Ah, I feel better now.  It might be a while before spring gets here, but at least I can happily anticipate it.

And hey, maybe my pants will stretch out by spring, too!  I can always hope.  (I could also exercise more and diet a bit; but that would imply that those shrinking pants are somehow my fault.  Perish the thought.)

Happy New Year!

Book 15 update:  Just when I think I’ve got everything figured out, another wrench appears in the works.  But I did some excellent plotting and lots of research over the holidays, and I’m bombing ahead with Chapter 26.  Things just took a turn for the worse for Aydan and the boys, and they’re scrambling!

They’re Watching Me

My last illusion of privacy has been shattered. I knew government agencies watch us online and our phone companies track our whereabouts and aliens (or possibly my friends) are monitoring my bathroom habits… but I could always depend on the utter cluelessness of spammers.

Back in the good old days, I could count on getting all sorts of random and irrelevant spam promising to enlarge body parts I don’t even possess or to deposit vast sums of money in my bank account. (Who knew there were that many dead millionaires in Nigeria?)

But no more. Lately the spammers have been getting so uncannily accurate, I can’t help thinking they’re watching me.

Case in point: A few years ago I posted A Dave By Any Other Name, in which I noted that I spent several years of my office life christened Dave. Imagine my surprise when I received this email a while ago:

They got my name right in the subject line… and then they addressed me as “Mr. Dave”.

At the time, I dismissed it as a bizarre coincidence. What are the chances, right? But lately I’ve been receiving spam that makes me think the spammers are actually paying attention… and they have a twisted sense of humour.

For example, they send me ads for food and recipes and then follow up with ads for the ‘20-Minute Flat Belly Workout’.

And a few days after I researched insanely expensive women’s shoes for my fashion-conscious character Nichele, I received an email kindly offering me ‘red arses’. That may seem completely unrelated, but wait:  The designer brand I researched was Louboutin. Their signature design feature is red soles… or red ‘bottoms’. Obviously my creative spammer was using a slightly less refined translation program to produce ‘red arses’.

(Or maybe I’m completely off-base with the Louboutin theory and the spammer in question actually has a baboon fetish, in which case I don’t really want to know.)

Anyway, they’ve apparently figured out that I’m a writer, because I get popup ads like this one:

Ummm… Isn’t that a spelling correction?

Ummm… Isn’t that a spelling correction?

Last time I checked, misspelling ‘grammar’ wasn’t a grammatical error, but I’m willing to overlook that technicality. After all, there are larger issues at stake: the fact that the spammers are now collaborating.

The ones who know I’m a writer must be sharing information with the ones who know I love to eat. The result was this email gem:

“Imagine losing pound after pound by doing literary nothing!”

I’m not quite sure how to do literary nothing. I guess as a literary-type person, theoretically any ‘nothing’ I do would be literary nothing; but I can’t help thinking there must be more to it than that.

Maybe I have to sit staring at a blank page and steadfastly resist the urge to write. Or perhaps ‘literary nothing’ is the act of spewing pages of pointless drivel, in which case I should be losing pound after pound just from writing this blog.

But at least they’re onboard with my sense of humour, and they’re generous with their jokes. They gave me this one with no strings attached, not even a spammy link:

“Have you heard about the Scottish drag queen? He wore pants.”

I guess I’ll get used to the idea that they’re watching me.  And (unlike the government and the phone company) at least the spammers give me some laughs. 😀


Lately my brain has been semi-defective.  It works most of the time, but every now and then it shorts out, leaving me standing there wondering what the hell I’d intended to do moments ago.  Or I go to do one thing and end up doing something else entirely.

I hope it’s because I’m in the final intense writing phase of Book 7 and all my spare brain power is used up.  I really hope it’s not permanent.  And I really, really hope aliens didn’t sneak into my bedroom while I was asleep and swap out my brain for a substandard model.  ‘Cause everybody knows there’s a big market for good used brains around Halloween, so it would make sense to manufacture some cheaper semi-defective ones.

I mean, really, there are lots of things that are apparently manufactured to be intentionally inferior.

Take cotton swabs, for example – one of my pet peeves.  Any time I buy a generic brand, one end of the swab has a nice soft cotton tip and the other end is a hard plastic stick with a few shreds of cotton adhering to it, just enough to blunt the edges so it doesn’t actually slice the inside of my ear to pieces.

(Don’t bother reprimanding me for sticking cotton swabs in my ears.  I know I’m not supposed to, but I’m a rebel.  Sometimes I go out doors marked ‘In Only’.  Sometimes I drink milk that’s a day past its ‘Best Before’ date.  So sticking cotton swabs in my ears?  I laugh in the face of danger!  Ha-ha!)


If Q-Tips® can make cotton swabs with nice soft cotton tips on both ends, why are all generic cotton swabs semi-defective?  Do aliens open up every single package and remove the cotton from one end of each swab?

Or is there a special cut-rate supplier for semi-defective manufacturing equipment?

I imagine the following sales pitch from SemDef Corporation:  “Yeah, you could buy a machine that actually works, but for half the price, you can have a machine that only works half the time.  Is that a deal or what?”

Which actually explains a lot about the generic food market, too.  You know what I mean.  If you buy Cheerios®, you get yummy Cheerios®.  If you buy generic oatie-o cereal, you get something that tastes like the cardboard box it’s packed in.

It has the same ingredient list.  There’s no sawdust or wallpaper paste in there.  Not even the leftover cotton from the semi-defective swabs.  So that means either they’ve somehow managed to screw up a simple recipe past the point of recognition, OR…

…SemDef also sells substandard food products:  “Why spend extra money for top quality oats?  For half the price, you can get oats that have been left out in the rain for a few days.  All you have to do is scrape off the mouldy bits and ignore the grasshopper corpses, and you’re all set.  Really, you’re going to process them past the point of recognition anyway.  Who’ll know?”

Okay, I just grossed myself out.

And I’ve created a rambling blog post that connects cotton swabs, aliens, breakfast cereal, and grasshoppers.  Yet another sabotage by my semi-defective brain.

Damn those aliens anyway.

Alien Butt Sensors

They’re invisible, but I know they’re there.

I’m not sure how or when they were installed, but there are hidden pressure sensors under every toilet seat in the house, as well as on my office chair.  It’s the only possible explanation.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve just nicely settled myself on the throne when the phone rings.  In fact, it happens so frequently that it’s a standing (sorry, couldn’t resist) joke with one of my friends.  She calls; I’m in the bathroom.

Every.  Single.  Time.

This makes it sound as though a) I have continence problems and therefore spend a considerable amount of time ensconced in the holy of holies; or b) she phones me far too often.

Neither is true.  I won’t lower myself (sorry again) to discussing my bathroom habits here, other than to say:  normal.  And it’s rare for her to phone me more than once a week.

So I’m convinced that she somehow knows when I’m in the john.

It’s far too creepy to consider that she might actually be the culprit responsible for the butt sensors, so I prefer to believe they were installed by some advanced alien race that is capable of invisibility and possesses both the technology to broadcast telepathic signals of unlimited range, and the malevolence to torture me by broadcasting “Phone Diane” every time I shit… er, sit.

And the bastards didn’t stop with the toilet seats, either.

The sensor on my office chair is an extremely specialized model; probably some advanced prototype they’re developing exclusively for sales to telemarketers, politicians, and meddling relatives.

It doesn’t just register pressure and react the way the toilet-seat model does.  No, this one is far more diabolical.

It also taps into my brainwaves.

It doesn’t react when I’m doing something boring and tedious and I’d love to be interrupted.  Oh, hell no.  I can spend all bloody day writing computer training workbooks with nary a peep, but within ten seconds of achieving the zen-like bliss of uninterrupted writing … I’ll be interrupted.

It’s obviously programmed with a complicated algorithm that constantly sifts through the detritus of my mind, measuring my exact degree of concentration and commitment to the task at hand.  When I achieve some critical pre-determined level, the butt sensor psychically broadcasts “Interrupt Diane using any method necessary, immediately”.

Phone calls are easiest, but in a pinch they’ll induce Hubby to choose that exact moment to ask a not-very-important but time-consuming question.  Or the courier will show up with delivery that needs a signature.  A sudden loud noise and/or cry of distress from somewhere in the house is always a winner.  Or there’s the tried-and-true method of having somebody crash into my parked
half-ton and ring the doorbell to report the accident.

That may sound far-fetched, but don’t laugh – it’s happened five times.  I don’t know how anyone can fail to see a big red truck in their rear-view mirror, so the aliens must make my truck momentarily invisible, too.

I guess it could be worse.  In the big picture, interruptions are only an annoyance.  At least the aliens don’t seem interested in my body cavities.

Unless there’s something about those butt sensors that I really don’t want to know about…