Omni Magazine Entire Backlog Online

When I was a kid, I was introduced to science fiction two ways: through fantasy novels, which my Grandma collected, and through Omni Magazine, which my Grandma subscribed to (though I called her to check and she said she couldn’t remember…it may have actually been my Grandpa).

Omni magazine was cool in that it introduced me to the concept of the short story. Plus it had awesome gorgeous illustrations to go along with the stories. Ask me what story I remember most–I won’t be able to tell you, but what I can tell you was that it was about an angel because there was this wonderful image of an angel in the magazine.

Omni also had neat science articles—most of them went over my head, except one. It was an article on dreaming, and there was a section that talked about how to control your dreams. Something about learning how to recognize that you’re dreaming, and then building up to changing little things in your dream, until you’re able to to make big changes like being able to fly. That article so stuck with me, I ripped it out (Don’t know if my grandma knew) and took it home. I then spent the next several months trying to follow it. I think I did get to the point that I sort realized I was flying, (though I never really flew in my dreams; at the most, I’d hover two-three inches off the ground.) But still, for those couple of seconds before I woke up, it was the most awesome thing ever.

I think my Grandma let her subscription lapse, so it was a while before I learned they stopped producing any more issues. But now, you can read the entire series at the Internet Archive. I’m going to check it out now and see if I could find that dream article again. It’s been a while since I hovered in my dreams.


Task Management the RPG way: HabitRPG

So you’re probably noticed that the Cafe has been seeing more business as of late. It’s true, I have been posting more…if not every week, then at least every other week or so.  That’s because I found something to keep me on task, and so far it’s been successful.

I play HabitRPG. And I am getting so Much. DONE.

Pairing task management with a role playing game has been done before. I was interested in EpicWin, but they never released it for Android (plus, I don’t think it’s updating anymore). I tried the Android app Task Hammer, but grew bored with it. None of the characters were customizable, and there was no real incentive, other than a pretty sound once I completed a level. I use Outlook to keep track of my submissions, which usually keeps me on track. The problem with Outlook tasks is that it’s easy to ignore, and it’s a plain ole task list. I can put tasks on, and make tasks from email, but once the overdue time passes, it’s still easy to ignore. I’m good with keeping track of my submissions, but any other task, I don’t do so well on.

HabitRPG is a website that pairs task management with the incentive of role playing games. But it’s much more than just a task list. It helps you to develop daily habits.


As a character, you get an experience bar and a health bar. You do a task, you get points and money. But if you don’t do some tasks, your health goes down. Lose too much health, you die. Luckily, get enough experience points to level up, and your health bar resets to full again. You can even form parties with several people to keep everyone accountable.

There are three columns (well, four, but ignore the last column for a moment). Habits are things you want to do overall. You get points for doing them or in some cases, your health suffers. So for instance, I have a plus/minus by use the standing desk. If I do that once a day, I can click the plus button and get experience points. However, if I found I’ve been sitting all day and I ache all over, I click the minus button and my health goes down (and for reals–if I sit all day, I feel incredibly sore).

Dailies are tasks you want to do every day. This is good if you have big projects that you want to focus a certain amount of time on each day (the days can be also customized so you can do it on workdays or weekends, or two days a week, etc).  Dailies are renewed each day–if you have valid ones left over from the previous day, your health takes a hit. If you don’t do a certain daily for a while, it turns red. The redder it gets, the more health it takes off. Conversely, if you check off the red one, you get more experience points and more money.

Todos is a regular task list. You won’t get penalized if you don’t do them in the day. However, they do age–the older they get, the redder they become. Again, the incentive is to get you to do those tasks you neglect, so if you get around to checking off the red todos, you get more experience points and money.

What do you do with those points and money? Buy stuff, of course! The fourth column lists all the weapons and gear you can get–usually to help slow down the health you lose or to increase how much experience points you get. You can also buy pets, although they’ve implemented a new feature so that you can randomly find eggs and hatching potions by checking off tasks.

What really impressed me about HabitRPG, though, is the community. there’s an active blog and forum, and, if you’re into geekery and programming, you can go on GitHub and suggest features, as well as go on Trello and see what projects are being worked on. I know for instance, they’re working on a Android mobile app—Trello shows me where they are in the process (Plus, it’s fascinating to see the programming process it.)

HabitRPG has really been good for me. I like the incentives.  I like dressing up my little avatar (which is dark-skinned like me and doesn’t have armored boobs getting in my way. I mean, seriously, TaskHammer so ticked me off). And seeing what they plan to put it in, I love to stay with it for the long haul. And once this goes live, it’ll be so satisfying about checking off a Blog: HabitRPG box and seeing how much I can get for it.

Maybe I’ll get a tiger egg this time!

(Okay so tigers don’t really come from eggs, but hey, it’s an RPG. Anything can happen)

The Zombies of Door County: Credits


So now that the Great Zombie Apocalypse of 2012 is now over, all that’s left is the credits:

First off, a big shout out goes to Erin Underwood who organized this whole shebang. Erin attended Viable Paradise in 2006 and is editor of Underwords Press. She rounded up a stellar cast of writers, including some of my VP classmates: Stephanie Charette, Sarah Goslee, Veronica Henry, and Lisa Morton.  She indoctrinated us into her Zombie Squad and let us loose, so to speak. Hilarious zombie stories came out of this weekend. Seriously, go check them out. You might even find one of our VP instructors playing along.

Another shout out goes to Bill and Alice Shepherd, who gratefully allowed my hubby and I to stay at their place in Door County. Thanks also go to my cousin in laws John and Delores Hermann. I don’t think any of them knew of their roles in keeping Door County safe from zombies. That’s probably true of all heros.

Many, many, many thanks to my husband Jon, who made for a great and simultaneously awful zombie. I was going to thank him for humoring me for doing this project, but I think he had way more fun than he would admit.



"Zombie" Outtakes


Thanks to the citizens of Door County who watched our antics with great bemusement. If you ever go up to Door County, I highly suggest visiting the White Gull Inn for the cranberry stuffed French Toast. Those things are to die for. And to come back to life just so you can eat it all over again.

And finally, I like to thank the zombies of Door County. Those poor, deluded, stupid, foolish imaginary souls who wound up, to my surprise, to have really good taste in wine. I look forward to meeting you all again next year. Just next time, try not to suck out my brain beforehand.

They are Door County Zombies!! They are local!! They want to sell us sweet wine and cheese!! Ahhhhhhh!!!



We have returned from Door County. We have survived.

What…exactly…I’m not sure.

There were zombies. They shuffled down streets. They stared up at bluffs. They crawled out of Lake Superior.


They are completely unphotogenic.


You can’t see it, but there’s a zombie right behind that tree.

I tell you, these are the worst zombies I’ve ever seen. I mean, we all know zombies go staggeringly slow and go "Uhhhhnnnnnn…Braaaaaaains…" But as far as trying to eat you? They totally suck. What they really want to do is sell stuff. Or try to anyway. It’s sort of hard to take a zombie seriously when it’s lifting a wine bottle and going "Uhhhhnnnn…Buyyyyyy…"

What got me was how the locals pretty much ignored the zombies. "Oh, don’t worry about him," a waitress at the White Gull told me as one zombie shuffled by with a menu. (The White Gull has the best cranberry stuffed french toast I’ve ever tasted). "We call him Gorgie. He used to be one of our waiters. We just let him pass menus out."

Gorgie wasn’t a good waiter anymore. He tried to give a menu to a painting of a woman on the wall, then spent the next hour drooling in the corner.

Most of our time up at Door County was spent being amused at the zombies. We watched them from towers up at Penisula State Park



We watched them suck at playing chess.




We watched them stack rocks at Cave Point Beach.




And we watched them against the background of the sunset.




It was actually quite benign.

The last thing we saw when we left Door County were these huge black vans that were driving up 42 and 57.  I don’t know what they were there for, but it’s interesting. The further west we traveled, the less zombies we saw. By the time we pulled back into Madison, I didn’t see any zombies at all. So maybe the whole thing is going away? I don’t know.

The zombies of Door County were the lamest zombies I ever saw. But I do have to admit–they have great taste in wine.

Update: Door County is *definitely* overrun by zombies…but not in the way you think…


Sorry…I’m just now getting to my laptop. Things have been insane up here. And by insane, I mean…*blank stare* insane…

So. Zombies. Apparently there’s some sort of Z-virus going around that changes people into zombies. Apparently, there are reports of strangeness and first hand accounts, and it’s not only humans who are turning into zombies. There’s a website that’s been gathering all these reports, and from the gist of things, everyone’s saying to stay inside, to not get infected.

I could say the same about the zombies up in Door County.



The zombies of Door County are different.

Uh oh. Hearing something upstairs. I’ll get back to you to explain.

::grabs shotgun::

::Decides shotgun won’t do::

::puts down shotgun, grabs bottle of cranberet wine and some cheese curds::

::Decides that will work just fine::

Door County is being hit by zombies…I think.



So on Wednesday, I look at my hubby and says, "Let’s run away." So we did.

Okay, so we didn’t like, really run away. But we did ditch the boy with the inlaws and took off for Door County. We’ve been meaning to for a while. Just him and me. A sort of weekend getaway. We’ll do some hiking, look at fall colors, eat at lots of restaurants, go to a couple of winerys, you know. We got in around 4:30, had some dinner with the lovely folks we’re staying with. Watched Pirates of the Carribean, and you know, went to bed.

At 6am, we wake up to hear this noise.

It’s this weird, scritching, scratching, moaning noise. Can’t explain it. Now, back when we lived in the apartment, we had gophers scratching up in the walls. Drove my hubby nuts. But this is coming from outside. So the hubby gets up and look…

And shouts "HOLY *2^*)_%@ ZOMBIE!!!" So I get up to look and he’s right. There was a zombie trying to get into the house.

Wasn’t doing a good job, though. I mean, it’s a zombie, right. And this one must have been a hunter at some point, because it was wearing old hunting gear, but had a bright orange vest. It also had a shotgun, but it was using the butt end of the shotgun to try to dig into the wall. Which made no sense because at one point, the shotgun went off, blowing off a good chunk of the zombie’s head and shoulder. Then it collapsed. It wasn’t a particularly smart zombie.

The gunshot woke up our hosts, and we went out to take a good look at it, because the zombie was obviously dead now. Our hosts mentioned that they were listening to the radio and all sorts of weird things are happeningaround the country. Something to do with a virus. I don’t know. I can’t get more information. The internet is somewhat slow up here.

I also didn’t think to take a picture of the zombie until right after we buried the thing, because it really stank. Oddly, not like dead people stink. But more like old cheese stink. We are up in Wisconsin after all. But I can show you where the zombie was standing at the time.


So the hubby says,  "Maybe we should go home…if there’s a zombie virus we should make sure the family’s okay." And I was like "ARE YOU KIDDING I’VE BEEN TRYING TO GET UP TO DOOR COUNTY FOR YEARS I AM NOT GOING TO LET SOME STUPID ZOMBIES RUIN MY SPONTANEOUS GETAWAY WEEKEND!!1!!!!"

So our hosts told us to be careful. Oh…wait…there’s another zombie lurching up the woods. They have gone out to meet it with a crowbar and a stool. Now they’re fighting. Huh…I didn’t know Mrs. Shepherd knew kung fu. She’s really wailing on that zombie. Ah. zombie’s dead. They’re now dragging it away to bury it. They’re really nice people.

Oh, crap. I still had the camera’s SD card in my laptop, so I didn’t think to take a picture of that too. Oh well. I’ll try to keep people current with the situation up here on Twitter using the hashtag #ZombieApoc2012. Don’t expect much though, because after all, I *am* on a weekend getaway, and I’m not about to let some stupid Zombie Apocalypse ruin my chance to drink some cherry wine.

LINKS…OF…INTEREST! (Interest…Interest…interest…)

This post is dedicated to Futurama, which just got a deal for 26 new episodes on Comedy Central. Sweet!

As you noticed, this blog’s got a spiffy new look, and I’ve been making small improvements (like the new Twitter feed). What spurred on these changes? I’m subscribed to the website "31 Days to Build a Better Blog." If you sign up on the email list, you get an email once a day that gives you great tips on how to improve your blog. Some of the tips deal with cosmetic issues and housekeeping, making sure your links are up to donate. But it also gives tips on making your presence known on other blogs and forums to bring more readers to your site. And best of all, if the emails get to be too much, you can always save the emails to do the tips at your own pace. There are also great tips shared in the comments section and in the forums. For those of you who want to become bloggers, or if you’ve hit a plateau and don’t know how to bring new readers to your site, this is a great email list to be on.

Having just attended Oddcon and Wiscon, I found this article in Strange Horizons called "Let’s Stop Conning Ourselves" by Patience Wieland which talk about cons that aren’t as successful, and what the con world in general can learn from these failures. I liked it because near the end it lists some good advice getting the most out of attending a con, and how to avoid being scammed.

If you’re a writer wondering how to boost your creativity, Writing World has an article called "Lateral Thinking for Writers" by Ahmed A. Khan. It lists three thinking techniques one can use to create a story. I’m sure there are other techniques out there, but for basics, it’s a good article.

Moving from writing to writers: K. Tempest Bradford is doing a Clarion West Write-a-thon to raise funds for both the Clarion West scholarship and the Octavia E. Butler scholarship. This is a great opportunity to support the fantasy/science fiction writing community in general. If you haven’t read any of Bradford’s work, Podcastle recently ran a short story of hers called "Change of Life". Hop on over and have a listen, then head to her website and donate!

Finally, if you want to read a good online comic that mixes African-American folk history with the stylings of, say, The MaXX, check out Bayou at Zudacomics. This is a wonderfully drawn tale of a little girl named Lee who travels to an alternate, creepy Jim Crow South to prove her father’s innocence. Her protector is a hulking green man named Bayou who appears meek and simple, but when pushed can fight like the devil. It’s a scary wonderful read that’s still in the works, so come back over and over for updates.

You read it. You can’t unread it. Tune in at a future date for…



INTEREST! (interest! interest! interest!)

Sunday Links

A crackling fire, hot soup, Lord of the Rings, and you.

First, a Comic-con coming to Chicago in 2010? That ought to make up for the all the fun with Blago and Burris. Makes it being worth two hours away. Now if we can just bring Worldcon to Chicago, life would be ducky.

Bummer. Google Notebook is no longer in development, which means that if you’ve been thinking about using it, but haven’t gotten around to the site, it won’t let you, since they aren’t taking on new users. Luckily, those who do use it, like me, will still be able to use the service. We won’t just get new updates or anything. Sad.

Hey, Inanimate Alice fans! The British Council is looking into using the game as a vehicle for teaching English. To help boost this on, they’re asking people to play the game and rate how good it is. The more high ratings they get, the likelier the chance that we get new episodes. Go vote!

Writer’s Digest has a good article: "10 Disciplines for Fiction Writers". I found a good motivational tool these past couple of weeks.

And for fun:

I didn’t know that Mur Lafferty was a They Might Be Giants fan. She’s taken to writing flash stories for each of the tidbits in the "Fingertips" song from the TMBG album "Apollo 18". Right now, I’m banging my head, thinking, "Why didn’t I think of that." Of course, the last time I wrote a story based on a song, it became much longer than a flash…

And what’s Garfield minus Garfield? Actually, pretty hilarious, and slightly disturbing. Check it out!

More Friday Fun with Vocaloids

Moving back into my regular schedule of posting, I got some more vocaloid video fun. It’s Anime Music Night at the Cafe!

Miku Miku ni Shite Ageru

So ever since I’ve gotten into Vocaloids, I’ve been getting more into Miku Hatsune. There’s also a proliferation of 3D vocaloid videos as well which are fun to watch. This one, “Miku Miku ni Shite Ageru” is a promotional video that introduces Miku. No subtitles, but it’s fun to watch.

Do – Dai

Here’s Rin in 3-D! This happens to be one of Daniel’s favorite videos. And yes, Daniel watches Vocaloid videos. What’s it to ya?

I included the video above so the next video would make more sense:

Virtual Insanity

This is Jamiroquai’s “Virtual Insanity“. The makers of this video using Jamiroquai’s original vocals, but they’ve done an awesome job of matching all of his movies.  There is a way to see a comparison of the two videos here. I particularly like what they substituted for the ‘bugs’ in the original video.

Baby’s Star Jam by De De Mouse

Pay attention to the shooting stars. This is my favorite Vocaloid video. It’s so beautifully crafted–wonderful use of light and percussive rhythm. It makes you feel like you’re attending a Japanese Festival.

And finally, because you can’t have Vocaloids without being weird:

Pylori’s song

The Japanese title for this is “Pirori kin no uta”. “Kin” in English is “bacteria”. “Pirori” refers to the Helicobacter pylori that resides in the stomach and has been linked to ulcers and cancer. And “uta” means “song”,  so what we got here is a “Pylori’s Song”, a cute little song about a stomach-eating bacteria.

I kid you not. I actually figured out the lyrics to this. Now mind, I’m not terribly good at translation, but the most I’ve figured out goes something like this:

Inside your body there is (a)
Pylo, pylo, pylo, pylo, pylori kin
A stomach eating bacteria
Pylo, pylo, pylo, pylo, pylori kin

But it has a somewhat cute name
The Fast name
“Helicobacter Pylori” kin
Pylo, pylo, pylo, pylo, pylori kin
Pylo, pylo, pylo, pylo, pylori kin…

But it has a somewhat cute name
The stomach eating, wonderful bacteria
“Helicobacter Pylori” kin
Pylo, pylo, pylo, pylo, pylori kin
Pylo, pylo, pylo, pylo, pylori kin…

Yeah. I know.

Have some Pop Candy to wash all that sweetness down.

Saturday Links: Educational, Functional and Just Plain Fun!

I got three links on today’s menu for your reading pleasure.

The first one is a educational initiative. Long ago, a while back, I wrote about watching the 1st season of Electric Company. Well, it looks like they want to bring it back. The people behind the Sesame Street Workshop are applying for a $1.5 million project grant from American Express–but they need votes to get their project, ‘Bridging the Literacy Gap for Millions of Kids’, nominated onto the voting round.

The deadline for the first round of voting is September 1, 2008. To vote, go to the Project Voting Page at the American Express website and nominate the ‘Bridging the Literacy Gap for Millions of Kids’ website. You will need to sign up as a Guest Member, but once you do, you’ll be able to vote for the project. Let’s bring the Electric Company back to the airwaves!

The second one has me bouncing on my toes in excitement. A new upgrade has been released for Writer’s Cafe. Far be it from me to promote another cafe here, but Writer’s Cafe is an excellent writer’s program I’ve been using for roughly two years now. It consists of many tools that help you organize your writing: the scrapbook, for instance, keeps track of your research, websites and notes. The Storylines tools is a storyboard where you can pin scenes of your story up and move them around as needed. The program also comes with a journal, a notebook, writing prompts, a timer, and an option to display inspirational quotes and writing tips upon startup of the program.

The new version is vastly improved over the old version: in the past, Storylines and Writer’s Cafe were two separate programs. The upgrade meshes them together in one. It includes a name generator and a pinboard where you can post notes and ideas. It opens on a start page where you can place shortcuts to your works-in-progress, Wikipedia and other pages, shortcuts within the program, etc.

What I like most about Writer’s Cafe program is the technical support. The program was created by Julian and Harriet Smart, the latter being a novelist. They are constantly looking for ways to improve the program and welcome suggestions. While I was beta testing the upgrade, I found myself using the Notebook to freewrite first drafts of stories and wanted to know how many words I’ve written. I suggested this to Julian, and with the next beta release, the word count feature was included in both the Journal and the Notebook! That was pretty nice.

For a download of $45 bucks ($65 if you want a CD-ROM version), it’s well worth the price. If you’re wary, you can download the beta and test it out here. But to me, this is the best writing software out there. Check it out now!

And finally, a YouTube video from CollegeHumor called “Font Conference”, for all you people who work with finding the right font to write in. Enjoy!