iPod Shuffle: washable, or not?

Technically, it’s washable . . . I mean, it didn’t DISSOLVE or anything.


I thought I was so smart, pulling Hubby’s fancy ($85!!) exercise pants (I know–who’d have thought you could find them at that price?*) out of his gym bag late last night and washing them on “hand washable” in cold water. They seemed a little heavy, but they have drawstrings and hidden pockets, so whatever. And then the washer stopped. . . .

And my mother came into the kitchen with a stricken expression and a handful of twisty tangled cords. “What’s this?” she whispered.

I took my soapy gloves out of the dishwater. One glance told me what it was . . . it was Hubby’s iPod shuffle (newish) on its little neck string and with its little glittery earbuds, but the string and buds had made a huge snarl and everything was . . . WET.

No other way to say it. DROWNED! (Or “drownded,” as my friend’s toddler says when she pulls her bath toys from the bottom of the hot tub.)

Hubs was in the Lair playing his game, of course, so we just stared at the device together for a moment; we hadn’t been caught. Frantically we worked at the knots and got everything untangled. “It looks all right, except for being WET,” I ventured.

Then I did something REALLY stooopid. Especially for a nerd who got an “A” in Circuits I. (All right, DC circuits and not the far more difficult AC circuits course, but still . . . unless I miss my guess, the iPod is a DC device, as it runs on a battery. Dry ones do, I mean.)

Yeah. I pressed PLAY “to see if it would work.”

Of course the little green light came on. It’s on the back of this little stick-of-gum media player. But no sound came out of the earbuds. “Maybe it’s just that the buds are ruined,” I said. The green light went off. I pressed PLAY again (I hear the slaps of flesh-on-palm as every engineer reading this goes *FACEPALM*) and the green light managed to stay on for a few seconds. Then it went off.

And it wouldn’t come on again.

Belatedly, Dum-Dum here realized that one never turns on a WET circuit-board device. No. It Is Not Done. Bad idea. Still, she had caught me half-dozing and zoned out over a sink of dirty dishes, just before I was to take my diabetes meds and stuff for the night, and I know my blood sugar was low.


“Here, let’s just drop it into the bottom of the gym bag and pretend we don’t know anything about it.” My mother has 70+ years of sneaking and conniving to her credit. You will not pull a fast one on this woman that she has not thought of herself first. “No, wait. We’ll throw it into the back of my bottom dresser drawer and it can be ‘lost.'” He loses things. In fact, he just found this again after about a month of trying to find it. (It was in his computer room under a stack of manuals.)

“Wait. . . .” I ran to the computer room (where hubster was killing aliens to a very LOUD soundtrack from Eve Radio–I think it was “headbangers VS deathmetal” night) and quickly Googled up “ipod shuffle water.”

The page results assured me that indeed, the iPod would shuffle right into the water . . . and drown.

But a good number of people said that after they’d dried theirs out, it worked again. Others said that they had to do an iPod restore, but after that it started working. However, they ALL said not to turn it on “to see if it’s OK” until it dries.

I printed the first page or two off of the Apple “you are an id10t” page and scurried back to the slave-pantry, pretending I had only printed an e-mail from the prayer list (we are on a mailing list where people ask for your prayers, and usually we do our praying in the late evening). Of course Hubby and pals were too busy saving the omniverse for him to notice my visit.

We studied the page. “I thought of suggesting the hair dryer,” she said mournfully, “but I figured you’d say, ‘How stooopid!'”

“Mgplfff.” I studied the iPod. String still saturated. Earbuds still plugged in.

“Maybe no water could get inside it. It was in that cargo pocket. And I don’t see any holes.”

“Mmpphh.” I studied the page again.

“Give him yours.”

“Mine is a video iPod. A big square silver thing that weighs lots more than this. This is for his cardio rehab exercise time.”

We dropped the possibly-ruined gadget into the bottom of his gym bag. Yes, we are cretins. We are sinful. We are cowards.

After finishing up the rest of the slavework that is required to take care of (in some sense) a big ol’ Casa el Dumpo and its loads of laundry, dishes, and junk mail, I realized that I **do** have an iPod shuffle. It’s in the zippered pocket of one of my tote bags. I remember now: he bought TWO of them when he found them on sale somewhere and was in an expansive mood. This was back when I hadn’t been converted to the idea of MP3s at all (I am still a snotty audiophile, but I have to admit that the lack of pops and hiss appeals to me, and if the stuff’s ripped at CD quality, it’s really no “colder” than a CD) and he was campaigning for a house-wide media streaming network (we got a cheapie version, but I don’t like the way it works and all the delays, so we might eventually get an expensive version.) So! All I have to do is. . . .

Find that tote. I may not have mentioned here that I have accumulated an impressive collection of tote bags. For some reason, I have bought all manner of totes. And every time I have attended a convention (writers’ or SF) or a trade show (computer stuff), I have gotten another. Most of these I have used for a while, until the next “OMG so cute has photo of LOLcats on it” comes along, and so I have stuffed the existing tote somewhere in one of the closets. Usually, the tote keeps some of its stuff inside, as I don’t really admit that I’m abandoning it when I first get the new one. Left behind in the pockets and crannies of the old one will be stuff like a Bonne Bell DrPepper Lip Smacker, a coin purse full of pennies, a rolled-up pair of pantyhose inside a Baggie, a couple of packages of Medifast crackers or a meal bar, or . . . an iPod shuffle.

I’ll find it as soon as he goes off to exercise. Probably. Then when he comes home shouting that his iPod isn’t working, I can say, “Oh, well, here, have mine . . . I have the big one now.” And just blithely hand it over. Too bad that he either has to reload it or listen to an endless playlist of Bobby Darin, the Monkees, the Beatles, Bob Dylan with The Band, and Allan Sherman.

I suppose I should just confess. He’s a computer whiz. He’s the guru of his department. He has worked IT and software and hardware and whatever-ware you can think of. Maybe he can take it to work and take it apart in the lab and fix it. Maybe I should confess before he tries to turn it on again and shorts out the circuit board for sure.

(Maybe I could go buy a new one and then take THIS one back as defective–no! No! Why do sins occur to me as a matter of course? Why would I *do* that? Wickedness is a mere sneak away. *shakes virtual head* *virtual head is smarter than instantiated physical version*)

But anyway . . . wasn’t that a funny story that is NOT FUNNY AT ALL to the poor pitiful iPod or its erstwhile owner?

Anyone ever revive a drowned iPod?

Any advice, other than “change your name to Fifi and move to Bora Bora” (which is what one of my co-workers at USData always used to say she was going to do whenever the pu-pu hit the fan-fan)?

* (You have forgotten about that footnote by now, I expect, but he bought $ALMOST $100 exercise pants. He went to his first day of cardiac rehab and came home saying, “Everyone else had these other kind of pants . . . nobody was wearing gray sweat pants . . . I have to get the kind they have.” This is the guy whom strangers mistake for the janitor on a typical workday . . . the one who doesn’t think it’s unreasonable to wear the same jeans until they crawl away one night after he’s shucked them in the corner near the hamper (never INSIDE the hamper) . . . the guy who says, “This’ll be fine–I don’t want to spend money on another shirt just because this one has stains and holes!” I don’t know where the attack of Must Look Like Other Kids came from, but because we had just had the health scare and I was still spoiling him, we went out to one of those exercise stores and got him these magic exercise pants. They can only be washed on “delicate” and hung out to dry. But anyhow, they make him happy. And they have a cargo pocket just right for a music player. . . .)


How seriously should we take what I say?

Everything I write here (outside of established facts such as “Abraham Lincoln served as our sixteenth President” and such), you may question, and I will answer. Don’t leave with the impression that everything’s carved in stone (except my declarations of love for Jerry Lewis, Bobby Darin, and Micky Dolenz.) Well, maybe the punctuation and grammar stuff. But most everything else is up for discussion.

“No statement I make . . . should be interpreted as final and definitive. One or two of them may sound final and definitive . . . but I won’t regard them as such tomorrow, and I wouldn’t like you to do so today.”–playwright Harold Pinter

“If you can corner an editor in a stairwell and correctly answer his three riddles and pick the hand with the bean in it instead of the leaf, you will be published.”–Internet rumor mill

“We don’t see things as they are: we see things as we are.”–Anais Nin

“Fiction is the truth of the very dark.”–Greg Bear

“All fiction is fantasy.”–Wise woman of Ladenia

“Fantasy is a sin.”–The Preacher from “Night of the Hunter” (He never says it in the book or the screenplay, but he said it off the record, I’m sure.)

“It ain’t no sin if you crack a few laws now and then, just so long as you don’t break any.”–Mae West

“When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I’ve never tried before.”–also Mae West

A “humorous” bio–how funny should it be?

I’ve got a secret.

I can’t tell you what this is for, but I’ve been asked by the organizers of a certain event to provide them with “a bio, preferably humorous, that we can use for the press releases.” (Don’t ask me what it’s for yet. I can’t tell for a couple of weeks. But you’ll be the first to know. Don’t even guess out loud, or I’ll put a hex on your U-joint. And keep a positive thought that it turns out to get used at all.)

Anyway, I started making up a crazy fake bio, like the ones Harlan Ellison did for several of his anthologies (and I think Neil Gaiman did them for some of his anthologies, too.) I guess I kind of misread the line “humorous bio” as “silly fake bio.” I did put SOME reality into it, but maybe I put too much silliness into it. However, there you go.

Or anyway, HERE you go. I thought maybe y’all would take a look at it and scream, er, screen it for me.
“Like many homegrown Texas humorists, Shalanna Collins is not funny. Novelist, pianist, belly dancer, baton twirler (but no fire batons ever again, by order of the Renner, Texas, Volunteer Fire Brigade and Texas Hold ‘Em Players), high priestess of Paul McCartney, and amateur radio operator, she has published nothing of interest except on her pathetic little weblog (not a “diary”–diaries pretend to some version of the truth, and writers don’t hold with strict veracity. We prefer stories. They make more sense.)

A graduate of Southern Methodist University (many years after Laura Bush), Shalanna has worked as a software engineer, Dairy Queen soft-serve cone maker (she perfected that little twirl on the top of the dipped cone), math tutor, and most recently head quality-control supervisor at the banana factory*–but at every job, she subverted the paradigm and secretly recorded the bosses’ conversations to use in her horror stories. (* Okay, I made up that bit about the banana factory to make myself sound cool.)

She has been writing since she could hold a crayon. She started with fiction, which Mama said was “lying,” so she was frequently spanked (forty lashes with a wet tortilla). Consequently, she can twist a fact in the service of her biased claims until it screams for diplomatic immunity. Elected a permanent member of the Cool Kids for her stellar recipe for Toasted Tangerines-avec-Brie, she is currently at work on a series of cozy mysteries as well as on various works of literary genius. Last month she experienced her big showbiz break when she shouted, “Pick me, ya croptop jarhead!” at Drew Carey from the studio audience of “The Price is Right.” She and her husband live happily in a northern suburb of Dallas, Texas, with their two beloved pets: a yappy Pomeranian and Shalanna’s elderly mother.

She collects Benchley first editions and patterned paper towels. Her favorite foods are curried yak and French fries. She knows (but is not telling) a plethora of alchemical and occult secrets. Homeland Security has identified her as a person of interest.
–suppose that is simply TOO over-the-top?

It *is* supposed to be somewhat wacky or whatnot, but I don’t want to be a lamer, like those rock bands who have the really off-the-wall fake bios on their websites. . . .

GRAMMAR: not Gramper

Okay, maybe it isn’t grammar. Maybe it’s usage. Anyhow, for those of you who copyedit or just read widely, here’s a question. Well, it’s more of an example.

When you’re writing fiction in the past tense, all the action in the “now” of the book is in past tense. But when you mention something that is true and will remain true, you’re supposed to acknowledge the “eternal is” condition by using what looks like present tense, but which I’m sure is actually some other “mode” or “mood” that I ought to be able to name (but I can’t.)

That doesn’t make sense. How about an example?

I turned to face him. Was he serious? He thought Stanford was in Iowa? Leland Stanford Junior University is just outside Palo Alto, California.

(I know–it would be nice to be able to assume that all readers know where Stanford is, but they probably won’t, these days. So it wouldn’t be unreasonable to clarify that in a novel. But that’s just a made-up example. And, by the way, it IS called “Leland Stanford Junior University”; it’s named after Leland Stanford, junior.)

I COULD write “was in Palo Alto,” but the rule of thumb that I learned way back when says that if you have a condition that is unchanging, such as “Washington, D. C., is not a state, but a district,” you say it that way. It still IS a district and not a state when the reader is reading the book.

But anyhow, here’s the passage I’m brooding over:

“Have you eaten today?”

My stomach growled in response. I had missed lunch. But I wasn’t very hungry. I scavenged in her pantry and found low-salt tortilla chips. I dumped some in her cobalt blue serving bowl and dug her homemade salsa out of the fridge. *Zoe makes the most brilliant tomatillo-roasted red pepper salsa, along with all sorts of other gourmet delicacies, which keeps her a little stocky, not that she cared. Whereas I haven’t gotten fat yet, though I dread the onset of scale-creep; it happened to my sister last year when she turned thirty, and even to our super-disciplined mother soon after forty. Thank goodness I still have a couple of good years left. I hope.*

I suppose I could just go put all of the stuff between the asterisks* into past tense. But I think there might still be a few editors and copyeditors who are aware of this rule and who will know why I am “suddenly changing tenses.” But do they own a copy of Curme’s Grammar? Do they care about this shade of difference? Or will they just fall apart with the expectation that I’m going to “switch tenses whenever I feel like it” (as one agent has already said on a blog about a passage by someone else that didn’t have a tense-switch at all)?

Oh, and I also found another weirdness in the first three chapters that I sent to agent H. R. *facepalm* In the passage above, instead of just having the word “thirty,” my text read, “*HOW OLD–THIRTY?*” That had been in hidden text in an old draft, and never printed out or showed on the screen before. I think it popped back up after I went through and did a “compare documents” with a copy that had some suggested edits; Word sometimes un-hides hidden text. At any rate, *headdesk*. No wonder she hasn’t responded. She’ll probably never write back. It’ll be more merciful that way.

I always read things over before I send them, so maybe that wasn’t in the copy I sent . . . but it probably was, because I e-mailed my stuff. Oh, well. Que sera, sera.

* I con’t go out on a limb about this, because I have only one asterisk. (Punster alert!)

Yes, I’ve heard. . . .

I just don’t know what to SAY.

The writer Robert Lynn Asprin crossed the bar yesterday afternoon. My prayers and thoughts are with his family and friends, and also with the poor convention worker who found him slumped on the sofa (according to the report on sff.net). She’s gotta be taking it hard, as well.

I “met” him (from afar–meaning I heard him speak on panels and make a few remarks in passing) at a couple of cons, starting with a Dallas Fantasy Faire at which there were fiction workshops run by Jody Lynn Nye’s husband (Bill something–Fawcett?) and various other luminaries. Robert Asprin held forth about how he was stuck writing the Skeeve and Aahz Myth Adventures books when he felt he had mined the situation and said all there was to say, and that he’d moved on creatively, but no editor would take a chance on his new book that was about war; he also talked a lot about songwriting and filking. I thought he was a great character and began plotting to put him into one of MY books. [Why I remember this con clearly: There was one line in my “Splatterfairies” story that the judge had marked as good, telling Bill that he’d fallen off the chair laughing; that judge was author William Forstchen, and I’ve always been grateful to him (and held a good thought for him) for that encouragement. That was a story they said “was almost there,” and now it has been there (it was in an anthology and now is up at Anthology Builder.) The Fantasy Faire was one of the shabbier cons, but this was back in the 1990s or thereabouts, and I enjoyed it.] Asprin was one of the entertainers at the con, and also at this year’s ConDFW. I know the F/SF community will be less for missing one of its lights.

Even though I didn’t really know him, I’m sad for those who are left behind.

“[A]ny man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”–John Donne, Meditation XVII

Dept. of Wisdom Dept.

“The explanations a writer gives himself for having written any particular book are often not the real reasons that book has been written. Honesty is not the issue: understanding is. One does not write one novel at a time or one play at a time or even one quatrain at a time. A writer is engaged in the long process of putting his whole life on paper. He is on a journey, and he is reporting in: ‘This is where I think I am, and this is what this place looks like today.'”–Irwin Shaw, 1964

“Just because your tattoo has Chinese characters in it doesn’t make you spiritual. It’s right above the crack of your ass. And it translates to ‘beef with broccoli’!”–George Carlin’s New Rules for 2008

“Change is good, you say. Language evolves, and it should be free and up to the people. All right, let’s abandon standardized spelling and punctuation because so many people don’t want to learn the rules. Should we just go with the “Descriptive” crowd and say that “baited” breath is fine, that we should accept “definAtely” as an alternative spelling for “definItely” (even though its root “definite” isn’t mangled as often), say that “just deSSerts” is just fine with us, and so on? Goodbye, clarity. Nice to have known you.”–Chantal Fox

“Even if I reveal some small truth about the human heart in my work, strictly serendipitously,strictly by chance, I really don’t know you–and that’s the way I want to keep it, because I subscribe to what H. L. Mencken said: ‘It is precisely at their worst that human beings are the most interesting.'”–Harlan Ellison, 1977

“A book is a participatory adventure.”–Harlan Ellison

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”–Groucho Marx