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I did end up going to the Maluma concert and I visited an average of 1.5 state parks per day this weekend (unless you’re counting unique state parks, in which case it’s an average of 1 per day) and I intend to write about both. Also about the Weird Al Yankovic concert, the B-52s concert, and the Try Guys show. But first, there’s Kiliamo.

Or, was Kiliamo. And there’s the problem.

When Alex was about 2 years old, he let us know that he wanted a cat of his very own. So we took him to the shelter and introduced him to a bunch of little kittens and he wasn’t interested in any of them. As we were about to give up, I saw a black medium haired kitten in one of the cages. The kitten was about six months old, so not a tiny kitten, but still not yet an adult.

It was love at first sight.

We named him Cosmo, after the husband fairy from the Fairly Oddparents cartoon but Alex soon renamed him Kiliamo, which was baby-Alex for Kitty Cosmo. And everything went smoothly until Kiliamo was about 12.

Kiliamo just outside Alex's blanket fort in 2003
One of the earliest pictures I have of Kiliamo, from 2003. Alex was asleep when I was writing this, so I couldn’t ask for his permission to post any pictures with him in it (though technically he is in the picture — those are the fingers of his left hand just under the blanket).

Around then, he started pooping outside the box and it was mushy and discolored. The folks at the vet’s office did a fecal exam and nothing untoward turned up so we did a course of metronidazole just in case, because occasionally there’d be something in stool that doesn’t show up on fecal examination. And it didn’t help.

My vet gave us a diagnosis of Inflammatory Bowel Disease and we played around with this food for a couple of years and things would improve for a year or two and then go downhill again. We put him on prednisone for about a year which worked great until he developed diabetes from the prednisone.

So we put him on insulin and cyclosporine and three months after the diabetes set in, the diabetes was over.

All this time, my dad and I were fighting about him and whether I should put him down. Eventually, I put him on house arrest and kept him in my bedroom all of the time. His digestion finally settled down and I was able to take him off of the cyclosporine when I put him on Fancy Feast and things were pretty smooth for about a year.

Then he started to lose weight. We tested his thyroid, which turned out to be high, and put him on methimazole. He was still losing weight, so we tested his T4 which was also high, and upped his dose.

Then he began having seizures. My vet said that it was likely a one-time thing and that if it happened again, we could try anti-seizure medicine, but that wouldn’t fix the underlying problem, which she thought might be a brain tumor. We decided to try the anti-seizure medicine, which did stop his seizures.

About that time, he started to lose weight again. We tested his T4 again, which was high again, and bumped up his dose. And everything was smooth for another couple of months. Until he started losing weight again, his T4 was high again, and we bumped up his dose again (at this point, he was taking 10 mg per day, which is a pretty high dose for a human).

A month later, he had all but stopped eating and had lost a lot of weight. At this point, which was the day of the Maluma concert, my vet said that it was time. I asked for a few days so that Alex and a couple of my friends could say goodbye and we set the date for that Wednesday. My boss rearranged my schedule so that I could spend that last day with him and so, on October 2, 2019, we said our final goodbyes to Kiliamo.

I’m actually getting choked up just writing about it. Anyway, I’m writing all this because (a) I need to make a blog post anyhow and (b) I don’t want to have to go through all this when I do write about the Maluma concert.

Crap. I need a Gratuitous Amazon Link, don’t I? I should keep it on-topic somehow. Do they sell Fancy Feast on Amazon? Yes, they do. So here’s a link to the Purina Fancy Feast Grain Free Pate Wet Cat Food Variety Pack, Poultry & Beef Collection. Kiliamo would have no part of the grilled or flaked varieties. He was a paté man. So if anyone out there sees this link and decides to buy this pack, crack open a Turkey and Giblets Feast (which was his favorite) and remember our beloved Kiliamo.

I feel like I should give this a subtitle like “the searchening” or something.

Anyway, when last I attempted to find where the North Salado Creek Greenway ends, I started out at the southern end, in John James Park, and couldn’t see where the greenway was from there. So then I attempted to go to each trailhead going north from there and was stymied by plumbing every time. Finally I ended up at Lady Bird Johnson Park and trying to walk south. I still hit the sewer work that stopped me from being able to park at either the Robert LB Tobin or Oakwell trailheads and had to give up and go home.

My second attempt began two weeks later. I looked at the city’s website to see if there were any closures on the greenway and was assured that there weren’t. “The main Salado trail will continue to remain open,” the website assured me.

So I took my bottle of ice and put my walking shoes on and headed out.

First I stopped at the Tobin trailhead. I flipped the Pokemon Go gym there and then did the math and realized that if I were able to go all the way through, I’d have to leave my car there on the access road to Loop 410 for two hours. Not that I think I’m terribly likely to have my car stolen. It’s not a very in-demand model, it’s going to be 13 next month, *and* it was damaged by the hailstorm that hit our area in April 2016. But that’s no reason to take chances, either.

So I headed for the Oakwell trailhead, figuring that it’s more out of the way, and since it’s closer to the middle of my planned route, my car wouldn’t be unsupervised for more than an hour.

So since I the whole purpose of this is to reach the southern end, I headed south. It was a nice walk, and I made good time. One of the paths that was closed, according to the city’s website, was the connecting trail to the intersection of Holbook and Eisenhauer and I noted that as I passed it. And then, a little less than half a kilometer later, there was a roadblock that said, “BIKE TRAIL CLOSED.” It certainly didn’t specify, “FINE FOR HIKING, THOUGH” and there was an awful lot of heavy machinery on the other side of the sign, so I turned around. By my calculation I had about half a kilometer to go to get to my goal, Rittiman Road across the street from John James Park. So close and yet so far.

So whenever I can finally get through, I’m going to have to walk an extra 1.5 kilometers to get back to where I left off. Then walk that half a kilometer and then do the whole thing back again.

I’ve been thinking in kilometers lately when it comes to walking distance because each step is about half a meter for me. It’s easy to think “I walked 3,000 steps to get to where I left off and then I have another 1,000 to go.” I have no idea what my steps-to-miles ratio is.

After I returned to the parking lot, I began my walk back north to the Robert LB Tobin trailhead. This was a nice walk with no plumbing interruptions. I played some Pokemon Go on the way up and some Wizards Unite on the way down and still had plenty of time to enjoy some nature. I checked on my gym once I got back up to the trailhead and then returned to my car and went, well, not home. I stopped at Hardberger Park East and left a Pokemon there, then swung by the Walmart on the other side of Wurzbach Parkway and then, I think, I went home.

right triangle on the Salado Creek Greenway, Robert LB Tobin Park
Look at that hypotenuse. Pythagoras would be proud. Or horrified. One of those.

Alex and I went to the Oakwell Trailhead at some point in the past and I couldn’t for the life of me remember which direction we went. I couldn’t remember, that is, until I came to one spot where the path makes a left turn that’s almost a perfect right angle. And humans being humans, there was a path cut through the grass forming the hypotenuse of a right triangle. I had a flashback to Alex and me arguing (in a friendly way, I think) about whether it was acceptable to take the hypotenuse. Alex argued in favor of it and I argued against it.

Stay tuned for The Search for the Southern End of the North Salado Creek Greenway, Part 3. Coming soonish* to a browser near you.

*Probably more than two weeks from now. Maybe.

Time for a Gratuitous Amazon Link. I forgot the GAL last time. Since I’m reading Rick Riordan’s, I don’t even know, 19th (?) book* in the Percy Jackson universe, maybe I should start plugging them on my blog. So here’s where it all started: The Lightning Thief. Adventure, humor, travel. Why would I not love this series? (These series? The Jackson-verse has, after all, been five different series.).

*I just went back and count again and I’m pretty sure we’re on 19.

I hadn’t touched my Howard W. Peak Greenway System project in ages. In fact, I wasn’t entirely sure where I’d left off. I remembered starting out at Lady Bird Johnson Park and going north toward McAllister Park (and I think I made it all that way). I also started from the Oakwell Farms Trailhead and went some direction (probably north towards Lady Bird Johnson Park) but didn’t get very far. And that was it.

So since I wasn’t sure how much of the area I’d actually covered, I figured that my best bet was to start at the far end (since that would be a new-to-me park) and go north, seeing if I could make it all the way to Lady Bird Johnson Park.

So I drove to John James Park (named for a surveyor who helped set up a bunch of local towns including Castroville) and didn’t see a sign like this:

The Greenway sign outside of Walker Ranch Historic Landmark Park. The coloration is imperfect because I took this picture at 10:00 at night.

Or like this:

The park rules for the Greenway system. Since there wasn’t one at John James, this is from Lady Bird Johnson. As I say below, it was hot today (and I had done a lot of walking), so I wasn’t about to drag myself down Nacogdoches Road looking for the above Greenway sign during the daytime.

So I walked around the park and also down the street until I crossed the creek (which looked like this):

Do you see a sidewalk in this picture? I don’t see a sidewalk in this picture.

Finally I decided that maybe the greenway ended on the other side of the bridge that carries Rittiman Road over the creek (and also over Holbrook Road)*, but there was no crosswalk in sight and it was over 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) so I wasn’t going to go wandering around out there in the sun any longer than I had to. I also had a very strange conversation with the lady at Via Metropolitan Transit where I explained that I wanted to know how to get to the downtown lineup from the AT&T Center (I’m going to the Maluma concert on Saturday) and after leaving me on hold for nearly nine minutes she came back and told me where the downtown lineup is. Crap. I should probably do a post on taking the downtown Via lineup, shouldn’t I? Well, it’s 11:30 and I have to be up in 9 hours so I’m not going to write it tonight.

After exploring the park a bit more, I decided to drive along Grantham Road looking for greenway signs or, more importantly, parking lots. When I didn’t find anywhere to park, I decided to head up to the Oakwell Farms trailhead and walk down to John James and hopefully find the trailhead from that direction. I got there and found that they were doing sewer work and the parking lot was closed.

So I went back all the way to Lady Bird Johnson Park and decided to head all the way down to John James. When I got to Robert L.B. Tobin Park, just past 410, though, I found that not only was the parking lot closed, but the greenway itself was closed, too.

So after briefly flirting with the idea of seeing if I could get close enough to the Pokemon Go gym to take it over (the Pokemon in there had been there for over three days and I’m sure their trainers would have liked them back), I turned around and headed back to my car. I stopped off at both Hardbergers and did some shopping at the Walmart on Blanco and when all the dust settled, I had visited five parks (I count both ends of the blocked-off part of the greenway as half a park each) and done more than seven miles of walking today.

*The satellite photos on Google Maps seem to show just that happening. I still don’t know how to get *down* there, though.

This is probably going to be pretty short because it’s just an announcement about an upcoming focusy/seriesy thing that I’m considering. Since my last post two months ago (!), I’ve seen three concerts. Well, two concerts and a performance on the Try Guys tour. I’m not sure if that’s technically a concert or not, though there was music. I also think I need to finish up my Happy series.

I’m also *this* close to buying my ticket to see Maluma in September. I’d really planned to go out today, but I went out with my friend Evelyn last night and didn’t get back until I don’t even know. 11:30? And then I had nightmares about the government deciding that I was an undocumented immigrant from Nicaragua all night. I ended up oversleeping and then not being worth anything until after the box office closed.

So at the rate I’m going, Weird Al, the Try Guys, the B-52s, Happy, and Maluma should hold me for a while. I may also make some posts about my own personal history regarding music. I may not. We’ll find out when we get there.

I don’t know what’s up with that. I sit down and open WordPress once a week or so but never make any progress.

Well, there’s an exceedingly slim chance that this might end up being a health blog about cancer. That’s something I could write about.

I’ve been having a “globus sensation” for the last day or so. A globus sensation usually is the result of GERD or stress or an abrasion in the throat but rarely it can be esophageal cancer. There’s also a slight chance it could be inflammation of the larynx from either bacteria or a virus and I found one story where it turned out to be a tonsil stone.

And I don’t think it’s cancer, really. I don’t feel nauseated and I can still eat and there’s no blood in my sputum (that’s the stuff you cough up when you cough) or stool. But it’s a nice unsettling thing to discover is an option at 3:00 in the morning. Actually eating soft food (I’ve been sticking to soft food because if it’s a scratch I don’t want to make it worse, not because I can’t eat not-soft food) and drinking cold water makes it feel better. And since eating makes it feel better, that increases the chance that it might be GERD.

I’m starting with throat abrasion and working my way up from there. That was the most common explanation when I first looked up “I feel like there’s something stuck in my throat” 12.5 hours ago. And I did eat some carrots and felt one go down the wrong way about 18 hours before that (about six hours before the sensation started), so I’m operating on the assumption that it’s a scratch in my throat and will be gone within three to four days, so by Sunday or Monday. If I still feel like this on Sunday morning, I’ll go to the Doc in a Box and have them look at it.

Come to think of it, the second most common explanation when I first looked up “I feel like there’s something stuck in my throat” was something stuck in one’s throat. So I guess it’s not impossible that that piece of carrot is still in there somewhere.

I’ve really been slacking off on the foreign language front lately. And since that’s my best chance to be able to retire (well, not retire as such but switch from a “punching the time clock” career to a “do it on my own time” career, which is probably the closest I’ll ever get to retiring), I need to step it up.

To that end, I’m listening to less foreign language music and have just started working on the podcasts at Radio Ambulante. Radio Ambulante is a project of NPR telling human-interest stories from Spanish-speaking areas. And they cover a lot of territory. Some of the accents are way more challenging than others, but it’s good practice.

I also blew a couple of bucks on a 3-month Rosetta Stone subscription for Castilian Spanish. I figure that’ll give me more to work with than I get from speaking at work and doing Duolingo.

I’m still doing Duolingo. I’m laddering Spanish and Mandarin. They don’t have Mandarin for Spanish speakers, so I’m doing Spanish for Mandarin speakers.

And I’m still working (slowly!) on reading in my target languages. In Spanish, I’m working on the translation of Prince Caspian by CS Lewis, and Ciudad de las Bestias by Isabel Allende. In German and Italian, I’m still in the translation of the first Harry Potter book and in Chinese, I’m about a third of the way through Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

And, as always, I’m paying myself. 1¢ per Duolingo lingot, 2¢ per minute of Rosetta Stone, Radio Ambulante, and audiobooks, 1.5¢ per minute of music, 15¢ per page* of foreign language book (because that takes the most concentration of all). At an estimated $400 per credit hour for tuition and fees, I think I have my first four credit hours of my modern languages degree paid off, and it only took two and a half years to get there.

Crap. I’ve got to work harder, don’t I?

*Per paragraph for Chinese.

Gratuitous Amazon Link time. Why not? City of the Beasts, in English and Ciudad de las Bestias in Spanish.

And my life’s not very wild at all unless you count taking the subway in foreign cities. I guess that could get kind of wild, but so far it’s just been transportation.

However, while my life isn’t wild, I’ve been close to some whose lives are very wild. This guy, for example:

He looks pretty wild to me!

I saw this fella on April 20 at Walker Ranch Park. I took two pictures, this one and one zoomed farther out, and then I began to worry a little because he was just sitting on the ground. I asked him (really, literally, in actual human speech) why he was sitting on the ground, and he flew off. That was a huge relief to me.

And he’s not alone. In addition to my nearly daily encounters with deer in the parks around here, I’ve recently seen an armadillo at Walker Ranch Park, a rabbit and what I’m pretty sure is a red-tailed hawk at Hardberger Park, and just today what I’m also pretty sure is a crested caracara in Shavano Park (that’s a nearby suburb).

I have pictures of most of them, except the caracara, because I was driving when I saw him. That’s also why I’m not entirely sure that’s what I saw. Whatever it was, it was hanging around with a bunch of vultures that were eating something that looked like a dead squirrel, and caracaras do eat carrion, so that seems like a good indication to me. My first impression was that it looked kind of like a Pokémon, too, and the caracara does kinda/sorta look like a Staraptor, in a way.

I was really thrilled to see the rabbit, too, because I grew up in a neighborhood that had rabbits every-damn-where and I haven’t seen a single rabbit in my entire time in Texas. The last time I saw a rabbit was during a visit to my old apartment complex in Chicago in what would have been 2008/2010 at the latest.

I’m not entirely sure why I’m seeing more wildlife lately. Maybe there’s some construction or other development that’s flushing them out (if so, why am I mostly seeing them in parks?) Maybe they’ve been there all along and I’m just noticing it more?

But, perhaps, the most important question of all, is my old eBird account still active?

Back in, oh, 1990, I guess, Thomas’s roommate had a Sega Genesis system.

Wait. No. It goes back farther than that.

I was in high school in the early 1980s and I’ve always been something of a science fiction/fantasy geek (and I really love books and series the blur the line between the two, like Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series). Long about, oh, my sophomore year of high school, I found the science fiction geek corner of my high school’s social structure. I was the only girl in the group.

Every year we had one day when we had open lunch and the science fiction geeks would go to Friar Tuck’s arcade. Maybe it was my junior year, since Friar Tuck’s opened in 1982, but whatever. The point is that all of the science fiction geeks except for one went to Friar Tuck’s. They never invited me to come along. Not that I would have had the faintest idea what to do, but I would have figured something out. Probably. Instead, I went to the Fannie Mae candy shop with my female friends. It was a good time, but the Friar Tuck’s thing sort of put the idea in my head that I wasn’t good enough to game.

There was an Aladdin’s Castle at the mall where my friends and I hung out, but, again, girls. So I never crossed the threshold of the store, even though I really, really wanted to

In 1988, I started dating Thomas. He was a gamer and hung around at gaming places (maybe Friar Tuck’s? Not sure). I was still kind of bitter but also had internalized the idea that I didn’t deserve to learn to game and so I kept quiet about it.

*Now* it’s 1990 and his roommate’s Sega Genesis system. They were only roommates for a semester (Thomas got a single room halfway through the year), but I had enough exposure to it that my bitterness finally broke through and I asked Thomas, point-blank, to teach me how to game so that I could finally figure out whether I could do it or not.

Oh, God. I’m starting to cry. This is so stupid. Such a tiny little thing, but it’s a tiny little thing with deep, deep roots, and it hurts to dig those roots out.

In 1994, Thomas and I met Frank. Frank is also a gamer. And they’d sit around and talk about Doom or Wolfenstein 3D or whatever and I’d sit and twiddle my thumbs despite the fact that I’d talked to Thomas about this. This just dug the “you don’t deserve this” message in deeper.

Sometime in the late 1990s or early 2000s, they opened a Dave and Busters here in San Antonio. They allowed smoking in the game room and I have asthma but I didn’t want to be a wet blanket so I’d go along and wheeze while I watched everyone else play because, all together now, I didn’t deserve to learn.

Thomas offered to “teach” me on one of these outings. His version of “teach” was sink-or-swim. He wanted me to take the other controller of whatever he was doing and compete against him. Did I mention that I couldn’t breathe? When I refused, he said, “I thought you wanted me to teach you.” I didn’t know how to tell him that I was more imagining sitting on the sofa together with the controller of his PS2 while he showed me what all of those X’s and triangles, and blue diamonds and green clovers do and less competing against him when I couldn’t fucking breathe.

This is when I figured out that Thomas was never going to follow through on his ten-year-old promise and stopped going to Dave and Busters at all. It just rubbed in my lack of skill and made me feel lonely.

When Thomas and I split up in 2008 I was seeing two mental health professionals. I’d started seeing a psychiatrist in 2002 when I had my cancer and I kept going through my mom’s death in 2006 and the end of my marriage. I also started seeing a counselor on top of that. When I was at the counselor’s I suggested that maybe Thomas was so contrary because he was afraid I’d be good at it. Because several times I started working on something that I thought we were doing together (like learning Chinese) and when the rubber hit the road, he backed out because I progressed faster than he did.

He did teach me to play Tetris and Larn, which is something, and he gave me the opportunity to use the WII Fit (and left it here when he left), but so many people I know play, like, Zelda and things that use consoles and they’re still just a mystery to me, no thanks to Thomas.

In 2014, we had our pharmacy Christmas party at Dave and Busters. We ate a nice dinner and then Alex convinced me to try one of the racing games. I can’t remember if we did it once or twice, but Alex went to Dave and Busters fairly often with his paternal grandmother, so I figured he’d get use out of the cards we got with dinner even if he wouldn’t use them that night. So once someone else left, we followed suit.

In 2016, I woke up and saw one of my Facebook friends had posted a picture of a bird that looked to be made from Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and pipe cleaners*. I was kind of nonplussed but kept reading and for some reason that I’ll never fully comprehend, I decided to download Pokemon Go and give it a shot. And I’m pretty good at it, if I do say so myself. Not amazing — I’m not dedicated enough for that — but better than a lot of people I know. And several times in the last couple of weeks, when I made a new Pokemon Go friend (I’m up to 54!) they said, “Oh! You’re Olivia!” which is always a nice feeling.

I’m dabbling a bit in Jurassic World Alive and intent to give Wizards Unite a chance (particularly since I have a friend who really wants to play it and this will give me a chance to maybe see her once in a while). And one of my online friends said that I don’t necessarily need to use a console to game and that there are a lot of good games for the PC. So maybe I’ll try one or two of them.

Maybe this bitterness over gaming will pass someday after all.

Wow. What do I do for my Gratuitous Amazon Link? Something about gaming? Science Fiction? I mention Diane Duane’s Young Wizards books. Have I linked to So You Want to Be a Wizard yet? If not, well, there it is.

I’ve been to the zoo a couple of times recently. On March 23, Alex and I had made tentative plans to go together then his allergies acted up badly and he went back to bed. I’d had my heart set on going to the zoo, so I went by myself and did the Pokemon Go Community Day while I was there.

I got a couple of pictures of the elephant enclosure. I’ve posted about the controversy about the elephant enclosure before (links to follow later, maybe), but they didn’t turn out very well. I guess that’s an excuse to go back to the zoo. I can always use an excuse to to back to the zoo.

Elephant enclosure, San Antonio Zoo, 2019
Actually this picture turned out halfway decent. I may have to bring a tall friend to get the view from above that fence in the foreground next time, but this will give you some kind of idea of the scale. And Lucky has two roommates now. I don’t know if they like each other, but they tolerate each other, which may be all one can hope for.

In August, I think it was, I joined the zoo for the first time in years and since Alex is now an adult, he got his own membership. This past Saturday was Bring a Friend Free day at the zoo, so Alex and I each brought a friend. Alex’s friend had to leave early, but Alex, my friend, and I ended up spending four hours at the zoo. Our zoo isn’t that big. I didn’t know it was possible to spend four hours there.

Speaking of Pokemon Go, one of my friends has me playing the game that I refer to as Jurassic Park Go. The name is actually Jurassic World Alive, but that’s a real mouthful. I have thoughts about JWA and it may require a whole post just for that. I know that any game that involves chance (like a random number generator) the odds favor the “house,” but JWA seems like such a blatant cash grab that I’m far less likely to spend actual money on the game than I am with Pokemon Go (I limit myself to an average of $1 a month for Pokemon Go).

I have a tendency to treat this blog like I used to treat essay questions in school. I want the writing to hang together well, so I agonize over how to frame things so much that I end up not writing enough (or in this case, anything).

So, since it’s been more than two months, I’m just going to write. I was telling my friend Irene the other day that my brain hasn’t been in a good place to write fiction lately because I can only write fiction when I’m happy. Well, I was hit by a plot bunny today. One of my online acquaintances said that he has a very career-oriented female friend who wants a similarly career-oriented guy, but that most of the career-oriented guys she knows are jerks. I thought about the traditional Hallmark movie where the woman goes home and meets a guy who runs a coffee shop in a small town and she discovers that there are more important things than careers in the big city. Blech.

But what if she met another big-city man who has some kind of amazing talent but lacks that killer instinct that the career-oriented men she knows have and which turns her off? Like he’s an artist or a writer or a musician or an inventor or something. And she could use her contacts to help him make it? I ended up with musician because that would work well in a movie.

So he’s a barista who works at the Starbucks on her way to work in the morning. She always gives her name as Beth because (a) she doesn’t want them misspelling her real name and (b) she doesn’t actually want to give her real name. He recognizes her when she comes in and remembers her preferences and this is actually a big turnoff for her because he’s so . . . nice.

Then she hears him singing/playing his guitar/playing his glass harmonica or whatever and she tries to get him to accept her help to make a career of it. Romance blossoms then he finds out that she’s looking for a career-oriented guy and thinks that she’s playing Pygmalion and that she doesn’t know him or even really want to get to know him. So they break up and they’re both constantly almost picking up the phone to call him when something exciting happens.

But they need time to heal and his career takes off and she develops a little bit more non-career life (maybe a family obligation like she has to take in a niece or something?) And when they bump into each other a year or two later the sparks are still there and they have more balance in their own lives and they reunite.

The End.

Maybe I won’t end up writing more than this little sketch of an idea but, look! Fiction! I’m pretty happy I was even able to do this much.

Now, for a Gratuitous Amazon Link. And this one really is gratuitous. I sorted my Goodreads list alphabetically and picked the first one: Embassy Row Book 1: All Fall Down, by Ally Carter. Which reminds me. I need to get the next book in that series. . . .