Here's what I've been up to over the past week or two:

Visited Free State ComicCon


This is always a blast. Picked up a pile of graphic novels (and an awesome T-shirt of John Brown, Superhero).

Later that week was the "Weird Edition" of Super Nerd Night at the Jackpot.

Chased off a Home Invader


At 4:10am on Saturday night (or Sunday morning, whichever you prefer), the doorbell went off. Being a light sleeper, I woke instantly, if not clear-headedly, heart pounding within my ribcage, wondering, "WTF?!" A few seconds later, it rang again. Worried that a friend was in trouble, I set about searching for pants (found some stretchy shorts in the dark), glasses (no luck), and dagger (beneath the pillow, natch), and then headed downstairs. This is when the doorbell began ringing in eanest, as the visitor pressed it repeatedly for at least a dozen times. Now my concern turned to irritation and a bit of worry, because my friends wouldn't do that, would they?

Downstairs, I found my phone. No missed calls, so not a friend. Unfortunately, the front-door motion-detector light was turned off, making it tough to see outside very well (no Moon, either), so I inched the front curtain open. The doorbell-ringer had left. Whew.

Just then, I heard the back sliding-screen door open. Here's when I went all HOLY CRAP INTRUDER! The ensuing adrenaline cleared out any remaining sleepiness. The back-yard motion-detector light on the garage was unplugged, I learned later (probably my own fault from turning it off with a long stick), and the back-door light is switch-only (and off at the time), so no light back there, either. I peeked around the corner in the kitchen as the man - a little taller than me, I judged, and wearing bulky clothing - tried to open the sliding-glass door. Because of last year's adventure with locking myself out (this involved a drill, lock-puller, chisels, hammers, Sawzall, and such), the back door doesn't have a lock but is instead blocked; ironically, this is much more secure than a simple lock, so the door only slid an inch or so before hitting the rod in its runner. He put his hand INSIDE THE HOUSE, searching for a chain or something, I suspect, then pushed the door again.

Pissed off now, I turned on the overhead kitchen light. The intruder-dude CONTINUED TRYING TO GET INSIDE. Unfortunately, the sliding-glass door is virtually impossible to see through when it's dark outside and the overhead is on inside, so all I could see was a hand. CREEPY. At this point, it was time to go upstairs and fetch something more menacing than a dagger.

In the back bedroom where I store the menacing stuff, I discovered that, naturally, chernobylred had slept through all this. I turned on the light, informed her what was going on, found what I was looking for, and went back downstairs. En route, I also found my glasses.

When I reached the kitchen, he had left.

chernobylred, being more level-headed than I, asked, "Shouldn't we call the police?" Uh, yeah, good idea. Ahem.

They arrived within minutes. A cruiser rolled past on the street out front, lights off like a land shark, while another pulled into the alley with lights everywhere. Two police walked the alley with flashlights as bright as the sun, and another walked through my yard. The intruder was gone.

I gave them my report and discovered that they had found a suspicious man nearby on a bicycle. Of course I couldn't give any description, but if that was him, perhaps he'll be more cautious in the future. As in, NOT TRYING TO BREAK INTO HOUSES.

My theory? The doorbell-ringing was to find out if anyone was home. If someone meek had answered, he might well have busted inside for nefarious purposes, but I bet he'd have run away. I think he wanted to find an unoccupied house, break in, and steal stuff. I wish I'd gotten a good look and we could finally catch - assuming it's the same guy that's been robbing neighborhood houses - this serial burglar.

I'm double-locking the doors now and sleeping with more-substantial equipment within reach. Oh, and now all the outside motion-detector lights work.

Wrote a New, Um, Thing, Plus Jack and Stella


At last Thursday's Write Group, I finished a new piece of writing. My first sub-1000-word work in a long time! Now some polishing and off it goes.

Oh, and is coming along nicely. Over the past week or two I've written another couple thousand words. Best of all, I worked out parts of the plot-arc that were shaped more like nebulae. Also wrote a scene for the next book in the trilogy (I think it'll be three...).
The Galactic Adventures of Jack and Stella progress:

Went to the Kansas City Renaissance Festival


Since the KC RenFest opened three weekends ago, I've gone three times! Different goals each time, naturally, with next time being a group trip to the Barbarian Battles region, where I intend to pummel my friends with foam swords. This last weekend, I caught a whole bunch of shows and finally rode the bungee-trampoline. HOLY COW was that fun! I aimed for the sky, and reached a good 30 feet or more toward it. The combination of trampoline below and gnarl of bungees attached to each side of a climbing harness = HUGE AIR. I leaped so high that the bungees were actually pulling me down, and upon hitting the trampoline, I sank in knees-bent several feet before it launched me back up.

A MUST-DO BLAST FOR ALL!

This was a day when I intentionally wore jeans, not the kilt. Ahem.

Saved a Baby Snake


I was working in the garage today and discovered that one of the sticky traps I put down in there to capture horrid things like Brown Recluse spiders had captured what looks like a baby Brown Snake. It was still alive, but barely moving. Only about eight inches long, thin as a pencil at its thickest, with a teeny pointed tail and wee face with long, black, nervously flicking tongue. It was stuck upside-down on the glue trap, face first, looking like it was trying to eat the cricket stuck there.


Click the image to see the Great Plains Nature Center's website.

I felt so bad! I looked up how to humanely free a critter from the trap, and it seems that vegetable oil will do the trick. So I trimmed the glue trap down to near the snake, then drizzled olive oil (the only oil I could find in the house) along both sides of its body. I set it down in the shade in the grass upside-down so that the snake would be upright, then soaked the back (paper) of the trap, too, thinking it would loosen the glue faster.

Went back out after an hour, and the snake is gone. Hooray! Go free, little Brown Snake, and eat bugs and snails!

Conclusion


Sorry I haven't posted much in the past week. I've been busy with teaching, writing, and so forth. Hope you're well!

Best,
Chris

From: [identity profile] carmy-w.livejournal.com


Sounds like you've been having all the fun! And yes, a kilt doesn't work too well (or perhaps it does ;)) with bungee or trampoline work.


Snakes that size in our area tend to be Massasauga rattlers, unfortunately. A friend up at the lake was walking in his yard and got nipped on the foot by one (not that I'd kill it anyway; I'd just make sure to not hurt the bull snakes in the area).

About 3 years prior, a toddler got bitten, and they didn't realized it was a snakebite because there was only a single puncture-that one was scary.

From: [identity profile] mckitterick.livejournal.com


I have been! I thought the kilt might be funny on the bungee ride, but the harness would bind all up in there, anyway....

Yikes. Our snakes are much more charming.
Edited Date: 2012-09-25 11:00 pm (UTC)

From: [identity profile] carmy-w.livejournal.com


LOL, didn't think about the logistics of trying to bunch a skirt into a harness!

I used to skydive, and heard all sorts of stories about nude skydiving; sorry-my skin's WAY too tender to even think about that yank when a parachute opens, and all my bits are inside!

From: [identity profile] roseconnelly.livejournal.com


I think the same bell ringing scenario happened last night on New Jersey.

They've arrested three people for the rash of burglaries this summer, including ones near our house. It may be nothing, but there was one night were I woke up to a "What was that sound?" got up and turned some of the lights on while looking around a bit, checking on the kids. A house just around the block, or a short walk through our backyard to the neighborhood behind us, was robbed that night--although it was a few hours later than my weird sound. Either way, with the three houses around me that were robbed, I started making sure outside lights were on, the door to the garage was locked and my wooden bat was brought in to sleep by my bedside table.

We went to RenFest last Saturday where the outdoors decided to launch an assault on my head. I think I sneezed a total of 241 times while I was out there and by the time we left the entire inside of my head swelled shut. Fun times.

From: [identity profile] mckitterick.livejournal.com


Holy crap! Our neighbors are all locking their houses now. Used to be people just didn't bother.

Sorry to hear RenFest was a SneezeFest for you. Yuck.

From: [identity profile] tully01.livejournal.com


I generally START with the menacing stuff. Though it always pays to check that it's not an officer knocking to tell you somone broke out your car window or something (which has happened before, at 2am, natch).

Last year I heard someone come onto the back porch late at night. And heard them leave abruptly when I started illuminating the porch doors with the laser sights ...


From: [identity profile] mckitterick.livejournal.com


See, I didn't have the "menacing stuff" in my bedroom, and initially just assumed it was someone I knew, anyway. I mean, what kind of bad guy announces he's about to break in...?

Glad you chased 'em off!

From: [identity profile] tully01.livejournal.com


Many burglars do ring/knock first. To see if anyone's home. Even to pull the old "my car broke down" routine to get in the door.

From: [identity profile] hdsqrl.livejournal.com


Holy smokes - your account of the burglar is terrifying. I totally would have peed on the floor, I swear.*

*Note: I do not normally pee on the floor, so having me into your home on a non-burglar day should bring you no cause to worry. ;)

From: [identity profile] geekmom.livejournal.com


I suspect that my reaction of screaming my head off would have chased off the burglar, too. Not that I usually scream my head off. Just when there's an unexpected frog in the swimming pool or somebody walks very quietly in the kitchen or something, heh.

From: [identity profile] mckitterick.livejournal.com


I bet! Except that this guy didn't leave when I turned on the kitchen light, so maybe not....

From: [identity profile] mckitterick.livejournal.com


Hahahaha! Sure, I understand. I was pretty freaked, myself, though instead of peeing it made my heart race and adrenal glands pour out the good stuff.

From: [identity profile] geekmom.livejournal.com

Snake


I'm glad you rescued it. The picture you used makes me sentimental. Larry Collins, the husband of the photographer, was a great professor at KU.

Also yikes on the home intrusion. Glad you were able to scare him off without the heavy artillery.

From: [identity profile] mckitterick.livejournal.com

Re: Snake


Aw, neat! I love snakes, so it made me feel so good to know it was free.

From: [identity profile] rose-lemberg.livejournal.com


I'm sorry about the burglar. There's been a series of those in Lawrence lately as I understand. It's really a pity, as I've been pretty happy to live in a crime-free area.

The police do come quickly, though.

From: [identity profile] mckitterick.livejournal.com


The prompt arrival of the police fills me with comfort, I tell you what. Despite this, though, if crime remains buglary rather than serial murders, I still feel safe in Larryville.

From: [identity profile] rose-lemberg.livejournal.com


We had a burglary this summer. It was by a person we hired to do something in the house. :( :(

Still beats Berkeley though, yes.

From: [identity profile] mckitterick.livejournal.com


That's awful - especially when it's someone you've trusted to work in the house!

From: [identity profile] weaselmom.livejournal.com


We cannot leave you alone for even a second!!!

Should there be a next time, jam your dagger *through* the guy's hand and watch hilarity ensue as he tries to withdraw it through the gap.

Kidding aside, I am glad you are OK. The bad guy didn't get in, and the snake wasn't venomous, and you didn't break your neck on the trampoline!

From: [identity profile] mckitterick.livejournal.com


Hm, I hadn't thought of using the dagger as a handcuff:

"Aaaaah! It hurtses the hand! Why does the person hurt the hand?"

"Wait here for the police."

I put on a mechanic's glove before I lifted the sticky trap, oh yes. It was upside-down, so at first I had no idea what it was or even which was the bitey end.

I was seriously worried about breaking my neck, I tell you what. That's why I aimed for sky instead of flipping, though I did manage to do one backflip before the gnarly old pirate (trampoline assistant) lowered my bungees and told me, "You're making me tired just watching you."

Oh, and I didn't try to flip when I was shooting so high; instead I just bounced until I wasn't hitting the tramp hard enough to tear off my head before I gave it a try. It's REALLY HARD to make your body flip over backwards while 30 feet in the air, I tell you what.

From: [identity profile] kalimeg.livejournal.com


Similar thoughts, but I would not kid. As long as you go between the tendons it won't even really damage him. And what's inside your house is fair game. No stabbing out the door, no matter how entertaining that might be.
Edited Date: 2012-09-26 01:54 am (UTC)

From: [identity profile] saffronhare.livejournal.com


I was thinking this exact thing...a dagger wound would have made the suspect much easier to identify.
(deleted comment)

From: [identity profile] mckitterick.livejournal.com

Re: Hindsight


Hahaha - true! On the other hand, then he would have sued me, and that would have sucked probably worse than his breaking in and stealing stuff.

From: [identity profile] kalimeg.livejournal.com


You know, a dagger thru the hand would be quite menacing. Just slide it BETWEEN the tendons so it's not permanently crippling.

:)

From: [identity profile] mckitterick.livejournal.com


Legally, I hear that, if you get into a home-defense situation, it's better to kill the bad guy rather than leave him injured and full of lawsuits. Which cause more harm than most robberies.

From: [identity profile] dotar-sojat.livejournal.com


Sounds like a night of adventure! Glad you were actually home when it happened.

From: [identity profile] mckitterick.livejournal.com


I wonder if he'd have broken a window to get in if I weren't home....

From: [identity profile] siro-gravity.livejournal.com


THAT IS SO SCARY!!!!!! here I am NOT talking about the snake, but about the intruder. I don't know what I would do, but am sure I would be completely freaked out.

That is a very sweet looking snake!! Glad you could get it off the glue!

hope you're enjoying school.

From: [identity profile] mckitterick.livejournal.com


Trust me, I was freaked out, too!

I've always found snakes fascinating, and the little bug-eaters are so charming.

Loving school so far. I have a science-fiction literature course (short fiction), a couple of tech-writing courses, plus an advanced tech-writing course with someone who wants to do that kind of work when she graduates. Had a good talk with the new Departmental Chair about my career here, and everything's going well. Hope you're enjoying yours, too!
.

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