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April 2010

DNA Day!

Hey everybody,

VERY cool news.  My husband just got this email from our friend James (who is a fountain of knowledge) and IT IS DNA DAY!

And EVEN better… James sent a link to a site and for today only, to celebrate DNA day, you can get your whole genetic profiling done for only $99!  Apparently to get this done it normally cost $800!  And here’s the even greater thing, if I’d known I could get my DNA done for $800, I probably would have splurged on it, because I’m really, really curious what I’m made up of.

Anyway, if any of you are curious too, here’s the link!  But you gotta do it today or you don’t get the great deal.

Don’s not quite as enthused as me.  He got the email and told me about it, sort of shaking his head, like funny-little-James-and-his-weird-schemes.  He was really surprised when I started jumping up and down squealing “Do it!  Do it!  I’m so excited!”

“Uh…okay,” he said, and promptly went upstairs, like the good well-behaved zombie husband he is, to get the job done!  I’m so lucky.

He came into the kitchen where I was mixing up a marinade for the salmon (minced fresh garlic, onions, a little ginger, olive oil, soy sauce, a dab of honey, celery salt, and a little bit of lemon pepper and regular pepper.  I’ll let you know if it tastes good.) 

“I did it,” he said, sniffing at the air like a hungry dog.  “What are you making?”

“Salmon,” I replied.

“I wasn’t going to do it,” he said.  “I just told you about it cause I thought it was funny.”

“You weren’t going to do it?  Are you nuts?!  Why wouldn’t you do it?  Aren’t you curious?”

“No.” He plucked a chocolate chip cookie off it’s cooling rack. 

“No?” I shrieked.  “No!  How could you not be curious?  Don’t you want to know what your made up of?  Your blood lines?  I can hardly wait to find out.  All these years, getting so many different stories, we have Native Indian, we don’t. ” It’s Mohawk.”  “No, it’s Ojibwa.”  “No, where did you get that idea, it’s Cherokee.”  And do we have Irish from my grandfather’s side, or was that a romantic tale to make us feel more acceptable?  And I wonder if it will be able to tell me what kind of Chinese I am?  I didn’t know my dad’s side of the family much so I don’t know any of that stuff and I want to know.  I really want to know!  Do they do that?  Does DNA find out that stuff?”

“Yeah,” Don said looking uncomfortable.  “But you find out bad things too.  Like health things that you might catch.”  Don’s a bit of a worrywart.

“Oh posh!” I snorted (actually, I didn’t, but I thought it)  “That doesn’t worry me at all.  Just excited to know what I actually am.  And besides, if your health thing comes back and you find out that you have a propensity for something, then hey, isn’t that great!  Then you know what you need to do to help prevent it.”

Anyway, it’s very exciting.  I can hardly wait until that package comes in the mail and I spit on the whatever, and start the whole process. 

Yay, DNA Day!




Jennifer Tilly

Hello everyone,

For those of you who are interested, my sister is going to be on CSI April 29 9-10 pm ET/PT on CBS. 

We are going to be in the throes of moving madness, but I’m planning on taking a break from the boxing up to see it. 

Also, there is still time to cast your vote.  My sister would really like to play in that tournament, but she needs your help.  All you have to do is click and then fill in your name and email and then click on her name.  Easy!  I did it, and I haven’t gotten any spam mail or anything like that.  And if you have qualms about the morality of gambling and all that, it’s not like anyone will be losing their rent or food money with this tournament.  This is a tournament for the poker pros that have won gold bracelets for the best poker player in the World Series of Poker.  I’m not even sure if there is a buy-in on this tournament.  All I know is Jenny really, really wants to play it, but she needs enough votes in order to get to sit at the table. 

Thanks!




home again

We’re back.  Home sweet home. 

The event at the Clearbrook Library was lots of fun.  Smitty (the children’s librarian) was like a rock star.  Kids high-fiving her.  Shouting out her name.  Answer a question about a book right?  Get a tattoo!  (Temporary of course.)  By the end of her warm-up act she was striding up and down the aisle flinging handfuls of temporary tattoos into the crowds of smiling, cheering kids. 

What fun we had!  The questions coming fast and furious.  Everyone crowding around afterwards.  What sweethearts they were.

And there was a boy at the back of the room, there with his father.  A school day, but he wasn’t with the schools that were brought in, so his dad must have pulled for the afternoon so he could meet me.  It reminded me of myself.  It is something I would have done.  His boy had written a review of Porcupine and he asked a question, that really resonated with me.  An old soul that boy.  Doesn’t just examine the surface.  Looks deeper to gain understanding, clues.

Made me want to race home and write another book.  Even better than the last!

But… sigh… it will have to wait.  At least for a few weeks.  Boxes are arriving today, and the moving packing up madness begins.  And then comes the unpacking, the placing of the furniture, the getting used to new surroundings, trying to remember where I put what. 

But after that’s all done… Then I can write!  I’m not sure what.  Just know that I want to.  What a relief!

I am hoping this will be our last move.  Our forever home.  One never knows until one is living in a place, if it is a fit.  I’m hoping this one will be it.  We’ll see.




On the road

We’ve just landed at our motel in Clearbrook, settling in for an afternoon of books (me) and hockey playoffs (Don).  We’ve got all the necessary components for a road trip night in, cheddar popcorn, salt and vinegar chips, all-dressed chips, little plump powder sugar donuts, spearmint leaves, maltesers and ranch cornnuts.  Don’s got some disgusting sun dried tomato Pringles, but they don’t count because I don’t like them.  I don’t count his Bounty bars either.

Why Meg, you might be saying to yourself, what’s all this about?  After you worked so hard to drop those 12lbs for your 50th birthday, why are you indulging in junk-food galore?  But I’ll let you in on a secret.  See I can eat whatever I want, because “road trip calories DON’T COUNT!”  Betcha didn’t know that did you?  Yeah, well it’s a little known meg-fact.  A made-up one, but I find if I say it to myself often enough I believe it, that and, “I’m going to get back on the exercising wagon when I get back home.”  Those are two doozies that really work well at leading me astray when I’m on the road.

It’s been a couple of hours since I left the elementary school in Hope, but I am still flying high from the reading.  Such a great school.  Really liked the students from the other school that attended as well.  Good questions, interested faces, hands flying in the air.  My only regret is that I couldn’t answer them all.  Wish I could have pointed to every hand that was up.  Couldn’t believe how fast the time flew.  Seemed like we just were getting down to some serious fun when I got the last question signal. 

And then how they clapped and cheered.  Made me feel very loved.  Made me glad I had written this book and driven out here to visit this school.  It’s students like these that make me happy that I spent all those hours slaving away over my computer. 

And I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Hope before, but the scenery is staggeringly beautiful.  Huge snow capped mountains towering over the little town nestled snug in a valley.  It was sunny today, warm, the promise of summer lingering in the air.

Agassiz was beautiful as well.  Different from Hope, a larger valley.  Terrill Scott (the librarian who set this all up) had put us in a lovely Bed & Breakfast for two of the nights we were on the road, and there was a hiking trail out behind the house (quite steep, but we managed, huffing and puffing) and at the top, they had built a little platform and there were two chairs and a little table and we could see for miles and miles, out over the valley, to the large looming mountains.  There was a silver creek, rippling and dancing in the little snatches of sunshine that managed to make their way through the leafy trees.  Every thing green and hopeful. 

I love Spring, when all the buds on the trees are blooming, and flower pedals drift down like bridal confetti.  I love how the tender new leaves are that pale translucent green.

And I was very touched by what the teacher who brought the students to Agassiz Library said at the end of my talk.  And enjoyed the chat with the students who lingered behind after the talk.  Very sweet. 

I LOVE the beautiful “place mats” the students at the Mission library made for me.  Their teacher is reading them Porcupine and the pictures they drew, the detail, oh my!!!  So beautiful.  So much talent.  And especially nice (for me) was that in looking over the artwork they had done, I could tell that they were really great listeners, because if someone couldn’t read well, they could just look at the pictures that these student made and they would have a very good idea as to what Porcupine was about.  Thank you so much, if any of you are reading this.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them.  And they most definitely will NOT be used as place mats!  They are way too special for that.

So thank you to Terrill for arranging this.  And my thanks to the wonderful and supportive librarians and teachers and students that we met on the way.  We have had a blast!

And tomorrow, Clearbrook, my last library.  I’m almost sad this road trip is coming to an end.




Please vote!

Hello Everybody,

There is a tournament at the world series of poker and it would be REALLY great if my sister could play.  Here’s the catch.  She has to be voted in to be eligible.  So, please, PLEASE vote!!!

All you have to do is go to www.wsop.com and click on vote now and vote for my sister Jennifer Tilly.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!  I thank you.  My sister Jennifer thanks you.

Okay, I’m off to the shower.  Have a reading at the Mission Library this morning.  Hope you have a good day!




Bonds

Hello everybody,

I’ve been worrying about this for a while, so I thought I’ll just post my concerns and maybe it will be helpful to a few of you.  It’s important information and something that is vital to understand, so stick with me.

When the stock market started doing its nose dive in the Fall of 2008, many people (rightfully so) panicked.  As the stock market continued to plummet, some of you pulled everything out of the stock market, because truly, it felt like the end of the world.

Many of you, perhaps read some of the articles and saw the charts that were floating around, that showed that over the last 20 years bonds had outperformed the stock market by a pretty good margin. 

“Bonds!” you thought.  “Safe and sound.”  So you went on-line, or you trotted down to your financial adviser and said.  “Put all that money, my retirement savings, my emergency fund, my kid’s education fund, into bonds.  I want to be safe and sound and apparently bonds are that very thing.”

Hold on a minute.

Not all bonds are created equal.  In the States there are municipal bonds.  On paper these seem like a no-brainer.  You get a higher interest rates than Government bonds and in many states, if you buy municipal bonds issued by that State, there are no taxes.  HOWEVER, it is VERY important to CHECK THE CREDIT RATING of your particular state.  Many cities and states are on the verge of insolvency and unless something big happens they might have to default on some of their obligations.  Not only that, but they, unlike the Fed. can’t print their own currency to pay off their debt.  So check carefully before you buy.  And if you have already bought, check anyway, as you can always sell, even if your bonds haven’t reached their expiry date.

With corporate bonds, you get a higher yield, but there is more risk.  You want to make sure that you (or your financial adviser) checks the credit rating, their solvency, their debt coming due, their cash balances.

Now, you might be saying to yourself, “Oh my, that all sounds very complicated.  Just put me in a bond fund and be done with it.”

YIKES! NOW WE COME TO THE MEAT OF MY WORRY.

I read a ton of financial material.  Many highly intelligent, respected financial experts are saying that the thirty year bull market in bonds is over. 

If that is the case, you DON’T want to be in long-term bonds, because you will be locked into a lower interest rate that won’t keep up with inflation.  I have noticed over the last few weeks that bond interest rates (and gold) have been on the rise.  Right now my bond ladder does not go out any further than 4 years, most of the maturities closer in.

AND EVEN MORE IMPORTANT:  If you want to be SAFE AND SOUND bond funds are NOT for you!  What many people don’t realize is that while owning your own bonds (if they are rated AA or AAA) means that it is pretty safe to assume that not only will you be receiving interest on your bond, BUT ALSO that when your bond matures, you will receive back the entire amount of money that you invested in the bond.  100 dollars in,100 dollars back.

With a bond fund that is NOT the case.  With a bond fund you own nothing tangible.  If the bond market dive bombs, so does your investment.  Bond funds can be very volatile things in a bond bear market, just like mutual funds are when the stock market is in a funk (or even sometimes when the market isn’t.)  And THAT is what I wanted to warn you about.

I kept picturing that some of you perhaps lost a lot of your savings and retirement money in the stock market nose dive, and worried that maybe you jumped out of the pan and possibly into the fire.  Just needed to warn those of you that perhaps didn’t understand the difference between bond funds and owning actual bonds.

Bond funds are not safe and sound.  If you are going to need that money anytime soon, and you need to make sure it’s all going to be there when you need it, you will want to be in GIC’s or T-bills.  But I wouldn’t recommend going out long-term as interest rates appear to be on the rise, and if you lock yourself into too low an interest rate, your money will lose purchasing power due to inflation.

Thanks for hanging in there with me.  I know this financial stuff is kind of boring, but it’s really important.  It’s your future and unfortunately many people don’t know the difference because no one has ever taken the time to explain it. 

With love, Meg




Authors like us

Hello everybody,

We are back from England, both of us recuperating from a dreadful cold.  The upside is, it is forcing me to rest, which is good because I feel like I’ve been going hell-bent-for-leather for ages.  Hmm… I’m not quite sure what hell-bent-for-leather means.  I’ve been using it for years.  Think it means pushing myself, going hard, being way to busy, something like that.

Anyway, indulging in that type of behavior now would be impossible. 

Another good thing about this cold is, with all this out-of-control-rip-my-guts-out-coughing, I’m getting a very good abdominal workout.  I should be in fine swimsuit shape by the time I am better. 

Anyway, the reason I am blog today is some writer friends of ours have put together this new podcast and they’ve called it Authors Like Us, and we had dinner with them before we left for England and they slapped a recorder with a little mic on the table and recorded our dinner conversation and then cut an leisurely dinner chat down to a manageable pod-cast size and stuck it up for all and sundry to listen to.

They’ve asked that I post a link on my blog, so here it is!