Get Away From That Ledge IV

 Because We’re The People Who DO

This is kind of the opposite of Galt – though I’m still advising you go mini-galt if you can and full galt if you can until push comes to shove – but I’d just like to remind you that most of us, here on the side of the constitution, on the side of the Odds, on the side of American exceptionalistm, are the people who do things.

I was chided today while getting my hair cut (not really, my hairstylist is a nice guy, but he said he’s learned to cut despite this) because I can’t stand still.  There’s always the little movements.  Attention deficit disorder is a way of life.

However, concomitant with that is an interest in just about everything, particularly how to DO things – both useless and useful.

For instance, when I got married, I had no clue how one went from the pasta in the package to cooked pasta.  My first day in the apartment alone was a “uh?”  and I read the instructions on the pasta.  Over the next three years, I accumulated more cookbooks than some small third world countries.  In fact some of them are on the cooking of small third world countries.  (I have a collection of cooking around the world.)  Dan says for five years I never served the same dish twice, and I’ll admit I only do now because sometimes I’m very busy with other stuff.  Because learning what you can do with food is interesting and if it stops being interesting, I stop being able to do it.

I’ve also learned how to reupholster sofas (by doing it disastrously wrong once, of course,) how to do carpentry, how to paint walls, how to do crochet, how to do various styles of embroidery, how to do some dress making – and if I can find the time/opportunity, I’ll take courses in knitting and dressmaking.

I do things.  I like to fix things.  I like to organize.  I like to build useful stuff.  Long ago, when he was unemployed for a while, and then got a job, Dan brought me home a gift: it was an antique dresser that had been kept in someone’s barn and had come apart piece by piece.  He got it for me as a toy.  It was our big celebration.  (If you’ve been to my house, you know it’s in the boys’ bathroom and falling apart again.  I MUST find time to fix it.)

I’ve removed and installed kitchen cabinets.  I’ve laid carpet and hardwood flooring.  I’ve planted gardens (except in this house, where nothing will grow) and despite brown thumb made them grow.

And you know what?  That’s part of the US exceptionalism, too.  It’s starting to percolate in other countries, but it’s not the same.  Here, there is a higher percentage that looks around and goes “well, it needs doing, and I might as well…”

I remember once, shortly after 9/11 I was very depressed, and went out for a walk.  It was a relatively warm day after a cold week, and people were out, fixing their houses, installing windows, repairing roofs, cleaning gutters.  It seemed like everyone was out doing stuff, and I thought “we will do.”

Of course, even in America the ones least likely to do it are the pampered flowers of privilege.  The ones most likely to do stuff – useful stuff – to learn and use useful stuff are people like us.

We’re the people who do.

At the bottom of everything, if salvation will come at all, it will come, as someone (sorry, I can’t remember who) said in the comments “from a butterfly flapping its wings somewhere.”

What this means is, that our elites are in many ways very stodgy people.  First, as I said, they most of them suffer from 3rd generation blight.  They were eased through life.  They never met real challenge.  They’re not the most creative people around.

So… they’re carefully trying to close off every avenue of creativity and prosperity that individuals can create.  But they’re not us.  They don’t really “get” us.  They’re like the aristocrats of the ancient regime, very good at the life of Versailles, but ignorant of how the real world works.  I’d bet you dollars to doughnuts most of them never MET a working class person in their lives.  Not to talk to.  They’ve perhaps had short conversations with working class people in the service professions when handing in dry cleaning or ordering an espresso.  That’s it.

And they’ve certainly never met people like us who are competent with our minds and our hands: and this is (I think) still most of America.  We are or can be competent in both realms.  And we don’t blush to use our hands.

So, they’ll miss stuff.

While you’re going mini-galt – cutting back on what you spend, making do or doing without, repurposing, reusing and reinventing —  if you’re going to spend time on entertainment, make the entertainment learning something new: whether it’s how to cook, how to clean really well with cheap products, how to knit, how to re-sole shoes, how to carve, how to do box-container gardening, or even how to play an instrument.  I highly recommend the teaching company’s great courses, too.  The history can be a little politically correct, but the hard sciences are usually okay.  Learn as much as you can.  Think of your mind as a compost heap to which you throw new material and new skills and allow them to ferment.  Encourage your kids to do the same.

First, because, if things get really, really, really bad – and if the immigration bill does make it through the house, they will and fast – the more skills you have, the more likely it is that you can find something you can do that will allow you to survive.

Second, because the more you know, the more you allow the fields of knowledge to cross-pollinate, the more likely you’ll come up with something startling that open new ways of life and totally circumvents what our would be Lords and Masters plan for us.

Look, they spent almost a century crawling their way through the institutions and then, just as they were in total control, the computer revolution – something they ignored as that thing geeks did for a long time – destroyed their monopoly in the arts and the media and will at least seriously dent their monopoly in education.

Where will the next breakthrough comes from, that changes the game?

Who knows?  I can’t quote from memory but there’s a passage in the beginning of The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress where Heinlein explains that you can’t predict a breakthrough that requires genius, except that you can predict it will happen, just not when where or what it will be.

I have this theory that the more things you know, the more things you try, the more you are ready for every contingency, the more you become the contingency.  You put yourself in a knowledge and action rich environment and suddenly the discovery happens.  You flap your wings, you’re the butterfly, and the world changes in ways no one could have predicted or prevented.

We have this over the forces of Luddites and statists.  We can DO.  They can only try to control those who do.

I can hear you say “but what I can do is nothing.  All I can do is… tell stories, build a piece of furniture, cook a meal, rescue a cat—

Do it.  And extend from it, and become really good at what you do.  It’s not just the genius who breaks through who makes a difference.  The person who was there to cook the genius a meal or feed his cat counts too.  Or perhaps the person who cooked that person a meal or told that person a story.

We believe that individuals acting in their own best interest can improve things.  We have history on our side.

We also have insatiable curiosity and tireless interest.  Let’s use those.

Learn.  Learn widely and do fearlessly.  Heinlein said specialization is for insects.  And many people would like everyone to be insects so that they can easily be controlled.

Don’t jump from that ledge.  Instead make yourself as unpredictable as possible.  Learn so much that you’re the one who can come through in a pinch.

Learn to pull a rocketship out of a hat.


A post on Breakage and healing is over at Mad Genius club.  And I’m going to apologize to my subscribers.  I promise to update that page after Liberty Con.  Trying to cue the blog, write the non fiction columns for PJM and finish a short story is about all I can do before Thurs. early.  After I come back, I’ll have models of shirts to pick from, and other stuff.  Just bear with me a little while.  I can do almost everything.  Just not all at once.


107 thoughts on “Get Away From That Ledge IV

  1. Thank you, the farmer and shade tree mechanic will be invaluable in a collapse. You never know when you will need to fix something and the official, GM approved Mr. Goodwrench won’t be available, or possibly the part you need. Someone who can look at something and say, “hmmm, this looks like that Alpha-Romero I worked on last year… except for that part of there of course, let me see… Ayup! that causes this to turn, which should be causing this to rotate, but it isn’t.” Knowing how to wire something together and get by could be the difference between life and death at times, more often it will just mean a convenience and lessening of hardship, but still worthwhile goals.

  2. Ah, cook books!

    My maternal grandmother served spaghetti with a can of tomato soup on it.

    When my mother married, a friend of hers gave her an Italian cookbook as a wedding present, and that’s where she learned spaghetti sauce. (I learned it from her.)

    Oddly enough, my paternal grandfather ate his spaghetti with butter, not any kind of sauce. . . .

    1. My mom, I guess, never learned to cook pasta by itself, so when it came on the market she cooked it the way Portuguese cook tomato rice. She caramelizes onion in olive oil, adds water before it browns, adds tomatoes. Boils it till it’s a sauce (with garlic and parsley, usually.) If this is going to be chicken or beef pasta, she puts it in then and cooks it in the sauce, then puts the pasta in. (I got an accelerated cooking course when I went in for my final exams. See, she never thought I’d get married, or if I did I had a college degree and I’d have a cook, right? Yeah.) If you grew up eating it that way it’s okay. But going back, it tastes too oily and too fried-oniony.

      1. Ever hear of the English writer who moved to America? She observed that she had never dreamed that she would so rich as to have a motor car, or so poor as to not have a maid servant.

  3. Been moaning to myself about how I can’t think of anything to write. Took part in some college studies that wanted you to make up responses, and magically, I could think up more little stories than God made little apples.

    Apparently my Muse’s name is Orneria Contraria.

    1. I’ve been having trouble with short stories. Part of this is that I’ve not read them in very long. Anyone have any recommends on space opera shorts? Electronic. Preferably collection?

          1. Murray Yaco on Gutenberg. Christopher Anvil – I think it is available still from Baen.
            I’m not sure if Randall Garrett is classed as space opera, but I think Pohl Anderson is. Both of them can be Found also on Gutenberg.

              1. The Yaco,Garrett and Anderson on gutenberg are short stories out of Analog and Worlds of If.

          2. I don’t think you can go wrong with Sturgeon, although there may not be much space opera in there. Mack Reynolds, Henry Kuttner, William Tenn, Niven, Laumer (I’m sure there are authors I’m overlooking; Vance, Van Vogt?) — or are you wanting specific collections to look for?

            I’m not really sure I know space opera — I don’t think I distinguish it except in the most obvious (Doc Smith) cases. I tend to think of almost anything pre-WWII as probably space opera. Old school SF was mostly sold to the mags, so there would be plenty of short stuff available.

          1. I think Feedbooks has a collection of EARLY science fiction magazines online that you can download. Most of them are free. There are a dozen or so of James H. Schmitz short stories there, plus tons more.

          2. Have you tried NESFA Press? The New England Science Fiction Association provides a superb listing of classic SF authors at

            I can’t tell whether any of these or digital or if it is strictly slain tree, but just scanning down the offerings reminds of such superb authors as Anthont Boucher, Frederic Brown, Hal Clement, Lester del Rey, Cyril Kornbluth and Eric Russell.

            Cross checking at Amazon reveals a Mack Reynolds Megapack, containing the following 23 short stories:
            HAPPY ENDING
            ULTIMA THULE
            GUN FOR HIRE
            MEDAL OF HONOR
            STATUS QUO
            DOGFIGHT — 1973
            THE COMMON MAN
            BLACK MAN’S BURDEN
            OFF COURSE
            FRIGID FRACAS

            For only $0.99
            From reader review:

            Having read most of these stories in free public domain editions (perhaps my favorite being “Ultima Thule”), I have come to realize that they tend to reflect a particular ideology which, story after story, does tend to become rather thematically repetitive. A one-time active member of the Socialist Labor Party, Reynolds maintained some radical political views which are inescapably reflected in the stories he chose to tell and the often tedious manner in which he tells them. While more than a few of his stories are highly imaginative and thought-provoking, readers who are sympathetic to his brand of iconoclasm will more readily enjoy them than those who are not.

            I don’t recall a marked political bias, nor Reynolds’ stories being told in a “tedious” manner, Still, it has been many years.

            OTHER Kindle SF Megapacks include:
            The Time Travel Megapack
            Edward M. Lerner

            The Robert Sheckley Megapack
            Robert Sheckley

            The Randall Garrett Megapack
            Randall Garrett

            The H. Beam Piper Megapack
            H. Beam Piper

            The First Science Fiction Megapack
            Robert Silverberg
            UNKNOWN THINGS, by Reginald Bretnor
            CAPTIVES OF THE FLAME, by Samuel R. Delany
            EXPEDITER, by Mack Reynolds
            ONE-SHOT, by James Blish
            SHIPWRECK IN THE SKY, by Eando Binder
            ZEN, by Jerome Bixby
            LANCELOT BIGGS COOKS A PIRATE, by Nelson Bond
            SENTIMENT, INC., by Poul Anderson
            THE ISSAHAR ARTIFACTS, by J. F. Bone
            THE NEXT LOGICAL STEP, by Ben Bova
            YEAR OF THE BIG THAW, by Marion Zimmer Bradley
            EARTHMEN BEARING GIFTS, by Fredric Brown
            HAPPY ENDING, by Fredric Brown and Mack Reynolds
            LIGHTER THAN YOU THINK, by Nelson Bond
            RIYA’S FOUNDLING, by Algis Budrys
            ACCIDENTAL DEATH, by Peter Baily
            AND ALL THE EARTH A GRAVE, by C. C. MacApp
            DEAD RINGER, by Lester del Rey
            THE CRYSTAL CRYPT, by Philip K. Dick
            THE JUPITER WEAPON, by Charles L. Fontenay
            THE MAN WHO HATED MARS, by Randall Garrett
            NAVY DAY, by Harry Harrison
            THE JUDAS VALLEY, by Robert Silverberg & Randall Garrett
            NATIVE SON, by T. D. Hamm
            JUBILEE, by Richard A. Lupoff
            FINAL CALL, by John Gregory Betancourt

            The Second Science Fiction Megapack
            Robert Silverberg

            The Third Science Fiction Megapack
            Philip K. Dick

            The Fourth Science Fiction Megapack
            Isaac Asimov

            The Fifth Science Fiction Megapack
            Gardner Dozois

            The Sixth Science Fiction Megapack
            Arthur C. Clarke

            The First Reginald Bretnor Megapack
            Reginald Bretnor

            The Philip K. Dick Megapack
            Philip K. Dick

            The Andre Norton Megapack: 15 Classic Novels and Short Stories
            by Andre Norton

            Each for one penny less than a dollar.

            1. Thanks for the information.

              The First Reginald Bretnor Megapack

              I can haz Papa Schimmelhorn!

              I haven’t read the Schimmelhorn stories in ages, but the memory brings Wodehouse to mind.

                  1. Immersion in so many Papa Schimmelhorn and Ferdinand Feghoot stories poses risk of permanent brain damage.

                    OTOH, if the three symposia he edited —

                    Science Fiction Today and Tomorrow: A Discursive Symposium (1975, with Frederik Pohl, Poul Anderson, Jack Williamson, Ray Bradbury, Hal Clement, Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert, Hugo Gernsback, Theodore Sturgeon, A. E. van Vogt, Cory Panshin, Larry Niven, James Blish, Harlan Ellison, E. E. Smith)
                    The Craft of Science Fiction: A Symposium on Writing Science Fiction and Science Fantasy (1976, with Robert A. Heinlein, Frederik Pohl, Larry Niven, Poul Anderson, Harlan Ellison, Hal Clement, A. E. van Vogt, Frank Herbert, Jerry Pournelle, Isaac Asimov, Jack Williamson, Norman Spinrad)
                    Modern Science Fiction: Its Meaning and Its Future (1953, second edition 1979, with John W. Campbell, Jr., Anthony Boucher, Fletcher Pratt, L. Sprague de Camp, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Philip Wylie, Gerald Heard)

                    — were included*, that collection would be invaluable!

                    *They ain’t. Dead tree only, in unknown and generally used condition.

                    1. Feghoot, definitely. I’ll have to reread Schimmelhorn before forming an opinion.

                      Of course, if Schimmelhorn damages my brain, I might not know and my opinion might be worthless. 😉

            2. Now I’ve just wishlisted all of those Megapacks. They may only be $1 each, but there are more than 20 Megapacks listed at Amazon. That adds up faster than I can read them, and I read fast!

      1. Ben Bova’s Sam Gunn omnibus. Linked shorts that kinda sorta form an overall arc, and what I’ve read of it seems like it’s a good human wave fit also.

      2. I’m reading John Scalzi’s the Human division, which I thought was a novel, but is really a collection of related shorts, and is pretty good SF.

      3. I’ve found the Dozois edited Year’s Best anthologies to be excellent. But I guess that’s not space opera mostly.

  4. “some of them are on the cooking of small third world countries.”

    Doesn’t the cooking of small third world countries require a large pan?

      1. I don’t know, both Luxembourg and San Marino were pretty clean. Don’t know about Monaco, and Andorra is totally out. Liechtenstein would probably be okay, but a little lumpy. I wouldn’t recommend the Vatican — it would probably be a bit sour and give you indigestion. And yes, I’ve been to all of those except Monaco… 8^)

    1. You have to do them piece by piece. Try one all at once and the inside is still raw while the borders are burnt.

      1. Aandora and San Marino you might be able to do in one piece, but first you have to subdue them first which is the tricky part.

      2. No, no, no. You sear the outside at high heat and then use lower ambient heat to cook the inside more gradually. Braising is probably a good choice.

      1. Muwahahah, there’s an argument against solar energy. (like mincing birds, but moreso; heck, like the one against breeder reactors.)

        1. MEh. If you don’t spay them they keep breeding and you wind up with little reactors all over the place that you can’t find homes for.

  5. Re political correctness at “The Teaching Company,” let me put in a plug here for Jerry Miller’s excellent course on “Capitalism.” Not a PC bone in his body, and he’s very organized and articulate. The lecture is based on his equally excellent book, “The Mind and the Market: Capitalism in Western Thought.” He sorts out wonderfully our culture’s love-hate relationship with the free market.

      1. Kenneth Hurl’s history lectures are all pretty straight up. Nothing as late as the French Revolution, unfortunately; he’s mostly an Ancient History guy. But very good on anything from the Greeks to the Vikings, no spouting of nonsense.

        As for scifi short stories from the old school: I’m sure you’re familiar with “The Little Black Bag.”

  6. Listen. Muses come in funny forms. A friend of mine (a robotics engineer — how cool is that) looked around my home office — gutted to the studs, rewired, and re-built: hardwood floors, beadboard ceiling, custom bookshelves and cabinets, custom desks… And said, “You could make a living at this.” And I listened to him because he’s a Maker in a big way.

    Yes, I looked at him like he was crazy. And, truth to tell, am still digesting the notion and wondering, “How?” But I’m at least bright enough to recognize the kernel of truth and the some-day opportunity there may be in it.

    Be alert for opportunity.


    1. My long-ago handyman couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t refurbishing/selling furniture for a living. (He was fixing the house while I was furnishing it. He knew what I bought and what it looked like when it finally was put in the house.) I haven’t forgotten that, either.

      1. The trick is to do it efficiently enough that you can live on what people will pay for having it done. And to do it for others with the same care you do it when you will have to love with the results.

        1. Amen.

          That actually is a large part of my fear. Doing it like a pro is a lot difference than doing it for yourself.


          1. I know some people do cabinetry and such as a retirement or side job. You might ask around first, do a few jobs, and thus build a reputation for when you go pro.

            1. My retirement job (I hope) is going to be Storyteller / Writer of Fiction.

              At least, that’s the current plan, and you know what they say about plans.


              1. My retirement plan is to move to New Orleans and drink myself to death. I will also start smoking again.

          2. Don’t architects, designers, etc show portfolios of their work? Making one using the work you’ve done for yourself might help you progress toward pro status.

            The next step might be to do a no-pressure project for a friend, perhaps in the spirit of a internship. That gets you more material for your portfolio, a reference, and word-of-mouth publicity.

    2. wanna design some custom desks and such? That’s something you can do remotely, online… I’m decent with woodworking but I love seeing clever ideas. (Plus I have a weird old house and NOTHING is standard.)

      1. I’d be interested in corresponding on ideas. Doing a formal commission is, as I say above, scary to me just yet.


        1. Start by just doing consulting 😉 Nobody expects consultants to actually *produce* anything concrete. And I’m a year out at least before I can redo my office what needs the customizing….by all means, let us correspond.

          1. That really did make me laugh out loud. I can just see the business card: Consultant on Finish Carpentry, Cabinetmaking, and Custom Millwork.

            And a real carpenter would be rolling on the subfloor.

            Worth a try. Might be fun. How do we get in touch?


              1. And there I get outside my comfort zone. I can design an album cover or a book cover in my sleep. Well… while having my morning coffee. Do it all the time. But a room? As a unified whole? Reflecting the character of the occupant? All at once? I break out in hives.


            1. firstnameDotlastname at the gmail.

              Nonono. “Design Consultant specializing in Concept Schema for Finish Carpentry, Cabinetmaking, Custom Millwork, and penguin security systems (being carefully obscure as to whether penguins are the threat or the target) to discerning members of the Horde.”

  7. I reload metallic cartridges as a hobby. Been doing it for something like forty years with a five year break. Reason for the break was because I agreed to load practice ammo for a small sheriff’s department. All of a sudden my hobby stopped being fun and became work, that and cops can be cheap crooked so and so’s. I’d get what they swore was a thousand empty shells to reload and come to find that their count was short by a third to a half. NOt to mention that I’d get that empty brass on a Friday evening with delivery expected for their Sunday practice session.
    I am now keeping about a dozen of my friends in ammo during these very lean times. I don’t actually sell the stuff, I just help folks out and they contribute to my hobby with supplies and the occasional cash infusion.
    On a somewhat related note, as a special treat a few years back I took the weekend blacksmithing course then offered by the National Ornamental Metal museum in Memphis. One weekend of coal fires and hammers and hot steel. It was wondermous! Later applied some of the same techniques to a foray into silversmithing which can also be extremely helpful when faced with all sorts of metalworking tasks and repairs.
    Cooking? Everything from quick and filling to exotic and unusual, with an emphasis on “I wonder what would happen if I combined those ingredients that no one else ever uses together?”
    Still, I revisit that Heinlein quote about what a well rounded person should be able to do and despair at how badly I fall short.

    1. I’m hitting the age where “Know How To” and “Being Able To” are two _very_ different things. I keep telling myself that in a Mad Max situation I’d slim down and tone up fast . . . and still have trouble building another barn. I just hope all those crazed-killers-hunting-for-gasoline-so-they-can-act-badass types appreciate handmade ceramic plates and bowls.

      1. Define “barn.”
        I grew up around some of the “barns” built by folks who had money, time and motive to make them decent….and I’m quite sure you could build one! It would be a lot of work, but the basic design isn’t hard, even for the non-A-frame ones.

        1. I have built barns. When I was thirty years younger. And fences. Egads, surely I am not remembering correctly hand digging post holes!

          1. Are massive amounts of pain involved? Then you probably are….

            Mostly being snarky about the quality gap between what we’d consider acceptable now, and what has previously worked.

            1. I heartily agree with Patrick F. McManus’ definition of a posthole digger- an ancient torture device commonly employed by rural parents.

      2. You won’t be able to tone up fast–for that you’ll need a good source of complete protein.

        Exercise gives you two things other than an attractive body and muscles. It gives you discipline (discipline is like lifting, the more you do it the more you *can* do it), and it gives you a tolerance for discomfort.

        You can tell yourself all you want that when it happens you’ll shape up. You’re just lying to yourself.

        You don’t have to get all zero percent body fat marathon runner Ms/Mr Universe, but putting on muscle now while sleep is easy and protein is cheap will be a LOT easier than putting it on later when sleep is hard and protein is dear.

  8. I had an idea after our commenting on yesterday’s posts. I don’t know if this would work, but I’ll toss it out here to be kicked around.

    Many (most?) of us write SOMETHING from time to time. My idea was to write short pieces — ten to thirty pages — and post them on Amazon for $0.99. Write about anything you know, from English to History to Geography to Math to computer programs to… well, you get the idea. Aggregate a list of what’s available, and where. Maybe give away something now and then to get people interested. It won’t make anyone rich, but it would certainly help destroy the education monopoly, and give home-schoolers another, non-PC source of study material.

      1. I don’t feel like I know enough to write that kind of non-fic. On some things, sure, but who in heck is interested in a complete history of Portugal pre-1500?

          1. How true. I don’t even do fiction in the real world to avoid that detail requirement.
            Also, my stories are like oysters, they need their own shells.

            1. But your setting needs to be that much more detailed and rich, lest it come off as generic. Medieval fantasy settings, for example, are so generic that they are now called the “Standard Fantasy Setting.”

              1. Bah. I rarely see a medieval fantasy setting. I see generic ones that copy Mercedes Lackey, Celtic, anime, steampunk, or Tolkien (pitifully) but not the Middle Ages.

                Vox Day is probably the closest to medieval that I’ve seen in a while, but even he really sloughs off most of the stuff that would be medieval. (Also, there’s a lot of “let’s smash a thousand years together and pretend nothing changed during that time.”)

                1. I guess the “standard fantasy setting” complaint applies more to video games.

                  But what books have copied anime-style settings? I’d like to know.

                2. I am seized with an urge to revisit Chalker’s “River of Dancing Gods” series. I vaguely recall he added one more after I had finished the “original” series and which I never got around to reading.

                  1. Horrors was the last one and all of them are available in e-format.

  9. I just try to get through each day. There’s no use worrying about things you can’t change.

    1. There can be. There might not be much you can do to stop the fist flying at your face, but by anticipating it you can mitigate the damage.

  10. I’m lucky; figure I’ll always be able to swing a chicken for stitching you up. But I also make a mean cheesecake!
    Thanks for the posts, it’s been getting hard to read the news.

    1. Reading the news is a good way to get agitated and depressed. I just read it to stay current, then get out of there as soon as I can.

      1. I read the news the same way I read the sports: for entertainment value only. You may now commence analogies about political news and pro rasslin’.

        1. The news, though, has the added disadvantage of being real. That means the stupidity you see will reach out and touch you in some way.

          1. You may not be interested in the news, but the news is interested in you.

            1. And this isn’t only true of Russia, either. It’s true of the whole universe.

  11. Do it. And extend from it, and become really good at what you do. It’s not just the genius who breaks through who makes a difference. The person who was there to cook the genius a meal or feed his cat counts too. Or perhaps the person who cooked that person a meal or told that person a story.

    Samwise was the real hero of the Lord of the Rings, and “all” he did was take care of the guy who was doing stuff, and go on when the doer couldn’t.

  12. I haven’t met any of the people involved in this story, mind. But this is what I’m told:

    Down the street there lived a suspiciously rich household. Next door to that house lives a woman from the Ukraine or Russia. She was out working in her garden when the woman of the suspiciously rich household dropped by and asked her if she was a “slave” because “In America, women don’t do that sort of thing.”

    For obvious reasons, that seemed strange to the woman. It seems utterly nonsensical to me. I literally don’t “get” where or how you can live to have that impression. Especially as our neighborhood isn’t excessively wealthy. (I wouldn’t even call our neighborhood “wealthy”, just “nice”.) They’ve recently moved into a house across the street from us and since my mom gardens and we do our own repairs and housecare, and childcare for my brother’s kid(s), I’m sure I’ll hear more stories of this crazy woman who thinks women don’t “do” things.

    BTW – sorry for not sending you what I’d asked if I could. The day after Father’s Day my dad went to the hospital and was in for a few days because of a blood clot in his leg. He’s doing fine (even been back to work) – it was caught soon enough and was in an unusual, but apparently not super-dangerous place. But my mind hasn’t been in the right place. It ought to be there by the time you get back from Liberty Con. I might get it out tonight but it depends on if I kick this headache.

    1. Oh, my heavens. I was slightly worried about you, but I’ve been having trouble breathing because of the smoke, so I didn’t ping. After LC we’ll exchange stuff to beta, okay?

      Tell your dad he has to get better — he has novels to write!

  13. Gardening is always a good thing. If you have access to dirt that gets sun and you can get water to it (and it isn’t on the tailings of a cadmium mine) a certain amount of work and patience gets you veggies.
    When I lived in an apartment I used to garden in two other people’s backyard since I didn’t have any unpaved yard. (I still garden those places since they are elderly people and I like to have an excuse to pop by regularly to make sure they are doing well)
    I used to pick up windfalls from neighbors’ apple and pear trees to make jam and canned fruit.
    Also, now that I have room, I compost. I have a volunteer squash growing out of my compost heap with flowers bigger than my hand.

  14. >> In fact some of them are on the cooking of small third world countries.

    Ah ha! I knew you were an imperialist oppressor at heart! But this is pretty ambitious – how do you go about cooking small third world countries? Is that what global warming is really all about?

      1. No, no, no. We’re going to do this the “Green” way: Build a 1,000-ft high wall around the country, slanting outward at a 30-degree angle, so that the sunlight gets concentrated inward. It’ll be a slow simmer, and will make the meat more tender.

  15. Sorry. Didn’t read the 101 comments before posting mine, so didn’t notice that Keith West beat me to it until it was too late.

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