Paying It Forward

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Paying it forward is a well known principle of all Heinlein fans, since he advocated it so strenuously.

I know why too.  Coming up in writing, even now, but particularly under trad, you needed so many people to give you a hand up that it was impossible to pay them all back.  Impossible, particularly, unless you became a mega bestseller, since a ton of the people who helped were bestsellers.

Sometimes you managed it, little by little.  The first person to give me a chance at magazine sales eventually asked me to be in an anthology that didn’t pay but was HIS labor of love, and I could say yes (even if it came at the worst possible time, as I was very ill.)  Other friends I’ve helped promo or done work with.

But that’s not the idea anyway.  In the field as it was — and to an extent still is — without formal education or rules of admittance, you had this generational chain link.  My mentors helped me because they’d been helped (one of them by Heinlein!) and in turn I’ve helped everyone I can because I’ve been helped.

That’s one form of paying it forward.  And don’t discount me, okay?  It’s a very important one.  Without it, while the field would no longer collapse, we’d all be stumbling in the dark and learning everything from scratch.  In indie that includes “what works for promo.” and “How to format things” “What’s good pricing” etc.

But there is another form of paying it forward, and it occurred to me that’s what I’ve been engaged in for the last month and change.

That’s when you put yourself through hell, so that you can take it easier later.

It can be relative hell “if I finish the report/job today, I can take the weekend off.”  Or it can be what I’ve been doing, working at things that aren’t my specialty for way too long, and not being able to sit down and write (which is driving me bonkers” because once this is done, we can then have a much easier time as long as we live in this house.

So, we’ve replaced the flooring in the room where the former owner’s cat had marked and which our cats had turned into a pissoir.  That was insane work, because I had to KILZ the room several times, and repaint the walls which had pulled the moisture up about three feet. Then we had to lay in the flooring (Dan did all the measuring and cutting.)  And then I had to polyurethane it.  THREE TIMES It’s right now waiting a sanding and a final coat (I need to go to the store for another can of poly.)

We also bought the shelves (about half of them half painted, to organize the library.

Let me explain that while I don’t mind these jobs, and they’ve been great research for Dyce (I really needed it, honestly.  It’s been too long since I’ve done remodeling hands-on.  Like 15 years.  I mean, we rehabilitated the Victorian before selling, but that’s a different kind of job than making/building/refinishing.) I don’t mind doing them on the weekend, like two weekends a month.  When they stretch to a month, full time, then I do mind them, as they interfere with the writing. Also, I’m too old for this stuff full time and my body rebels.

OTOH…

OTOH, polyurethaned wood floors, as opposed to the dying carpet will save me much time both in housekeeping (I will be able to clean with a swifer cloth) and in cat-endurance.  Our cats are all over 9, and geriatric cats pee EVERYWHERE.  with wood floors and rugs I can take outside and hose down, my housekeeping will take a fraction of the time I now spend with the carpet cleaner.  And I won’t live with pissy smells which are depressing.

In the same way, the library being set up and our books organized will save me both time and money. Because I won’t rebuy books because I can’t find them.  And when a project occurs, I’ll be able to do the research instead of spending half my time looking for the books.

So, in a way, the time I’m spending now will save me more time later.  It’s not spending, it’s an investment.

This is way harder than paying it forward to someone else, though.  I understand why so many people (and cultures) have trouble with the concept.  You have to weigh in things that haven’t happened yet, and a future you can’t be sure of.  This is why cultures with uncertain property rights (or rights to life) have more trouble with it.  And why I’d never have done that if trad were the only option.  I mean they could stop buying me tomorrow, out of the blue, so more time next year might not help.  Now, barring unforeseens, like sudden death, which can never fully be excluded, it will.

Now if only I hadn’t woken up tired enough to go back to bed, I’d feel way better.

But I’ll do what must be done, because, yes, I can conceptualize the future.  And I’ll work hard today for an easier time tomorrow.

223 responses to “Paying It Forward

  1. Love that last line!!!

  2. “Because I won’t rebuy books because I can’t find them.”

    I hate when that happens. Then I have to figure out who I’m going to give the book to as a present. Fortunately, most of the books I rebuy are decent stories.

    • I hate it too – especially when I KNOW that I have that book, and it isn’t where it was, the last time that I laid eyes on it…

      Home reno … know the feeling. Eventually, we’ll be redoing the floors, and remodeling the kitchen…

      • Been the same for me with tools. I know I have a whatever, but can’t find it so to save time I don’t really have, I just go buy another.

        • I fracking hate that so bad. “I know I have the exact tool to properly install this bearing. I even know roughly where it is.” Me, two years ago.
          Yesterday I found the tool, on the window ledge where I thought it was, but turned sideways. Ghod….

          • Borrowers. Every home we’ve ever had has had Borrowers. And they eventually return whatever it is, smack in plain sight somewhere you looked three times.

            • Those little shits better hope I never catch one of them!!! Raaar!

              I remember there was a monk that wrote a bunch of woodworking books. He had all these prayers to exorcise demons from his shop that were stealing his tools and moving them around.

              He had rules too. My favorite was the “One Mustard Seed Rule”, which states that anything which falls off the bench will roll precisely one mustard seed length farther than you can reach.

              • That monk’s book sounds like oddly entertaining reading. What was it?

                • It was some obscure thing to do with woodworking and shops, and how tools -vanish- from the bench, only to magically reappear 20 minutes later.

                  This morning I spent time looking for my phone. Looked on the desk, got up, walked around, got mad, sat down again, and there was the phone literally inches from my hand. I could NOT see it, even though it was right fricking there. Happens all the time.

                  The existence of demons one could exorcise with a chant would almost be a relief. If you did the chant they’d at least stop for a while.

              • I think I really, really need this book in my life! Where can it be found??

                • It was an off-hand kind of thing mentioned in a woodworking magazine article. It was either Fine Woodworking or Popular Woodworking (which has become a very nice magazine the last few years, incidentally.)

                  The article was something to do with the frustrations common to the workshop, and the history thereof. The monk in question was some 15th-17th century English geezer, sounded like a barrel of laughs for his apprentices, poor bastards. English Catholic, if I recall correctly, so probably pre-Elizabethan.

                  I’m thinking ten-ish years ago? More than five, anyway.

                  • Hmmm. Makes me wonder if that’s among the woodworking magazines I downloaded for dad a few years ago, and if I still have them…

                    Thanks!

                  • *grin* Woodworking is one of those things I want to get into – always have – but since I lack the workshop and tools (and time) it’s shelved on the ‘later, when we have a place of our own someday’ dream box.

                    • I started woodworking with a knife and an ash stick I literally cut off a weed-tree in an alley. I peeled it and carved vines on it.

                      https://www.amazon.ca/BeaverCraft-Cutting-carving-general-purpose/dp/B071WCH6T4?SubscriptionId=AKIAILSHYYTFIVPWUY6Q&tag=duc12-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=2025&creative=165953&creativeASIN=B071WCH6T4

                      That link is more than what I started with. I had a crappy jack knife.

                      After discovering mortise joints and two more tools, I carved some walking sticks. My father still has the one I made for my grandfather 35 years ago.

                      My pay-it-forward gift to you is: make something. Anything. Carve a leaf on a stick like I did. Make a baby toy out of a piece of scrap. Any dumb, not-good-enough thing is all you need to do. If you love it, the art will flow out of you despite the universe trying to make it stop. If you don’t love it, then your sunk cost is a bit of time.

                      These days I have a huge heated shop and big beautiful machines. But nobody -needs- those things to make stuff. I made some of my most ambitious projects with nothing but a tablesaw, in a wet basement where I couldn’t stand up straight. I have the shop because I can, not because I need it.

                      Its like a Kitchen Aid mixer. You don’t need one to make cookies. But having it is amazing, and the cookies are so much more fun to make.

                    • I want to set up my workshop. We need to sell a bunch of the furniture cluttering the garage for that. It will come.

                    • My mom has a baby rattle that was made for me– it was originally a piece of wood, maybe six inches long.

                      When he was done, it was a stick that looked like a series of balls melted together, with three rings on it, all wood.

                    • Shop in the garage, been there done that. Clutter is the enemy, be ruthless with it. And bicycles, lawn mowers, all that crap. Floor space is gold.

                      I survived by putting everything on wheels. Harbor Freight has super cheap casters, make some wheelie carts for everything.

                      If you can, heat the garage. Because rust never sleeps. I have a torpedo- style heater in mine, the type of thing you see in hockey arenas. Super cheap, works awesome.

                      All that said, there’s very little you can’t make in a little garage. I’ve made tables, chairs, beds, boats, little jewelry boxes, all kinds of stuff.

                      These days I still have everything on wheels, because the shop sometimes is for wood and sometimes for fixing my truck, or spray painting, sometimes for welding etc.

                      Next project after I make a TV stand is going to be a high powered audio amplifier. From scratch. Including cutting and folding the box, the heat-sink, etc. Steam-punk style. Another new thing to make in the barn. ~:D

                    • Happily, Australian weather is dry heat – so rust isn’t as much of a factor in the garage. Well, at least for where I am now; it’s more humid up north.

                      I wanted to garden but heatstroke’s a bit much for me here. We’re hoping to have more space later on.

          • For some tools it was a move from Louisiana to Texas, then moved to a new place in Texas, then after the move up here, the move into the house I bought, I have stuff I ain’t seen since 2004. I did find a combination square while sorting boxes on a rainy day. it was hiding in a box of CD cases.
            by the by, I can’t find the CDs at this time.
            But I found most of the cases!
            and my Stanley combo square.

            • The heavy steel kind with the level built in? The kind I dropped on my big toe when I was, oh, four years old? About a foot long?

              • Yep, the one I found is a foot long one.
                I have had one that is 16 inches too, and it came with the combo 45/90, the angle-finder/adjusting, and center-finder nut that I left in a racing toolbox in Louisiana.
                I got one like that without the center-finding and it is a no-name to replace the replacement combo I misplaced but found behind the storm windows I removed when replacing the Master Bed’s two windows. I have it set for trimming the rafter sisters I put in after the rounds of window replacement.

      • Well, I do occasionally loan them out and forget who got them.

    • Put the book in one of the Little Free Libraries and take something you want to keep.

    • I stopped looking through used bookstores because I bought far to many books I already had.

  3. It’s a healthy expression of gratitude, even if it is usually expressed strictly on this plane it’s going to get you in the right mindset for good and holy thought-patterns. ^.^

    And, of course, it makes everything nicer.

    • That’s a key part…gratitude expressed, even if you cannot express it to the person who caused it, is a way to make yourself a better person. In fact, I have had someone explain sin as instances of failure to be grateful for the most basic thing you have been given, life.

      • That’s the basis on the prohibition by religions on making the choice to cease living. In Catholicism it’s the one unforgiveable sin.

        • I like to look at near death experience stories, and have also read a lot about channeling and what the old Spiritist mediums claimed. That is something almost all of those have too, even if several assume that you chose to be born allowing it to happen and the other details were a gift. But if you chose it you chose it and your own circumstances during it for a reason, and it’s something you can’t run from while still in the middle of the job/learning experience. So whatever the problem is during your life you just CAN’T – either you will have to confront it all after death and possible tenfold, or you have to be born again and deal with the same shit, again and again until you do deal with it successfully.

          I don’t know if I believe any that or not, but just the possibility is scary enough to banish all thoughts of running away from almost anything that way (I presume there might be exceptions, like maybe somebody like a WWII Jewish person caught by Germans doing it in order to avoid spilling vital information of his friends hiding somewhere – when somebody truly does it for the sake of others, not himself).

          I have had some bad enough stuff in my life that I certainly DO NOT want to deal with any of that again. Just hoping I dealt with it well enough this time that I am spared facing at least any of it again (hey, I haven’t killed anybody yet… that should count, shouldn’t it?).

        • The only unforgivable sin is obstinate refusal of grace.

          however, suicide does mean that you have an exceeding narrow window where you might accept grace.

          • “suicide does mean that you have an exceeding narrow window where you might accept grace.”

            ^^^This. The thing that gets me about most “failed suicide” stories was the instantaneous regret once they’ve done the thing that would usually kill them. It makes me feel really bad for those whose suicide attempts went through.

    • It’s a first-rate guard against envy.

  4. Do I write today, or do Day Job stuff today so I can relax and write without stress tomorrow? That pretty much sums up a great deal of my decision making tree at this time of the year.

    I should attend a Procrastinators Anonymous meeting, but they keep getting postponed…

    • Sometimes getting things done just equal more things to get done … or decisions to then make, which lead to more things …

      “I should attend a Procrastinators Anonymous meeting, but they keep getting postponed…” I remember signing up for this meeting too, or I planned to, or something.

      Truly, for me, if it is a one time get it done & it is done. Usually will just do it. If it is rinse & repeat (vacuuming, dusting, painting) … “What AGAIN.” Not that it doesn’t get done, but I can be distracted.

    • I keep meaning to look up PA but never get around to it.

      Now, the American Sarcasm Society I am very up to date with.

      • Had to double check for the entry “PA” linked for the meaning.

        Double laugh on me “PA” in another group is short for “Public Access” (as in service dog/horse per the US ADA).

        Here “Procrastinators Anonymous”.

        😉 😉

    • Housemate was telling me I need to relax and play now and again, or else I end up burned out and cranky, and the baby needs a happy mom.

    • Sorry, looks like I fumble-fingered the comment box. Attempt #2

      I’m waiting for the contractor to do his bit on the solar system mounts (Election Day and Left Freakout-day (I hope!)), barring horrible weather), and we had enough rain to rule out outdoor work, so I’m trying to get the barn/shop somewhat organized. I need several linear feet of clean workbench for a winter round-tuit project.

      I have about 20 years of Home Shop Machinist and other magazines in that vein. I’d like to scan relevant articles so I can stash the dead-tree versions. Projects that might actually make the list could be available without having to dig through the magazines. There are annual indices, so scanning them will help, too.

      Part of this is finding places for various items that migrated to the workroom. As I’ve gotten older, the thought of climbing the ladder to get to the books is looking less attractive, so bringing the useful books down, and storing seldom-used stuff up above both look very attractive.

      With luck and a lot of work, I’ll have a workspace where I can spend less time finding and more time doing.

      • You might check out “1dollarscan.com”. There are probably others.

        For 20 years of back issues, it might be worthwhile to just buy a scanner with a sheetfeeder. Some of them will scan a whole book and spit out a single PDF output file, no clicky-pasty necessary.

        • My old Epson flatbed scanner is still going, so that’s the route I’ll take. I can skip the adverts, and some projects don’t interest me, so it’s not going to be as huge as it might appear. Oh yeah, the publisher collected older projects into books, most of which I have, so that will help, too.

          A few years ago, I scanned a few thousand slides and negatives; worked out all right. Got color correction too, when Ektachrome did its selective color fadeout thing. And now I really understand why National Geographic insisted on Kodachrome. That stuff was stable.

    • No choice here. falling off the writing bandwagon can be very consequence-laden for me.

  5. Pulled some really old carpet up this weekend (rain=no roofing). The foam pad is hard and crumbles into a sand like state. Forms the really ugly gold’s trim in the pink room matches closely to the floor in that room. That in the landing is a cream. Some cat spring and not just from my cats. Previous owners had a large dog, but the spots didn’t seem right, so maybe someone had a smaller dog.

  6. Feather Blade

    repaint the walls which had pulled the moisture up about three feet.

    Bleh.

    That probably would have had me tearing off the wall surface and replacing it.

    Unless lathe and plaster. That would have required some cost-benefit thinking.

    • Could lathe and plaster have pulled it up that far?

      • If it has horsehair in the plaster? Oh yeah. Flood water got 6″ up the wall. Water damage five feet up the wall. Horsehair wicks the water amazingly well. Happily, I came in after that part of the work had been finished. I got to char paint off window frames, then scrape them clean. No, I didn’t ask if the paint had been tested.

    • Plaster lathe. Wrecking bar. Nine pound sledge. Been there…

      The temptation to reach for fire/explosive/prayers to the sleeping lava god of Appalachia was quite high. When I was younger, these decisions did not seem quite so weighty!

      • I’ve seen drawings of a plaster lathe*, but Grampa Pete (and the dictionary) spelled it as “Lath”. I keep flashing on a South Bend covered in plaster. 🙂

        *Used for making plaster-of-paris forms, used for some fiberglass work.

        • Feather Blade

          Yeah, you’re right. It is lath.

          In my defense, I can’t remember the last time I saw it written.

          … Which is the opposite of the usual situation when I screw up a word. ^_^

  7. Being able to conceptualize the future makes a world of difference when it comes to working for it.

    Which is probably why we’re always told to have goals, and is probably why having goals has never worked for me.

    I currently have a one-year plan… sort of. But that’s about what I’m able to “see” at this moment. So maybe it will actually work this time.

  8. This is a good thought. The hell im trudging through will pay off forward for future me. Who may be tired and sore as hell, but will be able to look back and say ‘I did that’ and ‘I kept my word.’

    • More than that. People you know will know you as a woman of her word. Some will look up to you. Some may even seek to emulate you. The example you set may be the reason some youngster decides *not* to quit one day… And realizes there is a value in hard work and sacrifice that cannot be easily measured.

      The right way is hardly ever the easy way. The path leads sharply upward and is littered with sharp rocks. And trolls. Sometimes I think that’s how I know I’m doing right. Because it isn’t easy. It means giving up something of value- and time is very, very valuable- for the hope of a better future.

      There will be countless companions on the path of the easy way. That is the default which human beings slip to in nigh all cases I’ve looked at closely, in all manner of situations. The hard way, the right way, is only you. It isn’t the dog, or the alarm clock, or the coffee that wakes up at o-dark-thirty to do the needful things. Or makes do on too little sleep, inadequate brain, and flagging motivation.

      You can tell the ones that do. They have their own burdens to carry, up that high and winding path. Like as not, they’re the glue holding things together in a thousand different places. And sometimes, we’re better people for recognizing them, those ones with the drive to do the hard things. Because they spur us on to meet our own goals, however humble or high. And that is a very good thing.

  9. Paying it forward is a well known principle of all Heinlein fans, since he advocated it so strenuously.

    I know this might shock everyone, but I didn’t know this. In fact, I have never managed to force myself to reading Heinlein.

    WAIT! I can explain! (don’t shoot) I grew up totally alone. Sure there were people around me, and I had a family and all, but NONE of them were readers. My mother was supportive enough, but wasn’t much for helping me FIND books to read, and my Father actively discouraged reading (and I’m not positive, but I think he thought I was gay and needed to do more manly things with my time.) I found Tolkien and CS Lewis largely by accident, and unfortunately, somehow missed Heinlein completely. The tiny little library at the tiny little school I went to may not have had any. If it did, I don’t know how I missed it.

    THEN as an adult, the person who (finally) introduced me to Heinlein was a rabid Ayn Rand fanatic. So before he would lend me any Heinlein, I was harped on and harped on to read Ayn Rand. “Change your life!” “Best thing you’ll ever read!!!” So… I read the Ayn Rand book he was pushing me to read. Or more correctly, I read the first part of it. OMG!!! SOOOO!!!! BOOOORRRRIIIINNNGGGGG!!!! Who knows, maybe there are other Ayn Rand books that aren’t boring, maybe I was dropped in the deep end and drowned, but I was told that THAT one was the one I had to read first and I was probably a communist if I didn’t like it… a gerbil humping, gay communist… a… well, you get the idea. So the whole idea of reading Ayn Rand (and by extension Heinlein) got poisoned in my head. I did finally find a use for that Ayn Rand book though. When my girls were small and would act up at bed time and refuse to go to sleep, I read some of it to them, and out they went! See… BORING.

    Since Heinlein comes up so much here, there have been a few times that I decided that I should suck it up and just read them, only to get defeated by the fact that there are so many, and I get all hung up on “What if I pick ONE and find it boring?” It’s already stuck in my head that they are going to be, and I’ve been told by a few different people that there are “good” Heinlein books, and there are Heinlein books that I should wait to read until I’m more invested in liking Heinlein, because otherwise I probably won’t like them.

    Sorry, it just tickles me to hear a phrase (pay it forward) that I’ve heard much of my life attributed to an author that most people “like me” are probably assumed to have read… only I haven’t for some reason.

    • The best starter Heinlein will vary by each fan, and may well depend on your personal affectations. The Puppet Masters is a good thriller, Double Star an excellent political thriller, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress is similarly themed and may be his best single novel (bar fights at cons can be started by that questions, but virtually all takers will place it among his top three.) A little more in the line of adventure can be found in Citizen of the Galaxy and Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, while fans of convoluted plotting may enter The Door Into Summer.

      I hold the belief that a due recognition of any genre requires sampling of its recognized masters, so along with Heinlein you ought read Sturgeon, Bester, Kornbluth, Silverberg, Smith (pick one!) and Zelazny and such others as fellows here might suggest, just as you would want to sample Christie, Stout, Chandler and Hammett if you were taking up mysteries.

      • As much as the man himself makes me hate to say it, Asimov should be on that list, probably limited prior to 1980.

        Of the Smiths I really, really, really recommend Cordwainer Smith. He used non-western story forms at times, drawing from Chinese and Japanese classics, and the overarching state of his future history has strong Anglican influences and one of the most unique enforcement mechanisms for its “rulers” while being almost non-existent as a state. It is one of the most salable “we found a way to make men angles” setups in fiction.

        Of course, the fact that it is “a infinitesimal fraction of mankind made 80% into angles who we still don’t fully trust” is probably why it is salable.

        • If only Mr. Smith had found a way to make men Saxons as well!
          🙂

        • Acute Angles or obtuse Angles?

          • “we found a way to make men angles”
            “Acute Angles or obtuse Angles?”

            Doesn’t that depend on whether you want Acute man, or one who is Obtuse? That doesn’t sound like a hard choice to me.

          • They were usually fairly sharp, although there might have been an obtuse Lords and Ladies of the Instrumentality here or there. However, the core rule to exercise power probably cowed any that existed:

            Any Lord could put another Lord to death in an emergency, but he was assured of death and disgrace himself if he assumed this responsibility. The only difference between ratification and repudiation came in the fact that Lords who killed in an emergency and were proved wrong were marked down on a very shameful list, while those who killed other Lords rightly (as later examination might prove) were listed on a very honorable list, but still killed.

            Three Lords acting in concert could escape death, but could be striped of Lordship, while Seven (or all on a planet) could not receive any punishment even if judged to have acted wrongly.

            Given how few we see I suspect they were caught in a bind between accepting death to act in an emergency or waiting to assemble a court before acting. Given normal human incentives giving up immortality for a power play seems unlikely. Still, a big enough group could be abusive, hence the 80% (or would that be 80 degree) angels.

      • OK, you pushed the button. Mike’s Essentials of Science Fiction:

        1. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The first true SF work, and still an excellent character study. Get the modern translation published by the U.S. Naval institute, the previous British translations left out about 20%.

        2-4. Galactic Patrol, Gray Lensman, Second-Stage Lensman, and Children of the Lens. Doc Smith’s great space-opera epic. This was his masterpiece, and set the standard for the genre.

        5. The Demolished Man, by Alfred Bester. This is a detective story…with an SF twist. The cop knows the perp is guilty…but can’t prove it.

        6. Citizen of the Galaxy, by Robert Heinlein. Not his most influential work, but a solid story. Excellent craftsmanship.

        7. Dune, by Frank Herbert. SF…with a decidedly Renaissance political twist. Plus some insights into the power of myth in society.

        8. The Mote in God’s Eye. Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle. Their first collaboration, and their best. First Contact yarn…with a couple of twists.

        Short Stories:
        Neutron Star, by Larry Niven. John Wright thinks it’s the best SF short ever written, I concur.
        The Lion Game, by James H. Schmitz. Fascinating treatment of psi.
        The Last of the Romany, by Norman Spinrad. This one isn’t so much SF as it is a general story…but it may be one of the best ever written.

        • A really good start. But I’d include a few more essentials (and I’m avoiding clear Fantasy, which is another list).
          The two exemplars of Hard SF:
          Tau Zero, by Poul Anderson (and pretty much any other Anderson, although it’s not all SF by any means, since he wrote in every genre the field has, and lots of adjacent ones).
          Mission of Gravity, by Hal Clement — this is arguably the definitive Hard SF story.
          For more recent Hard SF, I’d read A Fire Upon the Deep (Vernor Vinge), or Revelation Space (Alastair Reynolds).

          And, to add Alternate History (which has become increasingly popular), I’d add Lest Darkness Fall (L. Sprague deCamp).

          The Schmitz you list is more of a novel than a short story. For short stories, by Schmitz, I’d look for the ones collected in The Universe Against Her. One note on Schmitz is that the Baen reprints, including the ebook versions were re-edited by Eric Flint. The original versions are better, despite some things that might bother a modern reader that he edited out. Look for the Ace and DAW paperback editions, which are the way he originally wrote them. And, if you’re looking for a novel by him, try The Witches of Karres, which has some of every trope in the field (plucky space captains, monsters, killer robots, magic, …). Again, look for the Ace editions, or, if you want a hardcover, there was a SFBC edition.

          And I’d disagree with Wright about Neutron Star — not that it isn’t, I believe, a great story (it is), but I don’t think it’s better than “The Star” (Arthur C. Clarke).

          • You may be right about Schmitz. I consider him a vastly underrated author, BTW.

            (and yes, get the un-edited versions if possible. I detest PC editing)

          • The topic is a true worm cannery, isn’t it?

            Poul Anderson’s High Crusade is a glorious tale, as effective an antidote to temporal snobbery as was ever wrote. Sophistication ain’t what you might have thought it were!

            I think it best to avoid arguments over what constitutes THE best SF story ever written, the topic is rather like debating whether Ted Williams or Babe Ruth was the greatest hitter ever: conclusions change by simple variances in weighting of the metrics. I am mighty fond of “All You Zombies” but would never dismiss “Microcosmic God” nor even Mack Reynolds’ “Compound Interest” or Aldiss’ “Let’s Be Frank” … and Gordon Dickson’s “Computers Don’t Argue” is even more fraught now than it was when first published in 1965.

            Bless ’em all – the long and the short and the small! There are more great ones than you’re likely to live long enough to read.

            • > the best

              My list changes from day to say, but Alfred Bester’s “The Stars My Destination” would be near the top at any given time, along with Heinlein’s “The Puppet Masters” and Keith Laumer’s “The Day Before Forever.”

            • Exactly. All of these are excellent candidates (I have them all on my shelves, and the ones that have ebooks I also have in that form).

              If you don’t have High Crusade, look for the Baen 50th Anniversary edition, since it’s got a bunch of really nice introductions.

              For that matter, you pretty much can’t go wrong with anything by Anderson. Many of the greats in the field had some really weak books (you can argue about the late Heinleins, or Asimov after he tried to merge the Robot and Foundation stories, or …) — Anderson pretty much didn’t. If all I had to represent the field — with all the breadth that the genre allows — was a single author, I’d be content to say, “Read all of Poul Anderson, and you’ll see what SF/Fantasy can aspire to.” He may not always have written the best story ever in a subgenre (I think that Mission of Gravity is better Hard SF than Tau Zero; Lord of the Rings is better High Fantasy than Three Hearts and Three Lions; “Magic, Incorporated” is better Hard Fantasy than Operation Chaos; Conan Doyle wrote better Sherlock Holmes stories than “The Martian Crown Jewels”; etc.) — but he probably wrote a story in the top five of the subgenre.

              • Some years back a Wall Street Journal review of a new release — The Collected Short Works of Poul Anderson, Volume 6: A Bicycle Built for Brew — asserted that Anderson was THE ONLY SF writer in the Fifties making his living solely from writing fiction.

                From GoodReads:
                A Bicycle Built for Brew continues the series of presenting the best of his fantasy and science fiction stories published over a writing career of 50 years. It includes 5 short novels and 3 novellas. A Bicycle Built for Brew, the lead short novel mixes beer, air-tight drums, a talking parrot guaranteed to repeat phrases laced with 4-letter indignities, a romance between an English lass and a Scottish soldier, and the need to communicate the fact of the invasion to British authorities on a nearby asteroid in a very humorous tale. The original magazine version of Three Hearts and Three Lions, long unavailable except for the original magazines published in 1953, in which Holger Carlsen, fighting the Nazis, is suddenly transported to a world where magic and a growing battle between good and evil is raging. Silent Victory in which Mars has defeated Earth in a war but things are never that simple. “Territory” features Nicholas van Rijn, A Plague of Masters features Dominic Flandry, “Three Cornered Wheel” features David Falkyn, “The Sensitive Man” and The Snows of Ganymede.
                https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22873602-the-collected-short-works-of-poul-anderson-volume-6

                BTW: this is volume number six of seven collecting Anderson’s short works, ne of NESFA Press’s invaluable compilations of classics of SF.

                You can’t choose a much better author for a good overview of the range of quality in SF in the twenty-five years following WWII. He might not have been THE BEST but he was certainly ONE OF the Best.

                Other luminaries largely forgotten today include William Tenn (pseudonym of Philip Klass) — try Immodest Proposals (The Complete Science Fiction of William Tenn, #1) and Frederic Brown, author, notably, of What Mad Universe (The editor of a sci-fi pulp magazine is accidentally transported to a parallel universe where space travel is common, Earth is at war with creepy aliens, New York City isn’t safe after dark, and his girlfriend is with someone else) and Martians, Go Home (It was estimated that a billion of them had arrived, one to every three human beings on Earth—obnoxious green creatures who could be seen and heard, but not harmed and who probed private sex lives as shamelessly as they probed government secrets.).

                • Conflict of interest note — I’ve been with NESFA Press for decades, including as editor of the two volumes collecting the complete SF of Fredric Brown (one novels, and one shorter works). We don’t get paid as editors, we’re all volunteers.

                  Appalling copyeditor note on What Mad Universe (with slight spoiler). The story is set in 1954 (which is a half decade after it was written). In the final scene, our hero sets up a meeting with his girlfriend after flying to NY. In the original, the meeting is set for Idlewild Airport. In the 1978 Bantam reprint, some copyeditor changed that to Kennedy Airport (and several subsequent editions used that text, as well). I changed it back for the NESFA Press collection. I can’t imagine why anyone thought that changing it to Kennedy was right for a story in 1954. The only reason to look for that Bantam edition is a really good introduction by Klass, putting the story into context.

                  I’d also suggest that Brown was probably the finest short-short story writer the field has ever seen, and, even in general literature, I’d only consider O. Henry as his equal. He could tell more story in under a thousand words or so than anyone in the field.

          • Speaking of alternate history, I thin C. Ward Moore’s Bring the Jubilee is one of the most interesting and oft-overlooked takes

            • For that matter, I believe the only SF-writing Nobel Laureate in Literature (Churchill, 1953) wrote a reasonably good alternate history short story, “If Lee Had Not Won the Battle of Gettysburg”.

    • (gasp) Sacre bleu! Heinlein is a must-read for any serious SF fan.

      OK…Heinlein made much of his reputation and fortune on the YA novels he wrote in the late 1940s and through the 1950s. Of these, I’d rate “Citizen of the Galaxy” as top. A good, solid coming-of-age yarn. “Double Star” is pretty good.

      The thousand-pound-gorilla is “Starship Troopers”. Be advised, this is Heinlein’s Epistle to the Americans on Politics, Patriotism, and Duty. But it is by far his most influential work. Just not his best fiction.

      • On the short side, “The Man Who Sold the Moon.”

      • I only read my first Heinlein (well, listened to) a couple of years ago. Somehow, despite well-stocked libraries throughout my youth, I missed him entirely. I suspect the dual problem of preferring fantasy as a kid/teen, and the fact that my best friend at the time attempted to read Stranger in a Strange Land…when we were twelve. She was horrified, I was by extension horrified, and never attempted anything myself by him (because for some reason, that was ALWAYS the book of his I found on shelves).

        Also, I somehow got him conflated in my head with Asimov and Clarke, who I did attempt to read as a young teen and found unspeakably dull.

        But I am now definitely a Heinlein fan, thanks to this blog and related. 🙂

        • Yes I remember in 7th grade when I finally could move from the children’s section at the local library to the adult section (a change that was supposed to wait until 9th grade, but I had a recommendation from my English teacher and permission my parents). I had read some Heinlein (Starship Troopers, a few of the juveniles) and found the only Heinlein in our dinky library, Stranger in a Strange Land. I started reading it and very quickly got a combination of bored and WTF? It wasn’t just the sex that turned me off to it (heck that was somewhat attractive to an almost 12 year old boy 🙂 ) but it was just plain weird. And slow and kind of plot free, not something I expected from Heinlein. I did read it later, still not my favorite of his works.

          • My school had a strict “you have to show you can read at X level before you can go to the next one.”

            I “couldn’t” read the See Spot Run level, so they wouldn’t let me check anything else out.

            Mom didn’t know about this policy (probably the teachers being lazy idiots, honestly) until after they’d decided I was learning disabled….

            It evaporated like dew suddenly put into Death Valley at noon.

            • Ah, yes. THOSE kinds of people. I had a few like that over the years of my schooling. And then there was the one that put me in charge of my own reading group. My mother then insisted that if they were going to do THAT, then they’d damn well better be cutting me a paycheck…Heh.

              Good grief, but public schools are awful.

            • Oh, they would have had a horrible time with me. I was reading at an 11th grade level…in kindergarten. College freshman level by first grade.

              • I went from “illiterate” to 4th or so grade, I think I was 6th by the end of the year. Second grade, I think? After that they pretty much just pointed me at books and left me alone until we moved.

                • My problem was you had to “prove” you could read by reading aloud. Bit of a problem for me. I can’t often properly pronounce the words I am reading, plus my mouth can never keep with my reading; & I’m over 60. Can you imagine what it was like for a 6 year-old? I think I was in the 4th grade before they caught on that I was reading well above grade level (might have been the reading comprehension test scores back then). OTOH this was also the school who wanted little sister put into remedial classes because she was so slow (no, she just didn’t talk much). The joke continues as “you know the kid who is a Sanford Engineering Graduate, with an academic scholarship.” But then this was the mid/late ’60s.

                  • Ah. Younger kid we were told would need help and support to lead a normal life. He’s taking 2 1/2 engineering degrees. Concurrently.

                  • They put me in the lower math class because anyone who spoke that badly (I had a speech defect) had to be stupid. Meanwhile, they were trotting out my younger sister whenever they wanted to show off how well the kids read. They hadn’t taught her to read. I had.

              • Yeah, I was the same way. My mother was constantly scrambling to find books that I wanted to read that weren’t too inappropriate for my age. I’m pretty sure this is why I got hooked on fantasy so young: she liked it anyway, and at the time, it was rather less a risk of explicit sex scenes, excessively described violence, etc than it became later.

    • Relax. I came to Heinlein sort of sideways. Father had an old copy of DOUBLE STAR, but it was falling to bits and I didn’t like the POV character much. Stumbled across THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS in my (prep) school library, and loved it, but it IS written in dialect, and that can put some people off.

      Read what you damn well want to read, and don’t apologize. Oh, I can recommend a lot of books, but my taste is odd, made odder by the fact that my parents were the kind of folks who had copies of MOLESWORTH’S GUIDE TO THE ATOMIC AGE and THE SPACE CHILD’S MOTHER GOOSE and THE SIMPLE ART OF MURDER lying about.

      If you tumble into a Heinlein you like, great. If you never touch one of his books…..*shrug*.

      I sympathize with you about Rand. I have gaged my way through ATLAS SHRUGGED, and one or maybe two shorter works. I know what she was talking about, and agree with some of it, but don’t like being beaten over the head with it.

      My own peculiarity is that I like essay collections and semi-nonfiction by Great Authors more than Novels. I love Steinbeck’s ONCE THERE WAS A WAR (a collection of WWII reporting he did) and can’t force down his fiction. Love Tom Wolfe’s essays, loathe his novels. Prefer ROUGHING IT to HUCKLEBERRY FINN.

    • As you see, we don’t shoot. We recommend books. Lots of glorious, lovely, wonderful, thrilling, awesome, sensawunda books!

      There’s a massive difference between willfull ignorance and just plain ol’ ignorance. If you admit to the latter (as many of us do on many subjects, all the time), this crowd usually contains a person or two (or fifty) happy and eager to help you learn more!

    • Ayn Rand had good ideas; but oh my God could she put me to sleep. Almost all of her stuff could have gone through Reader’s Digest editors for condensation and been improved.

      • Ayn Rand touched a part of the elephant which few of her contemporaries did, and so touched on some important truths. To borrow from Heinlein “I can get along with a Randite”. But the things she missed are just as important as the thing she saw. If in the mood for a multi-hundred page parable on her philosophy (and sometimes I am), there is Good Stuff in there. But Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom” is faster paced and more entertaining and that’s an unabashed economics text.

        • I still haven’t read an entire Rand book, because they’re interesting philosophy and kinda awful fiction. But then, when I was looking up Ayn Rand after the first time i heard of her, I came into that completely sideways – the first search return I found was an essay by Nathanial Braden on the benefits and drawbacks of Objectivism, why he left it, and on Ayn Rand herself, and how the forces and society that shaped her worldview also left her with peculiar blind cultural and psychological blind spots.

          It was the sort of love letter written with painful acknowledgement of all the faults and failures, as well as the brilliance and the beauty, that you get from men who’ve dedicated their life to something only to have to walk away from it. Meant when I dealt with people who blindly loved it, and people who blindly hated it, I had both eyes open and could see the flaws on both sides.

          • I read Atlas Shrugged for some scholarship essay contest. It was…well, I didn’t hate it, but I did find it rather bloated. I felt there was probably a good thriller in there somewhere, but it got buried under the philosophizing. (And I don’t entirely disagree with the philosophy–though it swings a bit too far in the selfish direction for my personal beliefs). It’s a fine example, I think, of message fic being dull no matter what the message or how much you might agree with it…

      • After much pestering from a friend who Had His Life Changed by Ayn Rand, I ground through one of her books.

        No, being preached at doesn’t go down well, even when I more or less agree with major points. I’m convinced I suffered brain damage from boredom and annoyance before I got to the end.

        I *did* read it, every word. At the time I felt a sense of victory. Now, I wonder if there’s some special category of Darwin Award for that sort of thing. “Doctor, it hurts when I do this…”

    • Heinlein’s concept of Pay It Forward comes out explicitly in Friday, which is one of his later novels. It’s based in the universe established in an earlier story “Gulf”, though I think you can skip that one and still get Friday (both character and novel).

      For what it’s worth, from Time Enough for Love to the end of Heinlein’s life, his novels frequently use characters from earlier works. TEfL features Lazarus Long, from Methuselah’s Children. IMHO, it’s a good idea to catch MC before TEfL, though maybe not essential. The Number of the Beast has Lazarus in a lesser role, while The Cat Who Walked Through Walls and To Sail Beyond the Sunset depend more heavily on TEfL and TNoftB for background. YMMV.

    • I dislike most Heinlein. I rather figure I’m the sort of human who is supposed to. And I’m okay with that. I’ve tried rereading some, I still didn’t like it. (I loathe Judy Bloom. To the point where I won’t let my kids read her. Heinlein just doesn’t, mostly, suit me.)

      That said, I recommend Have Spacesuit, Will Travel and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. I like the idea of the Howard Families, but I don’t like most of the stories about them. Stuff I’ve liked that seems to come up fairly often on “books folks don’t like” lists include Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck and The Martian Chronicles by Bradbury. Stuff I don’t like that are popular include Anne Rice’s vampire novels, Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, and George R.R. Martin’s series. So that might be useful, when considering whether or not you might like what I do.

      • I’m actually 100% with you on Jordan and Martin. I got through seven books of the Wheel of Time before sanity reasserted itself, and then I dropped the series like a hot rock (realizing I’d been hating it since at least book 5, and I actually skipped 6 pretty much entirely) and haven’t looked back since.

        Martin I won’t even attempt. I watched the first season of the tv series, found out the books are even worse, and noped right out of that nonsense.

        (As for Rice, I fail to find vampires sexy. Even the ones in Buffy–I agree that James Marsters is a very beautiful man, but I never found Spike, Angel, or any of the others in the least bit appealing. Entertaining, in the case of Spike–I wouldn’t object to hanging out with him, maybe–but not in any way appealing as romantic partners…)

        • Only one thing I’ve ever liked from Martin. One of his early stories, novella length called Sandkings. Creepy as all get out, If you don’t like horror avoid at all costs.

          • Oh yeah. That story is magnificent, and one of the best horror/sci-fi short stories I’ve ever read. But I only had to read it once.

            If he’d just turned that talent into something less… eh, let’s just say that while the overall plot and pre-history of _A Song of Ice and Fire_ sound fascinating, there is no way I will ever touch the books.

          • “Fever Dream” wasn’t bad either. Of course, Cynthia McQuillan wrote a pretty good filk based on it too.

        • I wonder if that’s the basic survival mechanism kicking in….

          What interesting characters, though!

        • Best T-Shirt ever: “And Buffy staked Edward. The end.”

        • I got put off Wheel of Time in the first chapter, though I had been primed. (I was reading for research purposes. This always finds a bad book.)

          I lasted on Martin until I saw the one with Crows in the title in the library and realized I had no interest.

        • I read a bunch of Martin because friends kept gushing about how awesome the TV shows were and I suck at watching TV. Too many other things to do, I miss way too many episodes. So, I read the books.

          I’m convinced that Martin actively HATES his audience. Every time I started liking a character, he would either kill them off, or have something s#!tty happen to them so that the character just wasn’t fun to read anymore. Screw that,. I stopped reading.

          And I stuck it out through the entire Wheel of Time slog. Just for the sheer bloodymindedness of it. You didn’t beat me Jordan! You hear that YOU DIDN’T BEAT ME!!!!

          • He’s admitting to killing characters to dash reader expectations.

            He needs more respect for the cliches.

    • What RES said. I just say, pick any 3 and read them all.

    • Christopher M Chupik

      Fortunately the only two Objectivists I know are much less zealous in their Randian fandom.

    • I like them ALL but I’d start with Have Spacesuit will Travel, Chase it with Starman Jones. Apply The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress then, followed by Puppet Masters. Call me in the morning.

      • While *I* liked Starman Jones, I think some people would be put off it because of the worldbuilding. The guild is so DAMN annoying, I can see some people not being able to get past the first few chapters.

    • Feather Blade

      Meh, I’m pretty sure the only Heinlein I’ve read is Red Planet.

      It’s a quick read.

  10. I did some dog house remodeling Saturday; I put a new floor in a dog house, after talking myself out of trying to build one in an afternoon. I kind of think it got my weekend rolling.

  11. “Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.” Jerzy Gregorek, Polish emigre. Wonderful post as usual.

  12. This represents a common business challenge. A carpenter must invest in tools beyond hammer, saw and ruler, a cook needs must purchase knives and pans and pots, a tinkerer must spend time on more than just tinking. Investing in long-term equipment, and re-investing in upgrades and advances is a critical component of the business cycle.

    But failing to so invest is acceptance of diminished productivity. Wisdom & happiness lie in finding the balance between what offers a good return on investment. Which also includes not crippling yourself by investing too much for too little return.

    • I think that last paragraph is where people get lost in both directions.

      Demanding the most expensive tool to start is just as handicapping as expecting the cheapest tool to suffice for more than a day.

  13. Hmmm…do you have a Kindle account?

    I recommend starting with the juveniles (even if you’re 50) and the shorts from the 40s. After that, Moon or Friday depending on your desired politics/action ratio.

    For me the post Moon stuff is hit or miss. Loved Friday and Job, couldn’t finish Love or Evil and never bothered with Sail.

    • That was supposed to be for Stuart.

      WordPress delendi est.

    • Farmer in the Sky is a good juvenile that also uses Heinlein’s concept of the competent man. Pioneering a farm starting with hard rock ain’t for sissies. 🙂

      (I can take or leave Job, but loved TEfL and Sail. I was hoping for the novel based on Maureen’s father, but…

      • Farmer in the Sky isn’t a novel, it’s just a book-length infodump on space travel and terraforming. In between dumps, minor stuff happens. The end.

        • FitS was originally written for serialization in the Boy Scout magazine — its purpose was to proselytize impressionable youths on the possibilities of Space. Plots, like girls, were of no great interest to that audience. They were vaguely aware such existed, had a general idea they were supposed to be of interest, but had no real concept of how to process them.

        • The same could be said of a ton of hard sf stuff. For a hard sf novel it’s very good and has interesting characters.

      • Of the juvies Farmer gave me the most bleh, but I realize YMMV is very true here.

        • Didn’t hurt for me that I was in 7th grade when I read it, and getting really interested in engineering type subjects.

          • Yeah, it is the one I didn’t get to until 48 or 49 so was kind of out of the target market. That said, I still reread several and enjoy them.

    • The original serial versions of many of his stories are available with no account necessary, from archive.org.

      Door Into Summer, Double Star, I Will Fear No Evil, Farnham’s Freehold, Glory Road, Methuselah’s Children, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, The Puppet Masters, Podkayne of Mars, Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, Sixth Column, Star Lummox (The Star Beast,) Starship Soldier (Starship Troopers), and many of his short stories.

      Heinlein fans might be interested to note that some of the serial versions were noticeably longer or shorter than the novel versions. One of these days I need to do a side-by-side compare to see what was in that 54Kb that got cut from “The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress” when they novelized it…

  14. A reliable measure of civilization is the population’s average willingness to delay gratification. Economically, it manifests as long-horizon time preference: a willingness to save and invest even if it means no ice cream tonight. If you can’t forgo present-time satisfactions for a substantially better future, you’re all too likely to find yourself confronting a crisis for which you have no reserves, which is why the U.S. has to bail everyone else out of their calamities.

    • Yeah, but that’s a window, not a continuous state. If you delay gratification too long, you wind up with socialism.

      The USSR finally ran out of “jam tomorrow” and fell apart.

    • In order to delay gratification you have to KNOW that you’re going to get it later. And most people don’t. Which is why I capitalized “know”. If “saving” means that a different family member spends your savings on something else you simply don’t save. It’s a rush to see who can spend the money first. If you save and someone else doesn’t and an emergency happens and your savings are what gets used, you simply don’t save. If you save very carefully but inflation or government regulations or new tax laws take your savings, you don’t save.

      I’d read something (probably here for all I remember) that explained that inflation was purposeful for some reason or other, and that the fact that this would destroy incentives to provide for your own retirement was known and understood. Which is horrific to me. Yet I certainly know people who have a “planned poverty” retirement plan. They just expect that anything they’ve saved will be consumed and they’ll loose their house or investments, so they plan not to have extra… and then you qualify for government aid.

    • And of course, this is one way that children of those who are wealthy have a distinct advantage. They’ve seen the guaranteed results of delayed gratification. Kids growing up in homes at are always on the edge of financial disaster haven’t experienced that so it’s much harder to believe in it. To have faith in it. So it’s harder.

      And most government programs don’t do a thing to solve this problem, they just perpetuate and make it worse… such as planned inflation.

      • ” children of those who are wealthy…They’ve seen the guaranteed results of delayed gratification.”

        Sorry WRONG, Children of the Upper Middle Class have seen this. Children of the Wealthy haven’t. All their lives they have had almost if instant gratification. That is why there is Poverty to wealth to poverty in 3 generations, sometimes longer if the wealth is large enough.

        • I actually meant to comment on this this morning. Precisely with the same thought.

          • Rigidity of economic status is part and parcel of the rigidity of leftist outlook; they think culture is static, wealth is static, and that there is a pie that stays the same size forever, and the only issue is how it gets sliced. It is why they are aghast at the “rising tide lifts all boats” view of economic growth.

            • Their view presumes that individual effort, initiative, talent and energy can have NO EFFECT on a person’s wealth.

              That such a view is absurd and daily contradicted by undeniable evidence makes no more difference to them than does the doctrine of free will to Calvinists.

  15. Instead of pay it forward I used another similar choice to teach my kids and use it now in Scouts. You may not be able to change the world, but you can certainly work to make your little corner of it a better place. If everyone did that, the world as a whole would be changed.

    But as our esteemed hostess has pointed out in previous columns, you need to be certain you’re doing good. Giving money to a wastrel isn’t making life better for anyone. Neither is any kind or thoughtful or well meaning behavior that ends up enabling a substance abuser of any kind. Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing.

    • Star Fish: “One day I came across someone who was picking up Star Fish & tossing them back into the ocean. The beach was littered with Star Fish well beyond what was normal high tide. ‘What good are you doing? You’ll never save all the Star Fish.’ His answer. ‘The last one, this one, & the next one, will be saved.’ The moral. You can’t save them all, but you can save some.”

      Or actual practice. Leave your site cleaner than when you arrived (*). Whether you are car camping or backpacking. Don’t report illegal fire rings. Dismantle them.

      (*) In general. Not scouts, but did have an instance where the group immediately turned around & left the area (crew was headed into an illegal grow, not the intent – safety required “not our monkeys but monkeys location got reported”). That situation with scouts in tow, we’d have double timed them out. Illegal grows are not (or weren’t) known for being gentle with interlopers; supervisors were known to pack after that (not sure if that was legal then, but they did).

      • Considering the growers were packing, legal or not, it was wise for the supervisors to carry.

        We had some illegal greenhouses around the area. With a favorite revenge maneuver to burn somebody’s house down, the scum were left alone, or the dime dropped very indirectly. The only (IMHO) good thing out of legalization was the fact that the local illegal grow houses got shut down. Between cost/benefit ratio and increased enforcement at the county level, those grows couldn’t stand.

        • Yes. I thought it was a good idea for them to be carrying; just don’t know if it was legal for them to carry on the job (at that time). Weren’t enough when we were split into two man crews for running lines or units (before GPS, we were using tape chain & compass). Although they did tend to pair at least one supervisor with the females of the group … being one of the females (& < 20), I appreciated it. Then too most the other crew were locals & I think they figured they could talk their way out if it came to a confrontation (accurate presumption or not). Back then it was more likely to be locals, not cartels.

          It's also been over 40 years. My understanding, now carrying on the job is SOP for that level of employee; or would be if there were actually any sales getting done in the districts involved.

      • Some folks theorize that’s why there are so many random disappearances in the national forest.

        • Yes. More than a few “someones”. The illegal grows were a huge reason of random disappearances in the national forests.

          Also agree with RCPete on legalization. At a minimum it has shut down the illegal forest groves. Too remote for cost/benefit.

          Hasn’t shut down all the mom & pop “medical” backyard units, yet (at least not the one next to mom). And more than a few ranches/farms, at least in the outer valley, aren’t too happy with their new neighbors … but they are legal.

          • *eyebrow raise* Unless it’s happened in the last six months, it hasn’t shut down the illegal grows in Washington– they actually increased. And last I heard the folks who try to find them by water figured they were getting worse in NorCal, too.

            • It’s happening a lot in Klamath County (S Central Oregon). I know legalization wasn’t popular here, and I think people are now more willing to complain. We’re hearing about busts from a dozen to a few hundred plants, and most of the “Medical” greenhouses are sitting empty this year.

              It doesn’t hurt that the current sheriff is interested in drug busts and major crimes. The previous guy was too much hard-nosed cop to survive, and the guy before him loved search and rescue; too frequently way out of the area.

            • More of a hopeful thought? Distance & time. Really don’t have any contact with the area from 45 years ago. Other than that area is/was one of the forests all but shut down logging. OTOH a huge native casino at the freeway exit since then bringing in jobs. The casinos take a real negative take on illegal grows too close. Like I said, I know the residential base local ones aren’t being shut down. Darn it.

              OTOH word is the legal states have illegal grows that are smuggling across state lines to areas where it is still illegal. Some what easier than transporting internationally. Plus they use a spot, then move the next year. Haven’t heard any problems near the major hiking trails. Hunters may find the remain of the groves; nothing in the news.

              • Husband says that Washington has been using environmental protection rules to keep the Feds from flying over places and finding grows.

                Which makes it more likely that it’ll be J. Random Dude who finds it.

                • At least in Oregon, they appear to be staying away from the major trails (PCT, Waldo, etc.). But, as a troop we didn’t stick to the major trails, on weekends. One of the reasons adult only pre-trips were done.

                  How can the state prevent Federal from over flying Federal land?

                  I mean if J. Random Dude is finding it when hunting & disappears, site disappears, searchers never find either, how would anyone know. Have a youth group stumble over it & have there be survivors … or not …but groups don’t “just disappear” without a stink by a lot of family survivors. Have that happen & the powers that be that are not allowing searches for illegal activities are going to have their fundamentals handed to them (both types, the one they put their hat on & the one they sit on, latter is where they keep their brains).

                  • How can the state prevent Federal from over flying Federal land?

                    By forbidding all flight that gets too close to state land, and refusing waivers* for enforced wilderness areas.

                    * for example, the college kid that got treed by a wolf pack was in a no-flights-allowed area. The local sheriff told them to piss off, it’s a life or death situation, and instructed his deputies to shoot any wolf that looked like it might be ripping into the girl.

                    Have a youth group stumble over it & have there be survivors … or not …but groups don’t “just disappear” without a stink by a lot of family survivors.

                    *shudder* Yeah, scares me to death. Because the illegal grow folks are going to care more about having time to bail out than about if there’s a stink or not, and you’ll have a couple of days before a full bore investigation starts, vs hours if they walk off…..

                    Biggest grow in Washington State was found by a hiker who took the wrong turn off a trail, and thank God the grow watcher didn’t happen to notice him. Guy figured it out, turned around and made great time to the local cops.

                    • “*shudder* Yeah, scares me to death.”

                      Tell me about it. There is a small Scout Camp not far out of town. Dab smack in the middle of small little farms & private/BLM mismatch ownership. Not big enough for full summer camp, or district, let alone council events, unless you are talking about trainings. A spot the troops use a lot. I know the private timber lands have had problems with private grows.

                      Now take this situation. Troop was there for their spring, new scouts & parents first one (& one of the few I didn’t go on). Troop large enough that the less experienced scouts aren’t getting leadership ops because of the age mix of the more experienced scouts. So, scoutmaster splits off the leadership thus: experienced parents work with inexperienced parents (stop the hover factor), less experienced scouts with skills, but lack experience as leaders work with the new scouts, with the 5 most experienced & older scouts sent on a “scout” of the camping area to report back (about the time the youth “leading” might need a hand, i.e. prevent the more experienced scouts from hovering). Guess who didn’t show up when expected? They took a wrong turn & ended up over the ridge into the next valley.

                      Yes. They found their way back. But not until after search & rescue protocol had been triggered, & parents of missing scouts were called (including me, with orders from the only scouter that could get away with it (hubby) “do NOT drive out.”) They didn’t run into any problems, but the area they were in, they definitely could have. Not only this topic, but 14 years before a 10 year old helping herd cattle got lost & died in this basin.

                      Things they did: 1) Correctly dressed for weather. Pouring down rain, 100% dry; 2) Stayed together despite disagreeing on item 3; 3) Once they realized they were lost, they didn’t stop & hunker down. OTOH they never ever made the mistake that got them lost, plus the lesson was transmitted youth to youth (better than adult to youth, it sticks.)

                      And no, that was not the end of it. Each & one of them that earned Eagle got the story told on how they gave their scoutmaster & a couple of assistant scoutmasters (dads who were present) panic attacks. You think the dad’s ever get to live it down? Nope. Not ever.

                    • Actually if it interferes with the Feds carrying out Federal responsibility, the State’s actions to prevent the Feds from being able to do so would be barred by the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution

                    • Once they have a pissing match to duke it out, yes.

                    • “By forbidding all flight that gets too close to state land, and refusing waivers* for enforced wilderness areas.”

                      I would be willing to bet good money they haven’t tried that on DoD. Mattis’ reaction would probably be entertaining…..

                    • *muwahaha*, I can HOPE they’re stupid enough to try it!

                • If the Feds get incentivized (read funded) enough, they’ll just task locating grows to satellites. The color difference to the eye from the air between natural vegetation and weed is actually very striking, and anything a somewhat-trained aerial observer can identify by eye can be differentiated by multispectral satellite sensors pretty trivially. It’s just way cheaper to have the light plane surveys do it, since the Landsat-scale satellites don’t have the resolution – but the latest commercial land sensing sats do, and of course the mil stuff does.

                  And the only thing the States can reasonably prevent is low altitude overflights – if the Feds send over a U-2 at flight level 750 (or more likely a King Air at 15k like Google uses to get most of their Google Maps imagery), is Oregon going to scramble OR ANG F-15s from Portland to intercept?

                  • I don’t have any real experience, but from listening politely I get the impression a lot of grows seem to take fly-overs into consideration, so you need someone who knows what they’re looking for and a fairly low level.

                    Less fields, more meadows, and they use some kind of covers sometimes, too.

                    • In CA the aerial detection issue basically incentivized the growers to go indoors, so the authorities started doing IR scans of residential areas and hooked up with the electric utilities to detect massive power draws from all those grow lights and hydroponic pumps, which in turn caused the growers to shift from residential locations to industrial, where they basically tunnel out to a nearby utility vault under the paving and install a direct bypass around their meter to the local main electrical feed line.

                    • I missed sitting on a federal trial jury for a case like that. However, a coworker got on it, and it was interesting. Circa 1989 or so, the perps set up a grow operation in a warehouse in the Santa Cruz mountains. (I wasn’t aware such existed; might have been a barn.)

                      The raid netted one person, who was convicted of conspiracy. No way he could have done the setup on his own; he was just the guy who monitored the lights and such.

                      (I was dismissed by the prosecution for being insufficiently convinced (in their opinion) about the legal theory of a one-person conspiracy. In reality, I had some serious hearing problems, so it was just as well they passed on me. Hearing problems sort-of fixed; I have prosthetic stapes in my middle ears.)

                      I assume it either had an IR signature like a small blast furnace, or a power bill from hell. They weren’t in a location to swipe power and get away with it.

                    • What gets me is supposedly everyone was suppose to be monitoring for excessive electric & water usage (back when it was illegal). We had a leak, due to a pair of very big trees out front. Did we have our door knocked on? By anyone? Nope. Found the leak because saturated water table = lake in front yard, where lake should not have been. Cost didn’t stick out, because locally water isn’t that much compared to power; they are on the same bill. Now I watch the amount of the water, not the cost.

                  • A month or so ago, we had an OV-10 Bronco flying over our area. I looked it up to confirm my ID, and it seems that US State is using some for drug interdiction. White colored, so I figured it wasn’t a really lost CalFire plane. (We’re about 30 miles north of Occupied Jefferson California.)

                    I haven’t heard of Oregon getting snotty with the Feds over drug enforcement. That seems to be a Washington issue, as far as I know.

                  • Before or after Mattis federalizes the ANG just like Ike did?

          • One of the county supervisors has taken to cleaning up the rural areas. Code violations and illegal grows are getting cited and busted. Not sure about the grows, but I had to complain about some renters who stashed all their garbage in a not-closed deepfreeze, complete with vermin scattering the crap.

            The code guy handled it nicely; he read the riot act to the out-of-state landlord without my name surfacing. Renters bailed, and now we have decent people owning the place. Yay!

            I am actually quite impressed by that supervisor. The old guard got swept out as the tea-party ascended, but those supes had some baggage and got voted out. This guy used to own a big tractor dealership, so he’s in a position to understand rural people.

          • I’ve heard that the illegal growing didn’t really get hit hard (at least initially) in California because of the state permit system. The system that the state didn’t allow enough permits. So the permits rapidly sold out, which meant that people who had been quietly growing for years (and who were, in theory, supposed to now be able to legally distribute their product) still couldn’t grow legally. So there was still a general shortage of legal product, coupled with a boost in demand because now the state and local authorities can’t do anything if you decide to start up the habit.

            And that meant that there was little reason to stop the illegal growing.

            Things *might* have calmed down somewhat since then. It’s been long enough that it’s possible that the permit problem has been resolved. But the California state government is involved. So I’m skeptical.

            • Some of the local illegal growers have gotten hired as “consultants”; if not flat out managers, to the bigger legal farmer grows that have started up. Safer than dealing with the cartel growers. Don’t know if cartel growers are a problem further north than California. The ads that came out looking for those with experience in this product, were an on going joke in my crowd. Especially the way they were worded due to the fact the product is still illegal federally … don’t remember the different wording used, but they did a lot to not say what crop was being grown.

              • Known issue of cartel types going into legal grows and informing them that they will be working for the cartel. Short version, their bad product would get laundered through, they’d take his best product. He didn’t say if they’d be giving him more than he gave them.

                Family friend got out of the business because of that. (not Hispanic, and not an idiot– he knows how Cartel business tends to go) He didn’t give any details on who he did or didn’t tell, but let slip that it wasn’t the only case he knew of.

                Please note I am not saying which of those three states it was in, and it wasn’t a family member, because freaking cartel.

                • Several years ago (before medical pot, IIRC) there was a grow in a greenhouse in a lightly populated development. (One where the people outnumbered the coyotes, at least.) I never got back there, but the people were not to be messed with. Curiously, they all seemed to be of Middle East extraction. Might have something to do with the abortive Jihadi training camp 30 miles east of us.

                  I haven’t heard anything more of that grow; it might have been cleared out.

            • It doesn’t matter if they fix the permit system– there’s no way for those who follow the law to beat out those who don’t.

              For a law to exist, their has to at some point be a downside to doing it, or folks would just do it without the law.

              Tax the legal stuff? Illegal is cheaper.

              Don’t tax it, but have employment laws? Illegal is cheaper.

              Don’t have employment laws but have agricultural laws? Illegal is cheaper (especially if they can steal water and move often enough to not have to deal with the results, both biohazard and otherwise, of bad practices.)

              Do a really good job smacking down ag law violations? They can bring it from Mexico, illegal is cheaper.

              Allow imports so long as they follow rules? Smuggle it in, illegal is cheaper.

              Aaaand then we’re back at the place we started but now with pot and all the downsides associated, and much better cover for the criminal.

              • Yeah, it will be amusing to watch as the CA State enforcement efforts have to come back full blast against anyone growing port without a permit to support the State permit system.

                Without enforcement to add risk, the permit is a joke.

                • Hah! Autocorrect strikes again! Illegal Port Growers Beware!

                • Which is also a good reminder that every government, law, rule and regulation is ultimately enforced by someone with a gun and that many of the issues with incidents involving law officer involved shootings or other confrontations with people are driven by the government putting LEO into the position of being such things as tax collectors, rabbit inspectors, etc.

                  • That line of argument usually ends up pretending that those violating the law didn’t have responsibility for their own actions– becoming a law enforcement version of “you shouldn’t have shot that guy, a TV isn’t worth a man’s life!”

                    The bunny inspectors as described by the late and great were obviously stupid; otoh, I’ve run into a lot of things that sound stupid, but are actual vital to the prevention of destruction of innocent folks’ property– like the “apple inspection stations.”

                    • However many laws and regulations are so broad and vague that it is very easy to violate them without even knowing, especially once you get to to the ones that seek to micromanage daily human activity. Indeed, knowledge of one’s violation is not considered a defense to some of them, and thus the traditional mens rea concept of knowingly breaking the law and thereby suffering the consequences simply is not applicable.,

                    • Am I less harmed if you didn’t know that the apples you smuggled across were infested with apple maggots, which wiped out my orchard?

                      There are a lot of bad laws and regulations. Those should be fought specifically, not attack all laws or regulations.

          • “Also agree with RCPete on legalization. At a minimum it has shut down the illegal forest groves. Too remote for cost/benefit. ”

            Except that now the politicians are repeating the nonsense they did with cigarettes and raising the taxes enough that illegal is profitable again.

  16. I confess, when I saw the title of the post I twitched. “Pay it forward” has been abused so often in pop-culture that I start backing away whenever I hear it uttered or see it in print. “You have to pay it forward.” No, thanks, because what the speaker all too often has in mind translates “do a silly token thing and pat yourself on the back all day” or “pay me/my group/work really hard for me or I’ll brow-beat you into feeling guilty about being a mean person.”

    • “Pay it forward….right into my palm. I’m owed it.”

    • Don’t forget the “do what I want you to because I did you a favor that you didn’t ask for, didn’t want and that frankly is a pain in the rump.”

    • Pay it forward is a tactic frequently espoused, lauded, and sometimes demanded by the Left, but for some reason they never seem to be the ones ponying up. Of course they are the same group that can’t seem to comprehend TANSTAAFL either.

  17. I think of it more as leaving navigation beacons behind. Or pitons in the rock face. Something to make it easier for the people following you…as you used the beacons set by your forebears.

    It’s the idea that you’re part of something bigger than yourself. Something greater, longer-lived. You can bet that Heinlein learned that, on the banks of the Severn if nowhere else.

    • “Prime the Pump”?

    • Booger, wrong one.

    • WAIT! Leave pitons behind for someone else to use? That violates Leave No Trace principals!

      I’m not a big fan of leave no trace. Leave no trash, yes. Leave no trace is elitist. Used to be if you found a good campsite, or one used before, you’d take some of your time there to make it easier for the next people along to set camp. Clear some brush where the tents work best. Stack some unused wood near the fire ring or pit. Build the fire ring up if one was already there.

      Why is leave no trace elitist? It’s designed so that someone camping can delude themselves into thinking “I’m the first person to ever be here! I’m a trailblazer!” There’s probably not a good camping spot in the U.S. that hasn’t already been camped on.

      • Leave No Trace implies humans are bad, and you’re good if you erase your presence.
        Leave It Better implies that people will come after you, and you’re good if you are a wise steward of these resources.

        • Feather Blade

          I’m told that the Leave it Better practice also leaves more of the wilderness unspoiled, since people aren’t parking themselves higgledy-piggledy.

      • One of my grad-school profs took photos of the “Now Entering the Wilderness” sign his group encountered… after they’d been hiking for four hours without seeing a single trace of other people.

  18. Because you can conceptualize brooms and burners?

    • Um…. That means I’m just out of my mind is all. 😉

      • Told you before, I like the way they are dumped into the story with no description or anything, just as everyday items…

        I mean, if we were in the 1920s writing about today, you wouldn’t stop to explain a TV remote or computer mouse, would you?

        • Matt dug a candy bar out of his pouch, split it and gave half to Jarman, who accepted it gratefully. “You’re a pal, Matt, I’ve been living on my own fat ever since breakfast — and that’s risky. Say, your telephone is sounding.”

          “Oh!” Matt fumbled in his pouch and got out his phone. “Hello?”

          –RAH, Space Cadet, 1948

  19. As an unrepentant Heinlein fangirl, I had nevertheless managed to internalize “pay it forward” to the point where the original source for my exposure to the philosophy had slipped my mind until you mentioned it. I will say that his comments on never lending money but only (if it can be afforded) giving it, no strings attached, has subsequently saved me a great number of what would otherwise be broke relationships. Some folks have insisted on paying me back anyway, some haven’t, but my soul is equally at peace with both.

    I have to admit that I spent a week in the spring feeling very guilty about noticing how much better my house smelled after geriatric kitty passed after many years in some degree of kidney failure. Didn’t make her passing any easier, but it was definitely there. The younger girls, deus volent, will get there themselves someday and we will love them through it too.

    • Hence polyurethaned floors. Then the smell is not a tragedy just an annoyance.

      • Actually when we moved into our last house the previous owner had been unable to take care of her cats who had turned the dining room into their own massive cat box.

        Fortunately, it turned out that there was poly’ed Harwood underneath that has been carpeted over almost as soon as the house was built.

        It was a nasty week of pulling up literally rotted tri-colored shag and tack strips. But all we had to do was scrub the floors and the wainscotting (also wood, thank all that is good) and throw down some quarter round and it was good as new. So I get it. It does make life much easier!

        • Any place we ever tried to remove nasty carpet, whoever had installed it had used plenty of glue and carpet tacks. All over, not just on the edges…

          Any more, I think that just leaving the carpet in place and floating some concrete over it might be a better solution. They can do amazing things with concrete nowadays…

    • Birds. This is a big advantage of birds. Parrots are fun. 🙂

      • I don’t know, I kept finches as a kid and they could get pretty messy. Bred like rabbits too. But fun.

      • I am sorry, I don’t want a pet that I have to take care of in my will because I know the Parrot can out live me, even if I’m in my 20’s.

        • That being the case, I strongly advise against taking as pet a tortoise, as not only will your children bear the burden of continuing care but so will your grandchildren and their grandchildren and possibly even their grandchildren, verily unto the seventh generation.

    • I miss my 18-year-old kitty, yes. But I don’t miss the fact that I couldn’t put baskets of laundry down on the floor lest she pee on them—or the other 18-year-old kitty would mark them in protest. I mean, we still have him, and we have two new kittens, and there’s NO peeing around.

      • Yeah, we have been able to downsize to a single litterbox as the middle aged kitty no longer protest pees having to share with ill cat (apparently sharing with young healthy kitty is fine). They are very odd critters when it comes to stuff like that. Wouldn’t live without at least a couple though.

  20. “But I’ll do what must be done, because, yes, I can conceptualize the future. And I’ll work hard today for an easier time tomorrow.”

    All of the chronically poor people I have worked with reverse the order: they take an easier time today, even if they have to work harder tomorrow. Or more specifically, Mr. X showed up when expected (most of the time) and worked hard (all of the time), unless it was a good day for fishing.

    If they do conceptualize the future, it is more likely along the lines of that noted above: why bother to save if you get it taken away before you can use it?
    They have no experience of savings that stay put until THEY use them for a pre-planned purpose.

    Also, FWIW, losing things isn’t a new phenomenon, although I suspect those of us who have Borrowers are not in the same class as the people cited herein:
    Helaman 13 (Book of Mormon)
    33 …Yea, in that day ye shall say: O that we had remembered the Lord our God in the day that he gave us our riches, and then they would not have become slippery that we should lose them; for behold, our riches are gone from us.
    34 Behold, we lay a tool here and on the morrow it is gone; and behold, our swords are taken from us in the day we have sought them for battle.