Like a lot of Americans these days I’m doing a lot of food preservation.  This is not only natural, when you can’t trust your supply chain — something we never had a problem with before, mind, but the covidiocy driven by the lunatic media has broken that for a while.  I trust that if we don’t go howling into insanity further (sure a portion of society is guaranteed to, but I hope no one pays them any attention) this will be solved within a year, but for now… — but also considerate, because the more you have put by the less stress YOU personally will put on the supply chain and therefore the better the chance that we all get through this without famine. (Well, in the US. The rest of the world all we can do is pray for them.)

And preserving food, with an eye to what will last will give you a strange turn of mind.  Particularly if you are in your fifties, which could rightly be described as the autumnal season of life (I always liked Autumn, anyway) when you both realize you don’t have unlimited time and that the story is not, and never was about you.  (That second part might be only if you’re connected to young people who are now adults and moving on into their own adventures.)

What I mean is at some point, looking at everything you can do and everything you have done, you start prioritizing “what can I do that will last?”

For a person of my limited talents, this is easy.  Novels last — and make money — longer than short stories.  And both last and make money more than articles.

But there are still quandaries.  When I mentioned in my group on facebook (Sarah’s Diner. If you’re there, knock, answer the questions, and we’ll let you in) that I’ve been re-reading Heinlein, Mackey Chandler pointed out I don’t get paid for reading, I get paid for writing.  Which is undoubtedly true.  But it’s also besides the point.  I’m still going to spend time reading (and re-reading) books or taking courses on line, for the same reason I eat food and wash my hair, both activities I don’t get paid for and which I’ll have to do again: because I need them.  (Whether re-reading is productive is something else.  There are authors I re-read a lot, like Heinlein or Giovanni Guareschi, Larry Correia, Agatha Christie, Pratchett, Dave Freer, or Jim Butcher, or about half of John Ringo (I know, but some of his more popular books I can’t “get” in. Not his fault. It’s a thing to do with the universe build and my own personal itchy spots as a reader.  As has been noted here, just because you personally can’t get into a writer it doesn’t mean they’re bad. There is something to taste and personality.  Incidentally, I’ve found that while some writers “keep me out” at one time of my life, they can become my favorites ten years later.  The mind is a weird thing and reading is the meshing of two minds.) Other writers, no matter how enjoyed are one and done.

However most of my re-reading is really to keep me on track in tasks that don’t engage the mind but which are ultimately needed.  You see, I do that with audio books. Without audio books, I would never clean my house, because I would clean half the kitchen and wander off.  In fact, for years, I had “books to ruin” which had to be bought very cheap (or free, from the damaged book shelf that used to be outside every used bookstore.) Why “to ruin”? Because I would hold them in one hand or prop them unstably on something while I did dishes, scrubbed floors, or other tasks where splashing will ruin books.  Getting my husband used to this idea was difficult, since he won’t even let me set the worst of books face down and open, BUT he eventually understood “no bookie no cleany or cooky” and flinched and accepted it.  With audio books it’s easier, though sometimes I get the “TAKE THE HEADPHONES OFF” with varying levels of irritation, depending on whether he didn’t SEE the headphones and has been talking to me for ten minutes. (Which is why headphones tend to be red, pink or yellow.)

But Sarah, you’ll say, why on Earth if you’re trying to do things that last do you do things like clean the house, or (on the program right after I publish this) go and move rocks in the garden, or plant roses, or work on the (truly near dying right now, because we’ve not started watering) lawn or prune trees, or whatever the heck you do that will be gone in a season and for which at any rate no one pays you?

Well….  There is what lasts, but there is also keeping your sanity.

For years, and arguably what is biting me now that the botanic gardens are closed, I carefully scheduled times to “see people that aren’t inside my head.”  All the gardening, cleaning, organizing, and yes, even cooking and preserving, are part of the same process.

We live in a world saturated with story, permeated with it.  For those of us with that kind of bend, it’s easy to live entirely in our heads, with very few excursions out for conversation with our loved ones.

But we are not in fact in Plato’s cave (don’t you dare argue that. Yes, I know all the arguments. I’ve made them myself. But if you argue that you’re just digging yourself a new gallery off the main tunnel.) We are in a world where things have substance, and heft and flavor.

Particularly for those of us who often go fishing off the shoals of the mind for a living, it is important to remember the hand that tickles the keyboard can and should be able to plant vegetables, pat a baby or cut up vegetables.

When I’m stressed doing really violent labor keeps the depression at bay.  And it lasts.  In a weird way.  The roses I’ve been planting and tending this week will — G-d willing, and the next owners of this house not being complete idiots — outlast me, and delight future generations.  Even small things, like seeding the cosmos (they’re coming up beautifully, btw) will last out the day, which is more than my reading the political news and grinding my teeth will last.  And hopefully (I’ve done this before in other houses, except the last one where nothing grew) the way I’m designing things means that next year and the year after the labor will be lighter.  In three or four years (if I’m still here in every sense) it will be a matter of like Agatha Christie’s village biddies watering and weeding a bit every morning.

So I’m trying to do one or two hours in the morning of hauling rock or digging, or putting down flowers (mostly flowers. Vegetables are tough in this climate, though I’m doing some too) and then writing. Novels, because they last.  Though I need to block off some hours/a day for columns because those pay now.

The choice between two activities is “Do I need this in some sense?” and “Which one will last.”

The exception of course is petting cats. It doesn’t last, but I — and they — need it. And heck, none of us lasts, in the long run.

Anyway, the sun is shining and the rock must be shifted and the plants watered.  And then there’s a novel to finish. Even if nothing I do outlasts me, most of what I do today will last out the day itself.  And sometimes that’s all you can aim for.

I’m off to work.

340 thoughts on “Lasting

  1. Living in a dirty, overly disorganized space is not conducive to either physical or mental well-being.

    Physical labor, done with due attention to physical capacity, is stimulating to mental labors.

    Re-reading the works of a great and/or admired writer (not necessarily the same thing) brings me closer to being able to emulate them – I always notice things that I did not before that make the story.

    Just my couple of cents to start off the day…

  2. I re-read too, much like re-listening to great songs.
    and an on theme sorta song: “I think it’s time for a little Story”

    I put the whole concert on (or Tempere, or Epica Retrospect, or . . .) when trying to clean or do yard work. I’ve also done Weber books or a few others on audio but I usually go music there. In the mornings I use books.

    1. Is that the show at Wembley?

      As much as I hated Tarja leaving, there is no one but Floor I can image fronting them now.

      Her being the tallest member of the band is a bonus too.

      1. Just checked…that is one of their years at Wacken…aren’t they there every year (besides this one as no one was).

        1. almost every year if they are touring. I’ve seen the 2018 show as well, and it was good, but the Waken TV folks have bad sound mixing. The 2013 show might be the best live concert set ever (full set, for a short set Queen likely has it for Live Aid) Tempere I think went GLS, Last Ride, and then GSOE.
          For me NW with Tarja was “Hey, that’s pretty cool!” but I didn’t fully get into it. With Annette I thought, “Not bad.” but the few live songs I saw way back were meh, so I didn’t pay much attention.
          Floor now? Whoa Nelly!
          Floor has me liking the Tarja stuff more, and even the Annette album stuff far better, because Floor’s live interpretations just send it.
          Bummed Floor’s solo show is delayed. I backed the filming of it and a behind the scenes, so I anxiously await it. Sorta glad though as she was getting stretched a bit thin and risking another burnout. The time with the Smurf and her Hubby is doing her wonders though.

        2. I found a gal who makes a custom mini-dragon of Tuomas, hat and all. I’m almost tempted to get one for the classroom, just to make the kids really wonder. (And to flush my metal heads and proto-goths). I’ve been writing a lot to Epica and NW this week. As much as I love Within Temptation, I listen to them, not write to them.

      2. Floor is about an inch shorter than Tuomas, but he doesn’t wear high heels. In her heels she is almost level with his Scrooge Top Hat.
        That one is Wacken, Wembley is great too and has Floor’s rendition of Poet and The Pendulum. Tempere has much the same list as Wembley but has a few differences and The Greatest Show On Earth is without a live Dawkins and with Fireworks close to in time with the music.

        Tuomas apparently agrees about Floor, and supposedly has said that Nightwish would likely cease if Floor was to leave. But Floor has also said that there is no way she’s gonna leave.

        1. Is Tuomas taller? Even in flats she looks taller than the lot and I know she’s 6’1″. Then again, I haven’t seen them live, yet. Having finally seen Dead Can Dance they are currently top of my “Bands to See Live” bucket list.

          Of late, I’ve been listening to a lot of Release the Archers. Odd to have such a rough band come from Canada. I mean, really, Canadian in your face metal?

          1. Brittney Slayes is apparently a super sweet geek girl, general all around great human being. And she and the band are very good.
            And she does a mean Karaoke (~_^)

              1. Saw this today. He’s still dealing with her deciding to do these with some schmuck on Tubes Of You. He reacted to her, reacting to him, reacting to the band, and they started going back and forth on Instagram. She sent him a pass for any show they have he can get to before the shut down.

  3. I envy the people who can leave something that lasts. My work, while important in the minute tends to be forgotten quickly. My hobbies, mostly cooking and exercise, leave nothing lasting. My boys, now THAT is lasting and important! My best work.
    Sarah, I just re read the shifter series. My favorite of yours. You bring much needed sanity to a crazy time.

    1. It will continue, though because the IP is being held hostage, it’s going to have other characters, but the same world, and the originals will do walk ins.

        1. That and a modicum of mixed spite and envy. Anyone as outspoken as our dear Sarah cannot help but gain enemies. And a few of the more petty of those have influence at the trad pub houses, enough so that it’s clear that her work is no longer welcome at any of them. Thank the Good Lord for indie.
          You would think that an author who’s works had won both a Prometheus and a Dragon would be a valued asset to any publishing house, but sadly their anathema towards an avowed libertarian female trumps all that.

        2. No. It’s the “if you want the IP back you’ll have to buy all the books in the warehouse and we say it’s $50k worth.”
          Because the books aren’t making enough money to continue the series, but I can’t have them.
          ALSO I go entire quarters not selling a single ebook, but I’m supposed to believe the statements, even though this doesn’t happen in the most obscure of my indie books.
          Eh. When the present mess is past there will be lawyers. With teeth.

          1. This is amazingly short-sighted in a “cutting off one’s nose” way. Even if a publisher loses little by warehousing your books to deny you the IP they must be aware that while the Publishing World is small and insular, the Genre-Writers’ World is scarcely any larger and other authors, best-selling authors, the kind who keep the lights on in the publishers’ offices, are capable of concluding that “If they’ll screw over Sarah Hoyt on so petty a matter I’m only as valuable to them as my last book. Other than temporary convenience what do I need [$Publisher] for?” (It should be noted that $Writers of Genre are rarely Harvard grads.)

            The types of people capable of conceiving the plots that sell spectacularly in Genre are capable of constructing paranoia phantasies about publishers and even capable of hiring their own copy-editors, cover artists and distribution jobbers.

            On that last: with Amazon and B&N distribution systems I doubt that Publisher Marketing, Putsch Push and Placement services do much to promote sales these days and that the mundane chore of collecting the printed books and storing them until sold can be handled by independent service suppliers — ones who can be persuaded that providing accurate and timely sales reports are an essential element of their contractual obligations. If somehow such services are not independently available I daresay I’ve exposed a market opportunity for the entrepreneurial soul with a background in such operations.

            Holding author IP hostage is indicative of failing business model, one lacking confidence in the services it offers or one self-destructively spite-driven. Whichever, it is not a good strategy. In this world of changing tastes one never knows when a previously ignored author might become popular and be looking to market a novel that perfectly phits Publisher brand … and hostage IP becomes a barrier to an author who recalls earlier promises not kept and slights not withheld. The adage about not burning bridges applies to both sides of the chasm, and How Do You Like Me Now is a popular anthem for good reason.

            1. that the mundane chore of collecting the printed books and storing them until sold can be handled by independent service suppliers — ones who can be persuaded that providing accurate and timely sales reports are an essential element of their contractual obligations. If somehow such services are not independently available I daresay I’ve exposed a market opportunity for the entrepreneurial soul with a background in such operations.

              Multiple options for POD and at least one, Ingrahm Spark, sells into book stores and will list your book in their catalog.

            2. You’re assuming they’re in the book business. It’s increasingly clear that, whatever business they’re actually doing, books are only a sideline.

              Any mega-million-dollar advances to Chelsea, Comey, Schiff, or Pelosi lately?

          2. Good.

            I’m about ready to offer other teeth, both figurative and literal. Especially for that series.

            There is no reason they can’t revert eBook, but retain print rights until they sell through.

            1. Did you know that currently the e-book version of “Draw One in the Dark” is free on Amazon?
              Is there any reason that I (and perhaps others) should not treat the publisher as we treat TOR? This sounds both petty and stupid if they are preventing you from writing additional novels in the series, which will increase the demand for the original three novels by new readers.

                  1. And I don’t blame him, given his stature. They bring him on board to bring in his established audience, with the expectation that he’d be doing multiple volumes in the series, then dump him because someone higher up in the parent company declared you persona non grata over your political views.

                    And it’s a d***ed shame, because I really enjoyed the first one (I reviewed it on Goodreads and on my lit-crit website). I have the second one in the series on hold at the library, and I’ll read it as soon as they finish getting it processed and in my hands (it was at “newly acquired” when everything shut down), but if they don’t continue acquiring future volumes, I’m not going to bother to request that they do so.

                    Right now, I’m more likely to try to see if I can get them to start acquiring indie-published and small-press books. Let the big 5 or 4 or 3 or however many are left rot and die.

              1. No, I didn’t know.
                There is only one reason I can think of: There are some very good writers writing for them. Same reason I haven’t even completely locked off Penguin who treated me like dirt, because Jim Butcher writes for them. And I’ll buy F. Paul Wilson no matter who publishes him (though I think TOR gave him marching papers.)
                Yes, they behaved shittily to me, but hell, so did the whole of the book world. Shrug.
                As for not letting me continue the series, no, no. That’s my OWN malice and spite. To explain, after the demand for 50k which they know damn well I don’t have, I was so upset I threw up. I’ve never done that, throwing up from anger before.
                Part of the shock, though was my fault because I assumed they were like family. I was wrong. Getting over it took me a year.
                They say I am free to continue the series, but I’ll be DAMNED if I increase THEIR sales.
                So the series will continue, but the DST series will take a 15 year leap and start with the next generation (except for one bridge book) and shifters starts with an agent in a secret shifter agency arriving in Goldport and eventually finding out her agency is betraying her, etc. and settling in to the madness. She will live down the street from Kyrie and Tom and be a little leery of Tom because of the whole beast master thing.

                1. Look at it this way; you can probably get accurate numbers from Amazon (perhaps with a subpoena). Then you can compare them with your royalty statements. Then let the fun begin.
                  I admit that I hope that the numbers match. It is bad enough that your ex-publisher has gone nasty. It would be even more depressing if they have gone criminal. In any case, good luck and I will be looking forward to the new books.

                  1. I… really miss the way they used to be (or at least how I perceived them)

                    1. Jim Baen had his faults, but they were different faults, God rest him.

                      Baen these days has had some turnover, and also submits to more peer pressure because it keeps thinking it will be accepted. I think Jim Baen thought the move out of New York would have prevented that, but the Internet makes dumbbells out of people everywhere. (And some of that was happening before Baen passed on, in corners.)

                    2. Yeah, the bunch that have taken over seem to have forgotten what made Baen Books successful. They’re trying to imitate all the other publishers, which puts them into the same crab-bucket. They’re abandoning their market to grub for a piece of that rotten pie.

                      All we can do is hope for a sudden outbreak of sanity.

                  2. That was one of the reasons the SFWA got started – the authors of two halves of an Ace Double were comparing sales figures, which wildly disagreed. They hired a lawyer, contacted other Double authors, and turned it into a class-action suit.

          3. Now I am tempted to buy an ebook and screenshot the entire process, with time & date. Or maybe better, take a picture of the screen with a newspaper in the shot for the date.

        3. Orson Scott Card had an issue like that with one of his older books (Treason, for the curious). The problem was resolved when his current publisher bought his old publisher.

          The problem is that there’s no particular incentive for the publisher to release the IP. After all, it has value, no matter how little. Holding it and not doing anything with it is free. And due to the whimsies of public taste, one day it might suddenly be worth much more than it is now.

      1. We need to get pro bono attorneys to represent “we won’t reprint it, but we won’t revert the rights in case you make money and make us look bad” cases.

        The law shouldn’t make it free for them to squat on IP.

        Just another reason that going trad is for fools.

        1. Given the infamous Thor Power Tools case, the physical books they’re claiming to have ought to be costing them something, but apparently it’s not enough to cancel out the spite.

          1. That case needs to burn in a fire.

            Then again, given how fictional author royalty reports are, I suspect inventory for tax purposes would make the idea of “two sets of books” blush and tell them to get real.

            1. I’m guessing it’s, like, five and a dustjacket from somebody else’s series.

          2. Also if I bought them and they EXIST I wouldn’t have anywhere to STORE them and they’d end up rotting. I don’t do cons where I sell books, period.

            1. USO donation to go to troops. Tax write off and could net you lots of new fans.

              Hospitals, prisons, and libraries as well, but I think the military would be the sweet spot for you even with that book.

                1. He is still US Ambassador to Germany, so this would work:

                  U.S. Embassy Berlin
                  Clayallee 170
                  14191 Berlin
                  Federal Republic of Germany

                  If you want to try and catch him in his role as Acting DNI, use:

                  Office of the Director of National Intelligence
                  Washington, DC 20511

                  1. Although Ratcliffe was just confirmed as DNI, so probably go with the embassy in Berlin, and it will eventually catch him wherever Trump has decided to place him next.

        2. It’s not necessarily about not looking bad (though that might be part of it). It’s about holding onto something that *might* become much more valuable some day. If an author gets dropped by a publisher, but suddenly gets a huge hit elsewhere, those “worthless” back catalogue books suddenly become very valuable. Or if someone at Amazon is a fan of the books, and says, “This could be an interesting series on Prime,” then suddenly those back catalogue books are valuable. Sure, the chance of that happening is probably miniscule. But since there’s no cost to hold onto the publishing rights, it’s still worthwhile to not release the old books. Better to hold onto rights that it costs you nothing to retain than to find out five years down the road that you gave away the rights to books published by the next Brandon Sanderson (his big first hit – Mistborn – was not his first published novel).

          1. They are making a bet. Right now the cost is zero and while the expected value is close to zero it is not zero.

            Say 1 in a million books get picked up that way and make $10 million per period. The expect value is $10. Normal pricing would indicate they owe the author that $10 every period to retain the rights to the chance at the $10 million payout.

            The problem isn’t the reason, it is the fact they are able to retain property free, preventing the author from getting the expected value elsewhere.

    2. Cooking can leave lasting memories beyond your lifetime. Good ones, like mine of being in my Grandmother’s kitchen, as she baked, or disassembled a fresh chicken for stew. Humorous ones, like my still being asked, these many years later, whether there are sticks in the holiday turkey stuffing this year. (Learned the hard way that you don’t just chop fresh thyme…)

      1. It’s the Left’s next step past “humanity sucks and we should all die.” “We don’t even really exist!”

        Something broken inside their heads makes them *want* to be nothing.

  4. It just hit me, is the Simulation Hypothesis a modern rehash on Plato’s cave?

    That has bugged me as a theory as it largely seems unfalsifiable yet people seem to be acting like it is science. It just seems like a new idea of who or what a God might be. And if you’re going to go that route, I rather think the Elder Scrolls had a more cohesive version of that mythos.

    1. Of course it is. Plato’s Cave, Simulation Hypothesis, Decarstes Demon: this is *the* central philosophical question that every single belief system must contain an answer to. Most religions that aren’t just animism accept the hypotheses and use it as part of the central tenets.

      Some people ridicule it outright when it has the religious form, and then go off to come up with the secular version. That is always funny to watch.

      1. Some people ridicule it outright when it has the religious form, and then go off to come up with the secular version. That is always funny to watch.

        And the flip side of this is people who dismiss the simulation hypothesis as obvious bunk that could never be true, then go to church to hear…… exactly the same thing, but with different curtains.

        This too is funny.

        1. Well, I’ve never heard Christian Theology that indicates that the Materiel World is an Illusion which is my take on the simulation hypothesis. 😀

          On the other hand, some Hindu thought could match the simulation hypothesis. 😉

          1. I was amused by an article recently claiming that the ‘smoothness’ of observations showed a lack of pixelation at the resolution(s) considered. Which had me wonder, “What about the Planck length?” Not saying it’s this way or that, but the question did occur to me.

            1. Yeah. If it is running on a computer, what kind of architecture, and what is the mathematical theory of that architecture?

              Does it make any sense to talk of a simulation that covers infinite time in both directions?

              If not, you’ve probably got a simulation that runs for a finite time in the simulating, and for the simulated universe.

              So, given that, how do you mathematically model an EM signal in the simulated universe? How is that signal mathematically represented in the simulation? What theory of computation supports that representation? What kinds of physics in the simulating universe are required for the signal propagation needed to implement/approximate that theory of computation?

              I like the train of analysis for when I’m worldbuilding exotic physics for a Mythos setting. But it is a level of speculation I’m bored with when it comes to guessing about real world physics, and it does not seem interesting as theology either.

            2. Oddly, If I stay awake long enough (starts at @ 40 hours), the edges of my vision field start to pixelate.

              1. …The start of fainting looks like gray pixelation closing in around my field of vision.

                  1. When pulling enough Gs first the edges start to go, colors start to fade, vision narrows down to just the center, then it’s lights out while still aware. Hearing continues after the screen goes dark and if the Gs let off vision comes back a bit sparkly with no loss of consciousness, but if the hard pull continues then it’s nighty-night. Coming back from full lights out it takes a bit to spin the drives back up fully.

                    When I was a kid I would occasionally get vision fully to black by standing up too fast from the couch after sitting too long, awake and aware the whole time, never all the way out. My younger brothers said they got the same thing. Once I reached college age it didn’t happen anymore, and my G tolerance seems to have been pretty normal.

                  2. Yup first the world goes to black and white, with a buzz, then the world closes down to a pipe as peripheral vision goes away. If any of that happens I get my backside sat down somewhere as if I don’t I’ll be lying on the ground shortly thereafter.

              2. When I’m so tired I fall asleep sitting up, my vision goes to something looking very much like static on an old analog TV, only in reverse — instead of bits of dark on white, it’s bits of white on dark.

          2. Illusion? No, not literally. But that isn’t part of SH either.

            The concept is often expressed in the form of illusion, but the underlying question is “Is this the base-level reality? And how would I know if it isn’t?”. Illusion is more useful as a sort of For Dummies version.

            Simulation says “No, and you might be able to find flaws in the sim.”

            Hinduism says “No, something something meditate something dreaming god / infinite nothingness.” (I don’t know Hinduism)

            Christianity says “No. And you can’t find out except through the book that the creator left for you. If he wants you to know.”

            1. I’d argue Christianity says, “…through the book the Creator left for you. But you have to choose to know.”

              1. Well that gets into certain theological arguments.

                I avoid theological arguments as a rule: they make normal discussion look productive by comparison.

            2. Christianity says “No. And you can’t find out except through the book that the creator left for you. If he wants you to know.”

              You might want to gain familiarity with the theory of natural law.

              Or forms of Christianity that aren’t extreme sola scriptura.

              1. When people pull the Neil Gaiman ‘God is grinning and refuses to tell you the rules’ to try to Christian-bash, you can be fairly confident that they have no recollection of Matthew 7.

                But, well, studying the scriptures runs smack into the problem that Christianity is hard and they don’t want to practice enough self-denial to live it.


                1. Yeah, that bit of advice is part of why my husband was supportive of Catholicism, even while agnostic. (Would be “Christianity,” but there’s too many variants.)

                  Jesus had some really good advice. (as one would expect from someone who is speaking the truth, lest folks think I’m dissing Him!)

                  1. One thing I find annoying are the types who call Him a Great Moral Teacher but decide that Christians aren’t “really following Him” when Christians “Don’t Turn The Other Cheek” and then they aren’t willing to do the same.

                    My cynical nature tells me that those types want easy targets for their slapping. 😈

                    1. Yeah, the atheist ultimate-popes are obnoxious. (ultimate popes because they grant themselves power the Pope doesn’t have)

                    2. Welllll …. He didn’t say “go armed” — it isn’t as if He called for universal gun ownership. What He said was buy a sword, and it was almost certain He meant one of those little bitty Roman swords, not some honking huge claidheamh-mòr, The Roman gladius only had a blade length between 18-20″ … and He didn’t say you could use it, just own it.

                      You’ve want to look at these things very carefully and not read things into the text.

                      That would be bad.

                    3. Never trust a wallaby, we are capricious, prone to low humour and bear stupendous tales.

                    4. I have never seen it except in the form that she looks like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth BUT —

                      So I’ve never seen it used except as a way of denying the positive thing.

                    5. Beloved Spouse, albeit in different circumstances, has cautioned me about that.

                    6. Beloved Spouse has been very happily reading (in some cases re-reading) the Four Queens of Crime and enjoying observing the growth of Christie, Sayer, Allingham and Marsh as they mature through the Twenties and Thirties. Currently taking a break to read Wilfred M. McClay’s Land of Hope as a well-prescribed analgesic balm for the current political inflammation.

                    7. There are truly an amazing number of fundamentalist atheists. (Leftists in my experience, but that may be selection bias.)

                    8. Nit. Fundamentalist refers to somebody highly concerned about the “fundamentals” of their belief structure.

                      What are the “fundamentals” of atheism? 😈

                    9. No, they are fundamentalists of Christianity. They, by gum, know the One True Interpretation, and any Christian who does not adhere to what they say is a Bad Christian.

                    10. Dear Mary, I consider myself a Fundamentalist Christian and That Does Not Describe Me.

                      In Other Words, Fundamentalist Does Not Mean Bigot.

                      I attempted a bit of humor with my comment about “Fundamentalist Atheists” but I’ll Be Blunt.

                      Saying “Fundamentalists Means Bigots” is Bigotry.

              2. There is a view that all religions depend on 4 sources, Revelation (often in written form but sometimes oral), Tradition, Reason, and Experience. This is known as the Wesleyan Quadrilateral (Thank you John Wesley, ). Reformed Christianity Weighs Revelation (That Sola Sriptura) very heavily, Catholiscm treats it as more coequal with tradition (the Magisterium). Both use reason to dhelp discern and view things. Pentecostals weigh Experience far more heavily ( Baptism of the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues) etc. the Quadrilateral is an interesting tool to help understand varieties in related religions.

                1. Most Christianity and at least some Judaism also hold that Himself made rules, and you can figure them out.

                  In Catholic terms, there’s stuff that has to be Revealed, and stuff that can be reasoned out.


                  And now I’m wondering if Sola Scriptura might be more accurately described by saying the followers are trying to follow the apostles, which would bypass the issue of different Bible versions via trying to get the most accurate collection– although it opens up a related issue about where and why they stop adding that would make for a real headache. (A common theological problem, too, just not a Bible Alone thing.)

                2. Reformed Christianity Weighs Revelation (That Sola Sriptura) very heavily, Catholiscm treats it as more coequal with tradition (the Magisterium).

                  Catholicism says that both the Sacred Tradition and the Sacred Scripture ARE revelation.

                  1. Your point is taken the Magisterium is clearly considered part of divine revelation from the Catholic view. My statement is clearly from the reformed view 🙂 . I think the quadrilateral still applies, there’s just a disagreement on what the canon of the revelation consists of. This is an issue that already applies as there’s a disagreement on the Old Testament canon between churches of Reformed and Catholic/Orthodox descent.

          3. Drak I think some early Gnostic Christian views would have viewed the Material world as an illusion given their strong reliance on Greek philosophy. Of course Gnosticism is heretical as all get out. It to some degree has been resurrected in the form of the common flavors of ultra liberal main line christianity

            1. My understanding of Gnostism was that the Material World was Real but Evil.

                1. OK, Catholic catechism instruction does not do much at all on heresies, so I’ve almost certainly got it wrong, but I thought the gnostic stuff was “God created heaven, (some) angels attempted an un-negotiated leveraged takeover that failed, the loser was escorted off the premises and their access badge was revoked, and that loser created this reality wherein we are stuck – heaven is the perfect good place, and we’re in the other place.”

                  1. While Sarah remembers variations on it, the basic gnostic theology that I remember is the following.

                    A Great And Good Non-Material God creates a lesser being who is more material & less good and this being may create another more material & less good being and so forth.

                    The final being is still partially Spirit and definitely Evil who then creates the Material Universe (along with humans).

                    Humans can reach to the First Being because we have Spirits within us but to be fully with the First Being we must fully reject the Material World.

                    And yes, some gnostics considered the being who actually created the Material Universe to be the Devil.

                    I may have some parts of this wrong.

                    1. There are a WHOLE bunch of different flavors of Gnostic Heresies. The basic idea of a Gnostic heresy (from greek gnosis to know) is that there is some special knowledge (usually hidden, and often based on personal revelation ) that is needed for redemption. The flavor that Drak is talking about seems to have (roughly) that the god of the old testament was not G*d but a skilled artisan called a demiurge (Or more commonly Demiurge with the capital). This concept seems borrowed by the gnostics from the Platonic philosophers.

                    2. Yes, the hidden knowledge thingee was the thing they got their name from. But the good God who would never create and the evil semi-God who did was pretty standard from all evidence.

                    3. Yeah, and there were a bunch of mystery cults in Greek culture at the time.

                  2. Gnosticism tended to be more Platonic than that. The good God would never have created and mucked about with all that matter. That was the evil Demiurge, and Jesus came to save us from him.

            2. Oooh, I lost the link, but there’s “material is evil” gnostic stuff that predates Christianity– some of the archeology stuff they’ve done was able to pick up evidence that’s definitely at least a hundred years BC.

              As one might guess since the whole point is “hidden knowledge,” it’s not easy to get records…..

              1. Nod.

                Apparently gnostic thinking predates Christianity and many of the Gnostics attempted to infiltrate Christianity (as well IIRC Judaism and pagan religions).

                1. I think it was Father Mitch on EWTN that explained that the one absolute unifying thread for the old Gnostic stuff is “oooh, that sounds COOL!”

                  1. Along with IMO “It’s COOL to be part of the In-Group That Knows More Than Other People”.

                    1. “We have the secret, we have the secret.” Chanted like kids at recess, for the same reason. “We know something YOU don’t he, he, he.”

                    2. Yup we humans LOVE that kind of crap. I know more than you do NYAAAH and Mommy/Daddy/G*d loves me more. As Walter Miller pointed out in Canticle for Liebowitz the old lies just keep coming back humanity never seems to outgrow them. Part of our fallen nature I suppose.

              2. I’ll have to go track it down, but one of the Orthodox bishops has an article on the difference between the Christian creation story and the other myths of the time. One of the essential differences he points out is in Genesis, God created mankind because He wanted to, to express His live, and made them to be good things, while in the Babalyonian myth, mankind was created mostly by accident by careless gods, and was generally made from bad things.

                It’s probably the earliest example of the “created by a loving god” vs “byproduct of a cold uncaring universe” that I’m aware of.

                1. Isn’t the Christian creation story really the Jewish creation story?

                  1. If you want to get technical, Christians are just heretic Jews, what with believing the promise was fulfilled and all.

                    It’s just easier to talk about the religions as separate, though.

                    1. Or the Rabbinical Jews are heretic Jews… It all depends on whether the promise was in fact fulfilled, or not. One branch is the legitimate post-temple state, the other is sincere but mistaken.

                      But let us go no further down that road here.

                    2. It all depends on whether the promise was in fact fulfilled, or not.

                      Yep, it’s all a question of which is correct in fact.

                      It’s not really something we can go further along in discussing here– it’s just an important thing to keep in mind when trying to organize things.

                      And I’m irresistibly reminded of when they sent in an Atheist to mediate between the Protestants and Catholics in Ireland, and those folks demanded to know if he was a Protestant Atheist or a Catholic Atheist.
                      All the TV guys and a lot of similar light thinkers thought that was a sign they were stupid, but…there really is a difference between what religion someone is rooted in, and now I’m wondering about how an agnostic from the Asian religions would be different.

                    3. We pretty much have to hope that we get credit for trying hard, since we’re so good at making messes of our lives. (Oh we, like sheep, have gone astray~ . . . everyone to his own way!)


                    4. That’s the Catholic theology– if you genuinely do the best you can with the information you have, trust in God’s mercy.

                    5. Well, at one point there was a controversy over whether one could practice as a Jew and as a Christian. The official teaching authorities of both agreed that this was not possible.

                      There is one area where it is really helpful to understand that Christianity is a heretical offspring of Judaism, and not vice versa or entirely independent.

                      Satanism, Islam, and Socialism are all heresies from Christianity. Islam is obvious; it recognizes Jesus as a prophet, hence isn’t directly from Judaism, and denies that Jesus is God. Socialism grabs some assumptions about humanity, and the only real place that could have supplied them was the Christian influence on culture.

                      I think this framework is basically necessary for having any real understanding of modern philosophies and religious practice.

                      Okay, I also understand that Buddhism is a heresy of Hindu, and you could argue that those religions are also necessary to the full picture. Taoism and Shinto may count as more minor influences, so…

                      Christianity from Judaism, and Socialism and Islam from Christianity covers a fairly significant chunk of world believers. Also, there’s a good chance that Socialism isn’t up to displacing Christianity. But if Socialism does change the culture so profoundly that Christianity fails, there is a non-zero chance that Christianity will spawn yet another heresy.

                    6. Well, at one point there was a controversy over whether one could practice as a Jew and as a Christian. The official teaching authorities of both agreed that this was not possible.

                      *giggles at this most understated version of Saint Paul’s story, in dark humor*

                      It also helps if one remembers that “heretic” means “disagrees on a binding doctrine,” not “is evil.”

                      Oh, and some forms of Satanism aren’t strictly Christian– though those would be the more “oooh shiny” type religions.

                      I seem to remember there’s one form that is off of Islam. Something about a peacock angel.

                    7. I believe this is about not St. Paul but the final show-down, after the destruction of Jerusalem, when Christians were definitely expelled. And the Romans told that Christians were not Jews and did not fall under the exemption to offering incense to the genius of the emperor.

                    8. I was pointing at Saint Paul’s former activities, re: being a practicing Christian and practicing Jew, the views of the official teaching authorities thereon.

                    9. I vaguely remember once reading somewhere that Satanism was supposed to reverse all religious doctrine, or at least that is how some interpretations go. That made me chuckle, because that meant there’s a whooooole lot more rules for ‘rule breaking’ as it were.

                      I have heard that peacock angel thing before somewhere too.

                      The bit about what flavor atheist made me laugh.

                    10. Oooh, this one I know!

                      Different groups of Satanists have different rules.

                      Oh, and a lot of the leaders just say whatever they think will get the most attention.

                      Which, really, what more can you expect from somebody following a guy who can’t even beat a hillbilly in a fiddling contest when he brings his own backup band?

                    11. Well, what can you call people who worship the Loser instead of the Winner? 😈

                      Nod to Alma who had one of her characters wondering about Satanists. 😉

            3. The fun one was where all the Gnostic Aeons (ie, gods) were Gospel terms. Wisdom was a soppy chick who couldn’t keep up with the Father’s perfect knowledge and calm, which brought frustration and suffering into the world, and that was the Demiurge and the material world. The material world was a prison, and should be destroyed or escaped. And there were passwords to get your soul past the guards.

              Oh, those wacky Gnostics.

            1. Cathars, yes, also Manicheans, the idea has been around a long time. Gets interesting to note Catholicism was the faith that liked sex, given the Cathars went for absolute celibacy. (Since the world is the creation of an evil demiurge, it’s a sin to entrap souls in evil material bodies. Or that was the idea. Explains why there were ordinary Cathars who only followed some of the rules and the “Perfect,” who followed them all)

                1. It’s from the Greek/Egyptian Gnostics — “demos + ergos”, a worker paid by the public. Hence, a skilled workman, and a philosophical term for the Creator.

          4. The Cathars are probably the last major religion in the Christian family tree to go with some variant on the material world as illusion, as befits gnostics.

            1. HerbN don’t worry plenty of “Modern” Christian theologians have rediscovered it and believe it quietly under the covers. The Opponent is NOT particularly inventive.

    2. Well, if this is a simulation, I have some harsh words for the devs.

        1. There’s a fun romp called “Off To Be The Wizard” by Scott Meyer where folks discover there’s a giant text file that controls the universes settings. Its like 2.99 on Kindle, well worth it.

    3. In the Back Story for Ryk Spoor’s Arena Series is the Hyperion Project where a bunch of human scientists recreated their favorite Fictional Characters (via genetic engineering) and placed them in super-good simulations. (Some mentioned/implied were Superman, Honor Harrington, Jim Kirk and James Bond).

      A few realized that their worlds were faked and managed to “get revenge” on their creators.

      Of course, some of the ones not killed in the fight later withdrew from reality because they missed their illusionary worlds.

      1. Oh, I mis-remembered.

        Jim Kirk wasn’t one of the created Fictional Characters (with a real body).

        One of the scientists created a Star Trek simulation and put a person based on herself into that simulation. You can guess what her name was. 😈

              1. The Original “Mary Sue” was Ensign Mary Sue who was the “True Love” of Captain Kirk as well as being “better at anything” compared to the other Characters.

                The Hyperion “Mary Sue” (her name is a variation of Mary Sue) was likewise Captain Kirk’s True Love and “better at anything”.

                Besides the problem of “I’m in somebody’s fantasy world, not a real world”, she realized that she was just a copy of a Real Woman to play out the Real Woman’s fantasies.

                Oh, the other “Hyperions” faced “Real To Them” challenges that they “knew” could kill them so they were used to facing challenges. For her, everything she faced had been easier because her creator didn’t want her copy to face real challenges.

                Thus while “Mary Sue” survived the destruction of Hyperion, she went insane without going into a coma. She was a mass murderer while still thinking she was one of the Good Guys.

                    1. And for those of us with Kindles the first Arenaverse title has a very nice ($0.00) price. The old give the addict a taste trick, but I fall for it every time…

                  1. Scalzi would make her the hero. Ryk has her as a terrifying villain: She finds a place where everyone gets the powers that their upbringing says they ought to have, and her power is that reality warps to let her live on easy-mode.


                  2. I’m sure you speak in ignorance, but I find the comparison risible.

                    I have read Redshirts. I think it correct to describe it as having little love or respect for Star Trek. That whole bit with the crew hiding, so that they cannot get dragged out onto away missions and killed.

                    People do change, and I cannot speak to the Ryk Spoor of today. It has been years since I’ve kept up with him.

                    The Ryk Spoor of yesterday really, really, loved the anime, shows, and old books that inspired him. The Phoenix trilogy? Hugely tied to his love for Saint Seiya. Maybe also Yoroidan Samurai Troopers/Ronin Warriors.

                    The Arena has a ‘what if’ of Hyperion, which is backstory. What if some fanfic authors got ahold of tech to build it in reality, to include transhumanist level tech?

                    The Arena books are a lovesong. Doc Smith, Dragonball, I think some of the other Monkey King stories, and more. Trying to evoke the sense of wonder. Dragonball Z fans will recognize in some of the species Cell (I forget if Perfect Cell, or one of the others), and Freeza’s race.

                    Spoor also has a fanfic background. He used that understanding in Mary-Sue’s scenario, the usual author self aggrandizement totally perfect, and in love with Kirk stuff. IIRC, Kirk died in her arms when Hyperion went bad, and that broke her. And if she were the only surviving Hyperion, that arc would would not be entirely respectful of the source material.

                    So my reaction to that comparision is heavily in the direction of the below:


                    1. Sadly, he went along with Eric Flint in cleaving to the puppy-kickers. At a bare minimum, embracing Lie to that degree can’t be good for either of them.


    4. All questions of the Nature of Reality must first meet the standard of “Does it matter or is it merely intellectual self-abuse?”

      If I am drowning am I served by the belief all is illusion?

      What if the “Truth” revealed by the Red Pill is merely a different illusory world?

      If you cannot access the source-code you’re only along for the ride, with little more ability to affect things than a pinball player’s Body English – sometimes you can make that ball bounce a little better but more often you’ll tilt.

      Of course, we wallabies have long since learned the futility of chasing our own tails.

      1. I keep wondering if the character either grabbed and took both pills, or rejected them both, how things might have happened. Then, there is the matter of the green and purple pills…

    5. is the Simulation Hypothesis a modern rehash on Plato’s cave?


      It is possible to do takes on them such that they overlap, but the SH is about someone running a simulation, whereas PC is fully compatible with the higher level not being even aware of the existence of the “cave”, and also in SH, the simulators can be the same sorts of beings as we are, whereas in PC, they need to be transcendental, related to us the way all the marvels of the world relate to a shadow on a wall in a dimly lit cave. (I had fun with that in Through A Mirror, Darkly where Helen makes fun of the notion of a “Plato’s Cave” where the person making it did not have transcendental things to offer.)

        1. Yes, I get the impression that lots of people are working on gardens, as seeds seem to be in short supply. I’m not sure how much of that is concern over food supply or simply being stuck at home and wanting to do something outside, or a combination of those factors.

          1. I’ve been container-gardening bell peppers for 10+ years now, in a pair of 14 gallon Rubbermaid tubs rigged up to be self-watering. I’m in a townhome development, so my only practical growing space is on the balcony. This does have the advantage that I can start seeds at the beginning of March and not move the plants outside until May. I can also bring them back inside and have them straggle into the winter, and once or twice I’ve even managed to have them last long enough to move outside for a second summer.

            1. Ooh…. Do you have advice on refreshing the dirt/potting mix and avoiding disease? Do you replace altogether, feed, what?

              1. For avoiding disease, mostly I’ve just been lucky. Spider mites, fungus gnats, and aphids have often been problems when I bring the peppers back inside in the fall. The “mosquito dunk” bacteria seem to work well against the fungus gnats. Nothing seems to work well against the spider mites 😦

                Sometimes I’ll completely replace the potting mix, and sometimes I’ll only partly replace it after pulling the larger root bits out from the old plants. Recently I’ve taken to fumigating the old mix, putting the container with the old (derooted) mix into a plastic bag with a no-pest strip for a few days. I’ll always heavily fertilize and lime the potting mix before putting new plants in. I’ll also sometimes push in tomato fertilizer spikes late in the season, in the winter (indoors) or for over-wintered plants the next summer.

                The pepper seedlings get transplanted into 5″ or quart containers with new potting mix (no extra fertilizer other than what comes in the mix). After a few weeks I then transplant a second time into the Rubbermaid tubs. Using new mix here may help me be lucky about disease.

                Generally, what I do is an older-variant & smaller version of the “earthtainer” that you can still find preserved pdfs etc for on the web.

        2. Around here, it’s lots, and mostly veggies. $SPOUSE sent me to get more tomato seeds a couple weeks ago, and the veggie seeds were pretty well picked through. Mostly radishes as well as warm-area slicing tomatoes. K-Falls runs 5-10 degrees warmer than us. Big tomatoes don’t do well in our location.

          What were still on the seed racks were salad/low-calorie veggies like radishes and flowers. *Lots* of flower seeds. I don’t think local gardeners are doing it for recreation this year. YMMV, no idea what the gardening situation is like west of the Cascades. FWIW, the neighbors seemed to have expanded their garden 2X from last year.

              1. I did find interesting that my fuzzy memories of nibbling on red clover flowers as a kid were not silly (German friends nibbled on them like candy, so I tried.) Also had a teacher who had roasted acorns on some pumpernickel and cream cheese as a snack.

    1. Actually debating on how to supplement my fence with a high hedge row. Mostly for privacy (our yard is on a slope so I can see the sidewalk across the street) but also because I feel the need to fortify things too.

      I wonder if the HOA would object to multiflora before it was to late?

      1. I think there’s also something specific about plants that’s tied into then lizard brain somewhere.

        I recall a personality test I tried a while ago that involved visualizing going into your imaginary house, and asking what it is full of? The analysis portion mentioned that that was something like the thing you think about most, and had an aside that, if it is filled with people, food, or plants, you are generally happy. If it’s mostly filled with other thinga, you most likely generally aren’t.

        I’ve since read (and experienced) that greenery is generally a calming influence. I think there’s just something in the human brain that sees savannas as comfortable and safe places to be. Especially because it really need to be a savanna style ecosystem rather than a full dense forest or a fully open planes.

    2. I put down carrots and cucumbers (rainbow strip and finger for the carrots, lemon and white spine for the cucumbers, don’t ask me in two weeks I won’t remember) this morning, I’ve got tomato plants in, the kids did radishes and sugar snap peas in planter boxes on the porch (the idea is the peas will trail down. The idea…..) and we put in a bunch of fruit trees, too.

      That said, it’s a long standing plan to do this, and I actually wanted to do more than we did. I just am not very good at it.

      1. I’m seeing more landscaping than gardening. Also a lot more people sitting out on their front porches watching the world go by.

      2. Basically around about every March, I start wanting to garden and then remember I’m busy, I don’t like being outside very much, and I hate dealing with bugs, and the idea gets shelved again for a while.

        But I did enjoy having a bitty container garden at our last apartment but one, where the peas could climb the stair railing in spring and fall, and I should give the little one more time outside, and and and….

        …This year I might try again anyway, and if I have to throw clover on the bed next year and abandon it while dealing with an infant, so be it.

            1. We have raised beds in the house, though not in the most ideal positions, onto which insane goblins…. I’m sorry, former owners poured TONS of river rock. The soil under those is actually nice, and I picked the sunniest (but cool) for roses which I’m PRAYING thrive. On the other side, I have vegetables and berries.
              On one of the in ground flower beds with lousy soil and ugly rocks, I planted cosmos with which I had great success in the past, and which I HOPE will be self perpetuating.
              In containers, I have four grape vines and will soon have ten rose bushes. Why containers? Well, you see…. I want to take them when we move, but more importantly, I want to put them around the back porch once we fix it. I have a fancy to make a little verdant space at first floor height that we can use to write. once it’s set up I plan to spring for an outdoor heater and hopefully use it 8 or 9 months out of the year.
              the other in ground flower beds with nasty soil and filled with rocks, I’m going to weed and clear of rocks, ameliorate the soil and FILL with bulbs. This will take time, though some will start this week.
              EVENTUALLY, though I’d be shocked if before next summer, I want to put a birdcage gazebo ($1250) in the center, on a little broken stone and cement platform, and plant roses around it, then make meandering paths to the corners of the yard. Where I might or might not put arches and/or benches.
              All of which is insane, and will end up costing us about 5k, but would give me great pleasure. As would having tea in the gazebo.

              1. That sounds really lovely. And I am definitely not going to put in five inches of rock.

                One thing I should do while the ground is still wet this week is put on armor and try to extract the uninvited baby trees from assorted locations, such as under the rosebushes….

                  1. I would email you some of this week’s rain if I could figure out how, but I think it might short something out.

                    1. Once you sort out the method, my e-addy’s on my blog. Two inches over two days, please. I tip really well for rain.

              2. Try zinnia augustifolia. I have the opposite problem to you (heavy acid dry clay with deer and Maple trees) but I have a spot filled with shattered slate and other debris with almost no soil in it. Grass doesn’t like it but Zinnia Augustifolia does. It’d live where another’d die.

                Any of the Zinnias and most of the prairie plants (echinacea, coreopsis, liatris, etc., ). will grow well there too try Tithonia if you like orange. Daylillys too. I can’t kill them and I’m usually good at killing plants

                My English cousins sneer at orange since it’s vulgar so I grow lots of it. The light there is different and, since we’re at the same latitude as Lisbon/Madrid/Rome and have proper light not that washed out watery stuff they have in the grim north, I grow plants that work well in bright sunlight, which pastels don’t.

                1. Color themes can produce really impressive effects, as I discovered when I made part of my garden blue, and another part pink/red.

                  1. Not that I am ever likely to be able to it, but I have pondered a property where all the foliage is not exactly normal. Trees tending to be tamarack (needle, but not evergreen), blue spruce, silver maple…

          1. I confess I’d just been thinking “it fixes nitrogen, right?” but I guess we have a salad out there after all, then.

    3. We have various tomatoes and peppers in.

      I have seeds and need to quit being so lazy, but I need to look up what I can plant this late here. Some things will need to wait for a fall crop.

    4. I double dug a large flower bed. Hard to get seeds for it though. everything is backed up. I mulched it down and will plant it in the fall when the plants are ready.

      I’d usually do the compost no-dig thing but it was dig or get arrested for riotous assembly, if you can riot buy yourself.

    5. I feel like I should, and they grow pretty well in the space I have, but it turns out that I don’t really like vegetables….

      1. I don’t like them as much as would probably be good for me, but I’m hoping to try a few of the things I do, and… who knows, maybe if I can set up a good spot, nibbles off an indoor cut-and-come-back salad garden would be less daunting than a whole darned bag….

    6. I have the seeds planted, and some of them are coming up. I bought peppers today, and will plant them tomorrow. I’m also putting in a bed of rhubarb and strawberries, hoping to be able to harvest them next year, after they’ve had this year to grow strong.

      I saw a rabbit out in the back yard today, so I gathered up cat hair and scattered it around the plants in hopes of scaring off the rabbits. It’s not where we can actually let the cat out in the back yard, but it will at least put some of her scent out there.

      I’m hoping to have at least something to harvest and eat this year, and not end up feeding all the local rabbits, trash pandas, and possums.

      1. Ah, drat. I was worrying about the deer. I entirely forgot we had rabbits, but we do.

        *mutter* Maybe I should stick to flowers and learn to can grocery store carrots.

        1. There should be a ready supply of the real thing. Cats, after all.

          I have heard that mothballs repel skunks. Maybe rabbits too?

      2. Peppers are now in. I still need to set up the perennial bed and plant the rhubarb and strawberries. I may eventually make a perennial bed by the fence and transplant everything there, but that will probably be a year or two. Right now I just want to get everything established and strong — which means I can’t harvest any of the rhubarb, and I need to pinch off any flowers that do appear on the strawberry plants, since I need to have them putting their energy into growing their roots).

  5. Just found your site via a link. I like it, and will be back for more. I often re-read books because the publishers have become so converged, only drivel that is safe for the snowflakes is printed anymore. That, and books by leftist politicians praising their own bravery, that no one buys, not even other leftists.

    1. There is a pleasure in re-reading books to be found in observing plot architecture, character development and the overall enjoyment of alumni reunion. Being less immersed in the reading allows on to enjoy the scenery.

        1. Yes indeed. I get something new from books I last read a decade ago and some are just on rotation because comfort books. I somehow lost connection with a few older ones- McCaffery I just can’t get into these days. Then the TBR pile erupts and there are the new ones to dig into.

          And occasionally I find one I’ve never read before and its like finding hidden treasure. Those are good surprises.

          1. I also can’t get into MacCaffrey and I THINK it’s because the language she used has been used by a lot of really bad writers. Not her fault, but…

            1. Hadn’t thought of that. Makes sense though. Pern was one of the ones I reread a bunch of times as a kid, when there was no money for books.

              Piers Anthony I used to enjoy, too but once I lost interest it never came back. Sort of like music that was good when I was eight, but can’t stand at eighteen (or ever after).

            2. I think that most of McCaffrey’s work can be best understood as “Romance novels in a Sci-Fi setting”

              1. You can think it, but you’d be wrong. They don’t have nearly enough sex for romance. Hell, they don’t have enough romance for romance.
                And this is a sore point because of all the insane people who insisted DST is “romance.”
                It’s not. it would confuse the hell out of romance readers.

                1. Well, certainly not for the romances people write today.

                  I thought romances back in the 70s and 80s were significantly less racy.

                  … and I suppose that the only McCaffrey books I’ve read are several of the Pern novels, so that’s probably not a representative sample.

                  1. Restoree was definitely romance, and…hm, the one with the giant cat people species, although it was relatively light on the romance.

                    I’d put it more “romance novelist writes scifi.” And DEFINITELY not modern text-pr0n.

                2. DST is in my mental box of “romance”, but I am not a modern romance reader and shun the “Romance” label. So, yes, probably DST would confuse modern romance readers. Also, I am aware that it’s more about Athena growing (up? A moral sense?) than falling in love. But part of growing up can be falling in love, and I like that part of the arc too.

                  I wish there was a label that captured what I do like (Sci-fi-ish with relationship, bonus if there’s more growth than just the getting together over a series, and no porn.), so far I stumble around until I find particular authors then buy everything they write.

                  1. My tastes are REALLY weird.
                    I like space opera but not really Mil SF.
                    Why weird? Because this includes the Prince Roger series (And pip and flinx, which I’ve re-found recently) but NOT outright mil sf. And most nobility in space goes against he wall because the social dynamics and economics are just broken. (Yeah, I know.)
                    Like you I fumble around, find an author and read everything, then move on.

          2. There are some authors that I liked as a teen that I can’t stand now. One example (and I hope folks will have mercy on me for me foolishness 🙂 ) was Stephan Donaldsons Thomas Covenant stuff. I waited as each of those came out in Scifi Book club and shared them with my best bud. Tried to read them again a couple years ago . My lord they’re awful. I got about 10 pages into the first one and practically threw it against the wall. Same with most of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover, especially the later stuff.

            1. Thomas Covenant I discovered later, and had no interest in (think it was in my late twenties, but that was a weird time for reading). At the time, I was trying desperately for something new and got one from a friend. Friend got it back after that weekend.

              Strange thing is, we like most of the same stuff except for that.

              There are definitely some books I like that are, really, kinda crap. Doesn’t matter to me, I’ll take ’em, crap and all. There are indie out there that are in dire, desperate need of editors (some even who speak english as a first language but don’t *read* like it). But for a story I like, I will forgive lots. I’ve graded freshman english composition, so there’s a standard to compare to. *chuckle* Sometimes what separates a good story that I like from a great story that I obsessively check for sequals is not just a good core story, but a story *well told.* It’s not just copy editing, either.

              The good ones tend to learn from their mistakes, though. Chris Nuttall is one that only had a few rough spots that I could see but shaped up into a solid writer quite quickly, all in all. One of my best friends still calls me whenever he comes out with a new one. *chuckle*

              1. I suspect there’s something about being a nerdy out group guy that essentially becomes a world savior that appeals as wish fulfillment to a mid teen boy. My daughters have similar feeling towards Twilight. It fantasy fulfilled for them in the early high school years but they look at it with a bit more reading sophistication and more life experience and realize its Mary Sue crap (as opposed to Covenant that’s Larry Lou crap?) . As for authors needing editors it happens to even good authors. Here I step in to dangerous territory. I think a lot of later Heinlein (and Asimov and others, I’m Looking at YOU Mr. Weber) wandered into diarrhea of the pen/typewriter and would have benefited from a more critical editor. But the publisher KNEW it would sell so paint it green and ship it ASAP.

                As for Mr Nutall yes I have enjoyed much of his stuff including the WWII alternate history. Definitely can see his writing tightening up as he goes along.

                1. Thomas Covenant had the other advantage that Twilight didn’t — there was SO LITTLE fantasy in that era. And what there was was often packaged as SF.

                  1. Sigh. Too well do I remember those dark days when there was less fantasy on bookstore shelves than on snack-food labels.

                  2. Yeah not much high fantasy in Late 70’s to early 80′, (blah) of Shanara, Xanth stuff (kind of ?) cant think of much else from then (Le Guin’s earthsea? I think that’s earlier). But I was a hard to moderate hard Sci-Fi guy who started with Tolkien, but quickly went to Sci-Fi. I enjoyed fantasy when I could find it (Moorcock Corum and Elric of Melnibone stuff). But for some reason Covenant struck a chord with a 13-15 year old kid.

    2. Have you taken the indie ebook plunge? I resisted for years only to realize the books I’d been wondering where they went were there for the reading.

      And welcome to our little insane asylum friendly part of the interwebtubes.

  6. I recently dried some orange slices just like the ones in the header. I just assumed it was for decoration, and then I see that, and wonder how you’d use them in food.

  7. As has been noted here, just because you personally can’t get into a writer it doesn’t mean they’re bad. There is something to taste and personality.

    “Not my thing” is definitely a thing.

    1. I usually go with YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary) when commenting on books/movies.

      There are only a very few books that I go “Nobody Could Like That Garbage”.

      Mind you, some of that “Stuff” I don’t think would be popular here. 😀

      1. I am more troubled by those declaring, “Nobody Decent Could Like That Garbage”.

        While I am confident that not liking a book I loved is not prima facie proof you are an evil person, I am convinced it increases the odds a bit.

        1. What is frightening is what some things loved by those declaring the “Nobody decent” line about writers such as Heinlein are.

          Now, I’ll admit, some of those things the not so young skulls full of mush love to hold up as important and great are things I have interest in, but I have no illusions about what parts of me they appeal to.

        2. That doesn’t bother me at all. I stopped worrying about what those idiots thought In grammar school when I figured out what the mean girls were all about.

    2. It also goes the other way: if someone is bashing a work you love it probably just isn’t their thing. No need to take it personally.

          1. *pinches bridge of nose*

            The “rule” is invalid, then.

            For heaven’s sake, “attack something they love just for the joy of harming something that a person cares about” is a long standing Lefty tactic, and it most assuredly is an attack on the person. Ignore it, they destroy what you love, and move on to the next thing you care about, because it hurts.

            There is a massive difference between “it’s not my thing” and “that thing is garbage, which I shall trash.”

            1. I wasn’t talking about political manoeuvring disguised as opinions about a work.

              I’m talking about the usual stuff humans do: “I don’t like this therefore it is garbage”, “This has X, Y, Z flaws [which I am likely exaggerating], therefore it is garbage and anyone who likes is dumb”.

              1. I cannot go off of what you mean, I have to go off of what words you use.

                Same thing applies to folks who identify what someone loves, and set out to destroy it; I can identify the pattern of their behavior, I cannot identify their motivation. Just because it aligns with a specific political group doesn’t mean that it is political, especially since looking at humans in general there are folks who will join a politically aligned group just for the chance to do whatever they are doing.
                Thus, a rule that bans objecting to bashing, critiquing and saying ‘I don’t like it’ but does not involve resisting ‘political manoeuvring disguised as opinions about a work’ is non-functional, and thus invalid.

                1. I cannot go off of what you mean, I have to go off of what words you use.

                  I didn’t know we were even talking about politics or people deliberately hurting others…. I thought we were talking about people having different likes and dislikes.

                  1. Oh, gads, not another one of your Humpty Dumpty discussions.

                    Look, conversations have two sides and they’re not both in your head. It’s rude to act like you’re talking to someone when you’re not– when you make declarative statements, and people respond, try responding to the words they use. Not what you think they should be meaning based off of what you interpret of their motivation and what you meant.

                2. Thus, a rule that bans objecting to bashing, critiquing and saying ‘I don’t like it’ but does not involve resisting ‘political manoeuvring disguised as opinions about a work’ is non-functional, and thus invalid.

                  As for this… “rule that bans objecting”? I said that someone loudly having a different opinion shouldn’t personally offend you. “bans objecting” is a bit of a stretch don’t you think?

              1. I sincerely hope that they’re all up there, looking down, and either only upset because of the damage it’s doing to the person doing the destroying, or are doing a wry laugh.

        1. Well, sometime “Explaining Why I Dislike It” can leave ‘critiquing’ and get into ‘bashing’. 😉

          1. It can also involve technically correct but non-pertinent critique.

            I had a friend who dismissed Sinatra because “He sings flat.” For a long time afterward I could’t listen to Sinatra without listening to his flatness — but eventually I realized that was the least important thing about Frank’s singing.

            And of course, sometimes the problem is in the audience; if you find Heinlein’s women unbelievable that might reveal more about your beliefs than it does about Heinlein’s female characters.

          2. Oh, goodness yes.

            Sometimes quite justified.

            “This is not a book to be put aside lightly– it should be thrown with great force.”

          3. And sometimes it can’t be explained. Example: I cannot stand to watch Casablanca. A couple minutes, maybe, is all I can take of it. Doesn’t matter which couple. I’ve read the script, and that’s fine. Reads like it should be a great movie. And for many, it is. No issue with the script. Still can’t stand the film. Explanation? *shrug*

    3. Agreed. I try to find out what bothers me about a book, but also I know my limitations. Some things, like getting facts wrong (*completely* wrong, not fiction-wrong. Fiction has to make some sort of sense, unlike the real world) will eject me from the story. Others things, such as taking the reader for an idiot get the *book* ejected from my hand, at speed.

      I can’t quite get in to modern thrillers and many of the bestsellers these days. I can appreaciate talent- King has it, but he’s not my preferred. I can tell a well-told story outside my genres. But I know my likes and dislikes aren’t universal. Judging by sales, there are *lot* of people that disagree, and that’s okay.

      1. It can be fun to talk through why you didn’t like a story, especially with someone who did– you can find out how people work, and that’s always interesting.

        1. Yup. I’ve a friend whose tastes only touch mine in one or two areas, but is mad in love with isekei which I am mosly too picky for. We both like to read, though.

  8. Incidentally, I’ve found that while some writers “keep me out” at one time of my life, they can become my favorites ten years later.

    That goes both ways I found. I can think of one series, in particular, I read and loved in HS (early 80s) as it came out.

    Then I went to reread them, with fond memories, in the late 90s and just did not get why I loved them.

    Then I went back about 2010 to read the first again (I wanted to blog about it) and found myself reading all five in about four days (very, very fast for me).

    I can’t explain why, but certainly those books spoke to two versions of me but in between was a version they just couldn’t reach.

        1. I had the same reaction. Loved it when it first came out, then found it puerile. I’ve mellowed about them since and re-read the parts I like. Didn’t help that he wrote the same 5 books three more times with supplements.

          David Weber does the same thing to me.

            1. The Belgariad books, and the Sparhawk books, are very decent popcorn, maybe even some sort of not so incredibly sweet Poppycock. (for those who haven’t had the pleasure, it’s hard caramel popcorn with nuts)

              In case it’s not obvious, I like them. Need to re-read them again, too….

          1. I think if I reread him right now, I’d enjoy the Sparhawk ones more than the Belgarion ones. I was definitely getting tired of the blatant recycling of ropes with Redemption of Somebody (which redemption takes place right away and almost off-screen), and I didn’t bother to read the series he wrote after that. Heard that the ending spit on the fans about as much as Season 8 Game of Bewbs, so I don’t regret that decision.


            1. I find on reread, The Malloreon is more readable than Belgariad, and Elenium/Tamuli easier to sink into easily. Adult Garion is fun, and Sparhawk is as well, but they’re both very different pragmatic sorts. But I’ve made no secret of the fact that these two series are great comfort reads for me…

        2. Had a similar reaction to Eddings. Enjoyed in my teens and twenties. Couldn’t stand it in my thirties. Some things just need to percolate a bit, I think.

    1. I just recently re read the Lensman. I loved that series as a teenager, and i sent me into lots of other scifi. The re read? Meh. There goes another childhood memory.

      1. I still enjoy them (obviously 🙂 ) as I do the first couple Skylark books. But there’s definitely stuff there that just didn’t age well. And the if you get the original Skylark, if the view of the Japanese man servant was common American view of the Japanese, no wonder they had a huge chip on their shoulder in the 20-40s.

  9. I tend to do the typical-male thing of ‘organic fill’ organization, where the stuff in my workspace isn’t planned out but I know where everything is.

    Away from that, chores and light aerobic exercise work as moving meditation for me, letting me mumble over the current or next scene.

  10. “Petting the cats”-that is what we mere humans may think. From a cat’s point of view it is “receiving the homage that is due from the staff”

    1. They’re very unsettled. Not even the lockdown, but the in and out of kids, of whom one is moving out of basement apartment in the next two weeks, and one is moving in.

  11. I don’t get paid for reading, I get paid for writing.

    Nonsense! Mining the competition for ideas is essential for the artist. Let them make the story-telling breakthroughs (and story-breaking mistakes) so you don’t have to do it.

  12. When I’m stressed doing really violent labor keeps the depression at bay.

    I leave the labor off, but that’s hard with no metal shows.

    I think if work keeps us working from home and places keep acting like COVID comes out at night despite the state being open I’ll need to build a stand and buy a speed bag.

    1. I wrote a boss fight today. That or do something expensive to a computer. (Words I hate to hear about a software platform: It just grew with our needs. Why are you having a problem?)

    2. It can help. So can putting ittby bitty holes in paper targets from far away. Were I wealthy enough to have my own indoor range, well… I wouldn’t be wealthy long. *chuckle*

  13. like seeding the cosmos (they’re coming up beautifully, btw)
    I seriously thought you meant sending out some kind of ships to other worlds, until I hit the parenthetical.
    Not a bad thing. 🙂

      1. It sounds like one!

        Honestly, I figured you probably didn’t have a fleet of actual spaceships… and therefore kept reading it in the sense of spreading ideas or, more locally, good acts, and then reminding myself it’s a flower.

          1. The left’s idea of seeding the cosmos is Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978 version with Donald Sutherland)

      2. How to seed cosmos.

        Get into space. Accelerate at 3 feet per second 7 years. Flip ship. Decelerate 7 years. You are at Alpha Centari.

        The rest is minor details.
        Build Orion interstellar nuke ship:
        First, hollow asteroid.
        Second, make it habitable for 600 people.
        Third, collect enough small nuke bombs to last 15 years, at one per second. (473,040,000)
        Finally, start throwing. Seed cosmos.

        Simple. Just make sure your plate is nuke proof. Not easy.

        1. Just make sure your plate is nuke proof. Not easy.

          Spray it with oil between shots, erosion will be negligible. And you will be making it thick to withstand the force anyway so even unprotected erosion is probably acceptable.

          Quite easy; if you know the trick.

      3. Cosmos seeds nicely by itself. If you keep the cultivars far enough apart the new ones might even look like the old ones.

      4. You seat the cosmos at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe. Mind the social distancing.

        1. *Cradles her head, laughing*

          Oh, gads, the first thing that pops into my mind when someone says “alien” and “gardener” is Garak, and the way that after he worked in the Romulan embassy the ambassador who liked taking late night walks in the garden was mysteriously poisoned by a night blooming plant that only blooms once then dies….

  14. Oddly, If I stay awake long enough (starts at @ 40 hours), the edges of my vision field start to pixelate.

  15. One of the things that I’ve discovered is that my newly developed rucking habit (because it gets me out of the house and range of the TV set on CNN near-perpetually and an axe) has gotten me thinking because when I’m out on the trail-mostly by myself and with some music-I need something to keep me busy.

      1. I have notebooks, notepads, and I was using Google Drive at work when I had time. (Work has cut off access to Google Drive, which slows down my writing.)

        The issue is…I need a decent place to work, and that’s not a laptop unless it’s at a table. Working in my room doesn’t let me work well, and my computer proper is in a place that I can’t work without distraction unless nobody’s home or it’s very late or early.

        …all of which has been an issue the last nine weeks.

        But! I did manage to finish Chapter 15 of The Winter Solist today, and making notes for a reverse-Iseki novel idea. Mostly because of the idea of Kantai Collection and the idea of having as a ship girl of the USS Iowa made me smile. Mostly because she’s-

        1-Tall. How tall? 7′ tall exactly on the mark in flats. Average American female height is 5’3″-scale everything accordingly.
        2-Strong. How strong? Pick up two full wine casks, one in each arm, and not notice any strain. A wine cask is about 700-800 pounds.
        3-A boomer (not <a href="; that one). Besides the fact that she’s a walking strategic weapons system, she is a submariner-and a “Nuclear Navy” submariner-at heart. Which is to say that she’s extremely OCD, somewhat laconic, very smart, very snarky, has a dangerously curious sense of humor, and can drink everyone under a table. Everyone. Even entire companies of Marines on leave in Rota.
        4-Is the <a href=""Only Sane Shipgirl in a household of about five other ships. She regularly has to hold the IJN Yamato and USN Iowa apart-in the air, at arm’s length-when they get into “who would win” fights.
        5-Realizes that there might be <a href="; issues with docking with the main character due to her size. And, she really wants to dock with him.

      2. jerryp tried dictating while hiking. His transcriber said it was like listening to an obscene phone call.

        Asimov also tried it, and his dictation service got a bit weirded out; apparently he got rather vehement at some parts.

        I tried dictating notes while driving. I found I *hated* playing the tapes back; enough that I quick;y gave up on the idea.

        1. I suppose one could set up Dragon Naturally Speaking, or other speech transcription programs, to “listen” to an audio file and do their thing.

  16. “I don’t get paid for reading, I get paid for writing.”

    A good friend once advised me that one prepares to be a good writer by being a reader of good writers. Few professions are free of uncompensated prep time of one sort or another.

  17. I’ve had a bit of a head-desk session this evening. We got our Economic Impact Payment (AKA “Stimulus Check” or my favorite “Trump Bucks”) and have been trying to understand the impact of this on *next* year’s taxes. After several reads, it comes to “I really don’t know”.

    We’re retired, and taxable income puts our federal taxes below the level of the Trump Buck check. I think this might mean that a) our federal taxes would be zeroed out for the year, and b) we would likely be liable for the difference. Further complicating things is Oregon’s crotchety tax code; one way or another, that money is taxable.

    They do let you return the money…

    1. The stimulus check is not taxable income, nor is it an advance on next years’ return.

      1. The stimulus check is not taxable income, nor is it an advance on next years’ return.

        We got our check today too. Dated for Friday May 22. Make sure if two names on it, both of you sign it; required. It is a pretty check. Why it wasn’t deposited since our SS is auto deposited every month? Who knows?

        I’ve read/heard the stimulus check is not taxable income, nor and advance on next years return … Federal … the answer we don’t know, is whether Oregon is going to hone in on the money (tax it).

        For us. This money actually replaces otherwise taxable income. If not taxable, taxable income is down $2400. If taxable, well it just replaced what we would have pulled from taxable retirement funds, a push.

        1. For us, there was very little income hit from the Wuhan Virus (short term. There might be some changes to [redacted] as a side effect of the lockdowns). The explanations, *including those from the IRS*, still aren’t super clear. As best as I can puzzle out, it’s a tax credit, paid in advance. In theory it doesn’t matter what the expected income taxes would be. In light of the rest of the chaos coming out of Mordor on the Potomac, I just don’t want to assume that will continue to be the case by next year’s tax season. We didn’t get the 2009 stimulus money, but friends who did were shocked to have to pay taxes on it…

          So, I’m playing it conservative. Refusing the money for now. If it’s still a tax credit, we’d take it in 2021 and pay Oregon taxes on that. Yes, there are OR taxes, see the OR-40 line item where Fed taxes drop your OR income. There’s a faint chance that OR will change the law, roughly similar to the chance that Jeff Merkley will not be re-elected.

          I might be overreacting. (Moi? He asks innocently.) However, it’s that much less money the Feds have to borrow/conjure out of thin air, and we can do without it. Not rich, not hurting.

          1. As best as I can puzzle out, it’s a tax credit, paid in advance.

            The confusion is coming from the way the check is calculated: it is based on how much you earn this year. But due to the global time machine shortage they sent out the checks calculated by the income on your most recent tax filling.

            If you earn enough this year for the check calculation to be less than what you got you will owe the difference, if you earn little enough so the calculation is more than what you got you get a credit for the difference. It is completely disconnected from what you paid or owed in taxes.

            1. Oh … then we’d be okay, Federal. We’re way under the filing joint level, and won’t go over in 2020 either.

            1. I’m not sure just what it is supposed to be, though I’ve seen it described in the financial news as the tax credit paid in advance.

              The IRS FAQ ( ) just basically says it’s not (federally) taxable, while other sources say Oregon (and 5 other states) currently have such payments as income for state taxes. (Taxfoundation dot org says it’s: Alabama, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, and Oregon)

              Returning the check doesn’t change any plans for us, so I’m going to sit this one out

          2. Yea. Like I said. Potato / Patahto, either state or federal … Would still needed money from IRA’s to cover short fall this month, which is taxable. At least didn’t have to pull $1500 to net $1200 … With the shutdown, our shortfall has been -$150 (or so) because of change in spending, even with the raise in grocery prices. But this month … emergency vet fees add up fast …

            We’ll get nailed on the 2019 kicker refund from Oregon, by Oregon on 2020 taxes, too, for all that it is required because of state law. Federal we won’t get nailed on the 2019 Oregon refunds as our state taxes aren’t deductible because we are under the standard deduction umbrella. We enter everything, but haven’t hit the threshold for years.

  18. “Seeding the cosmos.”

    “And lo! Sarah did set suns in the heavens, and planets about them.
    She then builded up each planet, and separated the seas from the earth, or not.
    She peopled the planets, and all that they needed there.
    And she gave them commerce between their worlds.

    And the peoplesdid come into conflict and cooperation with one another,
    Were fruitful and multiplied,
    or failures and withered away;
    but all leaving stories of their lives behind.”

    1. When you write of “seeding the cosmos” I cannot escape flashbacks to “Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex” and adolescent Clark’s emissions.

  19. Concerning what lasts: in recent years, I have reflected on how a great deal of work and energy is spent on one thing, namely, growing food and getting it to market. This is stuff that literally will rot away within a year, if it isn’t consumed. It doesn’t last in any sense of the word.

    Yet, it’s also the fuel that makes building pyramids and skyscrapers, the scribbling on tablets and parchment, and the building of rockets that enable us to go to the Moon and explore the solar system. Without farming, we would have nothing.

    While watching Fairy Tail with my kids, I sometimes wonder, “can’t we be doing more productive things?” Yet, at the same time, I also can’t help but wonder “How many times would I have mentally broken down without this?” Of course, there’s always a thin line to be concerned about — namely, how much spending too much time on this deprives me of needed sleep — but that’s merely an issue of balance.

    And needing to work with hands resonates as well: after I completed my doctorate, I took a machining class, mostly out of curiosity. I sincerely wish I could have finished the program, and perhaps taken welding/blacksmithing and carpentry as well. I came away convinced that without some education in working with my hands, my education was incomplete. I have even speculated that I might even be in a better financial position, had I earned an Associates (or perhaps not even that — it may have been mere Certification) in these things, and then use them to work summers, to lessen my ultimate student loan burden, if not entirely remove it altogether….

Comments are closed.