Autumn

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Today is one of those life transitions.

The Hoyt nuclear family now counts an MD in its ranks. In the next week or ten days, (they haven’t booked the truck, yet) Dr. and the young Mrs. Hoyt will be making their way out of state for his residency program.

Younger son’s graduation is in limbo due to the fact no one informed him of the bureaucratic things he needed to do for graduation, and he’s kind of isolated due to his unique double-degree path. He just didn’t know that there was paperwork to fill months ago.  (And his counselor apparently is useless or thinks he’s psychic.) Wish him luck as he tries to speed up the paperwork so he can have a diploma in hand soon.

Meanwhile — because I can’t do anything about the bureaucracy and younger son won’t let me beat people up (no one lets me have ANY fun) —  this task is done, and it’s time to get back to OUR life.

Even though a summer of moves lies ahead of us, as we help older son and younger son move, and as we engage in the Great Office Swap of 2020. (Now husband is working from home for the foreseeable future, we need to change where my office is, where his office is, and where the household office and paperwork center is.  I know, it sounds loony, but you’ll have to trust me that it’s needed. It is in fact a way to re-center our marriage on our relationship, rather than the relationship with the boys. … Okay, fine, it’s a grandiose way of saying “We want to be on the same floor during the day and the same floor on our time off.”  Also I have great hopes of getting Dan to unpack the boxes he’s carried for the last three moves, and making his office look less like a warehouse. I’ll probably fail in this, but maybe at least he can hide the “graveyard of computer parts” in what will be a bigger closet.)

Anyway, when this is all done, round July or August, we will move into what will be justifiably “a new normal.”  Which won’t mean a diminished life, as what they’re trying to sell to us with the “new normal” carp, but a step into a new phase.

When and where I grew up, by the time the kids were married and moved away — usually not very far because, let’s face it, the entire country is not very far — it was time for the parents to be OLD (even though objectively they were most of them younger than us, given how long the boys have lingered in education, and how late we had them, through no fault of our own.)  They were retired, or had achieved everything they wanted to in their careers, and it was time to … slow down.   To live a slow and limited life as they waited for grand kids.

We do hope to — hint to both boys — have biological grandkids someday (we already have adopted ones — and before anyone complains at the distinction, these are our grandkids by fans I adopted as my kids even though they have other parents. It’s kind of like a reverse cuckoo’s nest thing. — And yes, we do love them, but we’d like our biological kids to have kids, also.) this new phase of life is in many ways not a diminishment but a reorienting and reblossoming.

I.e. I noticed years ago when I was first published that most of the women who became big in the field did so when they were done pushing the kids out of the house (earlier for some than for others.)

I can tell you that doing mothering right, including supporting them through the upheavals of professional training WITHOUT infantilizing them takes a lot of mental space, even when it doesn’t take physical time.  Or maybe that’s just be and being somewhat (Ah! The person who just smirked in the back row might just get a shoe to the noggin) neurotic.

Well, it’s time to concentrate on the career now.

I’m not going to stop caring for the boys. But it’s time for older son (and very beloved DIL) to go off, have their own adventures and learn their own ways.  Younger son will be moving to basement apartment, at least while he waits the resolution of academic limbo, and perhaps for a few years, if he can find a job nearby, because that will speed up paying off student loans and frankly give us someone on hand if we need SOMETHING.  And in fact this house is just two much house for two people, so until we move, we’ll be fine if he stays in apartment. BUT the apartment is completely separate with its own entrance. We’ve been known to go out to the driveway to see if DIL and older son are home.

We do plan some joint ventures with younger son who is a born organizer/adminsitrator, including AT LONG LAST activating Ink Stain Publishing (And yes, that means Kate Paulk’s books come back on line.  At least if she’s not too fed up with us.  We’ll also publish what she calls The Prussian book (space opera, I’m editing now) and we’ll do our best to get her to write sequels to all of them.)  Younger son will also be setting my indie books in paper, and he’ll be doing other stuff.  You’ll see.  Part of our plan is to get it started, so he can continue it even after he has a job, because some things I’m really bad at, but he isn’t.

But MOSTLY Dan and I are going to do the things that were put on hold 28 years ago, when someone put a helpless being in our arms (by stealth!) and we realized with a cold feeling that we were responsible for him for the next 18 years of his life, and he would die without us.  Turns out he and his brother reoriented our lives to be “parents,” instead of Dan and Sarah.  And yeah, we went a little longer than 18 years, because we were giving them a reach up, so they might achieve higher than we ever did.  And who knows, maybe Marshall will actually manage his life-long goal of “getting us the heck out of this rock.”  And if not, maybe he’ll get us a little further on. Maybe he can contribute something on humanity’s way to the stars.

Now because 28 (almost 29) years ago Dan and I were, ourselves, young idiots of 28, we’re not the same people, and some of our goals have changed. Sort of. Kind of.

He’ll probably get back to his music, but — coff — he’ll probably never be a rockstar.  Or not the way he wanted to be in 1991.  As for me….  Well, the only thing I ever wanted to do is tell stories.  That has been weird and spotty, partly due to the publishing establishment, partly due to family, partly due to health and other concerns and running just ahead of the hungry financial wolf for way too long, and getting in my own way by worrying about politics.

Now, all of those aren’t going to stop — duh — but there is indie now, which changes a lot of things, the kids are more or less on their own (well, younger son will be, hopefully within months AT MOST depending on how fast we can get the university office to realize he didn’t drop the ball, THEY did), the health is — for now — under control and G-d willing and according to family history, I should be okay and mentally allert enough to write stories for thirty years or so, and finances will recover soon.  Politics will still interrupt, but that’s life. It’s possible that they’ve become too silly for even me and I’ll learn to put them in the back brain, or like Robert Heinlein during WWII only read news on the weekend.

Hopefully there will be time for a lot more writing, a lot more stories.  Because that’s what I was made to do.  And I intend to do more of it.

We’re moving, you could say, into the autumn of life. And that’s the time that shines the brightest gold. Right?

And now, I’m going to go over some copyedits, put up some Jane Austen “fanfic” and finish the next book.  In the plans is also a space opera Dan and I have been writing. (It’s the world’s pulpiest thing ever.)

Maybe I’ll even find time for some hobbies on the weekends.  At least after the moves and after moving more rock.  Or not. But I’m going to try.

Go have fun.  The Hoyt family is taking a day of rest.  Which means writing and doing math and well, for the younger part of the family, packing like mad people.

103 thoughts on “Autumn

  1. his counselor apparently is useless

    In my experience while earning two degrees a decade apart, that largely describes most guidance counselors. I found things tended to go most smoothly when our discussions consisted of “Please sign this.”

    Anything lengthier tended to be chit-chat.

    I disliked chit-chat even more then than I do now.

    1. The best strategy is to suck up to the department secretary. She knows when all the deadlines are, and if she likes you, she’ll email you reminders or even backdate a paper or two for you. Treat her like the queen she is.

      1. Look, the boy has done all the work for TWO engineering degrees. That means he recognizes people close to him two times out of three maybe. And is oblivious to anyone else….
        I don’t think HE KNOWS there is a department secretary.

        1. Finding out who that is will help him immensely.
          Though, generally speaking, the older the secretary is, the more useful she’ll be.

        2. It’s been two and a half decades since I was in college, but I recall this shakedown being common.
          And that’s exactly what it is.
          “He’s taken the requisite classes and attained the requisite GPA” doesn’t require layers of bureaucracy and many months of advance notice. Neither does having a fancy piece of paper printed, and having the dean fill in the blanks.
          Everyone I knew who had it happen to them graduated on time. There were just a lot of fees extorted from them. With the “do you want to graduate this semester, or not?” held over their heads.

          Go, mama bear.
          Fall upon these heathens like the judgement they should rightly fear.

          1. I suspect that’s what’s going to be: “Oh, we can regularize this, but it will cost you.” At this point I don’t even care, as long as we can make it right, and I can finish books.

      1. The daughter won’t let me beat on her university parasites, either.

        But if worse comes to worst, maybe we can swap? We live far enough apart for plausible deniability…

            1. A tidbit dredged up from the mists of time which I hope won’t be necessary, but worth knowing.
              As an undergraduate the university catalog UNDER WHICH YOU ENROLLED is a legally binding contract under which the school is required to award you your degree as long as you fulfill the requirements in that catalog. No bait and switch for undergrads.
              Graduate students unfortunately are little better than indentured servants at the best of times, can be toyed with and forced to jump through multiple hoops at the whim of their faculty and advisors. Always been a puzzle to me how so few grad students go off the deep end and assault if not murder faculty on campus.

              1. We had a school shooting a decade ago at UAH where a professor went off when she learned she wasn’t getting tenure. She killed at least three of her fellow faculty. Then it turned out she’d shot her brother years earlier (in Massachusetts!) and her wealthy family had gotten the record expunged.
                It being Alabama and all, I’m reasonably sure she’s still behind bars this time.

                  1. Long time resident of Huntspatch, aka home of the University of Alabama Huntsville campus.
                    Bishop was a total whack job, claimed all sorts of crazy reasons for her misdeeds including not being able to recall being there or doing the shooting. This with several eye witnesses.
                    I suspect that in some more progressive states she would have been institutionalized and placed in a padded cell rather than the iron bars at the Tutwiler State women’s prison.

              2. As far as I know, the catalog year is binding for graduate students too… whether you are an indentured servant or not is completely separate. (… I suppose this might depend on your university.)

                Now if you’re talking PhD students, that might be a different matter.

              3. Right, graduate students one of the few exceptions to the 13th Amendment.

                Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

                Perhaps choosing to be a grad student is considered criminal?

                1. I remember a T-shirt from long ago:

                  THEY CAN’T FIRE ME — SLAVES HAVE TO BE SOLD!

                2. It’s a glamour profession. Like aspiring actors and drug dealers, they are mostly paid in hope that they will be among the lucky few to hit the jackpot and get the big bucks.

                  Raising their wages would only encourage more people to waste more years.

                  1. Mary says “It’s a glamour profession.” In the words of Inigo Montoya, You keep using those words, I do not think they mean what you think they do” :-). My wife was a Chemistry grad student for 5+ years. At least for the sciences your advisor WANTS you to publish and move on. Something like history or english you’re utterly at the mercy of the department and your advisor. And even in hard sciences the number of jobs that are not professor is REALLY small. When they open a tenure track chemistry position at my wife’s State school the applications number in the low 100’s range for the position. and they all have PHD’s or will graduate with one within 6 months. You’ve got a better chance to take the Celtics to their next string of championships as a balding 5’6″ white guy than to get the Brass Ring (or a Nobel) as a Hard Sciences PHD 🙂

        1. Oldest couldn’t get a mentor for her senior (high school) project so got a poor grade for that part; the rest of the project was cancelled in a moment of rich irony.

          BTW, one’s sibling reported that traffic toward the beach was “crazy busy” at lunch.

  2. younger son won’t let me beat people up (no one lets me have ANY fun)

    I was stopped from “having fun” earlier this week, when the house arrest really makes me need to do so.

  3. Congrats to Robert – and good luck on moving the boxes! Despite my general hatred of masks, from one asthmatic to another – beware the reservoir of long ago and far away allergens that makes boxes post-move strongly resemble Pandora’s!

    Things will get better.

  4. Boy howdy am I feeling Younger Son’s pain right now. I learned at 1300 that I should have been getting e-mails about doing something due at 1200 today. And no one is in that office, and none of the e-mails got to any of my e-mail accounts, and my direct supervisor on this has been out sick, just as my indirect supervisor on this project was at the start of 2020.

    Frustration, thy name is bureaucracy!

  5. “Robert Hoyt, MD” – very nice ring to that. My best wishes for him as he embarks on the hardest part (residency – three to five years when you are the closest thing to a zombie that you can get while still having a beating heart).

          1. Could be worse. You could have named him after an artist, and had him go into politics.

            1. I live in fear younger son (named for engineers) will decide to do that. He has the anti-communist virus bad. As far as I can tell directly acquired from me. And he’s passionate and obsessive about it.

                  1. Hopefully he take the engineer’s approach then: Generalize the problem. Translate to where the solution is trivial. Apply solution REMOTELY. Go work on something more interesting.

  6. I am beginning to understand the meaning of “Baaaaaad”.

    Approximate conversation yesterday:

    me: [STORY IDEA] would be interesting.

    other: Write it!

    me: I’m not a writer.

    other: If you argue for your limitations you get to keep them.

    ….. and now I have to write some deep time SF, despite never having written before. Oh dear.

    At least it mostly involves non-humans, so my lack of knowledge of what humans be like won’t be a problem.

    1. Get Thee Dwight Swain’s Techniques of the Selling writer. it will save you three years of stumbling in the dark.
      Skim it first, over like a weekend (hint) then read slower, making notes.
      Then go forth and write a novel.

    1. You guys are so sweet. Feeding my habit, as you do!

      Speaking of which does anyone know if The Pursuit of the Pankera is worth the $10? It seems to come from Team Indie, too.

        1. Here’s what I posted in a private discussion group a little bit ago:
          OK, so I’ve just finished Pursuit of the Pankera, the reboot of Heinlein’s Number of the Beast. Very pleasantly surprised, better overall than NOTB in my opinion, somewhat less twisty, more action, less devoted to the whole multitude of fiction universes. And Woodrow Wilson Smith only had a cameo under an alias. There was a slight sense of choppiness, understandable in that the bulk of the book was pieced together from found working notes. Now I suppose I will have to go reread NOTB as it’s been a few years.

      1. Yes. I loved it. Much better than Number of the Beast, which was terrific till the ending.

        1. I loved Number of the beast, but I have a perverse sense of humor.
          I’m downloading it in audible to listen to while I’m hauling rocks and digging flower beds, and cleaning the house, after I do today’s chapter (See, I mean to be good.)

        2. I think RAH was poking fun at his fans with an intentionally (in fact literally if I remember right) Deus ex Machina ending.

          (WARNING potential spoilers for ~40 year old book) Truthfully I enjoyed it immensely at the time, although the Long/Smith stuff in the middle was a bit more than it needed to be, although it did fit with the whole fiction as alternate reality. Cameos by Lensmen (being Lensmen) and Glinda the Good appreciated.

          Pursuit of Pankera has been calling me though my Scottish ancestry quails at the $10 price tag. I think the rest of my ancestry should win soon now that there are hints it’s worth it.

  7. Congratulations of raising young Dr. Hoyt! And young engineer? Got two nephews who are MD’s myself. And two daughters who ar nurses.
    May your autumn have pleasant rains and beautiful trees. And may your pen be full of stories. And may the Lord bless you with his presence always.

  8. Ah, yes, the paperwork gnomes of academia. Neve had much to so with them directly, but growing up, I heard plenty of stories. They were, with good reason, scared to death of my Father, whose attitude was “You are drones here,to serve the University, not the other way around”.

  9. Congratulations to all! And here’s hoping for my own selfish reasons that the changes in your life do indeed add up to much more writing time.

  10. I have to say that, from what you have told us here, it seems highly likely that you have raised a non-prick MD. Such are always in short supply. Good on all of y’all. May he weather his residency with his soul, his marriage, and his sense of humor intact.

  11. This all sounds like most Excellent News! Y’all needed this for a while and I’m happy for you that things are coming together!

    You know how to reach me if you need anything from the middle of NC.

  12. Congratulations. I know how hard your son worked since my son just finished his degree in Chemical Engineering at VA Tech. Right now he Is waiting for Tech open back up so he can get back in the lab and start graduate school. I bet I am one of the few 82 year olds to have someone graduating from college. My wife though, who is from Albania, is 55.

    It was exactly 60 years ago that I graduated from the University of Idaho and left immediately as an International Farm Youth Exchangee to Turkey for 6 months. This set me on an international career with long term stays in the Turkey as a Peace Corp Volunteer and Fulbright Scholar, Philippines, Egypt, and Albania. There were short term TDY’s and consulting trips to many countries in Asia, the Middle East, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. In between I completed a Master’s and PhD, married twice and raised 5 children, one of which was adopted.

    All I can say to your sons is that you never know where life will lead you. I have had both permanent and temporary jobs as well as being unemployed from time to time, but you learn to survive, and I am still working full time in IT.

    Looking back I guess you would say that it has been quite a journey for an Idaho farm boy.

  13. Congrats to the new Doctor!!! And change is good, especially when it allows you to get your own lives reoriented.

  14. Hey y’all.

    Remember some of the discussion about how Fauci and the imperial college guy were not real programmers, electrical engineers, or computer science types, and hence should not completely relied upon where model based policy is concerned that may have an effect on prosperity or lives?

    https://www.aier.org/article/the-2006-origins-of-the-lockdown-idea/?fbclid=IwAR16aPn6MKMSVqY0YUOHupJrnMM-7Kd5CmSNQT7uZIZuM_Ytop4IXvckr8U

    This traces the initial model for the lockdown to a Robert J. Glass, then a complex systems modeler at Sandia. I think I’ve seen the name recently in another context, but can’t place it. I suspect he knows what a Kalman filter is.

    Tucker at the AIER seems to be arguing the guy’s lack of medical credentials. On the other hand, he also argues that the bureaucratic process a) neglected to include economic and legal experts b) Went against the advice of some medical experts with proven experience with epidemics and vaccine.

    I remain convinced that requiring academics to be sound programmers would be more harm than good, and might be too costly to be feasible.

    I think what we are looking at here is as much an artifact of large bureaucracies. Not being immortal, bureaucrats have a generational turn over. The bureaucracy in practice depends on the people actually implementing it, and their relationships. New relationships are constantly being developed between bureaucrats and experts, so there is necessarily drift in a bureaucracy’s ability to grasp a given subject. A bureaucracy that was effective decades ago, talking to one set of experts, is talking to another set now and hence may not be effective. To make sound high level policy of a given sort, a bureaucracy needs a solid grasp of several fields of expertise.

    People do not automatically know what they do not know. Experts are narrow, and it is quite easy to be talking to the wrong set even when you’ve heard of some of the correct fields. Bureaucracies that set their own policy scope and find their own experts are fail deadly, not fail safe.

    We have a bunch of root causes here. 1. We have the systemic dysfunction of the federal bureaucracy. In hindsight, it is surprising we haven’t had worse problems than this, much earlier. It can only be because of many, many, many people working very hard to minimize the damage, and the grace of God. 2. We have state level trust in the federal bureaucracy, and lack of political support for being able to independently sort things out. 3. We have the extreme philosophical differences within our population, which eliminate many possible remedies, are profoundly complex, and could be simplified down to left and right. 4. It is difficult to believe that some of the domestic actors involved are entirely devoid of malice. 5. International bodies are a garbage basis for policy, because cultural differences, and jurisdiction for punishment. There is basis for systemic trust only within a culture and polity. 6. There’s definitely elements involving questions about certification and regulation of academics, the foundations of science, and how experts are trained and identified. 7. The PRC may well have been deliberately scamming us, and we as American citizens do not have information that would let us exclude the bioweapon scenarios.

    In conclusion: I) I don’t have any actionable new remedies. II) There are remedies that I do have strong feelings of opposition towards. III) I definitely have conflicts of interest. Because of my general efforts at privacy, I have essentially attempted to disclose as few as possible. IV) I’ve attempted to be fair and rigorous, but given how smart and well read the regulars here are, I’m suspecting that this comment was largely a waste of my time.

    1. It is the problem of assumptions. At the moment, CDC “assumes” 35% are infections without symptoms. What if the number is 70%? The danger of concentrated power is being shown very powerfully in this panic. New York sends sick people to “rest homes”. Thousands die. The CDC wants to be the only source of tests. Thousands die. Red China lies to us. Thousands die. The MSM doesn’t want to give President Trump credit, so it lies about Zinc and the rest of the trio. Thousands die.

      We need to break up the monopolies. Start with Google.

      The big 7 should not be able to buy any small company. Competition good. Monopoly bad.

      1. At the moment, CDC “assumes” 35% are infections without symptoms.


        And they do that without any evidence that there was even one. They started ‘assuming’ that non-symptomatic carriers were the cause of ANY coronavirus case where they did not find an obvious link to a known case. They were — and are — just that fucking lazy. They don’t know the answers, so make up some bullshit and silence any objections by waving their Sacred Credentials around.

        There should be floggings. If the facts about this six-month-long farce are ever revealed, maybe there will be.

        Had to go to Lowes today and get a new refrigerator for a rental property. I was told at the door that masks were required by law. I had to set her straight; the mask requirement is an unconstitutional decree by Herr Fuehrer Newsom. She backed off and complained that she could get fired. I put the thing on until I was out of sight of the doors.
        ———————————
        People can make stupid mistakes, but only the government can force everybody to make the SAME stupid mistakes.

          1. I dunno. By the time 2013 or 2014 came around, someone paying attention could’ve worked out enough of what was going on that the stuff of 2016 would have been no shock at all.

            Perhaps we’ve already imagined the worst of it.

            1. Argh. That is little too much like taunting Murphy.

              I should not taunt Murphy-san. Murphy-san will ask Nemesis, the Furies, the Fates, and the Norns to hold his beer.

              I should not taunt Murphy-san. Murphy-san will ask Nemesis, the Furies, the Fates, and the Norns to hold his beer.

              I should not taunt Murphy-san…

  15. How wonderful for you all! Perhaps a little Tennyson to set the next act?

    “Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
    We are not now that strength which in old days
    Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
    One equal temper of heroic hearts,
    Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
    To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

    We ourselves have just completed “launch” more fully, with our two kids definitely graduated, out of the house, and set on career paths. Well, Winnie the Flu has temporarily derailed our daughter since she has been laid off, but she’s recently married to a great guy and they are using the opportunity to look for work in other areas of the country that they’ve always wanted to give a try. PS I am rooting for Denver!

  16. Congratulations!

    And…
    “because I can’t do anything about the bureaucracy and younger son won’t let me beat people up”
    There are alternatives to beating people up. You’re an Author.

    “An enemy can only kill you. A bard tells the truth about you forever.”

          1. I’ve said before that I might be amused by a character named for/modelled on me, and that I do not even expect survival… I do, however, ask that should said character come to an end that end should NOT be meaningless… or, if it must be meaningless, then at least it should be funny (Not an easy thing…).

            Also: Moo.

  17. We’re moving, you could say, into the autumn of life. And that’s the time that shines the brightest gold. Right?

    Beautiful, as always.
    Congratters! and good luck with the various moves.
    -ThePlague Fairy

    1. Well.. We’ll have the younger semi-at-home, but our relationship has morphed. I guess because he’s used to being house-daddy to all his roommates (being of a serious turn of mind) he tends to look after us now.
      But also, honestly, that apartment is mostly its own place (though he says we can use the exercise room down there, at least as long as he’s single) so it’s only semi-at-home.
      And all our friends say that it’s SO MUCH BETTER when the kids leave.
      Now I need to convince my subconscious tor re-orient and make my career important.
      You see, before the kids it wasn’t really. Because when I was not working, I was trying to justify my life by saving money on stuff like furniture and clothes, and cooking really interesting meals from scratch so we’d go out less. (And really, I only was not working when it interfered with infertility treatments.) So, the writing got shoved to catch as catch can. And then the boys and Dan were the important thing, and even when i started making money, my income was so small as to be irrelevant compared to Dan’s, so again it got shoved to the back and done in two hours a week or less, as I could.
      And then I was making as much as an underpaid secretary, and my money was needed to put the boys through school, but the boys came up with bigger and better problems which in turn either blocked me through sheer worry, or (like older son’s health problems two years ago) kept me occupied trying to figure them out (We did, thank heavens, or we’d no longer have a son.) At the same time, my own health has been improving, but still a florid mess. It collapsed utterly about ten years ago. We’ve been rebuilding since. I am ALMOST myself again.
      So my writing has been that inconvenient and unrewarded thing in the back of my mind. No wonder it so often refuses to let me work at it.
      THAT I need to change, and a very dear friend has suggested therapy. Which I’m not sure about because I don’t trust most messianic religions (and the one I was raised in only about halfway.)
      Ah, well. This too shall pass.

  18. I am a bit late reading this post, but I send my best wishes to Dr. and Mrs. Hoyt, and congratulations to you and Dan for raising two such fine young gentlemen. May the degree snafus be resolved quickly.

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