Come With Me And Escape

Between the ages of about ten and sixteen or so, I was desperately unhappy.

There were many reasons for this, and most of them, honestly, are no one’s business. Or they’re other people’s business, but not mine to divulge.

But a lot of it had to do with coming of age and going out into the wider world, and finding that I didn’t quite fit in. I don’t think I’m the only one who reads int his blog and thinks this. Because we are odd.

Do I belong to the autist creed? Well. It manifests differently in women than in men. In fact, i read an article — which I can’t find right now — that explained convincingly that a lot of what are considered transgender/masculine traits in women are a manifestation of autism. It’s possible.

I’ve also heard it said that every one in science fiction is on the spectrum, somewhere, and that sociologists and psychologists go to science fiction gatherings to study us because of that.

<shrug. I don’t now. I know I had the sensory issues that are part of autism until I was about fourteen. (To some extent still have them, but they’re negligible now.) And that there’s an overlap between those issues and “math brains” which I have despite digit dyslexia.

Friends who research the brain have been known to go on at length about brains that re not quantitatively different, but qualitatively different. I.e. brains that create more internal connections and are slower to prune them. This seems to have a covalence with autism. (And the terrifying idea is that the profound autism that manifests as mental retardation might be nothing of the sort, just brains so alien they can’t communicate properly.) And it seems to have a correlation to either not having normal instincts or not allowing them to operate because you “think too much.” (And yes, I got tired of that accusation by the time I was 12.)

Anyway, we know all sorts of things about people like us, including that other kids tend not to like us much, unless they are like us. (I don’t know. Is our behavior perhaps Neanderthal? ;))

So, by the time I started hitting puberty (hard, like one hits a wall) I was acutely miserable. The ever changing curriculum, (because revolution) and the fact that most of it was bullocks didn’t help.

But there was nowhere I could go. I dreamed of going, without having any clue where. (Okay, from the time I was eight I wanted to go to Denver, and be a writer. But that was not only not a plan of action but, considering I thought Denver was by the sea, it was a stupid and slightly insane dream, with no chance of coming true. (Look, I can’t explain it. Himself and His foreshadowing, okay?))

Mostly I escaped into books. As much as I could.

For all I knew, all that lay ahead was a life of living with my parents and getting old, probably teaching English to recalcitrant children, and never fitting in.

I read a lot, and because I was mostly broke (I hoarded my birthday money like a miser, and used it to buy books. Well, except when mom took it to buy me boots, because she thought not walking around with holes in my shoes was important or something. No, I still don’t get it) I read a lot of books five ro six pages at a time, standing up in a bookstore, ready to run when someone said “Miss, this is not a library.”

And I re-read a lot. Everything, really. If it came into the house, it was mine to read. And hiding it was no protection, because I could smell where people hid books.

I think my French and English got good because my brother started buying books in those languages, so I wouldn’t read them, if they were mildly (and I mean mildly) racy.

Oh, and I raided friends’ libraries. And their parents’ libraries. And considered standing on street corners holding up a sign that said “Will work for books.”

The problem is I read really fast, until concussion and eye issues slowed me down about 18 years ago. I’m still not that slow. But I got to the point I read six books a day.

And you just can’t keep up with that. Not on virtually no money.

Yes, I did have a relationship entirely based on borrowing someone’s books. And I’m not even sorry. Look, his parents bought him ANYTHING on condition he would read it. And he didn’t like to read. So I told him what the books were about and gave him lists. It was…. nice while it lasted. (And he turned out okay, I think. Despite being a weird-non-reader.)

So what do you do when life is terrifying and boring (and if you think it can’t be both, you didn’t live through 2020 and aren’t reading this in 2021) and you can’t get enough story?

I’d already started writing, but when I was about 12 it went weaponized. I had entire worlds, and I wrote about them, to remind me of what stories to write set in them.

Mostly science fiction, though I suppose some fantasy. It’s hard to tell, because I wrote this stuff before I knew there was a difference.

And I more or less lived in these worlds (I am, for the first time, now, at 58 writing space operas set in those worlds I created. Or at least writing them in English (I have no clue what happened to my notebooks of fiction in Portuguese) and in coherent form. That is what Schrodinger worlds — I swear coming soon — is about. All those worlds.) I drew house plans. I wrote notes on technologies. I wrote biographies and histories. I lived there at least as much as in the world in which my body happened to be.

Look, it wasn’t healthy. It was too much. And at some point one has to make a choice, to engage with the real world and learn to survive in it.

Which I did, more or less cold turkey at 18. And then I became an exchange student and met my husband…. which is weird since he was a character in my stories when I was 14. (Himself has a really weird sense of humor, okay?)

But I never completely discarded the dreams and the stories. Even when I thought there was no hope of ever being published, I’d dive into my imaginary worlds for a respite from the crazy world around me. Always.

There were two extended periods when I couldn’t do it, couldn’t day dream. The six months right after 9/11, and most of 2020.

It’s coming back, though. Which is good, because I need escape.

Which brings me to one of the first times I shared my fiction with a school friend. I let her read this story where some kids (I was about ten, I think) stepped through a time/space portal into another world where they had adventures.

This girl promptly scolded me and told me that I was bad for writing about people escaping instead of staying here and “solving the world’s problems.” Like, you now, at ten, I even knew what the problems were, much less could solve them accurately.

It will surprise no one to find that this woman grew up to write various books on serious “social problems” right? No I haven’t read them. I have no intention of. They’re YA books about people who are horribly mistreated and stay that way, from what I gather from the blurbs.

But the truth is that escaping does help, sometimes.

I’ve had fan letters about people who found relief in one of my books while sitting by a death bed; while they were themselves ill and immobilized, or simply while living through whatever fresh hell these days throw at us.

Sometimes escaping, even if momentarily, allows us to go on living or cheers us up, or even, after a sojourn in a place of the mind, gives us the solution to our current problem. Or puts it in perspective.

In fact, the older I get, the more I think that people who insist all books must be about “real things” and that escapism is wrong are people who want to control everything you do and think and allow you no escape.

In fact, the only people who object to escapes are jailers.

582 thoughts on “Come With Me And Escape

  1. In the world we live in now, escape is a revolutionary act. Our ruling class are a bunch of hyperactive psychopaths who want to make us all participate in their drama. They have no lives beyond this drama, and certainly no interior lives. They’re empty vessels, which as the old saying goes, make the most noise. Simply doing something else is an affront to them. All the more reason to do it.

    1. We are ruled (in their minds at least, they are rightful rulers) by micromanagers who are wholly incapable of doing 99.9% of that which they attempt to control. It seems we select for these psychos by default.

          1. That would be the next line down (realized I’d left it off about 15 min ago).

            Those who can’t run for office, work in government.

    2. My nonhumans are all packed up like they do when human behavior horrifies them… they just fought a galactic civil war to eject pretty much what’s taking over America…

      … yeah, they and their 13,000 year history live rent-free in my head, why do you ask? 😀

      1. My super-team of assorted talking animals and minor gods from various cultures, with me for over half a century, have not had a fully narrative adventure since 2015 (and why not, I have no clue), but have gotten the band back together and played a lot of concerts from their cool floating stage platform. Maybe a new story will come along eventually. Just saying.

          1. Sarah, you should have no problem glaring inside your skull…. make the eye-rolls that FICUS induces serve a purpose…..

          2. Just one, but it’s a nexus universe for all the others which is why dragons guard the waypoints, and the Agent had to diguise himself as a cat and use a (mostly) human child as a cover to smuggle himself in…

            Of course, I only did enough writing to give me things to draw…

          3. Only five?

            I’m not even sure how many I have — at least partly because I’m not entirely sure whether some stories are in the same ‘verse or just similar ones. Which is why I really need to go through all the file cabinets of notebooks and do an inventory of all the different stories and worlds and see how they fit together.

      2. My human-bird shape-shifters are yammering at me, although, alas, not the next scene.

        Ha, I’ll show them. I’ll finish a fairy tale fantasy and if they don’t shape up, start to type it up.

      1. This video still captures it for me. 50 seconds of “they picked a fight they weren’t ready for.” We planned on taking care of business on January 6th, but the sentiment and intention still apply, I think:

        This Ain’t No Game:

          1. Yeah, maybe not. But wouldn’t it be magic if it became possible? We’d all watch your ship leave the atmosphere and cry like little kids.

            We’d wave, too.

      1. Have you considered the possibility that the Prog-Socs have been sabotaging attempts to make space travel affordable and interstellar travel possible? They can’t stand the possibility of our escaping from under their fists.

        1. As evidenced by their persecution of Elon Musk in order to stifle the launches of Space X vehicles. The persecution started as soon as the usurper HarrisBiden took office.

          1. Well yes, I have. Problem is, I’d have expected advanced aliens to be more intelligent than to make any deals with Progressive-Socialists.

      1. Since it appears that their supply of narcissism is both infinite and self-generated, are you saying, “Off with their heads!”?

  2. Thank you Sarah..
    But that is the joy of books. To be able to escape the drudgery of your daily existence, even for just a few hours. They provide the chance for your imagination to soar to new heights and to be open to new experiences. Anything is possible.
    Whether you are in lock down or ill or bed-ridden, your mind and imagination are free to go wherever they want.
    Plus the fact that you as an author, believe in your characters, make them so real in our minds. It is no different from all the story tellers throughout time. People and children would gather around to listen to the storyteller. Of things magical and obscure. A portal to another world or time, a chance, for just a little while, to forget..
    Where you go, we will follow..

  3. OK, I don’t even like Pina Coladas, but in honor of the title:

    As for escaping through books, oh hell yeah.
    In school my favorite teachers were the ones who allowed me to read after I finished my assignment well before the rest of the class.

    1. Ha! So weird that this should pop here today—watched the MSTK3000 episode last night where Crow and Tom eviscerated this song!

    2. Before I was pulled out of school, I had teachers who wouldn’t let me read when I finished my work. They wanted me to sit quietly until the others were finished. I started to bring in books and hide them in my textbooks. I was pulled out of school after 12 years old.

      1. I ran into that many times across several different states. For people who claimed to support literacy, teachers *hate* to see kids reading…

        It was that way all the way until I dropped out of high school.

        Bonus: the ones who assigned extra make-work if you finished your assigned BS lessons too quickly for them. Then freaked out when I refused to do it.

        1. Clearly you guys didn’t make yourselves obnoxious enough. By ninth grade the teachers in my school were delighted to let me sit in the back of the room reading. For them it was a big improvement on having me actually participate in classroom discussions.

          1. “By ninth grade the teachers in my school were delighted to let me sit in the back of the room reading.” For the third grade I began every day by kissing girls, swiftly banished to the principal’s office where I sat watching “administration,” working my way through a tall stack of Popular Science/Mechanics magazines. Unfortunately I missed math facts and still add and subtract with my fingers (actual and imagined).

        2. they freaked when the make work took me about 15 minutes to complete lol and was back to reading.

          BTW when I went to second grade I was given a booklet that was supposed to last me the full year. I read it and answered all the questions in about two afternoons. Then I handed it in. I ended up in an accelerated class with about ten other students.

        3. So I taught my brothers and sisters how to read and basic math until I was old enough to take extension courses from the college. Going from 7th grade to college courses… was how I was able to get two years of upper education and get into the Navy without a high school graduation certificate. I went into electronics in the Navy btw. lol

          1. Good for you! I didn’t escape until tenth grade. But then I went straight to in-person college courses and lied about my age. It would have been hard to pull that off if I’d been two years younger.

              1. Eventually it’s best to skip ahead and learn more. I went from basic economics for non-majors to graduate level courses on economic and agricultural development. I was surprised how well I did

      2. I remember that. I found a way to break into the classroom and climb through the window when the teacher wouldn’t let me take my book with me out to lunch recesss. Never could remember why not.

        1. At a guess: “Children shouldn’t be sedentary and reading; they should be playing with the other kids at recess!”

          As if those of us denied books didn’t spend out recess wandering apart from the crowd and making up imaginary worlds in our heads instead.

          1. So many time recess was spent alone, tracing a diagram of a crystal set in the snow. To the point that that is pretty much all I can recall anymore. Yeah, that ‘socializing’ really worked! But USENET and IRC… weren’t there (or weren’t readily accessible) yet.

            I am willing to generous and forgiving. But the GREEN CARD LOTTERY duo who spammed and inspired others to follow? Well… I’ll forgive them, too – in several millennia of millennia. Bastards found a relief valve and cemented it up. Maybe a couple dozen millennia of THOSE millennia.

            1. I remember the Green Card Spam. I also remember one of the duo whining afterwards about how USENET was an untamed wild west wilderness that badly needed taming. My response was that the duo desecrated the sacred lands of the natives, and then got all righteously upset about how the natives wanted to scalp them.

          2. I read at recess too, in large part because I had lots of social anxiety and didn’t really know how to connect to the other kids. In retrospect (which I didn’t realize at the time), the social stuff didn’t work because I found the other girls pretty boring. I wasn’t interested in what they wanted to talk about, and things I might have been interested in they would have found pretty strange. I wanted them to like me, but I didn’t actually like them all that much. So of course it didn’t work.

  4. Oh, I know *all* about That sense of humor. Spent most of my teens wanting absolutely nothing to do with the opposite sex (or the same sex, or ANY sex, aliens included), finally gave Himself a laundry list of exactly what it would take for me to get married.

    Got it. Right down to certain very specific details which I don’t talk about in public.

    But nothing beats my mother’s unhappily single friend, who collected frog figurines due to the joke about “gotta kiss a lot of frogs to find the prince.” She ended up marrying a Frenchman. Named Kermit.

    1. God does have a sense of humor.
      He also responds to all prayers. Usually with “Yes”, “No”, “Not now”, or “Surprise!”

      1. Definitely the Author does have a sense of humor. Don’t think so? Pray for patience sometime and see what happens …

        1. Two of my favorite prayers:

          God, give me patience and give it to me now!

          God, please give me patience. Not opportunities to be patient; I’ve had plenty of those and they aren’t working.

    2. *laughs like a loon*

      Oh, that is great.

      I, likewise, had no interest in sex. Understood the mechanics– in all variations up to IIRC two of each sex because beyond that it’s just repeating– and just no interest.

      Dated after I joined the Navy, had spectacularly bad luck, decided that I had a SUCKER sign on my head so I’d be single.

      Then my best friend figured out he had to be pretty direct to get through to me, and informed me he was interested. 😀

      We still make folks either go “how cute!” or “gah, get a room,” and not from PDA.

      1. *cackle* Yeah, Husband Unit and I are much the same way. Clueless but forthright once Clue has been obtained.

  5. > profound autism that manifests as mental retardation might be nothing of the sort, just brains so alien they can’t communicate properly

    Sad, but it’s a contra-survival mutation.

      1. I’m reminded of the Tom Lehrer line that people who can’t communicate should just shut up, but then I’d never get to say anything.

        1. then I’d never get to say anything


          Then I get accused by some of ignoring them, not participating in the conversation, because I had “just shut up” … Actually happened with my in-laws not that long before FIL had his final heart attack that ultimately killed him. I swear. I cannot win.

          The good that came out of the above? Hubby was not willing to let them walkover me that way. We packed up to leave at his insistence. We were not coming back, ever. I appreciated his defense. Loved him more for it. I wasn’t willing to let him sacrifice his parents over this. It also set the tone with his mother the next spring at his dad’s funeral and that next summer after our first child was born.

          He has always had my back with others. H

      2. It works both ways. I often try to tell people something that should be important to them and I can *see* that I’m not getting through.

        Yes, I understand that most people go by feelz instead of a logical chain of concepts, but… [sigh]

            1. Yeah. There’s been a deep current in our society that tells you that consulting your emotions instead of reason or logic is a superior method of making personal decisions and coming to the truth. I remember back in the seventies when I was in my twenties and thinking: “But what if your emotions are wrong?”

              1. Yep.. that’s why we need to learn logic and temper it with emotion so neither gets the upper hand. i’m so bad at the emotion thing too.

              2. I run primarily on emotion for personal decisions up to and including where I live. (Husband got a contract taking us to our current location, and within 15 minutes of driving around my backbrain went “HERE!!”. Never regretted it.) For decisions that involve people *beyond* me and mine, my feelz are inadequate and likely harmful because, surprise, people aren’t alike.

                And you do not *want* to be the person who pushes me into “pure reason” in personal matters, because it means my primary motivation is now “Are you a distant threat, or an immediate one?”

                1. This is actually an aspect of Catholic theology– no, wait, don’t run away for sheer boredom! This is quick, I promise!

                  K, the thing is, we’re morally bound to listen to our conscience.

                  We are also morally bound to properly form our conscience.

                  The stuff that is close to you? Of course you’re going to be well trained in acting on information without having to formally go step by step through it.

                  1. Actually, that makes a ton of sense. I’ve always figured that *most* of my hunches (there are a few that are Clearly Not Me in origin) were mostly just shorthand for “my subconscious is way ahead of me”.)

                2. I think self-knowledge helps a lot in personal decisions, which to me is a form of reasoning. I love big old Victorian houses (probably because I spent 15 years in San Francisco). We bought a shabby one 20 years ago with the intention of fixing it up. I got laid off, we had no money for quite a while for those sorts of repairs, when we moved in we had small children, and my husband has no urge to do that kind of work. So when I finally had to do what I considered the minimum to sell it, it was absolutely exhausting and took two years.

                  I still yearn after big Victorian houses with high ceilings, but when I looked for a house to buy, I discounted it considerably. The ones that were fixed up were too expensive and the ones that were cheaper needed a ton of work which I knew wouldn’t happen. So we live in a 1977 colonial which I do not love, but which is perfectly adequate. And I’m not going around with huge projects hanging over my head like the sword of Damocles and depressed about the shabbiness of my environment.

                  I’m also reminded of an acquaintance from 20 years ago, around 38 with 2 small children. Who decided she was going to “follow her heart” and become a professional singer (with no experience and only an average voice). Kind of blew up her life and I doubt she was any happier in the end.

      3. Additionally you have the problem of people who simply will not hear what you have to say.

    1. So much of what we know and learn is mediated by language that those whose brains never developed that particular ability really do have a handicap in a society of talkers. There is *something* going on in there, but if they can’t talk about it, we have little idea of what it is. It seems to be a mostly sensory and emotional world…not the rational one we like to think we live in.

      1. Not to mention letting our pets speak. Bunny the Talking Dog in particular is surprisingly eloquent. Billi the Talking Cat, less so, but she is confirming one stereotype: her favorite speech button is “mad.”

      1. I have yet to see too much ammo or common sense. Too much for the floor to handle, maybe, too much to safely store in one place perhaps, but not “too much” in general. As to the latter, it beggars belief. *grin*

        Too many books? Unpossible. There’s always room for moar books. Too many loving families? Bah. Excess of cuteness in kidlets, kittens, puppies, and suchlike? One assumes it to be akin to the mathematical concept of the limit (approaches ever closer, but does not meet).

        The virtues, as well. One does not become “too kind,” as enablers are not such, nor is the saccharine sweetness of those who only think themselves to be doing good. The world will never be full up on good men and women, nor have a great excess of true wisdom, I believe.

        I would be glad to be proven otherwise and have need to beg folks to tone it down just a little bit so’s we can all relax. *chuckle*

        I think I know what you’re getting at, though, and I do not disagree. Especially with brain chemicals, we don’t know half what actually is going on in there. And the less said about the reproducability crisis in the sciences, the better. My mind just went off on a tangent for a bit, there.

        1. *grins*
          The trick, in that one, is that it’s logically redundant.

          In order to be “too much,” it has to have reached a level where it causes problems.

          …my mom was not impressed…no, not pleased… when I pointed that out during a discussion. Even though she knew I wasn’t be a smartmouth, and that it meant I was paying attention to what she said. 😀

          On the virtues, that’s a wiggler for “too much” in the virtues– where you sacrifice one virtue for another. Say, charitas, Christ-like love, which usually encompasses kindness, you can violate justice and prudence even if you avoid the more common pitfalls of having others bear the cost of your charity, because you give too much of yourself. The Boss being able to be perfectly just and charitable is one of His selling points!

          My mind just went off on a tangent for a bit, there.

          Sounds fun to me. 😀

    2. It may be contra-survival under the current socialization and education processes norms use. Autistics, being literally wired differently, need a different form of programming; and maybe even an entirely different social form.

      I do know that several studies have shown that autistic boys are 10 times more likely to have gender dysphoria than norms. So if you see an M2F transgender, you’re very likely to be looking at someone on the spectrum.

  6. > thought Denver was by the sea

    The Goog says the width of Portugal is around 218km, about 135 miles. Considering I sometimes drive that far to visit friends, I don’t see that’s an unreasonable assumption for a child to make. From my [well inland USA] point of view, all of Portugal is near the sea.

      1. In Ireland back in the 1980’s, Limerick to Galway, which is all off 50 miles, was considered a full day trip. At the time, that was my daily drive to work. There’s a 2 lane road now so they’ve moved on but they still have issues with the sheer size of the US.

        1. A Cornish group of online acquaintances were boggled at the 400 mile trips I regularly took to visit my folks. me- “What? It’s just 6 hours”

          Then a German friend, well traveled and his son (also well traveled as Mom is Thai and they all lived while he was 5 to 12 in the USA. youngest son who couldn’t make the trip is named after me btw) stopped in for a visit with son’s friend who’d never left Germany. First they flew into DFW, because it was cheaper and more convenient time-wise than the flights into Houston, so hit the ground, rent car, and drive to HOU, Dad had biz there so they spent the night, then drove to NOLA, stopped for a visit (“So, what do you think of the U.S. so far?” “BIG”) and left after supper to get to Waveland (Land biz for Dad), then a day later, drove to Tampa FL, because Dad had dealings there as well, and got to spend several days there, then drove back to DFW to catch a flight home. So he traveled 2500 miles or so, and realised it was only a few states he went through.

          1. I know, they’re very modern now. I remember the first time I drove my wife to Galway, as you leave Clare there was a sign saying road narrows ahead, She screamed. I’ve made the trip many times and always seemed to get stuck behind a cattle truck. Not as much fun now.

            They used to call the road between Limerick and Shannon THE dual carriage way since it was the only two lane road around. They certainly exploited the EU to their advantage since the Germans paid for those nice roads. Now the bar tab is coming due and they’ve discovered they traded 800 years of British rule for German rule, idiots.

              1. We were bought and sold, for English Gold, such a parcel of rogues in a nation. Substitute Chinese for English and you’d have an anthem for us here and now.

                  1. Because Wilhelm II was a loser who wanted the respect of his peers, and war was an acceptable way to get it.

                    Remember, in the Europe of the time there wasn’t any stigma to starting a war; conquest or tribute were quite good reasons, as was “just wanted to keep the boys sharpened up.”

                    What he didn’t figure on was that the cheese-eating surrender monkeys chose to keep fighting, a dozen other countries saw a good bar fight and jumped in, and von Moltke and his staff had discounted the current and former French and British colonies, which was a very bad mistake. It wasn’t just Germany bitch-slapping France and taking their lunch money again, it snowballed into “Germany vs. just about everybody.”

                    And then there was Wilson, who snatched an armistice from the jaws of absolute victory despite opposition from his own government…

                  2. Serious answer: The Austro-Hungarian Empire was fighting to expand their influence in the Balkans and avenge the murder of Franz Ferdinand and his wife. The Germans were fighting because the Austrians were their only ally, and Germany had left them in the lurch a couple of years back. The Russians were fighting because THEY wanted to expand THEIR influence in the Balkans. The French were fighting for revenge. The British were fighting to cut down the German fleet, and because the Germans had violated Belgian neutrality.

                    Suffusing everything was a creamy romanticism. Everybody wanted a helping of martial glory.

                    The greater question is why it kept going…which can be summed up in one word. Communists.

                1. Speaking of China, one of the squares on my 2021 bingo card is “China breaks apart (again) into warlord states.”

                  We’ll see.

                    1. Biden won’t stand up to them. I am firmly refusing to panic, until I have to, with my son and daughter-in-law and her fantastic family all living in Taiwan.

                    2. They need you to stay resourceful and nimble; they may need you in order to get out.

                      I’m not sure how I’d process that kind of panic. I’m sorry, it’s got to be intense.

                    3. That’s assuming everything doesn’t go up prior to that because of the open invitation to try to eradicate Israel that HarrisBiden have issued:


                      High level positions are being filled with people who openly support groups that call for not only the destruction of Israel by the worldwide genocide of Jews. The reason Democrats, including HarrisBiden keep referring to Trump as Hitler, Republican Senators as Goebbels, and regular Republicans as Nazis, is because the Democrats as usual are projecting. It is the Democrats who are looking for a “final solution”.

                    4. I’ve been wrong before, but I don’t think the FICUS is going to last six months. Terminal writer’s cramp from signing all those unconstitutional executive orders, if nothing else.

                    5. “Biden won’t stand up to them.”

                      That assumes that China won’t try to intentionally provoke a war. There are some provocations that even the current Dem administration would be unable to ignore. A protracted war with the US would be ruinous for China. But a short, sharp, successful war might be seen as a way to both boost China’s prestige abroad, and help to unify the country at home. Of course, wars with the US only tend to be short if the US wins handily. But China wouldn’t be the first Asian country that thought it could quickly bring the US to the negotiating table.

                      Something to remember is that sometimes authoritarians are essentially looking for an excuse to go to war. For example, Hitler was upset with the Munich Agreement that Chamberlain crowed about, and that essentially gave Hitler everything that he’d publicly demanded. According to William Shirer, Hitler *wanted* a war with Czechoslovakia over the Sudetenland, and the glory that would come when victorious German troops marched into a now-subjugated Prague. The agreement pushed by Chamberlain robbed Hitler of that perceived opportunity. In short, one of Hitler’s primary goals in demanding that Czechoslovakia give up a good chunk of its territory was explicitly to start a war.

                      Hitler had better luck with Poland in this regard in 1939.

                      I’ll add that if Chamberlain hadn’t interfered, the Czechs might very well have succeeded in defending themselves. They Czechs were military allies with both the French (who were also militarily allied to most of Eastern Europe, meaning that Poland, Hungary, and Romania might all have joined in against Germany in such a war) and the Soviets, so both nations would probably have come to the defense of the Czechs if Germany attacked over the Sudetenland. And the area of Czechoslovakia that the Germans would have had to invade through was heavily fortified, so much so that even Hitler himself realized afterwards that his generals counseling caution in the war he wanted might have had a point.

                  1. 2021? Not quite so fast, I think. Their taking backover/’reclaiming’ Taiwan will divert the masses for a bit longer. For sure, China Joe won’t do anything to upset his (pay)masters.

                    1. China’s not ready to grab Taiwan yet. Its capability is improving, and it can make life very, very miserable for the Taiwanese. But it doesn’t yet have the logistical capability to support an invasion even if the USN doesn’t intervene.

                    2. Didn’t mean necessarily militarily. The Red Dragon rattles its sabers, and the U.S. does *nothing* thanks to the corruption of the leadership. Red China tells Taiwan, “See, you have no friends left powerful enough to counterbalance us.” Taiwan settles for a Hong Kong-style ‘special relationship, even after seeing how well that’s been working for the Hong Kongese.

                  2. Won’t happen unless Trump can prove the fraud beyond reasonable doubt in the Senate impeachment trial. He was keeping enough heat on the Chinese that they could well have imploded in 4 more years. Unfortunately, Biden takes the heat off them and they can suppress dissent by killing another million or so people.

                  3. China is in the beginning stages of one of the largest demographic catastrophes in history. One, among many, of the tragedies of our current situation is that Trump would have given them a shove.

                    1. Their one child policy means almost every combat casualty is the end-of-the-line death of the sole heir for two parents and four grandparents. The traditional Chinese way of war will cause domestic unrest very quickly if it drags on.

                    2. Ironically, even though Beijing has done away with the One Child Policy, most Chinese parents are still only having one kind.

                    3. ….are you aware of the methods they used to ensure that you would only have one child? Even if you managed to hide the first pregnancy, and they only found out about the second at a late date?

                      What, are the women’s wombs and/or ovaries supposed to spontaneously reform because the law under which they were mutilated is no longer in effect?

                    4. Hindsight is twenty-twenty. But having the kid and raising him to fully adult and losing him is much more costly than just not having a kid.

                  4. When they invade Taiwan, and Taiwan cracks a can of sunshine on three gorges dam? Entirely possible.

                    1. I don’t believe Taiwan has nukes, and HarrisBiden would never use them, even if the CCP or anyone else nukes us first. If the CCP invades Taiwan, they will be on their own because no-one will intervene. You will hear the rote “strong condemnations” but nothing of substance will be done. The CCP knows this.

            1. I heard one guy quip it was best to live near one of the race circuits because the roads were slightly better taken care of. Tandragee, though, still looks a bit patchy:

              1. That is very true in the Poconos. There was a bridge on a road that across a lake near to the Pocono Superspeedway in Long Pond PA which is one of the only two access roads to the track. It would never have been repaired but for the need to have two way traffic on it for race day.

                1. The roads around Texas Motor Speedway were worked on too. though not until after the first race, so it was a hot mess before they figured out how to make it just a mess.

            2. Yeah, but all the big new highways were still built to avoid fairy trees, fairy rocks, and other sites reserved for the Aes Sidhe. Which is nice and all that, except that I wouldn’t want to live in fear of sometimes-hostile alien beings who are probably related to me.

              The good news is that if you avoid fairy rocks, hills, etc., you are probably also avoiding early human sites, and therefore avoiding paying for archeology.

              1. The claims of correlation there are — somewhat overrated. (Obviously sheer random distribution produces some.)

            3. My brother lives near Kinvarra and his digs (archaeology) are all in Clare on the Burren. I’ve spent a LOT of time driving up and down Clare and around and across Ireland. To me, the motorway from Dublin to Galway is still “new” even if it’s about 10 years old now… 😀

              1. I know how you feel. I learned to drive in Ireland in an old Hillman Hunter in a big. There were only two dual carriage ways in all of Munster. Now it’s all highway. Very boring

                I have an American friend who was driving in Clare out past Listowel. He’d be never been to Ireland before. I asked him how was the driving he said bad but He knew he could drive into the hedges if he got into trouble I told him. There are stone walls in those hedges. Driving in west Clare ought to require a special license

                1. I let my brother do the driving…I just slam on the imaginary brake on the American driver’s side. 😀 He lives on a road that is about 1 1/2 cars wide with walls and hedges on either side. And, sometimes the neighbors chickens get out and you have to stop and toss them back over the wall. He just bought a place out in Fanore…the ride out there from Kinvarra is…exciting…especially when those giant tour buses are coming the other sway.

      2. This is the sort of thing the “well if {insert European country that’s the current darling of the socialism crowd} can give everyone who lives there {insert cause du jure} why can’t we” don’t seem to get.

        Their European darling country is MAYBE the same size as New York City with 75% of the population. Of course someplace that small can have:
        * An excellent public transportation system that reaches everywhere
        * “Universal” health care (for certain values of “universal,” just don’t come down with something major)
        * Walkable “cities”
        On a size-for-size basis, NYC has all of those things (well, except what THEY think is “universal” health care.)

        I mean heck, MICHIGAN is only about 100k km^2 smaller than GERMANY (and Germany has ~10x the population) So if you staple Kentucky to Michigan, you’ve got Germany, and you STILL don’t equal the population…

        1. They loves them some Sweden and Finland, but they are wastelands people-wise over much of the place, and things don’t work nearly as well as they are told, or they believe what’s not true (The Danes will state outright that while they have big social programs, they are not socialist, because socialism does not work)

        2. If you stapled Kentucky to Michigan, you’d have some darned fine hunting and camping, a lot of pasties and ham and beans, a lot better uses of Michigan water, and Ann Arbor and Lansing would be scared.

        1. Yeah. most of my ride destinations were rather far away. Camp Wood from Alvarado for lunch, then return home. The straightest way. (about 5.5 hours to and some riding after on the Sisters then home)

        2. We do that here in Southern California, as well. But that’s because of the bad traffic. Two hours going one direction isn’t the same distance as two hours in the opposite direction.

          1. Sooooo true. And also terrrifying. Sever or eight lanes of traffic, whizzing by the 55 MPH speed enforced by radar signs at 75, wall-to-wall cars.

            Even northern Scotland in the dark in a Thunderstorm is easier.

            1. We drove down to San Diego in ’81 from Longview. Took my German Shepard. Hit the Grapevine at 5 PM Friday … she was laying in the back grumbling at the vehicle surrounding us, all the way through LA. (She knew better than to be up and barking.)

        3. The segment of I-10 that runs through Texas is longer than the ones that run from the Texas state line to either coast. IIRC, the segment of I-10 in Texas is the longest continuous run of mile marker numbers in the entire Interstate Highway System.

          1. Looks like I-5 from the Mexican border through California to Oregon is longer. Not sure about continuous mile markers. I do know that riding through West Texas takes most of the day, and all of it looks just like all the rest. Hot, dry, dusty, windy NOTHING as far as you can see. Might not be the middle of nowhere but you sure can see it from there.

            There were ‘Curve Ahead’ signs for miles before a left curve of about 15° — I figured it must have been the only curve in the entire county and they didn’t want anybody to miss it. “We do have a curve in the road, we DO!”

            1. Unlike North Dakota where I suspect I-29 curves every once in a while ONLY so drivers have to stay awake and don’t just tie off the steering wheel and take a nap or read a book or…. whatever.

          2. There’s that old saying:
            El Paso is closer to Los Angeles than to Texarkana
            Texarkana is closer to Tallahassee than to El Paso
            Amarillo is closer to Chicago than to Brownsville
            Brownsville is closer to Mexico City than to Amarillo

          1. I’ve done this several times in both directions, but I vaguely remember the first time I hit Houston, heading West, and didn’t believe the distance to El Paso.

            It was real. I could have tied my steering wheel in place with a bungie cord and slept for much of it, the road is flat and straight as a pin.

            And the drive took…. three weeks. Or felt like it.

      3. One of my history teachers delighted in repeating his story of a research trip in the Balkans: “So we passed this old stone church, half tumbled-down, obvious damage to the walls. Our guide pointed to it and said “TURKS did this.” “Damn. When?” “1460,” he said with absolute venom.”

          1. If you fix the problem, you can’t fundraise off of it. See also: “systemic racism”.

    1. All of England is within 75 miles of the ocean, according to Theroux in Kingdom by the Sea (good book, btw). We were going home to Vancouver, Canada after a year in England, driving across from Chicago where our van had been shipped (I think), and I wrote to my friends that we were “only” 650 miles from home. My dad got a good laugh out of that, told me they would not understand.

    2. weirdly, my parents are only like 5 miles from the sea as the crow flies. It’s a 20 minute drive on the highway (well, lots of little villages to route around) . If I’d grown up NOW we’d have been there every day it wasn’t raining.
      BUT when I was a kid, it took an hour by car and two and a half hours by bus. So I grew up “inland” but only due to the quirks of transportation.

    3. I have a vague sense of Denver being by a sea — a dry sea, gone long ago.

      Then again, where wasn’t?

      1. “a dry sea, gone long ago”

        Sounds like a line from Bradbury’s, “Martian Chronicles”.

      2. There’s a road in souteastern Michigan called Ridge Highway that follows the old shore of Lake Erie as of the last Ice Age. Today, Lake Erie is about 20 miles away.

      3. It was by the sea when Mrs. Hoyt was young and wanted to live there and be a writer, before she was shot at a protest by a Communist and dreamed this whole “reality” in a near-death delirium.

  7. I totally understand the devouring of books. Between the ages of 10 and 14, I read all of the science fiction, all of the Hardy Boys, Tom Swift, and History books at the Carnegie Library (later taken over by the county). All the librarians knew me. i brought home 2-foot stacks of books every week.

    Then I got sullen and lazy, reading mostly technical books; but, at 60+ I’ve mostly grown out of that.

    Surviving cancer helps focus the mind a bit, so I’ve gotten more picky about what I read. Which is why I hang out here.

    1. Honestly, it would have been a lot cheaper for the county school system to just give me a meal card and a library card. Less disruptive, too, since I had “natural target” painted all over me.

      But yep, six books a day is pretty good. Sometimes I hit seven or eight, but those were thin paperbacks.

      1. I did about 300 pages per day for a long, long time. More or less a thicker book a day, or some random number of thin ones. I was a constant pest to every teacher who was known to give out library slips (so we could waste– er, I mean study there instead of in study hall).

          1. LOLOL oh my, wouldn’t that be something… maybe I’d finally get caught up with my peeps’ history…

        1. I creeped out my aunt at the tender age of five or so, when she found me in bed with my eyes wide open a couple hours after bedtime. “What are you doing, sweetie?” “Rereading all the books I’ve read today.”

          Five was Narnia year, so at least I was picking good ones. 🙂

      2. I had “natural bully”. (mostly because very large for the place and time and also oblivious which can be mistaken for self confidence/attempt to intimidate. Oh, apparently large vocabulary also a problem. And,in Portugal at that time, not seeing why I should kow tow to males.) Only I wasn’t. So I found it bizarre to be attacked by bullies wanting to establish dominance.
        After a while I got pissed and started fighting for the right to be left alone.
        Then I realized they were going after smaller/weaker/handicapped kids, and I GOT REALLY pissed.
        This is why the few pictures I have from before 22 have me in the middle of a group of people who barely reach my shoulders….
        They weren’t precisely friends. I only had two or three friends at a time.
        But they were my…. kids? flock? They were my job, I guess, and I protected them from bullies, mean teachers and themselves (when I could.)

  8. I wasn’t diagnosed as being on the spectrum until I was over 50. Until then life was a never-ending round of “why don’t you”, ” you have to”, and “what’s wrong with you?”, much of which I internalized. To be more specific, I had problems associated with high intelligence and poor physical and social skills. I learned well that those who are different or extraordinary in any way, either “below” or “above” average have trouble relating with those who are normal. It’s fairly often said that beauty is a curse (Perhaps a mixed or double sided blessing would be more accurate) and so it is with intelligence.
    My father (and to a lesser extent, my mother) was a reader and kept an ample supply of books. I read for both education and entertainment. ( I recall reading the encyclopedia, for instance, for escape from drudgery, boredom, sibling conflict, persecution from schoolmates, and assorted other ills and nuisances) almost as soon as I learned how to read, which further contributed to my Oddness. I could easily impress adults…my peers, not so much. To be honest, for me, reading is an addiction. It’s a fairly benign one compared to alcohol or drugs, and has some benefits, thought there’s a downside, too.
    I had an early preference for science fiction; i recall that my grade school library had Jules Verne and Tom Swift. Fantasy came later, when a friend introduced me to Tolkein’s work. Although I had daydreams of writing great science fiction, they never materialized. I was working on mastering science fact. I wanted to be a scientist or engineer, but those ambitions ran aground. I’m not a natural storyteller or entertainer…those are work, although I am working on them.

    1. To be honest, for me, reading is an addiction. It’s a fairly benign one compared to alcohol or drugs, and has some benefits, thought there’s a downside, too.

      #ditto – Not just the cost of books either … although with eBooks the storage issue has been solved. eBooks has also solved the “not fitting in” when standing around waiting in line. Everyone is looking at the phone these days … it just that I’m reading a book …

      1. AND I don’t have to get embarrassed that I’m the only woman with rockets/robots/aliens on the cover of book I’m reading.
        That used to be a major problem.
        AND ARGH when I was very young often had people ask me “Is that for school?”

        1. We have one of these on a car:

          and I’ve had folks come up and ask “oh! Fairy Tail! Is that yours, or your husband’s?”

          Because they’re geeks, they respond with pleasure when informed “both!” and I get to sparkle about how Gajeel is much fun.
          (Standard bad guy turned good guy, but they did it well.)

              1. Yes! Initial D! Woo hoo! You see the odd Toyota ripping around with a “Fujiwara’s Tofu Shop” sticker in Japanese on the door. I wanted to put one on my crew cab (because that’s my bizzare humor) and was vetoed by Young Relative. Too cringe inducing.

            1. In Jack McDevitt’s “Chindi”, set on an alien planet in the 23rd century, they needed a helicopter. One was duly pulled from a museum and shipped to them. The side was marked “CANADIAN FORCES.”

                1. I don’t think it said. But I was amused by the reference to The Frantics’ “Army Careers” skit.

                  Recruiter: All right. Well, would you like Army, Navy, or Air Force?
                  Ed Gruberman: Who has the most guns?
                  Recruiter: Uh, Army.
                  Ed Gruberman: I want Army.
                  Recruiter: Okay! Now which courses would you like?
                  Ed Gruberman: Courses?
                  Recruiter: Yes, to learn a career.
                  Ed Gruberman: I don’t want a career, I want a gun. I want a biiiig gun!
                  Recruiter: Everyone wants a free education. It’s our incentive to enlist. Now, pick three from this pamphlet.
                  Ed Gruberman: Introduction to International Politics? Computers 101? *Antique Restoration?*
                  Recruiter: Yes, that qualifies you to work on our helicopters.

        2. Yea– that was considered embarrassing. But the dirty secret was– other women were hiding romance covers while we were hiding sci-fi covers 😀

  9. I always feel to the back of every wardrobe I come across, even if it’s for sale in a flea market. Escaping into books saved my life, and finding other people like me has been such a joy. “You, too? I’m not the only one?”

    1. No, you’re not the only one. As a young man I used to always wear clothing appropriate for getting sucked into another dimension. Good boots, jeans, hefty shirt, have a knife on you, that sort of thing. Eventually I admitted what I was doing and I got talked out of it by friends. “No, you’re not going to end up stuck in Middle Earth. You’re allowed to wear dress shoes.”

      Now that I am old and don’t give a single damn, I dress for Middle Earth once more. Not because I think that would happen, but just because I can. Under Armor is flexible that way. ~:D

      And of course now that no one except the Japanese writes travel to another world fiction (I love isekai anime!) I write my own. What’s the best thing to wear when you get gated to another world? RA Heinlein Mobile Infantry Jump Armor. Who’s the best companion to bring with? A Valkyrie! And who’s the first person you meet when you get there? A werewolf, of course.

      1. feh, my “dress shoes” are well made boots (Thursday mostly), and going without a knife at the least is being nekkid, (and I’ve misplaced my SOG multi-tool so I’ve had to make due with my backup Leatherman)

        1. Same. Irks me when I have to go in a building with a “no weapons allowed” sticker for work. What, am I supposed to go in completely nekkid? And then how would I get any work done without tools?

          Although, I suppose some things could be repurposed on the spot. But still!

          1. eyup. same here. while I was doing some silly training and an orientation class was using the same room – “Wait, I’m not allowed to carry a 3 inch pocket knife, while holding a glowing red, forged metal cylinder, with a pair of 3 foot long metal tongs, because the knife is considered a weapon?”
            Trainer- “I said it’s company policy, I didn’t say it made sense”

              1. Wife and I (well, OK, I did the pouring) once made something that if it wasn’t chlorine gas it certainly wasn’t pleasant by putting two different drain cleaners in a stopped up sink trying to get it to drain…

                Wound up having to open several windows in the house for a while, in I think, January or February…

                  1. In Clark’s “Ignition” the author talked about when someone had the idea that butyl and ethyl mercaptans might make a good rocket fuel.

                    My mind boggled at the thought of something that smelled so bad it was out of consideration even for military use…

              2. I’ll go for most people never reading labels
                1100lbs of a raw, sitting on a pallet outside, and I’m on the phone arguing with shipping on correct labeling. I walk past the pallet . . . I glance over and read the labels because I’m me . . .
                me brain – wait, that isn’t supposed to be stored above 40 degrees because it breaks down AND CAN THEN SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUST “Igottagobye” [end call] “What The Hell? How long has this been here?” ummm Tuesday? maybe Monday “Call CDP NOW and get them to get that in refrigerated storage.” oh . . . is that dangerous, or expensive? “YES you knobs, Don’t you read a damned thing?” it was only labeled as a flammable solid, refrigerate, etc, etc good thing we have all that haz-mat training [/eyeroll]
                We had 32 pounds of the stuff in Houston after Rita and we sent a whole Reefer 18 wheeler from DFW down there to bring it back and rented a Reefer cube truck to store it, because that was how expensive it was.
                As it was, some had broken down a bit because they had issues from time to time making stuff and needing to use extra from that pallet to get it to work.

                    1. Of all the places most humans commonly go, the cereal aisle is perhaps where the Reality-border is the thinnest. The energies required to “jump the gap” are high enough that you are in no danger (save from the sweeteners….) but if you’ve had that “things are just a bit… OFF” feeling there? That’s what you SHOULD be feeling there.

                    2. >> “Of all the places most humans commonly go, the cereal aisle is perhaps where the Reality-border is the thinnest. The energies required to “jump the gap” are high enough that you are in no danger”

                      I knew that powdered flour or sugar could be turned into a bomb, but not a finished breakfast cereal product. How does that work?

                    3. >> “Not ‘boom’ but Reality-OtherWorld barrier…”

                      Sorry, but I don’t get it. Maybe Ox not the only slow one, but I don’t remember ever feeling especially weird in the cereal isle.

                      Can you explain what’s physically different when you’re standing next to a bunch of cereal boxes? What’s in them that matters so much?

                    4. Then head to the Toy aisles at your local Fred Meyer. Especially the pink aisle.

                      We used to pay each other to not have to be in the toy section.

                    5. Oh. When you talked about having enough energy to “jump the gap” and being in danger, I thought you were referring to some kind of physical process.

                      Like I said, Ox not always only one who slow. 🙂

                1. Oh lordy, now I’m thinking about that port explosion in Beirut because nobody could “take charge” (responsibility) for a highly hazardous substance. HOW many people lost their lives over that regulatory snafu?

                  1. some local speculation was the fronts brought it in for exothermic reasons and it got stopped (whether by someone going “Nope, you can’t have that.” or they got busted for other things and were never there to go pick it up, is among the theories), but then no one was trusted to safely deal with it afterwards and it sat . . . and whether or not it was an accident or not from there is up for debate. One guy I talked to was “Who knows? This place is so screwed up, it could be any or all of the above.”

                    1. From what I’d gathered, the station head there got killed, for entirely different reasons, a few years after it got stored there, and it seemed to have been largely forgotten about by anyone who wasn’t regularly in that area and noticing the big pile of nasty.

                2. Feynman mentioned visiting the isotope separation facility at Oak Ridge, where the warehousemen were scrupulously keeping pallets of uranium separated as directed… but nobody had told them *why*, or that wooden walls were transparent to neutrons…

                3. My dad was a salvage agent for the railroad in Jacksonville, FL. They once got a large box that he opened to figure out what it was. It was filled with all these small cylinders….so he called the bomb squad and they informed him there was enough nitroglycerin in the container to blow up the warehouse plus the rest of the block. And nitro doesn’t do heat well, and the warehouse was not air- conditioned.

                  1. my cousin once found a box, she knew it was a special box and wouldn’t let anyone touch it. In the box were long things. To make sure, none of the other kids took her box, she hid it in different places from time to time.
                    One day, Grandpa was working in the barn as she walked past carrying her box. He called out to her and “in a quiet calm voice” (so very unlike him much of the time when dealing with the grandkids) said “Pam, very carefully put that box down on the ground and walk to me.” She said she knew she wasn’t in trouble because he wasn’t yelling at her, but for some reason she knew to be really careful to go slow, do as he said and set the box down.
                    It was old dynamite and was sweating.

              1. “Sometimes I think I’m too easily distracted. I was once told that my mind doesn’t just wander, it runs around screaming in its underpants.”
                — David Gilbertson, Hackernoon blog 12/20/2016

            1. If you have raised kids, you really have no mind left after they become adults, because you have given it to them a piece at a time over the years as they screw up………

      2. There’s a bunch of indies that are copying you- and C. S. Lewis, et. al., now. A bunch of LitRPGs are just isikei by another name. *chuckle* And the literal dimension hopping tales are there, too. It’s a market absolutely *ripe* for exploitation!

        1. It’s a market ripe for exploitation because there are a lot of people very dissatisfied with the world as it is.

      3. Try Chris Nuttall ‘s “Schooled in Magic” series.

        Also, I think Margaret Ball did some as well.

          1. I think I got an announcement from the Zon today that there was a second volume out for that anthology.

        1. Ditto.

          “Fallen Angels” by Pournelle etc was my first hint that I wasn’t the only one. Then I found Yahoo’s star trek message boards…..

      4. Unless I was in bed or in the shower when I got translated over, my St. John of Ogden icon would be with me.

        1. I have fond memories of the Lois Bujold mailing list, where a question about preparedness (“You are about to be abducted by Yeltar the Alien to an uninhabited but survivable world. You have three minutes. What can you grab to stay alive?”) mutated into a multi-year round robin fanfic roleplaying…thing. That concluded with the three words “Bite us, Yeltar!” spelled out in visible-from-space dimensions.

    2. Of course you’re the only one. We’re ALL only ones. We’re the prime numbers of humanity. When multiplied together, we are far greater than the sum of our parts.

      Okay, some of us are imaginary cube roots, but still….

          1. For someone with synesthesia, there may well be. A friend of mine has a daughter for whom numbers have color — which made some difficulties for her learning arithmetic, because adding two numbers doesn’t necessarily make a number of the same color that blending the colors of the two numbers would. Nor did subtracting, or multiplying, or dividing.

        1. >> “And some of us when we get pissed become irrational numbers.”

          I can picture that argument now:

    3. Wheaton College has a museum focused on the Inklings (C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, Owen Barfield, and several others). One of the most interesting (from my point of view) pieces in its collection is the wardrobe that sat in Lewis’s office while he was writing the Narnia books. It’s kept closed (or at least it was closed when I visited), but if you open it, you’ll discover that there’s a little note on a 3×5 notecard taped on the inside of the wardrobe door. As best as I can recall, it reads, “Wheaton College cannot be held responsible for the disappearance of any persons or items left in this wardrobe.” 🙂

    1. I have had the phrase “aid and comfort” ricocheting through my mind since November. Best thing I can do. Anybody timid is welcome to brainstorm/blather/chat at T R U F O X at protonmail. I’m a good beta-reader/editor-type, I am between freelances so I have time, and I never tell anybody their idea is terrible.

      1. You are a blessing! I’m totally going to take you up on the offer. Thank you very much.

  10. Thank you Sara for your insight. I escaped into books constantly as a tween into teen. I read voraciously – anything and everything I could get my hands on. Reading was my refuge! That was when I found Tolkien, Asimov, Heinlein and Zelazny. That’s when I discovered the Science Fiction Book Club which opened the door to so many worlds and a myriad of adventures. I’m glad I found you and I look forward to reading your blog every day. Keep looking up!

  11. I read everything I could get my hands on at home and in the library. I got in trouble in elementary school for reading while we were supposed to be doing something else. Something I was less than interested in.

    1. I got that too… I’d read the entire textbook, twice, within the first two months of school. And I got in special trouble when I remembered it better than the teacher did…

      1. Oh yeah, I know that one all too well… worse, I’d already read the entire Literature (required through 12th grade) textbook, and knew which stories were boring and unworthy of further study. 😛

        And then I was accidentally issued the teacher’s edition of some high school math book. Why are the teacher parts so much more interesting??

      2. YES!! The first six weeks of the school year I read the textbooks cover to cover, then scarcely cracked them open after that. (Except for algebra. That was a lost cause. Geometry, on the other hand…)

      3. Yep :). I remember one year, probably around sixth grade, when I tried to stop myself from reading the whole English book at the beginning of the year. It didn’t work. I was done by the end of the third week.

        1. I read my books, my brother’s books and my cousin’s books. My cousin is roughly 14 years older than I. My brother is roughly 10.
          The fact that I didn’t understand their books half the time didn’t stop me, though sometimes I went looking for the previous books to study them. Particularly biology. Fortunately in Portugal you buy your books, instead of the school handing them out, so there were school books going back to grandad’s day stuck around the house in trunks and boxes, in the workshops, out buildings and potato cellars. Going on an adventure looking for books was JUST what summer was about.
          Not as bad as my kids. First day of sixth grade, older son comes running to the kitchen. “My brother locked himself in my closet with my math books, and is writing on them.”
          “What? I thought we’d trained him not to scribble on books.”
          “He’s not scribbling! He’s writing the solutions. And he won’t give them back till he finishes.” His brother had just started second grade. Sigh.

          1. It still cracks me up that the second generation of Korean Catholics was a bunch of kids who poked around in their attics, and kept finding books or parts of books from the first generation of Korean Catholics. I mean, yes, it’s desperately sad, but it’s also funny as heck.

            “Yes, your uncle got executed for these beliefs in these books, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to waste perfectly good paper! Of course we used it to line trunks!”

          2. Sounds like hubby and his brother. Same ages apart. Don’t know that hubby grabbed older brother’s math book to do the work. Do know he did big brother’s math homework from about 6th grade on. Brother became a mechanic. Read schematics, the text, and math, that went with that, otherwise? Which didn’t help when he went through as he’d likely already done most the work, and he was held responsible for his brother’s reputation.

            Still quoted today: Teacher: “MP … pause … Any relation to SP?” Note, as a freshman in HS, his older siblings had all already graduated from HS, his brother out over a year. Hubby “Yes.” Teacher “I don’t want any trouble out of you.” Which as the baby of the family, was like waving a red flag. And the teachers couldn’t complain because he was performing at the top of his class (it was the ’60s). It is his excuse for being an “asshole” today (today the correct term is “not politically correct” to put it in context) … “They set the standard. If I was going to get the blame. Might as well be guilty.”

          3. I suspect the reason I didn’t “read ahead” in most of my textbooks was that they were that abysmally dull. Textbooks from earlier decades would be devoured. Those only presumed ignorance, not stupidity.

            I do recall in grade 6 (USA) a girl was *astonished* at $SISTAUR (then in grade 1) who got EVERY problem wrong on a math sheet. Simple addition. “Oh, addition? I multiplied instead.” And checked for multiplication… and then every answer was correct. YEARS later, $SISTAUR admitted that it was not “times tables” (yet) but “3 x 5” was either 3 five times or 5 three times, counted out. BUT.. she had the *concept* down.

            1. YEARS later, $SISTAUR admitted that it was not “times tables” (yet) but “3 x 5” was either 3 five times or 5 three times, counted out. BUT.. she had the *concept* down.

              This is what I used to get the concept across to the Duchess. As soon as I explained that “five times three” meant “five, three times,” she was off like a rocket.

          4. Reading y’all’s stories, it makes me very glad that I come from a family of readers. There were ALWAYS books around, plus library visits, and gift certificates to book stores for birthday and Christmas was not at all unusual. I won every Accelerated Reader and Bookit prize there WAS (and often that Bookit pizza was the only time I got to go out to eat in a year, and we had to wait until we’d saved enough money for the rest of the family to also have some food).

            My family was astounded that my sister in second grade knew what a square root was. Well, that was because I, five years ahead of her in school, would tell her all about them at night in our bunk beds, because *I* found math fascinating. They really shouldn’t have been so astounded. I learned to read because my dyslexic older brother was receiving extra help from my mother in the evenings, and I picked it up. That’s what happens in families with kids who like to learn.

            1. I am the only person I’ve encountered who got the Reading merit badge from the Boy Scouts….

              1. I would have gotten the reading badge from Boy Scouts had I been in boy scouts, if I’d been a boy. 🙂

                The only problem with the current changes to let girls earn the same ranks in BSA is it is 55 years too late.

                (We can agree to disagree.)

                1. The only thing sadder than boys losing one of the last male-only institutions is girls needing to join the Boy Scouts to learn scouting instead of progressive propaganda and the joys of being free labor for a cookie empire.

                  1. instead of progressive propaganda and the joys of being free labor for a cookie empire.

                    I see what you did there 🙂

                    What is sad in GSA youth cannot earn the top reward, unless you have a group wanting to earn it. Gold Award: Committee leadership. Whatever the project is must be continued on with. Don’t know how this works in practice. Eagle: Individual leadership. (Heck when I was in GSA I had no clue there was any top award that could be earned beyond merit badges; why stay in? Yes, leadership problem. I did learn to despise sales. That is something. I guess.)

      4. Tech School… handed new assignment… start in on it as lecture drones on (when *ox* can multitask…) Find issue… ask about it… resolved… and then next classtime, “Go see so&so about tutoring. You might get a few bucks doing it.” You wanna really learn something? Teach it. You wind up having to explain it until you understand it.

        1. I got started tutoring in high school when a fellow student asked for help in algebra. I tried a couple of times to set up a tutoring service, only to find that I hated the advertising and marketing parts of running a business and entirely neglected them.

          1. The tech school handled all that so all I had to do was, usually, explain things to people who already knew, but did not believe that they knew. Weirdly difficult and easy at the same time.

        2. Programming ’83. Lower Columbia College. Watch faces glaze over … Okay. That isn’t working. Let’s try this. I was shocked when I was approached to get paid to work in the tutoring department; shocked. “Wait? ME? Kidding right?” Full disclosure. My first computer class (Oregon State, ’76) … I hated, despised, that class, which added to the shock above. That I turned out to enjoy and love programming later is absolutely amazing due to my original experience.

          Then there were study math groups in ’88 – ’89 for the CS degree. I could feel the snap between WTH? to OMGOMG! I got it. Finish the problem. Then try to explain it to others in the group. i wasn’t always the first to get it. I was rarely the last.

          Must admit my first attempt at tutoring, my freshman college roommate (’74), in basic algebra, was less than successful. Major crash and fail. In my defense I wasn’t taking the class. It’d had been a few years since I’d had basic algebra. I’d look at the problem and “know the answer”, which didn’t help. But even writing out the steps, didn’t help. Sure I know now something else was interfering but then? Not so much.

          You wind up having to explain it until you understand it.

          Understand it. Straight forward. Backwards. Upside down. And Sideways.

          Philosophy of youth lead troops in BSA by the way. 1) Learn it. 2) Use it. 3) Teach it and Understand it.

          1. Actually, our troop does it sort of backwards. You set the scouts on the problem *before* you tell them anything about it. Makes them more willing to listen to when you explain the answers. And yes, this includes things like building catapults to launch sportsballs (since we can’t do pumpkins anymore.) *catapult falls over* “So what do you think this needs?”

            1. I was thinking about Knots and basic lashings. Catapults, well first time, sure, in practice, before events, so they know what they are doing during an event. Ditto on gateways. Bridges, climbing towers, *camp cook stations, OTOH. Might get inspected by top youth leadership and a knowledgeable adult before anyone else is allowed to climb on. Are towers and bridges allowed anymore? Rarely had a problem with failing lashes. Over lashed OTOH. Just remember the *whatever* has to come apart when you want it to.

              * Last place you want sudden delayed failure is a cook station when someone is cooking.

              1. Oh, they do have the older scouts teach lashings. Repeatedly, if necessary.

                My dad, when he was a Scoutmaster, was so big on lashings that it came to be known as the troop’s hallmark. I remember vividly going to visit the troop at one Camporee, picking up a tripod by one leg, having the other two legs drop out, and grumbling at the (new) scouts who had done it, while showing them how to REALLY do it*. The best part was when one of them said something to the other about “that girl” and I responded with “THAT GIRL also has really good hearing.”

                I have no idea what they actually said, but boy, it was fun to scare them like that.

                *My dad’s version of a tripod lashing was not actually the standard version, being trilaterally symmetrical. It’s only useful on small tripods, like lantern stands or perimeter rope-holders, but it must be done so tightly that it doesn’t move.

            2. Some kids will refuse to do anything that might fail. Especially if they think they can do it…but they don’t know they can.

              1. Some kids will refuse to do anything that might fail. Especially if they think they can do it…but they don’t know they can.

                These are the ones that were easy. “If you aren’t failing you aren’t having fun.” By the time they were actually in leadership positions we had scouts who’d make up ways for different things to safely fail, so that there would be a teaching moment for younger scouts. Some just set themselves up on their own. Do you know that adults need to be held to the same same hatchet, knife, wood splitting, Tote ‘n Chip standard? They do. When an adult loses a corner, eyes get big. When an adult loses their 4th corner, has to sit in on the class, or worse, teach it, again, eyes get really big. (Might have setup the latter, just saying. Yes all adults entering the wood chopping designated area had to take Tote ‘N Chip too. There is safety, and there is BSA safety.)

                Then there are the ones … “It isn’t fairrrrr. I triiiiiieeeeed haarrrdddd!” to get things signed off.

                We kept a whole lot more scouts of the former than we did of the latter.

                1. I had bad luck with that phrase. From interaction with you here, I know you didn’t do this, but…..

                  I can’t think of a single time it, or something similar, was used where I listened, and failed, and wasn’t then publicly taunted about it for as long as I was in the group.

                  Usually by the authority who’d urged me to just try.

                  (I had a fairly realistic grasp of my limitations; when I could do something, or thought I had a decent chance of success, I tried. When I knew I had no clue, I didn’t. Really, really, REALLY do not appreciate doing what is asked and being abused for it, even now!)

                  1. It’s not that they didn’t try. That isn’t the point with scouts. It is the culture of getting credit for doing something they didn’t complete. There are exceptions for those who can’t due to medical reasons. “Alternative Requirements for the Second Class rank are available for Scouts with physical or mental disabilities if they meet the criteria listed in the Boy Scout Requirements book.”

                    When the requirement is light a fire in a fire pit, trying to light the fire doesn’t count. They don’t even have create the tinder, or split the wood; taught how but that isn’t part of the requirement. When the requirement is to eat what you’ve cooked on an open wood fire … yea, I’ve seen some awful meals consumed, that they get credit for (requirement doesn’t say it has to taste good). They get lots of practice learning how to light a fire. They are showed ways to guaranty a fire hot enough to cook. To a kid, their approach was to hurry and fail. Then not get it signed off. To a kid they all succeeded later. I bring this one up because it was the sticky one. Requirement changed in 2016. Requirements now are:

                    “At an approved outdoor location and time, use the tinder, kindling, and fuel wood from Second Class requirement 2b to demonstrate how to build a fire. Unless prohibited by local fire restrictions, light the fire. After allowing the flames to burn safely for at least two minutes, safely extinguish the flames with minimal impact to the fire site.” Note. Councils where fire restrictions are disallowed … not sure what is substituted. Doesn’t apply to our area, or didn’t. Requirement hasn’t changed.

                    “On one camp out, plan and cook one hot breakfast or lunch, selecting foods from MyPlate or the current USDA nutritional model. Explain the importance of good nutrition. Demonstrate how to transport, store, and prepare the foods you selected.” Old requirement: “At an approved outdoor location and time, use the tinder, kindling, and fuel wood from Second Class requirement 2b to demonstrate how to build a fire. Unless prohibited by local fire restrictions, light the fire. After allowing the flames to burn safely for at least two minutes, safely extinguish the flames with minimal impact to the fire site.”

                    Note. They are no longer tied together. The meal can be cooked on anything.

                    I get it. There were things I never accomplished as a kid. The fire is one. I can now. I still can’t split wood, but that is now a physical issue (dang tendinitis). OTOH I didn’t grow up in the “everyone gets a trophy” culture either.

                    1. They get lots of practice learning how to light a fire. They are showed ways to guaranty a fire hot enough to cook. To a kid, their approach was to hurry and fail.

                      Which is completely the opposite of “if you’re not failing, you’re not having fun.”

                      That’s finessing technique when you’ve been given enough information to at least try.

                    2. I can remember seeing a young scout eating the outside portion of a potato because he didn’t’ cook it through. Did him no harm and probably did him a lot of good. Being cold and hungry would tend to concentrate the mind and yes, he continued on and made Eagle.

                    3. “if you’re not failing, you’re not having fun.”

                      The whole point of the above is that no one is expected to not fail their first time, or second time, or even third time. Even when you’ve mastered something you can fail. The saying is suppose to take the sting out of failure. Who hasn’t thought they had something figured out, and discovered they didn’t?

                      If I didn’t try, I was disobedient. If I tried and failed, I didn’t try hard enough.

                      It was drummed into my spirit that I could do anything if I tried hard enough. This is so wrong that trying new things that I really want to try, is an ordeal.

                      Or you failed on purpose.

                      Um. I have no words on this. I suppose it had to be perfect or it was a failure?

                      In scouting the big difference between Cub and Scout levels is Cub ranks get credit for “Try”. Scout levels are “Do”, rarely does the requirement say “Try”. The difference is a real shock to parents and youth. Second Class requirements seemed to be a real PIA for new parents … Note. Didn’t say it had to be perfect. Just had to “Do”. (Potato not done, so only the outside was eaten. Eggs a bit runny. Eggs a bit crunchy. All but glue hobo stew. More examples needed?)

                      Interestingly enough the “Do” part was actually fairly easy for most our scouts once they’d had a chance to learn steps for success for them, and practice, either at an outing, or even at home, or both. It was the “report, discuss” sections that tripped some up. No where in the requirements does it say they couldn’t have notes.

                      FWIW. The “cook a meal you’ve planned and prepped on a hot wood fire you’ve built on a camp out”, I’m glad has been changed to “cook a hot meal you’ve planned and prepped on a camp out”. Scouts would have been successful sooner. (Hardest part of old second requirement wasn’t the cooking or building the fire, it is getting the fire in the right state for cooking. The secret is patience. Which 10 – 11 year old youth tend to not have.)

                    4. The saying is suppose to take the sting out of failure. Who hasn’t thought they had something figured out, and discovered they didn’t?

                      The thing is that the abuse of the saying is to set people up for failure, and then abuse them for failing, because they “always” succeed at what they try.

                      Ignoring that they “always” succeed because they inform themselves, and prepare, and then try.

                      As opposed to “do shitty job and then get rewarded.”

                      Bonus points if they try to ask questions to figure out what to do, and that’s why they’re targeted for the “no just do it oh you failed now mock them for eternity” thing.

                      I have freaking blood relatives who can’t get over that a six year old was not perfect at something she’d never tried a third of a century ago. It wasn’t even anything important!

                    5. Same thing here. You want to start my interior burn, start talking about this stuff.

                      You were fucked because the adults “knew” you could “take it.”

                    6. Largely, I waved a huge flag to predators of
                      GOOD EATS HERE
                      and then I pissed them off because 1) I had spines, and 2) my parents are parents. Spikey ones.

                      Some of the folks were honestly doing their best.

                      Some were freaking abusive predators looking for a high.

                      At some decades distant, I neither know nor care which was which, I’mnot involved in their judging.

                    7. My family believes in “genius. By which they mean, you know, if you’re a genius at writing your first novel will go out and be a bestseller off the gate, whatever they do to it. Even if you writ ethe first story at 5 and have no clue what a novel is.
                      I don’t know where this idea came from, but thye really do have it.

                    8. The thing is that the abuse of the saying is to set people up for failure, and then abuse them for failing, because they “always” succeed at what they try.

                      As always anything can be abused. I can’t even imagine growing up that way. This was never used in my presence, in scouts, or in sports our son participated in.

                      Now if my in-laws had survived to see our son grow up, I suspect I would have seen some of this. Just from stories by hubby, and his siblings. Not quite to the level you describe. But dang close. Once they’d been taught something and demonstrated they could do it, they were expected to do it to their dad’s specification each and every time.

                      Note, I didn’t see anything in the scouts requirements that said that once something is signed off it has to be done again. Nope, one and done. Not that they won’t reuse skills because, well it is useful. But technically don’t have to.

                    9. I’m quite sure you would’ve come down on anybody doing that stupid trick like a ton of bricks!

                      I think so. But I’ll never know.

                    10. My kid has his Totin’ Chip but does *not* have his Fireman Chip. He couldn’t start the fire. (And options to re-earn it have been thin on the ground lately, simply because you can only get that part on spring campouts around here, and, well, last year happened.)

                      I don’t know if he’s gotten the “cook a meal for the troop” thing passed, because they loosened the restrictions for the “virtual campouts”, so I know he’s cooked. Ramen And Stuff (pretty much what it is) and SPAM musubi, on two separate occasions, and I walked him through the whole thing. Don’t know if he could cook them again without someone standing over him, but hey…

                    11. We bulk make it pretty often– cookie pan, pack rice, put the fried, teriyaki-marinated knock=off spam slices on it, pack rice over the top, use a pizza cutter to slice the rectangles, wrap in seaweed.

                      It’s ugly, but it works.

                  2. If I didn’t try, I was disobedient. If I tried and failed, I didn’t try hard enough.

                    It was drummed into my spirit that I could do anything if I tried hard enough. This is so wrong that trying new things that I really want to try, is an ordeal.

                    Like, I’ve always loved fishing but was mostly crushed. Now, I’ve purposed to get into it and love it like I know I will, and I could barely walk into Cabela’s. I could barely breathe when I got inside, and I couldn’t talk to anyone or stop moving. It was terrifying. But now I can go back a second time and maybe breathe, and maybe buy some lures.

                    1. Order a few dollars’ worth of materials from eBay, then look at one of the eleventy zillion fishing sites and see how to make your own lures.

                      Remember, the goal of a commercial lure is to hook a fisherman, not a fish…

                    2. Heck. I don’t even care if I catch fish. Unless we are backpacking and no fish means no eating. Hubby and I don’t backpack that way. But my folks and aunt and uncle did. Even the dogs got hand fed the grilled in foil on fire lake fish. Us kids on the shore line fishing (sunning ourselves on the rocks with the poles wedged, and lines in the water) didn’t catch a whole lot. Dad and uncle in small rubber raft caught what was needed (and then some).

                      How did I get out of Salmon fishing on the ocean? Got a dog. I hate chumming for fish. I get sea sick on the dang dock.

                      Hunting? Been deer hunting a number of times. Never shot a thing. Apparently my finger is not loaded. (Me pointing finger at the deer as it bounds down the hillside. There it goes. Hey if dad couldn’t hit it, I sure wouldn’t.) Hubby and I don’t rely on game for meals. If we did then our attitude would be different. Growing up my family didn’t eat meat that wasn’t fished or hunted. I was in HS before they even bought meat and that was beef or lamb from family ranchers.

                    3. That’s some solid good memories there. It made me smile to read about them.

                      One of the things I do every day is watch a fishing video, to keep motivated and for fun. I love to watch people fish. (I also enjoy watching swamp buggy racing…. that ‘ssippi hole..)

                      There is a popular video type called “Catch and Cook.” And it is the most fun thing to watch ever, and sometimes they go for a couple days and only bring the dog and some butter. Better catch something or you’ll be very, very hungry and your dog will start to wail.

                      I can hardly wait to get out there.

                      I enjoy hunting as long as someone else carries my game back to the vehicle. I’ll help butcher and do all the fun stuff, but those beasts are HEAVY.

                    4. We camera hunt. Results are lighter.

                      I enjoy hunting as long as someone else carries my game back to the vehicle. I’ll help butcher and do all the fun stuff, but those beasts are HEAVY.

                      You’ll love these.

                      Willawas Mountains Deer hunting. Aunt and Uncle are working their way up the game trail to the top of the ridge for the morning stand. Uncle in front. Aunt slips, her rifle goes off. Oops (he lived, it was 60 years ago, it’s funny now). Nails Uncle and breaks his leg. Bye-Bye rest of Deer season in Willawa; they did get their deer, in season, off their 40 acres … but still. Plus broken leg, so Elk season is toast that year.

                      Next year. Elk season in Blue Mountains. Everyone is on stand to see where the Elk are opening day. First legal light. Boom Boom. Uncle was overheard stating that Aunt had better not shutdown hunting. She had. Got a huge bull first thing. Spent all weekend getting it out of the gully it was in.

                      Then there was the Elk season they had to retroactively get a Bear (black) tag because the bear charged as they were packing up the last of the meat from that year’s elk.

                      Our household didn’t have winter, spring, summer, or fall. We had Deer/Elk Hunting and Steelhead/Salmon/Trout Fishing, season, or nothing open. Uncle archery hunted. Dad didn’t. Neither hunted pheasants, ducks, geese, wild turkey, or any fowl of any kind. Didn’t hunt bear or cougar, or trap either. Deer hunting was a 6 week event, 10 days in Eastern Oregon, rest in Western Oregon on weekends. Fishing season started with trout, every Friday night we were on the road as soon as dad got home. Home Sunday night. Without fail. Steelhead fishing was a thing (froze my tail in that dang river boat, I think motion sickness might be tad psychosomatic). Salmon fishing wasn’t regular until I was in HS. We went regardless of weather. Canvas, no floor, tent, with barrel heat wood stove, until I was 12. Then it was a pickup camper, not self contained (bed over cab, then storage, and Ice box, with back containing kitchen sink with a pump mechanism for water from a bucket, drainage from sink to another bucket, gas stove and oven, gas lights, and dinette seating. Us kids rode in the camper in the back at the dinette seating area (might be another cause of motion sickness). Wouldn’t have changed a thing. (If they could have seen a way to let me have a horse …)

                      We even had a beagle, small type. Snoopy was not a hunting dog. A gun sent him running … the other way, dragging which ever of us kids had a hold of his leash.

                    5. My imagination and your storytelling put me right there with you guys. Oh, man. Beautiful.

                    6. YES to this!

                      Fortunately, I have a friend in the FL Keys who taught me to fly fish while I lived there. He was a guide and spent every day on the water. I learned a ton about the industry from him. Including what you just said.

                      I gave myself a flexible (upward of course) budget for my saltwater rig that goes heavy on buzzbombs, spoons, plugs, the works. A lot of what I purchase for the saltwater side will get used in the rivers for the freshwater species. I’ve got a 9-foot GLoomis rod and a Penn 5500 reel already, so the big costs are already taken care of.

                      And I’m starting to look for garage sales and “how-to” guides to build my own lures. Which is perfect for my artisan hands!

              2. I wonder what the ratio is between the naturally failure averse, and the trained into failure averseness.

                I wonder if I want to know the answer.

      5. I did too – reading everything I could get my hands on. When I was about eight, I went through every single book on my parents’ bookshelves, checking out the first couple of chapters, and if they were boring, dropping it and moving on to the next. The anthropology textbooks were pretty interesting and even rather educational, for all the pictures of skeletons and stone tools and archeological digs. It was a good thing that the first few chapters of Lady Chatterley’s Lover were pretty boring, and I gave that book up before really getting some unsuitable education …

      6. After a few weeks of second grade they moved me up to third because I’d already worked through the year’s curriculum. And if we hadn’t moved to Ireland I would have finished high school in three years, technically graduating at 15 (birthday was a few days after).

        1. That worked against me. I skipped a grade, but after completing the next grade with straight A’s, we moved schools, and the new school system insisted I was too young to go on, so I’d have to repeat the grade again. With the same textbooks, quizzes, and homework.

          Come to think of it, that was when my grades took a nosedive, and I went from an eager student who loved school to racking up detentions at just-under-expulsion rates. Because SO BORED!!!!!!! …and frustrated, and angry. Nothing to convince a kid that the system is rigged against them like punishing them for something outside their control, and then chastising them for being bored and frustrated about it.

          1. Right biggest trouble I ever had in school was first grade when the class was learning to read on Dick and Jane readers. I’d been reading Dr. Seuss by 4 and then 2nd-3rd grade level story books by the end of Kindergarten. My Kindergarten teacher KNEW this and fed my habit from the school library (with things such as the D’Aulaires Greek and Norse Myths) while my compatriots were learning letters, numbers, colors etc. However the first grade teacher was OLD line (my mom had her as had my Aunt and the younger of my Uncles) and was having none of this nonconformity. So I had to sit and grind on “See Spot Run!”. I was a show off reading passages from other books, Reciting large sections of Seuss (Fox in Sox) or reading the whole of a Dick and Jane (all 10-12 crude sentences) in a single go when asked to read a sentence. I thus often ended up indoors writing lines on paper for recess. I kind of astonished the 2nd grade teacher who was new when I got there. She apparently expected some disciplinary monster rather than someone who had mastered 2nd grade skills let alone first.

          2. Sounds like my husband. High school was so boring he’d cut most days and spend the whole time in the public library, reading. And because of all his absences, they suspended him and his response was “Great! Now I can legally spend all day reading in the library!” Not quite the response they were hoping for.

            1. I would walk downtown to the courthouse and watch the ongoing litigation. Better than Perry Mason!

    2. My mother moved out of her house a couple of years ago, so I got a box full of old report cards and school papers. One of my teachers complained that I was trying to spend all of my time reading instead of paying attention at school and doing the class work. My kindergarten teacher also described me as “special,” her quotes, and full of unique sayings. I suppose my parents wamted me to be normal, but if they had acknowledged some of my differences when I was young, it might have given me a better foundation for puberty and adulthood.

      1. had one 7th grade teacher try to have me put in special ed. My homeroom teacher – “Just because he passes all the tests but doesn’t turn in homework has nothing to do with being too slow to learn. The problem is he’s smarter than you and is bored as hell.”

        1. I was put in special ed in… either first or second grade, can’t remember.

          Best thing they ever did for me, got me special permission to do freakish things like “check out books she’s not approved for.”

          I couldn’t pass the “see spot run” test to be approved to the next level, but I destroyed Hank the Cow Dog, and Dealing with Dragons (they only had the first book, found the rest when we moved), then Time Life Book’s The Enchanted World and such.

          They officially kept me in special ed until we moved, but it mostly meant “leave her alone, and oh yeah Mr. Hughes, she’s OFFICIALLY allowed to read your massive collection of Hardy Boy books during class as long as she did the work already.” (He was awesome, put up the homework before class started, I usually finished before he got around to explaining so I didn’t have to ask if I hit something I didn’t know, just waited for him to teach.)

          1. he was the only one who suggested it, and 4th grade I had a harpy who hated everyone, but especially me, it seemed (luckily I only had her for Math)

            1. I got lucky in 4th grade by having a distant aunt as a teacher with a Reputation amongst students then… no, she was not mean , but didn’t put up with nonsense. Including “Why is he in that reading section?” Three sections, and likely due to a transfer in first grade, got plunked into the lesser of the three, shall we say? I was “accidentally” (not at all) given the test for the next level, and got moved. And then it happened again. Looking back, it seems odd that given various indicators, something like that hadn’t happened a year or two earlier. Inertia…

        2. My 8th grade science teacher moved me to the remedial science class for pretty much the same reasons, with the addition of I regularly made her look bad in front of the other students. I was taking pre-calc in math and went on to get a degree in engineering, but noooo, I just wasn’t grasping the concepts she was trying to teach, so into remedial I went, where I finished the assignments before she was done explaining them to the rest of the class and then wrote stories in the margins of my notebooks, or just pulled a book out of my backpack and read until the bell rang.

        3. I nearly got put in special ed in second grade … until they realized how bad my eyesight was. Amazing how when you don’t assign seats based on last name, a near-sighted kid with a last name in the back-half of the alphabet doesn’t seem so stupid.

          1. somewhere in elementary grades(3,4,5?) they gave me glasses. and they had all the magnafication of a window pane. I swear all they were was a way to make money off Dad’s insurance. chewed the era pieces and eventually cracked the frames (there was wire within so they didn’t fall apart), then lost them, all within a semester or two, and they never got replaced. Back then I could read all the lines on an eye chart at any distance, but they claimed I needed glasses to make me focus.
            it was all B.S.

            1. Third grade was the year they discovered I was blinder than a bat. Amazing how glasses made it easier to read things, though I never got any good at sports. Partly physical uncoordination, and a lot of depth perception issues. “There’s a hard round thing coming at me at a fast pace from roughly that direction, and lord knows how far away. Duck/Run!” doesn’t work well with softball or kickball.

              Daddy thought he had bad eyesight and I surpassed (?) him by about age 13. When I had cataract surgery at 49, my *good* eye was somewhere around 20/600 or 20/800. I know the bad one was worse than 20/1000. 10 years on and it still feels weird to be able to see things without my glasses on. Heck, I can even drive a car without glasses. Before, I couldn’t even find it!

              1. 10 years on and it still feels weird to be able to see things without my glasses on. Heck, I can even drive a car without glasses. Before, I couldn’t even find it!

                My mom has worn glasses as long as she can remember. Very thick, expensive lenses. Don’t think it was as bad as your numbers, but really don’t know. Do know she had to put her glasses at night close by the bed, exactly the same place, otherwise she couldn’t find them. She too has had cataract surgery with lens replacement, and a couple of other surgeries that weren’t available even a few years before she had them. New within the last 5 to 10 years. Now she can see without her glasses. She can even legally drive without them. There is a slight correction but it isn’t required. She needs them to read. Her eyes are a little bit sensitive to light. As she put it, she wore glasses for almost 80 years. She does wear them. She is tickled she can see when she gets out of bed without her glasses; FYI she’s 87.

                1. I actually lost my glasses once in college. I left them on my desk (I thought) in my room when I went to take a shower. I came back, and no glasses anywhere that I could (vaguely) see or touch.

                  I ended up going to my friend in the next room, “Laurie, this is really embarrassing. Could you come to my room and find my glasses for me?” Since her vision wasn’t great without lenses either, she just laughed, came over, and found them in about 2 seconds.

    3. Number two son got called out for this back in seventh grade. My wife and I flipped a coin to see which of us would perjure ourselves telling him he shouldn’t do that. I lost and told him that he shouldn’t do in school what me, his mother, my father, and all the rest of us back these many generations seemed to have done. You might guess just how well that tuned out. We ended up pulling him from school to undo the damage they had done. We made him do math and Latin and read whatever he felt like. Worked great.

      1. I was lucky…. There was a parent-teacher conference day, one year, and my parents came back and told me in amusement that a couple of teachers had mentioned my reading in class and, IIRC, both said they didn’t mind, but weren’t sure what the other one would think of it.

    4. My school had a rule that you MUST spend at least 2 hours on each final exam. If you finished before then, tough; there would be no reading, drawing, head-on-desk, nothing. I never took more than 45 minutes for one, so I vented my annoyance by filling the back of my papers with poetry about how bored I was. For the Latin exam, I wrote Latin poetry.

      This probably did not endear me to my teachers…

      1. finished before then, tough; there would be no reading, drawing, head-on-desk, nothing

        What? No – finger drumming, tapping, snoring, wiggling, … is stretching considered wiggling?

        Ran into this twice:

        Junior year in HS when we took the math assessment. Three hour test. They wouldn’t let the math students leave when we were done. Um. That was changed in subsequent years. Math (then) wasn’t required, unless couldn’t pass the basic math test given junior year. Gee what about those taking math well past basic? That was the change. If you were at Algebra level or higher math by your junior year, you were excused from this test and presumed to have passed it.

        Dislocated Worker’s program that IP setup when they closed the Western Division (got money for two seminars … like they were going to let me go back to school, again, when I had, in their view, 3 academic degrees). Had to take a reading and math comprehensive test. Only an hour each. But wouldn’t let one bring anything into test area. Had to wait in the room between tests. Ten minutes to complete and checked answers 3 times; not like I had to actually do the *math, it was multiple choice! Even at almost 40, I don’t “just sit” very well. Reading comprehensive test didn’t even take that long. Except I could leave after I turned it in.

        * I did do the math only because it gave me something to actually do to write it out. Did I say I don’t wait very well?

  12. You’re not wrong about Denver being on the seacoast. You’re just off by 66 to 250 million years. I understand that Chronological Disjunctionality is a frequent occurrence for science fiction writers and archeologists.

        1. Before you do, Mr. Houst, please watch this video. You’ll never think of your avatar in the same way again:

            1. Brazil’s aquatic wolf pack niche predator! And Hermione Granger’s Patronus. (Which makes sense to those of us to whom Hermione’s not nearly as charming as she and her author seem to think she is.)

              1. If Hermione would just own up to being a giant female dog/otter, she’d be a lot more fun. And I speak as someone who empathizes a lot with Hermione, except when she gets on her kick of “laying down the law to people I’ve never met, about a culture I don’t understand, while ignoring other obvious injustices.”

                1. I liked Hermione reasonably well until after the movies. Now she is too conflated with Emma Watson for me to like her. (Ask me about live-action Beauty and the Beast sometime. Just ASK me.)

                  1. I had the same reaction. I liked her okay in the books (though she did remind me of my “always right and pretty intolerant about it” older sister). But after Emma Watson’s idiotic posturing, it’s hard not to see her in the movie character.

  13. There is such a thing as too much escapism, when it allows your local surroundings to decay from neglect, and an entire genre of self-help books to fix the issue. I suspect some of the fear of escapees from reality is inherited, culturally or genetically, from ancestors who feared freeloaders of any stripe and who lived much closer to the bone than any first world raised person can fathom.

  14. Like most of the people here, apparently, I read obsessively as a child. And pretty much my whole life. I was unable to read fiction for several months due to the recent unpleasantness, and I think the withdrawal symptoms just added to the stress. I’ve been able to read again in the last few weeks and it definitely has helped to make me feel more normal.

    It does depend on *what* I read too. Some books leave me feeling worse, and some better. Will have to think more about what makes that difference.

    1. Aye. “Doesn’t read enough” (of the crap we assign). Meanwhile, the interesting stuff is gone through like wildfire and why is there so _little_ of that sort of thing?

      In the days before RFID tags and such, I was *TOLD* to go the ‘Adult’ section of the Library, find whatever I desired, and bring it to the ‘Childrens’ section to check it out (the section were separate and the entrance/exit was between them… Back When. It was *JARRING* the first time I saw the RFID or such stuff… what looked like two overdone loop antennas at the door… and (to my sister’s horror) SAID SO.

    2. Stories, good stories most especially, make you feel something. Good science fiction can make you think, too, but that’s not as important sales-wise. A writer is an artist that paints with all the colors of emotion, and plays the heart-strings like a manic metal band (at times).

      That’s why there are comfort books that you go to when things are rough. Sometimes you need action and excitement. Others, delicious suspense and mystery. A good story arc carries you along a familiar path. A great story shows you things you might have missed along the way, hidden vistas and places of magic and wonder.

      Magic and wonder are two things quite common if your childhood had much good in it, but rather rare once one takes up the burdens of an adult. It’s not that you no longer need those things, or want them. It is that they can get harder to find once you’re old and cynical. *chuckle*

      A good book is a fine companion that tells you a story that you may already know, but just want to hear it again in a different voice.

      1. You’re on to something I think. It seems when I’m getting into a serious funk (and yeah, 2020 qualified, but with other things going on, I didn’t read much at all) I’ll tend to fall back on the literary equivalent of “comfort food.”

        For me? Heh, it’s the entire run of the FASA-era Battletech novels from “Decision at Thunder Rift” up through the end of the Clan War (and while I do have “The Sword and Dagger,” it’s not a GOOD book.)

        That, or I break out the Asimov, Niven, and Bradbury stuff.

    3. I’ve been doing so much comfort reading this past year. Childhood favorites, lots of Heyer, barely anything new at all.

  15. “In fact, the older I get, the more I think that people who insist all books must be about “real things” and that escapism is wrong are people who want to control everything you do and think and allow you no escape.

    “In fact, the only people who object to escapes are jailers.”

    11/10. Nailed it.

    1. Kind of odd. Pa had no issue with fiction… in TV shows, movies… but in books it was “Why read about what others do when you could do things yourself?” In all the time I can recall, he read ONE book (outside of school[s])… and that was written by one of the Wright brothers. Magazines? (Popular Electronics, etc.) were all but devoured. And was he ever sore the year that it seemed EVERY column was an April Fool’s joke and there was almost real content that month. Then, I did agree on that one. And, judging by the.. incandescent.. letters that were published, so did MANY others.

      1. My father forbid me to read more than 50 pages of Tolkien a day when I discovered LOTR at 8. There were two takeaways from this: 1) I read as much as I damn well pleased, memorized the page number, and conscientiously moved my bookmark 50 pages forward and 2) I’m 46 and haven’t entirely forgiven him.

        1. My father had a first US Edition, first printing, Ballantine copy of the LOTR. He never forgave me for reading them until they disintegrated. I was 50 when he died and still miss him every day.

        2. I was reading the LOTR for the first time from the library sometime in elementary school and got them one at a time. I hadn’t actually told anyone what I was reading, or I might have been warned. I got book 2 and finished reading late Saturday. Our libraries were open Tuesday to Saturday and closed on Sunday and Monday. The agony of that two day wait…. I will never again read a potential cliff hanger without the sequel ready and waiting.

  16. Yup. That’s pretty much my story. My dad subscribed to Astounding Science Fiction — I read every issue and all the other books on the shelf. “Outlines of Great Books” educated me at age 11. Countless psychiatrists failed to figure me out — I suppose “Asperger’s” was still unknown. (I admire this blog — REAL people!)

    Took about 70 years to grow up and figure myself out. Empath. INFP. I slip into people’s heads and feelings. Living in Vietnam confirmed that I have an Asian brain. Wrote a few books on stuff that interested me but for which there was no audience.

    This excellent piece (https://www.tabletmag dot com/sections/science/articles/mad-science-sane-science) convinced me that WONDER (not mere curiosity) has guided my whole life. In inner city high school I hung out with the “minorities.” (Expelled from 4 private schools) Spent school vacations and 5 years after orals crawling around the world. Wonder.

    Sarah is describing the characteristics of an “old soul.” Researching this topic led me to accept reincarnation as the most plausible explanation. Now I’ve lost you so I’ll quit!

    1. I am either well before, well after, or probabilistically adjacent to (rather than IN) “my time.”

      There is so much I think *should* be here.
      And yet many figure I am even more Ancient than I am.
      And, well, it took a long time for me to take the “You aren’t human!” as a Good Thing.
      Of course, once I started taking it thus, the humans (well, some) started arguing the other way.

      Today? Not MY problem.

    2. Sarah is describing the characteristics of an “old soul.”

      I got that, a lot.


      Many researchers have pointed to the idea of a changeling, an unnaturally old child switched for your own, as being a way to understand very extreme autism.
      Just like elf-shot sounds like a stroke, and elf-touched sounds like high functioning autistic.

      1. I amn’t sure if I should be maliciously gleeful that mortal science is tryin’o erase Us from their world, or just sad….

        Thus the clurichaun drinks….

  17. Come With Me And Escape“??????

    I was sure the phrase was “Come with me if you would live.”

    Raising my gaze from this dreary mudball is the only way I can keep on living, else the banality of Man’s existence would weary me to death. Science Fiction, Fantasy, Myth – imagination, these are the things that lift up my spirit to endure the day’s banalities.

    “He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.” — opening line of Rafael Sabatini’s Scaramouche.

        1. Take a puppy not a kitty! 25,000 years of history isn’t wrong. Dogs are partners. Cats are enemies. WOOF!!

          1. I don’t need a seventh child, I need something to keep the pests out!

            I’ve got the half-elf to fight the monsters for me!


            1. >> “I’ve got the half-elf to fight the monsters for me!”

              Why am I suddenly reminded of this:

                    1. You’re welcome.

                      I’m curious about the zoning out, though. Do Jethro Tull songs in general have that effect on you?

                    2. It’s more like …. music that doesn’t move around enough, I zone out.
                      It *feels* the same as politicians talking, and I don’t know why.

                    3. That was meant to be a smiley face at the end. The joys of trying to type one-handed because a cat is using your other arm as a pillow (and expecting you to pet him on top of that). 😛

                    4. *grins*

                      I ____TRY___ to assume folks here are speaking in the most charitable of means.

                      Especially as I am often typing with multiple kids and/or cats on lap…..

                    5. Fiona Penelope Farage is my kitten who loves her early morning lie down on my lap. On one arm, expecting her chops to be scruffed at regular intervals.

    1. I think my dreary mud ball is beautiful. It’s the only one I have, and I’m not interested in space.

      1. This mudball/rock is wonderful, yes. But despite ‘Taurus’ being… earthy… and my utter lack of much interest in the sea/oceans… Neptune and beyond has some..,. if not attraction, at least interest. I look forward to less WINTER conditions and some telescope time. perhaps starlight is not the elixir panacea but it is a great restorative, for me anyway.

        1. It makes me happy that you dream of Neptune and warmth.

          I used to shame myself because I didn’t want to go to space–all I’d do is barf from zero gravity. Now, I’m just glad to be here, and to know people who dream like you do. I don’t feel so lonely.

          1. Of the “Humanity F*** Yeah” or “Humans Are Weird” stories a few stand out.

            One of the most potent is that Humanity had been and gone.. explored the Universe… and left records (almost literal – think Voyager style) orbiting at long distance around every even remotely-likely star that might one day support life in its system. And *EVERY* race that made it into space beyond the most trivial discovered this… LIBRARY… that advanced them by *centuries* if not millennia, and warned of how things could go wrong (..from bitter experience..) and.. all races agreed on this if nothing else,… the Humans were Great Wonders… and,. sadly, perhaps the very LONELIEST race of all time and space – planting seeds, in hope that maybe, someday,…

      2. I’ve been attracted to Space since I started to distinguish the moon from the stars– very very young. But then I think this need to explore is in my genes. My family have itchy feet.

        1. If I ever make it to well south of the equator (ever more doubtful), I will take a hint from Leslie C. Peltier (“Starlight Nights” and a regular columns in Sky & Telescope once upon a time…) and go look at they sky *BEFORE* trying to learn constellations and such…. and *see* it for myself. I did not do that for the Northern sky.. I was too busy trying to catch up… and, for good or bad, Corona Borealis was my first real constellation (the Big Dipper is an aphorism….).

        2. I admire you and Orvan. I think it takes courage I don’t have to dream of leaping into space.

          1. I have claustrophobia. The thought of being stuck in something small-ish, that will leave me without oxygen if it sustains a breach? No, just no. Unless the sun were about to go supernova or the Earth was getting hit by a meteorite or something, I’d rather stay on Terra Firma.

        3. this need to explore is in my genes. My family have itchy feet.

          Prior generations did. OTOH last few haven’t strayed as far. Hit the limit when hit the Pacific coast line?

          Applegate Brothers and the Cow Wagon Train. Second wagon train to leave the east and head for the Oregon country. Applegates were here for the revolutionary war too. But not sure exactly when got to America’s.

          Clearman, Jewet, Leaky, ???, maternal side, also here for the revolutionary war then headed for Montana not long after Lewis and Clark.

          Family has spread out, if only because there are so *many. I mean grandpa and grandma left Montana for Oregon. Unlike the Lovelace, where I’m also at least 3rd or 4th generation Oregonian (Applegate side I’m 5th or 6th generation, I never know how to count that). Grandpa’s parents were only surviving children of their generation, grandpa was the only surviving child to have offspring.

          * Joke is we’re related to half the PNW and not all of them are in Yoncolla or Chateau.

          1. Through my family lines 😀 I’m related to most of the original families in Utah, Southern Idaho, parts of CA, WA and OR.

            When my sister married a Ute Tribal member, the joke in our family was that her kids was related to all the Western white families and all the Ute Tribal members. The children had to leave the state to find someone not related to them to marry. (Hunts, Bagleys, Birds, so on and so forth in the family line)

            Interestingly I went to school with an Applegate in northwest corner of Utah around Vernal. (I had family on the Mayflower and Mayflower adjacents, and the European invasion just before the Civil War… depending on which line you look at). Larsons, Fox — although we think the Fox surname was changed to make it more Anglo– the woman with that last name came from the area of London that was the Jewish quarter, etc etc.

                1. Yup. I think they’re shortsighted — they could run a website, email newsletter, periodic meetup events, for a lot less money for a lot more people. I mean, the whole point of genealogical requirements is that your number of members should be steadily increasing.

                  I’d also make life memberships pretty cheap.

            1. Don’t know that either side came across on the Mayflower.

              Grandma used to joke that her mother and aunts had to marry foreigners, they were related to everyone locally. Grandma said she was in normal school (HS level) before all of the kids at her school weren’t cousins.

              While we can claim decedents of the revolution. We can’t for the Civil War. Everyone decamped well before that bit of unpleasant business. Don’t know enough about hubby’s family history to know if that is true or not. They are from back east before landing in San Diego during WWII.

                1. AFAIK, all my ancestors were Union. But that’s mostly because they were all above the Mason-DIxon Line.

                  Except for the O’Brien ancestor. That side, it was very intentional.

          2. Also– can claim Eric the Red. 😀 So I think we get this urge to travel and see new places from the family. If Space had opened up, I do think many of my family would be out there now. Just because.

          3. >> “Prior generations did. OTOH last few haven’t strayed as far. Hit the limit when hit the Pacific coast line?”

            1. Of coarse CA had build piers. Oregon and Washington go further west … 😉

              But who wants to go to China?

      3. I’m claustrophobic so the thought of going to space with anything less than Star Trek levels of technology and terraformed planets is a big no. Perelandra sounds wonderful to me although I know Venus isn’t actually like that.

        1. Now, I could do the Enterprise! As long as nobody got all herk-a-jerk on the shuttle ride to the ship.

          Normal gravity. Regular sized spaces. I could do that.

          Still don’t want to, though. What dreams I have are solidly terrestrial.

          1. Only sort-of.

            I’m smother-phobic.

            Hot? Humid? Stuffy? Can’t move? The gauge keeps going up and up on teh spoon-gobbling machine…..

            1. I was thinking of small spaces and wrapping up in my blanket. wrapped in a blanket depends on why and who and how. Why did that example come to mind? I have become a bit agoraphobic in the last few years.

          2. I didn’t think I was claustrophobic. But then I went in for a back scan. Would have been okay if I’d been reversed. Didn’t panic immediately. But I was sure glad when the process was done, and I was pulled out. Didn’t help with the tech going. “Don’t move.” With my back muscles spasms. Now? I doubt I could go into the machine for a scan, not without being put under.

  18. Disjointed thoughts;
    Much of the ‘real’ world ain’t real, is simply accepted constructs.

    5 stages of grief. Simply 5 not 25, not 2? 5 ’cause enough folks bought into it.

    Autism scale? As soon as you say scale you place yourself somewhere on it.

    Escapism or simply how to copeism. All tales are cautionary tales.

    You’re gonna die. So am I. Meanwhile keep moving and ignore all, and I mean all, the ya but arguments.

    Joy of being human, we can see the future(s). Terror of being human, we can see the future(s).

    How to live in this or any other world? Do the best you can. Dangit Skippy, you gotta realize ain’t anything else you CAN do.

    In the country of the blind the blindest man is king. Why’d you think it was the one eyed guy? ’cause enough people bought into it.tism scale? As soon as you say scale you place yourself somewhere on it.

    Escapism or simply how to copeism. All tales are cautionary tales.

    You’re gonna die. So am I. Meanwhile keep moving and ignore all, and I mean all, the ya but arguments.

    Joy of being human, we can see the future(s). Terror of being human, we can see the future(s).

    How to live in this or any other world? Do the best you can. Dangit Skippy, you gotta realize ain’t anything else you CAN do.

    In the country of the blind the blindest man is king. Why’d you think it was the one eyed guy? ’cause enough people bought into it.

    No worries mate, the sun will rise tomorrow.

    Ya but……

  19. Lovely piece, and so relatable! I don’t think I’m on the spectrum, but husband and son are, so I view some of this as an outsider. But your writer’s journey definitely speaks to me and I’m glad you’re going to be doubling down on what you have to offer the world!

  20. “Ox, are you scheduled for $BadWeatherNight?”


    “Come in anyway. We’re going to have at least one out-of-town call in. You’re close and reliable.”

    (The blessing/curse of [almost]all-terrain hooves…)

    I’ve describe it as work gives me a “Star Trek life”. Full of high tech and wonder? No. But like the TV show, I have to pull a miracle from under my tail each week…

      1. I usually wear a blue shirt (though red is not unheard of). And the ‘standard’ is… black. Which I admit seems nonsensical for those who work nights. Then, if things started making sense, we’d get really worried. (this past night ox solve two electrical problems… On the order of ‘solved’ being “Are you sure it’s plugged in?” “D’oh!”)

        1. “Are you sure it’s plugged in?”

          The ones I like are:

          “Yes. It is plugged in.”
          “Is the switch on?”
          “Does the house have power?”
          “ummmmmm.” (This is when the tech is mimicking pounding head on wall or desk, and hitting head with phone receiver. Before responding with something nasty, witt, and termination possibility. Not wrong mind you just something TPTB won’t be happy with should a complaint be filed or recordings reviewed.)

          The other one was “The coffee holder broke.” Not that most computers come with coffee holders anymore. But still …

          1. Like the call to the spreadsheet software company? After more than 5 minutes, the Luser finally informed them that there was a city-wide blackout…SO THE DINGBAT CALLED THE SOFTWARE COMPANY!!

            He got in trouble for telling her to pack everything up, take it back and tell the store she was too stupid to use a computer.

            1. Yes. That is the one. I think it came under “what not to do when you are in tech support.” I also took it for “what not to do when you CALL tech support.”

              “Put on your computer expert” indeed, when I’m AM the computer tech (not low enough voice apparently). Not my fault the P5’s wouldn’t allow switching the 3.5 primary boot floppy drive to make the 5.25″ floppy drive the primary like the prior machines would. Nor that the SCO Xenix didn’t come on 3.5 drive (’95) or CD. SCO Xenix also wouldn’t run on the P5, but that is another story.

              How I solved it? Got the forester who was ultimately responsible for managing the system’s data. He got on the phone, listened, said “here she is”. I had to call 3 times to finally get the correct tech who knew the answer. It wasn’t documented either; where I could get to it. I checked.

              Boy was that mess “fun”. We had to then order Unix. But the compiler we were using wouldn’t work on Unix. So we ordered the compiler. But using the compiler meant we had to recompile everything at once, which meant a long testing cycle, it was absolutely the wrong time to do that. Plus we were working on rewriting the entire thing to tag into a GIS system. Turned out we could used Xenix compiled code on the Unix system just fine. Just couldn’t UNIX compiled code in conjunction with the Xenix compiled code. Had a backup subsystem in another location (old primary system so it was on it’s last legs). I’d make code changes locally, dialup transfer the source code to the other machine, compile on the other machine, run prelim tests there, copy the EXE back to the primary machine, and retest … fun times (sarcasm JIC). That was the state when the division was sold. I documented it 🙂 I did. I did. I was not around to hear the swearing.

          2. I’m tempted to call Thermaltake?(I think my cube came from there) and ask how one is supposed to install the coffee cup holder in my case. Funny thing is, there is a bay for it in the framework, but no opening in the bezel nor is a bezel available for this model that takes the cup holder mechanism.

            1. I know right?

              Newer laptop thin cases don't even have a bay for one anymore.

              Note. First time I read the tech call incident, I ROFLOL'd, a lot.

  21. When I was in college, a psychology student used to hang around the computer lab a lot. He would always ask us to participate in his various class projects, because our results were always off the mainline that the rest of his class was seeing. Even when one of us decided to answer a survey with the absolutely most middle-of-the-road stock answers he could come up with.

  22. … going out into the wider world, and finding that I didn’t quite fit in. .. Because we are odd.

    Speak for yourself, gal I’m not odd; the world is.

    1. >> “Speak for yourself, gal I’m not odd; the world is.”

      But this is a place for Odds, so if you’re not one of us then what are you doing here? Begone, outsider!

      …Although, I suppose having a standard of normality for the rest of us to measure ourselves against could be useful. We need a unit of measurement, though; what should one anti-RES represent?

      1. Oh, and I love the idea that the flippant talking wallaby would be considered the NORMAL one around here. Sarah really should use that to advertise the blog.

  23. I got to the point I read six books a day.

    There needs to be a short story, or a Youtube skit, describing the travails of a readaholic, in the manner of the above routine.

    1. If you do, be sure to include a scene where the electric blanket control panel is the reading light for those “can’t put it down” books. I had to put the blankets up heavy so you couldn’t see the light under the huge mound….

      1. My Emergency Backup Momma is blind. Backup Sister used to read till all hours of the night because she COULD, until she got busted by her mom touching the lightbulb to see if it was hot.

          1. Emergency Momma is terrifying and I love her. Itty-bitty little semi-Jewish Southern Baptist (don’t ask me how that works. I have no clue) grandmother. And quite willing to use her blindness to put that extra edge on her blade. (Small-town principal took a dislike to her granddaughters while they were in elementary school. After Backup Sister had exhausted her options, it was close to the end-of-school picnic. She let her husband guide her up to the principal, with possibly a little extra tottering thrown in, and proceeded to fulsomely praise the school for a while. “It’s been an *institution*, the scores were so good, the teachers were so sweet, people were just *fighting* to get their children in there…” Pregnant pause, still shaking the principal’s hand. “And then YOU came…”)

      1. St. Jerome, among reams of good advice to young Eustochium in Letter 22, tells her, “Read often, learn all that you can. Let sleep overcome you with the roll still in your hands; when your head falls, let it be on the sacred page.”

        That man was such a nerd. He also has a big section in the same letter about how it took divine intervention to break his addiction to classical authors, and replace it with Bible reading and other works. (And yeah, the general impression is that he was doing unhealthy levels of classical literature.)

  24. 14-16 was really hard for me. It’s bad when you are the Odd in the family and the only closest Odd (I think my grandfather and great-grandmother) were 300 miles away. I was already a reader, but I started to read lots of books when I was 12 and I escaped into fantasy. I read sci-fi as well, but I was really into Andre Norton’s Witch world. It was like she wrote characters that were living my life. When I was writing, I read less. Now I’m back to reading everything I can get my hands on–fiction, non-fiction, etc. labels. It’s definitely my escape route especially when I am in physical and emotional pain.

  25. I’ve been doing more writing lately, and it does seem to help giving my brain a rest from worrying about the world. Unfortunately, work-stress is now getting in the way. geesh…. If it ain’t one thing, it’s t’other.

  26. I’m not on the spectrum, though I am Odd as all get-out. (My eldest son and probably my husband *are* on the spectrum, so I’ve got a very solid frame of reference to base this on.) Neither am I Neanderthal, at least according to the gene test we did. (Again, husband and son are.) I’m also an extrovert extreme who is doing pretty well even with the lockdowns.

    Because I have books.

    You want to see me crazy? (you don’t want to see me crazy.) Take away the books. You will not like the results.

    1. Based on my experience with diagnosed Autistic, ADHD, youth. I’d say I wasn’t on the spectrum either. OTOH all youth male through scouts. I’d had said “hell no”. I’d still had said no based off my son and husband. None of us are diagnosed.

      But based off of a whole slew of stuff I can point to IDK. Not the least of which is what have been listed here.

      Husband. He’s better socially. Not a reader of fiction. Has no tolerance for BS.

      Son. Limited social interaction. Schedule? No 100%. He doesn’t make the effort. Online yes. Gamer. Also not a book reader. Adaptable; he is supervisor of a work crew at work doing construction activity. Only child syndrome? He had friends from school, played sports, did scouts. But none have transitioned out of HS. I get him being overwhelmed by his 6, all female cousins, who are loud. Which brings up infant/toddler/preschool years. Luckily we had an understanding staff. They’d let him retreat into a corner when thing got too hectic, and he’d join in again a few minutes later. Had two good enough friends that they’d occasionally join him. Regular 3 musketeers. College years? He was in ROTC (Obama cut programs) which was very socially oriented in a formal way. (He was technically out of the ROTC program, when it was clear he wasn’t going to be able to contract on graduation, but allowed to complete the classwork, normally not allowed. But was cutoff from activities.)

      Me. Lousy at communication in general, written an exception, forever. Found reading, probably a later age than some here. I blame “See Spot Run”. Once I hit the Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Bobbsey (sp?) Twins, Black Stallion, Island Stallion, Misty, Heinlein, Norton, etc., all bets were off. Yes. I am a reading addict.

    2. I’ve been told I should be on the spectrum. I just glower and mutter “No, introvert.” Yes, a school counselor would put me on the spectrum in all likelyhood, just for the funding boost.

      1. I’ve never been sure whether it’s autism, extreme introversion, or just having been raised by mathematicians (which is kind of like being raised by wolves, only less social).

      2. Yea– I’m an introvert. Too smart for my own good sometimes. Stuttered a little as a child. I also learned early that no one was really interested in what I had to say until I joined the Navy and then all of a sudden I was in the top of my classes etc etc.

  27. Do I belong to the autist creed? Well. It manifests differently in women than in men. In fact, i read an article — which I can’t find right now — that explained convincingly that a lot of what are considered transgender/masculine traits in women are a manifestation of autism. It’s possible.

    I figure at least some of it, yes– though I’d argue that part of the issue is that the normal baseline for social skills in girls is higher, so there’s the ability to make up for the “spectrum” problems without it being noticed as easily.

  28. And it seems to have a correlation to either not having normal instincts or not allowing them to operate because you “think too much.” (And yes, I got tired of that accusation by the time I was 12.)

    I went from tired of it to flatly bristling when I hear it when I figured out it showed up an awful lot when what they meant was “you didn’t stop thinking once you’d come to the conclusion I wanted.”

    1. Well if someone doesn’t come to the same conclusion then *obviously* the only possible answer is that they aren’t thinking it through properly or not listening. Duh.

  29. > escape

    My teachers chose to see it that way. They managed to persuade my parents. But I never saw it as “escape”. Reality-as-we-know-it was BO-RING. I wasn’t “escaping from”, I was *going to* places where interesting things were happening.

    While other kids were watching cartoons or puzzling out the words in comic books. I was watching the crew of the Solar Queen navigate the maze on Limbo, or Brion Bayard picking his way through alternate dimensions, or the Galileo crew landing on the moon…

    That’s not *escape*. If I was watching those stories sitting in front of the TV, they wouldn’t have used that word. It’s only “escape” when it’s the printed word, apparently.

    1. My parents decided that I was reading too much so my mother locked up the books. I would carry a book hidden in my waistband with a shirt tucked over it. I thing I read more then because I would hide in the bathroom. Why my parents thought that I needed a dose of reality at the time when I was cook, maid, teacher, etc and was given no free time for anything… I will never understand? I sure as heck did not want to be there.

      1. >> “At least she did not plan on going to live in Narnia…”

        Um, I thought she DID live there:

  30. mom came home one day to find me (15) reading a playboy. her reaction was kinda WTF – i simply held up the cover and pointed – new R.A.H. book. – oh – wondered off to make dinner.

  31. “[M]y friend Professor Tolkien asked me the very simple question, ‘What class of men would you expect to be most preoccupied with, and most hostile to, the idea of escape?’ and gave the obvious answer: jailers.” –C.S. Lewis

    1. In this case, it’s more like the lunatics that have taken over the asylum.

      Somebody has to come up with a social and economic system that doesn’t select for sociopaths and narcissists. We haven’t found one yet.
      “Democracy is the worst system of government ever devised — except for all the rest.” —Winston Churchill

      1. Christianity came (comes? YMMV) closest.

        But whatever system, there’s always some contrary squirt who wants to do it her way, and hasn’t the sense to just be quietly wired, but instead joins in with the sociopaths and narcissists in breaking the system in JUST that one spot.

        Because what could go wrong?

        1. Doesn’t even need that. All systems require continuous maintenance; “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance” is only a subset of that.

          Once someone says a variant of “yeah that was bad but leader Bob should be respected” the system is solidly in Camp Sociopath. Getting humans to reliably hold hierarchies to proper account without just burning everything down is still unsolved.

          1. I resemble that remark, except that I have just enough self awareness to realize that, morality aside, I am a pretty terrible leader.

            So, I keep on trying to convince people to do horrible things, but because I’m a liability in any sort of formal leadership positions, and because I don’t have the charisma or force of personality to do it the other way, I’m stuck with actually persuading people using the quality of my thinking.

            In other words, I convince people when they would have done it anyway, or when they have a psychotic break and their judgement goes to crud.

          2. Survivor of many…religion-related institutional splits*. You’ve hit the nail on the head, and I thank you for articulating something I’d noticed but not put into words.

            *the best was when my pastor decided he was Moses.

      2. The bigger and more intrusive the government, the narrower the advantage of democracy over other forms of government. It eventually reaches the point of “We elect a dictator every five years. You’ve confused it with democracy, and so have we.”

      1. IIRC, it was in a speech, and was quoted by a third party.

        Came up in research on the whole “who said the folks afraid of escape are the jailers.”

      2. Here we go!

        For awesome point, the “third party” was Arthur C. Clark:

        That perhaps is why people are so ready with the charge of ‘escape’. I never fully understood it till my friend Professor Tolkien asked me the very simple question, ‘What class of men would you expect to be most preoccupied with, and most hostile to, the idea of escape?’ and gave the obvious answer: jailers. The charge of Fascism is, to be sure, mere mud-flinging. Fascists, as well as Communists, are jailers; both would assure us that the proper study of prisoners is prison. But there is perhaps this truth behind it: that those who brood much on the remote past or future, or stare long at the night sky, are less likely than others to be ardent or orthodox partisans.

        Was going to quote the explanation, but Lewis’ quote seemed more timely.

  32. Everything in this blog seems true, from comments, reply’s, jokes, even all the things I don’t get.
    I’ve always read compulsively: encyclopedias, SF (all of Norton, Niven, Heinlein, Asimov and more), fantasy, science (as escapism), work stuff ( law as in house, including, M+A, corp. governance, real estate, intellectual property, government contracting, software, etc.), and now that I’m retired, back to fun reading and current events.
    But on the path ended up in a psychiatric hospital. My doctor said I was going faster than anyone she had seen who was still sane. The rest was good.
    I’ve had since very young an internal world of space travel . Space has always been a great
    love, helped by finding in the 1960’s that NASA will send you thousands of pages of material.
    And water. I’ve always lived within 2 blocks of Lake Michigan. Fun was escaping down the bluff to the lake, spending hours and seeing no other people.
    Thanks always to our host and everyone here.

  33. I read because it gave me answers – how do I deal with the cr@p I keep getting handed? Fairy stories (the Coloured Fairy books, Grimm in the original version), then M. Lackey’s early fiction, A. McCaffrey (Dang it, I WAS Lessa! and missed all the innuendo for a long time), Robin McKinley, then military history (you can fight back!?! Why did no one tell me?). Now I write the stories I want to read. Some of them have footnotes. All of them are True, as True as I can tell them.

  34. Good stories give the soul wings. A soul with wings is hard to catch and harder to imprison. Because the only way to imprison a soul is to convince it to lock itself in. Stories are one way God gives us the strength to lookup. This is something some people cannot abide, because they have already locked themselves up and many ha have thrown away the key.

    1. Because the only way to imprison a soul is to convince it to lock itself in.

      And the obverse of that is that once someone has caged themselves you can pave a road of gold to a crystal city in the distance and they won’t/can’t go there.

  35. Oh, I hear you. When I was trying to enter professionally, I knew better than to say what I really wanted to write. I wanted my over arching comic book style space opera world that I’ve been hammering out since I was 15. And I mean hammering! At 15, I was using an old manual Underwood typewriter, with a backspace key from hell!

    But I tried. I wrote single disposable short stories. I wrote to market. Then I realized I didn’t really want to work with the snobs in the first place. But by that time, the snobs had burned me so much, from editors and writer’s groups, I lost a lot of my zest and desire. They killed something inside me.

    I really loved doing that online workshop with you, and I started pulling out some of my stuff again.

    1. The stories I find from writers who have slipped around the gates are fresh and interesting. I went through my writing to the market side (told to do that in the 80s and 90s). BUT you are free now– write what you want. And maybe when you’ll bless us with your stories.

        1. I’d love to read some new work. It’s the season to be called up into your superpower.

    2. FWIW, I recommend Holly Lisle’s how-to stuff (as well as her fiction. Enthusiastically.) She blends “for the joy” and “for the money” deftly and non-condescendingly.

  36. I do have digit dyslexia. I didn’t know what it was until I started reading what Sarah had to say about it. I will read a credit card digits and then switch numbers. Or read it over the phone and switch it from head to tongue. I can really… but I also have a mild dyslexia with qs and ps. I’ve worked around it and never considered it a serious problem. I recheck all my numbers a lot though. Also I was almost blind until I had laser surgery in my mid 30s. It means that visual is not my strongest sense.

  37. I find it difficult to escape nowadays by reading fiction. Read so much as a child and a adult, that part of my mind is worn. So I stick to non-fiction. And movies and television are mostly yuck. I’d rather watch machinists and farmers on YouTube as a nightcap. Or stick to math and history reading.

    But a couple of weekends ago, I was under the weather and the spouse was away tending to a reclusive relative. So she encouraged me to explore the media variety that is available to us because of her job.

    So I binge-watched the first two seasons of “The Expanse” with the dog curled up beside me.

    As fucked up as that fictional universe is, it isn’t as fucked up as the current administration and the Left. And this is the first decent sci-fi show I’ve seen in a long while. And watching multiple episodes back-to-back-to-back without commercials makes it easy to follow the plot. (I normally don’t watch anything…)

    So I escaped for awhile.

    Until the fictional Protogen corporation in “The Expense” reminded me of Covid, Bill Gates, gain of function and the Georgia Guildstones…

    Back to the math and history! 😛

  38. I loved the Coloured Fairy books and original Grimm. Plowed through whatever my library had. When I discovered Moorcock and Elric, those I didn’t really tell my parents about… I was 12 or so at the time. I knew some things were just better off not mentioned. But, they never monitored my reading, except for suggesting Shakespeare or some other classics every once in a while. We had most of the “expected” classics at home, so that was easy.

  39. Which I did, more or less cold turkey at 18. And then I became an exchange student and met my husband…. which is weird since he was a character in my stories when I was 14. (Himself has a really weird sense of humor, okay?)

    If you authors are secretly writing the future of our world, find Kurt Schlichter and make him stop.

  40. I just posted a comment that got sent to moderation, even though I hadn’t included any links in it. Weird. Only reason I can think of is that someone with the same ISP as me is trying to do some kind of Internet attack, and my ISP has been sin-binned. Living here in $ASIAN_COUNTRY, that actually happens quite often. But if you could check the moderation bucket and release my comment, I’d appreciate it. (Or both my comments if this one goes to moderation too.)

  41. Solving the world’s problems would require rather illegal methods. And two or three kilos of antimatter, dispensed in 0.1 gram doses. 🙂

      1. I plan to, just to live the greatest possible revenge-being alive and forever out of their reach.

        But even if you were just among the fifty…I do not choose martyrdom and plan to avoid it as long as I can. But sometimes, your number is up, and all you can do is smile to the hangman.

  42. Today my husband pointed out that the folks who stole the elections and are messing with our country *enjoy* our unhappiness and demotivation. So every escape into a happy book is WIN. Go, enjoy!

    1. To be fair, we’ve enjoyed the “hippie tears” over the years whenever the Left encounters a setback, so it does go both ways. I’m hoping to enjoy more of those “hippie tears” again in the future when they inevitably overplay their hand (they always do) and the pendulum swings the other direction. With how tone-deaf Biden is being with a lot of his executive orders, some of which aren’t very popular even among Democrats, it might happen sooner than they think.

  43. Greta Thunberg, being a genius, decided to help out her handlers and their cause by tweeting out a copy of all the boilerplate she had been sent as a “toolkit” for putting out the Correct Ideas about the protests in India.

    Post about this on

    I think we can assume that there are similar “toolkits” for every single leftist issue, and that celebrities, “activists,” and journalists are indeed being sent these by their handlers.

    1. Oh, man. One of the replies to the Breaking911 thing was a leftie, who opined that _everybody_ gets that stuff from _every_ social media campaign. So what’s the big deal? Totally normal.

      But of course, we don’t get that stuff because we’re not on the left; and the social media campaigns on the right just ask people to get involved, instead of issuing orders and boilerplate.

      Anyhoo, India is apparently Not Amused, and some group wants to charge Greta for interfering in their politics.

    2. >> “Greta Thunberg, being a genius, decided to help out her handlers and their cause by tweeting out a copy of all the boilerplate she had been sent as a “toolkit” for putting out the Correct Ideas about the protests in India.”

      I saw that on WSB, but the text was too small and blurry and there wasn’t a link to the original tweet. What did she say?

  44. I need to read less…and write more. I’m putting together a major NATO AGARD paper on UAV test methods. A memoir. Maybe a history of flight testing. The Black Powder Pistol Manual. Then fiction.

    The problem with fiction is going from plot to actual characters and dialog. I’ve got a plot and some scenes, but it’s a big leap from that to something worth reading. And I want to get the Space Guard story done first…mostly for practice before I tackle the Big One. The story of the first starship. Which is frankly intended to be my contribution to keeping the Spark of Civilization alight until the Fire be rekindled.

  45. When I was in high school I was averaging a book or two a day (not thick ones), mostly SciFi. It didn’t feel like escapism then. Addiction, maybe; I was a glutton for stories.
    (There were plenty of books around, and not much restriction on what you were allowed to read. All the James Bond books vanished after I started one, but Rabelais was on the shelf, and Herman Hesse, and both Rand and Marx.)

    I wasn’t a terribly adventurous sort if it involved being with crowds, but walking on jungle trails alone or with my friend or my sister was fine.

    Reading is a little more social nowadays (“Can I read you a section?”), especially if somebody got ahold of a new Chesterton.

    1. In Jr and High School, I worked in the school library. Eventually the rumor got out that I had read every single book in the library. I of course hadn’t, but I understood the library card catalog and shelving, which seemed to the other students like freakin magic because it allowed me to walk straight to and find practically any book on any subject.

  46. “In fact, the older I get, the more I think that people who insist all books must be about “real things” and that escapism is wrong are people who want to control everything you do and think and allow you no escape.

    In fact, the only people who object to escapes are jailers.”

    Worthy of Chesterton, and your comments section is a joy in itself. Thank you all who hang out here, and hang on here!

  47. It occurs to me that these utterly serious people are trying to control the rest of us (and the real world) because they are afraid. Afraid there actually might be Something bigger than they are and they can’t tolerate the thought.

    1. That, and that some of them are trying to fill “the G-d shaped hole in their hearts” with power, money, physical pleasure, and other things. To admit that they want and need something greater than themselves – that is a true deity – cannot be tolerated, so they cling to the religions of Communism, Environmentalism, and power-hunger. And . . . other things.

      1. Gonna have to disagree with you there. There are atheists who aren’t interested in power, like ESR and myself. And there are those who do believe in a God and are absolutely tyrannical, such as Islamists. I don’t think that theism vs. atheism is the issue.

        1. With the usual “ignore me if this is too intimate, and I’ll honestly ignore a go F yourself in response” manner— do you BELIEVE that There Is Nothing, or do you believe that there is not enough evidence to BELIEVE in something?

          Because there’s a big difference.

          For example, I don’t disbelieve in whole hog evolution. I definitely believe in selective breeding level evolution, it’s not just proven it’s easy to test and support.
          I just don’t see sufficient reason to believe in “from puddle of mud” level evolution.
          Insufficient data, not pressing requirement for a choice to be made.

          1. The question doesn’t bother me, although I’m not sure how it’s relevant. I was just pointing out that you can find both tyrants and libertarians among the religious and secular alike; I think the love or hatred of freedom is orthogonal to religious belief.

            But as for your question, I assume from your capitalization that you’re referring to belief in the supernatural (or divine/infernal, specifically)? If that’s the case, then the answer is “neither.”

            I believe that the universe exists and follows immutable laws of nature. I do NOT believe that we know about everything that the universe contains or fully understand its laws. I am open to proof that something like fairies or powerful beings that could be called gods could exist, though the burden of proof would be on you and it would be a very high bar to clear. But if you proved it I wouldn’t consider them or their powers to be supernatural; I would classify them as parts of the natural order that we just didn’t know about before.

            Or were you mean something else?

            1. . I was just pointing out that you can find both tyrants and libertarians among the religious and secular alike; I think the love or hatred of freedom is orthogonal to religious belief.

              Because it’s a matter of definition.

              If you haven’t actually *REMOVED* God, then you’re less likely to have a God shaped hole.

              As you describe it, you are at least as open to God as I am to from-goop evolution, so when classifying in terms of willing to believe you’d be *agnostic*, not *atheistic.*

              Basically, you’re not a fanatical “no, no, there can be no god(s)!” fanatic.

              1. >> “Basically, you’re not a fanatical “no, no, there can be no god(s)!” fanatic.”

                It depends on what kind of god you’re talking about.

                An omnipotent god is not possible in a logical universe, because such a being would be able to flout the laws of logic at will (else it’s not truly omnipotent). So a rational universe and an almighty being don’t go together. On that I AM what you would call a fanatic, because you can’t have proof of something that can render the process of proof itself invalid.

                But beings with great powers we don’t understand, which people might understandably believe were gods? Sure, I’m open to that (if you can prove it). But I personally wouldn’t think of them as true gods or be inclined to worship them; my brain just doesn’t work that way. To me they would be an alien species exploiting natural laws that we – and possibly even they – didn’t yet comprehend.

                >> “As you describe it, you are at least as open to God as I am to from-goop evolution, so when classifying in terms of willing to believe you’d be *agnostic*, not *atheistic.*”

                We must be going by different definitions of “agnostic” and “atheist,” then.

                As for “from-goop evolution,” you might be interested in the Miller-Uray experiments. They tested abiogenesis in conditions that simulated primordial Earth, and while I never looked into them in detail myself it’s reported that they were successful. The idea is that abiogenesis worked in the primordial atmosphere and the lifeforms created then changed said atmosphere to make further abiogenesis impossible (damned oxygen emitters).

                1. >> “myself it’s reported”

                  Meant to say: “myself, BUT it’s reported.” Damn you, WordPress, where’s my edit feature?

                2. An omnipotent god is not possible in a logical universe, because such a being would be able to flout the laws of logic at will (else it’s not truly omnipotent).

                  So, miracles?

                  Or are miracles, being inside of His power to change, and His rules being logic, thus not violating His rules including logic, and thus all violations of the rules are not violations because they’re inside of His rules?

                  1. That’s not how it works. Reason and logic depend on there being things reality simply can’t do, such as contradict itself. The existence of an omnipotent being would mean that reality CAN do anything, which would mean we don’t live in a rational universe. The two don’t go together.

                    1. The only issue I have is with going “G*d is a Pantser, thus He cannot exist.”

                      If you’re going to examine someone based on logic, then you’re not allowed to conclude that He doesn’t exist against logic.

                    2. Well, also our logic is not His logic. I mean, I’m not multi-dimmensional and I can’t think like Someone who is.
                      On that….
                      It’s declasse to quote my kid, but I LOLed re-reading this. (He was then but…. 16?)
                      So, next time you look around a convention, be on the lookout. Don’t worry if other conventions are going on at the same time, He’s probably attending both if He’s going at all. He’ll be the quirky bestseller who you can never quite remember the nametag of, although you’ll come away with the strange impression it said “Mr. Jaho Vah”, and subsequently determine He was Swedish on this basis (speculation as to G*d’s nationality ends there, although it might explain a lot if He eventually turned out to be American. I will say, however, that although it’s a lovely country, G*d is almost certainly not Canadian.). He’ll be the largish man who sits at the back of the inevitable “How to Build Convincing Worlds” panel, giggling occasionally in a strangely unnerving way. He may, perhaps, express slight disappointment with the angel food cake in the hospitality suite, and is adamantly certain He can do it better. He will know all the secret parties and show absolutely no problems with staying up all night during the convention. He will know all the editors and agents, perhaps hinting incredibly subtly at some shady events in their past that no one could possibly know about during casual conversation, until eventually they include Him in the dinner party out of self-defense. You can spot instantly whether you have also been included in this dinner party, because one member will order the fish and be very fond of the dinner rolls (if the restaurant did not serve either of these prior to your party’s arrival, this is another dead giveaway), and no matter how little of either you originally had you will need several doggy bags for what’s left over. Writers in attendance who have previously had careers that dropped dead will miraculously see them revived, and people who were previously condemned to the slush pile with good reason shall be healed.

                    3. >> “So how do you deal with when things objectively do contradict what you thoughtwas an option?”

                      You mean, what if the evidence blatantly contradicts my beliefs?

                      Then I admit I was wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve had to do that.

                  1. No, I don’t believe it. You’d have to prove it. But it’s something that could happen in a rational universe.

                    1. Can you prove that the Universe is always “rational?” For that matter, that the “principal of non-contradiction” is true? How will you prove these things without engaging in circular reasoning?

    2. Over at MHN, I’ll quote Larry though they had to warn readers that a constant and possibly upsetting theme in my work is how the individual little guy is more competent than the government or big corporations… and I was like, guilty as charged!

      Think about the mindset that concludes that governments, big corporations, and presumably other large organizations must be more competent than an individual. This would be someone with a very flawed understanding of how competence aggregates.

      They definitely believe in something larger than themselves, they make an idol of large groups. What they fear is the existence of Jesus, or perhaps any eternal power that does not bow to worldly power. They want to be able to back a king, and have that king in power over mortality, entropy, morality, reality, etc.

      1. This brings a couple of Heinlein quotes to mind:

        Democracy is based on the assumption that a million men are wiser than one man. How’s that again? I missed something.

        A dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot.

        Whaddaya know, we’ve got ’em both!

  48. In an early candidate for chutzpah of the year, Democrats are claiming they lost a NY House seat due to….wait for it….FAULTY VOTING MACHINES:

    Apparently its only insurrection to make such claims if you are a Republican. Elias of course was a key figure behind the Steele Dossier and Russia Collusion Hoax and the Democratic Party’s efforts to enable mail by fraud.

    1. And Domin—n just sued Rudy G for for over 1 billion dollars for making the same argument. Funny. The Democrats must know what’s inside the black box.

      1. Wow, they really are stupid. Giuliani can now subpoena every detail of not only the Don’t-minion vote stealing machines, but the corporation’s records on who they bribed to ‘recommend’ them.

        “It’s called ‘discovery’, assholes!”

        1. Discovery doesn’t work when you can fix the lawyers and the judges.

          In particular, the ‘random’ program that assigns/schedules federal judges to cases may well be rigged.

  49. Escapism is one of the greatest of coping measures. I know that when I start thinking things are getting bad (2020/2021 is playing hell on my psyche) I dive into books to escape and deal with the real world. Especially when I was younger and thinking I’d never get out of debt and find a decent woman to marry fantasy was where I would go, and realize that things could be so, so much worse than the mild problems I was dealing with. I think it helps expand the mind and keep things in perspective.

  50. In fact, the only people who object to escapes are jailers.

    The greatest tool any jailer has is a snitch. Thus the effort to make us all snitches. But reporting someone to the authorities is not the most common form of a snitch.

    No, the most common form reports on themselves to themselves and, to escape their guilt, becomes a Karen, reporting on you to you to browbeat you into being as conformist as they are.

    This girl promptly scolded me and told me that I was bad for writing about people escaping instead of staying here and “solving the world’s problems.” Like, you now, at ten, I even knew what the problems were, much less could solve them accurately.

    The younger they train their self-enforcing snitches, let’s call them crabs, the more effective:

    It will surprise no one to find that this woman grew up to write various books on serious “social problems” right? No I haven’t read them. I have no intention of. They’re YA books about people who are horribly mistreated and stay that way, from what I gather from the blurbs.

    Don’t let the self-snitchers, the voluntary and unpaid guards, the crabs, keep you jailed.

  51. As to the “Autistic brain that’s so other it cannot quite communicate with the rest of us,” to paraphrase, that’s sometimes true, and sometimes not. More true of my own Asperger’s, I think, than of, say Ido Kedar, whose autism is based more on motor-pathway issues. But still, there’s a great deal to that.

  52. Escape? There’s past, and there’s future. I like to live in the timeless spot between them, the NOW.
    My “me” is all things past, my “future,” fantasy. I like to live in “I”, the eternal being between them.
    I worship the God whose name is “is” (“I Am”).

    At age 78 I find myself both maturing in wisdom and regressing in lifestyle. Music had been my preferred strategy for escaping the weariness of time. I first learned to drum in a military school marching band, graduated to the dance band after Spencer Dryden graduated. He later joined the Jefferson Airplane. Played drums in several R&B bands and one orchestra. Auditioned for Motown. Made records. Turning 21 I graduated to night clubs. Moved to keyboards, started my own band, and saw my name in lights. Gave up music after the Beatles broke up. Succumbed to the intellect.

    In my old age I regained the timelessness of music, binge listened to the Beatles for awhile, and then reverted to the dance band, even marches (the Beau Hunks). Forwards and backwards in eternity. Time and eternity travel on an interwoven path. The Way. Pausing at an intersection is, for me, what some call “mindfulness.” But it’s really “mindlessness.”

  53. There is no Frigate like a Book
    To take us Lands away,
    Nor any Coursers like a Page
    Of prancing Poetry –
    This Traverse may the poorest take
    Without oppress of Toll –
    How frugal is the Chariot
    That bears a Human soul.


      Tradpub has been wrong for quite a while.

      The Three-Decker
      “The three-volume novel is extinct.”

      “Her crews are babes or madmen? Her port is all to make?
      You’re manned by Truth and Science, and you steam for steaming’s sake?
      Well, tinker up your engines – you know your business best –
      She’s taking tired people to the Islands of the Blest!”

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