We were sitting around discussing the possibility of buying some land and building houses for us and the kids on it. I used the term ‘compound’ which didn’t go over well with younger daughter. “That is what it would be called,” I replied, “I won’t be writing a manifesto or anything “ She suggested ‘homestead’ which I objected to because it’s wrong – we’re not going to be homesteading.
Youngest son suggested we call our fantasy future digs a “fun size gated community.”
Continuing one of the items in the last post. Thanks for all the comments about your family sayings, keep ’em coming. Here’s a few more from Casa de Moore:
“Nice haunches he’s gettin’. Beautiful.” From Babe, used whenever something is turning out nicely.
“Anyone else want to negotiate?” From Fifth Element, used whenever the discussion has reached a conclusion, especially if that conclusion was reached via some physical action.
“Right again guys! Group hug.” Galaxy Quest.
“But who cares?” Ruby Rod, Fifth Element. Needs to be said in the insane Ruby Rod voice.
“That’s a good rule. But this is bigger than rules!” Babe.
“Phasers on stun!” Sometimes I will harken back to Bloom County and say “Phasers on deep fat fry!”
“The trees are really quite lovely” Princess Bride. Trying to find the good in a bad situation.
“I shall be very put out.” Princess Bride. Whenever expectations are not likely to be met.
From the distant past: every time I’d change a diaper, I’d say, in my most serious voice, “I can change you. But you have to want to change.” The wide eyed look on the baby’s face always cracked me up.
This is pretty endless. I’m sure I could come up with dozens more if my daughters were still around – they were into musicals (and my eldest has a freakishly-good memory for dialogue) so we’d have a constant stream of bits from Oklahoma and Singing in the Rain and Hairspray.
One of my weirder habits I passed on to them: just breaking out in song at the drop of a hat, most commonly in an over-the-top showtune belting style. Showtunes and jazz standards, for the most part. I bet my kids were looking for a place to hide when their weirdo dad started in singing in the kitchen….
What insanity are we attempting to escape, however breifly?
Yesterday, had an old friend over, with her husband and year old son. They wore masks, and would not come inside. Nothing so unusual about that. But – this friend eats organic, avoids doctors, dreads antibiotics, and was going to move out of our house (she used to live with us) if we tented for termites. Yet, when the same people – sometimes, the very same human beings! – who assure her that eating organic isn’t protecting you from anything, that doctors are to be trusted and obeyed, that antibiotics are perfectly safe, and that the pesticides used in termite tenting are safe when used correctly – when those same people tell her the ‘vaccine’ is completely safe, that everybody else is first and foremost a disease vector, and that, in any event, she and her husband and her baby, three young and vigorously healthy people, are at serious risk from a virus that hasn’t killed anyone they know who was even moderately healthy – boom! suddenly, having reservations as to the reliability of the directions given by those government people is eeeeevil.
Let me get this straight: I have to take an experimental ‘vaccine’ because it doesn’t work – right? It doesn’t protect against getting the infection, doesn’t protect against spreading the infection, has by definition unknown mid- and long- term effects and effectiveness – but I have to take it. If it worked, then people who are worried could take it and stop worrying – you know, like anyone does WITH EVERY OTHER VACCINE YOU TAKE. But no – this ‘vaccine’ must be taken by everyone because it doesn’t in fact work, on the theory that maybe then the Coof Gods will be placated and make this horrible plague, the victims of which develop nothing worse than cold symptoms 99%+ of the time, go away?
Here in Northern California, our scientifilicious betters have determined that the particularly strain of COVID we have here is so intelligent that it knows whether people are inside or outside, such that we are only ‘safe’ inside masked up but could, conceivably, not mask up outside. I guess back when they were making everybody stay inside, outside was too dangerous, but now the genius virus knows only to be dangerous to unmasked people inside…?
Speaking of genius viruses, it seems to be widely believed that the steps of masking up, staying a magical 6′ apart, and staying locked up for months on end have ended the flu as a disease. For now. So, of two airborne respiratory viruses with virions exactly the same size and which employ exactly the same vectors for spreading (and which have exactly the same symptoms 99%+ of the time) the steps taken to reduce COVID eliminated one, such that no flu deaths have been recorded since March of 2020, but had no evident effect on the other – that seems reasonable to people. Sure, it’s magic all the way down.
So, Christmas and Easter are cancelled again. Because nothing in the situation is going change between now and then to make things ‘better’ – flu season will start before any drop in ‘cases’ can be confirmed to the satisfaction of the all-seeing CDC and its toadies, the nursing homes have been restocked with dying old people whose deaths will be attributed to COVID – death ‘involving’ the Kung Flu, as the CDC puts it – so since the ‘vaccine’ doesn’t work, we’ll see ‘cases’ increase starting now, and not taper off until maybe February, once the elderly sickly have been wrenched untimely from this mortal coil. Then, as Easter approaches, the CDC, upon examining the entrails of freshly gutted rights and liberties, will determine we’re not safe *enough* to gather for Easter. Bet on it.
So let’s think about something else! OK?
Family Sayings. Everybody has these, right? Ours are typically movie-related. I’ll doubtless think of a bunch more once I’ve hit publish. Off the top of my head:
“Is there air? You don’t know!” Sniff. “Seems OK.” Often, we skip the setup, and just sniff and say “seems OK.” Galaxy Quest, of course. Used in any taste testing or when stepping into the new situation.
“What you mean ‘we,’ Pale Face?” I remembered this as a Bill Cosby joke, but evidently not. It dates back earlier. One source said a late 50’s Mad Magazine, of which my elder brothers had many, so maybe I saw it there. The idea: The Lone Ranger and Tonto are surrounded by hostile Indians. The Lone Ranger says something like “looks like we’re in deep trouble!” and Tonto replies: “What you mean ‘we,’ Pale Face?” So say someone utters something like “we need to tidy up” the others are likely to reply as did Tonto.
“I hate being right.” Galaxy Quest, again. When things get ugly fast, as predicted.
“Cute as a bug’s ear.” A favorite saying of my Oklahoma farm boy dad.
“Any help would be – helpful.” Monte Python & the Holy Grail.
“Good pig country.” Ditto. Used when trying to make the best of a bad situation.
And I’m sure there are a dozen more that have escaped my fading memory…
Peak Harvest Day: Picked some okra, some beans, and a few large cling peaches – nothing special. BUT picked probably 40 ripe figs off our little fig tree out front, and dozens of our small freestone peaches. And there are plenty more where those came from.
Plenty more where those came from. No pomegranates this year, no idea why it took the year off. But there are a couple dozen nice big pears, and some minneolas for fall/winter. Something – I strongly suspect it’s a possum I’ve seen around – seems intent on eating our butternut squash plants. Leaves, fruits, growth tip of the vines – there today, gone tomorrow. I’ve got plants in 4 different locations – it’s found 3 of them. I managed to put a milk crate over one squash, which seems to have escaped so far. Last year, we had 20+ squashes, and still have 3 left. This year?
Tomatoes have been tasty but few. Okra has been enough, beans were a waste of space. We’ve got all the basil, oregano, and rosemary anyone could need. Look to have a good potato and sweet potato harvest. This is all on a 7,000 square foot suburban lot, where the backyard is all but unusable due to two ancient walnut trees. Just a front yard orchard with two raised beds, some planters and some boxes and pots. So – pretty good, I guess.
Pizza Party: Yesterday, celebrated a belated birthday party for younger daughter by having a backyard pizza party!
Pizza was good. My little brother and his family are in town Friday, so that’s another pizza party; then the 28th is another, then…
Thanks to everyone who commented on this morning’s post regarding my desire to go with Linux for my next laptop. I really appreciate the input, but couldn’t help thinking of this scene:
I know, it’s not *that* bad. Just a few drivers and possible hardware conflicts, nothing a smart, patient person can’t handle. The computer world seems to fall into roughly two camps, and I’m not talking MS vs Apple: those for whom spending an hour or two punching in stuff on the command line and rebooting repeatedly seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to expect a user to do, and sane people.
Kidding! Just kidding! A little, anyway. Since my first computer dates back to something like 1990, a sweet little DOS machine with 256K RAM (upgraded!) and a whopping 20M of disk storage, I am familiar with typing things into command lines and watching the results on a ugly amber monitor. (aside: adjusting for inflation, that puppy ran me about $2,500. Yikes.) Ah, those were the days! I was taking the mandatory accounting classes in business school at the time, and I thought to myself, I did, that, heck, I could use the macro function on QuatroPro (anybody remember them?) to write a little accounting system. Whiled away quite a few hours getting that all set up, using spreadsheets as tables, using little macro loops to move stuff around, until I had the skeleton of a home-level accounting system. After about 6 entries, it ran out of resources and hung up. But it worked, I tell you! No, really! All I needed to do was invest several thousand 1990 dollars into a much bigger box, and, heck, probably could have got dozens! hundreds, even! of entries punched in before it bogged into petrification.
(another aside: probably the maddest I’ve ever made my wife was trying to explain double-entry accounting to her. It was weird – like the very idea of double entry accounting offended her to the heart. We’d only been married a few years at the time, so I took her obvious frustration as a sign I wasn’t explaining it right, and so kept trying. Wrong. Nod, say ‘yes dear’ and back slowly out of the room. But I didn’t know that at the time. I still have no idea what about the concepts was so wrong, but it’s pretty clear you don’t need both spouses to sign on to use GAAP to have a successful marriage.)
(Aside to the another aside: there is probably a really tiny set of readers who find the above freaking hilarious. For the rest of you, for convenience called ‘normal people’: it’s freaking hilarious. You’ll have to just trust me on this.)
Another story: my last serious foray into hardware was around 2000, when I decided I needed a home recording studio. We had bought our one and only house, the one we still live in, and I had decided I needed someplace to play the piano. 1600 sq ft suburban track house containing 4 kids under 10 and an exhausted mother (is there any other kind, when it comes to small children?) is no place to be pounding out the blues. So, in my usual overreacting manner, I converted the garage into a sound room. This does not mean: throw some carpet on the floor and egg cartons on the walls, or even maybe another layer of sheetrock on the walls. No, no, no – we’re talking the middle half of the garage (front quarter: laundry room; out by the big door: storage). Started by putting in multi-layered floating floor – rubber under 2X3s, layer of plywood, layers of hardboard, then ultimately padding and carpet. Somewhat isolated from ground vibrations, and it doesn’t creak. On top of that floor, build frame walls separating the laundry room and the front storage – layer of sheetrock, studs and insulation, layer of sheet rock, furring strips to create an air gap, then another layer of sheetrock, then layers of carpet hanging over the walls. The existing walls merely got studs & insulation, sheetrock, air gap, sheetrock, carpet.
I wussed out on the ceiling. Just taped and textured it, after putting in new light fixtures. Think I was getting tired out by that point – working, helping with the kids, then staying up half the night mudding, painting, flooring….
Epic overkill. First extended experience finishing sheetrock – parts of it are pretty good, which is to say: parts of it suck. But it works – I can pound on the piano in the middle of the night, and not wake anybody in the house or neighborhood.
Then I said: wait! DAWs are now coming down in price such that I could put one in my music room! Circa 2000, a good home DAW consisted of:
a pretty good computer
a digital audio/MIDI program
a digital audio converter (DAC) to turn sound into 1s and 0s
a variety of input devices – keyboards, guitars
studio monitors, a mixing board, microphones, mike stands, cables, etc. and etc.
After much research, got a Mac tower:
…because you could just open the side, plug in your DAC board, and be ready to go. The thought of disassembling a Windows box in order to hook up hardware that might or might not work without serious effort was too much. The Mac stuff at the time was pretty rock solid, nearly plug and play. There was an internal board to handle the DAC, an external rack unit to take the various physical inputs and feed them to the DAC, a mixing board to enable fiddling with the routing, and nice set of monitor speakers – KRK V8s:
Anyway: as you can imagine (maybe), there is quite a bit of work involved in getting all these pieces to play nice together. Ah, the painful, frustrating memories! The dream: walk into my nice studio, turn all the many components on, and just make music – was never fully realized. It was always something, something on the board got switched wrong, some nob or slider got turned off, some plug somewhere wasn’t quite right, and on and on and on. Those nights where I was recording stuff in under 15 minutes were the exception; nights where I gave up after an hour were not uncommon.
By the time kid #5 arrived in 2004, I’d about had it. We had the house remodeled, in the process of which the contractors messed with the (admittedly pretty slapdash and no doubt non-code-compliant) wiring I’d put in that powered everything in the sound room, and so, after fiddling and fiddling just trying to turn stuff on, and failing, I, without really meaning to, gave up.
Nail in the coffin of my studio: got my 1926 restored Steinway M back from the technician – after the remodel, finally had a place to put it in the house. That was that: found I would much MUCH rather make music on a nice piano than spend another frustrating minute on my DAW.
Anyway, all this is simply to say: yes, I can handle hardware/software issues up to a point – drivers, weird configuration issues, mystery problems. But I really, really want to keep them to a minimum. That’s what’s kept me off Linux so far. My late son, may he rest in peace, was the kind of kid who, at 16, built his tower up from scratch, component by component, and then installed Linux on it, and then downloaded a ton of free, open source CGI software, and then wrote his own ray tracing program – for fun. (1) He is not here now. I’m the ranking tech support in this house, and I’m not within an order of magnitude of my son’s level of expertise.
Anyway, please keep up the helpful comments, I really do appreciate any guidance or anecdotes you’d like to share. Onward!
His wanting to write his own ray tracing program was also the occasion for him to teach himself vector algebra by googling around on the web. Kid was the nicest, kindest kid you’d ever want to meet, who happened to be an off-the-charts genius as well.
No excuse for boring you, my loyal readers, with this, but here goes:
A. Trying to keep up the momentum, I’m switching back and forth between 3-4 writing projects. When I get stuck on one, just switch. Don’t even think about, just keep writing, with the goal still being 2 novels and 2 collections of short stories ready to go (to an editor, most likely) by end of June. And that science book. Anyway, what’s in the hopper:
Layman’s Guide to Understanding Science: Right around 10,000 words, on temporary hold. The comments, especially from Dr. Kurland and some of the commentators here, made me think – always dangerous. The question is not so much what science IS – which can be approached, I think, from several valid angles – but rather, in what sense should a layman care what science is. It will do little good to be technical accurate if my imagined reader doesn’t see any point to it. Ya know? So, I’m letting that one stew for now.
Working title “It Will Work” the first 6,000 or so words of which appeared on this blog as a series of flash fiction posts. (CH 1CH 2CH 3CH 4CH 5CH 6CH 7) I couldn’t seem to stop writing this, right up until I could, and it got the second most positive comments of anything I’ve written here, (1) so it seemed primed to become a short novel. It was one of the three novels-in-development in the Novels folder I set up back in January. At about 8,000 words at the moment.
Always told myself I needed to settle on an ending, so I knew where I was going with this – even though the 7 fragments were each tossed off totally seat-of-the-pants. Well, just today I started outlining what the kids these days might call the Boss Battle, the final test of Our Hero – and, it rocks so hard. Want to talk stupid? I was getting choked up telling my wife about it. I wrote it long before the current insanity, but, given the current insanity, it all makes so much more sense. As far as a “things done got blowed up good” by bombardment from space and aliens in power armor scene set on a distant moon of a far-away planet can be said to relate to current events. (answer: quite a bit, really.) Anyway: got the finale & denouement outlined, and am in the middle of the middle section. My only fear, if you can call it that – if I keep the pacing such as it has been so far, I’ll wrap it up in +/-30K words. Don’t want to stretch it simply for the sake of stretching it, but do want at least 40K words – Pulp Era novel length. Not a real problem until it is….
The White-Handled Blade – the Arthurian YA novel set in modern day Wales, the first 25% of which is the novella several generous readers here beta read for me a couple years ago. Currently sits at about 13K words. This one is exciting, but I want to do more reading in Arthurian legends and outline a longer path, as in, a potential series, before maybe writing myself into a corner. The story as it stands now is little more than a free retelling of the Lynette & Lyonesse story as told by Malory, ending right before Gareth makes his untoward advances toward Lyonesse. So, obviously, I would continue along those line BUT I want to introduce more stuff that will let me go in any number of Arthurian directions. I already have several of the important knight (reimagined as middle-aged academics, because I find that amusing), so, in future works, it will be easy to take some side-trips to Scotland or the Orkneys or Cornwall or France. I want to keep Lynnette as the heroine, because I like her, and she was designed from the ground up as someone the reader could relate to: she’s fiercely devoted to her older sister, loves but has trouble communicating with her dad, gets snubbed and bullied at school, can hold a grudge, but never gives up and is as brave as needed to rise to the occasion. And is otherwise a blank slate, so there’s nothing in the way to seeing yourself in her shoes.
So I’m rereading Malory and reading the Mabinogion for ideas. The farther back in time one goes, the crazier the legends become, such that getting a glimpse into Malory’s world – 15th century retelling of much older stories -is a lot easier than getting into the world of the Mabinogion, which are thought to be older still. Even Malory requires a bit of gymnastics to get into the moral mindset of people who seem to kill each other rather gleefully at the drop of a biggin, but not like the Welsh tales. And then there’s the French version…
Speaking of writing something I didn’t set out to write and would have never imagined writing, it seems YA fiction is mostly characterized as follows:
not too much gore
Which, frankly is a pretty fair description of anything I’m likely to write. On the other hand, Hunger Games is about children killing each other for the amusement of the powerful – I’d take a lot of sex and swearing before I’d consider that entertainment…
Anyway, it seems to be common industry knowledge that YA readership includes large numbers of adults who are just sick and tired of all the gratuitous sex and swearing and violence in mainstream stuff. So, from that point of view, pretty much anything (well, except this) I write would qualify, but I have never consciously tried to write YA. I’m putting in plenty of what I hope to be interesting non-childish philosophical and political and moral stuff. So – huh? Anyway, I’ll have to be careful of how I market this stuff. Studying up on that in parallel. Hope to get back to it soon, but it’s It Will Work is on the front burner at the moment.
Longship, the working title of the Novel That Shall Not Be Named (wait! doh!), some sections of which I’ve thrown up here on the blog, is the one that has both been percolating in my mind for a decade or two AND the one I’m having the least success in hammering into a actual novel or 4. On the back burner.
Finally, Black Friday is another bit of flash fiction fluff (well, 1400 words, so not exactly flash fiction…) that seemed ripe to expand, so I’ve been outlining that one, too. Have put in some work on it, but not in the form of adding to the wordcount.
B. This brings me to another consideration: The science and education stuff (remember that education stuff? I seem to have forgotten) I will publish under my own name. However, if I’m hoping to actually make a little money off the SF&F stuff, it would seem prudent to market under a nom de plum. I’m under no illusions that I’m anybody important, but underestimating the pettiness of our self-appoint betters is a fool’s game.
On a related note, I’ve taken a few baby steps towards hardening my superversive presence online, including a Brave/Duckduckgo browsing combo, a protonmail account and staying off Google as much as I can. I want to go :
secure website hosting
Just want off, as much as possible, the Bidenriech’s surveillance network. A know I guy…
C. The 16 year old Caboose just mentioned that his favorite books include a book on spiritual teachings from the perspective of a demon, a book on politics from the perspective of rabbits, and a post apocalyptical novel about a monastery.
Kids these days. I asked him what about that book about the short dude with hairy feet trying to return some stolen jewelry? He laughed.
D. Slept 8+ hours straight last night, the first time that’s happened in months. Felt very good. Been getting 4 -6 hours most nights since the Crazy Years became manifest – wake up, can’t go back to sleep, get us and try to do something. I could get used to that.
E. Got a few hundred more bricks. The neighbors who I, being a solid California suburbanite, hardly know, have twice now over the last few years of the Great Front Yard Brick Insanity and Orchard Hoedown, have, unbidden, offered me bricks, because I’m the guy with the brickwork. So, dude around the corner had this pile of bricks he wanted gone – 6 1/2 wheelbarrows full. Maybe a short block away.
One Load 3, I think it was, I came off the curb a little too hard and bent the metal wheel supports (it’s a cheap and old wheelbarrow) such that the wheel now rubbed against the underbelly of the tub section. I was able to brut-force them straight enough so that I could limp that load home.
So, had to repair the wheelbarrow. Two bolts that hold the handle arms to the tub section, which I had replaced a few years back with a couple far too long bolts I had lying around, had worked themselves very loose then rusted into their new loose positions. This made the load likely to shift from side to side as you rolled – no biggie with a load of dirt, dangerous and tiring with a load of bricks. But the bolts were carriage bolts, so there was no easy way to grip the head from the top. After a applying a bit of WD-40, tried to grip the excess bolt with plyers while using a crescent wrench to tighten them up. The first nut moved a little before the plyers had shredded the threads on the bolt and would no longer prevent it from turning; the second budged not a whit. Jury-rigged the ugliest solution: took some heavy wire, bent it unto a U shape, then crimped it onto the bolts between the nut and the tub – one on the side I’d gotten a little tighter, and two one the side I’d been unable to move.
And – it kinda works. Reality often fails to suitably rebuke me for my stupid ideas, thereby encouraging me to keep coming up with more of them. It’s going to get me killed someday…
Next, for the bent arms: Cut a scrap of walnut into two maybe 8″ pieces, placed them behind the bent arms, clamped them until the arms were more or less straight and in contack with the wood, then drilled some wholes and put in some tiny screws to hold it all together.
And – that worked, too. Now have a much more stiff structure and a couple inches of clearance between the tub and wheel. See what I mean? If these slapdash ideas keep working, I’m going to keep doing them.
Next step: replace the 16+ year old cheap and falling apart wheelbarrow. Once some stupid repair idea fails to work, that is.
F. Got the front yard orchard cleaned up, pruned, fertilized, mulched, copper-sprayed, and watered, not in that order. So, that’s done for now. Next, finish the brickwork, paint the house, get it fumigated for termites, replace the dying major appliances, put in this year’s vegetable garden, marry off a son on the East Coast in May, and goodness knows what else. And teach a couple history classes. Shaping up to be a busy Year 63 for me. And write two novels, put together two books of short stories, and write a book on science – in my spare time.
Yes, I am freaking INSANE.
Most positive comments: One Day. Heck, even Mike Flynn liked it enough to comment – I’m still blushing.
Beloved younger daughter got up today at maybe 5:00 a.m. to make conchas in honor of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. (Happy, holy, and blessed feast day, BTW.)
When I got up just before 6:00, she was rolling out dough on the table, and explained that something had gone wrong with the dough. She couldn’t fix it fast enough before work, and would I please bake the cinnamon bread she was winging from the dough she was rolling out?
Sure. Now, she’s a fabulous baker, I have no idea what made the dough unacceptable to her, but – I let the cinnamon bread rise, popped it in the oven, and it is delicious. Her mistakes are better than what most people, me most definitely included, can pull off when we do it right.
So this information is being relayed to the family as we come in from Mass to a delicious smelling house. Some minor confusion over the story arises; I attempt a quip along the lines: best not to try to think about it too hard, as the cinnamon bread is un-conchas. Unlike the bread, the joke fell flat.
16 year old son deadpans: that joke had a lot of potential.