Random Bits from Facebook

September 16:
From the Facebook Dredge. Worth remembering.
From 2018:
It doesn't matter what your political affiliation is. If there isn't at least one thing in your party's platform that makes you really nervous, you've probably stopped thinking, and are instead drinking the conveniently provided mystery fruit punch.

Septermber 17:
"If you know you're going to hell no matter what you do, and you do something that's RIGHT, it's because it's right." --Arlo Guthrie, in regard to Asatru
In that light, the Pastafarians are not so much tricksters as they are deliberate and open religious clowns. And sometimes, they manage to jump all the way from, "Blind squirrel finds acorn," to "Score one for the big pink monkeys."
I seldom find reason to have hope for the long term survival of humanity (I am still betting against 2100), but today, I can't help but think we might just get through this.
Because the clowns CARE.
(If you want a personalized version of this letter, go here: )

September 17:
On April 27, 2012, I bought a canoe. There was rigging to be done, and life and general indolence interfered, and I didn't get her into the water until June 9. I didn't get around to actually giving her a name until June 28, 2014. As of the end of the season in 2019, on October 8, her log read 294.9 miles.
Today, finally, Suchia and I went up to Sterling Lake and did the perimeter TWICE, for a total of 5.2 miles, and turned the log over 300. It's been a long time coming...
(Of course I forgot my camera. The photo is from the 9/11/2018 Geneva Lake perimeter trip.)

September 17:
Posted to a writer's group:
I recognize this story...

My fourth grade teacher thought I was a brilliant writer. Most of my teachers after that thought I was a lazy lump who seldom turned anything in, but was brilliant when I did. When I was 19 I stood on the roof edge of a tall building and decided that I really needed to try writing for a living before I jumped, even though nothing else seemed to be working.

My work history has consisted of mostly mediocre jobs that left me free to write, except, well, I'm not really very creative. I put about five years into a fantasy novel before I scrapped it, then another seven or so into a detective novel before I scrapped that. Then another fantasy novel, then another...

There have been a few dozen short stories along the way. Then in 2018 I finished a wrote a fantasy novel, start to finish, and in 2019 I published it. And then a collection of short stories. And then in 2020 I reworked one of the abandoned novels into a novella and published that. So the stuff is out there, even though no one it buying it.

I said I wasn't very creative, and I'm not. But I work on my craft anyway, and when I get an idea that's useful, it gets written NOW.

I don't have an answer. I'm 65, I'm in print, I have reasonable amounts of food, clothing, and shelter, and I haven't done the long free fall yet. Hang in there.

September 18:
Most men believe themselves to be insightful speakers of truth to power, when in reality they don't even pass the Turing Test. --Phil McDuff

September 18:
So today I drove about a hundred miles for game-related stuff, and played no games. First, I went up to Elkhorn for the S.L.A.G. game day, got there WAY late, and found 16 people deeply engrossed in three different large games. Said "Hello" to friends I haven't seen since the plague hit, ate some chicken that was REALLY overpriced since I didn't get any gaming for the price, and left. Everybody was too engrossed in their games for conversation, which, honestly, I kind of expected.
On the way home I stopped in Lake Geneva and did a through walk-through of the Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum, and FINALLY met Docent-in-Residence Jeff Leason, who is just a very cool fellow, and pretty much perfect for the role.
So, no gaming, but good conversation, and two-and-a-half hours of "Murderbot" on the road. (And yes, "Murderbot" is every bit as good as everyone says it is. Maybe better.)

September 19:
So... Earlier this year, I wrote a story called, "The Turtle's Question" about a kobold named Grex. It was suggested at the time that the story implied follow-up stories, and I agreed. The idea has been rattling around in my head since then. Along the way, "The Turtle's Question" bacame my lead-off story at Bristol this year, and I read it for audiences about 20 times.
One of the problems (beyond me being me) was that I didn't want to write a follow-up that in any way diminished the original story. And I wanted any follow-up to be able to stand on its own. So... A while ago, not sure how long, I met this crocodilian ("lizard man") named Blue. Today, he told me his story. Or at least, part of it.

September 20:
Creative Musings:
One of the key differences, creatively, between writers and visual creators, is the nature of looking backward. When a visual creator looks back on old work, it is almost always with a bit of embarrassment. ("Wow, I was useless in those days.") For writers (and most particularly, for me), it is often very different. If you are staring forlornly at an Idea Closet which even the moths and cockroaches have abandoned, looking at your own old work is likely to get responses like, "Good gods, you used to be good. What HAPPENED to you?"

September 21:
Esoterica Mathematica:
Along about the June solstice, someone was complaining about the fact that the solstices and equinoxes don't fall consistently on the same day from year to year, and I explained that the events were not in any way statutory, but were actual MOMENTS defined by celestial events. My brain filled in a bunch of details regarding the actual definition of those moments (which have to do with the intersection of moving perpendicular planes with specific points) that I had the sense to not relate.
This morning, I woke up with the model of those intersecting planes running in my head, with the addition of fact that Earth's orbit is elliptical, and found myself staring at the idea that, since the December solstice is currently very close in time to perihelion, the equinoxes should both be closer to December than to June. So I looked up numbers, and found that they were, by about a day.
Since perihelion shifts by most of a day every year, this means that in about 80 years, the equinoxes will be equidistant between the solstices, and in another 80 or 90, the will be about a day closer to June than to December, etc.
I can close my eyes at the moment and see this particular dance taking place, mostly. It's pretty cool.
And for freak-out value: Our perception of the year is not actually based on Earth's rotation around the sun, it's based on the rotation of Earth's axis relative to the position of the sun. The two values are, as mentioned, different by about a day a year.

Added later:
There's a mistake in this. When perihelion is in March, aphelion will be in September, 182.5 days away. But the solstices will NOT be equally between them; they will both be closer to March. Everything always pulls towards periphelion.

September 22:
From the Dredge. I've shared this one before, and no doubt will again; it's special. This story is also the reason why, when "Bounding Main" sings "Sloop John B" and asks the audience to participate, I can't do so without beginning to cry. It's a SWEET memory...
From 2014:
Dementia has tried to learn to play the guitar a few times over the years, but like many of us, lacks the necessary manual dexterity. Recently she has acquired a baritone ukulele, essentially a half-sized guitar with only the four highest pitched strings. She has been practicing it diligently, and making good progress. Last night as I was brushing my teeth she played through a long and melodic series of chords smoothly. When I had finished, I complimented her, and asked her what the song was.
"I don't really know the melody well enough to hear it," she said. "It's 'Sloop John B.'"
I smiled. "Strum the first chord." She did, I listended, found the note, and started to sing. She was working off a words and chords chart, and had no trouble following through the verse and chorus. When we had finished, I said, "That... WORKED." I smiled broadly.
"Yeah," she said with an equally broad smile. "That did."
One takes one's triumphs where one finds them...

September 22:
I don't have a personal source for this, but it's easy enough to validate (just do a search on IATSE), and this is a fairly concise statement of the issues.
For friends and family who are wondering why we (behinds the scenes film and tv crew) are *potentially* going on strike, here is an explanation:
Friends and family across the country- there is a very real possibility that Hollywood unions, the IATSE, will go on strike. This would halt almost all film and television production across the entire United States. This is a historic move, and frankly a necessary one.
Many of you are probably annoyed that you’ve cut the cable cord, only to now be paying basically the same amount for a multitude of streaming services.
We, however, are more than annoyed that these streaming services, which nearly everyone has, and which are owned by some of the richest corporations on the planet, are pretending that it’s still an unknown business model that they don’t know if they can make money from.
They want to pay us less to work on streaming shows than for shows that air on TV. They want to work us longer hours with shorter weekends. They want to contribute less to our pension and health plans for streaming movies than they do for films that have a traditional theatrical release. They don’t even want to let us break for lunch during a 12+ hour work day…
On top of all that, AppleTV+ is asking for a discount on our rates because they have less subscribers than the others, even though Ted Lasso just won all the Emmys last night.
This situation has reached a breaking point. The studios have decided to no longer negotiate, and therefore, our leadership has decided to call for a strike authorization vote. It’s possible that this vote could lead to the producers offering us a fair contract to avoid a strike. Or it’s possible that we will have to strike for what we need.
I hope that you’ll stand with us in this fight.
In Solidarity…

September 22:
Mabon greetings to any who want them. Here is the last poem of the holiday cycle (and I HAVE posted all eight of them on the appropriate day this year). This one might be my favorite. I hadn't committed it to memory until this year, when I used it as my lead off poem for the last weekend at Bristol. ("Wild Geese and Wood Smoke" card)

September 23:
This was in my e-mail just now, in the "Bounding Main" newsletter. I made a set of five monkey fist bracelets for the group, and presented them at their first concert. They're the white things that Christie (blue) and Gina (red) are wearing on their left wrists.
(Photo of me with the Dalby twins.)

September 24:
Writer's Life:
I am facing something I have never faced before, and I am both frustrated and amused. Specifically, I am working on polishing "The Kobold's Grave" (Tomb?), and strenghtening its connection to "The Turtle's Question", while still preserving the independence of both stories. I am also committed to NOT (within the stories) making the links explicity, because there is a fundamental wrongness to systematizing the mystical. (There should probably be a game designer's maxim in there: EVERY spell, no matter how trivial, should require a die roll.)
So far, I have one really small tweak to "Turtle" planned, and a couple of more for "Kobold". I don't know where the process will end (probably with a third story...).

September 25:
From the Dredge. No comment seems needed.
From 2010:
So there I was, walking down the hallway, thinking my usual dark and gloomy thoughts, when I realized that I whistling. I was whistling Souza's "Liberty Bell", better known as "The Monty Python Theme". Truly, the left brain does not know what the right brain is doing.

September 25:
From the Dredge. Just a bit of magic, if you see it.
From 2016:
Every now and then reality reaches into you with something wonderful and just rips your heart out. It happened tonight while I was waiting for the Chinese restaurant to make up my order. I looked out the window and saw my van in the parking lot, and saw something beautiful. I clenched my teeth, and my eyes filled with tears. I went out, got my camera, and took a picture, knowing as I did so that NO ONE would get it. So look at the first picture below, think about who I am, and see if you can see what I am talking about. And then look at the third picture, which gives the game away, and see if can figure out what ripped my heart out then.

September 26:
Just because. (Card with Silverstein's "Listen to the mustn'ts.")

September 29:
From the Dredge. Relevant to a conversation I had this weekend with one of my long term poker buddies (the Michigan Poker Outing was this weekend), as to why I don't play the game better.
Part of it is that playing my best game requires a level of concentration that takes all of the fun out of the game. Another part of it it that my cranial software is more than a little buggy. Being able to do the probability math in my head is not the same as being able to do it in real time, having an exceptional long term memory doesn't make up for having a LOUSY short term memory.
I could definitely play better than I do, given motivation which doesn't exist. But I really couldn't ever be GOOD.
From 2019:
From the "My brain is weird" file:
I stopped by Six Flags briefly this afternoon to get my season pass for next year validated. (Once you have a season pass, the next one, including parking, costs less than one day admission WITHOUT parking.) As I was leaving, I got my hand stamped, because I always do.
A little while later, I was buying supper. I placed my order and received my change, and the clerk asked me a question which I simply couldn't parse. I had him repeat it twice, but it still didn't resolve into English words. Finally he pointed at my hand and said, "Six Flags?" His question had been, "Have you been to Six Flags today?", but because my brain was somewhere else, and insisted he must be talking about my food order, I couldn't make sense of his perfectly articulated words.
I would seem to have some software issues...

September 30:
Adventures with Clueless Tom:
26 years ago today, on a Saturday, we were down at Castle Clueless visiting Tom and his wife, when Tom started to lament that his ex-wife was playing the part of Bloody Mary in "South Pacific", a part that she had always wanted to do, in Indianapolis, and he really wanted to see her do it, even though things were still post-divorce strained between them. Deb, the ex-wife in question, was still very much our friend, and Dementia and I already had plans to see the play the following Saturday.
I thought for a moment and said, "Why don't you and I go tomorrow? We can drive down, catch the matinee, and then come right home. Any special visitors Deb might have will be there on Friday or Saturday, right? We don't have to actually see anyone along the way." Tom thought this was a great idea.
This was an insane idea. Pick up Clueless Tom and deliver him 200 miles away, ON TIME? Impossible. And yet, we did it. Tom's idea of being incognito strongly resembled Dom DeLuise done up as a gay vampire, but, hey, that was Tom. And then...
Tom was driving my car. About two blocks from the theater, Tom looked in the rear view mirror and said, "I think that's my former father-in-law behind us." I asked him to repeat himself, and he confirmed that Gordon was in fact right behind us.
"What the hell?" I growled. "Why did they show up on a Sunday?"
"Well," Tom said, "Maybe it's because today is Deb's 40th birthday." It turned out that both of Deb's parents, at least one of her sisters, and her high school drama teacher had all turned up from Dayton. It was an event.
I reminded myself that strangling the driver while the car was in motion was not a wise move, and the day continued. The ugliness that was then probable did, in fact, occur, mostly, in spite of my efforts to run interference. (I should point out that the ugliness mostly involved people who are no longer associated with any of us, not Deb or her family, all of whom are wonderful people.)
The trip home was a whimper fest, but the play was actually quite good.

September 30:
Minesweeper game 1000 is behind me. This is profoundly meaningless, but it DOES make the voices go away. Usually.

Random Bits from Facebook

September 7:
So... The Faire is over for another year, and I think my Storyteller adventure has been a definite success. Over the course of about 120 hours at the Faire, I delivered 41 stories, something like 200 poems, and about a dozen songs (in addition to two or three dozen reditions of "Meet the Deep Ones" this last weekend). I have had a BALL. And for some people (Four or five hundred of them? Is that POSSIBLE? That's what the numbers indicate...) I think I made the Bristol experience just a little bit better. I'm kind of awe-stricken by that, actually.
I had some great experiences, and some strange ones. I guess I can understand teen-agers who don't recognize the "Flintstones" theme, and obvious mundanes who have never heard of kobolds, or H.P. Lovecraft, or Cthulhu. I was greatly amused when someone actually recognized the name of Hoyt Curtin (music director for Hanna-Barbera, and composer of "Meet the Flintstones"), though that person WAS a musician...
I need to figure out ways to do more of this. It's GOOD for me, and it also hawks the books...

September 8:
The Tally
For my own records, here is a list of the stuff that I did at Bristol this summer:
The Turtle's Question
Laggy's Last Game
The Girl on the Hearth
Jasper's Journey
Sister Sacrifice
Unicorn Dagger
Third Chance
The Oakbridge Oak
Fortune's Toy
When the Tall Man Speaks
Wild Hunt's Justice
Silver Lady
Wild Geese and Wood Smoke
Final Voyage
Trickster's Song
Piper's Fire
Swordsman (Longcor)
Drunken Angel (Longcor)
Stormbringer (Obermarck/Alexander)
Final Voyage (Haynie)
307 Ale (Smith)
Meet the Deep Ones (Kaufman/Curtin)
And then there was "Four Accents in Four Sentences", a "Stupid Human Trick" that used the first paragraph of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" (Douglas Adams) as its base text.
Plus a certain amount of general-purpose Hyena-schtick...

September 9:
Several times at the Faire, people looked at my hat, made eye contact, and said, "No, you may not." This baffles me. Was this an attempt at humor, or deliberate rudeness, or something else?
Edited to add: Some perspective on this: Several thousand people saw the hat, and ignored me. Several hundred chose to respond positively. A few chose to go out of their way to respond negatively. I am not hurt or offended, just baffled.

September 10:
Storyteller Chronicles: Finger Gun
There were eight or ten of them, 30-ish, in various stages of intoxication, and wearing garb ranging from none to moderate, standing at the end of one the back-to-back bench pairs on St. John's Way. They reacted to my hat, I responded with, "Two minutes for a poem, ten minutes for a story"; my reading of the group said, "Poem," which was almost right. One of them really wanted a story, and essentially bullied the rest into line.
"Does anyone know what a kobold is?" I asked hopefully, and got nothing. So... "This story is called, 'The Girl on the Hearth', and it's built on the bones of a story that I KNOW you are all familiar with..." and I was off.
For all of my cranial bandwidth issues, I have enough buffer to make occasional eye contact without interrupting the story, and I got to watch the group slowly pull in and start paying attention; one of them even commented on my ability to turn pages without pausing. There came a point where I reached the end of a paragraph, looked up, and said, "Does everyone recognize the story now?"; most of them nodded, and a few of them said, "Cinderella."
The fellow on my far left, who had definitely been paying attention, said, "Snow White." I turned to him, gave him a look of mock horror, held a finger gun to my right temple, fired it. They ALL just lost it. It was kind of a perfect moment. They all stayed FOCUSED though the end of the story, and conversation went on for something like ten minutes afterward.
It was a GOOD session...

September 13:
Esoterica Mathematica:
This started with an irritating article in an RPG magazine, which sent me off trying to correlate magical energy to physical energy within a specific game world. As I progressed down the rabbit hole, I found I needed to know the general efficiency of the human body, so I pulled a few numbers out of my personal experience (soft drink consumption while rowing long distances), and came up with 25%. A while later, I took a moment and actually looked it up, and got... 25%. I am profoundly amused by this...

September 14:
Just found out about this. People are actually buying something I wrote. Kind of cool. ("Brief History" Electrum Best Seller on Drive Thrue RPG)

September 15:
Twice in the last week or so, from different sources, I have encountered the phrase, "Cut bait and run," which just makes my teeth hurt. "Fish or cut bait," means, "Do something useful NOW!", and "Cut and run," literally means, "Cut the anchor cable and get out NOW!" Two different things that do NOT go together, in spite of both having nautical sources and containing the word, "Cut."
It's a small thing, but it's toxic and stupid.

Random Bits from Facebook

August 17:
Storyteller Follies
High Street, Bristol, August 15, 2021

I was finishing a snack when the fellow sitting at the next table noticed my hat and asked me what sort of story I wanted to tell. I replied with the standard, "Two minutes for a poem, ten minutes for a story," which didn't answer the question, and he said so.

They were probably a bit younger than me; old enough to have grandchildren, maybe not old enough to retire. She looked bewildered but happy; he looked bewildered and grumpy. They weren't actually wearing tee shirts that said, "Hopelessly Mundane", but they had that look.

So I answered the question honestly, and said that I wrote quasi-medieval fantasy stories and poems. The man said that he guessed they had time for a poem, and did I have any poems that told an adventure story?

That's the kind of question that sets my cranial denizens scrambling. Two minute poems don't lend themselves to complete stories; they tend to be character studies or vignettes. I settled on a piece called, "Wild Hunt's Justice" which actually tells a complete story, told them the title, and dove in.

She smiled happily through the whole thing, he just stared at me intently with a slight scowl. When it was over, she made appreciative noises, and he said, "There's that fellow you mention a couple of times in there, Odin. Is he someone I should recognize?"

Most of my cranial denizens panicked. I did my best to explain as briefly as I could. The particular cranial denizen who REALLY wanted me to start talking about the fact that I had two other poems ready that are actually ABOUT Odin was gagged and shoved into a closet.

They REALLY should have been wearing "Hopelessly Mundane" tee shirts.

I've never been a good man, never even really tried;
I've sampled all the seven sins, I've stolen, and I've lied.
But I've never run from danger; I have always held my place,
So I'm claiming Odin's justice, and I'll look Death in the face.

August 18:
Cranial Bandwidth and Performance Modes:

A few hours ago I learned that I cannot parse Shakespeare when he is read aloud. It depends to some extent on the passage, of course, but the language is just stilted enough that my brain can't keep up. I have no trouble understanding it when I read it, but that follows different cranial pathways.

Related to this, and with regard to a conversation with Kyla Mead begun elsewhere, I can say with certainty that *I* am a better actor when I am reading than when I am reciting. Once again, it is an issue of cranial bandwidth, and differing pathways. Similarly, I am a better singer when my eyes are closed.

It's always been this way, actually; I didn't take notes in school, because I couldn't listen and write at the same time. Forty years ago, I had a "sponge" mode that let me channel things straight from my ears into long term memory, but that doesn't work so well, anymore.

I have always known that I had a bucket full of low grade learning disabilities, but I was good enough at developing compensatory behaviors to hide them. But there have ALWAYS also been limits...

August 20:
Well... The web presentation is not QUITE ready for prime time, but it's THERE: Seven fanfic stories by P.D. Haynie that we are giving away, since we can't sell them. Just go out to and scroll to the bottom of the page, and then select a format. It's all fifteen to thirty years old, and if you have been hanging around here that long, you have already seen most of it, but, well, it's THERE, and it's FREE. Check it out!

Update: The earlier web issues have been solved!

August 25:
It occurs to me, apropos of nothing, that "Half Guinea Hat" would be a GREAT name for a bowling team or similar organization. (Image of the Hatter and the hat in question.)

August 25:
Unpopped popcorn in bulk is a fluid with near zero surface tension and near zero viscosity. Just sayin'.

August 25:
So... There are still obstacles between today and publication, but I think the cover is ready for the world. ("Hero's Heart" cover.)

August 29:
Wishing a happy birthday to Marc Miller, who designed "Traveller", back in the long ago.

August 29:
Hyena was yammering about the distinction between "hard science fiction" and "space fantasy."
"Do you know what's wrong with 'Star Wars'"? Dementia asked. "When you get right down to it, it was NOT created by nerds."
"'It's the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.'" Hyena offered.
(Yes, I know that nerds who love "Star Wars" have retconned that line into something that almost makes sense. Almost. But it wouldn't have been necessary if there had been ANYONE in a position of authority on the set who knew enough to say, "Wait a minute...")

August 30:
It's Mary Shelley's birthday. She was 20 when her monster made its lasting mark on world literature, though she didn't get her name on it for another five years. Celebrate by creating an archetypal character (or two) that will be remembered 200 years later. (Alternatively, create life in your basement (or attic) lab. Body snatchers are not required; Shelley's Victor did his thing without raiding the local cemeteries, somehow.)

Random Bits from Facebook

August 1:
Lughnasadh (Holiday greetings to all who wish them!), and there is a poem, the seventh in my "Celtic Holiday" series. I have done this one several times at Bristol this year, to good effect. I usually present it as a (really easy?) riddle: There is a person who is mentioned six times in this poem, including the title, but never named. ("Tall Man" card.)

August 2:
The Tale of the Driftwood Sword:
Back when Bristol was a more-or-less annual event for me, I often wore a sword. Over time, the cool factor was eroded by the significant nuisance factor. I love swords, and can talk about them, and just stare and appreciate them, at great length. But as costume elements, they mean bruised hips and shins and stilted walks and wait a minute, wasn't this supposed to be FUN?
Sunday, though... I was running late, and the day was cool, and I thought I would bring the Driftwood Sword along for the first time. I have had it for more than fifty years. The sword-obsessed child who found it, all those years ago, didn't appreciate as nearly as much as the geriatric fantasist who he became, but it was enough; he held onto it, and became me, and I have it now.
Over the course of three hours on the midway Sunday, I presented the sword to various persons whom I thought would appreciate it, saying, "This is a sword not made by human hands." The reactions varied. Some people saw only a stick, and reacted as if I were holding a significantly over-ripe fish. Some people smiled and admired it, acknowledging it as a fine example of the sort of toy swords that are sold all over Bristol. And sometimes their eyes lit up, and I knew that they were thinking of dryads and ents and the Lady of the Lake.
Truly, magic is where you find it. (Image of the sword.)

August 3:
The Tale of the Open Book Tattoo (Ren Faire Shenanigans):
The young woman had a tattoo of an open book on her left shoulder, and a fierce scowl. She was very short, wearing mundane clothes, and moving away from me on the far side of a crowded street. I wanted to ask her about that tattoo, but allowed the circumstances to defeat me, and turned into a nearby shop.
One of the shop workers recognized me, and we talked a bit. Since she was also busily polishing the stock, I felt at liberty to give her the poem she asked for, and recited, "Fortune's Toy," which went well. We had a bit more conversation, and then a customer asked her a question, and I turned away to see Open Book Tattoo on the other side of the store. I approached her.
"Excuse me," I said, "I think we might be kindred spirits," and pointed to my hat. She read the sign, and the ferocious scowl turned into a megawatt smile. We talked a bit, then moved to a corner, and I recited, "Fortune's Toy" again, and... The smile never really went away, but it's just not possible to maintain that intensity for long. But it was back at full wattage for the end of the poem. There was more conversation, and I gave her one of my cards, and got the full smile a third time when she saw the turtle logo. She LIKED turtles. "In that case," I said, "I have a story for you. But not inside the store."
We went out into the street, found a quiet spot, and I read her, "The Turtle's Question," and THAT got me a fourth iteration of The Smile. I asked her about the tattoo, and she told me the thought behind it, gave me her name (Mary Kate), and went on her way.
I play this game for smiles, mostly, and that... that was a fortune.

August 3:
So... This evening I discovered a private message from someone who isn't on my friends list. It had been sent back on July 20, and it was a complaint, saying that my activities at Bristol had interfered with shop people that they had wanted to talk to TWICE. I was horrified. And then I went over my notes of what I had done that day, and... The whole story was a lie. The events described never happened. It was just some really cruel cage rattling perpetrated by a total stranger.
Once again, I am tempted to invoke Ellen Ripley...

August 4:
From the Dredge. Sharing mostly to make sure it gets properly archived.
From 2015:
You learn things every day. For years, I have (rarely) used the phrase, "To see the elephant", on the assumption that it was 18th (or maybe even 17th) century British army slang for having experienced a baptism of fire, literally to have fought in a battle in which the opposing troops used elephants. It occurred to me that no one might know what I was talking about, and last night I asked Dementia, and she said she thought it was a reference to the parable of the three blind men and the elephant. ::sigh::
This morning I actually looked it up, and found we were both wrong; it is a 19th century purely US phrase regarding an experience of wonder, most typically seeing an elephant at a circus for the very first time, but also generally for an experience of the grandeur of the American West: Crossing the Mississippi and seeing the Rocky Mountains for the first time, for instance. (And you COULD see the Rockies from the Mississippi bluffs in those days.) By the time of the US Civil War, it had settled into the meaning I am familiar with: To have had a first hand experience of the horror of combat.
Anyway, I am working on an essay that was going to use the phrase, and now is not. Intead, I will use the phrase, "To see the black dog", where the black dog is a harbinger of your own death, in this case in a context of suicide and self harm. The sentence in question runs, "I want to know you have seen the black dog; I want to know that you have stood on the edge of the cliff and looked into the face of the Abyss." I think that will do what I want it to do...

August 4:
Yesterday I accepted a friend request from a bot called Hannah Mamta on the assumption that she MIGHT be a real person; she isn't, and I have unfriended her. Sorry about that, if the bot has bothered you.

August 9:
I saw this on the way up to Bristol on Sunday; conversation and a photo op ensued. She's 17 feet long, wooden lapstrake, narrow enough to need a rigger for her oars, and so beautiful she made my teeth hurt. She is a recent purchase by a couple in my general age bracket, who were just bringing her home.
Boat porn notwithstanding... I spent nine hours on the midway on Saturday, with a focus on following Bounding Main. This was their first live post-plague gig, and they had a lot of fun with being out in the world again. I missed one of their ten shows over the weekend.
Saturday I did the most walking on the midway so far this year, over 11,000 steps, and my feet didn't hate me for it, as opposed to the pathetic whimpering they were doing after the 6000 steps on my first Faire day this year. I was light on Story-teller traffic, only one story and six poems (and I got growled at by Mrs. Grundy, whose first name would seem to be "Karen").
On Sunday I was only there for eight hours, "only" got 9000 steps, did NO stories, but once again lost track of the number of poems I did. Also located nephew Jake and his lady Grace and spent half an hour talking to them.
Favorite moment of the weekend: A woman asked me about the hat, I responded with "Two or ten?", and she said that they had no time, but would like a poem if I would do it as they walked to their next destination. So I did.
Between looking out for traffic and road hazards, I recited "Fortune's Toy", and glanced back at my audience regularly. Their eye kept getting bigger as we walked, and after the third stanza they just STOPPED, and I turned to face them for the last stanza, which is a toast of sorts, and they raised their glasses to me on cue.
I've had ONE lukewarm response to a poem this year; mostly, the audience melts. It keeps me going...

August 9:
Improv and Me:
This weekend I had occasion to catch most of a show by a couple of guys who bill themselves as "The Brothers Blackquill". They have a five or six scene vague generic story outline, get input from the audience before each scene, and improvise a reasonable facsimile of a coherent fairy story in real time. They're very good, and it's a popular act.
Yes, I know, I have often stated my dislike of improv, but I have seen it done badly, and I have seen it done well, and I know the difference, and these guys were GOOD. I sort of enjoyed the performance, and even laughed a few times. At the same time...
My inner editor was MISERABLE, and the epiphany of the day was the reason why. The Blackquills were, in the end, building facsimiles of coherent stories, Hollywood facade stories. I have spent four and a half decades working on the craft of actually building three dimensional, four season stories. My inner editor watches the Blackquills, and tells me that these guys are making balloon animals out of my entrails. Me, the guy who is nominally in control of my cranial circus, knows that this is not a fair assessment. But at the same time, there is a lot of truth in it.

August 11:
Digging through archives today, I found the lyrics to a musical number to which I could no longer remember the melody. Since we are currently between things to watch, I thought we should fix that.
The theme song started, and I found myself grinning like a fool.
Where else can you find a lyricist willing to rhyme "value" with "disembowel you"? (Or, for that matter, "adventure" with "butt clencher.") It's REALLY silly, but so much fun...

August 11:
Posted to "Bounding Main":

Following up a conversation I had with Christie on Sunday regarding the reference to "The Knickerbocker Line" in "Dogger Bank." And down the rabbit hole we go...

History: The Knickerbocker Line was a Brooklyn to Manhattan public transit route. It started as a horse drawn omnibus, then became a tramway, and finally a subway.

The song: I first encountered this on the second "Flash Girls" album in 1993. I have, this morning, found that it was also on a 2010 album by Gabe Heller. The melody is the same as "Dogger Bank."


The Knickerbocker Line:

O my love she was a stitcher, a tailoress by trade,
And many a fancy waistcoat for me my love has made,
She gets up in the morning and stitches away till nine
Then her high-heeled boots go clattering down the Knickerbocker Line.

Watch her, trail her, pipe her as she goes,
With her high-heeled boots and her patent leather toes.
That she was one of those flash girls I soon found out in time
When her high-heeled boots went clattering down the Knickerbocker Line.

When first I saw this pretty girl, in High Street she did dwell.
She really took my breath away, she was such a swell.
She'd a dandy hat with feathers in, and didn't she cut a shine.
She looked so neat as she clattered her feet on the Knickerbocker Line.

I took her up to town one day, to the theater we did go,
To see them all a-staring at her, you'd think she was the show.
When coming out she stopped me, and particular asked the time.
Then skidaddled with my ticker down the Knickerbocker Line.

When I found my ticker gone, I raised a hue and cry.
I called out to the bobby as she went clattering by.
The bobby said, "Now come with me", and he marched her off so fine,
Saying, "For three months you must skiffle off the Knickerbocker Line."

Watch her, trail her, pipe her as she goes,
With her high-heeled boots and her patent leather toes.
That she was one of those flash girls I soon found out in time
When her high-heeled boots went clattering down the Knickerbocker Line.

So how did the chorus of "Knickerbocker Line" get transmogrified into the third verse of "Dogger Bank"? Well... How did, "We Will Rock You" get transplanted into the middle of "Rolling Up, Rolling Down"? That's only a guess, but I am inclined to think that musicians haven't really changed all that much in the last 150 years.

It was great to see all of you at Bristol this last weekend, and I look forward to the next outing.

August 14:
I just learned that Steve Perrin died yesterday at the age of 75. This hits pretty hard...
I never met Steve face to face. He was pointed out to me, across a crowded hotel atrium, by Steve Lortz during DunDraCon in 1979, but, as the designer of "RuneQuest", he owns a fair bit of my cranial landscape. When the game first came out in 1978 it was so close to my idealized "perfect" RPG that I just disappeared into it for a while. Of course, I was already in love with the world behind it...
Steve was also a FAN of "Fiddler's Rose". We had become Facebook friends, though there was little traffic between us, but he bought a copy shortly after it came out, and gave me a very positive short (VERY short) review of it for my birthday a few weeks later.
The wheel turns, and there is one less light on the horizon.

Random Bits from Facebook

July 16:
Posted Elsewhere:
Back in the long ago, we used to do a thing at parties where everyone would do a simultaneous shot of Everclear. It was all the alcohol anyone got for the evening, and it was pretty much the beginning of the party, so no one left drunk. There was trick to it. You took a deep breath first, tossed the shot, and then stood there with your mouth open and your head back for as long as you could, while the fumes cleared your esophagous. Because if you inhaled too soon, and got Everclear fumes into your lungs, it BURNED, and made you want to die. We never told the newbies that until they had experienced it the first time. The experience made such an impression on one particular girl that, five years later, she would still cringe and say, "Ohgodohgodohgod" whenever anyone said, "Everclear."

July 16:
Esoterica Mathematica: Tesseracts (or, Down Another Rabbit Hole)
In Abbott's "Flatland", there is a point where Square finally GETS it, and not only believes in the third dimension, but actually more or less understands it. In fact, he understands it well enough to begin postulating the possibility of a FOURTH dimension, which upsets his mentor Sphere enough that he tells Square to shut up. One of my cranial denizens picked up the theme, and has been bothering me about it ever since I finished reading Abbott's book.
The accompanying image is a pretty standard 2-D presentation of a highly distorted 3D visualization of a 4-D concept. It isn't bad, but you begin to understand the extent of the distortion when you realize that all eight of the cubes presented (inner, outer, and six distorted medials) are identical in all respects. If you can handle THAT, the other anomalies like each edge being surrounded by three 90 degree angles that add up to 360 degress should come easily...
I have always pretty much written the tesseract off as interesting but pointless, and that hasn't changed. Yesterday, though, I gave in to that persistent cranial denizen, and put some time into seeing the tesseract as clearly as I could. Here is what I came up with.
First, consider that each of the eight cubical cells shares one face with each of six of its sister cells, but does NOT share a face with the seventh, thus creating four pairs of relatively isolated cells within the structure. This corresponds to the vertices of a cube, in that each vertex shares a face with six of the others, but not the seventh. Hmmm.
All right, then, let's graph stuff. A unit tesseract can be described as all values between zero and one (inclusive) along four axis plots, w, x, y, and z. These can be represented with either two simultaneous 2-D plots (x,y and w,z) or four simultaneous 3-D plots (w,x,y; x,y,z; w,y,z; w,x,z). To begin, each of the 2-D plots shows a square, and each of the 3-D plots shows a cube.
Let's set w to zero, and see what happens. x,y still shows a square, but w,z shows a line segment. x,y,z (henceforth not-w) still shows a cube, but the other three 3-D plots show 2-D squares. Set w to one, and x,y and not-w don't change, but the line and the squares move. So... Eight combinations of this, which happens to correspond to the eight cells of the tesseract.
If we set w and z to zero, x,y still shows a square, and w,z shows a point. The cubes are gone from the 3-D plots, some of which show squares, and some of which show only line segments. Same deal, with different locations, if one or both of the limited variables is forced to one. There are 24 such combinations, which correspond to the 24 square faces within the tesseract.
If we set THREE of the variables to zero (or one, independently), we get points and line segments only. There are 32 of these combinations, which correspond to the edges of the tesseract.
Last permutation: Set all four variables (independently) to either one or zero, and you get nothing but points on all six plots. There are 16 of these combinations, which define the vertices of the tesseract.
So... Eight cells, 24 faces, 32 edges, and 16 vertices, all of which now have names (boring, cryptic names, but names nonetheless). I still can't see the thing clearly, but I can see it better. And while this is FAR from the bottom of this particular rabbit hole, it's more than deep enough for today.

July 17:
So... On Wednesday, I fought my way through a BAD case of threshold anxiety, and finally bought a season pass for the Ren Faire. And then today, I went up there with a sign on my hat that said, "May I tell you a story?" I got there just before 2:00, and left just before 7:00.
When I came up with the idea and made the sign, more than a year ago, there were certain things I hoped to have happen, certain ways I wanted the Faire to react to me. Today, I got every single one of them.
There were the usual bits of interaction, though there seemed to be more of them. I did "Puff and Leroy" twice, "It's the Math..." twice, and "Old, fat, ugly, and poor" three times. And then...
People looked at my hat and said, "Yes, you may," and I asked them how much time they had; two minutes for a poem, more like ten for a short story. The very first time, they backed out after the time question, but after that...
I ended up reciting "Fortune's Toy" at least seven times (I lost track), and I read "The Turtle's Question" three times, always to GREAT effect.
I was even offered money, once, refused it, and then refused it a second time, saying, "I'm not part of the Faire, and I could be thrown off the midway," and that settled it. (For the record, that exact transaction was ON my Bingo card.)
So I spent the afternoon at the Faire, playing the visitors, and probably had my best day at the Faire ever. And the Faire will be there again tomorrow...

July 18:
Another day at the Faire... Got there a little later, left at about the same time. Did "Fortune's Toy" several times, "When the Tall Man Speaks" once, read "The Turtle's Question" once and also "Laggy's Last Game". "Turtle" got me a serving of mead as a tip (HOW do you turn THAT down?), something that wasn't on my Bingo card because I had never imagined it happening.
I may have a sort-of regular gig to do my thing for the crew at the archery booth at the south edge of midway late in the day when the traffic dies.
Standard Hyena-schtick along the way: "Are you from Chicago?" (once yesterday, and once today), and "Pink Lemonade". I also SANG "Stormbringer" for the archery crew.
EVERYTHING worked. It's kind of amazing, and a TON of fun.
(A note on Hyena-schtick: *I* know what I'm talking about, and will happily rerun anything you're curious about. Which is something of a karmic closed loop...)

July 19:
My Faire shirts this year are two-decade-old "Adventure Shirts" from the now defunct Diva Lifewear, archaically designed button down shirts with flounced sleeves. The one I wore this weekend was sold as "Boysenberry"; it's a somewhat ruddy purple, with two decades of fade. Given the essential tackiness of wearing purple or blue to a Ren Faire, I had occasion on Saturday to describe it as, "red, with delusions of empire." It immediately occurred to me, as someone who once made his living dealing with hundreds of nearly identical colors with profoundly silly names, that, "Delusions of Empire" was a name that would sell itself to the vast majority of my friends, assuming they were looking for purple paint in the first place. It would certainly work for me...

July 20:
On the "Unofficial Bristol" board:
I have been going to Bristol at least once a year for nearly 30 years, and I had season passes in 2016 and 2019. I know the Faire and its denizens pretty well, and I have many off-the-midway friends who have been street cast, shop help, and shop owners. Over the course of the 2019 season, I started polling them as to whether I should try to get on street cast for 2020. The basic answer was, "It's a LOT of fun," but the people in that group who knew me best were more wary. "Obligation and Joy do not share your head peacefully," they said. "It would be a big risk for you."

I came up with an alternative plan. Going into the 2020 season, I decided I would NOT do anything formal, just wander the Faire with a sign on my hat that said, "May I Tell You a Story?" and see what developed. And then the plague hit.

So now, 2021. I missed the first weekend, but spent about ten hours on the midway during the second, wearing "The Hat", wandering, talking to people, being me. Several people saw that hat and said, "Yes, you may," and I was off.

"How much time do you have?" I would ask. "Two minutes for a poem, ten minutes for a story." Only one questioner walked away; more than a dozen asked for a poem, five asked for a story. One person offered me tip money, and I turned it down, saying I was not part of the Faire; one person offered me mead, and I hesitated, then accepted, thinking it was money being spent that might not otherwise be.

When you perform, there is a moment when something happens in the audience's eyes, and you know that you have gotten through, that the magic is HAPPENING. This weekend, it happened EVERY SINGLE TIME. There is so much joy in that...

So... Best Faire weekend EVER. Seven more to go. May I tell you a story?

July 20:
Rules Were Made to be Broken:
I am not particularly fond of the practice of breaking the fourth wall. The technique can be effective in comedy, but it is usually destructive in drama. That doesn't mean it can't work, though... We finished watching "The Queen's Gambit" tonight (and it is, as everyone says, VERY good), and there was a moment, 2 seconds out of a six and a half hour presentation, when the main character hung up a telephone, and, without moving her face, looked straight through the fourth wall into the audience. It was FABULOUS; in a theater, the audience would have cheered. At home, I just laughed joyfully, and wound it back to watch the moment again. Pure magic.

July 21:
Back when I was writing "Fiddler's Rose", I wasted some time trying to come up with a gender-neutral alternative for "journeyman" that doesn't sound contrived. I used "Quester" in the "Perf" stories, but was never happy with it. Of course, the answer was in front of me all along: Errant and or errantrist. As in, "Sorcerer Errant". or, "Errantrist Sorcerer. Which will no doubt be relevant somewhere along the line. (I discovered along the way that French alternative to "journeyman" is "companion" which is at least interesting.)

July 22:
Refrigerator-jutsu: When the only advantage you have is size, sometimes the only functional tactic is to fall on top of your opponent, and hope for the best.
(This is a two-decade-plus old bit of Hyena-schtick that I dropped on some of my nephews yesterday, and found they had never heard me say it before. So I thought it deserved a bit of daylight.)

July 24:
On Tuesday, I posted a photo and a description of my Storyteller efforts at Bristol last weekend on the "Unofficial Bristol" board, and it got a LOT more traffic than I expected. I suspect that this will have an impact on today's activities... (100 reactions)

July 27:
From the Dredge. Sharing mostly to make sure it gets archived, but, well, it's very much still true.
From 2016:
I have been thinking more and more lately that the biggest single lie I have ever encountered is the aphorism, "Money can't buy happiness." It's true that not all sources of unhappiness can be bought off, and it is also true that there is no amount of money that will GUARANTEE happiness. But still, the vast majority of unhappiness in the world BEGINS with a lack of money. The actual fact of the matter is that money CAN buy happiness most of them time, and even when it can't, it can almost always mitigate the unhappiness.

July 27:
E. Gary Gygax would have been 83 today. Get together with some friends and play a table game in his honor. (Bonus points for using non-cubical dice.)

July 28:
Just finished watching "Gunpowder Milkshake". It's hyperviolent and huge amounts of fun, pretty much exactly what it says on the label. If you like this kind of thing, you will like this. We certainly did.

July 29:
Sometimes I use words or expressions that sail right over my listener's head, and I never realize the meaning was missed. During a conversation at Bristol, someone commented that all of my stories end with a small twist, and I replied that I like to end with a rim-shot of some kind. One of the listeners asked for a definition of the term, and I was taken aback. Didn't everyone know? Subsequent investigation has determined that no, they do NOT. So, we go to YouTube for a seven second demonstration. (Thump, thump, ching.)

Random Bits from Facebook

July 2:
Useless information: A $100 bill is worth nearly twice its weight in gold.

July 3:
I found this in my journal from about 15 years ago, and thought it was worth sharing:
The thing that came out of today's discussion was a visual concept: The juxtaposition of two contemporaneous images. On the one hand, you have the Via Flammia heading away from Rome, the road lined with crosses on which hang slaves in all states from screaming and writhing to rotting and disintegrating, and on the other hand you have a preacher who is so charismatic that PLANTS listen to him standing on a hilltop in Palestine saying, "Take up your cross and follow me." If you can't see the Via Flammia when Jesus talks about "taking up your cross", you are missing the point.

July 4:
Life and Gaming:
Back on July 10, 2019, I decided to check out a Facebook game called "Hero Wars." They were running a lot of ads at the time which promised logic puzzles that intrigued me. The promised puzzles weren't immediately available, but there were several parts of the game for which access had to be earned, and the available gameplay was interesting enough that I was willing to wait.
I played, and opened the locked doors, and never found the promised puzzles. I did stumble into the multi-player portion of the game, but I wasn't interested in that at all. The part of me that loves games really doesn't like people very much. So I created a guild of my own, just enough to let me look around the multi-player landscape.
I didn't, at that point, know how to discourage other players from joining my guild. The next day the guild was full of the maximum 30 people, and I was a guild master. I was RESPONSIBLE. (If you don't know by now, I do my best to avoid responsibility, because I don't know how to respond to it half-way. If I don't ignore it, it bites me HARD.)
The game kept eating more and more of my life, and a few weeks ago, I had finally had enough. I made may apologies, and announced my departure date. And then I hung around at half strength for another week. But now it's GONE, and I'm free, and... NEVER AGAIN. Obligation kills joy. Maybe this time, I'll remember it.

July 5:
Celestial Happenings:
It's Aphelion Day. Which is to say, this is the day when the Earth is the furthest from the sun that it will be all year. It is also the day on which the Earth will receive the LEAST solar radiation it will receive all year.
Makes you colder, just thinking about it, doesn't it?
No, I guess not.

July 6:
For the first time since October of 2019, the van once again has a hat. I have had doubts about my ability to get the canoe onto the roof of the van due to shoulder injuries, but it went up with no trouble. Still haven't had it in the water, this year, but it's READY. This is a THING.

July 6 and subsequent, posted elsewhere:
Natacha HoopZie:
Politicaly incorrect candid question (I have not found any formal research on the subject so I am curious to pick your mega brains, if you please):
Do you think that women are, on average, intrinsically/physiologicaly/emotionally/culturally(...) more able to understand men's reality than men are able to understand women's? Or maybe the opposite would be true?
Why do you think so?
(I believe the way I formulated my question lets you guess my take on the subject... impression that I hope to be wrong! The idea came to me after having a discussion about what should be the implications of an undesired pregnancy with some of my male friends...)

Paul Haynie:
It's a complex issue. It should be possible to have a binding legal agreement, pre-sex, to the extent that, regardless of the woman's subsequent choices, the man's liability is equal to one-half the price of an abortion and related expenses. No court would recognize such an agreement, and that is a problem. Under current law, if a man clearly states that he would rather have no sex than risk parenthood, and the woman lies to him, or changes her mind, he has no recourse, and that is WRONG. On the other hand, if you just enjoy playing paternity roulette and lose, you should absolutely be held responsible.

Natacha HoopZie:
It might be a complex matter if we account for exceptional situations: man raped by a woman, woman intentionaly lying or stoping to take birth control on purpose..... But except for the rape case, responsible men I know that are serious about not procreating use their birth control method: condoms. And they don't negociate. But apparently "sex management" is not well taught or at least, not enough taught to counter balance what screens teach us...

And, hah, while we are at it: another sex issue where the lack of consideration never cease to amaze me...
(Image of text that says 'Could you take a hormonal pill with possible health risks EVERYDAY? Or you could wear a condom? Nah, that's inconvenient...)

Paul Haynie:
To sum up: One, the law is conceptually flawed, BUT... Two, the law is the way it is because I significant percentage of men are lazy, honorless cads.

Natacha HoopZie:
Maybe. But even in the case where the pregnancy is a surprise for both parties, I had friends arguing that if the woman choose to keep the baby while the man would not want to be a parent, he should be able to step out of child support... I just don't get how someone cannot consider that an abortion is not like a tooth extraction... the choice can be stressful and heartbreaking: whatever the choice that the woman makes, it comes with long term physical and emotional risks.

Paul Haynie:
But it is HER choice, and under current law, the man is forced to follow her lead. The balancing option, where the man would be in a position to force an abortion, is of course abhorrent. But under current law, the woman makes a decision unilaterally which can be life changing for both of them. Abortion is never a good thing (and definitely NOT a tooth extraction), but it IS generally safer than carrying a child to term.

Natacha HoopZie:
I think it is just reasonnable that a man should be forced to follow her lead. I know that an abortion has less physical risks that a pregnancy... but what about the psychological risks... Also, if a man could opt out of financial responsibility, it could be like a form of coercion toward abortion for some women with less financial means.

Paul Haynie:
HoopZie On the other hand, the emotional and financial stresses of fatherhood could be suicide-inducing.

Natacha HoopZie:
Then we could make sure they get a good insurance so the child stays financialy safe 😈....
I have see so many women bearing the financial weight of children on their own (ever all the rest), I believe the solution to men suicide might not be to eliminate their responsibility: why women make it a point of honor to stay strong for the kids and men want to vanish? (I know, it is a complicated issue as well, multiple variables, but I believe just letting all the financial weight on mothers because they choose not to go through an abortion is revolting. As you say: people should learn early what are the consequences of intercourse and get serious about it )

Paul Haynie:
I think we have arrived at Condition Three, at this point. I offered the idea of male suicide as a counter to the emotional costs of abortion, which does not seem to be the way you took it. The core of our disagreement is our respective concepts of what abortion is, I think. And I also think that that is not something which is likely to change significantly via discussion.

Now that I've already invoked "Condition Three", I feel I ought to make sure that you really do know where I am coming from. I'm about two steps short of being an anti-natalist (I don't believe life is fundamentally a bad thing, I just think that it fundamentally ambivalent), and I think that bringing an unwanted child into the world is profoundly immoral, and that bringing an abvialently wanted child into the world is REALLY morally quesitonable. So in the case of accidental pregnancy, outside of relationship, I have serious problems with forcing life-changing consequences on someone who had no voice in the critical go/no-go decision.

Natacha HoopZie:
I am uncertain if we have reached condition three because I feel we might have similar views on abortion (I am oftentimes an antinatalist too, among other things). However, I don't know, but maybe we have reached the point I was trying to raise in the OP. Maybe where we differ is that I acknowledge that a pregnant woman might have a different view than mine on abortion. And that even if she had intellectualy, before the event, the same view as mine, something might change in her deeper self when "feeling a connection to the life inside her". I am able to respect that for some women, asking them to abort is like asking them to kill someone or cut their own leg. (I think this should be considered a reasonable feeling -- and not delusion-- considering the extent to which it is shared by different cultures, religions, spiritual systems and considering the biology of the pregnancy phenomenon). I don't see how financial underachievement can be put against that. Also, I don't see how it can be considered an equitable solution to absolve the geniter for his responsibility and put it all on the mother and child.

Paul Haynie:
The "feeling a connection to the life inside her" is hormonally induced madness, and it fades when the pregnancy ends, and the body stops producing happy drugs. And if the woman involved knows she was drugged, and expects the withdrawal, the emotional repercussions are significantly reduced. I have problems with the idea of making decisions based on transient biological effects that predate humanity. And there is still the argument that the final go/no-go decision is, and must be, made by the woman alone, and, by inevitable extension, she must also be the person who takes primary responsibility.

Natacha HoopZie:
I am sorry, I am about to reach condition four. To consider that the feeling of connection of the mother to the potential child as madness (and transient) and the potential suicidal ideations of the father as reason and determinent for decision making is either a "lack of interest in the truth", a relative lack of shared knowledge of biological processes (I don't pretend to be a specialist, so perhaps we don't "own" the same knowledge in regards of the biological frame of human interactions and it would be too fastidious, on my end, to go through it all), an irreconciliable epistemological standpoint or irreconciliable ethical views. I also question your affirmations that imply that abortion is without long term life-changing effects on the woman.
"Life changing consequences" are incured when the gametes are released in the reproductive space and this is where the window of go/no-go decision can be owned by the man.

Paul Haynie:
I think I have found the disconnect. IF ones sees abortion as the logical default in the event of unplanned pregnancy (which I do), then the choice to bear the child becomes an extraordinary voluntary action for which the woman is wholly responsible. If one perceives childbirth as the logical default (which you seem to), then laying significant responsibility on the father makes sense.

Natacha HoopZie:
Hum. Well yes. And now we could discuss why one should be the default mode over the other... and disagree 😆. I like you anyways, Paul.

Paul Haynie:
I'm glad. I was beginning to fear I had lost that, and that made me sad. (For the record, I have had a LOT of first hand experience with being depressive/suicidal, and also a lot of first- and second-hand experience with the impact of body chemistry on rational thought and decision making, so I don't bring these things up lightly. I have the mileage, and the scars.)

Natacha HoopZie:
I can vigourously disagree with someone and still like him/her as far as exchange of ideas is concerned (I like to read the variety of views different of mine). I also notice that you are courteous in your interventions, and I truly appreciate that someone takes the time to reply and develop on the subject, and even try to find the "core" of the diverging paths. (Obviously, if we were directly concerned by the decision, it might go otherwise! 😆)
I find that it can be a challenge in my own language to concisely align my thoughts to make them understandable to others, it is a little (!) more challenging in a second language. (In a perfect world, I would connect to Natalia Malysheva 's brain so she could synthesize what is in mine 😁)

July 7:
I stumbled across this the other day, realized it would take me hours, if not days, to solve, and walked away, but I archived it. I have played with it a bit since then, and am convinced that *I* will never solve it; it's too alien to the way my mind works. But I would like to know the solution. Any takers?
Complete the five words below in such a way that the two letters that end the first word also start the second word, and the letters that end the second word also start the third word, etc. The two letters that end the fifth word also start the first word, completing the cycle.
Update: Two solutions (which match) so far.

July 9:
Life in my household:
Hyena: Doesn't that (actor playing a ) newsreader look like...
Dementia: Alan Cumning? No, I don't see it.
Hyena was momentarily stunned while he caught up with what had just happened, and then they both laughed.

July 9:
From the Dredge. Faire starts tomorrow, and I STILL haven't bought my season pass; I have a worse than usual case of threshold anxiety, for no reason I can name. But memories like this one are precious...
From 2016:
Respect the drive-by: Best Bristol moment of the day: She was sitting by herself in the Friends of Faire garden. I walked by, and said, "It has been my experience that pretty girls who are sitting by themselves prefer to remain that way," and smiled. Her face lit up, and I walked away.

July 10:
Posted elsewhere:
In an unfettered free market, the price of unskilled labor will trend toward the cost of subsistence for one person, with no allowances for mishap. Trying to improve on this with minimum wage legislation is very much like trying to legislate the weather. A stable, long term solution REQUIRES some form of direct welfare, like UBI.

July 11:
I just growled, loudly and excessively, at someone I care about. It was the result of a multi-element communication cascade failure, and the awful thing is that I CAN NOT apologize for what I said, only for the way I said it.
The nature of our world is such that sometimes you are called upon to love people who hold ideas which you find stupid or even abhorrent, and the only way to maintain balance is to avoid those topics altogether, and I tripped into one of those areas when my guard was down, and I spoke truth... and hurt someone I care about. I don't know if the rift can be repaired, and I feel sick about it.
Update: Repairs have been made, the toxic subject has been successfully reburied, and all is well. So far.

July 11:
I may have sold a copy of "Fiddler's Rose" to the CVS cashier today, because I was wearing a tee shirt based on Disney's "Hercules". Arachne's web is very broad, indeed.

July 12:
From the Dredge. I'm not sure I have this properly archived, and this makes sure I will. And it's worth re-reading, anyway.
From 2015:
There is a very small number of writers who, regardless of medium, routinely rip my heart out. Joss Whedon is one of them. At ComicCon this weekend, someone asked him the meaning of life. His answer follows.
The world is a random and meaningless terrifying place and then we all—spoiler alert—die. Most critters are designed not to know that. We are designed, uniquely, to transcend that, and to understand that—I can quote myself—a thing isn’t beautiful because it lasts.
The main function of the human brain, the primary instinct, is storytelling. Memory is storytelling. If we all remembered everything, we would be Rain Man, and would not be socially active at all. We learn to forget and to distort, but we [also] learn to tell a story about ourselves.
I keep hoping to be the hero of my story; I’m the annoying sidekick. I’m kind of like Rosie O’Donnell in that Tarzan movie. He keeps hoping to be Tarzan, but finding that he’s that weird monkey that nobody can tell if it’s a girl or a boy.
My idea is that stories that we then hear and see and internalize—and wear hats from and come to conventions about... We all come here to celebrate only exactly that: storytelling, and the shared experience of what that gives us. The shared experience of storytelling gives us strength and peace. You understand your story and everyone else’s story, and that it can be controlled by us. This is something we can survive, because unlike me, you all are the hero of your story.

July 12:
From the Dredge. Again, not sure I have it properly archived.
From 2015:
While I am dumping out thoughts by writers I admire, we have the following from Warren Ellis (who hasn't ripped my heart out, that I can remember, but is generally worth reading) regarding a frequently repeated, and often wrong, piece of writing advice. He is talking specifically about comics, but the lesson generally applies. The heart of it? "Anyone who cannot imagine genuine storytelling reasons for telling something instead of showing something is an idiot." Yup.
Some people will quote a rule at you, often with a snotty air: “show, don't
tell.” They will tell you that it is bad storytelling if, for instance, the art
doesn't tell the story independently of the text, or, classically, if you are
telling the reader something instead of showing it to them.
This is crap.
Bruce Wagner's WILD PALMS graphic novel, wonderfully illustrated by the late
Julian Allen, frequently “tells” you in dialogue what you are seeing in the
art. So went the criticism. Except, of course, that it wasn't. What it was
frequently doing was striking subtle friction off the proximity of writing to
art – there was additional information in the art, and the blankness of the
text had its own subtextual payload.
Anyone who cannot imagine genuine storytelling reasons for telling something
instead of showing something is an idiot. Anyone who can't imagine the art and
the text telling you *two different stories* is an idiot.
Try not to describe the illustration in the dialogue or caption unless there's
a very specific reason for it. That's it. Anything else is fair game.

July 14:
Posted to a Traveller board:
Heh. I write pseudo-medieval fantasy, and let me tell you, it is MUCH easier to include hard science in fantasy than it is to write actual hard SF. The problem is that as science expands, it is constantly slamming doors where there weren't even walls 150 years ago. It is becoming increasingly clear that interplanetary commerce will NEVER be viable. So you fall back on the "initial conditions" rule: IF we assume the following pretty much impossible things to be true, we will then follow our rules religiously. And by THOSE rules, "Traveller" is pretty hard.

July 15:
From the Dredge. I was just thinking about this photo yesterday, and here it is. The reason... Yesterday, I was 40 pounds lighter than my all time high, in 2012, or, somewhat more relevantly, 25 pounds lighter than I was on January 1, 2020. (We didn't ALL gain weight during the quarantine...) On the other hand, I am still 25 pounds heavier than I was in 2009 (the low point of this millennium, so far), and 105 pounds heavier than the fellow in the picture. And I am farther away from him than that, actually, because he had muscle mass that I just DON'T. Youth is so very much wasted on the young... ("Highbinder" photo)

Random Bits from Facebook

June 16:
From the Dredge. Sharing mostly because I didn't start archiving Facebook posts until 2017, and this one deserves to be archived.
Life in my household:
Hyena: So a woman goes to her female friends... a woman who is not you, who HAS female friends...
Dementia: Hey, I talk to Sue two or three times a year... at a party... that she is hosting... with a house full of other people...

June 17:
So yesterday I proved experimentally that the 2020 Six Flags season pass that I never used because of the Plague is still good through the 2021 season. I would have ridden the carousel if it hadn't been in a temporary time out when I was standing there considering it. So now I have somewhere to go when my feet get itchy. Except that that usually happens at about 1:00 AM. Ah, well.

June 18:
Gobbledygook, Part Two:
So the idea of doing a Icosa-Dodeca-Triacontal Tensegrity Sculpture is kind of stuck in my head. This time around, I am thinking of something about half the size of the previous one, so it would fit in a room with a normal ceiling. Design thoughts continue.
The image shows the Skeletal Steel Sphere, itself a study for the previous, larger sculpture, with the struts for the Icosahedral Tensegrity indicated with rubber bands. It's not obvious, but it's really wonderfully symmetrical: Three pairs of parallels. I still haven't determined if it could be built with only six pieces of edge rope; that's probably the next puzzle.

June 19:
From the Dredge. A good story, but also not heretofore in my archive.
Yesterday was the 200th anniversary of the battle of Waterloo, so this story is a day late. Sort of.
Many years ago, I was visiting Clueless Tom in Indianapolis, and we went to a gaming night at Ball State in Muncie. The game of the night was an SPI mega-game called "Wellington's Victory" which recreated Waterloo at some absurd scale; the game covered a ping pong table and had thousands of counters. My late friend Kurt Lortz was the French leader; his opposite number was a fellow named Bob whose normal gaming tactic was to play the historical winner and try to duplicate the historical tactics.
Kurt picked me out as the most saavy of the non-participants and handed me the rules. "Read the victory conditions," he said. "Tell me what you see." I read, blinked, re-read, and said, "There is nothing here that rewards French aggression. It assumes that the French will attack, and the English will defend, but doesn't reward that." Kurt smiled broadly. "Exactly."
When Kurt didn't charge into the English position, Bob was flustered, and then charged the French. It that particular alternate reality, they are speaking French in London these days...
Here's to you, Kurt. Mucko Hee!

June 20:
This was in the Facebook Dredge this morning, but I didn't want to just share it, since it contained a spelling error. But I DID want to get it properly archived.
Garbage etymology of the day:
Ap- prefix meaning "farthest", as in apogee or aphelion.
-logos, root meaning "word", as in all sorts of things.
Therefore, an "apology" is actually the furthest thing from what you really WANT to say...

June 22:
Once more, with feeling:
Once upon a long ago, there was a Christian rock group called "Love Song" that was hugely popular on the appropriate circuit. They cut two albums, and then the front man went solo. During my incarceration at Wheaton College, "Love Song Minus Chuck" did a concert. They called themselves, "A Wing and a Prayer".
The guy who opened for them played the piano and sang, and one of the songs he did, with appropriate introduction, was the ORIGINAL "Wing and a Prayer" from 1943. He gave it the lonely, forlorn performance the song deserves. The chorus STAYED with me; at any time since then, I have ALWAYS been able to reproduce it, and my voice almost always breaks. The image is just that haunting: A twin-engined bomber, homeward bound and hurt badly, crossing the English channel and reporting that they were going to be just a LITTLE bit late.
I don't know if that performer rewrote the lyrics, or if my brain just refused to hold onto the rest of the song, because it was kind of offensively dumb. The lyric I remember, and that bit of melody, are definitely part of the original song. But the song as a whole is happy and bouncy and overproduced and, well, dumb. But it was also very typical of the sort of morale booster that was popular at that point in time.
It turns out that the first documented use of the phrase is in a John Wayne movie, "Flying Tigers." But it is used idiomatically, and was certainly in use before that. (And then there is the context in which I have heard the phrase most often, as part of the theme song to "Greatest American Hero.")
None of that matters. *I* still hear that B-25 radio operator letting his base know that they are hurt bad, but they're still flying, and they are still doing everything they can to make it home.
"Coming in on a wing and a prayer; coming in on a wing and a prayer. We've got one engine gone, but we'll still carry on; coming in on a wing and a prayer."

June 24:
Esoterica of the Oars:
Something that has rattled around in my head for years now, and never seems to get out, and should be SOMEWHERE.
I have spent several dozen hours rowing a fixed seat canoe, and at least as many on a rowing machine, experimenting between fixed seat and sliding seat modes, and I have done a fair amount of research. Here is stuff that I have learned.
The BIG difference between fixed and sliding seat is NOT that sliding seat is more efficient; it's not. It does have a much wider effective power band, though. The human engine has a nominal sustained output of about 75 watts, and a maximum burst output of over a thousand watts. The length of the burst varies a great deal with condition; I have sustained 1100 watts for 15 seconds within the last decade; a cyclist named Eddie Meryx once sustained 750 watts for a full hour. Fixed seat and sliding seat have pretty much the same efficiencies through at least 100 watts, and then fixed seat starts to fall behind.
What this means is that in the standard 2000 meter race, sliding seat wins hands down. If you are doing an expedition, though, where your energy reserves have to be maintained for hours at a time, there is no real difference. The same goes for race oriented practices like feathering your oars and crossing your hands; they give you small energy efficiencies in the short term, and in the long term they amount to next to nothing.
I am really happy with my fixed seat, non-feathering, forward-facing rig. It lets me relax my hands on every single recovery stroke (which my moderately defective hands NEED), and use odd seating positions (my favorite is with one foot in the center of the footboard, and the other tucked underneath me, which has no drawbacks for expedition rowing).
(Written because a young woman, Ellen Falterman, completed this year's Texas 200 in a 17 foot rowing canoe, and I REALLY want to get out on the water and roll Suchia's odometer past the 300 mile mark (it's stuck at 295), and I am not sure I will be able to get the canoe on and off the van this year.)

June 26:
Television gold:
We are not big fans of TV comedy. We hear about "must watch" new shows starring people we like, and we watch two or three episodes, and then quit. There are a few exceptions, but mostly we don't even bother. Tonight, though, we hunted down a new BBC show called "We are Lady Parts" about five London-based Muslim women who make up a punk band. It is every bit as deranged as that sounds. The two central characters are also as real as anyone who has ever been on TV, and the show is FUNNY. There are only six episodes, so we watched the whole thing tonight, and I have not laughed this much at the box in... years, probably. Highly recommended.

June 27:
This morning I filled a hole in my education by finishing Abbott's "Flatland", something I should have read long ago but never got around to. It was published in 1884, and it is written in painfully excessive late Victorian prose. It also flogs the skin right off its local dead horse. Having said that, though, there is amazing cleverness at the core of the book, and it deserves its place in the pantheon.
Some books are simply better in summary than in experience, and this is definitely one of them. But the summary is absolutely worth reading.

June 28:
Found money:
I have been dragging my feet about buying a season pass to the Ren Faire this year. It's a fairly large piece of change, and money is tight. I look around my intra-cranial landscape, and I read my journal entries from 2016 and 2019, and I tell myself that I NEED this-- and then another voice starts reminding me about trivial things like food, clothing, and shelter.
I am definitely something of a hoarder. It's kind of inevitable when the pleasure of acquiring a kind-of-wonderful thing exceeds the pain of getting rid of it. But last week, I learned that a small stack of books that I manifestly do not want had a bit of collectability, and yesterday I sold them. And now I have most of the price of the Ren Faire ticket in my pocket. This is a VERY good thing...

June 28:
It just hurts...
Watching "The Irregulars", an oddball Sherlock Holmes adjacent paranormal show. Mycroft Holmes just said, "magus" with a soft "G". Several times. It is possible that this is a Britishism of which I was unaware. By the end of the scene I was writhing on the floor...

Random Bits from Facebook

June 1:
On the screen:
In addition to the (fairly small) list of current shows we keep up with, for the last six months, our back-up television has been a run through the complete "Supernatural" library, all 327 episodes of it. We finished it last week, after six months of steady going. So now we are catching up on movies.
Last night, we watched "Enola Holmes", which was just fun. Millie Bobby Brown continues to be amazing in everything she does, and the entire production has more than enough charm to balance the more than occasionally silliness.
Trivia: The name "Enola" appears to have been constructed from whole cloth as the name of the protagonist of a novel in the late 19th century. A fan of the novel gave the name to a daughter, who had a son, who became a pilot, who had his mother's name painted on the nose of the B-29 he commanded. Make of that what you will.

June 2:
Short stories:
There was an external trigger; what it was doesn't matter. But I started thinking about short stories. You may know I am REALLY bad at "favorite", but there are a few stories that just blow me away...
Roughly in the order in which I encountered them:
"The Ransom of Red Chief" by O. Henry
"The Open Window" by Saki
"A Rose for Ecclesiastes" by Roger Zelazny
"The Way We Die" by David Drake
"The Sheik and the Dustbin" by George MacDonald Fraser
Four of them are pretty much perfect; one is deeply flawed, but turns on an impossibly brilliant idea. None of them are very far from my consciousness when I write (and if you know all of those stories, that might explain a few things).

June 3:
Two years ago, due to bizarre circumstances, I rented a storage locker downstate from a man named Jimmy. The person who owned the stuff in the storage locker died six months later, and the locker and its contents became a perennial source of irritation, because there was no good way to just get rid of it.
A while ago we found someone willing to clean out the locker in exchange for the contents. Yesterday, I got a call from Jimmy's wife, who said that a nice young man had my locker open, and was going through the contents. I said it was fine, we talked a bit, and I learned that Jimmy died last fall of Covid-19.
If February of 2019, I spoke to Jimmy and shook his hand. I have known people directly who have had the disease; I have known people directly who have lost people who they have known directly; Jimmy is the first person I have known directly who has died.
The wheel turns. The world is ever so slightly darker than it was.

June 5:
Went for a walk today, first "fitness walk" since winter. 2.06 miles in 54:30, Fitbit gave me credit for 17% more distance than I actually covered; I am walking shorter strides than the last time I re-calibrated.

June 6:
We just finished watching a retrospective of a TV show that premiered 50 years ago. It brought the following story to mind:
In the spring of 1976, sitting US President Gerald R. Ford addressed the student body at Wheaton college as part of his re-election campaign. After the speech was over, the Wheaton College Band played him off the stage.
I am sure that everything was vetted, but sometimes you take things for granted that you probably shouldn't. I mean, why on earth wouldn't you OK a Sousa march as a Presidential recessional?
So Ford left the stage to the tune of "The Liberty Bell", and the entire student body did their best to not laugh at the fact that it was also the theme music to "Monty Python's Flying Circus."

June 7:
Life in my household:
Character on TV: Don't worry about the money. When my book sells, I'll just take care of it.
Hyena: (Snort).
Dementia: I heard that.
Hyena: She has no hope. She's a slow writer, she's an idiot.. and she has a soul. You can overcome one of those, probably not two. And no way in hell all three.
Dementia just laughed.

June 10:
Historical Insanity:
Hyena was yammering about the fact that representative government is predicated on the idea that the average citizen can't keep up with everything that is going on, and tries to refer government to experts. It is unquestionably a better system than straight democracy, but is still deeply flawed.
This led to a minor quest to verify an apocryphal story about a legislative body that voted to set pi equal to three. It turns out to be more than half true: It happened in Indiana in 1897.
Details on Wikipedia.

June 11:
Stuff that falls out of my head:
"I don't know root five off the top of my head, but I do know that it's equal to two phi minus one, and I have phi memorized, so I can produce it on demand anyway."

June 12:
The wheel turns...
My in-laws live in Idaho. My father-in-law should have been in custodial care two or three years ago, but my mother-in-law insists that everything is fine, and the situation has continued, decaying by degrees.
On Sunday, my mother-in-law fell and spent 17 hours on the floor. She was unable to get her husband to understand that she needed to make a telephone call, or even what a telephone was. On Tuesday night, while she was sleeping, he went for a walk and ended up being held at gunpoint in a neighbor's bedroom. My mother-in-law continues to insist that everything is fine, they just need to make a few adjustments.
My brother-in-law and his wife, who are local to the situation, and going through the process of moving FIL into custodial care, and MIL into assisted living. MIL is fighting them tooth and nail. All we can do is offer moral support (and, honestly, be grateful for the distance).
The wheel continues to turn...

June 13:
The figure in the photo was made by combining a dodecahedron
(12-sided die) and an icosahedron (20 sided die). The vertices of the combined figure map exactly to a rhombic triacontahedron (30 sided die). Both the dodecahedron and the icosahedron can be built as tensegrities, with edges under tension supported by interior diagonals. I have this urge to build a Mark II version based on the tensegrities: Ten dodecahedral diagonals, six icosadredral diagonals, and pre-measured rope segments for all 60 of the edges. Plus another sixty for the edges of the triacontahedron, just for grins. It would end up having 120 triangular faces, in planar sets of four.
I already know all of the numbers, I just need to do the fabrication. I'm not QUITE that manic, yet.
Not quite...

Random Bits from Facebook

May 17:
So... Last night, "60 Minutes" did a story on UAP. It's worth finding, and takes less than 15 minutes to watch. And then, if you wonder what point I am making, go out to YouTube and search on "Sigma 957."
We are ants, living on a nature preserve. This is VERY Not Good. On the other hand, at least the Others seem to be Observers, rather than Harvesters. (There is no third alternative, if the Others exist at all.)

May 19:
This comes to me from Carl the Were-hamster. I may not take it quite the way it was meant, but I'm good with that. Joyce's reputation is an insult to everyone who has ever attempted to tell a coherent story.
(Meme: James Joyce slapped words onto a page the way Jackson Pollock slapped paint on a canvas." --Mike Rugnetta

May 20:
From the dredge. Significant mainly because I did the same job two days earlier this year (and my back has not forgiven me, yet).
5 Years Ago
Today I fought the first skirmish in this year's campaign of the never ending war against the ever-encroaching hideous herbaceous hordes. While battle has still not been joined on the Western Front, the battle on the Eastern Front was successful, and the creeping green horror was pushed back to its historical mid-winter boundaries. (I mowed the front lawn.)

May 23:
The world's business community continues to be completely disinterested in developing steady-state models, or in dealing with the ultimate exhaustion of particular resources.
(Meme: The world would be a much better place if getting a degree in Economics required a working knowledge of Ecology.)

May 24:
Six weeks ago, I did not know what a Reuleaux Tetrahedron was. Today, I have one in my hands. We live in magical times, when the magic works.

May 25:
This, from Jennie Cruisie, a writer who can't quite fit into the "Romance" genre, and the world is better for that. (It honors two of my favorite authors; how could I NOT disseminate it?)
May 25th, as all Douglas Adams readers know, is Towel Day, the day to flaunt your towel in memory of an amazing author, who gave the best general advice of all time: Don’t Panic.
May 25th is also, as any fan of Terry Pratchett should know, Wear the Lilac Day, in honor of the events of the Discworld People’s Revolution (see Night Watch) whose rallying cry was,”Truth, Justice, Freedom, Reasonably Priced Love, and a Hard-Boiled Egg!” And after Pratchett’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, Wear the Lilac Day has been used to raise awareness and funding for Alzheimer’s research.
Because of this, today is the day that Argh Nation Wears the Lilac Towel in honor of these two great authors. We shall never forget (although we may be a little absent-minded at times and are easily distracted). Thank you, gentlemen, for multiple weirdly great characters in many twisting, startling plots not to mention brilliant observations on life in general and some of the funniest, smartest writing in specific. You are missed.

May 25:
Apropos of inappropriate use of the word "apropos":
Those who misuse "apropos"--
To try to sound clever, you know--
Will find that the word
Doesn't mean what they'd heard
And should really just let the thing go.

May 27:
So... After two years, I have yet to get 100 copies of "Fiddler's Rose" into circulation, but at least four people have read it TWICE. (For the record: Carl, Doug, Georgia, Stan.)

May 28:
Just spent a few hours in the company of adopted nephew Kevin. We haven't seen each other in 12 years. Wow, have I missed good conversation...
May 30:
Usagi Yojimbo's kimono is Tardis blue.
(I know. It's a common color, and this doesn't actually mean ANYTHING, but I get misty thinking about it anyway, because... Yeah.)
>>Carl Johnson
Scotland Yard blue, Pantone 2955C!
>>>>Paul Haynie
It occurred to me, after I posted this, that Usagi pretty much defines my bridge into the furry community. That is, I am furry-sympathetic, but my interest is in the non-sexual, somewhat blood-stained corner of furriness, and that is a pretty small corner indeed.

May 31:
There are two people who need to be at every cinematic story conference. One of them is a superannuated adolescent who keeps saying, "Wouldn't it be cool if...?" and the other is a jaded oldster who responds to everything "Cool" says with, "Calm down, kid..."
We finally saw "Shadow in the Clouds" last night, and my expectations were WAY too high. Essentially, their story table had at least two "Cools" and NO "Calms", and the result was a chaotic mess. There was a LOT of good material in this film, and Chloe Grace Moretz was very good, but... WOW, the dumb, it was painful.
We also watched "The Limehouse Golem", which is the closest thing to a bad movie Bill Nighy has ever made. Surprise endings that make sense, but leave you wishing you hadn't watched to movie at all, are never a good idea.

Random Bits from Facebook

May 1:
So... Got invited up to Lake Geneva for BBQ and games today. Life interfered, and I showed up six hours late. The last two guests were on their way out the door, but stayed a bit to talk to me, since I haven't seen any of them in a year and a half. And I came home with treasure.
Tom Wham was one of those "last two guests" who were leaving, and I FINALLY managed to get him together with a print of his 1977 "Gnoll" illustration. He was a bit surprised, since he usually doesn't sign PRINTS. So he gave me a bit more than I asked for: My very own spur-of-the-moment snit. Treasure indeed.

May 5:
Mathematical Foolishness:
The sculpture in the image is an intersection between a regular dodecahedron (D12) and a regular icosahedron (D20). When I designed it, 20-plus years ago, I started with the knowledge that the figure existed, a calculator, a pen, and scratch paper. The first challenge was to figure out the ratio between the edge lengths of the two component figures needed to make it work. Sketches were made, trigonometry was applied, an answer was derived. It happened to look a LOT like the a Golden Ratio, but there were a LOT of decimal approximations along the path, so it was only an approximation.
The other day, I was looking at the steel wire early study of this sculpture that has been hanging from the living room ceiling since it was made, and thought that I really needed to attempt to prove that the answer was EXACTLY a Golden Section. I promised myself that I would work on it the next time my brain got hungry for that kind of problem.
Said event happened on Monday night. I drew a couple of sketches, laid out the equations, and... Damn. There it was. It was supposed to be a CHALLENGE. I was looking forward to it, and it just jumped off the page into my lap. Ah, well.

May 5:
Intra-Cranial Musings
"I don't have any ideas on tap. What can we steal?"
"Twain's 'The Prince and the Pauper'?"
"Ok, so we shuffle the point of view on that, and we get..."
"'The Prisoner of Zenda', by Anthony Hope, which has been done to death."
"But we can shuffle the point of view, and..."
"'Double Star', by R.A. Heinlein, and 'Royal Flash' by G.M. Fraser."
"Fine. Let's make the double who is in power EVIL, and..."
"'A Witch Shall Be Born', R.E. Howard.'"
"Yeah, but we could make the hero who helps the hapless original a Trickster..."
"That might just work."

May 6:
Life with Hyena:
This came up in conversation this morning; it's from November, 2006, and we had just seen, "Happy Feet."
My favorite moment of the afternoon came after the movie, while waiting for Dementia outside the bathroom. I was bored and had just seen a tap dancing movie, so I started to do a time step while I waited. I looked up and saw several children staring at me in fascination; I stopped. One of them stepped forward and tried to mimic me.
"Like this," I said. "Up on your toes, and then heel down, toe down, switch feet, heel down, toe down... And then you speed up." And then they were all doing it.
I love behavioral viruses...

May 6:
My brother Tim, the Rocket Welder, with some of his handiwork. (Actually, he and his company designed and built the machine that built this particular bit of aerospace hardware, but you get the idea.)

May 8:
This was part of a larger piece in the Facebook Dredge this morning. It seems to be worth sharing independently.
"I have been in love with Natasha Romanov since about a decade before Scarlett Johansson was born, and I continue to be impressed with how well Marvel and Johansson are bringing her to the screen. (Taciturn, solitary, loyal, ruthless, violent, damaged, and (peculiarly) ethical is NOT an easy path to walk.)"

May 8:
I was listening to a fairly popular SF audio book yesterday, and the author committed the ever-lamentable "Fictitious Force Fallacy." I groaned.
For those who came in late:
At some point during the study of physics, the student inevitably encounters the idea that centrifugal force is a "fictitious" force. Some students come away from this lesson with the impression that they must never again speak of centrifugal force, but instead refer only to centripetal force. This is always awkward and usually wrong.
The problem begins with the fact that, when a physicist refers to centrifugal force as a "fictitious" force, he is using the word "fictitious" in a technical and non-intuitive fashion. The label derives from the fact that, at some point in the wild days before Isaac Newton, centrifugal force was regarded as a thing unto itself, and not just a known property of matter reacting to special circumstances. In that sense, and that sense only, centrifugal force is a fiction. This will not prevent it from rolling your car if you take a turn too fast.
Consider the following:
One: John was smashed against the wall by centripetal force. This is a nice, straightforward sentence (It's passive voice, but live with it. Really.) It is also BAD physics, but exactly the sort of thing that people who suffer from the Fictitious Force Fallacy tend to write.
Two: John was smashed against the wall by centrifugal force. This is grammatically identical to the first sentence, and better physics. It isn't as precise as it could be; see below.
Three: John was smashed against the wall by the centrifugal effect of the station's motion. This is bad writing, but a bit more accurate than #2, above.
Four: John was smashed against the wall by his inertia reacting against the centripetal force supplied by the station's wall. This is good physics and awful writing.
Takeaway: Centrifugal force is the inverse of centripetal force, and is far easier for the human brain to understand than the pedantic details.

May 10:
New story:
The story that collapsed on me in March, that I had been working on since January, jumped out at me this afternoon, and let me finish it.
This is the third story featuring Perf the Goblin; links to the first two parts are at the end of the story. ("Exigencies")

May 12:
So... This is a new thing. The "Storyteller" page is going to get the "writing process" posts, and "Spiral Path" is going to be more about products. I think. Maybe. I am making this up as I go along.
( )

May 14:
What I want to know, with all of this insane gasoline hoarding going on, is: Where are the fires? Where are the explosions? Why is this story so BORING?