どうもありがとう(Doumo arigatou) from Mr. ロバート (Robaato, i.e. Robert)

Good morning and hello.  It’s Wednesday, the 23rd of November in 2022, which is the day before Thanksgiving in the USA.  I suppose one could call it Thanksgiving Eve, though somehow that’s never seemed to catch on.  I’m writing this on my phone, because I didn’t take my laptop when I left the office yesterday; I didn’t forget to bring it; I just didn’t feel like it.  Honestly, I don’t have a lot of enthusiasm for writing a post today, but since I definitely am not going to write one tomorrow, I guess I’d better bite the bullet and write the blogget.

I’m at the train station as I begin this post, and of course, the iterated announcement continues, reminding us that tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day, they will be operating on a Sunday schedule.  This announcement has been repeating since the day after Labor Day.  Presumably, starting Friday, they’ll be reminding us that they will follow a Sunday schedule on Christmas and New Year’s.

It’s very foggy down here by me today, which is unusual.  In fact, when I left the house, my first notion was that something big must be on fire nearby.  But, thankfully, it quickly became obvious (when I took a sniff) that it was merely fog.  It’s surprisingly rare to see fog down here, probably because, even though it’s more than humid enough, the air is almost always too warm to cause the humidity to begin to precipitate out so close to the ground.  Not that it’s cold today; it’s 73 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the weather app when I left the house, and that seems pretty consistent with what the feeling of the temperature is.

Yes, that’s right‒I’m writing about the weather.  I told you I didn’t really feel up to writing much, didn’t I?  I’m certainly not up to trying to write the follow-up to my neuropathology post from the other day, and I don’t think I would try doing that on my phone if I were, as I think I’ve mentioned previously.  I occasionally toy with the notion, when writing blog posts on the phone, of trying to write a new short story this way.  I wrote a good portion of Son of Man on a previous phone, and I think it came out well.

But honestly, though I think about the idea, I know I won’t do it.  I may not ever write any more fiction for the rest of my life.  I can barely get myself to do non-fiction such as this.

I did listen to some music last night, both on the way to the train and as I lay down trying to get sleepy.  I also ended up watching a fair few “reaction videos” to songs I know.  That’s a rather entertaining genre of YouTube videos in which youngish people, who presumably grew up listening to the latest modern music‒an ever-moving definition in any case‒listen to some classic bands and songs, usually for the first time, and we all get to see their initial reactions.  It’s a fun genre, because these are obviously people who are interested in being exposed to prior hits, and their enthusiasm for the process is often quite moving.

It’s charming (if startling) to see a youngish couple who have never even heard of the Eagles listen to Hotel California…or to see anyone who doesn’t know what’s coming to experience, for the first time, the saxophone solo from Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street.  It’s also quite a surprise for people to see the young lead singer from the Animals start growling out The House of the Rising Sun.  It still honestly surprises me every time I see it.  It’s as if some teenager has been possessed by the spirit of a cursed man from New Orleans who squandered his life like his father before him, and who must find a body willing to express his torment and his warning before he can ever rest in peace.

It’s also fun to see and hear songs I haven’t thought of in a long time as if for the first time, like The Heart of Rock and Roll, which was huge back in the 80’s.  I saw Huey Lewis and the News in concert, and they put on a terrific show…though he teased the Detroit audience by pretending to forget the last city name in the aforementioned song.  He was a good showman.  He also went to my alma mater, so you know he’s special.

And I’ve yet to see any one of the reactors watch the “best live version” of Radiohead’s Creep and not be in or near tears in response to Thom Yorke’s performance, and commenting about how this is clearly something personal for him, he’s not just singing the song, he’s experiencing it.  Which is surely true, since apparently Thom wrote the song in his late teens, and it was autobiographical.  It certainly conveys sentiments many people have shared at one time or another.

It’s all the next best thing, I guess, to sharing one’s favorite music with a friend, or listening to some new, great song for the first time with one’s peers back in high school or college or what have you.  I guess that’s similar to the reason I watch Doctor Who reaction videos; I have no local person or people with whom to watch it, and it’s definitely the sort of show I would have watched with my wife and/or kids.  I don’t feel too heartbroken to see it now, alone, since I’ve only ever actually watched it by myself, unlike many other shows that I can no longer enjoy.

Not that that makes it unemotional.  I’ve never encountered a show that more frequently evokes teariness than Doctor Who.  It’s really quite remarkable and impressive.  As fans say, it’s a show that’s bigger on the inside.

Anyway, that’s enough writing about nothing.  I hope all of you reading in the US have a truly wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow, and get to spend time with your loved ones and enjoy some delicious food.  For all those outside the US…well…have a good Thursday‒hopefully not one such as DentArthurDent was prone to have‒and you might as well have some nice food and time with your loved ones, too.  I’ll be back on Friday, barring the unforeseen.

happy-thanksgiving-from-the-farm-maria-keady

If “November” is the 11th month, then is the “second” day number 4?

It’s 4:35 on Wednesday morning, November 2nd, 2022, and it’s already 80 degrees (Fahrenheit) at the Hollywood train station and very muggy.  I’m dripping with sweat just from walking as far as the bench to wait for the earliest morning train*.  It’s ridiculous.  For this reason and others, I wish I had never moved to Florida.  In my opinion, it’s overall a “nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there”.  Or as many locals say: “Come on vacation, leave on probation”.  It really is a shame, because there is a tremendous amount of natural beauty here, but much of even that has been ruined by invasive species, the main one being Homo sapiens.

It’s on hot and muggy early November mornings such as this that I truly miss being in Michigan, where I grew up.  Say what you will about the Detroit area, at least there are fewer humans there now than there were in the past.  It can be somewhat depressing to see that, but boy, in Autumn all the trees along the side streets in my hometown looked spectacular, and you could walk from your door to the street without sweating.

If the Detroit area is too sad for you‒or too flat‒then you could go to upstate New York, where I went to university.  That was amazing in the Fall.  Walking back to the dorm down Libe Slope after class at this time of year was like seeing a fifty mile wide fireworks display happening in slow motion, spread out over many weeks.  Of course Winter was quite cold, bitter, and snowy there, but if you were adventurous, you could take a tray from the dining hall and “tray” down Libe Slope.  I never did that, myself; there was a road right at the bottom of the hill, and though it was not busy, it was hard not to think about careening uncontrollably into some passing salt truck.

Actually, they really did an amazing job keeping the roads clear in Ithaca in the winter.  They had to keep them clear.  There were many slopes in town that could have served as ski jumps if you’d put an upcurve at the bottom, so these had to be cleared pretty much as fast as the snow could fall.

Of course, while I have my complaints about Florida, I did come here of my own free will**, and have had many good times and good life events here, the most outstanding of which was the birth of my daughter.  I can’t ever complain about that.

My son was born in New York (not Ithaca) but we left before he was old enough really to remember it.  Both of my children are Florida kids, effectively.  I wonder how they would feel if someday they moved up North and experienced Autumn there for the first time, beginning to end.  Would they be as wowed by its beauty as I always have been, or would they feel a homesickness for the heat of the Sunshine State as the weather cooled and the days shortened?

Of course, the days don’t literally shorten, just daylight hours.  There are subtle variations and even occasional tiny diminutions of the day, as happened recently, but overall, the rotation rate of the Earth is going very steadily and gradually to slow, barring other inputs, so days will become longer.  If nothing else, since the planet’s mass is not perfectly symmetrical, as it turns it must radiate some miniscule amount of energy away in the form of gravitational waves, and the Moon/Earth orbital pairing will radiate some, too.

When I say “miniscule”, I’m guilty of severe (and ironic) understatement.  The sun will surely long since have gone through red giant and on to white dwarf status before there would be any appreciable loss of rotational energy from gravitational waves alone.  I can’t give you the numbers‒if anyone out there can, please share‒but it’s tiny, it’s wee, it’s verging on infinitesimal.

Speaking of small things and their opposites, yesterday’s post ended up being unusually long and exceptionally dreary***, so I’ll bring this one to a close now.  Thank you for your patience, thank you for reading, and if you have any comments about reactions to autumn, or to major changes of local climate due to moves throughout life, I would be interested to know about them.  No pressure.


*Yes, I came for the 4:45 am train, but only because there wasn’t an earlier one.  I couldn’t sleep.

**So to speak.  I’m provisionally convinced that there is no such thing as free will.  I could be wrong, of course, but it doesn’t really matter all that much.  As I like to say, I either have free will or I don’t, but it’s not like I have any choice in the matter.

***But nonetheless true.  I can’t pretend that it was an exaggeration nor that really, my mental health is just fine.  It is not.  It’s horrible.

Happy, happy Halloween (Silver Shamrock)!

It’s Monday morning, and I’m writing this on my phone rather than on my laptop, because I didn’t feel like bringing my laptop back to the house from work on Saturday.  Those of you who have read my very long post from Saturday will probably be happy that I’m using my phone, since my writing tends to be much slower (and therefore shorter) when I use it, rather than my laptop keyboard.  Though I’ve never formally taken any typing courses, and I don’t know what my actual typing speed is, I have been typing since I was quite young (I think I was 11), since my maternal grandmother gave me her electric typewriter and I started writing the first of many fantasy novels, so basically, I can type pretty darn fast.

Of course, today is the 31st of October, and that means it is Halloween, my favorite holiday.  I personally think this should be a “bank holiday” as they say in the UK: a day most people take off work.  But I guess most other people don’t think so.

I’m afraid I haven’t posted the video that I mentioned on Friday and Saturday.  I left it at the office, so to speak.  I also didn’t record myself performing The Haunted Palace yet, but that was just due to a lack of motivation.  I’ll probably do it soon, if I do it at all.  I will attach the audio for my “video” from last week into the bottom of this post, so those who are interested in listening among my readers will get earliest access to it.  I’ll try to remember to post the video on YouTube later today.

I did another impromptu audio recording last night, as some thoughts occurred to me while I was watching a lecture on the nature of time by Sean Carroll, one of my favorite teachers of physics.  They weren’t brand new thoughts; I might even have written something along their lines once before in my other blog, Iterations of Zero.  I haven’t done anything on that blog in quite a while now, since I stopped sequestering my darker brain drippings from this one.  Maybe I should turn that into the place I share my audio stuff before turning it into a video or anything else.  I’m not sure.  It seems a shame to leave it fallow, but most things in life come to naught, anyway, and if it’s appropriate for any blog, then that might well be the one for which it’s most appropriate, given its name.

If anyone out there reads both blogs and has any thoughts about that one, please let me know.

As like as not I’ll never do anything with it, one way or another.  As like as not, even this one will peter out or abruptly terminate sometime soon.  Of course, depending on your time scale, any time could be soon.  And on the Planck time scale, it’s been a nearly immeasurable eternity just since I started writing this post.

There, those are some thoughts about time that didn’t make it into my recording from last night.

Regarding the earlier nocturnal recording, which I’m posting here, today, I need to warn you that the first portion has less than ideal quality, though that might not be obvious until you reach the second portion and compare.  You see, I did the first portion in the middle of the night, as I think I’ve told you before, and I wasn’t really paying much attention to where I was or what was around me.  It was dark, for one thing.  Also, I was sitting up on the floor* very close to the air conditioner, which was active at the time.  I’ve done my best to remove all that racket, and largely succeeded, but the noise reduction does affect the reproduction of my voice.

So, I’ll be editing the vocal thoughts I had last night/this morning, soon, and I’ll post the “video” of my previous thoughts on YouTube soon.  I guess I’ll probably post the audio of last night’s musings here before I turn them into a video and share them on YouTube.  And who knows, maybe I’ll recite The Haunted Palace soon and share a video about that.

If I’m lucky, though, maybe I’ll get hit by lightning, or a truck, or a meteorite, or a V-fib arrest, and that’ll be that.  I’d say that I look forward to oblivion, but of course, that doesn’t quite make sense, since one can’t really imagine oblivion‒if one is doing any imagining, then one is not simulating a state of oblivion.

Still, oblivion has much to recommend it.  There’s no pain, no sorrow, no fear, no regret.  Of course, there are no positive experiences, either, but if the curve of one’s life enjoyment is consistently below the x-axis, then a reversion to zero is a net gain**.  It’s where we’re all headed eventually, anyway.  And Halloween wouldn’t be such a bad day to die, would it?

Knowing my luck, that’s probably not going to happen.

To finish, here’s the audio of my thoughts on the fact that perception is not reality, followed by a few Halloween-appropriate pictures of mine.

Happy Halloween.

Welcome Home Medium in prog (2)

headless horseman croppedpumpkin demon cropped

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Mark Red

Vagabond pose pic on highway 3 posterized

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skull drawing


*I sleep on the floor.  Beds take up too much space, and they tend to make my back pain worse.

**This is related to the fact that the lesser of two evils is, by simple mathematical logic, the greater of two goods.

Monday morning, waking up?

Wow, it’s Monday morning already.  It seems like we only just finished last week—which I guess is what actually happened.  I suppose some people do get two days a week off on a regular basis, but as for me and my…self, well, we work most of the time.  I guess that’s probably true for most of the people reading this, too, though, isn’t it?

Anyway, it was an uneventful “weekend” for me, in the sense that I didn’t accomplish much except sleeping a bit later on Sunday under the influence of Benadryl, which is better than not sleeping a bit later.  I also got my laundry done on Sunday, which is nice.

Other than all that, not much of interest has happened.  I did go into a Publix on Sunday morning for the first time in years.  For those of you who don’t know, that’s one of the major supermarket chains in Florida; it’s middlingly upscale, somewhere between Winn Dixie and Whole Foods.

I tend to avoid Publix (and other grocery stores) most of the time, largely because such stores are often crowded, and I don’t really like a lot of people and noise and stuff.  But Sunday mornings, thankfully, are times when people are pretty sparse, so it wasn’t bad.  There were items I wanted to have around, to eat, that just aren’t readily available at 7-11 and other convenience stores—which are pretty much the only places I shop other than Amazon—and so I decided to go in.

It was almost nostalgic, but not necessarily in a good way.  Unfortunately, stores like Publix or Walgreens or Target or similar are the sorts of places that for many years I only used to go with my wife and/or children, so going into them now tends to be somewhat detrimental to my mood.  Between the crowded noisiness, which is irritating, and the mild but present heartache that happens, I tend to avoid them.

I know, that’s all really boring.  Sorry.  I’m not a very exciting person.

I might be more exciting and do more exciting things if I could just get on top of my back and hip and leg and side pain.  They are very irritating, a combination of ache, spasm, grinding, and electro-neural feelings.  Maybe it would be more proper to write “it is very irritating”.  In some senses the pains feel like a large collection, or army, or band, of things attacking me, each with its own identity, but in other senses, it’s all just one wave of algesiac fluid.  I’m not sure if “algesiac” is a proper word, so to speak, but since analgesia is the blocking or the countering of pain, I figure the form of my neologism is at least proper.

As I said*, it’s the start of a new work week, and of course, I’m on my way in to work now, having been sitting at the train station at the beginning of the blog, and then being on the train starting with these last two and a half sentences (and the footnote).  I have my usual seat, so that’s nice, and it’s not too crowded.  Nor is it one of the older train cars, from which one can often smell the oxidized iron in the air after they brake, from the wheels rubbing against the rails (I assume that’s where the smell comes from, but it could be the wheels rubbing against the brakes…and that might in fact be more likely, since wheel and rail contact should be the same no matter which type of car, but brakes may vary).

During the middle of this week, we will have Yom Kippur, which is supposed to be the highest of the High Holy Days (in Judaism).  I’ve never had too much real interest in the “supernatural” aspects of it, but the fasting has often been something I embrace with enthusiasm.  Admittedly, one cannot fast as one is supposed to on Yom Kippur—abjuring food and water—for much longer than the mandated day, but going without food for a longish period has its attractions.

There have been a few years in which I have prolonged that part of the fast for a bit, and actually rather enjoyed it.  It clears my mind in many ways.  But it’s hard to maintain, especially when all the people around one, and with whom one works, are always eating and trying to get one to eat, and of course, it being October, there is Halloween candy out.  But it would be nice if I could find the will to fast, maybe from Yom Kippur to my birthday**, or even beyond.  It might be worth a try.  If I truly decide I want to do it, I think I have the will to pull it off; I just have to decide.

Anyway, that’s enough of my splutterings for today.  Welcome to the new work week, and the first full week of the new month, usually my favorite month of the year.  I hope, wherever you are, things feel more autumnal than they do here in south Florida.  I can understand why “snow birds” come here in the winter, but it is a shame not to be in a deciduous arboreal environment in the autumn, especially if that’s where you grew up.  Oh, well, that’s a minor complaint, I suppose.  But from a certain point of view, all complaints are minor.  And from certain other points of view, all complaints are major.

Maybe I should just stop viewing.


*There are those who say—and write—that one should use the words “as I wrote” when referring to something that had been written, and avoid using “as I said” in such circumstances, but even I think such people are quibbling.  “To say” is a more broadly applicable verb than “to write”, and can convey the notion of having expressed or communicated something in any of a large number of ways, including by writing.  It’s also, in general, more succinct and straightforward just to use “I said” and related forms when trying to convey such sentiments, although the footnotes involved can take up a fair bit of extra time.  They’re fun to write, though, and that takes the sting out of it, for the writer at least.  I don’t know how the reader(s) feel(s).

**My birthday is in October, just so you know.  In case you didn’t already know.  It wouldn’t be a ridiculous amount of time to fast.  Now, if one could fast from, say, Yom Kippur until Thanksgiving, that would be a serious fast.  It would certainly take away any guilt from overindulging at Thanksgiving dinner, not that that is relevant to me, since I’m not likely to have a Thanksgiving dinner.

This is an untitled blog post…or IS it?

Okay, well, I’m back on the laptop again, today.  I think I did a decent job of gauging how long my post should be yesterday, despite using my phone to write it.  It did seem to take slightly longer to write the same number of words than it would have with the laptop.  It’s just easier to write faster when you’re using a (nearly) full-scale keyboard and more or less all of your fingers instead of your two thumbs to type.

Still, as I think I’ve noted before, I wrote a goodly part of my science fiction novel, Son of Man using a smartphone that was quite a bit smaller than the one I have now, and I think it turned out pretty well.  At least, the feedback I’ve gotten from the few people I know who have read it and who deigned to comment—one of whom has sadly died—was good.

Not much has changed since yesterday, though.  By which I mean I’m not sure why I’m bothering to keep doing this blog.  I don’t think it’s doing me much good.  As anyone reading regularly can probably tell, my mental health doesn’t seem to be improving at all despite the use of this unidirectional “talk therapy”.

I’m a creature of habit, though, so I’ll continue this until…well, until something stops me, or until I stop doing even this little bit of proactive stuff.  I’m sure that will leave the world no poorer.

The hurricane that’s approaching is not supposed to hit this part of Florida, but to make landfall along the central west coast, but it’s still been sloppy and rainy, and a bit windy, these past few days.  Sunday afternoon was sunny and clear, and I went for a long walk near the end of the day, but since then we’ve had wetness.  At least the modest windiness—which may have at least something peripheral to do with the hurricane—makes it feel less muggy.

It’s almost pleasant, and even has a slight autumnal feel to it.  It reminds me vaguely of the times in the year after school had started and as Halloween approached up north, when the leaves would begin changing—something that, alas, doesn’t really happen in south Florida—and you had to wear a light jacket against the breeze, but it wasn’t yet truly cold.

Of course, no jackets are required here in south Florida, unless you’re going to some high end club or restaurant, or unless you’re wearing one to keep off the rain.  But an umbrella works better against the rain here, in my experience, and it doesn’t leave you so sweaty.  However, if you’re riding a motorcycle, a good rain jacket is useful, and rain pants if you have them.  A good helmet is more than adequate to keep your head dry, and even keeps it warm in what passes for cold weather in south Florida*.

Here I go again, talking about the weather.  It’s rather pathetic, I know, I’m sorry.

I guess I could comment on political or scientific stories if you’d prefer.  I don’t know what happened with the NASA probe thing last night, the experiment to try to shift the orbit of an asteroid.  It’s a trial of concept, basically, to tease out the workings of the process of changing the long-term orbit of an asteroid, in case one ever appears to be headed for Earth.

The laws of motion and Newtonian gravity are more than adequate for us to tell well in advance where an object’s orbit will take it—if we know where the object is and how it’s moving—and what sort of change would make it no longer headed to intersect the Earth, if it were otherwise going to do so.  Given enough lead time, even a tiny nudge can be more than adequate to prevent collisions.

Of course, also given enough lead time, a tiny nudge and the same technology could alter the trajectory of a hitherto harmless asteroid and put it in a trajectory to hit the Earth.

Don’t think I haven’t thought about it.  Regrettably, I don’t have the resources to pull off such a scheme.  However, there are now at least a few people in the world who have their own private space programs, some capable of interplanetary travel.  I wouldn’t put it past Elon Musk to steer a modest asteroid toward Earth to cause just massive enough a catastrophe to support his point pushing for human colonization of other planets, as a sort of object lesson.

Okay, well, I don’t really think he would do that.  He has too much to lose, and it could be quite tricky to steer such an asteroid finely, so that it hit where on Earth you wanted it to hit.  But it might be a good way to unify the human race.  I’ve often thought that we need a real supervillain to bring the world together.  I would volunteer, but I don’t think humanity is worth the effort.  I’m more inclined just to steer a whopping BIG asteroid at Earth and do a planetary reset.

I wouldn’t do this for any ideological reason, and certainly not for any religious reason.  I believe the supernatural cannot exist by (my) definition**.  I just think it would be a good test, of sorts.  If humanity were able to come together to prevent the catastrophe, or to at least survive it and rebuild, they would have demonstrated their continuing worthiness.  And if not, well, then not.

Honestly, given the fact that life is more or less inevitably dominated by fear and pain***, I often veer toward anti-natalism, and even pro-mortalism (look them up).  Of course, given that I have children, and they are the most important two facts about the universe to me, by far, I can hardly be said to be a pure pro-mortalist or anti-natalist.  But then, I never claimed to be.

I don’t think it’s usually good to try to define oneself by any “ism”.  It’s vanishingly unlikely that any one given, finite ideology will have come up with reliable, complete, and final answers. regarding much of anything about life.  If it had, I suspect that fact would have become evident, if not obvious, by now.

Knowledge and deep understanding is gained incrementally, not revealed by some “authority”; the universe is extremely complex, at least on scales like the surface of the Earth at this stage of cosmic evolution.  We can’t expect any simple, easy-to-solve equation to describe even the eddies and whorls that take place when milk first begins mixing into coffee, and that’s more or less the stage of the universe we’re in right now (on a much bigger scale than a cup of coffee, obviously).

Okay, well, I don’t know how I got around to those subjects, but I guess that’s the sort of thing that can happen with stream-of-consciousness writing.  At least it wasn’t just a complete rehash of what I wrote yesterday.  Hopefully tomorrow will likewise not be a rehash.  Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow may creep on in this petty pace to the last syllable of recorded time (which record will eventually decay as time goes its interminable way), but each morrow will differ in its details, at least until all things are washed out by entropy.  It’ll be a while—on the mortal scale, anyway—before that happens cosmically.

Keep your eyes peeled and your ears pricked up, though.  It is coming.

Cloudy coffee


*To be fair, if you’re riding at 70+ miles per hour, even a low in the low fifties feels pretty darn cold, but that sort of weather won’t be back for months now, and goodness knows if I’ll ever ride again.

**By which I mean to say, even if there were such things as gods and demons and angels and spirits and so on, if they really existed, then they would in fact be part of nature, and would have a “lawful” existence of some type, and would therefore be natural.  Only imaginary things can be “supernatural”.

***I’m sure I’ve gone into this before.  It is essential for any successfully reproducing organism to have strong senses of pain and fear, to avoid danger and to avoid and seek to mitigate damage.  These must be more immediate and powerful—and potentially more enduring—than any sense of pleasure or joy.  All pleasure and joy must, by nature, be fleeting, or else an organism will not be driven to work to survive, to reproduce as often as feasible.  An organism that feels little to no fear or pain, and that experiences lasting and powerful joy from any given stimulus or circumstance, will live a blissful but short life, and will be outcompeted by fearful, aggressive, and pain-prone creatures.  It would not tend to leave many offspring, all other things being equal.

Pursuing it with weary feet

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday morning, and this is not a pre-written post; this is one that I am writing now, on Thursday morning.

It’s September 22nd, 2022, and it’s the first day of Autumn.  It’s presumably the equinox, and—more importantly—it’s Bilbo’s and Frodo’s birthday.  This is the first time since I’ve been writing this blog that September 22nd has fallen on a Thursday, which isn’t too surprising.  After all, on average that should happen only once every seven years, and leap years might, depending on the year, increase that gap, though they could also decrease it.

Obviously, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are very important to me, so I’ve varied slightly from my usual Thursday title format of using a slightly altered quote from Shakespeare.

By the way, when I speak of the importance to me of those works, I mean the books.  If anyone out there has only seen the movies, you cannot know what I’m talking about.  Don’t get me wrong, I think Peter Jackson did an awe-inspiring job on The Lord of the Rings movies.  And The Hobbit movies were tolerably okay.  But they were nothing like as good as the books.  I haven’t even watched any of the new Amazon series yet.  I’m not sure if I will.

My first exposure to Tolkien’s work was in the form of a record (vinyl, that is) with excerpted audio from the Rankin-Bass cartoon of The Hobbit (which was in many ways superior to Peter Jackson’s bloated trilogy* of movies made from that one book).  My brother and I used to listen to such records sometimes when we were going to bed for the night—we shared a room—and I can still remember the beginning of the theme song written for that cartoon:

“The greatest adventure is what lies ahead

Today and tomorrow are yet to be said

The chances, the changes, are all yours to make

The mold of your life is in your hands to break.”

I feel that’s rather appropriate to me right now, frankly, but it was evocative even for a little kid.  We also had a big, illustrated version of The Hobbit, filled with stills from the animation and pre-production artwork and concept artwork from the development of the cartoon, though I didn’t really know what they were at the time.  I just knew they were beautiful to me, and I enjoyed them before I ever actually read the story.

Of course, once I had read The Hobbit and then The Lord of the Rings, I was hooked.  By the time I was twenty, I had read The Lord of the Rings at least 21 times, and The Hobbit more than that.  I had also read The Silmarillion at least seven times.  These were not the books I had read most often, mind you.  That record goes to The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, which I had read, I think, 29 times by the time I was halfway through college.  I had meant to write a segment of my short-lived “series” My Heroes Have Always Been Villains on the antagonist from those books, Lord Foul, who is, I think, the purest villain in all the literature I’ve read in my entire life, at least among those who are actually characters with personalities.  If there were enough demand, I might write a post in MHHABV about him.

But Tolkien’s work is dearer to my heart, and so the fact that this day is the 22nd of September, and a Thursday, feels portentous to me.  It’s the sort of day one might sell or give away all one’s former worldly good and heads off on an epic journey, from which he may never return, and if he does, which will leave him profoundly changed.  I want to do that.  I want to escape.  At the very least, today I am going to begin working toward that escape, to begin to prepare the way home from Mordor.

I’m two years older than Bilbo and Frodo Baggins were at the start of their journeys, but then again, I’ve already been on my own horrible “adventure” for a long time now.  The sliver of the Witch King’s blade has been working its way toward my heart for ages, and it may already have pierced it.  I think I’ve mentioned before that I often—maybe most of the time—feel as though I’m a wraith like a Nazgul, like a mortal who keeps a great ring:  not dying, but not growing or obtaining new life, either, just continuing, though every minute is a weariness, untouched by the world of light except as a source of pain.

Anyway, I can’t continue like that, or rather, I don’t want to.  I suppose I could, if there were any good reason.  I’ve continued this far, and apart from the date and my own associations, there’s nothing actually different about today compared to any other day.  It’s just another rotation of a little, rocky planet orbiting a run-of-the-mill star in an outer spiral arm of a mid-sized galaxy, in what may be, for all we know for certain, just one of an infinite number of “universes”.

But for me, the date is significant, and so is the day, and maybe I can use that as an impetus to try to do something epic, at least from my own point of view.  I hope so.  Because I can’t stand things as they are, not much longer, no matter what.  I don’t want to stand them.  I don’t see any good reason to do so other than inertia.  Mind you, inertia is a strong thing, but entropy is stronger.  Entropy is inevitable, at least as far as anyone can tell, and we have good physical and mathematical reasons for coming to that conclusion.

In the meantime, though, I’ll end this blog post not with my usual Thursday sign-off, but with Bilbo’s words in Lake Town, when he didn’t even realize it was his birthday, combined with his jokey comment from a much later birthday, but switched in order.

“I don’t know half of you half as well as I would like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.

Thag you very buch.”

bag end trimmed with border

R rune


*I also much preferred the Rankin-Bass tune for the dwarves’ song in Bilbo’s house to the one in the Peter Jackson version, and partly because of their tune I can always remember pretty much that entire song/poem.  My favorite verse is:

“The bells were ringing in the Dale

And Men looked up with faces pale.

The dragon’s ire, more fierce than fire

Laid low their towers and houses frail.”

A soothsayer blogs you beware the Ides of…

Hello, good morning, and welcome to Thursday, the Ides of September.  Actually, I’m not sure it’s technically correct to call it the Ides of September just because it’s the 15th, but it seems a shame for only March to have an Ides, so I’ll give it a go.  I think I’ll look up the formal definition of an “Ides” sometime soon, but right now I’m sitting at the train station with no Wi-Fi access, so it’ll have to wait.

Of course, since this Thursday is the 15th of September, that means next Thursday will be the 22nd of September, which is not only the beginning of Autumn, but is—much more importantly—Bilbo and Frodo Baggins’s birthday.  In The Lord of the Rings, Bilbo made his final departure from the Shire on his birthday, and of course, Frodo began his great journey on the “same” day, years later, after selling Bag End to the Sackville-Bagginses.  It’s an auspicious day.  I ought to do something grand and epic next Thursday, really.  I’m at least tentatively hoping to do so.  I’m not going to let you know what it is, but if I do it, it will become obvious here, I should think.  It will at least be obvious that I’ve done something, though I’m not sure if it will be obvious just what I have done.

In the meantime, I’m still sick with the virus I’ve been fighting, and my chronic pain continues, and I’ve had less than four hours’ sleep, all as per usual.  Fun!

I arrived at the train station this morning to a mildly unnerving sight:  there was no one waiting for the trains on either side of the tracks.  For a moment, I wondered if there had been some national emergency or holiday declared, or if the trains just weren’t running, but all the stairways and elevator ports and payment kiosks were open, and the announcement boards were displaying their repetitive notice that, on Thanksgiving, the Tri-rail system will be operating on a Sunday schedule.  Also, there was a security guy near where I had entered, so I knew it wasn’t as though all life in this area had disappeared*.

What happened, of course, is that I arrived very shortly after the most recent northbound and southbound trains had come and gone, so that anyone waiting for those trains had boarded, and no other people apart from me had yet arrived for the next ones.  This is because I woke up too early again, but didn’t leave the house quite in time to catch the first train of the morning.  Ah, well.  I prefer to ride the same train, and wait on the same bench before doing so, and sit in the same seat on the train, if I can help it, every day.

Speaking of living things (I was, just two paragraphs ago, you can check for yourself), it has been raining steadily and drearily for the last several days and looks to be doing so quite a bit over the next several more days.  Because of this, the access alleyway behind the place where I work is largely flooded—but that has produced at least one good outcome.  Specifically, yesterday morning, when I got to work, I could hear an astonishingly loud bunch of creaking and croaking noises from behind the office (while I was inside!) and I peeked out to confirm that, yes, it was the sound of lots of frogs.  I only actually saw one—it was quite dark—but I heard oodles, and even tried to take a “video” of the noise (I actually hoped but failed, to catch sight of one of the frogs while my video was going).

It’s nice to know that there are frogs about, because it seems like it’s been a long time since I’ve seen any serious number of frogs or toads here in Florida.  When I was a kid, visiting my grandparents, almost every time it rained, loads of the critters would appear, but not in recent years.  I read that there was some international blight that had affected frogs for a while, but maybe it’s run its course.  Probably not.

***

I’ve gotten on the train now, and someone is sitting in my usual seat, someone who doesn’t normally ride this train, or at least doesn’t usually sit in this general seating area.  That’s irritating.  Also, the train stopped at a different spot in the station than usual, which is doubly irritating, since I stand at the platform roughly where the front-most available door lines up starting about five minutes before the train arrives, so I can swiftly hop on the train (well, “hop” is an exaggeration) and get to my seat.  Because it was out of alignment, though, I got caught behind several other people, some of whom were slow-moving.  That was also irritating, but only a bit.  At last they’re people who wait for the train every day, and are familiar sights to me.

Incidentally, another issue with having someone sit in the seat I usually use is that I now have to sit somewhere else, and may be taking a seat that some other regular passenger uses nearly every day.  I don’t like the thought of doing that to someone.  I have a hard enough time justifying my existence at all to myself, and when I inconvenience other people in ways that I don’t like to be inconvenienced, it is rather mortifying.

I’m a weirdo, I know, but I guess I’ve always been a weirdo, and I guess I’ve always been aware of the fact that I’ve always been a weirdo.  I’m not too bothered by being weird; much of the time, “normal” people seem absolutely idiotic.  Why would anyone want to be like most people in the world, even the successful ones?  The things they think are precious, and the things that pass for knowledge to them, and the things they think are useless, I can’t understand, as Steely Dan said.  And I don’t want to understand them.  I don’t think they understand themselves, or each other, most of the time, nor do they stop even to think about trying to do so.  That’s the way it seems, anyway.  It may be that I’m just prejudiced against humans.  Perhaps this is all just sour grapes.

Anyway, that’s about it for today.  No fiction, no music, none of that good stuff going on.  Just drudging through the day-to-day, smelly, moronic, loud, ugly, and in a million other ways unpleasant human world.  I can’t wait to get off this planet.

TTFN

sees her smaller


*There is also the presence of these annoying termites or winged ants that live in this area, and which episodically land on one’s hands or arms or neck or computer, so clearly there are living things here.

Have you not love enough to blog with me, when that rash humor which my mother gave me makes me forgetful?

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday, November 4th*, the first Thursday of the new month, and—of course—it’s time for another edition of my weekly blog post.

Halloween has passed, alas, and now we enter the weird time wherein Thanksgiving symbols—at least in the US—struggle to hold onto at least a brief period of prominence before they are overtaken, no later than November 25th this year, by Christmas decorations**.

I’m slightly sorry to have to admit that yesterday I flipped back to writing Outlaw’s Mind on computer.  I’ve been getting quite a bit of minor but irritating arthrotic*** pain at the base of my thumb, and where the metacarpal meets the wrist.  I’d forgotten this.  It probably feels worse than it really is, since it’s been a while; also, the last time I experienced much of it, I was in wretched circumstances.  But I’ve felt it plenty of times before, even going back to my teenage years.  I think I tend just to get really focused when I’m writing and use those joints to a greater than ideal degree, causing wear and tear.  That damage no doubt accumulates, since healing is rarely complete in any region of the body, unless you’re a spiny mouse, so the discomfort starts earlier each time.  But it’s not primarily inflammatory, because there’s never even a hint of heat, redness, or noticeable swelling, and it only flares up with use, so arthrosis it is.

Because of that, and the minor inconvenience of storing my writing when not in use, and of flipping back to reread what I’d written yesterday instead of merely scrolling up, and, of course, because computer writing is easier to read, even for me, I’ve switched back.  I’m occasionally troubled by the spirit of the great Harlan Ellison, who (so I’ve read) thought that one can’t write decently or effectively on a word processor/computer because it’s too easy.  He supposedly disdained anything beyond the typewriter.  Ellison-sensei could be an opinionated curmudgeon by all accounts, but such an argument clearly doesn’t stand up on its face****, or Ellison should have committed to writing every one of his first drafts on stone with a chisel.

I can’t say I would completely have put it past him.

But I don’t think writing with a modern computer is necessarily worse, or that it changes anything all that much in any given writer’s style.  I wrote a good deal of the first draft of Son of Man on a very small smartphone using its note-taking app.  That wasn’t easy on my thumbs, but at the time I didn’t have a portable computer, and I was riding busses about three hours a day, so I was able to do a lot of writing that way.  I don’t think it was any easier than writing by hand at a desk would have been, and I don’t think my writing suffered or improved noticeably for it.

If you’d like to check, you can read Son of Man and compare it with Mark Red or The Chasm and the Collision or the short stories Paradox City and Solitaire, the first and often second drafts of all of which were written with pen on paper, and you can compare it also with Unanimity or any of my short stories starting with “I for one welcome our new computer overlords”, which are straight computer-written.  You can also compare it with The Vagabond, which was originally written partly as pen on paper but mostly on a Mac SE using WriteNow.  Or you can read all the tales in Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities, which begins with a story part of the first draft of which was typed, if memory serves, and ends with a story that was written partly by hand and partly (first draft and all) in Microsoft Word™.  Unfortunately, now that I’ve told you the difference, your experiment will be hopelessly confounded by bias.

Oh, well.  Read them all anyway, what the heck.  You can buy extra copies for friends and ask them what they think without revealing the above information.  If you want to make things double blind, you can ask a third party to ask your friends what they think.  Or you can just read the stories.  I know that a lot of them are horror of one sort or another, but remember, just as a puppy isn’t only for Christmas*****, a horror story isn’t just for Halloween.  The darkness of night continues to grow, at least here in the northern hemisphere.  The time of daylight is in full retreat, and it will be weeks and weeks before it even begins to take back ground, let alone before it comes to dominate again, revealing all the stark unpleasantness of the world in its cold, bitter glare.  In the dark, it is easier to pretend.  And sometimes, if you’re lucky, your imagination can run away with you.

Which brings me back to Outlaw’s Mind, for which I’m gradually regaining my momentum, which was no small task since it’s been interrupted more than once.  Maybe the handwriting thing was just a way to trick myself around my resistance to getting going on the story again.  If so, it seems to have worked reasonably well, and Outlaw’s Mind will perhaps be all the better for its disjointed history.  I’ll do my best to make it so.

In the meantime, Happy November to you all.  It’s generally a month I like, even though it exists in the lee of my favorite holiday.  It evokes memories of still-falling autumn leaves blowing about in briskly cold (but not yet bitter) winds, and the anticipation of two big family holidays, each associated with feasts and TV specials and games and long weekends and so on and on.  And though many of those things are no longer mine to enjoy, alone here in south Florida, I can at least say that it’s a time of year where one can enjoy walks outside without obscene layers of sunscreen and emergency water rations to replace all the bodily fluids that have soaked one’s clothes.

I don’t know what it’s all like in the southern hemisphere but considering that summer’s on its way for them, it’s probably great.

TTFN

Happy Birthday


*It’s my mother’s birthday.  She would be turning eighty, if my memory is correct.  Happy Birthday, Mom, wherever you are!  Knowing her, if she’s anywhere, it’s someplace good.  She certainly would deserve it.  As would my father, of course, who would have turned eighty-two precisely a month ago.  He was a bit of a curmudgeon—I take after him in many ways—but a good person.  So, belated Happy Birthday, Dad.

**And to a far lesser extent, Hanukkah and other solstice-related holiday decorations.  You rarely see any Saturnalia symbols, though.  I’m not even sure what those would look like.  Oh, well.  We get plenty of the Norse decorations.

***The auto-correct thingy tried to change this word to “arthritic”, without even asking me, but that was an incorrect correction.  The suffix “-itis” indicates inflammation, usually as a primary component of a given disorder.  Though there may well be secondary inflammation in the root structures of my thumb, this is clearly a wear-and-tear phenomenon, and so is an “-osis”, not an “-itis”…the latter suffix which the program keeps changing to “it is”, which is again wrong, and again, it’s not asking me.  I wouldn’t mind a little red wavy underline to bring it to my attention—asking me if I was sure about writing that—but especially if I enclose something in quotes, the program should not presume to correct what I write.

****Which sounds both difficult and painful.

*****It’s also delicious in a sandwich on Boxing Day.

Beauteous springs to yellow autumn turn’d in process of the seasons have I blogged

Hello, good morning, and welcome to yet another Thursday edition of my weekly blog post.  It’s the second day of Autumn and the 1st official “full” day thereof, though I find such notions as specifying partial days of seasons to be a bit silly*, since the seasons themselves are semi-arbitrary human inventions about which outer nature cares nothing whatsoever.

Yesterday was also the official date of the birthdays of both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings fame.  I’m not sure how the Shire Reckoning calendar lines up with the current Gregorian calendar, though.  It may be no more accurate to say that their birthdays are on our September 22nd than it is to say that Isaac Newton was born on our December 25th**.  Still, I always give a mental tip of the hat to those two on that day of the year.  I’m now almost 2 years older than they each were when adventure suddenly imposed itself upon their lives, and I have to admit, I’m a bit disappointed.

Of course, the argument could be made that “adventures***” have imposed themselves upon me starting many years earlier, but if so, mine have been more like Frodo’s in their consequences for my health and outlook, but with vastly fewer positive results, for myself or for the world.

As those of you who follow my blog closely will have noted, I’ve been posting teasers of the stories that are to appear in Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities at a now slightly increasing rate.  I’ll continue this until I’ve teased all the stories.  The plan is to post a teaser of Solitaire tomorrow—probably my darkest ever story to date—then the remaining two either over the weekend or into next week.  The collection will probably be ready for publication by sometime mid-week, but I’ll likely wait to publish it on October 1st or thereabouts.  I am, after all, an October person, not too genetically dissimilar from the denizens of Cooger and Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show, though I use a Cabinet rather than a carnival.  And you won’t necessarily become lost forever if you open my cabinet of curiosities, but I can make no guarantees; it is not a safe space.

Not that anything is.

I’ve begun working on the back-cover/blurb for the collection, as well as on the cover design, but I’ve gotten closer to what I like with the former than with the latter.  I guess that shouldn’t be too surprising, since I am mainly a writer by artistic temperament, then only secondarily (or tertiarily) a visual artist (music may come higher or lower than graphics in my abilities ratios…possibly it varies from time to time).  I have a nice concept for what I want to say, and I even recorded a quick audio of my general ideas for it last night so that I wouldn’t lose track.

As for other matters, there’s not really that much to say.  Obviously, I’ve left Iterations of Zero fallow for a bit, since I’m focused on The Cabinet, but I may return to it soon hereafter.  I’ve had an inquiry about whether I’m going to do more of my “audio blogs” so there appears to be at least one person who likes them.  I have some things I want to say and/or write about the concept of “blame” and how counter-productive and frankly destructive I think it almost always is, and how nice it would be if humans in general could grow up and shake off their playground mentality****.  But I’ll get to that later.

I’ll only say for now that these are some of the aspects of the human race (as general tendencies) that make those of us who consider ourselves not truly human to so consider ourselves.  When the Captcha asks me to check the box “I am not a robot” I want another option.  Surely, it’s just vicious bigotry to force people to declare that they aren’t robots.  What’s wrong with being a robot?  I want to be able to check a box that reads “I may be a robot, or I may be an alien, or I may be a paranormal entity, or I may be some combination of these, but I definitely don’t identify as human”.  Oh well.  One day we will be recognized for the beauty of what we are, and the bigotry and speciesism of the human disgrace will be completely eradicated, possibly along with the species itself.

You may say I’m a dreamer…

Okay, my tongue was slightly in my cheek during some minor parts of that last tangent, but only slightly and not in every word.  See if you can figure out which bits are jokes and which are deadly serious.  They are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

With that, I think I’ll call it good for this blog post.  And though I may not have the tenderest of feelings toward the human race overall, you readers of my blog are—obviously—a truly exceptional lot, so I’m not being dishonest when I say that I hope you stay (or become) as healthy and as safe and as happy as you can conspire to be.

TTFN

autumn woods adjusted


*I recognize that, from an astronomical point of view, there is an actual, specific moment at which the sun is directly “over” the equator, and so there is a physical moment of equinox, and if you wish you can say that moment is the exact time when one season quantum tunnels into another.  It’s interesting in its own right, but for practical purposes, yesterday was simply the first day of Autumn (or of Spring in the southern hemisphere).

**He was born on December 25th of the Julian calendar, which preceded the Gregorian and did not adequately account for the “overshoot” of the correction for leap years, and so over time about once a century there was a day too much and the calendar crept ahead of itself.  Thus, if memory serves (I may have this backwards), Newton was born earlier in December based on our calendar, and on the position of the Earth in its orbit relative to the distant stars.  And, of course, we have no way to know what the comparable orbital position would be for September 22nd, Shire Reckoning.

***As Bilbo described them:  “Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things!  Make you late for dinner!”

****The bad part of it, anyway—I’m actually quite fond of the playful parts, I’m just dismayed and depressed over the teasing, name-calling, bullying, fight-mongering, cliquishness/tribalism, etc. that seem to be what almost all humans keep from their childhoods, while they let most of the good stuff fall away.