Delay ended (I hope)

Tuesday afternoon to the optometrist for a new glasses prescription, the old one having expired. (Steven Wright has a one-liner about that.) From there to Mall-Wart, as I affectionately call it, to buy two pairs of cheap eyeglasses, so that if I am clumsy again I can still make a spectacle of myself. Brooke, the optician, is at least a minor genius, and managed to patch up the wreckage of my old glasses (which I brought along in case the optometrist wanted to take measurements off them) so that they would at least sit on my face and the lenses would not spontaneously pop out of the frames. Both these desirable qualities were lacking before.

So it is now just shy of 1 a.m., Frozen North Daylight Time, and I am just sitting down to resume work. Sound the All Clear.

There will be a slight delay

I stepped on my reading glasses today. Stupid me. Probably no further posting until I get them replaced.

Pain in the neck II: The MRI Strikes Back

Last night, as promised, I had my neck MRI’d. The machine is not built for persons who are fat and bulgy like myself; my elbows rubbed against the sides of the chamber when the technician shoved me in. Then, of course, there were the customary deafening noises, curiously reminiscent of very bad 1990s techno music, and made slightly worse because my right earplug came loose. On my way out, I gibed, a little sourly:

‘The floor show wasn’t bad, but the music was terrible. If you had a better band, you could probably afford to hire a bigger hall.’

I then went home and slept for a time. Upon waking, I decided I had better work on one or another of the promised blog posts. I ended up choosing the lafferty, and wrote several hundred words (interrupted by boning up on the Standard Model), culminating in the following bit of oddness:

This particle, which Dr. Boudreaux dubbed a hemion, was duly detected among the emissions of the F–V device, and the decision was taken to produce hemions in quantity and observe their interactions with normal matter.

I thereupon relayed a warning to the Psychological Correction Bureau, and prepared to observe Dr. Boudreaux’s interactions with normal humans.

Wendy sez I ought not to post the finished story for free, but see if somebody like McSweeney’s will buy it. Me, I dunno. I just write them, see?

Pain in the neck

This is a blatant cheat. I am posting today to let the Loyal 3.6 know that there will be no post today. Normally I wouldn’t do that, but I’m trying to keep the string of daily updates going.

In a little over two hours, I am to report to the local hospital for the long-awaited MRI on my busted neck. We shall see if any genuine treatment is indicated, as opposed to taking ibuprofen and toughing it out.

Possible upcoming posts, if I continue to be able to work regularly:

  • Another lafferty, this one about the psychological fallout from finding the elusive left quark.
  • ‘Goodbye, Radar’, #11 in the M*A*S*H essay series.
  • ‘The Mid-Galactic Arts Nobbling Council’, in which H. Smiggy McStudge explains how to destroy science fiction.
  • ‘Quality vs. Quality’: a teaser for a new essai to be included in Style is the Rocket.

Once I work up to that point, expect the new collection to be released at any moment.

Suggestions? Requests? Bouquets or brickbats?

Speaking up

September is upon us.

We have been through a rough patch here in the Frozen North. After the repeated hailstorms and other foul weather a few weeks ago, we were subjected to Beijing-quality air, owing to the immense clouds of smoke rolling in from the holocaust in Washington State (and portions of British Columbia). There is no rumour to the truth that up to 30% of the smoke was contributed by the face-to-face flame war at Sasquan.

Through all this, when my allergies were not acting up from bad air, my neck was acting up from general cussedness. I am finally due to get an MRI late Thursday night, about six months after my physician ordered it: our Wonderful Single-Payer Health System refuses to buy more MRI machines, and has to run the few existing ones 24 hours a day just to stay half a year behind. The results should help us figure out an appropriate treatment for my pains; at least I hope so.

If that treatment does not involve surgery or heavy medication, I should like to speed up my posting schedule substantially. I have found a routine that seems to be working, at least for the moment, to allow me to write with some regularity. What I should like to do is put up a post every day for as long as I can manage it. I do not guarantee that all (or any) of these posts will be long, interesting, or insightful. I do have some hopes of augmenting my 3.6 Loyal Readers, perhaps putting the unfortunate fraction in touch with his stray 0.4. Whole numbers are restful to the eye and soothing to the spirit.

At present I have the next instalment of ‘M*A*S*H: A writer’s view’ in drydock, and a silly bit of flash fiction at the blueprint stage. After that we shall see where the surly Muse is willing to go.

Hail and farewell

Before I forget, I want to make note of a very small incident:

We had hail this week in the Frozen North – in my particular neighbourhood, popcorn-sized hail two days in a row. Fortunately Sin-Ang, my new-to-me vehicle, has had hailpox before and is therefore immune. Down the hill, at Chez DiMento, they were not so lucky: golf-ball hail hammered the hapless Volkswagen of Sarah’s POSSLQ, leaving it with a bad case of pox on the very eve of their departure for a week-long road trip. The VW is drivable but not, I am told, so pretty as it was.

Although we only had popcorn up on the hill, it was very vigorous popcorn. The storm began very suddenly Tuesday afternoon, and I was answering a call of nature and did not have time to shut the windows right away. One hailstone, blessed by its Maker with a combination of marksmanship, daredevilry, and bloody-mindedness seldom seen in balls of ice, bounced in my open window, ricocheted madly round the bedroom, then found its way across the corridor and into the W.C. where it exploded on the wall in front of me with a triumphant smash.

In all my mumblety-mumble years, my lords and ladies, I swear that I have never before been hailed on in the loo. But now I have.

A follow-up: On hope

After all, he never had any real hope in the affair from the beginning; but being a cheerful hobbit he had not needed hope, as long as despair could be postponed.

The Return of the King

Dear Theophilus,

Not being a cheerful hobbit, I have not Sam Gamgee’s happy frame of mind. My outburst the other day, which the Loyal 3.6 have read, some have remarked upon, and one has sneered at, came from the exhaustion of hope. I shall try, this time, to be less cryptic and elliptical about what is bothering me. [Read more…]


I shall not fool myself again. I shall immure my heart in the living rock a thousand fathoms deep, where it will trouble no son of Adam, and vex no daughter of Eve. And though I have nothing to gain by my labours, labour I shall: for I cast my defiance in the teeth of oblivion. I have seen that no reward can come for my work in this world, for the longing of my heart is denied, and the desire of my soul is shut up against me. Asking bread, I have received stones; casting my net for fish, I have caught serpents. Very well, I shall live upon stones and serpents while I may; and though none may mark my passing, or remember my works thereafter, at least it shall not be said that I ceased from my duty. I shall sow, though I cannot reap; I shall pour out the last measure of myself, though the vessel be not refilled. Let it be for a bitter jest; and if all the world have no manner of use for me, nor for the work of my pen, still let the jest be played. God at least may laugh.

Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt

I confess that I am unsure whether I should continue my posts on M*A*S*H, or whether I should just keep my notes to myself and take the existing posts private.

On the one hand, I seem to have found the perfect method for making my 3.6 Loyal Readers’ eyes glaze over. I certainly don’t mean to be boring, and it always dismays me when I succeed.

On the other hand, while I don’t know what constitutes a quorum of 3.6 Loyal Readers according to correct parliamentary procedure, I do know that a quorum of one writer is… one writer. So I might just take the attitude of the apazine editor quoted by Frederik Pohl in The Way the Future Was:

‘Wow, gang, you really slammed the last ish, but wotthehell, we’ll keep plugging.’

Your comments are important to me, even if you have nothing more to say than ‘I read this and it was OK’. They help me decide what is worth writing more of and what isn’t, and when they dry up, I find myself rather at sea.

Now for something different

I recently reconnected with my old friend Bruce Sheane, who was his mother’s primary caregiver when she was dying of cancer about 15 years ago. I wasn’t in his position, thank God, but the endless trainwreck with lawyers and courts and powers of attorney was draining in a different way. I had a good talk with Bruce about the situation, and about my recent spell of slug-brain syndrome. I said that my brain had been in crisis mode so long, now that the crisis was over it had no idea what to do with itself and I was just sitting there stunned. He said that was exactly what he went through; which is reassuring.

Since I cannot brain in any effective way (I can’t even speech the parts of identify, let alone them in put correct the order), I have been binge-watching old TV shows with my writer antennae activated, and seeing what I can learn. In particular I have been watching a lot of M*A*S*H, and have picked up some interesting (to me) ideas from it. I’m thinking of setting some of them down in the form of blog posts, just to keep my hand in while the brain de-stuns itself (and the estate gets sorted out).

What do the Loyal 3.6 think?