Filed under: Comics, Darths & Droids, Preparedness, Star Wars, Survival, Violence
You can tell inexperienced roleplayers from experienced ones quite easily. Put them in a room that might contain traps or lurking monsters.
The inexperienced players will check behind the furniture, under the rugs, around the walls, etc, etc. The experienced players will check the ceiling. All the worst things are concealed on the ceiling. Really experienced players will have a 10-foot pole handy, specifically to poke and prod the ceiling, just to make sure it doesn’t have any lurking monsters, collapsing sections, more lurking monsters, cunningly concealed deathtraps, even more lurking monsters, rusty spikes that might drop on you if you so much as breathe, and, of course, yet more lurking monsters.
And you can tell veteran adventurers in most fantasy worlds by the way they keep glancing up every few seconds.
Or veteran veterans, for that matter. Or anyone who pays attention to the surroundings. It’s called ‘situational awareness.’
Filed under: Marketing, Promotion, Publishing, Science Fiction, Writing stuff
OK, I know that it’s a bit tactless to ask someone to give you a gift. So I’m tactless.
Last time I updated the count on downloads, we were at 9,500 (give or take a few). That was June second. Since then, we’ve had 160 downloads of Communion of Dreams. I don’t know if it is the summer doldrums, or what, but that is a big drop-off from the previous months averages of 500+ downloads a month.
My birthday is July 4th. I will turn 50. And I’m asking for a gift: help get the download count over 10,000. All we need is 340 downloads. I’ve had twice that number downloaded in one day, previously, when someone somewhere posted a link on a bulletin board or some such. So that’s what I’m asking – just help spread the word. If you belong to a SF discussion forum, or blog about books, or whatever, help me cross that 10,000 threshold. It won’t cost you anything, and it won’t cost the people who want to download the book anything. Just a couple of minutes of your time. And I’d appreciate it.
I never really thought that Communion of Dreams would get so much attention – but now that we’re so close to 10,000, it’d be a cool thing to reach that number before I cross a threshold of my own.
Here is the problem with family furnishings: they are never simply stuff. As hard as it may be to dispose of a piece of furniture you bought with the fellow who turned out to be your ex-husband, it is far more difficult to get rid of a piece bequeathed to you by a member of a previous generation, which carries with it not only your memories, but his or hers as well.
Even today, when so many people favor simple, modern décor, turning your back on a grandmother’s tea set or ornate settee can feel like betrayal. Admit to your family you’re thinking of getting rid of such a piece and you’re likely to kick off a family opera, with crescendoing wails of “How could you?” Quite likely, you’ll be torturing yourself with the same question.
Ambivalence and guilt, it seems, are central elements of furniture inheritance, the anchoring pieces around which everything is organized, like the sofa in a living room. Barry Lubetkin, a psychologist and the director of the Institute for Behavior Therapy in Manhattan, has observed this in a number of patients living with inherited furniture they hate. It’s an unhealthy setup, in which people become “slaves to inanimate objects,” he says. “Once you’re defining it as something you can’t get rid of, you’re not in control of your life or your home.”
There are many reasons it happens, he adds, including simple nostalgia. But it is also often connected to a primal anxiety: the fear of disappointing one’s parents.
Ayup. And one of the reasons why I am going to be pretty scarce around here when the siblings come to divvy up Martha Sr’s household possessions this weekend. My wife knows my preferences in the matter, and I don’t want to get in the middle of any family drama.
*Title taken from a line in the story. Hat tip to ML for the story.
Filed under: 2nd Amendment, Civil Rights, Constitution, Government, Guns, RKBA, Society
. . . because I sure feel like celebrating with the *good* scotch:
Answering a 127-year old constitutional question, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to have a gun, at least in one’s home. The Court, splitting 5-4, struck down a District of Columbia ban on handgun possession.
Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion for the majority stressed that the Court was not casting doubt on long-standing bans on gun possession by felons or the mentally retarded, or laws barring guns from schools or government buildings, or laws putting conditions on gun sales.
In District of Columbia v. Heller (07-290), the Court nullified two provisions of the city of Washington’s strict 1976 gun control law: a flat ban on possessing a gun in one’s home, and a requirement that any gun — except one kept at a business — must be unloaded and disassembled or have a trigger lock in place. The Court said it was not passing on a part of the law requiring that guns be licensed.
I know a lot of people don’t want a gun in their home. Fine, don’t have one. But this is a good decision for our civil rights, even if Scalia wrote the majority opinion.
(Cross posted to UTI.)
Filed under: Connections, General Musings, Health, Predictions, SCA, Society, Survival, Violence, Writing stuff
The past is not dead. In fact, it’s not even past.
I’ve read my share of Faulkner, as appropriate for someone getting through a high school English class in the 1970s. And then I read a lot more in graduate school. Always loved his use of language, but I never really ‘got’ that quote, though it nicely sums up one of the major themes of his writing. Partly, this was just being young. Partly it was because of a conscious effort on my part to forget some of the worst aspects of my own personal history.
Oh, sure, I understood how the past shapes the future. In fact, that was a big part of my interest in both economics (one of my college degrees) and the SCA – knowing history allows you to understand how things develop in the ways they have, and can provide analogs which can be useful to understanding new situations when they arise. (That is discussed explicitly in Communion of Dreams, in relation to the the industrial archaeologist brought onto the research team.) But for me, the past has always been the past: dead, immutable.
* * * * * * *
As mentioned previously, we’re in the process of dividing up Martha Sr’s estate. This includes the household items. When someone has lived in one house, and raised a family there, for over 50 years, lots and lots of stuff accumulates. In an effort to be completely fair and above board, we’ve had assessors in to evaluate the furniture and household items, so that each family member involved can be sure that they get their share. This coming weekend my wife and her siblings are going to go through and divvy everything up. Then over the coming weeks stuff will get moved out and we’ll deal with whatever no one wanted. Eventually, only those things which are ours will remain, and my wife and I can proceed to actually getting settled here.
Because when we sold our house and moved in here to care for Martha Sr, we wanted to disrupt her home environment as little as possible. We wedged ourselves into rooms which she didn’t use much, put a lot of stuff into storage. It was a pain, but one we were willing to put up with while we cared for her.
Now, of course, I am looking forward to actually getting settled. As I told a friend recently:
It was frustrating to be shoe-horned in here the last six years, but I was willing to put up with it for Martha Sr’s sake. As I have been recovering from the care-giving, I have been wanting more and more to feel less and less cramped up here – I can only put up with this level of chaos and annoyance for so long.
But of course it is a little different for my wife, who now sees her childhood home being split up, her memories associated with this or that piece of furniture bereft of a physical connection.
* * * * * * *
I never met my father in law. He died before my wife and I got together. But he was something of a local character, and over the years here I have had many people tell me anecdotes about him. Seems most people either loved him or hated him. He evidently carried on a number of long-term feuds.
One such was with a local builder, who is now the executor of a family trust which owns the property next to us (part of a large tract in our neighborhood which has caused some grief for people here). For various legal reasons (limitations on the trust), this property has always been undeveloped. But now those reasons are being resolved. And it turns out that what we thought for some 50 years is part of our property is actually part of the trust. This includes a substantial strip of our lawn and even a chunk of my garden, about half of the fenced in area I created for my dog, and a substantial number of huge trees. My wife’s family has maintained and used the strip of property for that entire time.
So for the better part of the last year we’ve been involved in some legal wrangling to settle this issue. Because, you know, the matter couldn’t be settled simply, due to the aforementioned feud. And yesterday things came to a bit of a head, as the son of the executor came onto our property to ‘do some maintenance’.
I had words with him.
OK, let’s recap: I, who never met my father-in-law, had a potentially dangerous confrontation with the son of a man who had a feud with my FIL.
Given my current attempts to recover from prolonged and excess stress, this could have gotten stupid very quickly. And I spent a lot of time afterwards carefully considering the situation. And somewhere in there last night I realized that I finally understood just exactly what Faulkner meant. Now I know why border disputes and blood feuds are carried on for generations, pulling people in who otherwise would react in more sane and rational ways. Because, without desire or intent on my part, I am in the middle of exactly one such episode of history intruding on the present.
This is insane.
* * * * * * *
My wife and I discussed the matter at some length last night, once I had stepped back from the adrenaline stew that had me jumped up. Our attorney will seek a restraining order on the other parties to prevent them from doing anything to the disputed strip of property until the matter is resolved in court – to just keep things ‘status quo’. I have asked for specific instructions from our attorney about what I should do in the event that we have a recurrence – ignore it, call the cops, confront them, what?
But beyond that, I have decided that I am going to try and disentangle myself from this historical mess. I just want a resolution to the matter, and of the feud, so I can get on with my life. But I cannot make that resolution – this is a problem for others to sort out; their problem, not mine. Because I finally ‘got’ what Faulkner meant, and understand that unless I disentangle myself I am likely to contribute to a perpetuation of this feud, damaging my own sanity and soul in the process.