Communion Of Dreams

Some more map images.
July 13, 2010, 5:19 pm
Filed under: Art, Book Conservation

Thought I would share a couple more of these from the project mentioned yesterday.

Above both this map: “Ingermanlandia seu Ingria.” [Map of St, Petersburg seen from the Gulf of Finland dedicated to Peter the Great.] Latin, 1734. Size: 22 x 19″

From this map: “Moscoviae Pars Australis,” Latin, ca. 1646 by Isaac Massa. Size 21” x 17”

And this map: “Taurica Chersones vs. Nostra aetate Przecopsca et Gazar dicitur.” Latin, ca. 1590 by Gerardo Mercator. Size: 22 x 18″

Fun, eh?

Jim Downey

Tomorrow, and yesterday.
July 12, 2010, 4:41 pm
Filed under: Art, Book Conservation

So, this afternoon prepped materials for my next class tomorrow morning – they’re going to do a longstitch binding – then started assessing the maps I picked up on Friday for Special Collections. I need to go through and do an itemized estimate for them, and the first step is just to look the items over carefully, see exactly what conservation treatment they need. And I thought that I would post a couple pictures from one of the maps:

“Les Etats du Czar ou Empereur des Russes en Europe et en Asie –Avec les Routes q’uon tient Ordinairment de Moscow a Pekim. “ French, 1772 by Nicolas de Fer (1646-1720). Size : 25.5 x 17

This is actually the youngest of the maps I picked up – the others date back to 1590 – but it will need a lot of work. You can’t see it from these photos, but it was mounted to that acidic matboard using good ol’ Scotch tape. All around the edges of the map.


People, if you have a nice map, or any other piece of art, DO NOT mount or repair the damned thing with Scotch tape.

Maybe some more pictures this week as I go through and get started on the rest of the maps.

Jim Downey

Query query.
July 9, 2010, 1:19 pm
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Preparedness, Publishing, Writing stuff

As mentioned, the care-giving book is coming together well. As with Communion of Dreams, my Good Lady Wife has taken on the task of finding an agent/publisher for it. To that end yesterday she asked me for another query letter to use for some contacts who wanted a slightly different presentation from the initial query letter we crafted. Here’s a bit I thought I would share, and see if anyone had thoughts on it:

Her Final Year is a joint memoir told using a 12-month format as an analogy for the Alzheimer’s cycle, where each ‘month’ represents one phase of the disease progression. The authors, two men caring for their respective mothers-in-law, explore the process of discovering and dealing with the decline of the family matriarch by interweaving their own thoughts and experiences with what they learned along the way from — and about — health insurance providers, medical professionals, Hospice nurses, social workers and nursing homes. The first part of the book (about two-thirds of the text) ends with the death of the Alzheimer’s patient, but then the second part of the book (subtitled His First Year) is the story of recovery of the men and their families from the care-giving experience, and how they were enriched by it.

Given that there are currently no memoirs from this POV, but that a growing number of men find themselves in the role of care provider, the authors hope that this book will fill a need and find a wide audience. Some people will want to read it straight through as a story of love and redemption, others will use it as a resource by finding which ‘month’ most fits their situation and looking there for guidance and support. It should appeal not just to care providers, but also to people who know someone in that role and wish to understand how best to help them. With the aging of our population, this includes the majority of Americans.


Jim Downey

Better to just get it over with.
July 8, 2010, 11:26 am
Filed under: Carl Zimmer, Failure, Pharyngula, PZ Myers, Science

I noted yesterday the decision from SEED Magazine/Science blogs to sell their credibility to Pepsi.

Well, word this morning that they have reconsidered, via Carl Zimmer and PZ Myers. From Pharyngula, here’s part of the statement from Adam Bly of SEED/Sb:

We have removed Food Frontiers from SB.

We apologize for what some of you viewed as a violation of your immense trust in ScienceBlogs. Although we (and many of you) believe strongly in the need to engage industry in pursuit of science-driven social change, this was clearly not the right way.

Good move. When you’ve screwed up that badly, and are taking damage for it from all sides, best to just reverse the decision and get it over with.

Jim Downey

Astonishingly poor judgment.

Part & parcel of being a science fiction author (at least from my perspective) is trying to keep up with recent scientific discoveries. One good way for me to do this has been to surf Science blogs regularly. This has mostly shown up here in linking to PZ Myers, but he is hardly the only one of the many Sb bloggers that I read.

Well, yesterday something happened which threatens that source – SEED Magazine/Science blogs decided to sell their credibility to Pepsi.

The world has not been kind in return.

This shows astonishingly poor judgment on the part of the management team at Science blogs/ SEED Magazine. As Carl Zimmer said:

Here’s the quick story: the powers that be at Scienceblogs thought it would be a good idea to sell Pepsi a blog of its own on the site, where its corporate scientists could tell the world about all the great nutrition science Pepsico is doing.

Yes. Really. I’m totally sober as I type this.

Good lord. What were these people thinking?

Money is tight, and every business has a hard time paying bills. Advertisement is a necessary evil (remember, I worked in advertising for about four years between college and grad school). But really – trading your credibility on independent science writing for some coin from PepsiCo? Really?


Jim Downey

Frenetic Fireworks.
July 6, 2010, 6:23 pm
Filed under: BoingBoing, Fireworks

This is what happens when you speed up a fireworks show x10. Kind of interesting:

Jim Downey

Via BB.

Happy Birthday.
July 4, 2010, 8:34 am
Filed under: Civil Rights, Constitution, Government, NPR, Politics

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


From the National Archives. And, as always, powerfully read on NPR.

Jim Downey

“I almost literally walked off a cliff.”
July 3, 2010, 4:53 pm
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Health, NPR, Scott Simon

This morning Weekend Edition – Saturday had an interview with Barry Petersen, who has a new book out about the experience of dealing with his wife’s early-onset Alzheimer’s. The whole interview is worth hearing, and I imagine the book is worth reading, but here’s a bit that really struck home:

I thought with the live-in caregiver I’d solved the problem for another 2-3 years.

We lasted 8 months.

And this is perhaps the worst part, the most difficult part of this for me: the woman who was the caregiver, the nurse, who was monitoring both of us, said “Jan us always going to have someone to look after her. The caregiver has no one to look after the care-giver.” Then she looked me in the eyes and said “you are going down.”

My health was beginning to suffer. I almost literally walked off a cliff. I don’t mean that I thought about walking off a cliff. I mean that I almost literally walked off a cliff. I was living in a house which was next to a cliff and I thought this was a way to end the pain – was to walk off that cliff.”

Sound familiar?

His experience caring for his wife is fundamentally different from our experience in caring for my wife’s mother. The stress of being a single caregiver and caring for your spouse must be horrific, and I do not in any way want to criticize or second-guess his decision. Indeed, one of the things which really emerges from “Her Final Year” as I have been working on it is that there is no ‘correct’ decision about when or if to put a loved one with Alzheimer’s into a care facility – each case is individual, and no one can second-guess that incredibly difficult and painful decision. I just offer the interview as another insight into what the caregiving experience is like, and how it is likely to touch us all.

Jim Downey

PS – this post marks #900 for this blog. More on that, later.

July 2, 2010, 11:12 am
Filed under: Book Conservation, Civil Rights, Government, Privacy, Society

I agreed some weeks back to help out a friend and teach a book-arts class at one of the local colleges for a two week ‘camp’ thing they do to interest high school students in the school. The pay is less than I’d bill for one solid day’s work, but I do enjoy teaching my craft now and again – you get a fresh perspective from young students that is hard to find anywhere else.

Anyway, this morning I had to go over to the campus HR department and fill out all the necessary paperwork to be allowed this honor. Most of it was the usual junk you expect from any employer – wage and tax forms, et cetera. They also had a confidentiality agreement I had to complete – fine, as I doubt I will have any information in my hands at any time that I *could* disclose. And then I came to the form allowing a background check.


I know that it is routine. And I know that it is required, to protect the school from employing some kind of child molester. But had I not already given my friend a commitment to teach the class, I would have just left the paperwork on the desk and walked out.

No, I have nothing in my background which raises the slightest concern. I couldn’t have passed a CCW permit background check if I did. I just really resent having my privacy violated. Because the background check could include financial and credit reports in addition to criminal records and legal judgments – it was worded broadly enough to allow the school to do everything short of giving me a colonoscopy, if they wanted.

It’s funny. My small-“l” libertarianism seldom shows up in my day to day life. But when it comes to my privacy, I really don’t like having to hand over the keys to my life to someone else. I’ve got nothing to hide, but I hate having to let others root around and see that for themselves.

Damn, I hate starting a holiday weekend devoted to liberty with this taste in my mouth. Maybe that’s why it’s bugged me so much.

Jim Downey

Well, that’s a nice gift.
July 1, 2010, 8:12 am
Filed under: Feedback, Marketing, Promotion, Publishing, Science Fiction

A bit early for my birthday, but last night after I got home from our trip out west and spent appropriate time petting the pets, I got around to checking the stats on my novel. And saw that while I was gone, we crossed 25,000 total downloads of the book.

As I noted two years ago when the downloads crossed the 10,000 mark, that’s kinda cool. And I am likewise pleased that the book seems to be maintaining its popularity.

So, thanks to one and all for helping to spread the word. With a little luck, I’ll have some more information soon about the actual publication date to share.

Jim Downey