Sunday, June 25, 2017

Feeling Old

I had picked a dark blue gray for the siding to my house, and thought maybe it should have been grayer because I thought with a gray color then many years down the road, if some paint flakes off, we won't notice and won't need to do anything about it. We're trying to make choices that are low maintenance and tough so we aren't doing a ton of repairing/replacing/changing/fixing/touching up/maintaining etc as we age in place.
So the hardie planks arrived. Do you know what color hardie planks are? YELLOW! A subdued sort of nasty yellow, but still YELLOW!  If I had known the base color of hardie planks was yellow I would have picked a gold metal roof instead of the bright blue I did pick and dun or gold-ish for the siding color. It hadn't even occurred to me to ask what the base color was. I mean, hardie planks are wood fiber and cement. Cement is gray! Attempting to come up with a color that wouldn't clash with the base, I ended up picking the exact opposite color of what I needed. The base hardie will glow like neon if paint ever wears off anywhere on the house.
I did not throw a tantrum I did not throw a tantrum I did not throw a tantrum. But I wanted to.
And then I wanted to know why I had such an emotional reaction to what, if you look at life in general, is pretty small stuff. What's the problem here?
The problem with picking the exact wrong color is this: it encapsulates what's been going on in building the house, making decisions about publishing, choosing appliances, choosing cars, choosing everything in the last years. I make an assumption, don't even know it's an assumption because it feels like background knowledge, and make a choice based on that assumption that turns out to be wrong because what I know is WRONG and now I have to live with the consequences of making the wrong decision.
Everything is changing so fast! Amazon changes its rules. Printing companies change their policies. Banks change their requirements. Zoning departments change their regulations. Companies change their manufacturing specifications. Factories that made great stuff last year make crap this year. Materials change their formulations and properties. Stores change what they sell.
I don't know why I bother to keep learning new things when that knowledge will be wrong six months from now. I don't mind, in fact I love, learning new things. But I cannot keep up with the sheer volume of new facts new facts new facts that come streaming my way every day. I have a TV I can't turn on and use because I don't know which of the three controls control what. Washing machines are precision instruments now. What they're precise at, I don't know because they don't wash anymore. Dryers don't dry anymore. Appliances that used to last thirty years now last six. Radios that used to have one knob now have multitudes. Which one will get me the station I want? I used to know how to invest money, approach a publisher, use a vacuum cleaner, go to a bank, drive a car frugally, use a phone, save money, talk to people, buy what I want etc etc etc. I don't know what I want anymore because I don't have the knowledge of the choices before me. I don't even know what questions to ask to gain the knowledge I need on a day to day basis. Every day I talk to the builder is another day I'm told that what I want isn't sold anymore, can't be done on my budget, will add even more time to the process, requires what I don't have, is illegal.
I write science fiction and am smart and have knowledge available with a few taps on a keyboard. This shouldn't be this hard. But it is.
And that makes me feel old.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Holding my breath.

I'm starting to hold my breath. Travis says he plans to release Writing Speculative Fiction: Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror by the 27th of June. Will he make it?

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Censorship

Here's a link to an article by E. Stephen Burnett about censorship and rules in Christian and in Secular book markets:
http://www.speculativefaith.com/secular-fiction-better-christian-fiction/

Here's my response:

When I lived in North Pole, the school system bought an entirely new set of English literature books and told the teachers they must get rid of the old books and only teach from the new books. The teachers in our church told all of us why they were outraged by the books and a bunch of us got together. I was assigned to check out the 4th grade book. Whoa. At a fractious school board meeting where, among many testimonies, an Aleut or Yupik woman said that we wanted to censor the stories of her people, her heritage. When my turn came I stood and said that much in the new 4th grade book was good. I read one of the lovely poems to my kids. I liked the mini-biographies of the woman veterinarian and woman (some other job). I was glad this book included some Native American myths. Then I said I was glad for censorship. I was glad my Jewish children didn't need to read the Jules Verne story with the description of Jews with yellow, grasping fingers. I was glad my black children didn't need to read racist stories that depicted them as evil and subhuman. However, agreed, some censorship is stupid. I knew a writer who had to remove all references to cookies in his story for it to be accepted in a school book, lest children think cookies are good. This textbook had fantasy and science fiction, which I appreciated because that's what I write. However, this is what was censored in this book. All nonfiction except for the women in careers. All nonfiction about our nation, our inventors, my heritage. There was nothing of my heritage in this book. There were gruesome stories of torture and suicide, but no stories of the devastation left behind by those who kill themselves. There were no stories of hope, no stories of Christian myths, no American folktales, no patriotic stories, no positive depictions of the military in a town dominated by military families (Eielson AFB), no stories of men accomplishing anything. Don't tell me you're fighting censorship by disagreeing with those of us who find these books disgusting.
After some hours of testimony, the president of the school board said that they were not going to bow to our attempts to censor such fine literature books.
The teachers in our church told us that a short time later, the new literature textbooks were quietly collected and the old ones given back along with the admonition to not tell anyone they had done so.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Dean Koontz permission

Whoo-hoo! Today I received a signed snail mail letter from Dean Koontz giving me permission to use excerpts from his novel The Taking in the textbook! He said my book sounds like a worthwhile project.
He also said he's working 80-90 hours a week on a novel. Whew.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Eagles

The other day as I was walking home I was thrilled to see a bald eagle circling overhead. I see them so often now, and each time is a thrill. When I was a teen, the bald eagle was on the verge of extinction. Draconian laws were passed to protect them (I can't own an eagle feather even if I just pick the feather up from the ground? Really?) and slowly, slowly, as the decades passed, the numbers of bald eagles increased.
I came upon our Russian landlord sweeping the parking lot and told him about the eagles. He told me of watching the fishermen around the pond below the hill we live on. One caught a fish, laid it on the grass, and tended to his hook. The local bald eagle swooped down and stole the fish from him. Considering how impressive those raptors are up close, I'm guessing the fisherman had a tale to tell when he got home.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Speculative Faith article and thoughts thereafter

Here's a link to an article I found interesting and then spent a lot of time thinking about:

http://www.speculativefaith.com/stop-hating-christian-popular-culture/

Here's how I responded to the Facebook post:

I got up from the prior comment, washed some dishes, and thought a book chapter's worth of thoughts, but will reduce it to only a few of the points: Kincaid. I've read a variety of critiques about his work, and I agree with all the criticisms that people have come up with. And yet....I go into relative's homes and there is a Kincaid painting lovingly featured on a wall. And I think it's lovely. I like to look at pretty. It's why I grow flowers and trees. Is my love of gardening only worthwhile when I use it to introduce new food crops into Rwanda? (which, btw, is a lot of fun)
It is such a balancing act between the desire to be the intelligent one with great taste that understands more than the bleating masses, the desire to encourage people who are trying their best even when their best isn't very good by a blinkered view, the desire to be better than one's own best, the desire to be humble, the desire to be great, the desire to be recognized as great, the desire to be discerning, the desire to be accepting.
It's interesting, Stephen, how you like the Left Behind Series. You are not my only friend who does. I can't understand the attraction. I read a few paragraphs in one of the books and tossed it away in revulsion. And here you are, I freely admit it, an intellect that towers over mine. You have an ability to mine the good that sometimes bypasses me. Which brings me to a final point:
It seems like some people work hard to find the tiniest sliver of redemptive quality in a secular work they like, and refuse to look at the larger redemptive quality in a Christian work because it offends their refined sensibility. Maybe some people is me.


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

After watching the protests and total lack of coverage for pro-life marches

Years ago I was part of a 4,000 or so protest march around the Texas Education Association building in Austin while hundreds vied for the 60 spots open to talk for two minutes about the law the Texas senate was considering. Someone had planned to sneak through a law making homeschooling illegal and all of us liable to go to jail. No internet then. We homeschoolers called each other in a panic that night, and the next day we drove to Austin for what we ended up calling a TEA party (no relationship to the present tea party)
So as I was walking around with the thousands of peaceful protestors, their multitudes of children, and my oldest son who was 9?, and a batch of police cars came squealing up and police exited to stare at our crowd. Josh clutched me and asked if we were allowed to do what we were doing. I proudly taught him about the first amendment. There were television cameras everywhere.
Back in San Antonio, I watched the news all night and read the following morning paper. Nothing about us. Not a single line, not a single word.
I called up every station in town and asked them why. They said a satellite transmission had gone awry. Uh-huh. A short time later twelve teachers also picketed the TEA because of retirement fund issues. That was front-page above the fold news.
Just because you don't hear about it (like you don't hear about the Muslim protests against extremist jihadi terror or pro-life marches) doesn't mean it doesn't happen.