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26 November 2014

and the geese are getting fat, as the Guy Fawkes rhyme goes. Mine are, so they’re lucky I plan on never eating them. But the spring grass is in with a vengeance and I’m still waiting for goslings. All four of the girls sat at intervals over October, with a net result of nothing. Currently three are sitting again, and I have a feeling that the outcome could be nothing once more. Oh, well. They’re here as watchgeese, if they keep doing that job as efficiently as usual they’re safe from me at Xmas, but I would still like a few goslings.

All over TV news at the moment are the riots by people protesting the death of a death of a teenager at the hands of a police officer. The thing that completely baffles me however is the destruction of property. The protesters are burning businesses, cars, houses, not those belonging to the officer or his colleagues, but instead as I understand it, they are burning property in their own neighbourhoods. If I wanted to protest I’d find it counter-productive to do that. Rioting takes away the protest’s impact and focuses it on the destruction. And burning or otherwise destroying the property of your neighbours (possibly out protesting too) is – well – rather silly. And again, if I was out seriously protesting something I saw as an injustice and returned home to find my car or business torched by my fellow protesters, next time someone wanted me to march in protest, I be staying home instead, to see that I didn’t lose my car, business or whatever, again. It makes me wonder how genuine most of those protesters are? Or are they merely out to riot, burn, loot, and wallow in excitement, uncaring of the real object? Because burning down your next door neighbour’s business doesn’t exactly emphasize how keen you are to highlight and prevent further injustices – committed by someone of a different ethnicity and in a totally different area!

yes, my shrieks of delight, the first when I received the acceptance and the second when when the contracts arrived this morning, made the cat jump. Although he should be used to that sort of reaction by now. And yes, although the duo will appear from Wildside Press in one volume as Sherlock Holmes:Beastly Mysteries, they are actually two short books entitled, Mystery at Foxhunt Hall, and The Case of the Mummified Penguins. Wildside have tentatively scheduled them for the first half of 2015, and I am looking forward to seeing them in print.

16 November 2014

Howling gales on and off over the last two days. NOT to my liking, and still more annoyingly, it prevents me from cooking the piglets cracked barley – which I do on my freestanding enclosed fire, and I’m never happy using that in the really bad gales. Fortunately I saw the gales coming and cooked extra barley on Thursday. Now if only they’ve died down again by Monday all should be well and I can cook more barley then.
Goldie, my bantam/hen mix hatched three tiny chicks a week ago, one vanished that night, no idea where, but the other two are fine so far. As her mum before her, Goldie takes very good care of her chicks. Another hen (Tawney) is sitting on 4-5 eggs and as I have several friends who’d like a hen or three from me, I hope she is also successful.
The geese have stabilized again for a second brooding as Senior sitting in the hay barn on 2-3 eggs, and Junior sitting by the corrugated iron stack on 7 eggs. No guarantees however, the gaggle’s production of goslings is extremely erratic. However if they hatch everything I’ll have no problems as I have people wanting that many goslings – mostly as watchgeese.

My subconscious works in its own way entirely. I am not to blame for the results. So if you think this a very odd list of recent articles, well, you may not be wrong, but that’s the way it works. continuing consumer-savings articles in the local newspaper have included 10 THINGS TO DO WITH A HOTTIE, DON’T WASTE YOUR TOILET ROLL INNERS, and 10 GREAT USES FOR BABY POWDER (Other than powdering the baby.)

Paperback, published HarperCollins 1994.
A friend sent this to me and I promptly read it over the next couple of days. If it wasn’t that I lived through a lot of this nonsense I’d have assumed this was some sort of humor parody, except that it isn’t. For instance in the alphabetical listing I find…coffee, asking a woman student out for, with the entry…a male faculty member who asks women students out for coffee outside of class or a drink to talk about Wittgenstein, God, death,. Or for that matter, liberty, is leaving himself open to accusations of sexual harrassment or worse. (I find that true enough, it’s always been a bit chancy for a male professor to ask women students to meet him outside of class in a social setting.) But the next entry is:
coffee, failing to ask a women student out for… with the entry ‘a male faculty member who ‘shuns female members outside of class for fear of accusations of sexual harrassment is guilty of a subtle but harmful form of sexism that can serious impact our performance in the classroom and our plans for future study…’ At which point I felt really sorry for male faculty members. And I disagree. If a faculty member of any gender wants to discuss the work of any student then the faculty member has an office and s/he can leave the door wide open. A faculty member should not be expected to discuss anything that isn’t pertinent to the course of study they teach, and preferring not to fraternize with all/any students in a social setting cannot in my opinion be construed as sexism in any way, shape, or form. However, it would be advisable to keep that general, as in, don’t fraternize with any of them, rather than with only those students of your own sex. The things about this book is that most of the entries are directly attributable to the writing/public utterances of specific people. And I’d have to wonder firstly how many of them now regret ever saying things so daft, and secondly if they still espouse those beliefs? Some have been State, University, county, laws in the past and I hope to heaven that they were repealed at some stage.
I also eyed one entry with utter disbelief. In fact I read it several times to obtain the full flavour and then sat there trying to work out what complete halfwit ever came up with such an idea/suggestion and may have honestly believed that it was reasonable. The entry is listed as conceptual rape, and says that this is “the imagined participation in sexual activity with a person whose explicit consent to be included in each and every fantasized act has not been specifically obtained in advance. If the imagined sex occurs while the perpertrator is on a date with the survivor, or if the survivor is someone whom the perpetrator had previously dated or wishes to date in future, the offense may be classified as conceptual date rape. I can only assume that this entry at least is intended to be humorous, because it would be unprovable, unprosecutable, and unenforceable. This book is a written tomb of some incredibly silly feminist quotes and beliefs of their day, and I lived though that time so can only say that I do remember some of them, didn’t agree at the time, and agree even less these days. It reinforces the idea that those earlier feminists were ridiculous, humourless, and without common sense. And you know what? Some of them were and this proves it. It behoves us women to remember that driving an idea into the ground can be counterproductive.

5 November 2014

Hardcover published ACE November 2014.
The only complaint I have to make about this book is basic. I had to wait a year for it since the author’s last one (Starhawk) was published. Of all his books, I like the Benedict and Kolpath series the most so I’ve been anticipating this book for months and I wasn’t disappointed. To start with it gives a great overview of what earth has become in the twelfth millenium and how our species has spread. Again and again phrases, brief sentences, drop in bits of information about the past like tiny bits of chocolate in a chocolate-chip cookie, this book more so than the earlier volumes where there is less about Earth.
In this seventh volume in the series a client comes to Alex to show him an artifact that her grandfather had hidden in a box at the back of his closet. Her parents found it after the old man died and she wants to know what it is and if it’s valuable. To Alex’s disbelief this is an item from the dawn of Earth’s space age, something that the old man would never have hidden, he’d have paraded his finding of it, and flourished its possession in the teeth of his colleagues’ envy. But such an item is vanishingly rare, hugely valuable, and unknown initially in origin. So where did he get it and why has it been kept secret? Alex and Chase set out to discover answers, and find far more questions. The item is a Corbett transmitter, the breakthrough unit for sending messages through hyperspace. It dates back to the 26th century but stunningly, it was part of a collection of early space age artifacts of great historic significance that vanished during Earth’s second dark ages. Alex and Chase figure that if this item survived, then it’s possible that other artifacts from the priceless collection also survived and they start down the trail.
But laid in parallel with this treasure hunt is another mystery, that of the lost ships. Space ships, some of which vanish for various reasons, but with a number where the reason is known, just currently unpreventable, and with the ships almost always unrecoverable; until now perhaps? Because years ago The Capella, on which Alex’s uncle, and Chase’s original employer, Gabe Benedict, was a passenger was dragged into a temporal anomaly and while only days have passed on the ship, in real time it’s been eleven years. Scientist friends of Alex and Chase believe that they may have a way to return the ship to normal space/time or at least to take off the passengers, and approach Chase to assist as a pilot. So between chasing back and forth from Earth looking for the lost artifact collection, there is the emotional rollercoater of, will they get Gabe back, or could the project fail, cost lives, and if so how many?
And once again the chapter headings highlight the work, quotations from authors ancient and modern, and others yet to come. Nor are the latter anything but convincing and often a fascinating glimpse into our possible future and the commonsense that it may contain. For instance. “Be cautious of a man whose eyes never reflect joy,” by Armand Ti, in his work Illusions written in 7212 C.E. That one struck me as an excellent adage for these days, let alone in the future. And how many professional polititions and high-level businessmen may it not skewer? I loved the Sherlock Holmes comment that the stories were lost for six thousand years before being rediscovered thirty years earlier and that now, on Alex and Chase’s world of Rimway, are enornously popular and that the name had never quite gone from the language, that it had remained synonymous with deductive skills. Then too, I grinned when reading page 294, discovering there a tiny self-reference to a 21st century novel about an earlier pilot named Hutchins.
This is a fast-paced romp through an artifact hunt with alarms, excursions, a shipwreck (a real one, on Earth) in tandem with the much darker theme, that of spaceships going missing, (in time for The Capella,) and the immense emotional difficulties that passengers on such a ship face in returning to real-time. Matched of course, by the legal and emotional complications of those who had given up friends and relatives for dead, and now find that they’re returning, in some cases whole generations younger than those left behind, perhaps demanding the return of inheritances, and what of those who remarried in the belief that their partner was dead? What we face in the future may not be that exact problem, but space travel is bound to throw up disputes of some type, and this suggests that we are going to face something hard to deal with, if not this precise question.
In fact I found that while I really loved the artifact hunt, the discovery of The Capella pushed more buttons, the twin themes were an excellent combination, one provided the light and exciting side, the other the more thoughful one, and I was caught up completely. The book arrived mid-morning on a Monday, and as soon as I could clear the work I was doing I sat down and began to read, so caught up in the story that lunch came and went, and it wasn’t until late afternoon that I finished the book and surfaced to find thirteen chickens, five geese, and the cat, all protesting no dinner as yet, and realized that I too was starving. You can’t get better than that as a recommendation. Buy the book!

3 November 2014

spam, the bane of everyone’s existance. This morning I logged onto my site to add a couple of blog items and found that I had some four and a half thousand spams. Ah, well. I clicked on remove spam and a short time later received a note to say that there’d been a problem and I should contact the webmaster. I stared at that and cringed. WordPress already provide me with two significant problems and I’ve never been able to work out how to fix them. I really didn’t want to start with another one. BUT, then I noticed that some 1100 spams where still undumped. Hmmm, wonder if… I clicked on remove spam, they did, and suddenly there was no more problem. It looks as if even the major players in the web business are starting to find spam numbers a problem. Interesting, no?

another story sold with INTO THAT GOOD NIGHT contracted by THIN PLACES anthology from the Guideposts organization. The only problem was that for some unknown reason no matter what I did, the contract file appeared to be security-locked and wouldn’t print. I tried a cut and paste, and it wouldn’t drop into a new file either. Mutter, grumble, snarl!. At last I tried cutting and pasting it back into an ordinary email and resending to myself, it worked, whatever was blocking things cleared, and I was able to create a new file which printed. Phew!

Sigh, complete confusion with Sisters One and Two, the geese who were sitting. One got off the nest, apparently bored. She’s been sitting originally on seven eggs. Now there were five, and her sister decided to take over. But then last weekend she too became bored and got off. By that time they were down to three, which, having chilled overnight, would have been dead anyhow so I discarded them. Meanwhile Senior goose is sitting on 2-3 eggs in an obscure corner of the hay barn. It’s a good spot, out of the way and sheltered, so maybe she’ll produce goslings. I live in hope. And above her, (about seven feet above her on a stack of old hay bales) Goldie the hen is sitting devotedly on five eggs. Maybe there things will go well – hmmm, she hatched three absolutely tiny chicks. Wonder how well they’ll survive?