January 16th, 2006



As those of you who read novel_gazing already know, my folks brought missista home last night. She was mostly extremely good and glad to see us, but she threw a puppy tantrum when put to bed last night. Ah well; we'll settle in. And they say they can take her again whenever we want or need them to, so that's a good thing. I'm working on this whole "asking for help" thing. It's not always easy, but it seems to be generally worth it.

I'm still hip-deep in questions from the sleep-dep night on the 3rd: you people certainly can question! So here's another: someone asked what my favorite part of the playground was when I was little. Well, our playground had been constructed by the people in the neighborhood working together, so there was a giant wooden structure, mostly smoothed so as not to produce splinters. There was stuff to climb and a log bridge and a swinging balance log, and there were, oh, tire swings.

I loved tire swings.

In fact, I'm not at all sure the past tense is appropriate here. I haven't tried recently, but I suspect that if you loaded me on a tire swing today and spun it and pushed it, I would really enjoy myself. I have always liked spinny things, and spinny swoopy things are even better, and nothing beats a tire swing for that. The ones that hang so that the tire is parallel to the ground are the best, but the orthogonal ones will do in a pinch.

We also had monkeybars, which I liked even though my shoulders pop out at the drop of a hat, and I enjoyed the tornado slide and swings, and I used the merry-go-round for my own nefarious purposes. See...I liked spinny things, as I said, and I have always had a stomach of cast iron. And my dad liked to go play tennis and let me and my friends play on the playground sometimes, and then on the way home we would get an ice cream cone. So whenever a particular one of the other little girls I played with was a bully (which was often), I would angle to get taken to the playground, and then after Dad was done with his tennis game I would jump on the merry-go-round: "Push me, Daddy, push me!" Well, this other little girl was very keen on being almost a full year older than me and not letting me do anything she wouldn't do. So she would hop on, too. And I would laugh and throw my head back and say, "Faster, Daddy, faster!" And she wouldn't get off, because if I could take it, so could she. Except she couldn't: she would get off and throw up. And then Dad would take her home before the rest of us got our ice cream, because clearly her stomach was upset and she wouldn't enjoy it. And I would smile as we drove away from her house for our ice cream. Revenge is even sweeter when you can claim that your hands are clean.

I was...four years old, I think? markgritter claims that I was an evil, evil child. But my take on the subject is, she shouldn't have hit me. I'd been taught not to hit back, but nobody ever thought to teach me not to exploit other people's character flaws. I am, to this day, totally unrepentant.
getting by

Progress and history

Progress, or just a fluke? Well, you decide: Ista did not attempt to gnaw the monkey underwear that was lying well within her reach on the bathroom floor. Did not even bite it once. Just sniffed the laundry about to go into the hamper from a comparative distance and then let it be.

Ohhh, the things we consider notable with small mammals in the house.

Someone wanted me to talk about Flying Squirrel Divas of the Jovian Moons. Someone is scottjames and has found the Flying Squirrel Divas of the Jovian Moons a source of endless amusement for years now. timprov suggested that Flying Squirrel Diva of the Jovian Moons might be the next award to give to people who have already been Hero of the Revolution several times. I am dubious: we haven't even gotten our caramel-filled, foil-wrapped chocolate Hero of the Revolution medals. I should think that it would be even harder to find chocolate flying squirrels in spacesuits.

This is the internet, so I could be wrong.

Someone asked me if I wrote alternate history, what country or countries would I pick, and what would the story be. Umm. Some would say that I already do write alternate history, since Thermionic Night is set in Finland in 1950, and to the best of my knowledge there was not magic in Finland in 1950. However, I try not to contradict recorded history (just recorded science), so some people would categorize these books as secret history, not alternate history.

Anyway, my big problem with alternate history is that if the story isn't really, really close to the change -- and even most of the time when it is -- I don't think the author changes enough. (To compound this problem, stories further from the change may well be more interesting. Much, much, much harder. But more interesting.) A major historical change two hundred years ago means that most of the people who are currently alive might well not have been. Very minor policy changes in the US in history would result in vastly different immigration and settling patterns. If different people settled here -- or if population pressures in the Old Country for all sorts of values of "the Old Country" were not relieved -- the world goes very different directions very quickly. And I'm supposed to believe that the author's favorite historical figures exist anyway? That's a much more major suspension of disbelief for me than it seems to be for most people, and the story has to be a corresponding lot of fun to make it worth my energy. Any appearance of John Dee or Benjamin Franklin requires a lot of effort for me not to just close the book and walk away quietly.

The alternate history ideas I get rely heavily on the kind of history I read. This means that they tend to be the sorts of ideas that would make it difficult for most people to spot the turning point, and as such I think it would be harder for them to care about the result. "What if something you didn't know happened had never happened? Wouldn't that be weird and interesting?" Umm, gosh. How fascinating. I know that the right story can be fascinating that way -- I'm certainly hoping that people manage to find themselves interested in mid-20th century Finland in ways they had not expected to be -- but it takes a lot more work from the author to establish why anyone should care about this obscure historical change, and often it seems less worth my time than other, equally shiny ideas.
getting by

State of the Household Post

So. I go in on Wednesday to get the results from my sleep-dep EEG. markgritter is only going to be out of town one week this month (and the peasants rejoiced!), and timprov has his own neurologist check-up stuff coming up as well.

We are not particularly well here. We are coping as best we can and trying to figure things out in the medium-term (since we don't have enough information to do long-term). There are many of you who are worse off in one dimension or another or many dimensions -- more of you, in fact, than I'd like. One of the most frustrating things about having two of us feeling long-term crappy around here is not being able to offer as much help and support for other people as I'd like. But, well, we can't. We're doing as much as we can, and I wish it was more, but I only have what I have right now.

There are very few things I can't do that I usually could do. Mostly it's a matter of costs instead. Things that used to be a normal part of the day will knock me flat if I insist on doing them. (Going out running errands at Target and the grocery nearly always requires a nap, for example.) Also, if I misjudge when I need to go home by even five minutes or so, people end up alarmed by me standing there shaking like the proverbial leaf as I get my coat on. (This is even more of a problem if I'm the driver -- and when markgritter is out of town, I'm the only driver here.) I just run out of Mris, and then there really, really is no more. It's not a matter of cutting into reserves. The reserves just aren't there. It highlights for me how much I used to rely on those reserves.

The above paragraph is not true for timprov: there are many things he just plain cannot do. This is not always predictable. If you hear that he went out for a walk and then went to dinner and even dessert with some other people, and yet we said he couldn't grab a quick coffee just the day after, both can be true. Both have been true in recent memory. But there have been days when he could not go up and down the stairs safely: in addition to normal activities often having high costs, there are times when can't means can't, not costs-too-much-energy. (Well, I suppose you could categorize "likely to fall down stairs" as "costs too much.")

One of the things this means is that any travel involving me is somewhat suspect right now, and any travel involving timprov is extremely dubious. Going to Omaha and Milwaukee wiped me out pretty thoroughly. It simply would not have been possible for timprov. And if you are in the small group of people he has offered to buy plane tickets for a visit, please please remember that he would fly to see you if he could, but he can't, so this is the only way he can cover the cost of seeing you. So those of you who asked about visits from various combinations of my household monkeys, in the random question post: not soon. markgritter is not keen to travel more when he's spending 50% of his time out of town, and timprov and I are just not physically up for that much of it.

I know that some of you are getting frustrated with me not calling or e-mailing to do stuff as much as I used to or as much as you'd like me to. I'm really sorry about that. I'm trying to see those of you I haven't seen in ages, but by the time I manage to schedule something with one such, another two or three have joined the "haven't seen in ages" club. It's a very frustrating problem, and I suppose the long-term solution is that some of you will just stop wanting to spend any time with me at all. I can't bring myself to recommend this solution, but it certainly seems practical in some ways.

The new pill I'm on does not seem to be helping with what it was supposed to help with, but we'll give it another two months.

And onwards.