Going Viral

Welp. Past Selves, I can honestly say I did not see this plot twist coming.

Our entire society and global interaction is being re-written by Covid-19 like a cell’s infected RNA. This pandemic… and the next, and the one after that… will radically reshape the way we do things not only in the health fields, but in most fields.

I’m worried we’ll eventually end up like John Byrne’s Kryptonians: alone in our towers, robots doing all the work, connected only electronically, sealed in skin suits, forbidden to touch. And that’s hardly even the worst case scenario.

This situation will undoubtedly get much worse before it gets better. We’ll have all sorts of panic and crazy reactions from both the masses and the Powers That Be. But we’ll also adapt and do what we must to survive, overall. I just worry about who and how many may die before we do so.

My sister has asthma. My mother is 77 and has asthma and a poor immune system. We take a lot of precautions around our house; constant hand washing, frequent wipe-downs of surfaces and handles with bleach, stocking up on necessities & meds, “social distancing” = no hugs & kisses. No going out unless absolutely necessary. My sister can finally work from home all week. No school, tele-learning only. Even my therapy will have to be by phone. We are all getting a little stir crazy, especially the kids who are used to going out and seeing friends every day.

Stupid Spring Breakers mingling, and then carrying germs home, piss me off. I knew teens of any generation were stupid and self absorbed, but Grandma & Grandpa will pay the price for the kids’ cavorting. Hope you enjoyed that wet T-shirt contest, Junior. Try to carry that happy memory to the funeral, except we can’t have funerals anymore. No gatherings.

Sympathy pains to all those out of work or cancelling once in a lifetime plans. Makes our lost vacation seem paltry next to a wedding or graduation. The government is nosing about that they may send a check (amount TBD) to every American. Is this a backdoor route to a UBI or equivalent? Who knows. The economy has been robbing Peter to pay Paul for decades, now this will be the tipping point. Prepare for freefall followed by bailouts.

Welcome to the new normal, Past Selves. Hope you like it here, because it’s probably sticking around for a long time.

Fearful yet hopeful

Hi again, Past Selves. Good to see you, have some tea.

Well, it’s impeachment season, and that means things could get much better. It also means the fraud in the White House might decide to nuke us all for a lark.

The habitant knows his days in the Oval are numbered now, so he’ll fight like the cornered rat he is, tooth and nail. Given his lack of concern over the rest of humanity when he’s NOT frantic and panicked, I worry quite a lot about what he and other fanatical madmen with nuclear arsenals might do now. A loaded gun in a group of squabbling, squalling toddler’s hands.

And the Apocalypse-happy Dominionists like Pence that he surrounds himself with are no doubt egging him on to do just that. They WANT a nuke-out. It gives them the hot and tingly’s to think Doomsday fulfills their Biblical prophecies and 80s-style interpretations. May their God help us all, cause rationality won’t.

So again, I need to get into good physical shape both for my own health (no Metformin without civilization) and to do whatever survival labor needs to be done in the aftermath. I need to be here to help my family to survive when the whole planet becomes a Third World country.

I really, really want to be wrong, and to have wasted all this time and effort. I really, REALLY hope we can avoid mushroom clouds on the horizon. It would make me happy, or at least relieved. But I don’t know what might happen, Past Selves. I’m scared and I just don’t know.

I just don’t know.

Prepped And …Ready?

Hi there Past Selves. Not having fun, yet.

So lately I’ve been more leery than usual about the looming possibility of civil/nuclear wars. I’m looking into doing what little I can to be a “prepper” and learn how to help my family to survive if things truly go sideways. Not a lot of money to spend and I’m a poor self-teacher and planner, so I need all the help I can get.

I’ve been studying books, websites, and videos about “homesteading”, subsistence farming, water collecting/filtering, medical care in remote areas, and of course all kinds of DIY projects such as solar heaters and composting toilets. (Full disclosure, I suck at DIY. Absolutely suck at it.) I’m planning to use my Mom’s tiny garden next year to practice my food production/storage skills, but other than maxing out my gift cards for the year on survival stuff I’m kind of at an impasse as far as what to do now.

For some reason I suspect that next November is the likeliest trigger point for worldwide shenanigans to occur. Which is bad, because it means a winter without power or heat, using only what’s in the house. I’m going to try stockpiling what food and water I can before that time, but my family most likely won’t understand or support my fears. They view nuclear war as a Cold War artifact, not a real possibility of today.

The sad and sorry truth is, I am not ready. I can’t even whip myself into shape physically, I sit on my ass all day and watch YouTube gardening vids. Can’t stop overeating, either. Not exactly a survival strategy. I know what I need to do, I just don’t do it. It doesn’t make me feel like I have any chance of living through the dark times ahead.

I also have to grit my teeth and look past all the “out there” politics, ads, conspiracy theories and “alternate facts” on most of the prepping websites and blogs. It seems the doomsday prepper community attracts a lot of paranoid anti-government gun nuts, who knew. (But I’m perfectly fine of course.)

It does help a little to know that I’m actively doing something in a situation that’s totally outside my control. It really helps me to deal with my fears. But I’ve hit the limit of what I can accomplish on my own, Past Selves. I need to get some outside assistance in order to be able to really build up my skills and physical condition. Until that happens I’m just flailing here. I just don’t know what to do next.

Help!

Yet another new beginning

Hi, Past Selves.

Recently got a new Doctor, and he sent me for blood tests. My A1C is up, my lipids and cholesterol are up. He prescribed a new med for the latter, and prescribed regular exercise for the former.

So I’m bound and determined to act. I need to overcome my inability to stick to a long term exercise program. If not I might end up back on Metformin, which I really don’t want. I’m seeing my therapist tomorrow and bringing up the problem. We’ve already done some work on the topic but now it’s time to ramp it up and focus on getting myself into some kind of shape.

My life literally depends on it.

See you in the future, Past Selves… I hope!

Ignorance is bliss… -tering

Important question, Past Selves:

Does a fish notice being wet?

No. It assumes that’s just how everything is.

And white Americans don’t pay attention to a system designed for us, most of us just assume that how we experience it is how everyone else experiences it. It’s just the background of life to us.

This ingrained blindness is woven into our society. It’s called, white privilege. We have patches and band-aids on our culture but it’s still a formerly (and in parts still) white supremacist country. We never really resolved the scars of slavery, and the profits and foundations (literal and metaphorical) built the victims of slavery.

The POVs of people of color are shaped by different experiences than white folks. We have to put up with life’s BS, but they get all the same BS PLUS all the BS that comes with everyday casual and/or overt and hateful prejudice and discrimination against black and brown people. That’s twice as much BS!

Racism has 2 categories. The emotional hatred is easy to spot, usually. But institutional racism is dispassionate and invisible to those who benefit from it. Whites live in a bubble we cannot see without squinting. While the biased system silently grinds down everyone outside that safe pocket.

(It doesn’t help that the myths of Up By Your Bootstraps and the Self Made Man are almost universally prevalent among upper and middle class society. We somehow see the rich as fully deserving of their wealth, as if they worked really REALLY hard jobs to get it, with no help from anyone. The reality is, most of them come from money and most of that money benefitted from either slavery or exploitive labor. Directly or indirectly, past or current exploitation. But no one earns a billion dollars. That much is acquired through the work of lots of people; employees and accountants and bankers. Poverty, OTOH, is self reinforcing and hard to overcome, yet the poor– even the ones working 3 jobs to make ends meet –are stereotyped as lazy and undeserving “Welfare queens”.)

“All lives matter” is a cop-out (pun definitely not intended). The fact is, black lives are being expended as if they didn’t matter. And “Blue lives” are already treated like they matter. A cop killer gets a three-state manhunt and top story news coverage. Why are so many cops (usually white) shooting unarmed black kids with minimal punishment or even total acquittal even with video of the shooting? How do we fix the policing system and make sure those who protect and serve are actually protect? We need cops, we need law enforcement, but we need life enforcement for all too. With young people dying again and again, getting mad about someone kneeling is petty by comparison.

White Americans need to do research and learn from it. Conversations help, though it’s not POC’s job to educate you. Plenty of resources online and in print to study. Find out what they see and think, what their lives are like, their everyday experiences. Empathize.

And even more importantly, check the attitudes of other white folks. Call out racism and point out privilege where you find it. You can have conversations with friends and family that people outside your group cannot. We need to start watching out for marginalized folks (without being dicks about it, of course. Courtesy costs nothing.) Be polite but persistent and consistent. Gather and disseminate facts.

In these divided times it’s more important than ever that people do what we can to try, not only not to be part of the problem, but to actively heal what wounds exist. We need to be aware and proactive. To shape the system for everyone’s benefit. Do more good than harm.

Things to consider. Til next time, Past Selves.

Magic carpet ride

Greetings, Past Selves. Taking a break from the hard stuff (hard science fiction, that is) to go back to some of my old fantasy roots. There’s a bit more storytelling flexibility there, if almost as much need (in my book anyway) for research. I can make up my own worlds, cultures, mythologies and magic systems, but things like making a good camp in the wild will always stand out if done wrong. And don’t even get me started on ancient combat tactics. Getting that stuff right is not just a bear, it’s a grizzly!

My usual solution is to have the main character(s) be amateur and still learning. That way they can make mistakes and “get away” with it (as far as the readers are concerned).

A lot of my old story notes can be recycled again and applied to different plots. Stuff like how the Roman Legions operated day-to-day and the logistics of horse archers. How Medieval villages baked their bread, and more importantly who made the beer. Mundane stuff that adds depth and realism to an unreal set of circumstances.

Characters are another area where I can mine old unused stories for recyclable material. I have several pre-industrial settings where a grizzled warrior or wandering musician might fit appropriately. And magical healers are always welcome in a setting with the right physics to allow such powers. I just have to make some minor adaptions to their personal backgrounds and details, the personalities can usually survive the transition intact.

Of course, even my wondrous magic can be broken down into boring sets of data. I prefer a magic system that has defined limits and not “anything goes” wishcraft. Large limits, but limits nonetheless. Otherwise magic becomes a universal Deus Ex Machina to ruin any semblance of a challenge for our characters. Got a problem? Magic it away!

I generally prefer not to add non-human species like orcs and goblins without a good reason; if humans can play the same role, all you have really made is people in funny masks. OTOH the converse is true: if you have a long lived magical race who live in the woods, why not call them elves? Or at least treat them like fantasy elves.

Anywho, see you later, Past Selves. I’m off to write the Wizard!

My first review of “Introducing Smitty”

OK Past Selves, so it’s time to cast a critical eye on my own work.

The italicized blurb intro was a bit wordy. The second paragraph, though, is a blatant infodump, and it’s got to go. Work the details into the body of the story itself, show-don’t-tell.

Overall it’s too compressed. Spread it out. Next draft, wider and slower. Unify narrative threads, they’re all over the place now. Jumping from topic to topic. Too choppy, needs a smoother flow.

More detailed description of what Smitty is experiencing, his environment, his immediate sensations, his emotions, maybe a personal physical description.

Build on Earth’s history (later in the story, not in the intro.) Remember, what happens to Earth may not matter much to Smitty (or he’s in denial that it does) but the readers still live there.

Just dropping a few brief notes to self, Past Selves. Off the do some rewrites.