Not much to tell this week, which is good, because the keyboard is sticking again.
It has finally gotten warmer, although today it is raining. (On the other hand, the picture of the snow we had last week made it from my camera to the computer. Don’t worry, this is not what we have this week- it’s just that my phone doesn’t easily reach it’s towers from Pinnacle Road. This is why we have a land-line.) We have crocus, and the first daffodils and hyacinth are blooming. I just checked and there are quite a lot of them. Sadly, I have not been out to enjoy it. Sunday was Earth Day and we all went out with a garbage bag to pick up any winter trash along the road that defines our property, and there was one crocus and some sprouting, but now, although the rain has bent them down, there are a lot. I can see more sprouts all over the garden, and feel badly as it should really be raked, but haven’t the energy.
I’ll tell you how my week went. Last Wednesday, although I didn’t notice it at the time, I was sneezing a lot. I didn’t think much about it. The next day John and I drove Mark down to the clinic (they don’t want him to drive himself) and I felt a tickle in my throat, so suspected that I might be catching Willow’s cold. I was annoyed, but didn’t worry much about it, although I did go back to bed as soon as we got back to try to sleep it off. Friday I was at that stage where you blow your nose a lot, and run through a dozen hankies in a few hours. Willow was there to sympathize “been there, done that- recently” and is not quite over it. In my hubris I figured I could beat it with vitamin C and a generally strong constitution in a few days. I spent most of Saturday and Sunday in bed, coughing. I did go out on the Earth Day walk, but found I couldn’t lean over or ‘my head would explode’. I figure the sinuses did something to my balance. By Sunday my abdominal muscles ached even when I wasn’t coughing. “Must be almost over it”. Monday I woke and my lungs felt clear, I felt better. I got up and started to catch up on dirty dishes and other things I’d let slide and BOOM, was too tired to stand after only an hour. OK, not quite better yet, even I keep forgetting the “invalid” stage. Tuesday was similar although I tried to take it easy- I put notes on vampires in the computer, and in the evening the CTCW planning committee met online to pick workshops to run. Today I was surprised by the girls getting back from a trip to Costco- I’d slept 12 hours straight. Personally, I feel that sleeping is one of the best ways to heal, so good, but I had thought I was farther along in my recovery. One day I slept until 5 pm. Willow is jealous because insomnia is part of CFS. No wonder they are always ill if they can never get good sleep!
I’m thinking about the word “invalid” which both means something that doesn’t count, and a person recovering from an illness or injury. I am being reminded that while we understand the concept theoretically, it’s sometimes hard to grasp the concept until your body hits the over-ride switch. I looked it up and the dictionary says that invalid ideas are based on unsound reasoning. I guess that’s the connection- unsound. I’m not yet sound of health. Well, phooey!
This was NOT much of a week! I didn’t even touch the painting, and for most of the week I couldn’t think very well. I said my brains had turned to snot. Not a nice word, and a worse feeling for someone who’s used to being able to think quickly. When I was able to sit up I updated fb holidays and CTCW blog, watched some funny clips on you tube and knit on a scarf that’s straight stockinette stitch, not feeling up to patterns. And here’s another word from Word of the day: EGROTE – to feign sickness in order to avoid work. I don’t know about you, but most of the people I know try to feign health in order to keep working even when they shouldn’t. We spend all our sick time feeling guilty for it, and apologizing, and then apologizing anyone else catches it.
Being ill gives you time to think, while taking away your capacity for doing it well.
One interesting note: while I was ill, the plantar faciitis totally went away, but came back this morning. I have three theories. 1. It really does respond to staying off your feet. 2. I was taking various homeopathic remedies for “first onset of cold symptoms” and others depending on the symptom of the day, and maybe one of those was better than the symph. 3. IT’s just screwing with me. (The problem with theory #1 is I havent gotten back on my feet yet, #2, it worked the whole time, and I didn’t use the same remedy the whole time.) I Lean toward #3.
So most of what I Did this week other than sleep was read. I am not sure that reading Doomsday Book by Connie Willis is the best choice for when one is feeling ill. Someone had suggested that the St. Mary’s books were based on that book, and I figured, I like time travel/ history/ sf books! This does pre-date the St. Mary’s series. AND it does have time traveling historians, and history resists letting itself be changed. But that’s where the similarities end. The book is a weaving together of two stories, one of the woman sent back in time, and one of the people who sent and are trying to retrieve her. The “glitch” is that she’s been accidentally sent to 1348 not 1320, so she ends up having to deal with the Plague. Back in 2054, the historians have to deal with an epidemic of the flu- various problems complicate even modern medicine dealing as efficiently as it ought and both the quarantine and people traveling for Christmas holidays prevent getting important connections made. At both ends of history they had to deal with the same sorts of people, some lovely and some horrible, although I don’t remember anyone being criminal, simply criminally negligent in trying to do things their way. Still, in both epidemics, neither CYA nor being good protected people from dying. One slightly disorienting issue was that the author hadn’t (in 1992) anticipated how universal mobile phones would be, and it often seems strange as they are trying to get in touch. It’s a marvelous expression of how horribly things can go wrong when someone who doesn’t know what he’s doing gets into a position of power. And, as I said, when one is suffering from flu symptoms oneself (and there are a lot of various symptoms of plague with assorted symptoms), it’s easy to identify with the many people who get sick in the course of this book. Still, a good story, well written, and dealing with people’s relationships.
Done with that I turned to The knife of never letting go. This is also SF. But it takes place on a planet that’s been colonized and is dealing with a fascinating problem. Some germ in the planetary environment has made all men’s subconscious thoughts audible to those around them. Animals talk too, although they rarely have much more to express than what we get from them now. (I’m not certain that would be true if it happened.) The problem is that this only happens to the men, not the women. It’s hard enough having your every random thought available to the whole world, and that not everything that you think is real, intentional, logical, or any of that, is quite well handled. The theory that a planet of no secrets would be lovely is exploded as any thought is lost in the NOISE of all the other stupid thoughts. While lying isn’t possible as such, they still can call in enough noise to hide things they want to hide. The big issue comes from men feeling that the women must having something to hide- at least in the community the protagonist, Todd, grows up in. Sadly, as a settlement colony, each community gets to try it’s own way of dealing, and Todd’s has dealt with it by eliminating the women. They have an authoritarian Mayor and a whacko minister, and the whole thing goes very badly, especially after a new scout ship comes in advance of another load of settlers, and crashes leaving only a girl, Viola, who joins Todd in seeking Haven, a larger community where they hope more sane conditions exist. The third main character is Todd’s dog Manchee who is everything a dog should be, even if his conversation often consists of “Squirrel!”, “Food, Todd?” Or “Poo, Todd!”. There’s also a sub-plot about indigenous population, mostly wiped out because, as Todd had been told, the Noisewas a result of their germ warfare. (Excuse me, but if the planet was inhabited, I should think advanced civilizations would go somewhere else as soon as they could.) IN the second book they look to be analogy for blacks in America- ‘are they animals or people?”, but I have only just started. Meanwhile my major criticism, is that you don’t put your heroes through hell, and then end the book with one shot, bleeding, and near death with ‘END OF BOOK ONE’! I, luckily, was able to order the next from the library, and get it in a day or so, but DAMN! A book should be self contained. By all means use more books to give more adventures to the characters, but Beginning, middle, end! If it’s all the same story, package them together in one volume, or in a boxed set like LotR. I was almost cross enough to not bother sending for the next book: The Ask and the Answer . I did, and immediately got caught up in the good story, but Damn! I feel sorry for those who read it when it first came out and didn’t have the next book available for a year.
Then I started on Buried too Deep, which is a sequel for another historical mystery in Roman Britain I read last year. I really don’t remember much of the first one. While enjoyable, not all authors are as good as others, and I easily set it aside when the Ask and the Answer got here. I also read the first two books in the Vampire Diaries series. I only meant to read the first, but they were in the same book, and I didn’t even notice for a couple of chapters that I was in the sequel. Had it been one book, I doubt I’d have bothered, as it was another annoying cliff-hanger ending, with another at the end of the second book and I have no intention of bothering with such drivel. It’s clearly a ‘young adult’ novel, full of teen angst, proms, homecomings, holiday doings, and who likes who, family drama, and who the mean kids are. I read it because was mentioned as a media phenomenon that is changing vampire mythology (as happens). I also watched the first season of the TV show. As with True Blood, there are many characters with the same names, but the resemblances are not great. I think the TV show is marginally better- probably as it is aimed at an older audience. I might bother to watch the second season. Or not. As with several other shows, whoever did the casting obviously has a preference for a certain type, and I find it very difficult to tell the characters apart, which makes it hard to follow the story.
I did manage to finish The culture code : the secrets of highly successful groups, even though it’s non-fiction. It was fascinating. I was, of course, looking for advice that could help with CTCW, and I’m not sure that it would, because we come together once a year, and most of the groups Daniel Coyle looked at are together in a more permanent way: Pixar, Navy Seals, other companies. He talked about successful groups having a feeling of a shared future, a willingness to show vulnerability, the necessity of making it safe for people to speak up. In Chapter 14: Hooligans and Surgeons, he talked about how Spain successfully reduced the expected violence and vandalism when they hosted the World Cup. They did this by reducing the level of armed police, and increasing communication with the fans. With surgeons he noted that there was improving outcome when a group managed to get the surgeon to see himself as one of the team, not the leader, with everyone else his support. For example, when an anesthesiologist or nurse sees a problem and feels subordinate, it’s often not dealt with. In the Tylenol tampering crisis, Johnson and Johnson managed to not only survive, but come back because they had a Code that said the patients and families come first, the stockholders last, and they did the expensive recall. It’s good to see research that shows how working for the common good actually is good for everyone involved. I wish the “1%” would read the research.
I’m also working through a very large (but fascinating) book called The Scientists: a history of science told through the lives of its greatest inventors. A section at a time, but it’s all good. I don’t feel comfortable only reading one thing at a time, I like making connections between different disciplines. On the other hand, I am continuing to wallow in vampire books. I just sent How to kill a vampire : fangs in folklore, film and fiction, and Vampire Encyclopedia back to the library, having extracted as many notes as I could. My desk top is littered with stickies saying: “easier to decapitate after rotting”, “look out for moths”, and “Thanks for the stick, I can use it to scare off the dogs” a reference to the Blow or Blau vampire, after they’d staked him into his coffin. (Having mentioned it, I have now tossed them out. Writing the letter is a good influence.) Many of the books are essentially for fans of vampire fiction (as opposed to folklore). It’s in books like Melton’s Vampire Book, I read about how the Vampire Diaries has introduced valerian and lapis into the narrative, and that Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires is supposed to be the WORST vampire movie ever made, despite having Peter Cushing.
With that review, I had to see just how bad it was, so I saw it, and it wasn’t bad. I think those who panned it were just not expecting something so different from the standard Hammer Dracula. This one took Van Helsing to China, where there was a lot of oriental combat, a lot of young women having their clothes ripped off, some very hooky rituals, and total illogic. Other than the kung fu, it was very much like most vampire movies of the 70’s. Personally, I found the Satanic Rites of Dracula much works. That one had some sort of international government cabal trying to unleash a new and improved version of the plague- why would the rich ever think they were better off by killing off the people who do all the work? I also read that The Hunger, a horror film with Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie and Susan Sarandon (1983) was a “must see”. Bowies performance was marvelous. It wasn’t a standard vampire film, I didn’t see any fangs. There was blood drinking, but they used knives hidden in ankhs to cut their victims. The cinematography was lovely,but the flashbacks were integrated in a way that made it hard to get any information about the plot. At one point the two women have a sex scene, which must have caused raised eyebrows back then. The film examines the concept of eternal life without eternal youth, as in the myth of Tithonus. I also watched Gotham by Gaslight, a steampunk version of Batman chasing a Jack the Ripper in Gotham,
Soon I will be actually better and will be able to catch up on everything I’ve been letting go.
“Doing right should be easy. It shouldn’t be just another big mess like everything else.” Patrick Ness in The Knife of Never Letting Go.
Next week’s holidays
Thursday April 26 Hug a Friend Day, Pretzel Day, Poem in your pocket, Thank you Thursday
Friday 27 Prime Rib Day, Tell a story day, Arbor Day, Morse Code Day
Saturday 28 Blueberry Pie Day, Kiss your mate day, Superhero Day, Independent Bookstore Day,
Sunday 29 Shrimp Scampi Day, Dance Day, Wish Day, Zipper Day
Monday 30 Oatmeal Cookie Day, Raisin Day, Jazz Day, Honesty Day,
Tuesday May 1 Chocolate Parfait Day, May Day, World Love Day, Mother Goose Day,
Wednesday May 2 Chocolate Truffle Day, Brothers & Sisters Day, Tuna Day, Baby Day