There is a Doctor in the House

Dr. Jill Biden

Doctor Jill Biden

Yes, she needs to use her earned title. Because representation matters. Because the archaic views of misogynistic fossils need to be slain & buried. As do their paternalistic, denigrating, condescending tones and language (particularly when directed at women who are better educated & more accomplished than they are).

Quiet

My apologies for seemingly abandoning this blog. It has not been intentional. It’s been a time and, in some ways, interest thing.

Between online teaching (which isn’t too bad, except for the number of students whom I really feel I could have helped pass the class if we’d been f-2-f) and tutoring (which is much more difficult online), my desire to be online and do serious, productive things has diminished. Add in book edits and that’s more screen time sucked away.

My creativity has been shifted to worldbuilding for fun, as a priority. Blogging hit the bottom of the heap, after work, family, book, kittens, and mindless writing.

On the fun side, we’ve been streaming Star Trek: Discovery and enjoying it as well as The Mandalorian. I’ve caught and enjoyed Umbrella Academy (Netflix) and The Order (Netflix). Wife’s been glued to The Crown (Netflix).

New Book In Progress

I know things have been quiet around here. Part of that’s Covid, family stuff, and work. Part of it is that things have been moving and shaking behind the curtain.

The result is that about mid-October, I sent a query letter to McFarland Books. Got a positive response in less than 24 hours. Sent out a full proposal a few days later.

Yesterday, I signed a contract to publish a book built out of the series of posts about magic from 2016 (tagged Magic Series). I need to add at least another 7,000 words, and have it all revised for delivery by mid-February. So, if things go well, it should be on shelves around May 2021.

WIP Snippet

Haven House.

The abandoned three story neoclassical colonial had a certain inviting appeal, Gil had to admit. Despite looking out of place, surrounded by corn and soy fields something like thirty miles from the nearest town. These signs screamed run away to anyone who had seen almost any horror movie.

Gilead Hayes smiled at the thought.

Not that Haven House’s appearance meant anything.

It had changed a few times in the several years that he had called it home. Not changed as in a new coat of paint and some landscaping. Changed as in last month it had been a two story Tudor manor.

Gil jogged across the deserted two lane county road, slowing to a stroll up the gravel driveway. He took the opportunity to absorb the changes, noting the wrap around porch. Someone, he saw, had gone all out with the shrubbery around the front. They looked southern, not native to the Midwestern farmland.

The door swung open silently mere seconds before he could knock.

Checking In From . . .

. . . well, not the best place in the world.

Numbers of infections & deaths continue to rise here as so much of the world gets things under control. The one ray of light is that the current regime seems to be getting hit hard by their absolute failure to respond adequately to the pandemic. 45* has falling approval numbers, increasing disapproval, dismal turn out at events, and is getting beaten in campaign fund raising. So, we have hopeful signs he’ll be out in November, in a fair election (assuming little to no voter suppression, etc.).

In the meantime, my college is continuing online only or 90% online for the foreseeable future. But, of course, aikido is shut down indefinitely beyond what little home practice can be done (weapons kata and basic movements).

Writing continues. Putting the finishing touches on the magic book. That’s currently sitting at over 56,000 words and 191 pages. Probably start looking at publishers soon.

Also working on a multiverse world build for fun. About 14-15k into that so far. Mostly working on iPhone Notes app then transferring to Word, converting notes to paragraphs, then editing & expanding a hard copy.

Watching ST: Discovery season 2. We’re down to the last couple episodes. I think the plan is to subscribe to Disney+ at that point. Continuing Mythbusters with the kid and introduced him to ST:ToS.

Also added some Discworld art from the Discworld Emporium in the UK.

My Martial Arts Truths

Since the aikido dojo I attend has been closed since my state’s lockdown began, I’ve been limited to weapons practice, movement, and thinking about practice. Thought I’d throw out my reflections on some of the “core truths” I’ve learned in the last 12 years of training.

1. If it looks easy, it’s not.

2. If it looks hard, it is.

3. What you think is happening in technique is not what’s happening in technique.

4. You will not master anything in a week. You may never feel like you’ve mastered anything, even after 30 years.

5. Everything deepens. Wrist technique is not about the wrist. It’s about the elbow. But, it’s not really about the elbow, it’s about the shoulder. But it’s not truly about the shoulder, it’s about the opposite hip.

6. Ignore the point of contact. The opponent expects to fight there.

7. Change the line. Even a few degrees, moreso 45 or 90 degrees, weakens the opponent’s power.

8. There’s always going to be someone bigger and stronger. Technique, changing the line, ignoring the point of contact will overcome strength.

9. The best technique is no technique. But, you must learn and try to master technique in order to grasp the principles that make “no technique” effective.

10. Adapt. Do not get locked into making a particular attack or technique “work”. Be willing and able to let it go and move to something else.

11. Find what else can move. Your grabbed wrist is immobile, but your elbow, shoulder, hips, and legs are not trapped. Move them.

Quarantine Activities

Keeping active during quarantine has, obviously, been a major thing for many people.  I imagine there are tens of thousands of videos online about such things.  As a mostly introvert, and reader/writer, it really hasn’t been a huge thing on my mind, personally.  But, keeping some skill sets in practice has been a concern.

Like most people, we’ve been doing walks, usually around the neighborhood.  Fortunately, we have a small city park that’s roughly 1.5 miles (~2.4 km) round trip from home, including a turn through the park.  Alternately, we’ve done trips to the local metroparks, which are extensive and varied in our area.  My spouse and kid have done more of those, often while I’ve been working or in a weekly Zoom meeting with the aikido school I attend.

Speaking of.

The second most common activity I’ve been doing is aikido weapons work.  From suburi (sword cuts) to eight direction cuts to kumi tachi (sword kata), or jo basics and kumi jo (short staff kata), that’s been a way to at least get a little practice and keep some basic movements in practice.  Fortunately, a lot of open hand technique mirrors weapons work, so hopefully those principles are being retained as well.  This has been mostly a good weather, moderate temperature activity.  A few weeks ago, I began working an alternate method for indoor practice suggested by Wendy Whited sensei: substituting the shoto (short sword) for the bokken (long sword) for indoor practice.  Basically holding the shoto the same way as the bokken (two hands) and going through the movements.  The weight and reach is different, obviously, which takes a little adjusting, but the motions remain the same.  (She also recommended wrapping paper tubes, or related non-wooden objects.)

Most recently, for the last week, there’s been yard work.  Last fall, I cut down and chopped up (for firewood) a whole bunch of invasive honeysuckle that had been taking over the back corner of our yard.  For the last week, (coincidentally as exercise) I’ve been digging up the stumps so they won’t come back.  And so we can plant grass and shade/bee friendly wildflowers back there.  That’s been all kinds of fun, because honeysuckle roots intertwine with their neighbors, or multiple plants sprout from the same roots, or tap roots can go straight down or sideways, or . . . the tenacious buggers are all kinds of fun to deal with.

Quarantine Writing

Third installment of quarantine activities.  This one has been modified a bit since first conception.

So, I’ve been working half-heartedly on the non-fiction book project.  Mostly looking through, marking up, and taking notes on articles, books, and websites to incorporate.  Still have yet to add anything from them, but hopefully that will start shortly.  In the meantime, roughly 50,000 words in to things.  Pretty happy with that for a second draft.

On the more creative, fiction side, I have put together several worldbuilds of varying levels of detail.  Most have been set aside as “practice” material, or proof of concept, or trying out an idea that may reappear later in a more evolved form.  Currently, I’m sitting on two, one of which may not go anywhere and the other is at a minimal detail stage (basically a collection of random notes).

That one has spawned a number of focused worldbuilding/lore vignettes and some shorts. I think the shorts are going to be further developed as a sort of slice of life style collection.  For a while, even before working on the magic book, but emphasized as I worked on it, I’ve had a thought nagging at the back of my mind.  We have a lot of stories, novels, TV shows, movies, etc. that incorporate, involve, or focus on magic schools.  However, these almost exclusively focus on the perspective of the students (usually the newest student).  The only exceptions I could think of off hand were Pratchett’s Unseen University (faculty perspective, and once a faculty-staff perspective, sort of, in Unseen Academicals) and Charmed’s Magic School (kind of faculty/admin perspective).  But, the former is a parody of real world schools and the latter was never a major focus (and was primarily added, for a season or so, due to the rising popularity of Harry Potter).

These little slice of life, linked, vignettes/shorts kind of morphed as I developed the lore vignettes.  They’ve become focused on the perspective of the staff of a magic school (caretaker, security, cook, grounds, librarian, steward, healer) moving behind the scenes.  I may expand them into some of the areas geographically immediately adjacent to the school too.

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Quarantine Watching (TV)

So, during the quarantine, we’re also getting into or caught up with some series.

As lifetime Star Trek fans raised on ST:TNG, we started watching Picard, and enjoyed the first season.  It was nice to get back into the world.  Seeing Picard, Riker, Troi, Seven of Nine, and Data again was a great nostalgia trip.  And the writing was well done.  It was also nice to see the world outside of Starfleet and non-military Romulans.

After Picard, we turned to ST: Discovery.  We’re part way through season one, and it’s been pretty good. The writing is good, the characters are good.  I’m amused by the continued use of Sarek to link different Trek series together, though.  I did find myself wondering why it seems to be that every other series or so feels the need to reinvent the Klingons.  Not so much their culture or history, but their appearance.  Going from TOS to TNG made sense (better make up, less campy aliens, etc.), but the shift from TNG to Discovery Klingons is rather dramatic and odd.  Though, I suppose they’ll eventually explain it (and/or go back to the retcon they explained in Enterprise).  Thought the “reinvention” of the transporters (vertical pads) was odd and unnecessary, though.

On my own, I finally got around to checking out Lost Girl, and managed to get through the first four seasons before Netflix lost it.  Those seasons were fun, intriguing, and kept my interest.  They made some odd decisions (ex. loki is a species, Mongolian death worms are people, but basilisks are animals), that became odder as season five started (ex. loki is a species, but Freya and Odin are people, and Odin is also Zeus and Amun, but Hades isn’t also Hela or Osiris).  Rally, season five (which I’m half way through) kind of jumped into strange territory.  It’s hasn’t completely jumped the shark into bizarre land, like True Blood did (the books were odd enough at some points, but the show said “Hold my beer”), though, so we’ll see what the rest of the season is like.