Category Archives: science
Nanowrimo is here!
‘What?‘ you say– ‘how is that pronounced and is it something really really small… and give me a definition, please.‘
No, this nano doesn’t mean something tiny. Quite the opposite. It’s national novel writing month, during which people who sign on, aspire to produce anything over 50,000 words of a narrative between a minute after midnight on November 1 and midnight of November 30th. That comes out to approximately 1,667 words a day.
Now you notice I wrote “a narrative”. That can be complicated. I started on the novel I thought I’d write on the first day and made about 980 words. Guess what? Wrong novel. That wasn’t the one I was ready to write. So on day two, I erased my word count and began again, hitting something over 3,000 words on that second day. It’s a good sign I could start running like that, but as all nanowrimo folk know, it’s no guarantee. Yesterday I had other things to do, but still managed over 3,000 words in the roughly four hours I had for writing. Today it’s 10:50AM and I’ve only created 228 words. Aaargh!
Wish me luck, please. My working title is Living with the Enemy and here’s the synopsis and my patch cover.
What does a twelve year old girl in So Cal want? To belong to the right group, have a safe home, feel accepted. Wynn has one of these taken from her when her parents split, and the other two threatened when she’s farmed out part-time to the wrong people. Staying week-nights at Juniper’s house isn’t on her list of reasonable choices. That family eats weird food, reads too many books, plus, they don’t have cable.
You have to avoid differences in sixth grade, you need to have the right sandwich bread in your lunch, the correct brand of sneakers, watch the popular shows. Wynn knows that, even if Juniper’s parents don’t. Then the TV screen at school on a Tuesday morning shows smoke pluming from two towers in New York on September eleventh. The United States of America has been invaded, our tolerance for differences will never be the same.
Behind the warm cookies and fat black cat at Juniper’s house lie secrets. Hidden visitors move in the hallway, doors and windows open and close to conceal something… or someone? Why does Juniper’s mother work late on a computer whose screen displays elaborate non-American words– and why does she change that screen every time Wynn happens to come in? Is Wynn living with terrorists planning the next attack? For the kids at school there are sides to choose and dramas to feed, with consequences they cannot even imagine. For the girl who can’t go home, there’s no way out of this dark puzzle, except through. One step at a time.
So we want life. Long life. The cardiologist says low blood pressure is the key to life, life ongoing, possibly everlasting Man, you can’t get enough of the stuff. More is better. So you take the drugs that will lower your blood pressure and you do all the things, You decrease the high and low points of your existence, you temper everything, you lose weight, and you go in obediently to the end of the year to your doctor, and hope that your drugs and exercise and diet have lowered all the excesses of your genetics and your vibrant sins so that maybe… you might live forever with no stroke, no heart attack… with lower blood pressure.
And tell me what does it serve a man that he gain the world and lose his soul?
Think what happens when you attain an orgasm. Do you fancy this is a freebie?…
Think what happens in that magic of moment when you are lecturing and you see the spark light in student’s eyes and you know you have infected them with that wonder, that joy of knowledge shared. Think of that instant when the brush in your hand makes the perfect movement and lays down a line of living paint that will vibrate in human brains forever. Consider striking the key on a piano that sounds a timing and an emphasis beyond planning– that alchemy of performance that can never be bettered. Turn upon the stage and speak words in evocative inflection, knowing in that instant that no one ever shall do it just so again. Spring from your computer in the recognition of an equation completed that has never been completed before.
Because all of these attainments break the placid expectation of what is “good” for us. They give us high blood pressure, and we love it. It kicks our asses. This is a drug beyond regulation or reasoned application.
This may kill us, but it’s why we live.
Envy us my friends — look at this–
Over a pound of morels, Morchella esculenta to be precise. We heard from the kid she’d seen some when out walking with a friend and after grilling her about why she hadn’t collected them, since they were on public property, we headed out. Note, it was after seven o’clock in February so the sun had set. But what are flashlights for? What are mycophiles for? How could we wait?
This is what morels look like when taken by surprise in the dark. We left plenty, and carefully cut the stems above the ground. Some folk say that isn’t necessary, but I would rather have no regrets and this way I can at least know I did my best to leave the mycelia reasonably undisturbed. Maybe we were hobbits in a previous incarnation.
(I will add the necessary caution about collecting mushrooms for food. I’ve been studying mushrooms as a hobby for over forty years and feel reasonably confident of my ability to identify specimens. I’d say never consume wild mushrooms casually. There’s good reason for all the lore about their deadliness. There are great reasons for the wonderful books out there to aid you in identification of types and species. (I don’t even know any more how many of these I own.) Additionally, some folk have allergies to certain species of mushroom and that’s not always predictable. If any doubt exists, toss the fungi away. It’s not worth a stomach ache or worse.)
Here’s the cover of my next book, a thriller/science fiction yarn set in the university town of Isla Vista, California. Imagine a strong smart young woman in Southern California planning to become a scientist, who notices the gradual disappearance of the local homeless, and a sequence of strange events concerning ducks– which mount to a personally threatening point. Call it science fiction with aliens, in a place where no one is ever supposed to grow old.
I just finished poring through the advance reader copy hunting down typos….My publisher tells me we have a due date of April 2015!