Escapement, by Jay Lake

jIn Jay Lake‘s Escapement Paolina Barthes is a girl of fifteen born and raised in Praia Nova, a small coastal village in the shadows a Muralha, or the Wall. Women in Poalina’s village never amount to much in the world where men see themselves as superior to women. But Paolina is an exception. She has a gift unlike any other. Not only does she understand machinery to the degree that she can repair things that her village depends on, she also figures out how to invent something more powerful than any weapon known to man. Realizing Praia Nova has so little to offer her, Paolina sets out for England where she believes she will find wizards who can teach her more than she already knows. But she never makes it to England. Trouble meets her along the way and she finds herself hunted by the British Empire and the Celestial Empire, as well as two secret societies, the White Birds and the Silent Order. All of them want her gleam, which is the instrument she invented that can do the work of God.

The ACA

A few weeks ago I had a lengthy discussion on Facebook about the ACA. The bulk of the discussion was voiced by me, a couple of my cousins and an asshole who seemed to think his opinion was the only opinion that mattered (and who I no longer respect after he basically called us all freeloaders when he couldn’t convince us that his way is the only way).

I was swayed back and forth between both sides of the argument. But then something Irene said pulled it all together for me and I was able to take a solid stance. So, here’s the summary and what it all came down to for me.

(Comment copied from the discussion with mild edits applied.)

I guess it depends on how you look at it. When we call it slavery, though, it feels like a big exaggeration, like we’re blowing the whole thing out of proportion. If this is slavery, it’s barely noticeable.

I’ve been thinking about this discussion all day. Wendy moved to England a little more than a year ago when she married Mark. I don’t know exactly how long she had been fighting cancer, but if I recall correctly, she’d beaten the cancer not long before she got married. So, it wasn’t that long ago that she was dealing with the insurance companies we have here in the United States. I think her information is up-to-date and accurate.

Now Wendy is living in England and, as she said, she gets free healthcare. David pointed out that there is no such thing as free healthcare; that somebody else has to shoulder the expenses for the healthcare that is considered to be “free”. He’s not wrong, but Wendy’s not exactly getting charity that somebody else has to pay for. Wendy pays 70 pounds a month along with, I’m guessing, everyone else in the UK, whether they need the medical attention or not. This insures that when somebody does need medical attention they don’t have to worry about whether they can afford it or not, because it’s already covered.

Why shouldn’t we have something like that in the United States? While the ACA is not exactly the same thing as what Wendy has in England, it sounds like they intend for it to function in pretty much the same way. Irene, who has worked in the medical field for years, reminded us that people use emergency rooms as doctor’s offices because they can’t afford insurance. More often than not, they also can’t afford the bill for their time in the emergency room. The bill goes to the government and the government pays it with tax dollars.

I think that people who oppose the ACA are saying to those in need of medical attention, “If you can’t afford it, you can’t have it.” But I feel that nobody should have to suffer or die just because they can’t afford insurance. The ACA, like the NHS, could make it so that nobody has to worry about not being able to afford healthcare when they need it.

So, that’s where I stand. The ACA, although not perfect, makes a lot of sense to me now. I think it makes as much sense as paying taxes for roads, schools, law enforcement and fire departments, etc. Everyone needs medical attention at some point in their lives, and if they can’t afford it, the government covers it. I think the ACA would make it so the government doesn’t have to pay for so much and it could improve the economy. It would probably be better if we went for something more like what they have in Europe, but the ACA looks like a step in the right direction.

The Return of Anxiety

It was about a week ago when I had a total meltdown. I had been feeling great for quite a while, confident and secure. I wasn’t worrying about much. I was having fun, goofing off and enjoying myself. And then the meltdown happened. One minute I was fine, the next minute I was completely aware of how stupid and annoying I am. A wave of depression washed over me and I felt like I owed everyone an apology. An apology for what? I don’t know. I guess for existing within their range of awareness.

This happens once in a while. I usually choose to get drunk when it happens. Yes, yes, I drink, well, often. But usually I drink because I enjoy it and not as a means of comfort. When I’m in a total slump, I drink because it gives me some measure of peace. It numbs my senses to whatever is bothering me. By the time the alcohol wears off, the worst of whatever it was that had me so down will be behind me. At least that’s how it usually works out.

But even though the worst is behind me, there’s a sort of recovery stage that follows. I have to rebuild my confidence. It’s a slippery slope. I gain some ground and I lose some ground, and eventually I make to the top of the mountain again. Eventually I will be able to stop second guessing myself and everything will be dandy.

This anxiety, or whatever you call it, might well be over nothing. Right now, though, I’m not so sure that it is. But whether it’s over nothing or not, I’ll make it to the top of the mountain, eventually.

God in My Life

I feel like a hypocrite sometimes. I have a habit of sounding off when I see or hear something I disagree with. There are times when I wish I’d bitten my tongue and kept quiet. There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to get into the argument, that wants to keep my opinions to myself. And often I feel like a fool when I speak up. I think I have a pretty good grasp on what the Bible says and what it doesn’t, but I don’t hold that true to the Bible. There’s things in the Bible that rub me the wrong way. I’m one of those people who takes the things I like from the Bible and ignores the things I don’t like. Because I do that, it’s probably not fair for me to point out that this or that “goes against God’s word” and yah, yah, yah.

But there’s more. Over the last week or so, I’ve been questioning my faith. I feel like every time I say I believe in God, it’s as if I’m saying I believe in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. I don’t think having a relationship with God is necessary for people to be happy and loving. For myself, why I believe at all: Well, I feel a pull at my heart, a presence in mind and in the world around me. A sort of soft embrace that is just barely felt and assures me that I’m never alone.

But am I just kidding myself? I mean, I’ve always had a wild imagination. Things from any book I read can make me feel that something is there. Something in Stephen King‘s Bag of Bones scared me so bad I threw the book across the room to get it away from me. “Hey, that’s my dust catcher!”

Is it possible that the Bible has a similar effect? Maybe I believe in God because so many other people in my life do and it feels right to believe. I’m not saying that I’m giving up my faith, because I still feel what I call God’s presence, and whenever I think to  denounce God, it feels wrong. But whether that means anything or not, I don’t know. I’m currently questioning my faith, and I think it’s healthy to do so. There’s nothing wrong with thinking things over.

My Childhood Home

This is the house I lived in when I was kid, all done up in Sims 3. I lived there from the time I was a toddler until I was thirteen. It’s the setting of the Where I Want to Be song that I posted some weeks ago. Not everything measures up quite right, but it’s close enough. The outside siding had been yellow instead of white, but the Sims didn’t have a yellow siding that looked right. The furniture is placed as I remember it best, though I might be wrong about some thing.

house1

The front.

house2

The back. The deck and patio were not there in the beginning. I remember helping my dad build the deck. I’m guessing I was around five. The patio came soon after the deck, My brother, my sister and I had our handprints in the corner that is not touching the deck or the house.

house3

I chose brightly colored furniture just so it would show up better, but much of our furniture was dark colored. The walled-in spaces between the rooms were closets. And that door by the refrigerator, that was where the basement stairs were, but the Sims were being a pain in the ass about fitting the stairs in there, so I left them out.

house6

The basement. The wall in the middle wasn’t always there. My dad built that when I was about eight or nine so he could have a band room separated from the rest of the basement. The room behind the stairs, that was where the washer and dryer were. There was also an old junked up motorcycle leftover from my dad’s teen years, and an old coat hanging on the wall, dirty, dusty, and infested with spiders. The space behind the stairs was more or less a place to store junk.

 house4

We built the garage when I was around eight. I remember helping my dad with this too. The space between the garage and the house was a room where my mom had her hair salon. I wanted to include that room, but the Sims wouldn’t let me make a wall from a ground level building to a building on a foundation, so that’s another thing I was forced to leave out. So, my mom had a hair salon and my dad did a lot of auto body repairs in the garage.

house5

When I was around ten, we added onto the house. We moved the deck back, built a family room with a fireplace and a bar. We also built a larger bedroom for my parents. My brother moved into their old bedroom and I had a room to myself.

The house was on an acre of property. There was a hill in the backyard. The bottom of the hill was where we rode our motorcycles. The woods were behind the property. There were many other houses in the neighborhood like ours.

~

It’s been a long road.
So many days have gone by.
There are times I will always remember,
And I still have the old pictures.
I’m sitting here thinking
How I’d like to be there again.

When I was a kid we had a house
At the end of Big Buck Lane.
The world wasn’t much more
Than our neighborhood,
But that was all we needed.
In the spring and summertime
We’d ride our bikes where we wanted,
As long as we stayed within our limits.
It was just three short streets,
But I had felt free.

I want to be there again.

Sometimes we’d sit on the grass
By the basement window
And listen to mom and dad’s
Band practice after sunset.
And I remember playing basketball
On the patio beside the deck.
We had no hoop to shoot for,
But still we managed to score.
Life wasn’t always easy,
But I had felt at peace.

I want to be there again.

It was a time when I was pure at heart
And life was new and full of adventure.
The trails in the woods were haunted war paths
And the sandpit had buried treasure.

Our weapons were cap guns
And plastic bows and arrows.
Sometimes swords and knives
Were the juicer choice.
Before Nintendo came into our home
And motorcycles were what we rode,
Before we got into bigger things,
That’s where I want to be.

I want to be there again.

An Extremely Goofy Movie (1999)

untitledSometimes I’m just in the mood for something more colorful, and what’s more colorful than cartoons? I went on Netflix and looked through the Children & Family movies that Netflix recommended.  Most  of them were animated movies, some by Disney and some by other production companies. There were several I had already seen and several more that I hadn’t. I decided to watch An Extremely Goofy Movie. I remember A Goofy Movie and I liked it, so I thought I might like an extremely goofy movie.

And I did. It was quite ridiculous, but enjoyable. It was just right for my numb mind. I really wasn’t in the mood for anything smart. I wanted something fun, relaxing and… ridiculous.

In An Extremely Goofy Movie, Max is grown up. Can you believe that? How long ago was Goof Troop? I used to watch that, even though I was well into my teens around the time it was airing. So, Max grew up, along with P.J. and Bobby. He’s in college, though he never did lose his passion for skateboarding. In fact, Max, P.J. and Bobby are a team competing in the college’s X-Games.

Goofy, after losing his job, decides to go back to college and get a degree. Max, of course, is horrified when his daddy shows up in groovy 70’s garment and sporting an afro the size of a beach ball. That might have been the style back in the day, but it isn’t quite fitting for Max’s 1999 college paradise. Needless to say, Max isn’t thrilled to have his dad on campus with him, you know, because his dad embarrasses him.

Goofy quickly becomes popular when he accidentally does some awesome stunts on a skateboard in front of the school’s X-Gamers and fans. Max, eager to have his dad out of his way, encourages Goofy to join the team of his rivals. And things get more crazy, ridiculous and fun from there.

At one point in the movie, Bobby asked a very interesting question. “Hmm?” he said. “Do you ever wonder why we’re always, like, wearin’ gloves?”

That prompted me to go looking for the answer on why cartoon characters often wear gloves. Turns out the tradition started way back when Mickey Mouse starred in Steamboat Willie. Disney had problems drawing Mickey’s hands and found it easier to draw them with gloves. Also, in the day of black and white pictures, it was hard to see the character’s hand gestures or what they were touching, etc, and I guess the white gloves helped with that. Some studios just wanted to keep that tradition going.

——————————————————–

Someone from The Collectionary emailed me and expressed an interest in featuring this blog entry on their very popular Goofy Facebook Page. The Collectionary is a company that promotes items for avid collectors and they have a department for Goofy items. I couldn’t see any reason not to go for it. In exchange for their featuring my blog entry, I’m linking to their site.

Goofy

Where I Want to Be

It’s been a long road.
So many days have gone by.
There are times I will always remember,
And I still have the old pictures.
I’m sitting here thinking
How I’d like to be there again.

When I was a kid we had a house
At the end of Big Buck Lane.
The world wasn’t much more
Than our neighborhood,
But that was all we needed.
In the spring and summertime
We’d ride our bikes where we wanted,
As long as we stayed within our limits.
It was just three short streets,
But I had felt free.

I want to be there again.

Sometimes we’d sit on the grass
By the basement window
And listen to mom and dad’s
Band practice after sunset.
And I remember playing basketball
On the patio beside the deck.
We had no hoop to shoot for,
But still we managed to score.
Life wasn’t always easy,
But I had felt at peace.

I want to be there again.

It was a time when I was pure at heart
And life was new and full of adventure.
The trails in the woods were haunted war paths
And the sandpit had buried treasure.

Our weapons were cap guns
And plastic bows and arrows.
Sometimes swords and knives
Were the juicer choice.
Before Nintendo came into our home
And motorcycles were what we rode,
Before we got into bigger things,
That’s where I want to be.

I want to be there again.

Kiss, Live, At My House

Dreamt that the band Kiss was preforming a concert inside my house. They set up stage in the office, there were the lights, the huge speakers and everything. The living room was set up with rows of seats facing the office. There were a lot of people here. I didn’t make much of an observation of the audience, but I think it was at least a thousand people. How all this fit in my house, I have no clue. Somehow the house was just roomier, though the rooms didn’t look like they expanded much.

It being my house, I was free to go anywhere I wanted, including the stage. Why was Kiss playing a concert in my house? The dream pixies allowed me to understand that Kiss was playing here because someone I know knows the band, though it was never made clear who that someone was, nor was it made clear the details of the agreement between me and the band. It was clear that I had some say about things, but I pretty much just stayed out of everyone’s way and let them do their thing.

After the concert, the band went up to the attic, which had been transformed into a dressing room. After a while I went up there. There were some people standing around, a table with food on it and a bunch of stuff lying around, like guitars and other things you’d expect to see in a rock star’s backstage room. I walked up to one of the band members and asked if he’d be interested in autographing an old Kiss album that I had somewhere. He gestured over his shoulder at some things leaning against the wall and said he already autographed a bunch of stuff for me. And then he said something else that I couldn’t make out. So, I did that thing I always do when someone says something I didn’t hear. I pointed at my ear and said, “I’m sorry, I don’t hear very well.” He rolled his eyes and walked away. I got embarrassed and began beating myself up.

Weird dream. I’m not even a Kiss fan. I like their music, but that’s as far as it goes.

The Pound

Last night I dreamt that I was about to get rid of Buddy, my cat. I don’t know why I had to get rid of him; the fuzzy little dream pixies hadn’t casted enough magic dust to make that part clear. I carried him out of the house to a waiting car. But, as I was putting him in the car, I asked the driver where we were taking him. The driver replied, “The pound.” To that I said, “No, I’ll keep him until I find someone who wants him.” And carrying Buddy, I turned away from the car and went back in the house.

When I woke up, a spark went off in my head and I had the inspiration for a new blog entry.

~The Pound~

(Intro-out, fade-in with an old Snoop Dogg tune where he’s rapping about smoking a joint and how his mind is on his money while his money is on his mind, and bow wow wow, yippy yo, yippy yay.)

When discussing the pound around our pets, instead of saying the actual word “pound”, it’s probably better to spell it out every time you need to use the word. Just say P-O-U-N-D instead of “pound”. This is important because if our pets know what  we’re talking about, they might get the shivers, or at the very least, they might give us their big ole sad eye looks that say “Don’tchu wuv me anymore?”

I know of more than a few people who have taken pets to the pound over the last several years. There are various reasons why they might choose to do this. They might not be able to afford the pet, they might not have time to take care of the pet, they might feel the pet is too much trouble or they might just decide they don’t want the pet anymore. There’s probably a hundred different reasons why someone might decide to take their pet to the pound, or the animal shelter, as the pound is more commonly called these days.

I’ve given up on telling people why it’s probably not the best idea to take their pets to the pound. I gave up, because first, no one listens to me, and second, because I found that giving such advice makes people mad. So, I’ve started keeping my mouth shut and I try not to think too much about the situation.

Every time I hear that someone took their pet to the pound, I feel a pang in my heart. The thing that really gets to me is the pet had a home, a family. The pet was comfortable, and then one day the pet finds himself in a not very comfortable setting, with lots of other animals, some that are probably not friendly. On top of that, the pet is probably scared as well as heartbroken because his owners took him to the pound and left him there.

Yeah, I know some of you are sneering and rolling your eyes. Because you know the shelter will find a good home for the dog or cat you left in their care. In many cases, I’m sure the shelters do what they can, but the pound is not a paradise full of happy dogs and cats and people waltzing by the pens adopting pets by the minute. Shelters often have too many animals in their care, too few workers to take care of the animals, and too few people coming in looking to adopt a new pet.

If you have a pet that you want to get rid of, try to find a new home for him. I know this can be hard, but I’m sure you’ll eventually find someone to take the pet.

(Fade-out, Snoop Dogg: “Bow wow wow, yippy yo, yippy yay. The sounds of a dog brings me to another day….”)

Orchid Carousals, by Lucy A. Snyder – with Kaysee Renee Robichaud

2Lucy A. Snyder, along with Kaysee Renee Robichaud, mixes science fiction, fantasy and erotica in the recently released  collection Orchid Carousals.

These are erotica stories, but don’t confuse them with outright porn. Most of them have something built around the scenes where sex happens. To me, they are more like romantic stories with sexual scenes that are stronger than what is in most romantic stories. I have no complaints.

is on the wrong train