Someone (you know who you are) e-mailed to complain that I haven't posted any excerpts lately. You're right, of course, I've been too busy bitching and complaining about other stuff, sorry. I'm still buffing the web site story for May, which is turning into a damn novella, but here's a bit from one I may or may not sell:
Excerpt from "Rebel Ice"
by S.L. Viehl
When the nadira came to my world, I felt pity for it. I wept for it.
Then I shot it in the head.
It arrived on the vessel that appeared just before dawn. I saw it at once, hurtling out of control, a thin white streak against the stars. Like many others, it had been wrenched from orbit by the sansayr, the fierce wind streams which shield the surface of Akkabarr, my homeworld.
"So cold." My second, Enafa, joined me at the window I had chopped in the thick blue ice. As my apprentice shivered, she also peered, trying to see what had caught my attention. "Is that a ship, Resa?"
"Yes." I measured the plume, silently calculating the rate of descent as I watched it elongate.
She hopped on one foot, then the other, slapping her arms with her mitts. "Should we alert the crawls?"
"Wait." I watched it fall until it bloomed with a flash just over the north fields, then faded. That decided me. "Bank the heatarc and put on your outfurs."
As Enafa obeyed, I heard her murmur "Die quickly" -- one of the more traditional Shefti prayers.
"They will." All the newly outcast pray, but I did not ridicule her as one of our sisters would. Truth be told, I envied her that faith. I also knew it would not last another season. "Finish your tasks."
"Perhaps I will be singled out this time." She sounded frightened and yet, almost excited. "My mother often chose me over my sisters, you know. Back at our iiskar.
She favored me."
I pulled on the thick pile of outfur I'd made for myself, my first season on the ice. "Yes, as you have told me." Too many times.
Her vain wish would not come true, of course. Enafa had only been among the skela for a mere three suns. Our headwoman preferred seasoned handlers on the ice. Her fear and hope, like her memories, reminded me of how different we were. She still clung to that once-life as if it were still hers.
I had been dead for a long, long time.
At times I wondered if my own five seasons of exile had numbed me. I no longer felt sorrow for what I had been, or disgust for what I had become. It would not matter if I had. As long as I worked, none of the skela cared what I felt. Enafa had yet to learn that, but I had no desire to be her teacher.
Watching over the child was work enough.
Together we trudged back through the bitter cold to the crawls. Daneeb had not yet risen from her sleepspace, where I glimpsed her wedged between two old ones. Likely sharing her prodigious heat to warm them, I thought, and sent my young apprentice to warm herself at the great heartarc in the central cavern. Our headwoman never openly showed sympathy for the young or the ancient among us, and I knew she not appreciate being discovered off guard by a newling.
"We show no mercy," she told every newling -- what we called the recently outcast -- when they came to the skela. "No one shows it to us."
I walked a few yards beyond Daneeb's space and pretended to have an irritated throat.
She appeared a moment later, balancing one hand against the stone wall as she pulled her trousers over her thermal leggings. "What is it, Resa?"
"A crash, skrie. Forty kilometers past Golihn Ridge." I hesitated as I recalled the plume, and the flash. If I was in error, handlers might be wasted, or needed. Also, there was much I could not say within the hearing of others, particularly Enafa. "The ship flashed just above the surface."
Daneeb grunted, then shrugged into her outfurs and strode out to the central cavern. A moment later, I heard her bellow, "Crawls five, seven, nine, rouse yourselve. Work awaits."
Forty-three of us occupied the caves since the latest outcasts had arrived two suns before. I determined our numbers the same way everyone did -- not by counting bodies, which would have been rude, but the division of food. Our headwoman's predecessor once secretly doled out extra rations to whoever brought in the most bodies, hoping to cull the indulged as protectors. Daneeb herself discovered the crime, dragged the headwoman from the cave to dark ice, and staked her out there.
I knew because hers was the first body I ever saw claimed by the juyadin.
"Forget life," Daneeb often told me. "You are skela now."
Abandoning one's memories was the price of becoming a handler of the dead. What had any of us left to think about? We could never return to iiskar, or see our families, or touch another Shefti for as long as we breathed. Even after our deaths, only another handler could touch us. To be cast into the skela meant enduring an unclean existence, one that rendered us forever despised and exiled.
In most ways, that was worse than dead.
I knelt beside Enafa before the great heatarc to warm my limbs. No longer pinched by cold, her young face glowed smooth and plump, but drowsiness made her eyes heavy. "You should sleep while we are gone. You will have watch again with me this night."
She watched Daneeb leave the crawls. "Resa, can you not ask the headwoman to take me with you this time?"
Barely beyond her first bleeding year, cast out from her iiskar for stealing food. Enafa was a child, really. And yet I could have seized her then and shaken the teeth from her head. "No."
Her mouth drooped. "You do not care for me."
"No. I do not." It did not pain me to watch her scurry away, cringing, rejected. She would not know that I had done her a favor for some time yet.
One of our sisters emerged from crawl nine, groaning as she dragged the thermal wrap from her head. "Why do they never come down after the first meal?"
On top of dealing with my apprentice, the mild complaint irritated me. "The sansayr
has no regard for your empty belly."
A big shadow fell over me -- Galla, the beast-driver, in heavy icefurs. Light from the heatarc made her shaggy cloak and hood glow red. "Malmi, get up or starve a day." She moved her gaze to my face, and her silver eyes narrowed. "Resa, outside."
I followed the beast-driver at a cautious distance. That was the best way to do anything involving Galla.
Once our boots touched ice, Galla made an impatient gesture toward Daneeb, who was already out by the pack skimmers, balancing skids. "She waits for you."
Galla did not like our headwoman or me, but like all beast-drivers, she disdained anything that stood on two legs. Someone had once made light of her devotion for the juyadin. Galla's response had left deep scars. I made a brief, courteous nod to her, then strode to the pack skimmer.
"So, Resa." Daneeb looked up from the wide alloy blade that would keep us from falling through the sheet crust. "Tell me the rest."
The words left my lips with reluctance. "The stardrive may have imploded in the upper atmosphere, but if it did they must have ejected it. The explosion was too small to be from anything but changes in the interior atmosphere. The vessel itself appeared to be League, military, not very large, possibly a leader's transport."
Daneeb knew my discomfort had nothing to do with reporting these facts to her. My familiarity with offworlder ships came from my journeys to the Shamal cities, something forbidden to nearly all Shefti women. The headwoman had discovered my knowledge quickly enough, but extended more of the mercy she claimed not to have by shielding it from the others.
Even the godless skela would stake out a heretic like me.
"A League leader. Inat Tallatalla.
" The headwoman's spit froze before it struck the ice. "The torifa must be on their skimmers by now. Go, help Galla harness the beasts."
The icecaves of the juyadin squatted some distance from the skela crawls, and were further segregated by retaining enclosures necessary to discourage the beasts's nomadic nature. I carefully latched the gate behind me before picking my way through the skeleton yard and entering the largest of the passages the juyadin had licked out of the ice.
I called out my presence. "Galla, I am sent to help."
"Bring my retainers," was her breathless reply.
I took down the head straps and leads from the hooks Galla had driven into the icewall, and carried them further into the darkness. My eyes adjusted rapidly, but the weight of the retainers nearly made me stagger. Something growled to my right, but I kept going. Stillness, not movement, aroused the beasts. As eaters of death, the juyadin owned anything that did not move.
Offworlders who traded with my father called our pack beasts snow tigers, and admired their appearance and strength. The juyadin were immense, long-bodied creatures with six agile appendages and splayed paws edged with sharp digging claws. I suppose to alien eyes they appeared quite attractive -- their sleek pelts changed with the color of the snow crust, at times dark blue like the endless night of sunless seasons, only to grow as pale as drift crystal during the long rising.
A number of traders once attempted to export them for labor to other iceworlds. My father sold the same beasts over and over, then sent his torifa later to recover the crashed skimmers and round up the juyadin.
From this sort of foolishness came the Shefti saying: Death cannot be made a servant.
I came upon Galla wrestling a retainer over the massive head of the pack leader, and paced a small circle around her. Her skill harnessing the snow tigers reflected in every economical movement she made. Then I looked into the beast's large, silver eyes, and saw what the beast-driver flirted with each day, and thought of another ancient proverb.
Death never worries about its next meal.
Copyright 2002 by S.L. Viehl. All rights reserved.
Out to Launch:
Went to see an AF buddy this morning to talk hardware, as I hit a design problem with the strafers I created for BioRescue. I've been trying to figure out how to construct an immersion tank with some kind of suspension harness that would protect the gunner but also avail a full three-sixty view of surrounding space, and how to fit in the related weapons tech he needs to blow things up. Exterior weapons are also a concern, this is basically a space fighter. After going over my sketches, we pulled some books and started looking at the various schematics for tail gunner roosts and turrets in the old WWII planes. Then I thought of the various traction rigs and halos I've seen in hospitals, and eventually we came up with a pretty neat combo. Now if I can just make in work in context, so that the reader can "see" what my gunner Burn actually does -- without sounding like all these hardcore tech writers who bore me to tears...
Battle of the Sexes:
To answer an e-mail about my alleged anti-feminism, I suppose it's true in a way. Aside from the ex-husbands, I do like men. I was raised to respect them, and I gave birth to a couple of XYs, remember. My hero of all time is Dr. Edward Jenner, with Abraham Lincoln as first runner up. I've worked with some incredibly gifted male doctors, nurses, and EMT techs. Inc fact, the best jobs I've had outside of writing were working for and/or with men, as the ratio of good guys to jerks in the workplace is usually 5 to 1, and nearly all my male bosses were wonderful. I went through a man-hating stage when I was younger, but gradually I learned that unlike my first ex, not all brilliant men are complete psycopaths. And while I've abandoned the idea of ever marrying again -- just the prospect of dating makes me nauseous -- I find guys make pretty decent friends. You always know where you stand with 99% of males.
Women, well, what can I say. I'm not into the auto-sisterhood thing, and my life choices seem to tick off a lot of them. Nearly all of the women I've worked for and/or with have been difficult, to put it diplomatically. Women always accuse men of being vindictive at the workplace, but the only time I've had my job deliberately sabotaged was when one lady wanted her best friend to have my job and tried to get me fired (didn't work, and she got caught and fired instead.) And this pervasive, seething hatred of and prejudice against men in general among women of my generation bewilders me. Sure, males aren't perfect, but neither are women. A lot could be done to even things up between the sexes, and I'm all for equal pay for equal work, but estranging the opposite sex isn't going to get us any of that.
I'm forever fascinated by the ying and yang of men and women, which is why I enjoy writing about those relationships so much. If being a lifelong romantic and appreciating the many qualities of the opposite sex means I'm an anti-feminist, then okay, guilty as charged. But you feminists, ask yourselves something -- by condemning all men, aren't you doing the same thing you're accusing them of doing to us?
Checking to see if I just blew up the template. This is not an actual emergency -- yet.
Department of Homicide:
I don't write about my exes -- other than the occasional flare of sarcasm here and there -- but #2 really lived up to his name this morning. My daughter is no longer in tears and I made sure Daddy looked like a hero, but only because I'm not vindictive. I think children should find out on their own what a stupid irresponsible ass their father is. Mine are learning fast.
Attack of the Clones:
I don't use my legal name anywhere on the Internet, so it was a surprise last week to get a forwarded e-mail addressed to my legal name but intended for an northern US elementary school principal (forwarded by a family member who thought it was interesting.) She has the exact same first, middle, and last name as mine. Although we were born in the same state, we're not related and she's ten years older than me, as I discovered when I found the lady's correct e-mail. We had a brief, pleasant exchange, and laughed off the coincidence -- she promises to swap places with me if I ever get bored being a writer, and she gets bored running her school.
Later, out of curiosity -- because my legal name is unusual -- I ran a search on myself. Although there were no others who share my middle name, I found I do share the same first and last name with an RN in New Zealand (who, spookily, is also a published author), a British secretary working in the nuclear power field, a Native American television news anchor in the Midwest, a US horse breeder/shower (not sure where she's from), and a physicist graduate student working on a pretty cool alternative power source study in the northwest.
Now, if someone told me they had cloned me at birth, and scattered my twins across the globe, I probably would have guessed some of them would grow up to be writers, med pros, teachers, scientists, or animal lovers. But a television anchor? (shudder)
They say everyone has a physical twin somewhere in the world, and I've actually met mine. Sort of. When I was nine, my parents took us on a trip to St. Augustine, and we stopped to have breakfast at a place like Denny's. Two elderly people came over to the table, called me another name, and demanded to know how I'd gotten there and who these people were with me. After my parents got them calmed down, the couple produced photos of their granddaughter in Indiana. It could have been my photo, that's how identical we were to each other. After being reassured that I wasn't her, they took my name and address, and a few weeks later my twin wrote to me. We traded photos and were penpals for a few years, but found after a while that we had absolutely nothing in common, and the correspondence trailed off. I still have her address, though, and I've often thought of writing to her again to see how I turned out on her end.
Abstinence Makes the Bathroom Cleaner:
Unlike most grownups, I don't use alcohol at all. If you could see what booze can do to a human liver, or a driver who hits a family of nine (eight of whom died) in a mini-van in a head-on collision, you'd probably throw out all your booze, too. Yet I keep getting bottles upon bottles of wine from well-meaning but totally oblivious people during the holidays -- last Christmas, a whopping fifteen bottles. I gave every single one back, citing my abstinence, except one my friend asked me to keep and use for cooking.
Well, I haven't found a recipe for $35 Pouillac (sp?) so I finally took it out of the fridge yesterday and prepared to empty it down the sink. The nice thing about wine is that it cleans the drains like nobody's business. Then a thought occurred to me, and I took the bottle and a sponge into the bathroom. I poured some of the wine on the sponge, then scrubbed the wall around the soap holder, and viola!
Took those stubborn soap scum stains right off the tile like magic. This is so
much better than Tilex, which has such horrible fumes that I gave up using it. You do need to rinse right away, unless you want
your grout to turn pink, but who'd have guessed wine would do such a great job removing scum? I thought it only created it...
Quote for the Day:
"My teacher said to me, The treasure house within you contains everything, and you are free to use it. You don’t need to seek outside.” - Dazhu (487– 593)
Works for me.
Medical Fact for the Day: Botulism
is a virulent and potentially fatal disease caused by the clostridium botulinum bacillus. Seven different antigenic types of C botulinum have been identified (A through G), but cases in humans are usually caused by types A, B, and E. Botulinum toxin is a highly potent neurotoxin that blocks release of acetylcholine at the terminal membrane of motor neurons, and one of the main characteristics of the disease is acute afebrile descending symmetric flaccid paralysis. Severity can range from mild cranial nerve dysfunction to severe flaccid paralysis requiring prolonged ventilatory support, depending on the amount of toxin absorbed by the patient.
Some of the symptoms of botulism are double or blurred vision, dry mouth, loss of head control, weakness in the extremities, gastrointestinal distress (eg, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation), dilated or fixed pupils, gaze paralysis, facial paralysis, diminished gag reflex, weakness of intercostal muscles, and loss of deep tendon reflexes. Testing for botulism is available through public health laboratories and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The incubation period for foodborne botulism ranges from 2 hours to 8 days, for inhalational botulism is approximately 72 hours, and for wound botulism is 4 to 14 days after initial injury.
Treatment consists of appropriate supportive care and use of trivalent ABE equine antitoxin. Antitoxin will not reverse existing paralysis but will prevent additional nerve damage and therefore should be administered as soon as possible after clinical diagnosis. Antitoxin is only available through the CDC via state and local health departments. A case of botulism is considered a public health emergency
and should be reported immediately
to state or local public health officials.
Williams wasn't enough, apparently. First, a kind invitation to join a certain all-women group came in, which I politely turned down --I don't join groups that actively discriminate against men. This earned me yet another
accusation of being an anti-feminist. Well, sorry, but I like men. I'll call you if I ever decide they're all scum.
Second, a query as to my official stand on the Israeli situation from a friend who is evidently collecting votes for America stepping in and enforcing peace. Again, I politely responded that I think Israel should have the right to defend itself, just like any other country, and because we are Israel's only true ally in the world, we should back them up. Like they backed us up when we asked them not to retaliate for the SCUD missile attacks during the Gulf War. Also, some of my own ancestors were Jews, and I can't help but feel a sense of solidarity with the people of Israel. Wrong thing to say, as my friend responded so ferociously that I assume we're no longer friends.
I left the house shortly after the last e-mail attack and took a long walk with Mike, who is my center in every storm (Kathy is out with her Dad tonight.) I forgot all about anti-feminism and anti-semitism and just enjoyed being with my son, who has decided to become a baseball coach when he grows up and would like his own playing field in back of his house. Said house will be ten stories tall, with a big screen TV in every room (he's such a male
). The property will also be guarded by at least fifty dogs, all of whom will pounce on burglars and bad people but not bite them. When I asked why not train the dogs to attack, Mike calmly pointed out that "They would get hurt, and that wouldn't be right." And again God reminds me through my own child of what I try so hard to believe in: "Do no harm."
I think I'm going to work on that for awhile, and forget about this other stuff.
Killed five characters and finally blew up the silk factory. Didn't help, because I had to reread my notes on the Chinese Meteorological Administration's space program, and the April 1994 accident that destroyed the Feng Yun Two satellite's launch vehicle, killed one worker and injured twenty others. The nature of the "accidental" explosion, which was never fully disclosed to the public, convinced certain folks that the CMA wasn't trying to launch a weather
satellite. They launched a replacement three years later, successfully this time, and we still have no idea exactly what the hell is up there in orbit. But what do we care? It's much more important to go smash billion dollar probes into a planet we can't live on.
But I'm done ranting about NASA. Like many massive corporate entities, there is little to nothing I can do about it, except lodge my official protests with my own Congressman (which went off this morning, post haste) and watch this Williams guy. If he does introduce this legislation to tax SF novels for NASA funding, I imagine my colleagues will be delighted -- they've all bought into the Boldly Going Where No Man Has Gone Before crap NASA endlessly shills out to make us think we're going to spawn a bunch of Captain Kirks someday. Who knows, maybe they'll invent a Nebula category just for Best Fan Politician.
disgusted by Williams and the whole NASA thing to post coherently. Off to write so I can kill other deserving people.
In honor of Wannabe Williams, I thought I'd post a NASA rant I wrote in September last year, just before the 9/11 attack:
NASA's Billion Dollar Blow
When I found out what it cost to build and send an orbiter to Mars, I decided to check into NASA's Mars exploration program. After all, a billion dollars is a lot of money. That's roughly the same amount it would cost to buy medicine and/or therapy to save a million lives right here on Earth. Must be pretty important.
I came across NASA's mission statement, posted on the Internet:
"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has initiated a long-term systematic program of Mars exploration, the Mars Surveyor Program (MSP). The highest priority scientific objectives of this program are to:
--Search for evidence of past or present life
--Understand the climate and volatile history of Mars
--Assess the nature and inventory of resources on Mars
The common thread of these objectives is water; past and present resources and sinks; exchanges between subsurface, surface and atmospheric reservoirs; and the change of volatiles over time."
So, basically, NASA wants to go and have a look at this big, cold, dead, red rock in space, see what lives/lived there, what the weather's like, and if there's anything laying around that we can exploit. That's pretty much what humans have been doing since Og the Trog looked out of the first tree and thought, "Hmmm, wonder if there's anything living in that nice roomy cave over there . . . honey, gimme my BIG club . . . "
I think spending that money to save a million lives on this planet would have been more appropriate, but I'm weird that way. Especially when I find out the billion dollars didn't buy any of the information NASA wanted, but instead was torched along with the orbiter when it crashed on Mars.
Oh, and it wasn't just a one orbiter and a billion dollars. It was two
orbiters and 1 billion one hundred twenty-five million
dollars. Apparently the second one that crashed was an economodel. NASA has no plans to abandon their Mars program, but they were embarrassed enough to cancel the launch of the Mars 2001 lander.
Wait, it gets better.
Thomas Young, a "seasoned space-industry executive" was appointed by NASA administrator Daniel S. Goldin to independently assess current and future Mars programs. To me, this is sort of asking the car salesman you just ordered a brand-new Maserati from to give you your official driver's license test. Like he's going to fail you? Yeah, sure.
Thomas Young and a bunch of other guys who play golf with Administrator Goldin got together, called themselves The Mars Program Independent Assessment Team (MPIAT) and spent about three months putting together their report. The report findings included the following:
-- Mars exploration is an important national goal that should continue.
(Why? They've crashed more stuff on this planet than a teenager makes dents in their Dad's BMW's bumpers practicing parallel parking. What would be wrong with saying, "Gee, maybe we should wait until we're a little smarter?")
-- Deep space exploration is inherently challenging, but the risks are "manageable" and "acceptable."
(With a tag that already reads $1,125,000,000.00 for nothing? Seems a little pricey to me, pal.)
--NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and US industry have the unique capabilities to conduct successful planetary and deep space missions.
(We're pretty damn good at crashing stuff, too. How about we practice parallel parking on the moon a few more times?)
-- NASA's "faster, better, cheaper" approach, properly applied, should be continued as an effective means of guiding program implementation.
(Definitely, build something quick and cheap. What are they going to call it? The YUGO Mars orbiter? Jesus, these guys can't even park the Cadillacs.)
-- Experienced project management or mentoring is essential.
(Just who's been running the shop before this? Trainees? The fry guy down the road from McDonald's?)
-- Project management must be responsible and accountable for all aspects of mission success.
(Does this include picking up the tab for what crashes? Can Mr. Goldin get that kind of home mortgage?)
And finally, the ultimate finding of the MPIAT:
-- If not ready, do not launch.
Mother of God, you have to tell
Tentative date for the next Mars orbiter launch: Summer 2002.
Copyright 2001 by S.L. Viehl -- all rights reserved.
Lions and Tigers and Congressmen, Oh My:
I've always said nothing could stop me from writing science fiction, but this bright boy
might. In addition to thinking he can tell American women what to do with their bodies, Congressman Wannabe Michael Williams promises to introduce legislation that would impose a 1% sales tax on science fiction books that would be used to fund NASA's space projects, like the Mars Crash-'em Bash-'em Probe program.
NASA, which already sucks up so much taxpayer money that it should resemble the bloated carcass of a dead cow that's been cooking on asphalt for a few weeks, doesn't need to make spare change off my
books. What NASA needs is to be shut down and everyone who works for it thrown in jail for racketeering. Why, you ask? How would you feel if you were forced to watch someone burn a couple of billion dollars, then they turn and ask you for more $$$ because the next time, they might get some valuable scientific data from watching the flames? And now this obese corporate monstrosity has got a mouthpiece who thinks he's going to tax my work to fund their fun and games? Oh, no, I don't think
My Daughter, the Photographer:
Katherine is in raptures over our new digital camera, and took this snapshot of me today (I was reading e-mail and talking to the computer. Again.)
Quote for the Day:
"They told me that Gladstone read Homer for fun, which I thought served him right." -- Winston Churchill
I always wonder what Colin Powell reads for fun. Then when I think about it, I don't want to know.
Medical Fact for the Day: Myrrh
is obtained from the resin of the commiphora molmol tree (Arabian myrtle) and stimulates the function of the mucuous membranes. Myrrh is used as an ingredient in a variety of medicines, including gargling tincture for sore throats and inflamed gums, and in some cough syrups.
Sorry, Can't Stop 'Em:
Someone sent me an e-mail today (I don't know you, but you know who you are) about ARCs of Sun Valley being auctioned off somewhere. Apparently not on eBay, I did a search. Anyway, I don't have control over what reviewers do with the ARCs copies they receive from my publisher. One hopes they would either a) read them and write something that doesn't include the words "anti-feminist" in it, or b) not read them and donate them to a library. Alas, from what I'm told, many turn over a tidy little profit selling their freebies, and it doesn't surprise me that some reviewer might make some bucks off mine.
Some folks think I get tons of ARCs, which in reality doesn't happen. My Onyx editor is generous enough to send me three or four copies, while my Roc editor can usually only spare one or two. My mom always gets one because, hey, she's my mother. The other goes out to the person to whom I dedicated the book, and any leftovers go into the kids' heirloom boxes. Occasionally I'll donate any extras for charity raffle baskets and such. I don't sell them, that would be . . . icky.
Quote for the Day:
"Your idea of bliss is to wake up on a Monday morning knowing you haven’t a single engagement for the entire week. You are cradled in a white paper cocoon tied up with typewriter ribbon." -- Author Edna Ferber, on uninterrupted writing
No. My idea of bliss is to wake up on Tuesday, having slept straight through Monday.
Totally UnMedical Fact for the Day:
If a seven year old girl develops a knot in her hair, her father will suddenly and mysteriously lose every brush he owns.
Nancy Drew, Eat Your Heart Out:
An update on the quilt detecting -- I've uncovered two old beauties over the last couple of weeks, so take a look:
This is the original, circa 1950's quilt I took apart:
and this is what I uncovered inside:
This quilt was in terrible shape, but the unbleached muslin backing had held together, so I chanced it. Here's the original:
And here's what was inside -- a Civil War era quilt:
Both of the hidden quilts are so badly deteriorated they cannot be repaired, but I plan to restore both using matching reproduction fabrics. The Civil War quilt held together for over one hundred years because the maker used such dense stitching that it is literally all that is holding the shattered fabric together.
Testing, one, two, three....
There's all kind of stuff on the web this week about the dreaded SATs, which I imagine thousands of high school kids are developing ulcers over. My teachers talked me into taking the SAT back when I was their favorite test monkey, and yeah, I scored perfect, no errors. Like most achievement tests, the SAT is also meaningless -- simply another staid little ruler to slap on everyone so the administration can measure and sort.
Being reminded of the current crop of pending high school graduates makes me depressed. Once all these kids get into college, and spend four years listening to professional failures lecture them on how wonderful they (the professors) are, and how stupid they (the rest of the universe) are, they'll be in serious debt, go out into the world, and find they can make more money waitressing than they can at a corporate internship. Or they'll be absorbed into Mummy or Daddy's business, become trapped in the endless loop of money=toys=bills=money and maybe wake up at forty and look at themselves in the mirror, horrified that they have become middle-aged, fat/balding/impotent/sag city, and their life is just as hopeless as the dreams they've forgotten.
Go to any grocery store around 7 pm and you can see them. The younger ones will be at the sushi display case, the older ones pondering the fat content from labels in the salad dressing aisle. They don't smile. There are lines between their eyebrows and around their mouths. These become permanent and deep. What you can't see is the invisible chain and harness they wear, that leads out of the store and back to whatever box their organ grinder of choice has hooked them up to.
Quote for the Day:
"There's so much introspection, over-explanation and presentation of EVERYBODY's point of view ..... come on, guys! These are fictional characters. I want to know why they do what they do, but it's not necessary for me to BOND with them!" Reader Jerry D. Geek, commenting on David Weber's "Shiva Option"
Everyone who wants me to write like Weber, go talk to Jerry.
Medical Fact for the Day: Bilirubin,
or the main pigment in human bile, is derived from haemoglobin (the red pigment of red blood corpuscles.) Bilirubin is manufactured in the reticulo-endothelial system, passed into the intestine via the gall bladder, where part of it is converted into stercobilin and excreted in the faeces. The balance is reabsorbed into the bloodstream and returned to the liver for recycling, with a small part being excreted in the urin as urobilinogen.