Tolerance, Redux

















Pushing Past 50K

Dang if it isn't happening.

For a couple of reasons - sickness and family being two, the holidays being the third - NaNoWriMo turned out to be a wash for me, but it did encourage me to write, which is a Good Thing.  I mananged to just about double my word count this month, which is a cause for rejoicing.

So, with that - here's another snippet for you, discussing long life, memory, and personality.



The walked along the edge of the tarmac towards the main building, Mike leading the way with she and Sophie trailing along on either side.  She couldn’t help but notice that spite of his even words, Mike seemed annoyed.

“Is he always like this?” she asked.

“Coy?”  Mike shrugged. “Yeah.  Pretty much.  He’s…” he trailed off for a second, thinking.  “Not flighty.  That’s not the right word.  Easily distracted?”  He shrugged again.  “Don’t know how to describe it.  Sometimes he just gets an idea in his head, and he goes after it.”

“Sounds like ADD,” said Sophie.

“Maybe,” said Mike.  “That’s just he way he is.”

She frowned, trying to recall… “You said something like that at the diner.  Has he always been like this?”

Mike stopped walking, and she and Sophie stopped as well.  He gave her a long look, considering, before he spoke.

“I don’t know,” he said slowly.  “I can’t remember.”

“How…” she stopped, shook her head.  “What do you mean?  I got the impression that you two have been friends for forever.”  Mike raised his eyebrows, and for some reason, she found herself blushing.  “For a long time, I mean,” she said.

“I know Coy’s talked doing stuff out in California with you during the gold rush days,” said Sophie. She cocked her head inquisitively as she spoke.  “I thought y’all went back even further than that.”

Mike sighed.  “We do,” he said.  “Weren’t aways friends, but we knew each other.  Thing is… Me and Coy, and folks like us.  The long-lived ones.”

“The Methuselahs,” she said.

“Yeah.  See, when it happens, you… you don’t always know right away.  Sometimes you do.  Take Alexi.  He knew right away that he had run into something that changed him.  It’s not always like that.  It wasn’t that way for me, at least.  Not for Coy, either, from what I gather.”  He jammed his hands in pockets, and looked down at his feet.

“You just kind of… live longer, at first.  I just thought I was in good shape when I was younger.”  He glanced at her and gave her a wry smile.  “Young men are stupid.”

“Amen,” said Sophie, emphatically.  Amy chuckled, and Mike’s mouth quirked up in a small smile.

“Guilty as charged. Of course I was stronger, of course I healed faster than most people, but when you’re young, you just figure that you’re lucky that way.”

He pursed his lips and looked off into the distance.  “Then you start getting older,” he said quietly. “Folks tell you that you’re aging really well, you don’t look a day over thirty.  That sort of thing.  You just figure you’re in really good shape, really lucky… then the people around you start dying.”

She glanced at Sophie.  The sasquatch shook her head slightly, and said gently, “That must have been hard.”

Mike snorted.  “A bit.  That’s when you get a clue that there’s something different about you.  You’re sixty, seventy years old, and you still feel like you did when you were twenty-five.  Maybe the people around you start noticing, start giving you odd looks… so you move, maybe.  Pull up, find someplace new to settle down.”

“Then, around the time you’re hitting the century mark, you realize that you can’t recall some things.”  He half turned to look at her.  “What your dad did for a living.  What the color of your sister’s favorite dress was.”  As he spoke, he seemed to shrink into himself.  “Your mother’s name.”

She opened her mouth, decided that there was nothing she could really say to that, and chose to remain silent.  In that brief glance from him, she had seem the same look in his eyes that her Dad did when he was remembering Mom.  The pain of loss.

Mike was silent for a second, then sighed and straightened up, taking his hands out of his pockets. “Coy’s got some thoughts about it, and from what I can tell, it makes sense,” he said in a more normal tone of voice.  “We live a long time, but we’re still human.  Only so much space up here,” he tapped his head, “and it eventually gets filled up.  So whatever it was that you haven’t thought about in a long while starts getting dumped out, so you can put new memories in those buckets.”

“That… that sounds a lot like Alzheimers,” said Sophie.

Mike nodded at her.  “Yeah.  I think that’s the way it works for most people, actually.  It’s just more noticeable with us.”

“So… what?” asked Sophie.  “You just forget things?”

He grimaced and started walking again.  “As time goes by, yeah.  You get used to it, eventually.  You compensate.  Coy and I both keep detailed journals, for instance.  It helps fix things in your memory longer - you remember doing something, then you remember writing about it, then you remember reading about it.  Even with that, though, you find you can go back maybe forty years or so before things start getting fuzzy.  Past seventy, and it gets really sketchy; you recall the big things, but little stuff is pretty much gone.  Past a hundred, and, well,” he spread his hands, “that’s why we keep journals.”

“So you don’t know why Coy’s the way he is,” she said, slowly.  Mike looked at her and gave a tired little chuckle.

“Know why he’s the way he is?  M’am, I couldn’t tell you why I’m the way I am.”  He shook his head again.  “I’ve forgotten the things that shaped me, made me who I am today.  I couldn’t tell you why I like horses, why doing things right and proper is important to me.  I just know that that’s the way I am.”

“Isn’t that true for all of us, though?” said Sophie thoughtfully.  “One way or another?”

“Might be some truth in that, Miss Sophie.”

They walked for a few seconds in silence before she put her hand out and touched Mike’s shoulder.  He stopped and turned his head to look at her questioningly.

“That’s why you’re, I don’t know.  Forgiving?  Willing to give Alexi some slack,” she said, as she dropped her hand.

“Not sure what you mean.”

She frowned, trying to put the thought in order.  “Empathy.  Something… happened to him, but he can’t remember it.  It changed him, though.  And now he’s got to deal with being who he is, even if he doesn’t remember how he became that person.  Kind of the way you and Coy have to, just on a smaller scale.”

“Huh,” said Mike.  “I don’t think I would have ever put it that way.”  He frowned, then nodded.  “Probably pretty close to the truth, though.  Mind you,” he continued, “it doesn’t mean I like him.  He did break my nose, if you recall.”

She raised her eyebrows.  “Oh, believe me.  I remember that.  I’ve got my own bone to pick with him.”  Her leg was still sore from the pummeling Alexi had delivered the night of the election.

“Still,” rumbled Sophie, “Your enemy is never a villain in his own eyes. Keep this in mind; it may offer a way to make him your friend.”  Mike looked at Sophie quizzically, then back at her as she chuckled.

“If not, you can kill him without hate — and quickly,” she said, finishing the quote.  “Heinlein,” she said to Mike by way of explanation.

“Hm.  Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that, then,” said Mike.  “And let’s get something to eat.  I’m starving.”

In Communist Cuba, Bingo gets YOU!

One (1) Internets to the first person who identifies a single article that fills the board.


NaNo NaNo

Since I've got a novel in flight, as it were, I decided to officially participate in NaNoWriMo this year.  If you're so inclined, you can find me registered here.

At the start of NaNo this year, I had about 30k words written.  I figured participating in NaNo would be a great way to push myself to bang out another 50k words, which should (hopefully) get me close to something that might resemble a finished story.

First week went really well.  I was more or less on track, and ended up about 1k words short of my goal.  Not to bad, considering that means I'd written 10k words (woohoo!) even in the face of having to take a couple of nights off for various activities, including our annual bonfire.

Then, of course, the election hit.  If you've read my blog for any amount of time, you can probably guess that following the election coverage and the aftermath was a bit of a time sink for me.

Just as that started to settle down, I got hit with a head cold, which pretty much left me wishing I could just sleep for 48 hours.  I actually gave that a pretty good shot over the weekend.

None of that was especially conducive to the idea of "butt in seat, writing".

So as of this morning, I'm currently sitting at 15k words worth of progress on my NaNo goals, which is around 8k short of where I want to be.  Not bad, but I can do better.

One thing that I've learned from participating in NaNo this year: writing and editing have to be separate activities for me.  When I started, I was researching and editing as I went, which meant that I was managing to write about 500 words/hour.  Overall, they were pretty good words.  Nice.  Polished.  They pretty much said what I wanted to say.

For NaNo, I've had to move to just writing - I pay attention to my use of the backspace key, and unless it's to correct a word or a misspelling, I force myself to skip it.

Sentence seems a bit awkward?  Ignore it - I grok what the meaning was, I'll clean it up later.

Need to know what type of four passenger plane a private pilot might own and fly?  Just make a note, come back and fill in the details later.

Can't quite figure out how to join these two passages?  Eh.  Make a note of that, forge onward.

Stalled wondering where this scene or conversation will go?  Switch over to something else.  Write a snippet that may or may not fit in elsewhere.

Whatever happens, just keep writing.


Just by making that effort, I've managed to come close to doubling my output - I can manage about 1k words per hour.  It's difficult to sustain that pace - I can do 2-3 hours before I need to take a break and recharge - but it has definitely been worth it.  My prose isn't as complete or as polished as I'd like, but the important thing is that the story is progressing.  I can see things moving,  What has been living solely in my head for the past year is now making it on to the page, and even if it isn't as nice as I want to eventually make it, it's there.

That's a good feeling.

What's even better, I think, is that getting my editing brain out of the way is helping me to realize things about my characters that I didn't even know were there.  My writing brain says, "say this", my hands go tappity-tap-tap, and I think, "Where did that come from?  I mean, it makes sense..." and now I have a reason why Coy's a flirt, why Mike is willing to give Alexi the benefit of the doubt, why Amy is unwilling to just pack up and go home instead of going on a wild goose chase down to North Carolina with a couple of folks she just met.

Long story short: NaNo is helping me, not just in terms of discipline in time spent writing, but in learning how to write in a way that I've not ever really tried.  And I'm kind of excited about that!

"Tolerance"

... or not.













I Just Winged It

I somehow managed to miss the article that Slate put up that answer the question of How Do I Explain to My Daughters What Happened in This Election?

Which meant that, lacking their sophisticated guidance, I had to fly by the seat of my pants and pretty much wing it...
"Hey kiddo. Trump won."
"Hillary lost?"
"Yep."
"GOOD."
I think it went pretty well.

QOTD, and some advice for the Democrat Party...

"Next time you want people to vote for a lesser evil, make sure they actually have reason to believe it's the lesser evil."

And The Winner Is...

... Slate Star Codex, with a collection of good bad story puns, including this gem:
By 2050, screens have shrunk and become more flexible until the dream of “programmable paper” becomes a reality. Citizens of the future read newspapers like the ones in Harry Potter that include moving images and even videos of important events. This new technology even makes it as far as the US Post Office, where they decide to include programmable stamps. Instead of a static picture of eg George Washington’s head, it will have a moving image of Washington speaking and giving his famous Farewell Address.
Unfortunately, the technology isn’t ready for the kind of abuse that envelopes undergo on their travel throughout the country and the world. Most of the computerized stamps become corrupted and “crash”; in a particularly common bug, they try to reload but just end up displaying “GENERATING IMAGE…” permanently. The government has no money to fix the problem, so people just get used to stamps on their letters that say “GENERATING IMAGE…” instead of having interesting pictures on them. 
Moral of the story: If you want a vision of the future, imagine a human face booting on a stamp forever.