Midnight descent to nothingness

I had an intense dream where I was one of the last people left in the universe. We were leaving things behind as we went toward nothingness. It was especially hard for me to leave my glasses, shoes, and sleep meds behind, as that seemed so final. We had to say goodbye to various experiences and aspects of life, like “Well, that’s the last time I’ll do THAT!” Very Inanna’s descent to the underworld feeling.

Four or five of us were trying to accept what was happening as we went through the process together. I kept resisting internally but persuading myself again that struggling for just a few more years was silly when the whole universe was ending. Then I’d start drawing on the desk I was sitting at with a sharpie little hearts and stars and I hoped Danny would see it and know it was a message to him.

Some of us wondered if we could stay for the birth of the new universe even if it would be lonely and painful to have survived it. I was trying to comfort a woman who was regretting this journey to say even if we fix it so that we come back it won’t really be us as we are now and we will never exist again because every factor that has made is who we are would have to be in place in the new universe. And, that is normal and just part of our existence and we have to accept mortality and the beautiful and sad aspects of how ephemeral everything is.

Thanks, weird dream, I guess! It’s very strange to be here this morning after experiencing that process so intensely.

I woke up at 1am and read various forums and tumblr for a while, until I felt less unsettled. Back to sleep.

I wonder if this dream was from finishing reading Zen Cho’s The True Queen just before bedtime?

The Stack

Danny just handed me a giant book called The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty, saying, “Just open that anywhere and start reading.” 20 seconds later I squawked OH MY GOD!!! WHAT IS THIS! WHAAAAAT!!!!!??!!!

He always brings me good things!

It’s very interesting! I kind of want to re-buy it on kindle (it’s too big for me to hold up in bed) and dig in. This is going to be a wild ride.

Derailed by my free bookshelf

Someone put a faded booklet on my free bookshelf called “The Hope Slide Story” by Frank W. Anderson (Frontier Book No. 12). Looks like maybe the mid 60s though there is no date. The back of the booklet lists some great stuff in the series – Murder on the Plains! The Lost Lemon Mine! Regina’s Terrible Tornado! Reminds me of stuff I used to unearth in the basements of various libraries I worked in, in the 80s.

I settled in just now to eat dinner over this book. It starts out introducing its innocent victims or survivors, not sure which are which yet; they’re farmers, truckers, factory workers. I assume something dramatic is going to happen to these trucks. Are these Russian names? What’s up with that? Then I hit,

During the disturbances of 1953 in the Kootenays, Mary Kalmakoff had been one of the 103 Doukhobor children taken by the government and put in a special dormitory opened at New Denver. She was then in Grade 3. . . . On February 28th, 1958, 5 days after her 15th birthday, Mary left the New Denver internment camp and returned to her parents.”

I had to stop and look this up. What disturbances? Doukhobar?

So, Ukranian/Georgian/Russian Christian pacfist sect who believe in communal living and who emigrated in an enormous swoop to Saskatchewan where they formed special communal homesteads and, while non violent, were strangely into sectarian fighting via midnight arson. The Freedomites (Svobodniki or Sons of Freedom) also seemed to be into nude protest marches against the Community and Independent Doukhobors. Unclear who was bombing whom and why but a lot of it seemed to be protest against the government. They were still bombing railway bridges while naked in 1961…. wow. Well, I guess I’d bomb things naked too if they took my kids off to a prison camp and called it “Operation Snatch”. How horrible! But, they were originally marching naked to protest being given land that was too cold for crops (and other issues, like not wanting to sign a loyalty oath or register births and deaths, and I think also over not wanting to split their communities to register individually for land ownership.)

The Hope Slide Story certainly breezed right past this bit of history in its rush to bring together the cast of characters on the highway, “unaware that somehwere on the dark road ahead a yellow convertible, a hay truck and an oil tanker were rapidly moving towards a tragic rendezvous with fate.”

Very fried from a long day at work, I’m going to chill out with this amazing booklet and look everything up as I go.

Spoilers: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hope_Slide

UPDATE:

I’m back just a few pages later as there was another breezy mention of the Japanese internment camp prisoners “evacuated from the coastal cities” forced to build the very road the Hope Slide is about to slide down on top of. Why do Canadians have a reputation of being “nice” again?

Further update: The Japanese prisoners also were brought out to do some woodland firefighting.

SILENT HELL: Uh oh. the yellow convertible has run into a small snowslide about 15 feet high that went across the highway. The oil tanker guy, Stephanishin, is walking over there with his 6 volt lamp. I love this book! Then, a new chapter: SILENT HELL. Seismographs jump in distant laboratories! Explanation of the hillside and its 60 million cubic yards of dirt, rocks, snow, and trees, hanging above the heads of the innocent 4 people below!
They all go to warm up in the oil tanker. The hay truck guy pulls up and hangs out under the avalanche some more! The young guys try to go free the convertible. I think they are toast. I would not be messing with that baby avalanche! Its mama might come next!

OMG now a whole Greyhound bus. Another bus! Uh oh. They are going to go have a look at that yellow convertible. But Bernie, Mary, Dennis, and Thomas the hay bale truck driver were still alive at this point, in the oil tanker with the motor running for heat.

The landslide has now swooshed past and then splashed backwards lifting up the trucks and carrying them away.

An hour later everyone else shows up and starts to realize how big the slide was. Search and Rescue to the rescue! A helicopter arrives! A mountie dog named Prince! They built up the rescue a lot but only pulled out one dead body and never found the others. THE END.

Reading The Tiger’s Daughter

I am in the middle of K. Arsenault Rivera’s The Tiger’s Daughter, an AWESOME book set in fantasy-not-quite-Mongolia and fantasy-not-quite-China. The super fierce and brave, aggro, teenage heir to the imperial throne with fantastic sword powers who also makes flowers change color (!) and her soul-twin who is a horse riding brilliant archer with so many complications which I shall not divulge. They grow up together! Mysterious troubles beset the land!

Oh my god I love this book! The writing is good!

It’s understatedly swoony with philosophical moments, like reading Mary Renault, but with horse-riding divine magic wielding teenage bandit-killing lesbians! AND THEIR FIERCE WARRIOR MOMS. I may cry just thinking about that bit.

Joy… it’s a trilogy!

Books inhaled lately

I’m still pecking away at the Morland Dynasty books by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles and still recommend them! If you like Regency romances, or anything Napoleonic War related, Master & Commander, or whatever, you might like this series a lot. It has solid historical research behind it, which I find very satisfying and also alluring (It leads me to fall into giant Wikipedia sinkholes.) I’m on #16, The Devil’s Horse, which is very exciting as railways (tramways really) are just starting to be a Thing. There are more scenes in Manchester & some mention of Castlereagh (and his wife Emily or Lady Castlereagh, who you may recall from your Regencies was a Lady Patroness of Almack’s who could get you vouchers) and Canning. Lady C: “Her own parties were considered dull, and her manner was somewhat eccentric: guests described her conversation as an endless flow of trivial information delivered in an oddly detached manner.” I like her already. I hope she had a lot to say about trains.
There are lots of scandalous and miserable events – affairs, deaths (maybe murders – I have THOUGHTS about Flaminia).

Also reading How Long ‘Til Black Future Month, which is great! More details when I finish it.

I also re-read Archivist Wasp and the sequel to it, and T. Kingfisher’s Swordheart. Not reading quite as much as usual lately because I’m thinking about Inform7 so much.

Mommy, What’s a Funkadelic?

Reading George Clinton’s book Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard On You?: A Memoir & it’s so entertaining. Of course Clinton can tell a great story, just a fantastic writer. I’m listening to Funkadelic as I read.

I spent the afternoon working from Noisebridge & then stayed a little to work on my game. Wrestling with the rules for rideable vehicles and elevators that are also vehicles (ironically, FIXING AN ELEVATOR in a game partially set in Noisebridge where I can only get in when the elevator is fixed, which it was, which I hoped would be good mojo for my game-elevator conumdrum) Wandered around answering the door, taking pictures of the walls, of signs, finding old things in new places and new things several layers deep, admiring the projects and wondering what everyone is into these days. It got so I could tell looking someone over whether they were there for the whiteboarding practice workshop group (fresher faced, in sweaters), Noisebridge regulars of one sort (scruffy with bikes and several duffle bages – to the consoles and beanbags!) or another (sinking deep into their laptops, muttering about Electron) or some intersection, and also I clocked (silently but to my entire satisfaction) the European hacker tourists (As if fresh off the mothership, straight out of CCC). The giant laser cutter hummed in its lair, there is most definitely a tiled, fire-shielded welding corner, the NGALAC hulked in its corner by the window, a crapton of nice looking musical equipment set up by what used to be the kitchen and a Virtual Reality tent of some sort in the back classroom. Everyone was nice. It even smelled ok.

I have a cold and worked kinda long hours and feel a bit… muted…. head splitting … so tired. So that’s all I have to say for now. Hope I feel better for Friday as I want to go to the Internet Archive celebration of free culture, the Grand Re-opening of the Public Domain.

Satirical fake newspapers

I just pre-ordered my copy of The Ventriloquists, a novel that tells the story of Faux Soir, a Belgian satirical newspaper slamming the occupying Nazis.

In this triumphant debut inspired by true events, a ragtag gang of journalists and resistance fighters risk everything for an elaborate scheme to undermine the Reich.

Brussels, 1943. Twelve-year-old street orphan Helene survives by living as a boy and selling copies of the country’s most popular newspaper, Le Soir, now turned into Nazi propaganda. Helene’s entire world changes when she befriends a rogue journalist, Marc Aubrion, who draws her into a secret network publishing dissident underground newspapers.

From reading the Wikipedia entry on Faux Soir it’s amazing and beautiful how satire can be such a strong point of resistance.

Seems relevant given the satirical Washington Post put out today by “trickster activist collective” the Yes Men & their previous New York Times special edition.

The Red Pearl

I continue to read the Morland Dynasty series by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles and if I don’t get to the end and they’re on Mars or in some other galaxy I’m going to have to write some serious fanfic. Imagine the Mars sheep farms, cyber-horse breeding programs, their genetic engineering and cloning dramas as they sleep with the wrong people hundreds of years in the future. Sleek spaceships! Courtly Martian life! Oh the tragic accidents they could have in the dome in York colony!

A Catte

I spent the day puttering around the house and reading. I’m on book 3 of an endless series of historical fiction by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles, who has an amazing-sounding name and a love of describing angst and drama that spans many generations. Book 1 started out in the 14th century during the Wars of the Roses. Book 2 was mostly Henry VIII. And Book 3 is mostly Queen Elizabeth, well, not mostly about her but the family the books are about, the fictional Morlands from … somewhere near York, I think, are sometimes at court. So it’s against a backdrop of Queen Elizabeth and Mary Queen of Scots and so on.

This has led me to lots of Wikipedia reading – like I wanted to know all about the guy who married Mary Queen of Scots and his unhappy ending (syphillis maybe but also murdered and THEN blown up as well by some barrels of gunpowder) and then the unhappy ending of the other guy who married her (maybe abducted and raped her, then married her?) (thrown in prison but I’ve forgotten the exact events – but he was chained to a column in a Dutch prison for 10 years and died there.)

These gruesome deaths led me, though, to strike gold:
Mary Queen of Scots’ embroidered badge of a ginger cat wearing a crown playing with a mouse, embellished with her initials MA intertwined to look like a rune. Maybe the cat was her cousin Elizabeth and she was the mouse!

a-catte

Whatever it may have meant, it’s delightful!!! I think it would make a really neat replica embroidered badge! Someone should get it manufactured and sell them on Etsy!

The books can be a little traumatic (I was squicked by the amount of 14 year olds who marry old guys) and there is like, constant weird incest and trauma, and children who are super charming and beloved and then DIE DIE DIE or maybe everyone dies, and I got really sad about Anne Boleyn, but they aren’t like “The Kingdom of Little Wounds” level of trauma and that has got to be the #1 gross book ever for its multiple times we get a syphilitic Queen’s very public ob/gyn exams described; keep in mind I absolutely love that book but I have to warn people when I recommend it that it goes deep.) I continue reading them since I am very curious how Harrod-Eagles is going to sustain this strange family all the way into World War II. I’m also admiring the volume of her output, I mean, from her Wikipedia page it sounds like she works full time and writes these doorstop epic novels on the weekend and there are like, 30 of them. So impressive. Anyway, I am getting just slightly INTO the vibe of these books. Is there someone sympathetic? Is there someone they absolutely shouldn’t shack up with, like, their secret half brother or their actual uncle or their husband’s brother or a hoydenish Scottish girl who rides into battle and hates men, or, their paralyzed and sickly first cousin, or like, a travelling homosexual actor or a bloodthirsty Earl who may have murdered his first and second wives? In Morland logic this is like catnip to a catte. The more inappropriate the match the faster they freaking leap into bed, get INSTA-PREGNANT and then their children and grandchildren accidentally do it all over again.

Meanwhile, a list of things I have glued today: my thumb to danny’s glasses frame; the glasses frame to itself; a large flowerpot in 6 pieces; a small bone china horse. I had to soak my thumb and the glasses in nail polish remover for several minutes before I was able to scrape my thumb free of the glasses with a knife.

New book & a nice day

New book, The Founding by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles (cool name!), the first in a truly enormous series of historical novels starting during the Wars of the Roses. I was sold on the intro which is a huge bibliography of sources for her historical research.

Today, very intense work day again, but then I went out and bought a tiny Christmas tree, back at work again, then out to work at a cafe with visiting friends, more errands (post office, to mail my contribution to an APAzine, etc), more work, wrapping christmas presents (still a huge mess all over the living room floor) and out to sushi, which was excellent. (Ichi Sushi, best in San Francisco!) You should definitely have the ocean trout. We bought beers for the sushi chefs and toasted them, it was so amazing. Also nice, other friends just kept seeing us through the window and then coming in to hug us. !!! Now that’s living.

It’s fun to be in an APAzine – I’ve always thought it sounded so neat and old school. I want to do it better justice than a sort of diary entry so I will be thinking about that for the next go-round.

After all this I am too tired to say anything super meaningful. I’m so happy to have this enormous book series to read over the holidays!