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This was on Tumblr--

I had read about this document but never seen a close up good photo in color. Something to make the hair on your neck stand up...


No it is not legal

Certainly not legal, and what if there were a fire? Landlord must be pleased to be able to charge somebody for the weird little space. There is something charming though about this young striver and his oddly specific grocery list. When we lived in Sunset Park there was a group of men who lived int the basement furnace room. We were not supposed to know.


Edit: Told son about this article, his immediate reaction: 'What if there was a fire?' I am pleased by this. Also, told him it reminded me of the boiler room guys. He said 'Oh yes, the ones who played polka music at night?' How could I have forgotten that? Spanish language polka, all night long at volume 11...

Blue textiles

Interesting. That blue color must have meant a lot to them, because getting indigo, and making it into a dye, is a huge pain in the ass.



So Much to Learn

Title: So much to learn
Author Eglantine_br
Rating G

It is canon in the world of POB that Barret Bondon was born beneath the great guns of the Indy. I hope he will forgive being placed somewhere less splendid, for the sake of fiction.

This is set in the first week of Horatio’s Naval endeavors.

Justinian, Spithead

Over the last week Horatio had stood in the wrong place, failed to be in the right place, climbed the wrong mast, tripped over his own feet, and puked more or less constantly. He had been beaten by Simpson, excelled at his trigonometry, and twice been caught with his hands in his pockets. He had been mast-headed three times already, for hours in the rain. His face had, though wan, been open, ardent, so terribly hopeful. So hopeful that Archie had felt his own heart tumble in his chest whenever he saw it. Archie could not stop watching him, could not stop listening and noticing everything.
Horatio’s face was all wrong, and Archie could not stop looking at it.

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You guys may already have this news tonight, but I found it about an hour ago. They have found the Terror. They have found Crozier's ship! They have both ships now of the Franklin expedition, after all this time, after all these long cold years.

It appears that HMS Terror went gently to the bottom, with everything dogged down, stowed away in good order. There was no scramble to leave her. Her crew took what they needed and evacuated in an orderly way. They tried to live on land after that, but life failed them.

I went through about a five year phase where I read everything I could get my hands on about the Franklin expedition-- there is something so sad about Franklin himself, so much in his life went wrong. He was dogged, perhaps lacking in charisma. And he perfectly bridged the gap between age of sail and age of steam.

Crozier is harder to know. There is less written about him. He was an experienced polar explorer by the time he was given Terror. He was an expert in magnets. He wanted to do serious science as well as find the Northwest Passage. We have reason to believe that he was one of the last to die. He may have wished it were otherwise.

So here is the link I found. The video is even better than that of the Erebus. Goosebumps.

(And really, Erebus and Terror? Those are terrible unlucky names for ships. They should have asked whoever named the Pickle!)


Back to the New and Shining

I am back! But you guys did not even know I was gone.

I have been posting the last little while with difficulty, on my phone. Desktop had suffered some sort of internal catastrophe. Desktop is mine. Everyone else has laptops, but this one is mine. (This is the one that son used as sort of an ongoing project, it has no case. It sits on the desk bare. This is the one that he had for some time suspended from the ceiling.)

With A away, I thought we were doomed. I had no idea how to fix it, it would not even boot correctly. But A was able to take over Mike's laptop using a spooky program that let him control things from Buffalo, while Mike sat amazed with his hands in his lap! A used that to download a new Windows program, put it on a thumb drive. Then we walked across the room, (Skyping all the time on my phone at the same time,) and he took over my computer, and put the new Windows on it!

I am so proud of my son. And I have a shiny new Windows 10 desktop which will let me write on it. We are going to hang it up again the next time he is home. It keeps it safe from cats and accidents, and makes more room on the desk for things that end up there; (papers, books, pill bottles, tea-cups.)

I suppose this is the future. I am all for it!

I feel very lucky to be just the right age to remember the old days. I remember paper files, and card catalogs. I remember talking on the phone for hours, twisting the curly cord in my hands until it was all tangled together. (My mother told me when I was small that an umbilical cord looked twisted like a phone cord. Nobody will ever say that again. How will we describe them now?) I remember dialing the old black phone with a pencil, and that click-click sound as it spun back.

I also remember paper checks. Mothers were the ones with the long wallet with the checkbook. They went to the bank, and you had to sit in the car and wait. Or maybe you got to come along and see all the dark wood paneling and serious banker-faces. Mothers had the long wallet. They decided what to buy. They knew where the money stood. Dads were happy guys with lunch money in a small square wallet. Sometimes they gave you some. They came home and put coins on the dresser.

But debit cards are so much better. Seeing your balance on a screen is so much better.

I got to see the old days, tech that had not changed much since 1950-- and I get to be part of this new shiny world where most things are written again, and happen in a blink. And you can find out anything you want to know, because somebody in the world knows it, and if they care enough to know it, they might also become your friend.

I mean, how great is that?

I suppose my experience is similar to those who lived through the rise of literacy. There must have been a time when younger people could read, and their parents could not. It must have seemed spooky and strange. It must have seemed wondrous.

How lucky I am to have seen the world both ways.
Daughter went to this event last night. When she left husband said 'be careful don't get shot.'He was only half kidding. She laughed up at him and said "in this family mom is the one who gets shot.' She was only half kidding.

She says that the shooting was nowhere near her.

Keeping them safe is so much easier when they are small. As my kids get older my fears mutate, they do not diminish.

I have always written stories. Ever since I learned to string letters together. And when I was not doing that I was narrating everything in my head. (I did it out loud in a sort of whisper as a kid, until people made me stop, at school. I imagine it was irritating. It made the words stick better until I could sort them out and write them down. I was vastly unpopular at school of course.)

The received wisdom is that if you want to be serious you must write every single day. I fail there. Sometimes I need to stop and take things in for a while.

Stories come at us these days in more forms than ever. We have more books than ever since the world began. We have fan-fic, wild, expicit, silly, sad and fun. It is driving up the quality of all writing. We have tv, some of it is great. Even video games tell us stories. Imagine if the ancient Greeks had had video game tech. Wouldn't you like to play as Odysseus?

Stories can be well or poorly told. They can be well or poorly written. But stories cannot be debased in form.

This week I have been binge-watching Grey's Anatomy on Netflix. As far as medical realism it is ridiculous. It depicts doctors performing surgery while wearing dangling hoop earrings that stick out of their caps, Everyone is improbably good looking, they run around in flattering scrubs, performing complicated life saving surgery in between bouts of angsty fornication. Patients die constantly, doctors die some too. Other doctors weep and it makes them better looking.

But it does not matter if the story is silly. I think of it as sort of a medical AU where these things are normal. The emotional underpinnings of the story feel real and right. And the writers never let the story rest. No sooner has the doctor cleared up the misunderstanding and had a reconciliation with her hot doctor boyfriend, than there is a school-bus crash. She has to cut someones leg off, and he is missing. What will happen next? The story drags us forward.

I can learn from that. I can learn to make my characters uncomfortable, confused, endangered, miserable. It is hard sometimes. I love them, I want them to stay indoors, eating soup in safety. But a little soup goes a long way.

I have been reading 'Voices from the Workhouse.' It is just what it sounds like. It is written transcripts of those who went through the workhouse system, from the end of the 1600s through about 1930. It includes mostly England, but some interviews from Wales.

Very interesting. Most of the people talked about being separated from family and spouse, of having clothing taken, of poor food and mistreatment. All this is properly Dickensian, and no surprise. But the book also included interviews and records of the administrators of the workhouses. You can see that some of them tried. They had to contend with overcrowding, embezzlement by hired workers, disease, and poor sanitation. These concerns feel very modern and vital to me. How do we help those that need help without destroying human dignity in the process?

No, the workhouse was not the way to go. And you can see that the people then were hung up about class. They were sidetracked by the idea that the poor could be divided into the deserving and the debased. It is easy to sneer at such foolishness. But I do see the same arguments being made now, here. Remember Reagan's welfare queen? She never existed, but the idea persists. We don't want to see the poor, but if we must look We want them to be humble and grateful. Even better if they are old or sick, or kids and cute.

So I have been thinking about all that.

And as a complete palette cleanser I am starting Chuck Wendig's Invasive. He is reliably good. His stories make you forget the world, you surface from his books and you have to take a moment to remember who and where you are. This one is about giant killer ants.

In other news-- we did not get hurricane Hermine. Just as well. Even so we have had to have the beaches closed to swimming. There are rips. It is cooler now, the storm chased the summer away. There may be warm days yet, but the leaves are changing. There is that back to school excitement in the air. I feel it, even here at my desk.

Shopping Observations

Went shopping today. Food mostly. Did not have the car and so had to walk down to the place that delivers. It is over by Sea-Gate, and so carries things to please Russian grandmas mostly. Costs more than the commissary of course. Big trip there next week. And realized this is the first time in 25 years that I have dragged food home without my son being one of the ones to eat it. How many thousands of trips to the grocery store is that? I did not buy hummus, or the weird Russian birch soda he likes. I did not get the sprats. (I will send him a package soon with the sprats and things like that.) I got orange juice for daughter and husband. I do not, myself, drink the stuff.

Daughter stays away overnight often now, busy with friends. Husband has only stopped going to sea in 2007. But son was always there. It feels weird in my house, like wearing a shoe that is too big. It looks ok maybe, but our gait is off.

I also stopped off to buy clothes. In the last week Sabir has eaten all but one of my bras, and my last pair of sneaks. He also chewed through daughter's bathing suit. He is in utter disgrace. So new sneaks for me today. Cheap, plain white, (men's section because my feet are huge and also the men's cost less and last much longer.)

Saw a woman shopping with her kids, little boy and girl, boy I would guess 7 or 8, and girl 3 or 4. Little girl, glowing brown skin, hair in sticking out braids. She was wearing a shirt that said 'I am smart and strong, and I can do anything.' Bright pink shirt.
"I like your shirt," I said.
"I can read it," she said. And she did.
"You know what else?" she said.
"I love everybody." She stretched he arms out to show how many everybody was.

That is how we start. That is how we all came into the world. So hard to hold onto though. So hard to save that for our kids. Maybe the best we can so is to struggle toward it, eyes open, once we are grown. In that moment, in the glow of her little girl smile I loved everybody too.