Yeah, *that* house. The one that doesn't take down its "Christmas" lights. Ever.
Really, they're lights for the paths around our house, lights which would be WAY more expensive if we put them in as permanent fixtures. After all the (unexpected) expenses it took to renovate the place and all the manual work left to do, I think we're going to just have to wait a while before we get around to that bit.
And, unfortunately, the lights we had up got discontinued, so when we had to replace some strings after wear and damage (and re-replace them after we had to take out a tree on the neighbor's property line and a branch cut the strand) we're currently mis-matched. :-(
But it sure does make the front paths and porch nice and cozy at night.
Pictured: Our old house in California, which we're still slowly fixing up after the move East. It turns out we're not the only one in the neighborhood who's done this, but their setup looks way more organized than ours:
Yeah, you're gonna just have to put me down in the left column there. No offense to Doc Brown's DeLorean, but The Doctor's TARDIS could BE a DeLorean, if it wanted to. If there was a write-in, of course, I'd pick the Clockwork Time Machine, but the Machine is basically a TARDIS with the serial numbers filed off anyway.
Very tired, working on the social navigation benchmarks paper, no more post for you.
Pictured: Poll seen at a Starbucks while I was waiting on my car to be serviced.
Lent teaches us to learn to sacrifice. We're asked to give something up. We're asked to abstain from meat (well, land animals) on Fridays. And we're asked to fast on Good Friday ... which is today.
I'm not too happy that Clockwork Alchemy is Easter Weekend, but I understand that it's not everyone's holiday (and that this may have been the best weekend we could get). But I get it.
That doesn't absolve me of my responsibilities, though. I don't fully fast as a matter of policy - I don't think it's healthy to go starving your body - but I eat light on fasting days, just enough that my body gets food.
The choice tonight was particularly hard, though: the restaurant had cauliflower steak, one of my favorite meals. It would have been so easy to order that as being somehow "healthier" than other options.
But it wouldn't have been fasting. And, as a favorite, it would have been a gluttonous choice, so, reluctantly, I got the rather smaller hummus plate and had that as my meal.
Christians do these things to remind us of Jesus's suffering, but the Church doesn't want to remind us of Jesus for Jesus's sake - he doesn't need it. No, they want to remind us of Jesus's sacrifice for our own good.
Learning to sacrifice during Lent is like cross-training your moral muscles: it helps you exercise your decision making on small things, so that muscle can be used properly when we face larger things.
Tonight, for example, I was able to call upon that muscle to help me make the right choices. After dining with my friends, I reluctantly bid them adieu, and went to go deal with my missing costume.
A package had arrived - a trellis, purchased to help save the branches of a beloved tree. A package far too large for our house sitter, who has hurt her back. A package that almost certainly would have been stolen.
So, doing what I needed to do that evening may have helped me be where I needed to be to save the package from the neighborhood's package thieves, for starters, but there was much more.
These are little things, but every time I do the right thing and am rewarded for it, it seems to become just a little bit easier to do the right thing again the next time.
Pictured: tonight's hummus, my cauliflower steak, and the late-arriving trellis package.
Hey folks, the Clockwork Alchemy steampunk convention is back, and in a new location, the San Mateo Marriott San Francisco Airport! I’ll have an author table there with all my Jeremiah Willstone books - the CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE and the Thinking Ink Press anthologies TWELVE HOURS LATER, THIRTY DAYS LATER and SOME TIME LATER, and much more, including the Dakota Frost urban fantasy series and my science fiction writing!
I will be at two author signings and four - count them, FOUR panels, including World Building, Who’s the Villain, Science of Airships, Secret Hideout or Secret Lair, and Getting Past Page One - hey, wait a minute, that is five, I counted them, FIVE panels! I may need a nap after all that. But not before I’ve signed a book or given a talk for you!
Time and Location:
Clockwork Alchemy 2023 Friday April 7 - Sunday April 9 San Mateo Marriott San Francisco Airport 1770 South Amphlett Blvd San Mateo, California 94402
And here's where you can find me:
World Building Friday 1pm - Synergy 5 (2nd floor) Anthony Francis, Madeleine Holly-Rosing Come and find out what's necessary to create a living, breathing world for your characters, whether you're writing a book or running an RPG.
From the Darkly Ironic to the Moody Byronic: Who’s the Villain Here? Friday 4pm - Synergy 5(2nd floor) Sumiko Saulson, Anthony Francis From the ghosts haunting Ebenezer Scrooge to Dr. Frankenstein’s childlike creature, Victorian horror embraced a new class of complicated, morally ambivalent heroes and villains such as Prince Prospero, Carmilla, and Dorian Gray. If Mr. Hyde is a part of Dr. Jekyll, who is really the villain here?
Science of Airships Saturday 11am - Synergy 5(2nd floor) Anthony Francis Steampunk is more than brown, boots, and buttons: our adventurers must travel the world in style! Learn about the science behind the leviathans of the skies. From how they stay up to how they crash down, explore how the physics of flight gives distinctive shapes to airships past, present and future!
Author Signings: Anthony Francis Saturday 4pm - Convene Lobby(2nd floor) Get your books signed by Anthony Francis.
Secret Hideout or Secret Lair? It's All What You Do With It. Saturday 5pm - Synergy 5(2nd floor) Stephanie Clemens, Anthony Francis, Michael Tierney Sometimes it's not obvious who is the hero and who is the villain. We have the traditional heroes, anti-heroes, villains we love to root for, and villains we love to hate. Then there are the redeemed villains and fallen heroes! It’s a slippery slope and a lot of fun to play with as an author and a reader.
Getting Past Chapter One Sunday 2pm - Synergy 5(2nd floor) Stephanie Clemens, Anthony Francis, Michael Tierney Why being perfect keeps you away from finishing your book.
Author Signings Sunday 3pm - Convene Lobby(2nd floor) Shelley Adina, Madeleine Holly-Rosing, David L. Drake, Katherine L. Morse, Michael Tierney, Belinda Sikes, Dover Whitecliff, Stephanie Clemens, Anthony Francis, Thena MacArthur, Sumiko Saulson Last call! Get your books signed by any of our authors at Clockwork Alchemy 2023.
Now, I don't think we live in a simulation (except I have strong evidence that we do - ask me know I know) but I do believe in providence, that idea that God is trying to arrange things in the world in a way that works out for us. And I think we can see providence (or the simulation, or synchronicity, or simple pareidolia) most clearly when we are where we need to be, for then things somehow all just work out.
Like, how, day before yesterday I decided to drop by a nearby coffeehouse after brunch, and stayed there until I finished beta reading a book; that put me at the right place to give some spare cash to an apparently homeless man, who looked like he needed it and promised he'd go buy food. Then I decided to grab a soda on the way out of town, which put me in just the right place to see the same homeless man try to buy alcohol. I need that reminder - that most of the time helping the beggar isn't actually helping - but still, Jesus says to give to all those who beg from you, and another errand placed me right where I needed to be to help another person. I hope they did something good for themselves with it, whatever it was.
Later that night I worked through another problem, planning to eat a light midnight snack instead of dinner, until, frustrated, I threw up my hands and went to grab dinner at BJ's brewery. That cleared my head, gave me the opportunity to run a few more errands, and I even got some writing done.
Seeking the good can help you find more of it. So I try to pay attention to what I was doing when things just seem to work out, so I can hopefully make more of the same choices in the future. Which, coincidentally, is what I was reading about over brunch today: a book on the Thomistic philosophy of free will, which has nothing to do with woo-hoo non-causal "free choices" and everything to do about building up the right resources within ourselves to make the right decision when the time comes.
So pay attention to providence: it may be trying to tell you something about how aligned you are with what you should have been doing in the first place.
Pictured: fish and shrimp tacos at BJ's, and another chapter read of a deep RL book.
Even though it can be backbreaking, there's something strangely satisfying about getting out of your conditioned environment and into "nature", just kneeling there listening to the winds blowing, the birds chirping, and dogs barking as you pull weedgrass out of your yard before it kills all your succulents. Because the succulents will survive and look nice come the next drought, but this kind of hill grass will turn to dead but pointy weeds with barbed seeds so sharp they actually gave one of our cats a bloody nose.
A lot of work left to do, but it was a productive day.
Pictured: One of the areas I cleared today trying to rescue our succulents, and the integrated sum of all of today's work, prior to being dumped on the compost pile.