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Piers Anthony, Aug. 1, 2020
Piers Anthony, Aug. 1, 2020

SapTimber 2020


We watched Welcome to Marwen. I loved it; MaryLee did not. It starts with a downed airman getting caught by Nazi soldiers who mean him no good. Then several lovely young women appear, and mow the Nazis down with their rifles. It turns out that these are dolls, brought to life by the protagonist’s imagination. He is a mentally handicapped man subject to bullying and maltreatment by others, but in his mind his animated dolls even the score. I liked it because of all the pretty girls; I’m not sure why MaryLee didn’t like it.

I discovered a 22-ounce bag of wildflower seeds I hadn’t noticed before. When I checked the date, it was 2009. Those seeds had sat there for 11 years? Maybe it was a project my wife Carol had in mind and didn’t get around to. So I planted them, some in a row in the sunken garden, which incidentally is doing fine so far, some in a raised bed, some outside. I am hoping that at least a few of them will come up. After all, seeds found in Egyptian tombs have sprouted after 2,000 years, and this isn’t quite that long.

I have been writing. First a 4,000-word story “The Wrong Stars,” then two more chapters of Xanth #47 Apoca Lips, about 13,000 words in all. They are mired in the pundemic zone, an awful place. But Prince Nolan Naga is beginning to make an impression on Apoca, which is just as well, as he is courting her. They have a formidable Quest to complete, as it involves a Dwarf Demon. When a man asked a Demon whether it was true that the ratio of a Capital D Demon to a mortal person was that of a galaxy to a grain of sand, the Demon replied that this understated the case. But a Dwarf Demon is less formidable, so the case may be accurate here. It is nevertheless a challenge, as the Dwarf Demon does not want to cooperate. Which reminds me: #44 Skeleton Key is scheduled to be published Jamboree 2021.That’s the one where the alien cuttlefish girl Squid doesn’t believe that she is the most important person in the universe, but as it turns out, she is.

MaryLee and I have now been married over four months, and there are no problems yet in our relationship, our taste in prettygirl movies notwithstanding. My first marriage lasted 63 years; I’m not sure the second will endure quite that long. Which reminds me: I had my 86th birthday in AwGhost. Cheryl and MaryLee gave me a lovely 2-foot-high sculpture of a svelte nude woman with one leg lifted high, whose hair reaches the floor. I love that hair! I should notice the other details in due course. MaryLee also gave me a box of Turron, the Spanish candy I haven’t had since I left Spain as a child in 1940. It is made from almonds. Ah, memories; it’s never too late for them.

We are now driving the Mule ATV for things like picking up the newspaper in the morning and exploring the trails on the tree farm. It’s a nice little vehicle, except that this morning, SapTimber 1th, it was balky, lurching forward when I had it in neutral. Hmm. In other respects life here is, well, mundane, as we remain on the virus lockdown. MaryLee would like to go out shopping—she’s a woman, and that’s what they do; I think it is in their genes—but doesn’t dare as long as the virus lurks. I received an invitation to participate in a dream animation project, but had to decline because what few dreams I remember are dull. It seems that my creativity is monopolized by my fiction writing.

I read about QAnon, a conspiracy theory claiming that world leaders, Democrats, and intelligence officers are all involved in a global child sex trafficking ring that President Trump and his minions are working to expose and destroy. I suspect the name derives from the mysterious Q in the Star Trek series, though he is not that kind of criminal. Naturally the Republicans endorse this kooky paranoia; it fits their current interest.

It seems there is a new building material, Foam. Polystyrene foam sandwiched between white steel plates. Steel and foam, the effective insulation expected to save fifty to seventy percent on electric bills. Recyclable, when that time comes. Durable, tough, environmentally friendly. I am not planning to build a new house, but if I were, this would be a prime interest, assuming the price comes down.

Article in NEW SCIENTIST for May 16, 2020, (I remain behind reading my magazines) discusses the speculative fifth force. We know of Gravity, Electromagnetism, the Weak Nuclear, and the Strong Nuclear forces that hold galaxies, atoms, and other things together, but is that all? There are aspects of the universe that don’t seem to be completely explained by these, such as the seeming insufficiency of gravity to keep spinning galaxies from flying apart. So they conjecture Dark Matter, to provide enough gravity to do the job. My stance is that gravity is stronger at that range than they know, so there is no Dark Matter, but at present it is an unsolved mystery. Could there be another force that we have not yet measured here on backwoods Earth? What about the expansion of the universe, which seems to require a force opposite to gravity? I think of a magnifying glass: it can focus sunlight to a point that can burn what’s at the center, but around it is a cone of reduced light where the sunlight would have gone had the magnifying glass not deflected it. Could Dark Matter be the focus, and Expansion the reduced cone? So individual galaxies hold together, but are repelled from each other? When some theoretical scientist wins the Nobel Prize for solving the great mystery of gravity, remember where you read it first.

In the same issue is an article on how the seaweed kelp might transform our food industry and thus our polluted environment. I use kelp daily for iodine, to support my thyroid. Remember, I’m the one who got excluded on my insurance for “all mental diseases” when the doctors failed to diagnose my thyroid deficiency so pretended I was imagining my fatigue and depression. As I like to put it, I wasn’t crazy, the medical profession was. So I appreciate kelp. Now they are considering creating huge farms growing seaweed that absorbs CO2, then sinking it in the sea along with all that atmospheric pollution. I have another idea: grow edible seaweed and rework it to become meatless meat, driving the animal cruelty industry out of business and incidentally unpolluting the world.

And another article in that issue. There’s a reason this is my favorite magazine; I have not found an American magazine to match it. This is titled “What is Reality?” That’s another of my buttons. This one is actually an ad, would you believe, for a book The Nature of Reality, by Roger Penrose, reprinted from 2006. The introductory blurb says “We humans have a problem with reality. We experience it all the time, but struggle to define it, let alone understand it. We don’t know when it began, how big it is, where it came from or where it is going, and we certainly don’t know why it exists.” Amen. This article discusses the precision of mathematics in clarifying aspects of the universe, and the mystery of consciousness emerging from inert physical substance. It is mind stretching. It concludes “What does this tell us about the nature of physical reality? It tells us that we cannot properly address the question of that reality without understanding its connection with the other two realities: conscious mentality and the wonderful world of mathematics.” I have encountered Penrose before, and regard him as a genius. Nothing here is causing me to change my mind.

Newspaper article is titled “Current crisis is looking more like the Great Recession.” Yes. America is now passing six million cases, reaching toward 200,000 deaths, has near record unemployment, and shows precious few signs of any near-term letup. The nature of our economy is changing. This is serious mischief, and I think that only the mass removal of the present government is likely to seriously address it. Another article addresses the “equity gap.” That is, the way minorities are paid less than whites, are less likely to own their homes, and more likely to live in poverty, get arrested, get shot, and be generally excluded. They are suffering worse in the pandemic; it coincidentally clarifies how bad they were off already. Covert racism is endemic. We need massive reform. But will we get it? As the song says, the answer is blowing in the wind. I can’t say at the moment that I am especially proud of my state, my country or my species. But what’s the alternative? Reform is easy to preach, but hard to accomplish, whatever the venue.

The summer months are Florida’s monsoon season. Here on the tree farm we got 12.1 inches of rain in AwGhost. Hurricanes are promised for SapTimber.

This HiPiers column is my shortest in years. The distractions of the lockdown and new marriage have torpedoed my working efficiency. But I would not have it otherwise.


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